A Daily Diatribe by a Pompous Git

A Sturm's Eye View

A journal of sorts to record Jonathan Sturm's (and others') thoughts and observations on things worth thinking about. Feedback welcome, but be aware that unless you prominently say you want your communication kept private, I may publish it.

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Monday November 13

Yesterday's musical event went extremely well. The Franklin Palais accoustic properties are amazing. I will be writing a full review for Franklin & Friends after I have the photographs developed.

Tomorrow I will be ordering all of the steel bits for The House of Steel including 4,000 screws for holding the corrugated zincalume sheet to the frame. That will be more screws than I ever had in my life! I am trying to track down a guy I heard was desperate to sell a professional screwgun so we will have two.

The next stage of house building starts Monday. Story here.

Mr Computer Language Person, Jon Udell has written an interesting article about .NET and Microsoft computer language agnosticism. It's been a while since I read him; most of his writing goes way over my head. 

The "Hockey Stick": A New Low in Climate Science by John Daly is a piece about how the global warming proponents want to rewrite history. Apparently they believe that historical evidence from people living in the past is "merely anecdotal" and therefore cannot be relied on. And summertime tree ring growth is more accurate than the year round accumulation of isotopes on lake and sea beds.

Thought for the day:

There are more love songs than anything else. If songs could make you do something we'd all love one another.

Frank Zappa

Tuesday November 14

From The Mercury, Hobart's only newspaper:

(Emphasis mine)

Decision today on gender job

The Hobart man elected unopposed last month as the women's officer at the University of Tasmania in Launceston should know today if he can keep the job.

The student association council meets today to decide whether to ban men from the position and will consider a referendum of students.

Nick Corney, 22, is due to take over the job on December 1 -- but not if outraged female students and the University Union have a say. 

Union president Sam Ling said female students turned to the officer for help with problems like sexual harassment, child care, pregnancy and abortion and that no matter how well meaning Mr Corney was, women were far less likely to talk to a man about such issues.

And The Mercury's comment on elections:

Kudelka cartoon of how democracy works

My review of the "Equal Music" event on Sunday here.

Thought for the day:

This is one of the paradoxes of the democratic movement -- that it loves a crowd and fears the individuals who compose it -- that the religion of humanity should have no faith in human beings.

Walter Lippmann

Wednesday November 15

The AIWA tape drive is now installed. If you check the link you will see "AIWA's Computer Systems Division will cease all operations as of 10/31/99. Service, Support, and Warranties for all products will remain in effect for the terms included with your product." And some US phone numbers for support. I guess that's why it was so cheap! When the supplier listed it as a bare drive, that was literally correct. No documentation whatsoever!

The drive installed easily enough, though I forgot to set it as slave and so needed to reopen the box to do that. That's the sort of thing that happens at 3 am when you are barely awake. The second mug of coffee had yet to have the desired effect. The jumper to change from master to slave was neat. It has a little tag that made it a fingers rather than tweezers job.

Restarting Tarquin a second time, Win2k recognised the drive and prompted me for a driver. I told it to list them for known tape drives and it told me there weren't any. None! A quick Internet search using Google revealed the following advice:

Look for the Tapes.inf file in WinNT\System32\Inf folder (make sure you are displaying ALL files INCLUDING those protected by OS). Find the "[ControlFlags] section. Remove the "*" from the line "ExcludeFromSelect=*". Then try to install the driver again. Choose display all devices and pick the standard IDE QIC tape driver. This should work for most IDE QIC drives. I use WIn2K/Aiwa TDA8000 with no problems.

Actually it was in WinNT\Inf. The inf file included a reference to the AIWA TD-8000, PnP recognised it as a TD8000, but there was no mention in the drives list that appeared on the list of known drives. I used the generic IDE tape driver.

First, I decided to backup a little more than 7 MB of data (the King James Bible in HTML). Using the backup software that comes with Win2k works a little differently if you are used to backing up to other media. Instead of File as the backup destination, you choose your tape drive. Confusingly, there were two options, mini QIC or Travan. Since it is a QIC 3095 drive, I chose the mini QIC option, only to be told:

"There is no unused media available with the selected type. Add unused media or click cancel to select another type."

Selecting Travan produced the following message:

"There is no unused media available with the selected type, but unrecognised media is available. Do you want to prepare this unrecognised media and use it for this backup?"

I did and the backup proceeded smoothly, taking some 8 seconds according to the software. Somewhat longer by my reckoning, but much quicker than the last time I used a tape drive! The restore was successful and took some 24 seconds. On to the real thing then. My data drive contains some 3.5 GB and that took an hour and thirty five minutes to back up. I took the opportunity to read some of the DayNotes pages I don't regularly visit while it proceeded. Sunsequent backups will be automated to occur during the night while I sleep. There is a warm glow that comes when you realise that your data is even a tiny bit safer!

The last time I used a tape drive was when I was working for a computer software training company on a salary. A few days after I started, I asked about the backup procedures in use. I was told that the last backup was "about 18 months ago". I instituted a nightly backup procedure for the booking/invoicing data immediately! 

