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Mail 91: March 6 - 12, 2000


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This week:



Monday  March 6, 2000

One of the neat things about this web site is that I have at least one expert on ANYTHING as a reader. I'm still waiting for my heart specialists to comment on the "cough" system for dealing with heart attacks. Meanwhile:


archive of legends &; netlore Cough to Save Your Life?

Originally posted: 06/30/99 Updated: 03/01/00

Please note that the following widely-forwarded email message contains misleading medical information:

This one is serious...

Let's say it's 4:17 p.m. and you're driving home, (alone of course) after an unusually hard day on the job... (For full text click here.)

Guide's note: This message gives the impression that the technique described has the endorsement of Rochester General Hospital and Mended Hearts, a heart attack victims' support group. Although the text was published in a Mended Hearts newsletter, the organization has since retracted it. Rochester General had no part in the creation or dissemination of the message.

According to the best information I can find, "cough CPR" is a real procedure occasionally used in emergency situations under professional supervision. But it is not taught in standard CPR courses, nor is it typically recommended as a "life-saving" measure for people who experience a heart attack when alone.

One doctor I contacted - a heart specialist - had never even heard of it.

Other doctors are familiar with the procedure but say it can only be effective in very specific instances. Dr. Stephen Bohan of Women's Hospital in Boston explained in the Washington Post (Feb. 15, 2000) that in certain instances where a patient has abnormal heart rhythms, coughing can help restore them to normal. But most heart attacks, he said, are not of this type. Bohan told the Post the best thing a heart attack victim can do is take an aspirin (which helps dissolve blood clots) and call 911.

This is a case where a nugget of truth has apparently been misunderstood and misrepresented to the public, though not intentionally. A chapter of Mended Hearts published it without proper research. It was then reprinted by other chapters and eventually found its way into email form.

Darla Bonham, the organization's executive director, has since issued a statement which reads, in part:

I've received email from people all across the country wanting to know if it is a valid medically approved procedure. I contacted a scientist on staff with the American Heart Association Emergency Cardiac Care division, and he was able to track a possible source of the information. The information comes from a professional textbook on emergency cardiac care. This procedure is also known as "cough CPR" and is used in emergency situations by professional staff. The American Heart Association does not recommend that the public use this method in a situation where there is no medical supervision.

As with all medical rumors, the most prudent course of action is to verify the information with your own doctor or other medical professional before acting upon it or sharing it with others.

This is actually a pretty old technique, Jerry. It requires a person to keep their head and perform the manuever while in severe discomfort, so it's application is limited. Nonetheless, it's well documented in the literature, the physiology is sound, and I have used it in the past. Works if early in the cardiac arrest. Here are a couple of quick citations.

J Emerg Med 1994 Sep-Oct;12(5):627-32

Hemodynamics of cough cardiopulmonary resuscitation in a patient with sustained torsades de pointes/ventricular flutter.

Miller B, Cohen A, Serio A, Bettock D

Aurora Denver Cardiology Associates, Colorado.

A 43-year-old female with old myocardial infarction and stenosed bypass grafts developed sustained Torsades de Pointes/ventricular flutter (rate = 300-400 beats per minute) during coronary arteriography after contrast injection to the diagonal graft. Cough-CPR (rate = 37/min) was started within 5 s of dysrhythmia initiation and continued through two defibrillation attempts (200 and 360 joules), and IV lidocaine was administered until return of spontaneous circulation 62 s later. The patient never lost consciousness during this very rapid dysrhythmia. Certain cardiac arrest resuscitation measures (namely, initial defibrillation attemps, IV lidocaine administration) can thus be initiated in a patient while performing cough-CPR and maintaining adequate cerebral perfusion. During the dysrhythmia with Cough-CPR: (a) aortic systolic pressures averaged 100 mmHg--this has commonly been observed in other reports, and (b) aortic diastolic pressures were always > or = 50 mmHg and averaged 63 mmHg, which has seldom been this high during cough-CPR. Dysrhythmia reversion occurred 4 s after the second defibrillation attempt and 80 msec after the peak of the highest cough-generated aortic pressure pulse (128 mmHg). Cough-induced ventricular tachycardia reversion has previously been reported; this may have acted in concert with electrical defibrillation to facilitate dysrhythmia reversion. The patient recovered without incident.

PMID: 7989690, UI: 95081523

J Emerg Med 1992 May-Jun;10(3):291-3

The use of cough-CPR in patients with acute myocardial infarction.

Rieser MJ

Department of Emergency Medicine, University of California, San Diego 92103.

A case of a patient with an acute anterior myocardial infarction (MI) and ventricular fibrillation is presented. The patient was resuscitated after cough-cardiopulmonary resuscitation (C-CPR) was administered in the emergency department. The patient received thrombolytic therapy without complication. Cough-CPR is a technique not in widespread use. With the advent of thrombolytic therapy for patients with acute myocardial infarctions, a relative contraindication to thrombolytic therapy is present in patients who receive "standard CPR." The use of cough-CPR in witnessed dysrhythmias can alleviate this problem. Cough-CPR can also reduce the morbidity of resuscitations.

PMID: 1624741, UI: 92325408

-- Alwin Hawkins, RN

And definitively:

Dear Jerry, I am an Emergency Medicine physician. We are the ones who see most cardiac arrest cases which present to the Emergency Department at a hospital instead of a cardiologist office. Hard to schedule your heart attack or cardiac arrest a week in advance. The cough CPR was purposed several years ago but was found to be impossible for an individual to do in any practical way. The brain only receives 20% or less of normal resting blood flow with the best external two person CPR. This is no where near enough to maintain consciousness so as to be able to control coughing, deep breaths, etc. Loss of consciousness occurs in 20-30 seconds or less when the heart stops. People do not wake up with CPR unless their own heart function returns. It was shown by cardiologist that during certain heart cath studies that people could do this for very brief periods of time. However this would be unlikely to allow time to drive to the hospital, make a phone call for help or such. Not much to lose I suppose to try this, but little chance of success. I am unaware of any documented case of cough CPR working.

Beat Regards,

Richard Daily, MD FAAEM Emergency Department Medical Director St. Mary's Regional Medical Center Russellville, Arkansas



This week:



Tuesday, March 7, 2000

I have had so many intellectually dishonest arguments with missile defense opponents over the idea that "backpack nukes getting around missile defenses makes them useless," that I put this together to show people why it is a dumb idea.

