O frabjous day! Windows 10, Declassification, and Other matters

Chaos Manor View, Monday, April 11, 2016

“This is the most transparent administration in history.”

Barrack Obama

Liberalism is a philosophy of consolation for Western Civilization as it commits suicide.

Under Capitalism, the rich become powerful. Under Socialism, the powerful become rich.

Under Socialism, government employees become powerful.



O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay! I chortle in my joy!

I went to the Writers of the Future annual award ceremony last night, where I was one of the presenters, but I can’t tell you much about it. For days now my hearing had been fading, and by Sunday afternoon it was so bad that I could understand nothing; at least nothing that was not said directly to me by a person close by and speaking straight on so that I got some clues from facial expressions and lip reading. I could hear, sort of (although far less that I thought I was hearing), but I comprehended nothing. I noticed this at church Sunday: I could barely hear that the choir (with my wife in it) was singing, but I hadn’t a clue what. Needless to say I did not comprehend the lessons or the homily. At the awards ceremony I understood nothing, including the keynote speech, which was about the need to colonize Mars. I didn’t even hear my own remarks and introduction to the winner.

Apparently it went well enough, and no one, including close friends who would have told me, noticed, so I got through it all right; but it was a depressing day.

This morning I called Michael Galloway and he drove me out to COSTCO; I was too depressed to drive. By that time I had conjured up a dozen scenarios, most involving unobserved mini-strokes, and I didn’t trust myself to drive.

Got to COSTCO and went to the hearing aid center. The technician I bought the Kirkland hearing aids from was not there, but that didn’t matter. I explained that I could no longer hear, we took them out and she went to her work bench, fiddled about with them for a few minutes, and brought them back. I put them in, and suddenly the suspiciously quiet store sounded like a big warehouse with thousands of people shopping in it, and I could hear her say “How’s that” clearly and distinctly although she was talking past me, not directly to me.

And indeed, they are as good as new. Ear wax. Not in my ears; I clean that out religiously. In the hearing aids themselves. On reflection I should have thought of that, but I hadn’t, and no one else had suggested it either. So now I hear the birds singing, and I make no doubt that I will be able to understand when people are talking to me; I can even overhear them when they are talking to each other and not me. I have the suspicion that this has been getting progressively worse for weeks and I didn’t notice; now I am hearing birds sing.


Wednesday night: I finished my taxes. Not as tough as I thought, and I did a good job of estimating my income for the quarterly payments.  Tomorrow I’ll send them in.  Feels good to have that done



Dr. Pournelle,

Please try opening outlook in safe mode, then it should (may?) open up in normal mode.

Type ‘outlook -safe’ (or outlook.exe -safe) in a run window. Close safe mode Outlook and open in normal mode.

I experienced the endless Outlook blue opening screen after my work laptop was re-imaged from Windows 7 to Windows 10. While running things in Windows 10 seemed snappier, particularly shut down time, I had odd connection issues to my client’s VPN. Because the OS was locked down, I couldn’t update the sound and camera drivers. As far as upgrading to Windows 10, my advise is to have complete backups, and be ready to abandon the computer.

Back in the day, I would buy Byte magazine for your columns. At that time, your approach to problem solving was the greatest take-away. As you have expressed, presently problem solving with Windows depends on arcane knowledge that cannot be solved through traditional problem solving methods.

Your equipment travails are transient. Your comments on current events tie into the human condition and are often worth going back to read, even after many years. Whereas technical issues… Please consider giving up on Precious so you can focus on your writing projects (I really want to read more of Janissaries).

To finish, thank you very much for sharing your thoughts via Chaos Manor. I think of you as my mentor.

Jan Stepka
Lexington, KY

How do I open it in safe mode? Several others have suggested this, but I am manifestly ignorant of how to accomplish it.

oulook.exe -safe

Hit the Windows key, type r and click on Run, and type in ‘outlook -safe’. Then press the  Enter key. You can also type ‘outlook.exe -safe’.

