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MAIL 102 May 22 - 28, 2000

 

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Monday May 22, 2000  

From: Stephen M. St. Onge saintonge@hotmail.com

Subject: News

Dear Jerry:

Is the cloning story for real? It's good to know that shocking picture is NOT an example of cloning, but otherwise I think the quibbling is misplaced (considering that this story is written by a political correspondent, I'm not surprised if the reporter is confused). What's important, imao, is the allegation that the technology is advanced enough to affect political policy. Are we really so close to cloning of separate organs that we can expect to see it in happen in the next six years? That question, and the implications if it is true, are indeed 'interesting.'

By the way, that isn't NEW SCIENTIST publishing the story, that's NEWS OF THE WORLD.

On No Gun Ri, I reached a similar conclusion: in a confused situation, some people followed orders, some acted on their own initiative, some were malicious, some panicked, some did what they thought they had to do ... Well, we've both read Fehrenbach's This Kind of War, which happily is in print.

And now, half a century later, the testimony is not particularly reliable on particulars, but the general tendency is that the story (much of which is in Fehrenbach, available for forty years) is partly true, more tragedy than crime, but some of both. No surprise, that.

Best, St. Onge "throughout my involvement with the Elian Gonzalez case, its been hard for me to understand why some people dislike Fidel Castro so much ... youd think he was Bill Gates or something" -- Mallard Fillmore comic strip for Monday, May 08, 2000

Fehrenbach remains the best source on the Korean War that I know of. As to the cloning, we will wait and see. News that spectacular will out...


Hello ,

I recently surfed accross your website. I am with Abika.com. We house one of the Internet's largest collections of online books in pdf format. We currently have over 5,000 titles available, but we are constantly trying to expand our database of books and stories. I was wondering if you would like to contribute to our site, or if it would be possible for us to use any of your previously written work? You can check out our site at: http://www.abika.com if you may be interested.

Have a great day! Mike Martin Editor, Abika.com

Anyone know anything about this outfit?


Mr Pournelle, This may seem hugely arrogant of me to suggest that you alter your writing style or content, but after this weeks article in particular, I was moved to speak up.

The Armadillo Abroad, And GoType! For Palm Jerry Overpacks For Paris, Misses The Love Bug

By Jerry Pournelle

May 22, 2000

Let me first say, that I'm a huge fan of your fiction and while I may not have read it all, I've liked all I've read. I'm also a regular reader of your online column at Byte each week and have even waded through a good deal of the archives. I say all this only to let you know that I didn't wander into Byte.com's website, read a bit, and fire off an opinionated email because you said something I didn't happen to like. I'd like to think that at the least, I did a wider bit of reading first. What I wanted to say was that, often after reading your column, it seems highly likely that you are receiving some recompense for ringing endorsements of products. This weeks column, seemed largely a vehicle for singing the praises of King Armadillo, the Compaq Armada E-500 laptop. A product I've never seen, or heard of before, (except in previous articles of yours) and yet after one reading of your article, I can recite the model of and many of it's features purely from memory... I can understand and relate to being enthusiastic about a new toy or tool, but please be aware that this weeks article was frighteningly close to an infomercial.

Enough said. Now, if our positions were reversed, and I was you. I know about how much weight I would give to some yahoo sending me an annoying email. :-) So don't let it spoil your day.

Sincerely, John 

This concerned me enough that I went to www.byte.com and read the column, but I don't think it's accurate. I said nothing that wasn't true, I mentioned that my partner Niven has a different laptop, and mostly I wrote about the Compaq docking station which is every bit as good as I said it was. 

I know there are lots of good products out there, and I have long ago given up trying to pick the "best". I can't write about what I haven't used, and I can only use so much; and I remain a fan of the Armada line, having had one survive my wreck in the desert, and I think the docking station on this new machine is at least as good as any I have ever seen if you want to make a portable your main system.  So I retract nothing I said in the column.

Given my situation I can choose from many different systems; I don't have to grub for equipment. It is true that you seldom hear about the stuff I DO NOT like; I just don't write about most of it unless I think it's really flawed. That's mostly for reasons of space, but in fact readers don't like bad reviews; my readers at least like to hear about stuff I like, which is what mostly goes into my columns.