For your information and amusement:

The HOLY NUCLEAR HAND GRENADE OF ANTIOCH! OR, Nuclear Terrorism 101: Why Backpack nukes are unreliable

A Kurdish terrorist organization based in Antioch, Lebanon has obtained an ex-soviet backpack nuke, and has sub contracted with Osama bin Laden to delivery and detonate the device in a US west coast port.

Osama is using cut-outs in a city in Northern Pakistan to assemble the delivery system -- a heavily shielded ISO cargo container -- that is loaded in a Pakistani port.

This container is only stolen once on the way to the port and is promptly recovered after a brief gun battle. It is loaded on a small tramp freighter in the port and proceeds to an intermediate destination in Indonesia where it is to be loaded on a real containership bound for the USA.

Unfortunately the tramp steamer is high jacked by pirates in Indonesian waters. The pirates murder the crew, and all but one terrorist. The survivor is left in the container frantically trying to assemble the arming device.

Several days later -- Abdul's a little slow -- he finds the ship is docked in harbor. As the container is opened, Abdul prepares to meet Allah. He is surprised to see a Chinese police officer (in league with the Pirate's fences). Abdul realizes that this is a police officer.

>Abdul meets Allah!<

The Chinese government is upset that a nuclear device has detonated in Shang Hai harbor and requests foreign assistance in identifying the perpetrators.

Approximately a month later the Pakistan government receives a joint ultimatum from the USA, China, India, Turkey and the U.N. to *STAND AND DELIVER* all of its terrorists, or join Abdul.

The Pakistani government immediately complies. The Taliban hands Osama bin Laden, all of his friends, associates, relatives etc. to China for a swift execution followed by a fair trial.

Syrian, Turkish and Israeli forces promptly jointly occupy Lebanon to root out all of the terrorists.

As for the Kurds...


I know something about nuclear hand grenades because my Father commanded a battery of them during the Cold War.

They were called the Davey Crockett -- the world's only tactical nuclear weapon with a blast radius greater than the launcher's range. (Think of it as a nuclear RPG.)

The launching drill was

A) Dig a deep hole in the ground. B) Fire the Davey Crockett at the enemy C) Jump in the hole D) Kiss your ass goodbye. -------------------------

The bottom line is that backpack nukes are fundamentally irrational as instruments of war outside the context of the Cold War. Their means of delivery is to unreliable for any nation to trust them. You can't stop an ICBM with a Coast Guard or Customs Patrol inspection.

And not even the usual terrorist supporting states are going to trust their networks of suicide bombers to deliver a backpack nuke. Those backpack nukes would be to valuable to terrorist supporter nations to sell to each other for possible use in Third World coups.

That is why the USA retired backpack nukes from service. They were a bigger threat to national security via their theft, than they were an addition to American security in the post-Cold War world.

Trent Telenko

That takes me way back to days when we were planning weapons systems and doctrines. Davy Crockett was always a problem: those batteries were expendable, and positioned where they would be overrun anyway. When you're a trip-wire you are going to be hurt. The question was did they get to take anyone with them?

In those days the practical definition of a tactical nuclear weapon was "one that exploded in Germany." It was too dangerous to fire a nuke to detonate in France, or England, or Russia, and probably even Poland; but no one was going to bring down fire from heaven on the entire world over Germans. Hard lines on the Germans, but then they sort of opted for that status from 1940-1945. All that has changed now, of course.

Mr. Telenko also sends this:

The article at this link is a rundown of what happened when "information

superority" meet reality in Kosovo. 

It is worth your attention if the subject interests you.

Dear Mr. Pournelle

I have a question I hope you can answer or point me in the right direction for an answer. In mid-December of 1999 I purchased a Phillips CDRW drive. A few days ago I purchased a Music CD which inserted into the CDRW causes the system to hang (WIN98), with the drive attemping ot access and the only solution is a hardware reset.

I called Philips tech support and they claim this is a "mixed media" CD, which means since the CD has both audio tracks and a few PC files (which just send you to the producers web site) the Drive will not work with the CD. The tech support guy said "This is new technology and nobodies CDRW will work with it." I replied to him that my $25 CDROM would both see the PC Files via explorer and play them via a CDplayer. He responded by telling me that a CDRW is a "CD burner and not a player". This is ridiculous, it sounds like the company has a firmware or driver problem they either can't fix or don't want to.

If you have a momement I would like you opinion of what I've been told and would also be interested if you know of any CDRW's which do work with CD's like I have described.

Thank you

Steve Martin

This isn't life in the fast lane, it's life in the oncoming traffic. ...Terry Pratchett 

I have never had reason to do a "mixed media" CD; anyone know more here?

We have:

I had a similar problem, albeit not with a mixed media CD-ROM, but Microsoft Age of Empires II. As with many of the fans of the first two releases of Age of Empires, I eagerly awaited the delivery of Age of Empires II, the Age of Kings. When it arrived in the mail, I put it in my Yamaha CD-RW drive, installed it, and .... It didn't work. It installed okay, but refused to run. When you clicked on play from the startup menu, the drive would trundled for a while, then stop, and I would be returned to the desktop. I tried all the standard things, uninstalling, reinstalling, stopping all other processes, etc. I check the troubleshooting file on the disk, and sure enough, it stated that the game would not work with my model of Yamaha CD-RW, and there was no solution forthcoming. 

I called Yamaha, and their explanation was exactly like that given to Mr. Martin. The CD-RW is not really a CD Drive, but a CD Re-Writable drive, and does not have the full functionality of a CD Drive. I asked them why this particular CD would not work, and all my others would (I had no problems until then), and the Tech Support Rep thought there might be some copy protection on the disk. I have not attempted to copy the disk, but now that I am writing this, I think I will give it a try to see what happens. My solution was buy a new bigger hard drive, consolidate two of the three hard drives in my machine, and add a CD Drive back in. Now, Age of Kings works perfectly in my Asus 40X drive, and I still have my Yamaha CD-RW drive. In fact, it's much better, because in the rare instances I need to duplicate a CD-ROM, I can do so much more expediently between the two drives than saving an image and then burning it.


