THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 419 June 19 - 25, 2006
Highlights this week:
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June 19, 2006
Apologies: I got this up late, and there's not much here. My sinus difficulties will not go away. Yesterday was a good day, though, with two of the boys here, and I heard from all of them and their sister. They are all doing well.
I'll get back on schedule tomorrow.
|This week:||Tuesday, June
Still fighting this sinus pain thing. Have calls in to the doctors.
There is news on Jim Baen. It is not good. Jim is my oldest friend in this industry. He became editor of Galaxy shortly after I became Science correspondent, and we worked together through all my Galaxy columns save one. Our conferences were as much reward as the payments. A Step Farther Out owes a great deal to Jim.
My sinus irrigation system seems to help, which makes me think this is sinus and not something worse, but it is very hard to work with this headache.
I am beginning to hate Windows: when I open "My Computer" it takes a long time before I can get to my C: drive prompt. Sometimes programs pinned to the Start Menu just vanish and I have to drill into the Program Files folder to find them and launch them. I have no idea why. To be fair, with OS X on the Mac I spend a good bit of time waiting for something to happen too. In the Windows case it's two things: Outlook eats cycles, and if you have mapped to a drive on a machine not turned on, Windows takes FOREVER to decide that this connection cannot be made.
There has to be some way to just open the C: drive without going through My Computer. I suppose in fact there is, and I just haven't got around to doing it. I suspect I am just being irritable because my head hurts.
A number of you have suggested Start-Run-C:\ which of course would work, and I should have thought of it. Clearly my head isn't working very well. You don't have to open an explorer to get to the C:\ drive.
Of course I often use Norton Windows Commander for that. The problem with Windows Commander is that the first time you type in a drive letter like C you get CCCCCCCCCCCCCC and have to backspace back to get just one. That works but it's a pain. This is consistent behavior with all my XP machines, and I believe I recall that it happened with the beta 2 of Vista.
And see mail. I have solved the problem. Thanks to all who wrote
DOES anyone have the new patch for Blizzard World of Warcraft? Microsoft simply will not let me download it, and I can't find any way to change the stupid security settings. Apple OSX won't play the game nor will Linux, so that's no choice. The procedure for trying things is tedious. Apparently Windows Firewall goes berserk and blocks all kinds of things if you disable it -- and still won't let me download the update patch to the game. I have tried on several different machines.
Blizzard has a patch site for a direct download but it is jammed; probably because everyone has the same problems.
Microsoft strikes again: one major reason for using Windows is that games work. But the security system has defeated the updates. Anyway, apparently there is a way to get a direct download of the patch. If someone has it, please let me know.
==> NEVER MIND. I have found a source for the patch .exe file and it is downloading now. It will take about two hours, but once I have that I should be able to patch the game files on all my machines. We'll then see if Microsoft Security defeats me again.
Most of the problems appear to be caused by everyone trying to get onto World of Warcraft at the same time. The game is more popular than one might suppose. At least I seem to have got the updates, and on one machine was able to log on. Tried later and couldn't get to the server but I am sure that's just overcrowding on the net.
LATER: WOW works just fine, as does Microsoft OneCare and Anti-Spyware. Most of the problems had to do with non-responsiveness of the WOW servers due to massive overloading.
Once again I can recommend:
I have been using it hourly and that seems to be helping a lot. But they intend to do a CAT scan of my head as well. I never had one of those before. I hope there's no good reason not to do it.
June 21, 2006
They're making an appointment for a CT scan of my head, but I don't know when yet. My physician subscribers assure me that the amount of radiation involved is less than I get with tooth x-rays and about comparable to flying across country at high altitude so there's no reason not to do it. It should be an interesting experience. I've only seen these on TV, particularly on House.
After the Operas both Wednesday and Friday I walked about 2 miles with Sable, and then Sunday I managed about 4 miles, some of it in inappropriate shoes. The result was blisters on my right big and second toes, large enough blisters that I haven't been for a walk since Sunday night; probably another reason I'm a bit out of sorts. Alas. But the blisters are going away. Now if my head would stop. Actually, the headache, while distracting, isn't so severe can't do some work, but I confess that it's got me a bit nervous. Charlie Sheffield and Bob Forward both died of brain cancer in the not too distant past. I'll be glad of the CT scan, because I still believe this is associated with sinus problems. But until I know for certain there's a tendency to brood...
I note several articles about Daily Kos, a left-liberal blog. According to the Weekly Standard article they claim 1.6 million readers a month. On any rational interpretation of "reader" that's a lot, considerably more than we get here. They recently held a convention in Los Vegas which got about 1,000 attendees, of whom half were bloggers and half were press. The press turned out because they got Harry Reid of Nevada to come, and that attracted Mark Warner, Howard Dean, and Barbara Boxer. Nancy Pelosi was supposed to come but didn't.