And the only one who pays me for writing this stuff is BYTE.COM. I don't take money from publishers and vendors. (Well, as an author I get royalties from my own publishers for my books, but that's another matter entirely.)


 "but you will never learn TWO keyboards,"

That's not an universal truth. I have had no trouble learning a number of different keyboards, and can switch between them without trouble after just a few minutes of typing.

Then again, I have known people who can't stand a few more keys on the outskirts of the keyboard, or keys with different proportions.

Perhaps it is like languages. Some people have the knack for it, some don't.

-- Daniel C. Sobral (8-DCS) dcs@newsguy.com dcs@freebsd.org capo@there.is.no.bsdconspiracy.net

Well, all right, but I cannot learn two keyboards. For that matter I don't seem to be able to unlearn touch typing, which is a real problem because some of the pocket devices need two finger or two thumb typing methods...


Jerry,

Have enjoyed your column for years, it was the primary reason for my subscription to BYTE.

Finally I have a chance to give something back.

Although pricey at $129 the flexible keyboard you wrote about recently can be found at:

http://www.man-machine.com/keybrd1.htm 

(no I am not affiliated in any way but I did buy one at the last FOSE show)

Keep up the good work. Highly enjoyed!

Regards,

Walt

Dear Jerry, I am an avid reader of your current and past (back to early 80s) Byte columns and your Website. Both mediums saved a lot of time for me and are most often quite helpful and entertaining.

Regarding the Flexboard flexible keyboard mentioned in last weeks Byte column, here are some more details about the manufacturer and their distributor in the US:

KoTa Koehn Tastatursysteme und Informationstechnologie GmbH

Oderstrasse 54 (actual address from their website) 14513 Teltow / Germany Tel: +49 / 3328 / 31580 Fax:+49 / 3328 / 315855 Email: Vertrieb@kota.de Homepage: www.kota.de

In Germany available at Karstadt department stores. Suggested retail price in germany: 129 DEM

Available in the US from:

Men and Machine 3706 West Street Landover, MD 20785 Phone 0301-341 49 00

No pricing information available.

Please keep up the good work! Best wishes from Hamburg / Germany

Thomas Juuls email: juulst@prolinguis.de  internet: www.prolinguis.de 

 


Hi Dr Pournelle,

I was amazed to see the item from Pete Durand about his success in using Prassi ABCD and Burning Nero with his Creative 4224 drive. I also bought that drive, and could never get the software to work in Win 95. It invariably crashed and locked up my machine; it would often pop up during start up and start trundling without my permission, proceeding to crash and lockup. When I tried to remove it, this proved impossible, and I finally ended up having to entirely reinstall Win95.

On the other hand, the Adaptec software worked first time and every time, and I've never made any coasters with it yet.

This was on a Pentium 133 with 64 megs of RAM, on board IDE...

I don't know what to conclude from the above.

Regards,

Pierre Mihok.

I don't either. I have always been an Adaptec fan. Lately they are hard to talk to, so I don't have all their latest stuff.

 

 

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Tuesday, May 23, 2000

Jerry,

I read with interest Bob Thompson's comments on motherboards based upon the VIA Apollo Pro 133 and 133A chipsets. I agree with everything he says except:

My experience with the Apollo Pro 133 chipset was as Bob describes them...slow and buggy. The 133A has been something else, though. My current main system is built around a Tyan Trinity 400 motherboard (model 1854S). It uses the VIA Apollo Pro 133A chipset. VIA has recently released a new set of windows interface driver files that improve stability and speed (particularly the AGP driver 4.02) for motherboards in the Windows 9X environment. The drivers are available at www.viatech.com/drivers With these, and the latest BIOS from Tyan for my motherboard, my 1854 is ALMOST as fast as a BX board (say within 3 per cent or so) and every bit as stable. This is with everything set at nominal values (100 mhz FSB, CAS3 for the memory...in short, no tricks.)

The situation under Windows 2000 is more complicated. My board is very reliable but decidedly slow under Windows 2000 when compared to the same components installed a BX based motherboard (Tyan 1830S). The problem appears to be in the video subsystem. Given that the performance delta between the 133A board and BX board under windows 9X are minimal, I believe that the problem is software rather than hardware and it is more a matter of immature driver and interface files than anything else. Whether VIA, nVidia (in my case) Microsoft and the various motherboard suppliers fix this remains to be seen.