I have not seen this, but one possibility is drive letters. Many games stupidly look for the CD in the first drive letter drive, and if they don't find it there they won't look further -- even if you installed the game from the drive where the disc is, they can't see it if there's a lower-numbered CD drive.

I'll have to fish up Age of Kings and try it on my Plextor CD-R/W and also on a DVD RAM. Thanks.



I was browsing through some storage solutions, and came across the Quantum 120GB NAS unit. It occurs to me, that 12 of these, in RAID 5 mode (@84 GB each) would provide a business with a Terabyte of storage. Although this isn't going to be the most secure storage, it works with Win98,NT, Netware, Apple and Unix. It's fairly easy to install (rackmountable, connects to a LAN hum) and manage.

A whole Terabyte for 36K. Incredible.

I understand Maxtor has recently released a 160GB version simlar to this


Alex Pournelle and David Em built a "box of drives" for AV work recently. You can build a huge storage system with IDE only at a very reasonable cost. I probably will do that as a backup system here. Ain't it grand!

And more on the Linux/Windows debate:

Ref. Mr. Dobbins' comments on the reliability of NT... 

I'm a Windows NT administrator with about 15 servers under my wing. I don't know where all these "it goes down every day" comments come from, because mine just don't. And these are big complex configurations - think 500 Users, 80 printers, 600 shares - and that's all on one machine. We reboot the biggest one every month simply because we have a maintenance window and we don't want the customers to forget it in case we need to do a real shutdown sometime. The smaller machines are just left. Some of them have been up for six months and more (since we changed IP address or something, not since they failed - they've _never_ failed).

 What is different? I guess partly it's the fact that they are treated like the big-time production machines they are, with careful attention to initial build, thorough integration testing of all the software combinations including service packs, proper change control, and strictly no dabbling. Partly also it's all premium hardware - IBM, with IBM branded memory and disks everywhere, or Compaq with Compaq branded memory and disks; no "third-party" stuff is allowed anywhere near these boxes. Now it may be true that you can build a Linux server from any old bits you have lying around, stuff in any old add-ons you want, and it will still work just as well - if that's true it's a clear strength for Linux and I wouldn't dispute it. But as fully paid-up member of the "we just want to do our work" tendency, NT fits the bill just fine. So what this all means is "Mr. Dobbins is right". Not the first time or the last. How refreshing to find someone being objective in this arena!

Andrew Duffin

From Colonel Wm. Haynes:

FYI and thought VERY POWERFUL. > > 

And finally the response I have been waiting for:


Sorry for the delay in replying to your note regarding coughing and cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

Heart attacks are not the same thing as a cardiac arrests, and all cardiac arrests aren't the same. Coughing can be helpful in some settings, but isn't a substitute for CPR and isn't likely to save ones life.

A heart attack occurs when blood supply is cut off to part of the heart, usually as a result of a tear in the inner lining of a blood vessel. That will commonly causes a clot to form inside a blood vessel which supplies heart muscle. That can cause closure of the blood vessel. Without the oxygen supplied by the blood vessel, heart muscle begins to die. In some circumstances, but not most, that can lead to electrical instability of the heart. Some of types of electrical instability can produce a "cardiac arrest". Note that cardiac arrests can occur without having a heart attack. For example, use a bunch of cocaine and you may well cause electrical instability and an arrest without a heart attack.

In some settings, a cough can be useful. As earlier readers pointed out, some abnormal rhythms have been restored to normal by coughing, but it isn't something that works often. I will commonly have people cough during cardiac arrests, but I'm the thousands of "codes" I've run, I've never personally seen coughing work to keep anyone awake with a "cardiac arrest" no matter what the rhythm.

That said, can coughing stop a heart attack. Nope. Might it be useful in some cases of cardiac arrest to terminate some types of abnormal rhythm. Unlikely, but perhaps.

If you are driving along and get horrible chest pain, what should you do?

Call for help and take an aspirin if you've got one available.

I'd interject one other thing. I've taught BLS (basic life support) and ACLS (advanced cardiac life support) for years and I'd strongly urge your readers to find a course (they are almost always free) and take it. You may well end up saving your wifes, friends, neighbors, some strangers life. Amazingly rewarding thing to do and a hell of a lot more useful than coughing.

Mark Huth, MD-PhD, FACC 

Dear Jerry,

Just an FYI, The History Channel has a "history undercover" episode called "Project Orion" that goes into the history behind the project orion spacecraft concept. If you can find it on your TV listing, it is worth watching.

I still want one with battleship guns and shuttles mounted on top though.

Sean Long

So do I. Taylor and Dyson did the work on Orion; I was given the task of evaluation to see what they'd made of it.  Never went anywhere but it could have put about 5 million pounds on the Moon in one mission... Mostly I got the finale to FOOTFALL out of that.





This week:



Wednesday, March 8, 2000

Subject Palms vs paper 11f

From: Jim Dodd []

Dear Jerry,

Comparing a co-worker's Palm III to my compact size Day-Timer, I see both are just about the same size. I have used my paper-based system since 1978. It has a 2-page per day format for the current month, a 2-page current monthly calendar where I run my schedule, notes space, a 6-year calendar, a to-do list, and my phone book. I "run" it with H-P mech pencil I got at an H-P event years ago. It also has pockets for biz cards and small papers. I do have to type up any notes I take, but otherwise it doesn't use batteries and costs me $20 something a year.

I have been looking at the Palm Vx and wireless modem, and I don't see much value added there either. I can tell you that the San Diego Police Dept pays $50 per month per modem for CDPD, and they are a big user here. Maybe if I had critical deals coming in on eMail, and needed wireless eMail…

So who is actually doing what real-world work on these wireless PDAs? 

Jim Dodd

I'm glad you asked that question. Roland runs his life from one of those. I agree that the paper variety works pretty good too, but it won't let you reschedule your trip when your airplane gets in late...







This week:


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Thursday, March 9, 2000

Hi Jerry.

You posted Jim Dodd's question about who does real work with wireless PDA's. I'd like to give my view on how I've become more organized because of the Palm family. I've had a palm device since about March 1996...or maybe it was 1997.

I don't do a lot of air travel, but certainly do more than enough ground travel throughout my college's service territory. The headquarters is about 100 miles from here, and my students are anywhere from 90 down to 15 miles away. I visit the students at their business site every month, and the variability of the weather and their business and tends to make for some cancellations/reschedules each month. One way I use my PalmPilot Professional is to schedule the next month's visit when we wrap up the first visit. It has kept me from double-booking myself, which seemed to happen when I was doing it just on paper.