Of course Daily Kos is a blog. I haven't looked at it much, but it appears to be short takes on various subjects followed by discussions by readers. I gather that's typical blog style. There are also a LOT of advertisements. I find the ads distracting, but apparently they bring in a lot of revenue. Since I haven't any way to sell ads and wouldn't want to if I knew how. I am sure I could get the right wing equivalent of "Anti-W Panties" to advertise if it tried hard enough, but I don't think there is enough revenue to get me to allow that on a page with my name on it. Maybe if there were enough to build a good low-cost to orbit rocket ship, but I doubt that Kos earns that much.
When I sat down to muse over this I thought about asking if there would be any point to adding a standard blog feature to this site? It would have to be controlled with user names and passwords, and probably confined to subscribers. I remember from the old days on Genie that it took a couple of moderators to police my pages and eliminate spam and libel; which is why I have stuck to the "editorial page" model for mail here. I try to read all the mail, and select what I think is interesting. Obviously I get some mail that is very interesting but doesn't get up because by the time I get to it there's a million other things to look at.
But I do manage to read nearly all the mail, and the result is impressive. I think of this place as educational. I am not trying to convert readers to my point of view, but I am trying to get all of you to think about what your views are. The same applies to me. Part of education consists in presenting information, but more important is getting people to think how the information impacts on currently held views. I try to look for mail that is interesting and will have some impact, and I try to be selective so that readers are not overwhelmed with information to the detriment of impact.
I could use an editor for some of the mail activity, but that would cost more than I can afford; and I am very reluctant to hire people anyway. I don't like changing people's career paths when there's not likely to be a future in it.
On the one hand, I doubt that the world needs another standard blog; there are plenty of places for people to talk to each other. On the other hand, most of the readers here are an intelligent lot, and exchanging views without me to mediate might be useful. And on the gripping hand, I do manage to have about the best mail page of anywhere I have ever seen; it ain't broke.
I recently did a renewal drive among subscribers, and the results were very good. Now I need another drive to increase the number of subscribers. Would offering blog capabilities for subscribers only bring in a substantial number of subscriptions? And would that change the educational value of this place? I need to think on this.
Our enemies have killed two of our soldiers in a barbaric manner. They hope, of course, to provoke us into mindless vengeance directed against everyone in sight.
That kind of retaliation can work. The Turks ruled Iraq for centuries, and did so by making it clear that if your neighbors were plotting against the Sultan, you would be well advised to turn them in, because nothing the rebels could do to you would be as bad as what the Janissaries would do to you.
It doesn't work for our kind of army. Indeed, that kind of brutality corrupted the Janissaries; and in any event we don't have any Janissaries. We could create a form of auxiliary constabulary that could serve as imperial occupation forces and rule by naked terror, but I do not think that would be a good thing to do; and using the regular Army and Marines for that kind of rule would be a disaster.
In other words, our retaliation has to be careful, deliberate, and targeted. I trust our generals understand this -- and that they can keep the troops obedient, because the inclination of the troops is to go on a rampage against these barbaric people.
June 22, 2006
I am working with Word 2007 on my main machine, and it turns out that I like it. I had to be forced (by the requirement to do a review) to use it. The interface is radically different. However, it makes sense. Things are easier to find, and having found the feature once, you don't tend to forget it because it is logically placed. The HELP files are traditional Microsoft No Help with little redundancy in the indexing, but since that's true for all recent editions of Word (ever since Chris Peters retired), you don't notice.
The text still doesn't look as good on screen, and I don't know why, but fiddling with fonts and zoom settings makes it better. The Zoom feature turns out to be excellent -- once you find it. The same is true of some other controls and features.
I'm still working to get Outlook 2007 to find the Outlook.pst files I copied over to the proper directory. I'll keep working on that.
I'm on hold to the CT department to schedule getting my head examined. We'll see what happens. It's pretty hard to work when you don't know if you have a sinus fungus, an infection, or it's not sinus at all but something considerably less pleasant. I'm to the point of hoping all I have is a bad tooth and only need root canal.
There's a lot of good mail, which I'll get posted reasonably soon. In general I don't acknowledge mail, and sometimes I collect several letters on a subject before choosing the one I think most representative. Other times I'll put up several letters when each has a point overlooked by the others even though most of the material is redundant. I don't usually edit mail, although I will chop out personal notes, and off topic asides and the like; if something is worth publishing it is usually worth publishing as it came, or so I have found.
I do thank all of you who take the trouble to write.
