THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 415 May 22 - 28, 2006
Highlights this week:
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This is a Day Book. Pages are in chronological, not blogological order.
May 22, 2006
at airport. flight delayed. All is well, wifi Working well. Handwriting recognition pretty good. I should be able to do some work.
I have electrons, wife, except it believes WI FI is wife...
I probably can do some mail. We will see.
= = = =
I got this in mail w/o a Source.
"Hate speech," variously defined, is now prohibited in several countries and - despite the U.S. Supreme Court's sweeping support for free speech - is the subject of campus speech codes on many American university campuses. The author is among those who see the prohibition as a threat to serious scholarship in particular and freedom of speech in general. Unless "hate speech" is defined narrowly as virtually equivalent to what the U.S. Supreme Court calls "fighting words," he maintains, it is a concept that is in a number of ways profoundly flawed.
I have to agree with the assessment, though.
Eric Raymond gets a death threat: http://esr.ibiblio.org/
It has been an exhausting day. Gates speaks first thing in the morning. We had a very enlightening conference with AMD both marketing and technical people, and we saw a 32=socket 64=CPU computer and Alex got to play with it a bit. I am embargoed until midnight on the rest.
We are told that the current Betas of Vista , and of Office 12 (Office 2007), are very stable, and I can now use them in my production machines. I will try that at home.
Flex-Go pay as you go computing, which requires real security and must be unhackable; that's going to be interesting. Phoenix is putting that in at the BIOS level, and it looks pretty good: the notion is to make the computer unusable if you are not paying the fees until it is paid for; and to make it useless to chop it up for parts. Interesting...
We are still looking for details on licensing when you are running multiple copies of the OS on the same system. If I have 12 virtual machines isolated from each other, how many OS copies must I have paid for?
And so starts WinHEC....
|This week:||Tuesday, May
WinHec today. We had the Bill Gates keynote this morning. VISTA is becoming a bit like the girl married four times but still a virgin. We are all sure it will be great when we finally get it, but we are less and less sure we understand what it is we will get. However, we will be taking home copies of VISTA and OFFICE 12 Beta 2, and I will have the one running on the other on a good machine, and that will all be in the column. There really are some neat features in VISTA. We have not heard a lot about Office here this time.
Microsoft is unable to set up a wireless net that works. Alex had a net with this many users running at E3 so it is certainly possible, but apparently Microsoft either doesn't know how, doesn't care to do it, or has had extraordinarily bad luck. Most of the time the wireless net simply will not work: you can't get on, or it is very slow, and it drops you. Sheer overload. This was understandable several years ago when the technology wasn't very mature, but most conferences now bring in net consultants who do it all invisibly and It Just Works. Alex does that for PepCom events. Ah well.
The most important part of all this for me is that I have the code and I can start using this stuff. Reports in the columns. One of the points they keep making here is that you should make sure any new machine you get will be Vista capable. Of course you can't get Vista before next year. This probably doesn't make the hardware vendors too happy.
Had a long meeting with AMD. Dell is now selling AMD systems. I'll be getting the new AMD kit to build a new high end workstation at Chaos Manor. Report in the column, but I am looking forward to this. They have some smoking stuff. Of course AMD wants me to run the new Office Beta on the Vista Beta on the new machine, which I will do.
Virtualization capabilities are big, and the notion of computing plenty with several virtual machines running at once is a big topic of conversation. Of course the Intel Mac will already do that; I have reader reports of a machine running OS-X, and using Parallel, both Windows XP and Linux, all at once.
I have seen a 64-processor system running Windows Server. It's impressive, seeing 64 little performance windows in the task manager....
Pete Glaskowsky points out that Should read 32 dual processors. I have thanked him. Alex says just to be excruciatingly correct.
An Inconvenient Truth
Opens today in New York and Los Angeles.
Of course, I have not seen it. Is The and of the world coming? News at 11
Yesterday coming into WinHEC we encountered chaps in hazmat suits handing out materials accusing VISTA of being toxic, namely because of Digital Rights Management. Today I sat through a session on how VISTA video output is to be protected. Fort Knox doesn't have that much protection. Details in the column...