Near the end of the month I print a calendar to an Adobe PDF file, which then is emailed to the faculty secretary at the headquarters, where she sends it out with other correspondence to my list of students. Pre-Palm, I would call it in, or fax it. She would then retype into Calendar Creator or some other calendar program. By being able to sync the Palm to the desktop, then dump the desktop calendar directly to the secretary, we are saving time, and more importantly, we are not introducing errors in the scheduling. If only the folks at Palm would add a few more features like a user-definable header and footer line for the calendar.

The address book feature has become a contact magnet, for I know that once I get new information into the Palm, I will be able to retrieve and find that contact information then next time I do a sync to the desktop. I've got history on where I was for the past year.

I have got to laugh at the wireless email features. It is hard enough out here to get wired email, and I doubt I will use the Palm for that sort of application anytime soon. Ditto for "beaming" to colleagues or other contacts.

Mr. Dodd is right that the a lot of people can do quite well with paper daytimers. But the underlying feature that makes both of these approaches successful is the self-discipline it takes to carry the "device" and use it. For those of us who are latecomers to the idea of organization, we find that the Palm and its analogues provide a good tool for becoming more organized.

I suspect I can look up one of the 400 or so phone numbers in my Pilot more quickly than Mr. Dodd can in his daytimer. Certainly I would trust the legibility of the number more than my own difficult handwriting. Ditto for finding the code to the copier at headquarters. Or moving an appointment from one day and time to another. But I also suspect that Mr. Dodd's handwriting is better than my best Graffiti...and much faster. To each his own.

I do know that a lot of people are becoming more organized and have better self-esteem because of little devices such as the Palm, in approximately the same way that Quicken/Quickbooks has become the godsend for helping people become more financially organized. Once you get going (being more organized, or balancing your checkbook) it is so simple you can't believe you waited so long to do it.

charles duell









This week:



Friday, March 10, 2000

The following comes after an earlier exchange I didn't have time to do properly. My correspondent doesn't care for Microsoft, and complained that Microsoft won't let you use Netscape. In exasperation I pointed out that Netscape is no longer much use...

Thank for you prompt answer.

At home I do not have a fast connexion, so I have to use Netscape only for one feature: You can turn off download images and then everything goes far faster. In that mode a new tool in the toolbar allows you to download all images in one page.

In explorer that is very convoluted to do.

Working like that not only makes things faster but also spares me from all those anoying banners.

Why Microsoft does not provide an easyer way to do it? I did not know until I learned that Microsoft is the number one spender of advertisement on the Internet. Allowing the user not to display banner is agains its own bussiness.

Anyhow, I can still choose a competitive product to browse, but Microsoft is working hard to correct that.

Jesús Martin

-----Original Message----- From: Jerry Pournelle [] Sent: Friday, March 10, 2000 4:32 PM To: Jesus Martin Subject: RE: Microsoft Monopoly vs. Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson

You can't use Netscape because it isn't any good.

-----Original Message----- From: Jesus Martin [] Sent: Friday, March 10, 2000 1:01 PM To: Subject: Microsoft Monopoly vs. Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson

Dear Jerry:

I can buy a car from a huge selection of manufacturers and have no trouble driving it. And indirectly, that competition makes cars an incredible product. As a matter of fact I can buy almost everything from different competing suppliers.

But I cannot buy an operating system that is not Microsoft without "going back to driving school". I have to use Microsoft Developer Studio (that I hate) instead of far better tool from Borland, because Microsoft has try everything to make them incompatible.

I use Netscape but it is getting more and more difficult, because Microsoft wants to be the only provider in the products they sell.

Microsoft makes a positive effort in being a monopoly. No clones are accepted.

I can buy computers from different vendors and I have to look at the back of the box to know who made it. I can even buy microprocessors that are not Intel and no easy way to notice it.

Don't tell me that Apple or Linux are options instead of Windows. They are not compatible.

One of the best things that happen to this industry was the PC-compatibles and the software cloning. But when an attempt was made to do a compatible DOS (DR-DOS) Microsoft was more than ruthless.

Free market is based in multiple choices of compatible products. Perhaps Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson does not understand why he can buy CD's from companies that are not Phillips or Sony, and fly plains that are not from Boeing but cannot have choices, without having compatibility problems, when he buys operation systems, Word Processors, Spreadsheets, Programming Tools, Internet Browsers etc. He call that a monopoly and he's right on that.

What is the solution? Very simple: Forget about "Look and feel" copyrights. Allow clones. Everybody can manufacture cars, plains, TV sets, gasoline, DvD movies etc that are compatible with the competitors.

Jerry, I hope that you believe that competition is the engine to innovation.

Very few products in the last century have been monopolized by the inventor. The only one I can recall was the Xerocopier. Xerox did not license. They enjoy a monopoly until the patent expired and that was very good for them (nobody knows who's Rank), but bad for the consumer. The moment the patent expired we have a boom in xerocopiers quality. Xerox will have never invented the laser printer. Thank God patents last only about 17 years.

But Copyrights last more than 75 years, so unless Microsoft is forced to allow competition we will have lousy products in the computer software industry.

Sincerely Jesús Martín Software Engineer

p.s.. The first Xerox copiers came with a fire extinguisher because they used to catch on fire if the paper got stuck in the fuser. Like any Microsoft 1.0 version. Only acceptable when you have a monopoly.

I  run this press release without comment to see what readers make of it. I didn't have the reaction the PR agency thought to cause.


Hi ! We're the PR agency for FOSE 2000, and I wanted to give you details on FOSE, April 18 to 20 at the Washington DC Convention Center. FOSE is the largest IT trade show and conference with a government focus. Over 20,000 attendees have flocked to the show every year for the last 24 years. FOSE is one of the 8 largest IT shows in the country. 


Would you like to interview Bill Howell, General Manager of FOSE and Senior VP of Post-Newsweek Business Information, ahead of time &; have him talk about what's ahead? 