Practically speaking, Thompson is on target in asserting that the best motherboard solution available today remains the BX based motherboard with an Intel Coppermine CPU. In fact, were I going to do this last system iteration over again I would buy the Tyan 1857 motherboard rather than the 1854...they are the same except the 1857 is BX based. ASUS' new CUBX board is another contender. It is also BX based and has an extraordinary set of user definable settings.

However, by spending time tuning my 1854 BIOS, BIOS settings, video drivers and interface files achieved reliable and stable performance from my Trinity 400 that falls with measurement error of a BX system...under Windows 9X.

Win2K's video subsystem for the VIA Apollo Pro 133A chipset is broken and needs to be fixed. While my system is very stable and reliable, I recommend Windows 2000 users stay with the BX chipset based systems until somebody can make a convincing case to switch. The Apollo Pro 133A chip is not it, nor apparently are the Intel 810, 820 and 840 chipsets. Robert has clearly and accurately exposed AGP4X, 133mhz memory and UltraDMA 66 as marketing gimmicks and with that, BX chipset motherboards represent the reliable, efficient and cost effective solution. It remains to be seen if the Intel 815 chipset, due to be released soon, will provide any meaningful performance or compatibility advantages over the BX chipset.

In any case, let me repeat your admonition that no matter which motherboard you decide to use, there is no substitute for a solid case and power supply. I'm using a PC Power and Cooling 450W ATX unit and all steel tower case. The PS replaced a PC Power 300W unit that delivered six years of excellent service. I replaced it only because I changed form factors from AT to ATX with the last motherboard swap. The case is the most solid I have seen and has survived moves from San Diego to Stuttgart to Washington DC to Los Angeles to Omaha without problem.

Regards

 Ron


Just a suggestion, but have you considered putting a Last Week link and a Next Week link on your View and Mail pages? It'd take only a moment to update when you were creating the new page for the week, and it would make it much easier for readers to page back and forth.

I thought about this when I read the reader reply to my comments on VIA, UDMA66, and so on. While doing that, I was going to page back and read what I'd said. In order to do that the way things are set up now, I had to load the View Home page, wait for it to load, then load the most recent numbered View page, wait for it to load, and then go find my comments. If you put Last Week and Next Week links on each current page, readers could just flip back and forth.

Just a thought.

Bob

-- Robert Bruce Thompson thompson@ttgnet.com http://www.ttgnet.com

I tried it just now, and perhaps, but it takes a significant amount of time since I do not have an automated system for updating to the next week. Perhaps I ought to write some kind of script that does it, but I never have time. 

Mostly I should have supplied the cross link myself. I usually do, but not this time. That's fixed anyway.


Hello Jerry,

There seems to me to have been a logical inconsistency between cruise missiles and SDI. If satellites can track cruise missules then these lose their main advantage. There would be advance warning, perhaps the cruise missiles could even be neutralized. On the other hand, if the satellites can't track cruise missiles, then the nuclear umbrella has a fatal gaping hole. Can you shed any light on this?

John Hendrickx

Two different problems, although ground based lasers with orbital mirrors have some applications in intercepting cruise missiles. A cruise missile is a pilotless aircraft, or a remotely piloted aircraft. Air defenses and missile defenses have different technological solutions. Defense is costly and complex, and no one has ever said it isn't. With luck it's never used, either: but was it wasted?  Is a policeman's protective vest wasted if he's never shot at? After all he could be clubbed in the head, or poisoned...


Dear Dr. Pournelle:

I have attached a link to an interesting article regarding the bankruptcy reform legislation was agreed upon by our legislators in secret committee. (Rather then resolve differences between the house and senate version using the normal method of a joint committee,the leadership of both houses decided to negotiate in secret among themselves.)

Our government never ceases to amaze me with its contempt for the populace and its disregard for the liberties which were fought for during its inception.

http://www.sjmercury.com/svtech/columns/gillmor/docs/dg052300.htm

Cry havoc and let loose the dogs of bureaucracy.

John Wm. Zaccone

Haven't read it. What does it say?  Little surprises me that comes from "staffers" who are much easier to get at than Congresscritters, and who often have agendas of their own.