Jan Stepka

It’s all my fault. I had tried run outlook / safe and essentially got the message that there is no such command; and got discouraged. Doing Start > r get me menus, but none of them were “run”. I used to be more persistent. This time I click start and typed r, and on the Surface nothing happened. Finally I was persistent, and did Start > “run” and indeed it opened a small blue window, not the big black command line window. I typed in outlook.exe –safe, and behold! Outlook opened just fine. No difficulties. It’s been running and updating incoming mail for hours. The secret was persistence; and realizing that Microsoft has changed the / key for entering arguments to – which does not seem intuitive to me at all.

Now it’s time to close Outlook (safe mode) and try to open it again. I’ll do that now.

Well, it worked; of course in the Microsoft manner. It closed fine. I went to open it, and the Outlook icon in the screen bottom tool bar had vanished. I looked in the Start Menu, and was shown an icon for Outlook 2016. Pressed that, up popped the small blue Window saying “Starting” along with the moving dots indicating trundling; then a full two seconds later, Outlook 16 opened. New version, I suppose, triggered by my attempt to do a repair installation? Anyway, I’ve got it, and the Surface is working fine again.

The moral of the story is that Windows 10 and the Surface Pro work fine, but it is probably not a wise idea to be involved with the experimental updating Windows 10 test program unless you like to do silly things – lots of silly things – and don’t so them with a main production machine.

But it has been a good day. The Surface Pro is working again – and when it works right it’s wonderful, and used with One-Note is as good a research machine as ever I’ve had.

And I can hear again!

O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay! I chortle in my joy!


Another revelation, at least to me: clicking on the monochrome quadrisected icon on the lower left on you screen – the one that looks like the “Windows” key on your keyboard, but does not look like the Technicolor start icon in most Windows Help files – produces a menu, both a list and a bunch if icons. RIGHT clicking on it produces an entirely different Menu in black and white with many other commands, most of which experienced users will be used to, nearly all useful, and fairly unambiguous. Why left-click and right-click produce such wildly different results is worth debating; but I didn’t know about it, and I find many others did not know about it. You probably did, but if you didn’t, try it. Incidentally, if you left-click first, the polychrome menu stays up though covered by the monochrome menu when you right-click; but if you right-click first, then left-click, the right-click menu goes away.


Preventing windows 10

Hi Jerry,

Microsoft has apparently decided that privacy busting usage monitoring was a competitive advantage at the same time they decided to stop telling customers (including large enterprises) what was being pushed with OS updates. That’s not something that I’ll tolerate, and it’s a large part of why they have to force-feed the upgrades.

For those who want to put a fork in the windows 10 forced upgrades, try this: http://ultimateoutsider.com/downloads/ I’ve found that it shuts it down cleanly, and reversibly.

For those who have upgraded, they can at least mitigate the worst of the windows telemetry and tracking with https://www.safer-networking.org/spybot-anti-beacon/ which is a lot easier than trying to find all the hidden preferences.

Unfortunately Office 2016/365 is just as bad, and there’s no easy way to turn it off short of using a firewall to block all traffic (which results in pestering every launch to validate licensing). Between that and the absolutely horrible performance in Excel 2016 on the mac (a full second to navigate to a new cell in a blank spreadsheet – on multiple machines), I cancelled my subscription and downgraded to the terrible, but usable, perpetually licensed Office 2011.

When did Microsoft get so creepy?



A tempting sentiment, but I have no real choice but to go with what Microsoft presents. In BYTE days I had the resources of 30 expert BYTE editors who had, among their other duties, the task of answering my questions, even if it took a lot of research. I still have very canny Advisors, but they are volunteers and advising me isn’t their day job. It makes a difference. I do agree that Office 10 or 11 is superior to any of the “improvements” I have seen recently; but I suspect many of us have enough work to do that we will simply live with the “improvements” – so long as we can learn how. My recent experiences have reinforced my views of the “helpfulness” of Microsoft Help.

Windows 10

Is it not an option to run a stable (non-beta/non-experimental) version of Windows 10 on the Surface? I mean if you want to live on the cutting edge, that is one thing. But it seems to be interfering with how you want to use the machine.


Yes, but it is the machine I didn’t think I would need soon; now I may have to go on the road, and it will be important, so I have to rethink. But I do a lot of silly things.


The CoDominium isn’t dead

Dear Dr. Pournelle,

You might be interested to learn that ‘codominium’, rather than consigned to the dustbin of history, is now on the lips of serious policymakers in discussing Russian-American relations, especially in the so-called “near abroad”.