PRESS PRE-REGISTRATION Just e-mail us back and we'll arrange to have your badge waiting for you in the Press Room in the Convention Center. HIGHLIGHTS We'll have exhibits from 450 technology companies, 160 new products, and a full conference program focused on the hottest topics in IT. The complete program and registration is at <>

 NEW THIS YEAR--IT &; THE DISABLED New this year is a separate area that will feature exhibits from companies that make IT products for use by the disabled. "Section 508 @ FOSE" refers to Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act that requires government agencies after August 7, 2000 to provide for access to IT by the disabled for government web sites and for employees. 

KEYNOTES This year's keynotes are stellar: Tuesday at 9 AM, 4/18 -- Steve Ballmer, President/CEO of Microsoft Corporation Tuesday at 12 noon -- Janet Reno, U.S. Attorney General, speaking about access to the Internet by the disabled Wednesday at 9 AM -- The Federal CIO Council speaking about "Who Wants to be A CIO?" And on the last day, Thursday at 9 AM, Terry Bradshaw, Co-Host of NFL Live, speaking about "Why Not Your Best"

Thanks, Michael Flores Hosky Inc. 



Steve Martin's problem with his Philips CD-RW and a mixed-media CD made me curious, so I promptly loaded the only mixed-media CD I own (Mike Oldfield's _The_Songs_Of_Distant_Earth_) into my HP CD-RW.

No problems -- it plays very well. The odd thing is, the CD's data files are a game... for a Mac. My PC can't see them.

So I don't know if I have contributed to the solution, or to the problem. But I suspect it's entirely a matter of implementation on the part of the drive's manufacturer -- that some will do fine, others won't, and you'll not know without trying.

Troy Loney

Subject: CDRW and multi-track disks. - another data point. 


I have a "Smart and Friendly" brand CDRacer. This is a 2/2/24 X CDRW.

I have problems with it. Occasionally it goes into a weird state where it starts reading slowly and unreliably. Powering the system off does not fix it. Re-flashing the BIOS does fix the problem. For a while.

Civilization: Call to Power kicks it into its "unreliable" state almost every time. I've never really got more than partway into the tutorial before the machine ground to a halt. I don't recall whether I've ever tried to load Civ:CTP from my other drive. It ended up in a shelf marked "copy-protection???".

The previous release of the game, Civ 2 Gold, is a multimedia disk. It has both music and data tracks. I have no problem playing Civ2 from that drive, so long as the drive is in its "reliable" state. I haven't tried copying it. I only make a very few recordings with it. (drive backups, or music recordings to leave at the office).


I wrote you about Mr. Martin's problem with CD-RW drives, and mentioned my experience with Age of Kings on a Yamaha CD-RW.

You mentioned a possible problem might be in drive letters. Early on in the Win95 installations, I was bitten by Windows' defaulting the CD drive letters to the first free drive letter after the hard drives. When you added another hard drive or a Zip drive, the drive letters shifted, causing problems with all previously installed CD-based software. So I have made it my default to always start the CD Drives at the letter "M" to ensure no conflicts. My CD-RW drive was drive "M", and when I installed the new Asus 40X drive, I made it drive "M" and made the Yamaha drive "N." All my previously installed software works fine.

Still haven't had an opportunity to try to copy the Age of Kings disk. I'll give it a shot today.



Jerry, In the ongoing saga of Age of Kings:

I attempted to do a copy of the Age of Kings CD using Adaptec's CD Copier Deluxe. During the Testing phase, I received the following error:

T7124: TrackWriter error - CD read failed

There were no error message explanations in the help, in the manual, or, as best as I could tell, on the Adaptec website. I looked through the website fairly thoroughly, but a search on the website returned an error, giving a page not displayed error, no matter what search terms I entered.

My assumption, based on the limited information I have available, is that some sort of copy protection is employed.

I don't have a problem with vendors doing this, as CD Media is pretty reliable. I used to be very much anti copy protection, back when floppy disks were the primary method of distribution, and they were easily damaged. I'm sure that piracy of games, and the more expensive software, such as Office, is at an all time high now that CD-R drives are common. I didn't even consider that when I purchased my CD-RW drive, only needing an inexpensive method of sending large data files to several individuals, and a way to permanently record a history of my created documents.

I realize now that a common use is going to be duping CDs for illegal distribution.



(From View)>to make this useful for the rest of us who don't know how to use vi on IP chains (and that, let me tell you, is Major Aracana; Roland downloaded and printed about 200 pages of on-line help stuff before finding precisely what the problem was).<

I have read most of your books. I was on GEnie and read most of what you posted on your forum. But this is the single most humorous statement I think I've ever seen. I was helplessly laughing for several minutes. Not because what you say is wrong, or bad, but just because it is so true. Oh god I'm about to collapse again. Tears, in my eyes,

William Harris

And this is how the world ends: from a friend who is both lawyer and psychiatrist:

From: Edward Hume <>

 Date: Fri, 31 Dec 1999 22:57:00 -0500 

Subj: Warning Labels (updated) 

Some warning texts from actual packaging around the world: 

In case you needed further proof that the human race is doomed through stupidity, here are some actual label instructions on consumer goods: 

On Sears hairdryer: Do not use while sleeping. 

On a bag of Fritos: You could be a winner! No purchase necessary. Details inside. 

On a bar of Dial soap: Directions: Use like regular soap. 

On some Swann frozen dinners: Serving suggestion: Defrost. 

On a hotel-provided shower cap in a box: Fits one head. 

On Tesco's Tiramisu dessert (printed on bottom of the box): Do not turn upside down. 

On Marks &; Spencer Bread Pudding: Product will be hot after heating. 

On packaging for a Rowenta iron: Do not iron clothes on body. 

On Boot's children's cough medicine: Do not drive car or operate machinery. 

On Nytol sleep aid: Warning: may cause drowsiness. 

On a Korean kitchen knife: Warning keep out of children. 

On a string of Chinese-made Christmas lights: For indoor or outdoor use only. 

On a Japanese food processor: Not to be used for the other use. 

On Sainsbury's peanuts: Warning: contains nuts. 

On an American Airlines packet of nuts: Instructions: open packet, eat nuts. 

On a Swedish chainsaw: Do not attempt to stop chain with your hands or genitals. 

On a child's Superman costume: Wearing of this garment does not enable you to fly.

Doomed. Doomed I tell you.

Hi Jerry,

I am sending a link to you that might provide you a moment or two of amusement.

I have appreciated your column for a number of years and the perspective you provide when you try things so we don't have to!