Dear Jerry:

I have been reading your Byte column for many years and consider you to be the best computer columnist in the business, along with John C. Dvorak.

I particularly enjoyed your column on the Federal Government's attempts to break up Microsoft. I too am a defender of Microsoft and the free market. A company should not be punished for being successful, as long as it has obeyed the law.

Microsoft has, however, pulled a boner with it's Windows Scripting Host, the software that comes with IE 5 and Win98 SE. It's nice that Microsoft has finally got around to duplicating the utility of the old DOS batch files in the Windows environment. What's not so nice is that Microsoft has enabled this feature by default, leaving your computer wide open to attack by computer viruses. Double-clicking on any file with a .vbs or .js extension leaves your PC, and the network to which it is attached, completely vulnerable to attack. The recent ILOVEYOU virus is a good example of just such a malicious .vbs file.

What to do? The fix is surpringly easy, and works on all Win95, Win98, WinNT and Win2K machines. First, use Find / File to search your computer for the files wscript.exe and cscript.exe. Next, rename theses files to wscript.bak and cscript.bak respectively. Now .vbs files will now no longer run. Don't worry--the only programs that use .vbs files are viruses!

You can now relax. You are now immune from whatever .vbs virus comes next! And if you ever decide you would like to experiment with .vbs programming you can always rename the .bak files back to .exe files.

Regards, John Drake Toronto, Canada

Or, you can rename them to something like runwscript.exe. Certainly a sensible precaution. Thanks for the kind words.

Renaming to .bak runs afoul of automatic cleanup programs that may simply delete all bak files. Incidentally, since in W 2000 there is dll cache, renaming those programs may be harder than you think: rname the ones in the cache director before doing the ones in the system directory and even then do a search: they have a habit of reappearing. Microsoft really wants those scripting files active.

After you finally rename the things, W 2000 pops up an ominous warning that says you are about to die. Ignoring it gets another. With a black window in the tray. I have told it to go away, and I wait with abated breath...

And a better way:

I sent this to Mr. Syroid, but seem to have neglected you... The easiest and safest way to eliminate the VBS/VBE problem is to do as little as possible to change your system. Go into your file associations and find all of the file types that are associated with wscript.exe. Change their default behavior from "Open" to "Edit". You'll still be able to run a vbs file by right-clicking and picking "Open", but if you double-click, it will just open up in notepad.

That way, the next time you install something that wants windows scripting, it will find that it's already there and leave things alone instead of installing it "for you".

Bill Cavanaugh billcav@pobox.com

 "Take THAT, kin of Evil!"

Power Puff Girl Buttercup


From: Stephen M. St. Onge saintonge@hotmail.com

Subject: More Biology News

Dear Jerry:

According to the Washington Post today, the Human Genome project is 'almost, almost finished.' Which means that within a few weeks, the researchers expect to have all forty-six chromosomes to about 90% accuracy, and after another two years will have it to 99.9%.

Now the fun begins. Anyone whom has not reread Mr. Heinlein's Beyond This Horizon recently is advised to remind himself what's coming soon. (Lordy, SIXTY years old, they hadn't even counted the chromosome number correctly, and that novel still has the entire subject of genetic engineering as a backdrop for a meditation on the meaning of life, all as an integral part of a cracking good story! "Me hat's off to the Duke.")

The most interesting part of the article, imao, is this: Perhaps most surprising, two analyses released this month suggest that the entire human genome may contain fewer than 40,000 genes--about half the number that scientists have presumed (no more than a worm and a fly combined, Collins quips).

That doesn't mean people are genetically less complicated than had been thought. On the contrary, it is becoming clear that single genes can produce multiple biological products, in some cases by having their DNA code cut, shuffled and spliced in various ways on different days depending on what the body needs.

Scientists once thought that each gene directed the production of a single protein product for the body, but the new model is that as few as 40,000 genes can direct the production of a million or more different protein products.

That raises many questions, prominent among them: What tells a gene how to splice itself to produce whatever is needed at the time? Attention is gradually turning to the so-called junk DNA, which may not be as junky or superfluous as once thought. Indeed, some researchers are beginning to suspect that these stretches of poorly understood DNA might even play a role in various diseases.

Interesting times indeed!

http://washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A36634-2000May19.html

Best, St. Onge

Indeed. One might also read C. S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man.