This seems a good summary of the comments on blog vs. what we do:
For myself, I prefer the current structure of the site. Wading through unedited comments is something I could do other places, if I have the time.
To which I agree. I do all those silly things so you don't have to. I do wish we had a few more subscribers. The easiest way to subscribe is through the PayPal button at the bottom of the day's entries.
Concerning Jim Baen:
Jim spent a quiet night, just like the night before. He seems to be resting comfortably.
Marla from the NC office got the CD player in and the dulcet sounds of Lyle Lovett and Bob Dylan have been with in the room ever since.
Thanks for sharing this with everyone.
I am in San Diego at the Beach House. Roberta thought getting away from the LA Pollens and into the moist beach air would fix my sinus problems. She may even be right: I don't seem to have as many problems here as I did back at the house. We'll see. More good news. The blisters I acquired on my foot are pretty well healed and the swelling and redness that had me a bit worried are gone. They still haven't scheduled my CAT Scan of my head. I'll call in tomorrow and see if the paper work is done for that. Meanwhile, the sea air may be the best thing I can do. I did bring my nasal pump, which also helps a lot.
If I seem to be running ads for this too often let me know. I don't make much if you buy it, and it was their idea after I wrote up my experiences with it. I sure can recommend it, and apparently a number of you have found it useful. It looks pretty odd to see someone (like myself in a mirror) with a tube at one nostril and water streaming out of the other, but it does help.
I'm only on dialup down here. That's because we don't stay here long enough to get high speed installed. The cable service here is Time Warner and they do not have a self-installation kit. You have to have them come out and that usually takes a week or more, and we are never here that long. One of these days I'll arrange to have someone meet them. Or maybe we'll just get DSL since that may be faster. I keep a good router down here to use when we get high speed. For the moment we've got 56K dialup.
On the drive down I had a call from Congressman Rohrabacher. I've known Dana a long time and we get together for lunch several times a year. Didn't work this time because I don't know when they'll schedule my CAT scan, but we'll manage it next month. I told Dana that if the Congress passes any version of the Senate immigration Bill with Amnesty, we don't need to discuss what committee chairmanships he might have next year because the Republicans won't control the House. The Republicans have pretty well lost the fiscal conservatives, having managed to outspend Lyndon Johnson and his Great Society, and they will lose the social conservatives over the immigration issue if they don't hold firm. It's a message he's heard from others, and the President doesn't seem to be listening, but it never hurts to say it again.
I have no desire to track down and deport every illegal immigrant already here. I do think we need to stop the flow. After that, we let law enforcement provide the attrition: every time an illegal immigrant comes to the attention of the police for anything more serious than a parking ticket, out they go. That most certainly includes those clearly involved in identity theft, such as using someone else's social security number. It also includes gang activity. Think of it as evolution in action. We get to keep those who work hard and keep their noses clean, and get rid of the criminal element. If there are still too many here, put a bounty on illegals and they will turn each other in.
Of course none of this will be done. I could easily write credible scenarios leading to civil war and rebellion if things go on as they are, and I see nothing that will change them.
You might be interested to know that at Osan AB, your website domain is explicitly blocked under the category "entertainment, online sales".
== I have no knowledge of this. I sell nothing. Well, I suppose I "sell" copies of Strategy of Technology through Paypal and I push my wife's reading program, but that's hardly online sales. I do hope to be entertaining. I really don't know why any Air Base would think me a danger to the troops.
June 23, 2006
Subject: re: Your site filtered at Osan AB
My guess is that Osan AB is using SmartFilter from Secure Computing. If you key in your site to the link below, you see the ratings for V4 and V3. For V3 they are "Online Sales, Entertainment". I happened to look up the rating for your site yesterday, while I was researching filters for a church.
You also get the chance to suggest a change.
I went to that URl and perhaps it is because my head aches, but I could make no sense of it or of what to do. I suppose it has been explained to how "services" like this "Secure Computing" work, and why anyone would allow them to dictate who is allowed access to whom, but the explanation didn't take. Are these outfits owned by private individuals? Corporate stock holders? "Western Enterprises" (a one-time front name for a CIA overseas corporation)? A religious group? Are they fronts, money makers, or just what? Because they do seem to have considerable power to determine what will be seen by at least some of our citizens.
Does that need discussion?
All journalists want to be entertaining, because no one will read their works if they are not, but I certainly would not call this site primarily an entertainment, and while once in a while I offer things for sale that is hardly my primary purpose. Do they ban all sites that accept Google ads? How does this work? And who decides whether or not to follow the advice of this group?
I remain at the beach. I don't have a head scan scheduled. Scheduling seems impossible, requiring a half hour wait on the telephone before speaking to someone who can't do it. I am increasingly convinced that my problem is sinus related but it may be a bad tooth; I'll have to check that next. It's no fun trying to work when you can breathe but each breath may produce some shooting sensations inside you head; not unendurable but darned distracting.