Thanks, Steve Zank



You wrote: "I'm glad you asked that question. Roland runs his life from one of those. I agree that the paper variety works pretty good too, but it won't let you reschedule your trip when your airplane gets in late..."

This is why I carry an AE Platinum Card and belong to the AA Admirals Club. When things come unstuck, I pop into the nearest Club and have the ticket chicks at the front fix it. They have priority for some things. AE has a deal with some other airlines so you show the Platinum Card and a that-day ticket on the airline and you can use their club too (and get things fixed).

I take the charges as a biz expense.

I hope some folks eMail to tell what they are using their PDAs for...jim dodd



Adding to the discussion of Palm vs. Daytimer, I'm a relatively long user of both. I'm almost weaned from the Daytimer, but still need it. I also think the Palm is terrific. If I had to choose, I'd pick the Palm. But I don't chose (or debate) and use both.

More significantly, I can see the enormous potential and future uses. I'm almost ready to get a develpment kit and play around with these ideas myself, but from the information in my Palm about my calendar, it's clear I don't have the time!

Palm (use Palm III since they came out):

Small and light. I carry it me around all the time. Useful to hold all phone numbers for having all the time (jot down the occasional idea or to-do, or phone numbers). Can sort and categories "to-do's" and keep the list live. This is useful to prioritize without losing stuff. The BEST is that I can automatically synchronise with Outlook ... which means it's easy to keep my Outlook calendar up to date on the company network (which in my company it is expected). Downside: my employer's "technology police" has found my Non-Approved synchronisation software on my computer and have insisted I remove it. I now must synchronise manually. Takes far too much time and I hardly ever do it. I estimate productivity savings (now lost to me and the company, of course) of automatic synchronisation at about 1 hr per week (I don't have a secretary who can/will do this) which at current billing rates is about $7,000/year. Not a place to write notes in meetings (but with the new fold away keyboards I read about, this may change) With AvantGo, supurb to download a selection of web sites (I like New York Times, Salon, and ExploreZone. When I know I have a heavy day of meetings, I download about a dozen sites and read it during the meetings. Usually more interesting/useful than the meeting. Most everyone thinks I'm thinking hard working on my to-do list and calendar. Cost about $50-100$/year depreciation (depends on how long I keep it and so far I'm not pining to buy the newer models) plus about $30/year in batteries. Almost a wash with Daytimer. I play chess on it during airplane trips

Daytimer (use Desktop (8.5"x5.5") 1 pg/day format since 1979)

heavier and takes more space in briefcase. (have tried pocket versions, and have tried the UK Filofax format but too small to be replacement) Only way to have phone numbers is to print out a copy, but bulk of binder prevents taking it with me all the time. Supurb for writing notes (but I have to use my pen and my handwriting is terrible and I hate using apen when I could be useing a keyboard ... I often use my laptop in meetings for this anyway). Supurb for filing papers that I want to carry around (phone lists, contacts, basic info, reference material) Supurp for writing and keeping "diary" notes "for the record" ... order numbers, investment transactoins, things my boss or clients asks me to (what and when), travel records (my US income tax is complicated and depends on this). I don't try to keep my calendar up to date in Daytimer (use Palm). Can't get productivity savings by having automatic synchronisation As I recall, more like $50/year with shipping and I get the archival version with the binder plus I buy Daytimer's lined paper which is excellent quality and simply "works"

Rob Schneider London, UK


(If you post this to your Web page, please attribute it to: Paul S R Chisholm <>  

My ("compact") Franklin Covey planner is almost *exactly* the size of the Sony Magic Cap I had five years ago. The Franklin planner has good "software" (also available for Windows and Mac systems), excellent memory expansion, and adequate graphics and handwriting recognition. (I have a mechanical pencil with a *big* eraser. I don't understand people who write in their planners in pens; do they never make mistakes?)

My old Cassiopeia (which I used on the train when I commuted into Silicon Alley) and my Palm (which I use before falling asleep at night) have one big advantage over paper: I can compose text once, then upload it and paste it into e-mail. --PSRC

P.S.: David Farquar's OPTIMIZING WINDOWS (the "road runner" book from O'Reilly) is *wonderful*. Highly recommended. You and Bob Thompson should probably reference it heavily in your "good enough hardware" book.)







This week:



Saturday, March 11, 2000

Some more China obstruction by the Clinton Administration.

 Inside The Pentagon March 9, 2000 Pg. 2

FBI Won't Help Compile List Of PLA-Controlled Companies In U.S.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has turned down a formal request from the Defense Department to help produce a list of companies operating in the United States that are controlled by China's military.

"We're not going to do it; we're not the appropriate agency," an FBI source told Inside the Pentagon March 3. The source added that Defense Secretary William Cohen will receive a letter this week from FBI Director Louis Freeh on the bureau's decision.

The Pentagon is required to produce the list by an amendment sponsored by Rep. Tillie Fowler (R-FL) and included in the fiscal year 1999 Defense Authorization Act.

Specifically, the law says that the defense secretary "shall make a determination of those persons operating directly or indirectly in the United States . . . that are Communist Chinese military companies and shall publish a list of those persons in the Federal Register."

Moreover, the defense secretary "shall make additions or deletions to the list . . . on an ongoing basis based on the latest information available."

The law also required DOD to publish the list by Jan. 15, 1999, but the department has yet to comply. House Republican leaders have repeatedly called on President Clinton to demand "immediate compliance" with the Fowler amendment, most recently in a Sept. 21 letter to the White House signed by Speaker Dennis Hastert (IL), Majority Leader Dick Armey (TX), Majority Whip Tom DeLay (TX), Policy Committee Chairman Christopher Cox (CA), Fowler, and five others. Cohen wrote to Cox last year expressing concerns about DOD's assigned role under the amendment.

"The Clinton-Gore administration's failure to obey the law is knowing, willful and longstanding," Cox said in a Sept. 24 statement. "Eight months after the deadline in the law, it is essential that the president comply. By violating this statutory obligation, the president shows contempt not only for the law but for congressional oversight and . . . national security."

The House leaders first called on the president to explain why DOD has failed to comply with the law in a July 19 letter. They also asked for additional information, namely:

* "What human and financial resources have been dedicated to compliance with the law?

* "What interagency consultative processes have been instituted to ensure that the list of People's Liberation Army companies is accurate?