 

 

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Wednesday, May 24, 2000

Dear Jerry,

I am outfitting my twin sons for college (UC Santa Cruz &; Sonoma State) and learned the following which some of your readers might find useful. I'd also appreciate some hardware suggestions from the gang on Alt.Mail.

Zip drives are becoming a requirement for college computers. This is not just for backup - it is because ALL the floppies in campus computer labs (aka places where those without computers can write or print documents) are being replaced with Zip drives to handle files larger than 1.44 meg when students' printer cartridges run out of ink late at night (or the printers plain die) and they need to print out large graphic or spreadsheet files at the labs.

But all the lab computers have CD drives too, so a student with a CDRW drive (low-end ones cost only a little bit more than Zip drives) can just write big files on a CDRW and take that to the labs instead. The support tech at Sonoma State told me that students can also e-mail large files to themselves and access those at the labs via the Eudora e-mail program on all the lab computers.

The dean who spoke at my son Joe's freshman orientation earlier this month said 90% of the freshmen entering in the Fall of 1999 brought their own computers. Anecdotal evidence from parents of Sonoma State seniors I know is that about half the seniors there have computers.

UCSC recommends 17" monitors. Sonoma State has no preference between 15" and 17". They both recommend new PC's have at least 128meg and the Sonoma State dean said 256 meg would be needed for computers intended to last all four years.

10/100 Ethernet cards are required to access the campus WAN's. _Every_ 4-year college/university I've checked in the past two years, from Reed to Cal State Monterey Bay, planned on having Ethernet in every on-campus freshman residential unit. UCSC faces loud demands for it from the residents of family &; graduate student housing, but gave priority to undergraduates.

I have Kingston 10/100 Ethernet in my three home PC's, plus a fourth still in the box from Pacific Bell's DSL installation on Monday. My P90 will be retired and its Ethernet recycled when I buy my sons their college PC's, so I don't need any more LAN cards. My sons will each then have new systems, my wife and I will share one, and our daughter will have one in her room.

Right now I'm looking at a pair of HP 6645c Pavilions for my sons (4x4x24x CDRW). I'd like to wait for Celeron II's with the 815 chipset (AGP 4 slot on the motherboard) but have only $2000 for both systems combined (including $100 RAM upgrade for each, from 64 meg to 128meg, but not including one printer which I can get for another $75-$100). Staples had a sale last weekend which could have given me a pair of such HP's with 17" Pixy monitors for $2000, including tax. Circuit City might have a similar sale this weekend.

I request hardware recommendations from the collective mind on Alt.Mail. 

Tom Holsinger

I'd build two machines. You can do good ones for under $1000 including not too great monitors, and you'd know what's in there.  Hard drives are about $10 a gigabyte with maybe 10 gigs minimum. As a generic answer for everyone: A good Intel board with built-in video and sound, and a decent Celeron, a Bay Networking 10/100 Card, an IO Magic DVD drive for the CDROM, and an internal ZIP 100 for about $70 or one of the larger ones off the parallel port, and Bob's your uncle. The Microsoft Internet Keyboard is about $20 on sale and $30 regular, and wheel mice are cheap.  Monitor keeping the price down doesn't get you a wonderful monitor, but they're Good Enough. Be sure to put the whole mess in a GOOD case and power supply, and pay extra for 128 megs of premium memory (Kingston or Crucial are the ones I use) and all will be well. You would be under $2000 for two machines that way.  Incidentally, it's worth investing in an UPS for each. APC makes good ones.

This discussion will be duplicated in alt.mail as it has some permanent interest, and continued over there after we leave it here.

 

 

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Thursday, May 25, 2000

Dear Jerry;

George W. has written a column -- well, likely his defense-policy aide has, whoever that is, but Bush still put his name and reputation behind it -- that I find wonderfully frank and impressive. While he's not yet moving to what I would call a truly 21st-century defense posture, which would involve a fundamental shift of force structure toward much smaller, autonomous units (einsatzgruppen?) with massive technological improvements in shoulder-fire or crew-served weaponry and defenses (a la Heinlein's Mobile Infantry), Bush is at least recognizing that our strategic posture is woefully out of date. He supports missile defense as well as a nuclear RIF toward a more workable stockpile.