But as Richard Doherty points out, a really good camcorder on a steady tripod aimed at a really good monitor will make a pretty darned good copy of anything it is looking at, so what is all this expensive cryptological stuff -- Bletchly Park should have had so much -- protecting?
May 24, 2006
Still at WinHEC. Mail on licensing, languages.
Thanks to Tracy Walters:
First pictures of the $100 laptophttp://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/05/24/mit_kids_laptop/
May 25, 2006
Last day of WinHEC. Presentation this morning on Ultralite or UltraMobilePC. At the moment they are too expensive, but that should change. Iron is still more expensive than silicon --- and Windows OS is geared to metal hard drives, not solid state drives. So the presenter said but the session was more marketoid than technoid and I did not get any explanation of that remark. Perhaps one of you will know? It seems interesting. Some day the drives will all be solid state, particularly in paperback-book sized PC's. Or so I believe.
Lisabetta the TabletPC continues to serve me well as the only machine in use. I have a second one in the roll-on but it has not been turned on since I got here. Lisabetta's keyboard is a bit small but I am used to it. One annoyance: there is significant "bounce" in the keyboard, two letters appearing when I meant only one. I am a sloppy typist, but I don't get this effect except with the TabletPC keyboard, mostly on the l and k keys but sometiimes on others -- see the last use of the word sometimes in that sentence as example that I did not correct. If there is a fix for this I do not know about it. It's not a crippling annoyance, merely an annoyance.
But I can turn out lots of words with this machine. I'm writing this in the press room at a table, so it's easy enough, but I can do pretty well at any table. Not on my lap. The convertible keyboard form factor just doesn't work well for use on a lap. But so long as there is a table I can turn out words at about 90% of my usual speed, which is pretty fast. And of course with the PEN I can write, albeit slowly, almost anywhere. A good TabletPC and OneNote will change your life.
This evening I take an airplane to San Jose where I am GOH with Niven at BAYCON in the old Red lion now a Doubletree Hotel.
Thanks to Tracy Walters for this one:
Subject: Japanese boffins build breakthrough brain-machine interface
Found a Turkish correspondent in the press room. Apparently my column is extensively translated and read in Turkey. I am glad to have that confirmation.
And the constitutional crisis continues.
Pelosi and the Speaker ought to sponsor a JOINT RESOLUTION OF IMPEACHMENT if the President does not order the return of all papers and an apology from the FBI. The principle of separation of powers is too important to allow this or any administration to compromise it. If a Member is a criminal that is the business of each House separately, and its sergeants at arms; not of the executive.
I am glad to see that Pelosi and the Speaker stand together on this. Impeachment should follow if nothing else is done. This is beyond the power of the President. And see below
I have half an hour in SeaTac airport, but it is hard to write an essay with a pen, and it is not convenient to set up the keyboard. One limit of a TabletPC. But I can do some mail and have. That is an advantage of the Pen Computer.
Alas, This Starbuck does not have T-Mobile and I will not pay $ 7.00 to get access for an hour to what it does have. Peter has Cingular that works everywhere and I am Convinced to change to that.
Just as each House is the judge of the qualification of its members, each House is responsible for enforcement of ethics and criminal actions of members. The Houses have sufficient authority to do as they will in those cases.
When you bring the executive power into direct enforcement against sitting Members of either house of Congress, you end the separation of powers. It is easy for the executive to fake 'evidence' if it chooses. Once the executive power can intimidate sitting Members of Congress, you have an entirely different kind of government.
Now it is required that the Houses inquire into the criminal actions of Members. But that is done by their own agents, or at the request of the Speaker or President pro tem; not by the executive authority.
Is anyone mad enough to suppose that in 200 and more years there have been no crooked Members of Congress? Or that none were ever known to have been crooked? Yet in the 200 years no executive has dared search the Capitol offices of a sitting Member. No previous President has thought he had that power. Just as the House Ushers or Sergeants at Arms have no authority to go search the White House. This was all learned during the English Civil Wars, and understood by the Framers. And of the three branches of government, until this week, it was clearly understood that the "most sovereign" of the three was the Congress. Not the Court, not the President, but the Congress.
