Wi-Fi, MicroCell, Pledge Week, and other matters

View from Chaos Manor, Sunday, February 22, 2015


I’m going to get Dragon Naturally Speaking going on the Surface Pro 2, but first I have to get better Wi-Fi down here. Everything was sort of optimized for upstairs, but I can’t even go up there alone, much less work there. First thing is to get the Pro docking station downstairs, so I have reliable Internet connections for the Surface Pro; then get the Wi-Fi router down here so there’s good Wi-Fi here even when the Surface is not in the docking station.

Obviously I’m moving most my operations into the old office where I wrote most my older books and columns, I can climb the stairs but I can’t carry anything. I could get a second walker and leave it up there so I could get around, but it would be dangerous to work alone up there; I have to change my work habits. So it goes.

We did bring the AT&T MicroCell http://www.att.com/att/microcell/ downstairs, connected it by Ethernet to my internal net and thus to the Internet, put it in a window so it sees the sky, and turned it on. All the lights began to blink but one by one they went solid – but you need faith, The whole process took half an hour or more. Eventually they all came on and my iPhone 4g had a full five bars, or rather the dots they have replaced the bars with in one or another OS update. It works splendidly.

The 4g is getting old and would be replaced by now if I had not had the stroke: I need someone to take me to the Apple Store in Fashion Square and I haven’t arranged that yet.

However there is now no great hurry: one reason for replacing it was out of power by evening, and I thought that meant the battery was going: I bought the 4g when they first came out, and never bothered to upgrade. Now, though with five bars, it is at 85% or more power at night, and clearly the battery is fine. I remarked on this to my stalwart advisors, and they gently pointed out that I ought to have expected it.

The flailing search for signal is a big battery eater. Alex and I run into it a lot on Location Connect jobs, which is why getting on AP set up in the NOC before any of the wire runs have been made is useful, assuming our outside world connection is there. T-Mobile among the big carriers pioneered support for calling over Wi-Fi, so I find it especially helpful. All of the carriers have indicated plans to support this in the next year or so.

    When your carrier does offer that the microcell shouldn’t be needed any longer if the Wi-Fi coverage throughout the (used? infested? inhabited?) parts of the house is up to snuff.

Eric (Eric Pobirs, one of my advisors )

Yes, that’s one great thing about being in a strong signal area. The phone doesn’t keep chatting with the base stations, looking for a stronger signal. If you aren’t using it for Internet data very much, you can also extend the battery life by turning off 3G or 4G. Just something to keep in mind for future use.

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And on reflection that is hardly surprising. Given the fold in the hills that we live in it is not surprising that the unbooted signal is weak, but it is better upstairs, and I never used the 4g over in this part of the downstairs office – a few yards away there was plenty of signal, provided by the MicroCell, although I suspect the MicroCell, having run without fault or attention for years, might have needed a reset; indeed that was the original plan but I hadn’t made it clear to Alex, so when the lights kept blinking after five minutes he thought it was defective and brought it downstairs. But all it needed was time.

Next problem: in digging around for info I discover that to get the iPhone 6 working with the MicroCell I must log on to the AT&T account that the MicroCell is on. Alas I set that up years ago and I have not the foggiest notion of user name and password. That will be in and old log, and they are all upstairs. I may go up and look if Eric or Alex comes over, but more likely I’ll call AT&T tech support – of course I have low expectations of that, since AT&T has forgotten other things about my accounts. We’ll see. I guess I get wireless bills and one of those must have a clue. I’ll work on that next week.


I will get to work on Dragon – I think of it as the Abominable Autoscribe after Walter Miller’s abbot in Canticle For Leibowitz – soon. Eric thinks it can easily be done.

Dragon Naturally speaking will probably work with Windows 10 Preview that is on the Surface now. Eventually, you’ll want to compare it with what Cortana provides for free. They’ve demonstrated dictating an email message using Cortana but I don’t know if that is in the current build.

    Assuming my brain isn’t lodged sideways in my skull tomorrow like it was today, I can come by tomorrow afternoon and get the dock set up. The dock will also drive a monitor in addition to the Surface’s display, so one of the remaining big monitors upstairs could be used, once the layout is worked out to avoid turning the area into something that looks like the Batcave, although that has a certain appeal.


If you are not familiar with Canticle it is an apocalypse novel and I can recommend it to you; it doesn’t hold up as well now that the Cold War is over, but we seem headed that way again as we ignore the Caliphate. Fortunately ISIS considers Iran heretics – apostates, actually – because they are Sunni and Iran is Shiite; but ISIS has other paths to nuclear weapons, and or government dithers. If you have not seen Peggy Noonan’s latest column http://www.wsj.com/articles/an-administration-adrift-on-denial-1424392150 I recommend it.


Leo Laporte is recommending the low cost Winbook a very good buy, and it might be even better for a dictation machine than the Surface; smaller. And it is said to have good battery life, and well under a hundred bucks. I’m thinking about that.

Which brings us to Pledge Week. This site operates on the Public Radio plan: it is free to all, but it cannot survive without subscribers. It is Pledge Week at KUSC, the LA Good Music station, which means Pledge Week at Chaos Manor. http://www.jerrypournelle.com/paying.html will tell you all about how to subscribe. Obviously I do not ask for monthly donations as KUSC does.

If you have not subscribed and you like rational discussion on many topics, this would be a splendid time to subscribe; it doesn’t take long, Do say if it is a new subscription. If you do subscribe but haven’t renewed in a while, this would be a good time to do so.

Note that Pledge Week is essentially the only time I nag you about subscriptions; I hate it as much as you do.


Re: The Man Who Destroyed America’s Ego


This is a long read but well worth it. It’s about the work of psychologist Roy Baumeister, primarily his work on self-esteem and narcissism.

The Man Who Destroyed America’s Ego

“Everybody who said it cited somebody else, so I’d look up the previous source, and they’d also cited somebody else. That’s when I realized there was no evidence for it.”




It is indeed long, and many will not find it worth the time investment; the whole notion of psychotherapy has changed since I was in graduate school. But those interested in the subject will learn something for it.


Air Power

The 8th Air Force did not relieve Bastogne; Patton’s 3rd Army did.

I suppose it is pointless to mention that the weather at that time made air operations impossible


Once the the weather cleared air power was effective. Patton famously prayed for good weather. Col. Bagley, on his staff, was in the church at the time. Bagley was in the same analysis group at Boeing that I was, and we worked together in the TFX design team. But it is true that Patton had worked his miracle before the weather cleared.


Further on warfare, etc.

Of course we all want to win as cheaply in terms of casualties and costs to the taxpayers.
We seem to forget the repeated lessons that applying overwhelming force ASAP is the “cheapest” and quickest solution. Sad.
But what is really tragic is “losing the peace” and abandoning allies.

Michael J Schuerger Sr

MacArthur’s message used to be memorized bt every West Point cadet and was part of the mess hall conversations; “there is no substitute for victory”




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




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