I think you'll find it interesting. At least it's something new, unlike that other guy who's running... what was his name again? <g>

http://www.washtimes.com/op-ed/ed-column-2000525182317.htm  --

Dafydd ab Hugh

Never attribute to stupidity what can satisfactorily be explained by malice. The truly powerful are rarely stupid.

One of young Bush's defense advisors is Richard Perle, who was one of Reagan's better people. Thanks for the pointer.

Subject: einsatzgruppen 

From: Allan Pineo

Dr. Pournelle:

Dafydd ab Hugh used the term einsatzgruppen for small autonomous military units in his letter of Thursday May 25, about the column by George W. Bush. The Einsatzgruppen were the Nazi units employed to murder about a million people in Poland and the USSR, in WW II.

A more appropriate term would be kampfgruppen = battle groups or combat commands as the US Army called them in WW II.

Best regards, Allan Pineo

 


JBREEDLO@email.usps.gov writes:

Precautions against being a victim.. From a Police Officer-Common Mistakes (not a joke, please read) I have to share some things with you that I have learned in my job. In my job, I review criminal and psychiatric files of imprisoned sex offenders who are approaching their release date. I decide if they are likely to re-offend based on certain criteria and then civilly commit them to a sex offender treatment facility if I decide that they are at significant risk to re-offend. I have read hundreds and hundreds of files, and have taken note of some of the mistakes women make.

Let me preface this by saying that a woman is NEVER EVER EVER at fault for being raped or attacked, but there are definitely ways to reduce your risk of being a victim. Here are the most common mistakes women make that could result in them getting kidnapped, attacked, and/or raped:

1. Getting into the attacker's car when he pulls a gun and orders you to get into his vehicle. Most attackers don't want to shoot you ... they want you to get into the car so that they can drive you to a deserted place and torture you. Don't comply. Run screaming. It is MUCH more likely than not tthat he will just move on to an easier target.

2. Pulling over when a man drives alongside of you pointing at your car pretending something is wrong. If this happens, drive to the nearest well-lit and populated gas station and look the car over yourself (or ask an attendant). Never pull over. Believe it or not, many women have fallen for this for fear of their car spontaneously exploding in the middle of the road. Not likely.

3. Not locking your doors while driving. I have read several cases where the attacker simply walks up to a woman's car while she's at a traffic light and jumps in with his gun or knife drawn.

4. Opening your front door when you have not positively identified who is there. If you don't have a peep hole, get one. I've seen countless cases where the attacker gains access to his victims simply by knocking on their door. Don't let an attacker get into your home. He then has a private, relatively soundproof place to attack you.

5. Not being alert in parking lots. If you go to the grocery store at night, don't be shy about asking for an escort to your car. Too many women are abducted from parking lots or even raped in the parking lot. Look in your back seat before entering your car. Cars provide endless hiding places for attackers, both inside them and in between them. Be aware of your surroundings by looking to the left and right and behind you with your head up all the time. You may appear paranoid and look funny to others, but an attacker will think twice about approaching someone who appears so aware of what's going on.

6. Trusting a clean cut, honest looking stranger. I see mug shots of every sex offender in the state of Florida. They do not look like monsters. They often look like they could be your friendly grocer. They are every age between 15 and 90, and probably beyond. Only a small minority actually look scary. I just read a case yesterday of a man with only one leg who beat up his victim with his crutch before he raped her. Who would have ever thought that a one legged man would be a rapist?

7. Trusting people to be alone with your children. This is a difficult one, because child molesters end up being the LAST person the parents would believe is the molester. Most of the child molesting cases I see involve the stepfather, the uncle, the sister's boyfriend, the mother's boyfriend, the grandfather, the baby-sitter, the neighbor, the family friend, the youth camp director, day care worker, etc. Although rare, even women can be molesters.

In every case, the perpetrator is a nice guy, trusting, good with children, and the family is baffled or even in disbelief that the person could be abusing their child. When it comes to your children and grandchildren, be suspicious of everyone, no matter who they are. And pay attention to what your child says and how he/she reacts to the mention of different people in their lives.

8. When having your car serviced, give the attendant only the car keys, as they have key duplicators readily available, and they generally have your address, etc. on file.