Brian P.


Why It’s Time to Dispel the Myths About Nuclear Power.

From the Manchester Guardian, of all places:



Roland Dobbins


Dear Dr. Pournelle,

It appears that insanity has branched out from the fuzzy studies and is infecting mathematics.


In this particular case, the question was “5×3=”?

The student responded

5×3 = 5+5+5 = 15.

This question was marked incorrect. The teacher wanted the answer to be

3×5=3+3+3+3+3 = 15.

Evidently the commutative property (ab=ba) is not something the teacher understood, and a rigid rule-bound approach to mathematics takes precedence over thinking. What’s more , the rules are

arbitrary; I could not possibly know from looking at the problem

that the teacher would want 3x3x3x3x3 rather than 5x5x5.

I can understand the desire to teach students to break down mathematics into step-by-step mini-problems , and I understand why the student needs to show his work rather than simply give the answer. But IMO, if the answer is correct and there is no error in the intermediate steps it should be graded correctly.

As it is, being “correct” is more a matter of memorizing what the teacher wants and repeating it back, discouraging independent thought.


Brian P.

God save us. But if we make control of the schools local again, and really give them control, this will still happen: but only rarely and in particular local districts where it is acceptable; most will find it as absurd as we do, and understand that schools are not for the teachers but to teach the pupils.

And of course, as I was taught, I would simply say “15” because we memorized the plus and times tables; we learned up to ten, but I strongly recommend learning them to twenty; not only does it make it easier for the rest of your life, but the rules are more easily inferred from simple usage.


W 10: Access Control Panel

Hi Dr Pournelle — As well as the techniques for opening CP you mentioned, there’s this: Left-click on the start menu icon (bottom left of screen) gives you the usual ‘baby’ menu, complete with pretty pictures etc. But Right-click opens the ‘grownup’ menu. There’s Control Panel, right there.
Best regards
Richard B.

On 4/10/2016 5:58 PM, Jerry Pournelle wrote:

Holy catfish.  You’re right.

Jerry Pournelle

Chaos Manor

W 10: Access Control Panel

It’s a neat feature, that right click, isn’t it. Needless to say I found it by accident.
Best regards
Richard B



D’s allegations turn out not to be the case.  What he appears to have forgotten is that the originating authority has that power, to change classification levels.  Hillary Clinton can no more declassify something originally classified by the NSA or CIA than I can.  Moreover, some things are in fact classified for actual reasons, and trying to change those goes above merely erasing a marker on a digital document.  The Secretary of State does not have the authority to risk exposure of national technical means, nor highly placed HUMINT assets.  She is not the POTUS, and if the POTUS tried to delegate his authority over other Executive Agencies to the head of one in particular, the resulting bureaucratic uproar would be well deserved.  Just from the descriptions of what was in the messages which were withheld or sanitized I can tell some of them were from specific agencies and were of particular caveats within Top Secret/SCI.  Anyone who spends time with that sort of information can do the same.

Moreover, there are federal laws covering what information can be sent over what network, and Congress has a say in that, no executive agency has the right to disregard, for instance, the FOIA, as was clearly done in this, and other, cases ongoing.

There are a number of wrinkles involving classification levels, when I wasn’t yet retired I kept a printed out guide on what types of information should be considered to be of what classification level on my desk.  This was so when somebody came by to complain that something should be at the level which was convenient, instead of correct, I could rely on something other than my gravitas for backup.  Indeed, some discovered that information which is individually innocent becomes classified when aggregated.

BTW, when Congressdiots leak the information they can certainly be legally charged, because once again they do not have the power to declassify because they are not the originating authority.  That they are not is not a good thing, and does not make it legal.  The POTUS does, though it is almost always a very, very bad idea.  After all, the definition for what should be TS is “Top Secret shall be applied to information, the unauthorized disclosure of which reasonably could be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security that the original classification authority is able to identify or describe.” BTW, you don’t have to knowingly mishandle classified information to be guilty legally, it works somewhat differently than most US law.

Formerly Serving Officer


And now I have to do my taxes. But I can hear again!



Dear Jerry

Sincerest congrats on the National Space Society Heinlein Award!!!!


Best wishes


Christopher Stott
Chairman &  C.E.O.
ManSat LLC





Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.




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