* "What additional steps has your administration taken to ensure that the list you are obligated to produce reflects the best information available to the [U.S.] government?"

A month later, Cohen sent a letter to Cox with an "update" on DOD efforts to comply with the Fowler amendment.

"I tasked the Defense Intelligence Agency with taking appropriate action . . . for the department. The agency determined that in the summer of 1998 the Chinese government announced that the Chinese army would no longer engage in commercial activities," Cohen wrote. "Despite this official de-linking, however, many Chinese commercial entities, some formerly associated with the People's Liberation Army, continue to operate in the United States.

"To determine whether any such entity retained overt or covert ties to the Chinese military required additional investigation. In planning to do this investigation, [DIA] identified two significant issues," he said. "Doing additional investigation might result in [DIA] collecting information on United States persons and might, therefore, be inconsistent with other provisions of U.S. law. Also, publishing a list generated from information compiled during the investigation might result in the disclosure of sources and methods of collection."

Cohen's statements were based on a July 26 DIA memorandum from the agency's then-director, Army Lt. Gen. Patrick Hughes, to the Pentagon comptroller. In it, Hughes said the "reporting requirement . . . is unachievable by us."

Cohen's letter also said DOD is undertaking an effort to "identify, within the executive branch, an agency which might more appropriately facilitate compliance with [the amendment], while also complying with other federal law and protecting sensitive sources and methods."

Clinton followed up Cohen's letter with a Sept. 7 note to Cox that simply stated he had asked Cohen to respond to the lawmakers' questions, a response the Republican leadership called "wholly inadequate." The FBI source said the bureau received a request for assistance from Cohen on complying with the amendment in November. Cohen proposed that the FBI compile the list for DOD, which would then publish it in the Federal Register.

The law allows the defense secretary to consult with the FBI director, as well as the attorney general and director of the Central Intelligence Agency, on making the list.

-- Keith J. Costa

Dear Dr. Pournelle I have a HP 7200i, over a year old, and it reads mixed media cd's fine. Supposed to write them as well (with Easy CD Creator) though I haven't tried this. Works in Linux also( or so I've heard, see below).

Speaking of Linux and CD-R, last night I decided to start figuring out how to do CD-R in Linux and did something really stupid. In lilo.conf I put append="hdb=ide-scsi" so that Linux would think my atapi cd-r was a scsi device. Unfortunately my cd-r is at hdd. hdb is the root device. "Kernel panic,unable to mount root device". I then discovered that my emergency boot disk had died. And, since I intend the cd-r to be the backup device, I have no backups.

Moral(s) of the story: Double check everything you write into an important configuration file. Check that the boot disk is good BEFORE you need it. Make backups early and often. Obvious, but then so is using the metric system for space navigation.

Sincerely Kit Case

Dr. Pournelle, After having read  I am more than ever convinced that, despite all of our technology, it still comes down to the 18 year old kid with the rifle to ultimately win our wars for us. Infantry still rules the battlefield. We most likely would have completed our objectives faster and more completely, and had a more accurate damage assesment and intelligence with a few thousand pair of eyes on the ground. Unfortuantely, this would have assured us of more casualties. I suppose billions of dollars is nothing in comparison to the life of just one US Serviceman. 

Here are some joke quotes for your amusement: "Subject: Soldiers from 1945 v. Soldiers from 2000 

1945 - NCO's had a typewriter on their desks for doing daily reports. 2000 - everyone has an Internet access computer, and they wonder why no work is getting done. 

1945 - we painted pictures of girls on airplanes to remind us of home. 2000 - they put the real thing in the cockpit. 

1945 - your girlfriend was at home praying you would return alive. 2000 - she is in the same trench praying your condom worked. 

1945 - if you got drunk off duty your buddies would take you back to the barracks to sleep it off. 2000 - if you get drunk they slap you in rehab and ruin your career. 

1945 - you were taught to aim at your enemy and shoot him. 2000 - you spray 500 bullets into the brush, don't hit anything, and retreat because you're out of ammo. 

1945 - canteens were made of steel, and you could heat coffee or hot chocolate in them. 2000 - canteens are made of plastic, you can't heat anything in them, and they always taste like plastic. 

1945 - officers were professional soldiers first and they commanded respect. 2000 - officers are politicians first and beg not to be given a wedgie. 

1945 - they collected enemy intelligence and analyzed it. 2000 - they collect your pee and analyze it. 

1945 - if you didn't act right, the Sergeant Major put you in the brig until you straightened up. 2000 - if you don't act right, they start a paper trail that follows you forever. 

1945 - medals were awarded to heroes who saved lives at the risk of their own. 2000 - medals are awarded to people who work at headquarters. 

1945 - you slept in barracks like a soldier. 2000 - you sleep in a dormitory like a college kid. 

1945 - you ate in a mess hall, which was free, and you could have all the food you wanted. 2000 - you eat in a dining facility, every slice of bread or pad of butter costs, and you better not take too much. 

1945 - we defeated powerful countries like Germany and Japan. 2000 - we come up short against Iraq and Yugoslavia. 

1945 - if you wanted to relax, you went to the rec center, played pool, smoked and drank beer. 2000 - you go to the community center, and you can play pool. 

1945 - if you wanted beer and conversation you went to the NCO or Officers' Club. 2000 - the beer will cost you $2.75, membership is forced, and someone is watching how much you drink. 

1945 - the Exchange had bargains for soldiers who didn't make much money. 2000 - you can get better and cheaper merchandise at Wal-Mart. 

1945 - we called the enemy names like "Krauts" and "Japs" because we didn't like them. 2000 - we call the enemy the "opposing force" or "aggressor" because we don't want to offend them. 

1945 - victory was declared when the enemy was defeated and all his things were broken. 2000 - victory is declared when the enemy says he is sorry. 

1945 - a commander would put his butt on the line to protect his people. 2000 - a commander will put his people on the line to protect his butt. 

1945 - wars were planned and run by generals with lots of important victories. 2000 - wars are planned by politicians with lots of equivocating. 

1945 - we were fighting for freedom, and the country was committed to winning. 2000 - we don't know what we're fighting for, and the government is committed to social programs (used to be called socialism'). 