I didn't mean to make anyone uncomfortable with this, but I am at work right now reviewing files, and realized that this email is a way I can reach many women at one time. I have the dirty job of reading all these files, and it makes me feel good to know that I can share some inferences from what I have learned. This is not an exhaustive list of what not to do, but just some things that I have observed more than just a few times.

Please pass this on to the women in your lives.

All of which is very good advice indeed.


 

 

 

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Friday, May 26, 2000

Dear Jerry, In your Byte column this week, you refer to your "peculiar backup paranoia." As someone else who wants everything backed up in several places, I would prefer to think of it as experience. I first tended a computer as a student in 1972, trading unpaid work for computer time. Back then, if you didn't have multiple backups, you'd probably lose vital data in just a few months. 

Now crashes are less common, but not so uncommon that you won't be affected by one eventually. And experience shows that if you have only one backup, it will turn out to be unusable. Some things I have seen happen: 

* Tape drive died together with the computer. If you are really lucky, someone still makes drives that will read that format, and it will only take 6 weeks to order a new drive... 

* Operator somehow didn't notice the message displayed about an error in the backup. We found out about that when we needed to restore from the Jaz cartridge--apparently 99% of the data was there, but it hadn't written the directory entries at the end. Iomega recovered the data in a few weeks, and waived their $500 charge--this time. 

* File was corrupted on hard drive, then corrupted file was copied to the nightly backup tape. If you have only one tape, you are dead. If you are properly rotating tapes like mainframe operators learned to do long ago, there is probably a good copy back there somewhere. It might take days and a trip to the off-site data storage vault (you have one, right?, so you don't go out of business when your office burns down) to find the right tape, but it is there somewhere. 

* Viruses: Multiply that last case by 100 different infected files... Of course, all such failures happen at the moment when the data is most needed, so you may have some corporate VIP standing behind you barking "Is it fixed yet?" the whole time.

Mark Moss

Yeah. In my case it's much simple since there's less that needs to be stored. The best backup system I ever had was The Net Archivist, from Palindrome. They were bought out by Seagate and the new PR people haven't been in contact with me.  The older system I had used DAT for storage, and rotates through tapes, telling you which ones to take to the vaults. Older versions of files are stored. It was a splendid system and it took account of operator error. Alas I haven't seen anything quite that good since, although there are some decent ones. I have OnStream and Quantum tape drives here arrived this week that I intend to give a good workout...


VIRUS WARNING

Dear Jerry,

Symantec Corp. today announced that researchers at the Symantec AntiVirus Research Center (SARC) identified W97M.Melissa.BG (alias W97.Resume.A) - an extremely fast-spreading computer worm that uses Microsoft Outlook to e-mail itself as an attachment.

More details follow in the release below. If you would like to speak with someone from Symantec, please don't hesitate to contact me.

Regards,

Mike Bradshaw Connect PR

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Yunsun Wee Mike Bradshaw Symantec Corporation Connect Public Relations (310) 449-7009 (801) 373-7888 Ywee@symantec.com mikeb@connectpr.com

 

SYMANTEC WARNS OF NEW COMPUTER WORM WITH FILE DAMAGING PAYLOAD

CUPERTINO, Calif. - May 26, 2000 - Symantec Corp. (NASDAQ: SYMC) today announced that researchers at the Symantec AntiVirus Research Center (SARC) identified W97M.Melissa.BG (alias W97.Resume.A) - an extremely fast-spreading computer worm that uses Microsoft Outlook to e-mail itself as an attachment.

CHARACTERISCS OF INFECTION W97M.Melissa.BG is an Internet worm that uses Microsoft Outlook to spread itself as an attachment with the subject line "Resume - Janet Simmons" along with an attachment called "RESUME1.DOC."

PAYLOAD W97M.Melissa.BG a macro virus that has an unusual payload. When a user opens an infected document, the virus will attempt to e-mail a copy of the document to everyone in the user's Microsoft Outlook address book. The virus also copies itself to "C:\Data\Normal.dot" and to "C:\WINDOWS\Start Menu\Programs\StartUp\Explorer.doc."

