THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 173 October 1 - 7, 2001
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October 1, 2001
It's late. We drove back from the beach house this morning, then I broke my satellite communications system, then we went to Lohengrin final performance: we'd had tickets to the opening, but the opening was to be on September 11, so --
It was great.
Now I have a problem. Due to stupidity on my part -- it will be in the column -- I have managed to scrub the Athlon System used for my satellite communications. I now don't have satellite communications, and I have mislaid the installation disk for the VIA chipset motherboard. Without that disk I can't make the system work. I can't download the drivers because close examination of the instruction book doesn't reveal the company's name that made the board. There is a copyright notice but it doesn't give the name of the copyright holder! Needless to say there is no web site.
I need that disk. I don't know where I put it. I can't download drivers for the VIA 8631 chipset, video, Ethernet, and sound, much less the ATA drivers. I can't download nothing, because there is no hint of a URL for anything and I get a zillion hits with google. It is one more reason not to buy Athlon, and tomorrow I will go out to Fry's, get a case, power supply, and an Intel D815EEAL2 motherboard, which will have all the documents I need, and if I did happen to mislay the installation disk I could at least know the name of the company that makes the motherboard. I got the Case, motherboard, and an 1.3 GHZ Athlon chip for $239 at Fry's; it had on board video, Ethernet, a modem (which I didn't need) and sound. It looked like a pretty good alternative to my standard Intel D815 systems that I use for workhorses: but I didn't make a copy of the installation disk, I mislaid that disk, and there is no hint of a web site or even a company name where I can find the installation software. Heck, I'd buy a copy if I knew who to buy it from.
So I'll build another system with solid name brand components and the Athlon will sit in a corner aging until I throw it out unless I can find who made it and where I can get another driver disk. The box says "Personal Computer" and there is an area code 510 telephone number. I presume 510 is in the United States. This might be a useful box if I can get it running again, but I am weary of depending on anonymous junk.
That in fact was the problem: what I had was a bad Ethernet hub, but I didn't know that, so when Hermes ceased to talk to my internal net I assumed the problem was the no-name el cheapo Ethernet NIC in the system. Turns out not to be the case, but in trying to fix things I broke it completely in the sense of needing the Motherboard installation disk and that I can't find.
Later: well I found the disk. So now I start over installing W 2000 and all the system drivers, and then we will see. But I do intend to get a D815 system just in case.
I won't even tell you where I found the disk. It was really too stupid for words. It was right where it was supposed to be except...
|This week:||Tuesday, October
3 AM. I should go to bed. I have my doubts about VIA and Athlon. Of course the problem is probably Windows 2000 as well. What great fun.
9 AM: the problem was Windows 2000: the repair installation doesn't work. Or didn't in this case. I seem to be making progress with the full installation: before I went to bed I reformatted the hard disk and started over for real, and that seems to be working.
And John Strohm sends this:
They have prepositioned "random event generators" (???) around the planet. They are looking at the outputs, doing statistical correlations, essentially trying to decide whether there is some kind of "collective unconsciousness" that affects real physics.
They apparently see one hell of a statistically-significant spike in their data on September 11, 2001.
I have not read this in detail, just glanced over it. It doesn't look like a hoax, but you never know.
Now that would be real news. Jung postulated a collective unconscious; and that plays a fairly large part in Dianetics which is Hubbard's synthesis of Jung and Korzybski, and became the base of Scientology. Odd indeed. I haven't time to look at the data this morning.
I am now willing to believe that Microsoft and Earthlink and the Hughes satellite people all worked together to create the most frustrating system possible, guaranteed to drive everyone insane.
There is no other explanation of why this imbecility works the way it does. Clearly no one really tried to make this work and did any testing. Why should they?
The MSN home page, for instance, is designed for maximum problems with high latency systems: it wants about 50 requests for little files, and since there is a delay for each one, it takes literally about 4 minutes to download the MSN home page. Updates are just as bad. I suppose there is going to be some magical fix for all this when things are adequately cached, but I wouldn't count on it.
I have no choice but to sit there and wait for Microsoft to deliver its stupid home page with all the stupid little files, but once I get my updates I can be certain I will not go THERE again. Ye gods!
All right. Once it works it works fine. But ye flipping gods , the contortions I have to go through to get it going.
I don't know if the problems are hardware or software so I am going to get an Intel D815 system to install this on and try again.
It's a Race!
Galacticus the system that has XP Home Edition has informed me that it is going to shut down forever in one hour because my XP has expired. I have a new XP. I am installing. It says the installation will take 51 minutes. Ain't it fun? Meanwhile, if you have Windows 2000 running I think you would have to be insane or a computer columnist to "upgrade" to XP. Perhaps I am wrong but this latest trick has not given me a warm feeling.
If they do that to the press what will they do to mere customers? Irked. Irked I am.
Well I lost a few minutes as the installation locked up. I now have 39 minutes to go to install Home Edition XP. Hurrah. Hard reset got it going again, and I suppose the old one is gone so I won't expire. But we will see.
I seem to have XP Home installed in time and it seems to work.
I have bought the ingredients for an Intel D815 system to be the satellite server. I don't like the way the Athlon rebooted a couple of times when the satellite connection wasn't working properly. I am not sure what happened, and I don't know whose fault it was, so this time, it's Intel which I understand.
8:30 PM I have an Antec case (they don't sell PC Power and Cooling cases at Fry's or I'd be using one of those), a D815EEAL2 motherboard, an 866 Pentium III with fan, 512 mb of memory, a 16x DVD ROM drive, a floppy, and a Seagate 80 GB hard drive. We will see how long it takes to turn this into a working Windows 2000 system connected with the Hughes satellite.