A few months later, I decided to bring down one of the workstations and reinstall Windows 95 on it as there were some severe stability problems. Often a clean install is the only way to troubleshoot a problem machine. I had just reformatted the hard disk when one of the staff asked me what I was doing. When I told him, he screamed. I had just erased three months of work a client was paying big money for! When I suggested he restore from his backup he informed me hysterically that he never backed up anything. He has a degree in Computer Science and I don't. I guess people with degrees have more luck than us self-taught hoi polloi. 

Luckily, he caught me in time and I used Norton Utilities to restore the data and I gave him a lecture on the importance of backing up data. I don't think it went down too well as he resigned not long after.

I stayed with that company for 16 months. Having suffered the erratic nature of self-employment for many years, I had decided the idea of a known monthly salary had a certain attractive quality. Better than $15 one month and $15,000 another month at any rate. When the tape drive broke down, I was told there were insufficient funds for a replacement. Needless to say, I resigned. When essential data a business depends on is susceptible to loss, you know who's going to get the blame when it does.

A reader writes:

On your journal page you mentioned you don't anthropomorphise your computer. It reminded me of a friend in California, who was responsible for perhaps the most extreme example of anthropomorphism I've come across (and bear in mind this is the topic of my PhD dissertation.) He told me he felt guilty when he deleted files from his HD -- i.e. remorseful for terminating the existence of the files. (I think, in terms of anthropomorphic attribution, this narrowly eclipses the day when I apologised to the small, green stapler for using the big, blue stapler for a job that that small, green stapler could have done.)


Thought for the day:

Don't anthropomorphize computers. They hate that.

Thursday November 16

This morning I go to the launch of a boat just finished at the Wooden Boat Building School. The boat is a 31' 8" gaff cutter, designed by Lyle Hess from California, built by ten students from all over Australia. Here is what it looked like a few months ago.

A 31' 8" gaff cutter, designed by Lyle Hess from California

Thought for the day:

People who cannot invent and reinvent themselves must be content with borrowed postures, second-hand ideas, fitting in instead of standing out.

Warren Bennis

Friday November 17

I just read a fascinating talk with Helena Cronin, Getting Human Nature Right.

Much confusion around here at the moment. Lawnmower Man still didn't arrive, so SWMBO rented a whipper-snipper for a day. I got a fair amount done before it ran out of nylon cord. She didn't realise that Michael is happy to let us borrow his whenever we need it. Mind you, using one aggravates my tennis elbow far more than using the scythe. The scythe actually gets the job done about the same speed, but uses far more energy. That would be a "good thing" if I were fitter. Woodies Digger will not be turning up on Monday. It appears the augur will not be available until Thursday. So it goes.

My main workstation, Tarquin, has been acting strange. On shutdown, from Win2k, there's a BSOD. Also there are occasional BSODs when accessing the floppy drive a second time. Example: I decided to make another set of Partition Magic 5 floppies. The first floppy was fine, but the beginning of writing the second produced a BSOD. This is all since cloning the original install from the Seagate hard drive that gave the mysterious disappearing SMART error. So, I have decided to reinstall. This is a somewhat tedious process. What I ought to do is drop a sound card into the server so I can at least have some music playing while I do such things.

Thought for the day:

Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.

John Adams

Saturday November 18

The reinstall of Win2k on Tarquin went smoothly. Until I went to apply Service Pack 2 to CorelDRAW! 9. The service pack's installer insists that it is only for build 397. Of course that's the build I have! So it's back to CorelDRAW! 8. There are some nice things in version 9 that are time savers. Like remembering two different directories, the one you are opening files from and another that you are saving into. That's a common enough occurrence when editing a bunch of photographs. Unfortunately, build 397 of PhotoPaint 9 is far too unstable to use on my system. 

After everything is installed and fine tuned to my satisfaction, I use Partition Magic to clone the partition. Since this includes VMWare and Win98 and Caldera Open Linux in virtual machines, the installation is quite long winded. The final touch is to edit Boot Magic to see the cloned partition so I can choose which of the two Win2k partitions I want to boot. I always boot the same one and so can revert to the other in the event that catastrophe strikes. 

For dinner I roast a leg of two-tooth (sheep that's older than lamb, but younger than mutton). It's accompanied by roast potatoes, asparagus, carrots and Molly's peas. Molly's peas are similar to sugar snap in that you eat them pods and all when the peas are fully formed. They are just not so sweet as sugar snap. Gail and Michael come for dinner and we chatter on until ten or so. We are exhausted by the hottest day so far this summer. 

Thought for the day:

I thought that having my own web page was pretty cool, until I noticed that my deodorant has its own web page

Dr. Joy Brown

Sunday November 19

Exhausted! From cutting grass, hewing wood and getting sunburnt. Not to mention interesting things happening during the major reinstall of the OS and apps on Tarquin. More on that tomorrow if time permits.

Thought for the day:

You've felt it your entire life, that there's something wrong with the world. You don't know what it is, but it's there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad.

Lawrence Fishburne -- The Matrix


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Jonathan Sturm 2000

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Jonathan Sturm 2000