Once the user closes the document, the virus attempts to delete the following files: C:\*.* C:\My Documents\*.* C:\WINDOWS\*.* C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM\*.* C:\WINNT\*.* C:\WINNT\SYSTEM32\*.* All files in drives A through Z

The body of the e-mail sent is as follows: To: Director of Sales/Marketing, Attached is my resume with a list of references contained within. Please feel free to call or email me if you have any further questions regarding my experience. I am looking forward to hearing from you. Sincerely, Janet Simons.

Recommendations/ Protection SARC recommends administrators filter for the attachment name and subject line immediately.

Symantec AntiVirus Research Center SARC is one of the industry's largest dedicated team of virus experts. With offices located in the United States, Japan, Australia, and the Netherlands, the sun never sets on SARC. The center's mission is to provide swift, global responses to computer virus threats, proactively research and develop technologies that eliminate such threats, and educate the public on safe computing practices. As new computer viruses appear, SARC develops identification and detection for these viruses, and provides either a repair or delete operation, thus keeping users protected against the latest virus threats.

About Symantec Symantec, a world leader in Internet security technology, provides a broad range of content and network security solutions to individuals and companies. The company is a leading provider of virus protection, risk management, Internet content and e-mail filtering, and mobile code detection technologies to enterprise customers. Headquartered in Cupertino, Calif., Symantec has worldwide operations in more than 24 countries. # # #

 

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Saturday, May 27, 2000

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Yunsun Wee Mike Bradshaw Symantec Corporation Connect PR (310) 449-7009 (801) 373-7888 Ywee@symantec.com mikeb@connectpr.com

SYMANTEC PROTECTS AGAINST W97M.MELISSA.BG

CUPERTINO, Calif. - May 26, 2000 - Symantec Corp. (NASDAQ: SYMC) today announced that researchers at the Symantec AntiVirus Research Center (SARC) have developed a cure for W97M.Melissa.BG (alias W97.Resume.A) - an extremely fast-spreading macro computer worm that uses Microsoft Outlook to e-mail itself as an attachment.

Symantec's Norton AntiVirus customers can download the current virus definition set, which includes a cure for the W97M.Melissa.BG virus through Symantec's LiveUpdate feature or from the Symantec Web site at www.symantec.com/avcenter/download.html. Additionally, SARC recommends administrators filter for the attachment name and subject line immediately. To submit a suspicious virus file to Symantec for analysis, customers can use the Scan and Deliver feature in Norton AntiVirus or visit Symantec's Web site at www.symantec.com for detailed instructions.


Sorry to bother you, but I've run across what might be a good way to get my book of tech support stories published, but I'm not sure it's legit. The company prints books "on demand," in as few as one copy if needed and sells through on-line bookstores and special order. The website is www.xlibris.com.  If you know anything about this, either good or bad, I'd appreciate hearing from you. If you've never heard of it and are too busy to check it, just let me know; even that's useful to know.

Thanx for reading this and (in advance) for any reply. --- Joe Zeff 

I vaguely remember hearing something about this outfit, but I don't remember WHAT I heard. Does anyone have any data?

Dr. Pournelle:

Xlibris is 49% owned by Random House, and I just had a book "published" with them. It cost me nothing and the book will be printed on demand. Moreover, the contract indicates I retain all rights to the book and could sell it to someone else if I wanted (assuming someone else would want it after it had appeared this way.) I know that Piers Anthony has had two books published through them, and I think he is associated with them in some way besides that. On top of that, the books are listed on Amazon.com and Borders.com and in Books in Print. All in all, it is not a bad way for those of us who otherwise might be unpublishable (or who appeal to small, niche markets) to get our work out there. Modern technology is a wonderful thing.

R.P. Nettelhorst Academic Vice President Quartz Hill School of Theology www.theology.edu

This is one of many such replies I received. Thanks to all.

re: Maybe they'll be able to put telephone relays on the circling vultures. (Chaos Manor version of "Future Calling" column)

You were sarcastically wondering about [portable ] cel relays. This is a question I've often wondered about. I live in a large city adjacent to a mountainous region. There are often cases where Search &; Rescue are out looking for some hiker or other. I've always wondered why they can't put a cel relay on one of the search choppers. Do cel relays have to be hardwired to the rest of the phone network? Do they need to know their position relative to the rest of the network precisely?

Why CAN'T we mount cel relays on the circling birds?

As I hiked out of Death Valley with my useless cellular I wondered about that...

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read book now

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