9:35 PM System assembled, booting Windows 2000 Setup. Note that I put ten minutes into mail during that hour.
9:40 Begins formatting 80 MB with NTFS
About midnight I had the system set up, running, and connected by satellite.
If you see this it was sent from my normal machine by satellite. We will see how that works...
Odd. It uploads then -- well we will see. I get that the Index page updated, but now View.
Today has about convinced me to give up all this computer stuff and write fiction for a living. I hate these machines. I hate Microsoft. I hate the Internet. I am weary of wasting time with stuff that doesn't tell me what is wrong, only that it cannot connect to various servers and things. I have no idea if I can put this up and if I can whether or not I can see the updates if it does manage to get them up.
I do not much like this Hughes satellite or the WinShare system, both of which are prone to mysterious failures without any indication of why. If there is a butterfly in the path of the signal? The satellite is working but the Net is not? I am not holding my mouth right? There is no real way to know.
I think I would rather have reliable and slow rather than intermittently fast but with mysterious failures. We will see.
FTP transfers take ten seconds waiting, instant shipping of the actual data, and another ten seconds waiting to be told it worked. It used to be a second of waiting, four seconds of actual data transmission, and instant acknowledgement of the results. Which is preferable depends on how much data I am sending I guess.
As usual, as we plow along, things begin to work better. We do all these silly things so you don't have to. But this has not been a great day...
Well, I have a lot to write about for the column. I don't have a happy ending. The summary is Earthlink satellite communications is sort of crippled. There are specific tasks it does well.
I do these silly things so you don't have to...
October 4, 2001
The good news is that there's a lot to write about. That usually means the bad news is that I had a lot of problems, and this is no exception. But I have now done enough silly things that I think I understand this stuff.
We have high speed access through the satellite. Sort of. Practically almost. Bottom line is that it's preferable to dialup modem service, sometimes, for some things. Not for others. All that goes in the column.
We have a lot of mail on many subjects. It's a glorious day out there. And I have to write this column.
I also have XP going in both Professional and Home editions. It's a pretty good Windows if you inherited it. It's a far better upgrade for Windows 9x than Me was, and if you have Me you will probably want to replace it with XP. It is stable. It has the problem of registration, meaning that it isn't easy to pirate. It does work.
I'm staying with W 2000 for most of my systems.
October 5, 2001
Hard at work on column. Hope to have draft done this evening. Some mail over there to look at. I am planning some essays on the current situation in the world, but I have to pay the bills.
The satellite system works for some things, sucks dead bunnies for others, and that will all be in the column.
FTP is particularly a problem: sometimes things go really well, sometimes they take FOREVER. Latency is awful.
BUT GET OVER TO MAIL and see the XCOR flight announcement.
I have disconnected the satellite system. That leaves me with a couple of spare machines. I suppose I can use that monster when I need to do big ftp uploads or go to big web pages, but it isn't easy because I have to shut it down then bring up the Linux Netwinder. It will all be in the column.
One of the big problems is reliability: when things don't work, is it net congestion, WinProxy, the satellite itself, I don't hold my mouth right, or..
October 6, 2001
Column time. I am trying to get new stuff into War Mail and other places. I'll catch up some time. I am dancing as fast as I can...
I hate this satellite system. I am sure I will get it figured out some day, but just now it has decided to tell me that I am not authorized to use mail. Not authorized to use this service, saith WinProxy, which is I guess a wonderful program except it doesn't really explain anything on why it does things the way it does.
So I will use the satellite to update my web site, then shut it down and go back to good old Netwinder and dialup so I can get mail again.
So now I have turned off Mercury, turned on Netwinder, things worked, turned off Netwinder, turned off Netwinder, turned on Mercuryt so Roland could look at the settings --
And everything works just fine, no adjustments needed. Precisely what happened, and whether the problem was Windows, the satellite, or WinProxy we will never quite know. When I had the problems I actually shut down the work station to see if that helped. It did not. Shutting down Mercury and turning it back on did. Details in the column.
For some purposes the satellite system is just fine, and if it's all you can get it's better than dialup. For some purposes it just won't work at all. Among those are most on-line games. But it's pretty good for getting patches...
Now to finish the column.
Something else to think about; I don't know what to make of this.
October 7, 2001
I came back from church to find the news. I also find that the Internet is effectively shut down. The satellite says it is connected but to nothing. My dial-up doesn't connect either. I presume that will change: if you read this it clearly did.
The Internet's Critical Need Detector is working just fine.
I turned off the satellite. My land line is connecting. So much for satellites.
One observation: Peter Jennings was talking with the Ambassador from Pakistan. He quickly put him on hold, because they had a days old clip of Bin Laden speaking.
We interrupt this live interview with Winston Churchill to bring you a recorded speech from Der Fuhrer! Please stand by.
This is Armed Forces radio, stand by for Tokyo Rose.
Jennings at least has shown who the really important players are in his view.
Watching the Secretary of Defense I find myself having increasing confidence that these people know what they are about.
Our news crews don't have much of a clue but the government seems to. Crater the runways. Take out fuel supplies. Achieve air supremacy quickly, and maintain that. Send in food supplies for liberated and capitulating areas. And hint darkly of more to come including THE GURKHAS WILL BE UPON YOU!
And offer gold for the heads of enemies.
This looks to be a serious operation of the kind Clinton should have taken after the embassy bombings.
Up the Empire.
The Internet isn't working well. It takes forever to send a page update. Connections drop all the time. I suppose it is to be expected.
They are up again this morning.