1945 - all you could think about was getting out and becoming a civilian again. 2000 - all you can think about is getting out and becoming a civilian again. Thought some of the old soilders out there might get enjoy this. -Reese"

George Laiacona III <> ICQ 37042478/ 28885038 "You have fought well, Knight, and I accept your surrender. Uh, could you stop bleeding on my armor? Do you know how expensive this is?" -McDraco

This is one of many:

Jerry, I was just reading this weeks Byte column and saw that you had problems with large downloads . You should try Go!Zilla @  . It will allow one to resume failed downloads (at sites where that is allowed). D.Tanner

Actually GetRight works just fine so long as the place you are downloading from lets you use it. Many don't allow you to drag the download link to the GetRight monitor; those are inevitably the ones with a big problem.

And, now, for a very curious example of what use is Linux. Actually, that's FreeBSD I'm using, but that doesn't really change anything. So...

I'm using it to play Civilization: Call To Power for Linux. I guess one could say "you can play it on Windows too", but, as a matter of fact, I can't. It seems Activision game engine has something against my Compaq Presario 1621, as I have had really bad luck with their titles for some time. Their technical support was unable to do anything about it. I updated everything they told me to update, all programs they told me to run reported everything was fine and, in fact, I can run games from other manufacturers fine. Well, at some point they stopped saying anything new, and just kept repeating their "it's someone else's fault" mantra, without even taking a look at the file generated when the game crashes, and I gave up on them (for as long as I have this computer, as a matter of fact).

This week I decided to try Civ:CTP for Linux. That was an interesting experience. It took me a few minutes to find who sell it. Of course, I should have gone to a search engine from the start, but... Ordering was fast and painless (except for the hateful "state" listbox people seem keen on using), and I received it so fast I was thinking my order hadn't even been processed yet. Installation was fast and painless, and it runs just fine.

I guess what all this goes to show is... Your Milleage May Vary. :-)

-- Daniel C. Sobral (8-DCS)

One Unix to rule them all, One Resolver to find them, One IP to bring them all and in the zone bind them.







This week:


read book now


Sunday, March 12, 2000

Dr. Pournelle -

When I saw your comments about your wife's site being down yesterday I went to it and found it up. I just checked it again today, and it is still up and operating. I am reaching it through my DSL connection at home to I went through to the donations page at:

and it came up. Without knowing if you are getting what is entered there, I am not sending you my subscription funds that way!

Speaking of getting things, I sent the following email to your wife on 2/20/2000 and have not heard back. Could you forward this to her?


Ray A. Rayburn


-----Original Message----- From: Ray A. Rayburn [] Sent: Sunday, February 20, 2000 6:47 PM To: Subject: Reading program

Dr. Pournelle -

It is implied on your web site that the DOS version of your reading program is the suggested version for teaching an adult to read. Is this correct?

My wife graduated high school with a very limited ability to read. It appears she guesses what most words are from the way the word looks on the page. For many years she has had little interest in learning to read better, but now at age 50 is starting to show some interest in reading. I suspect using email to stay in touch with friends has had some positive effect too.

I on the other hand love to read. After not reading at all at the end of the third grade, I was taught phonics over the summer. Once I got the hang of it, there was no stopping me. By sixth grade I was reading twelfth grade level. My life would not be what it is without my love of reading.

I would love to encourage my wife to make this same discovery now that she is showing at least a little interest for the first time. Would you suggest one of your programs for us, or is there something better for our situation?

Thank you,

Ray A. Rayburn 

The Mac version of her program is self-pronouncing; the DOS version requires a human to read the lessons to a non-reader. Computers are patient but uncaring and which is better, human with human reward but the possibility of impatience, or uncaring but very patient, depends on the student.

The secure link to her site works all right but if you go to her home page you get "coming soon". Which is ungood.

Dr Pournelle,

I sent an e-mail to you several days ago detailing some trouble I was having in upgrading my home pc from Win98 to Win2000. Specificaly, win2k didn't like my Gigabyte Technology mother boards BIOS, and I couldn't get an update without paying through the nose for it! So I took your advice and got a new Intel SE440BX-2 mother board and a new pc100 spec 64meg ram card and built a new system. I have never recieved bad advice from you, and this was some of the best yet! I have everything up &; running, Win2K is installed and happy with its hardware. And for less than $500.00 I have a much better system than before. I also gained a lot of useful experience in dealing with these situations which will no doubt be of benefit to me as a future MCSE.

Thanks again, Jim Snover

p.s. I really like Win2k so far. I appreciate the way it prevents you from loading unsuitable drivers into your system, but rather warns you ahead of time and/or refuses to load and use them at all.

You won't go wrong building your own system and installing from scratch. Much to learn. Thanks for the kind words.


A few days ago you commented you didn't think it was a good idea for your neighbors down the street to own Stinger missiles (or an equivalent in meaning comment).

That a reasonably knowledgeable individual such as yourself makes such a comment bodes VERY ill for the fate of our Republic. The Founding Fathers left us with a paradigm---"trust your neighbor, not your government", and set up a government based on maximizing individual liberty. Those seeking to aggrandize their own power have for years been selling the paradigm "trust your government, not your neighbor", and have sought by all means to split the American population into sub-groups suspicious of one another (????-Americans, substitute your favorite ethnic or racial group for the ????). The final result of this will be a situation where citizens can trust neither their government NOR their neighbor.

As for me, I an quite happy to trust my neighbors with any weaponry they choose to own, as long as they respect my right to do the same.

I fear I have less confidence in both the competence and the intentions of some of the people around here. Possibly because I live in Southern California? But home brewed atom bombs and mutated anthrax do seem a bit much to have floating around. I don't mind machine guns, or even tanks; but after all we don't even want Saddam Hussein to have the instruments of mass destruction. 

>From Sunday's mail, Jim Snover said:

"p.s. I really like Win2k so far. I appreciate the way it prevents you from loading unsuitable drivers into your system, but rather warns you ahead of time and/or refuses to load and use them at all."

Actually, I found that at least my evaluation copy of W2K Pro would allow me to "hit" the ignore button and load Adoptec's CD Creator anyway - a poor choice that led to a complete reinstall, not even the ERD could help. The correct upgrade is supposed to be available near the end of the month. I did have W2K up and completely stable for two weeks prior to that. Moral: believe when it says something isn't supported, and check for the most recent upgrades/drivers before you start installing. I knew that, but...

Thanks for being here.

R Paul Hampson






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