One reader asks what if a Member kept child pornography and heroin in his office, as if that were the worst thing imaginable. Would he be immune? Well -- to the executive, yes. Not to the Sergeants at Arms of his house. The Speaker has ample authority to deal with such matters. Nor are the quarters off the Capitol places of immunity: no one complained when the Member's home was searched and a lot of cold cash was found in his freezer. But the proper remedy in all these cases is specified in the Constitution and by long standing precedent; and turning the agents of the executive --- the Army, if you will -- loose on a sitting Member is not the proper remedy. It has never been done in these United States, nor should it be.
There are worse ills in a Republic than corrupt members of the Legislature.
Note, incidentally, that while Members of Congress and Senators enjoy many of the immunities of the old Roman Tribunes of the People, they cannot at the same time be part of the Executive. There are arrangements by which Members can hold commissions in the Armed Forces and still sit as Members, but they don't in fact hold both offices at the same time; their commissions are on hold, so to speak. Goldwater was a USAF general, but he did not wear the uniform or take the pay as a reserve general while he was a Senator; there was a dispensation, so to speak, to allow him to fulfill some of the reserve requirements, but if he had joined the armed forces as a serving officer he would have had to leave the Senate.
This was deliberate. Old Rome mixed executive and legislative, and in England you must have a seat in Parliament to hold a Ministry; bribing Members of Parliament with offices and pensions was a fine art in England during the 1700's and this did not escape the Framers. Nor did it escape them that the King, before the Civil Wars, had intimidated the legislature, imprisoning them in the Tower for voting against his wishes, and even sending the soldiers into the legislative chamber to disperse them. Cromwell did much the same thing.
Better to have legislative immunity than to allow the executive to intimidate the Members. We can tolerate crooked members of Congress. If the entire Congress is corrupt and can neither be prosecuted nor voted out of office, we are in a Constitutional crisis anyway, and on the verge of Civil War. And yes, some Members have abused their privileges and immunities, some in notorious ways. That's the nature of power. It gets abused. But better a few corrupt Members than their intimidation by the Executive which has all the power it needs to find ways to charge the Members with criminal actions.
May 26, 2006
Morning. Many of you have sent mail questioning my sanity regarding the seriousness of the Executive's violation of the immunities of the Congress. My only answer is that you will live to regret this.
But, some protest, the Member is clearly corrupt. There are tapes of his iniquities, ample evidence; he will be charged and convicted in ordinary courts without evidence obtained from his office.
Precisely. Precisely. There was no need. Yet it was done. There was no need. Yet it was done. Ponder that.
The Regiments that never die...
May 27, 2006
May 28, 2006
My sinus infection seems to have returned, and there is little to no sleeping here. Alas.
Regarding legislator immunity:
In a perfect world in which the executive authority is always trustworthy, one does not need competing centers of power and local immunities. "Why should that crook be treated any differently from you or me?" would be a sensible question were we assured that the Authorities were Angels. Heaven is said to be an absolute Monarchy, and well it should be.
Here below we do not have angels for governors; and the only limit to Power is another Power. The only limit to arbitrary and evil power may well be another power equally evil. With competing Powers there is the possibility that one of them can be reformed, and if they are large spheres, then there is space in the box where neither governs and freedoms may be found.
When there are no competing powers, when no power is held independently of the executive -- and independence implies that sometimes that competing power will be used unwisely and will not properly police itself -- they you have an entirely unified power structure; and you depend on the good will and efficiency and incorruptibility of your executive. Absolute Monarchy is indeed the best form of government given a really good Monarch.
In this world here below, fragmentation of power with its inevitable abuses is the most we can hope for. Legislative immunity of one degree or another is one of the prices of power fragmentation. Despite its potential for abuse; despite the inevitability that it will be abused; my reading of history suggests that it is a cure far better than the disease it treats.
This is a day book. It's not all that well edited. I try to keep this up daily, but sometimes I can't. I'll keep trying. See also the monthly COMPUTING AT CHAOS MANOR column, 8,000 - 12,000 words, depending. (Older columns here.) For more on what this page is about, please go to the VIEW PAGE. If you have never read the explanatory material on that page, please do so. If you got here through a link that didn't take you to the front page of this site, click here for a better explanation of what we're trying to do here. This site is run on the "public radio" model; see below.
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