There is a new wireless threat. I expect most of you don't use unsecured wireless networks but sometimes at hot spots===
The American Conservative is a mixed bag, but some issues are excellent. The July 3, 2006 issue is one of those. I can recommend Scott McConnell's article on his trip through Palestine, which partly echoes many of my own experiences there a few years ago. Other articles are on the unrest in Afghanistan, where we had great success but perhaps now it is time to go; and a very good short piece on monuments by Peter Wood.
June 24, 2006
I have added footnotes to my original essay on The Voodoo Sciences. If you have never read it, it's worth the few minutes it will take.
Last night I posted some accumulated mail, a very mixed bag, with something for everyone.
My head continues to bother me enough that it's difficult to do sustained creative work. I am plodding along with my column installment for Monday, and mail, and the like, but getting into the state of mind required by fiction is difficult with sinus pains. The good news is that I am pretty sure this is sinus pain and not something more deep-seated and therefore more frightening.
One of the things I have been editing is Another Step Farther Out. This has been sitting around a long time. A Colorado Springs attorney was kind enough to edit it into something nearly coherent, and John Carr worked on it, but somehow it has been put aside. I am about to put it into pdf format. If there is another electronic format worth putting it into, I would like to know. I have bought ISBN numbers and I will offer this for sale, directly here on the web site, and through Amazon or some other such publishing service that will get to more people.
It shouldn't take that long to do. I find I am adding footnotes -- the essays were written in the 1980's and the last editorial revision was about 1996 -- but alas, I find I need very few such notes. The essays are pretty current.
Advice from those experienced in electronic publishing will be appreciated. What I really need is specifics.
Following is a repeat from an earlier view:
I have set Paypal up to allow you to buy Strategy of Technology in PDF format. The price is $6.95, which was arbitrarily chosen. The button below "knows" what you are ordering, and automatically sends me the address you ordered it under and notification that you paid. I will then email you a copy. The file is about 1 megabyte, but I sometimes send two different versions on the theory that someone will tell me which is preferable. My enormous thanks to several readers who converted the html files to pdf format. For those who don't know, The Strategy of Technology (1970; University Press of Cambridge, Mass.) was formally written by Stefan T. Possony and Jerry Pournelle. Francis X. Kane, Ph.D., (Colonel, USAF, Ret.) was an unacknowledged co-author; Dr. Kane was Director of Plans for USAF Systems Command at the time. The book was adopted as a text at USMA (West Point), USAFA (Colorado Springs), and both the Army and Air Force War Colleges, and was there for several years. It was also used in some courses at USNA (Annapolis) and at the Navy Post Graduate School. The book was written with general principles in mind, but the examples were chosen from the Cold War period. It was revised over time and all the revisions are incorporated into the pdf. version. The principles remain valid even though the examples are a bit dated. I don't hesitate to recommend it for anyone interested in the future of strategic doctrine.
I have had a surprising number of sales since I put this up over the weekend. I may try this with other works, such as Two Steps Farther Out.
Strategy of Technology in pdf format:
The announcement above resulted in about 150 sales, which certainly made it worth the effort -- fulfillment of the order takes about 20 seconds for each and is very simply done, I merely reply with the pdf file attached. Strategy of Technology is of course available free here in web form. I haven't had many comments from people who bought it as pdf, which presumably means they are neither happy nor wildly unhappy.
I have had no suggestions about alternate formats for Strategy of Technology. I am sure I have been told how to get things into Microsoft Reader format, but I do not recall where I stored that information.
While 150 sales of a book written long ago is not insignificant, it's certainly not enough to make it worthwhile writing a book. My experience is that so far electronic sales are a bit of decorative icing on the cake, not even the icing itself; pleasant to have, but not enough to live on. Others may know more about this. Despite my long years in the computer business, I know very little about marketing electronic books or even articles.
I get a lot of mail and for the next few days I am at the beach house on dialup (we're looking into DSL). I will appreciate suggestions about electronic publishing preferably from those who have done it (I don't mean to discourage speculations, but just now I really need advice from those with experience).
I should have Another Step Farther Out in shape in a week or so. I'll assign it an ISBN. Marketing suggestions welcome.
If the Florida gang is the worst we have to fear from Al Qaeda, we should be safe enough. It's not clear to me that these chaps are guilty of much worse than scamming a man they thought was an Al Qaeda agent. Perhaps I have missed something?
It's good to know that SOMEONE in the world still realizes that some things just aren't worth getting upset about.
June 25, 2006
I have taken the day off
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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