A Daily Diatribe by a Pompous Git

 A Sturm's Eye View, Guaranteed Free of Harmful, or Potentially Harmful Chemicals -- but Watch Out for the Ideas! Some of them are Contagious!

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 12 March 2001

When I installed Jantz Retrospect tape backup on my Win2k system it didn't work. It also clobbered Win2k backup. Uninstalling Retrospect didn't help, so I decided to reinstall Win2k, and that turned into quite a saga. I will write about all of this when time permits.

For those who wrote regarding me overcoming Win2k tape backup's peccadillos there is mixed news. I know where the answers are potentially hidden. Under the MS Management Console, Help is under the Action menu (Standards? What Standards?) Unfortunately, the help is written in Klingon.

A library can include media from different media pools, each with different properties. A single media pool can span multiple libraries. You can also create hierarchies of media pools, or media pools that contain other media pools. For example, you can create a media pool for each specific media type required by a program, and then create another media pool that contains this collection of media pools. Media pools can contain either media or other media pools, but not both.

After I have finished swimming around in this, hopefully I will have something useful to say. In pictures and plain English.

Thought for the day:

I have never been lost, but I will admit to being confused for several weeks.

Daniel Boone


Tuesday 13 March 2001

Working for the TaxMan!

Thought for the day:

Does five percent appear too small,
Be thankful I don't take it all.

The Beatles


Wednesday 14 March 2001

Fran called in sick today, so I spent most of it working on The House of Steel. I was expecting deliveries of Tyvek Housewrap and the floorboards, but neither arrived. I'd have been better off working on this stupid tape backup stuff.

The other day I decided to call it quits with Jantz Retrospect and decided a complete reinstall of Win2k was called for. Some time back I discovered that there was a way to install Win2k without having a disconcerting number of devices sharing the same interrupt. When I performed a test install, it was to the slower of the two hard disks in this machine. While I had experienced no problems with the IRQ sharing, this was no guarantee that no issues would arise in the future. So, a complete reinstall had been on the backburner for some months.

Very early on in a Win2k install, there's a message to press F6 if you want to install SCSI drivers. If you press F5 at this point, you are prompted to choose the type of computer you are installing to and you can choose Standard PC. This disables ACPI (Advanced Component and Power Interface). I have no idea whether my PC is ACPI compliant or not, but disabling it fixes the IRQ sharing problem. I wonder if some of the stories about Win2k problems I hear about are due to poor implementation of ACPI in the BIOS. It's easier to blame MS, I guess. Especially when MS hides the option to install Win2k without ACPI.

Prior to any OS install, I always copy my data partition over to another hard disk. If the OS install clobbers the partition table of the disk I'm installing to, I still have my data intact on the other and don't need to restore it. On this occasion, I decided to use the clone function in Partition Magic 5.01. It gave me an error #45 (CRC error). Rebooting Win2k, I used the native GUI tool to check the disk for errors. There were none and I decided to just create a new partition and copy the files over. About two thirds the way through, the machine locked up! No keyboard, no mouse!

To cut a (very) long story short, the machine wasn't completely locked up and the cause was two bad clusters on the hard disk. Running CHKDSK /F /R locked the bad clusters out and restored normalcy -- if anything in the world of computing can be called "normal". Finding two bad clusters in that part of that disk, I decided to CHKDSK all parts of both disks and sure enough, found two more bad clusters. Hmmmmm! Could the Jantz Retrospect problems been caused by this? I'm tempted to try it again as it looks like being easier to use than native Win2k backup.

For the last several years I've been using Quantum hard drives and have yet to experience a problem with any of them. This is the second problem with a Seagate hard drive in six months! I am not impressed!


The other day, Chris Ward-Johnson wrote:

I'm getting an error on http://www.sturmsoft.com/Writing/Old_ephemerides/20010304.htm#Latest saying "Line: 234 Error: 's' is undefined"

I checked my page with W3C, I do after nearly every post, and discovered that my using the Windows Character Set was no longer infra dig, so I changed every page to ISO 8859-1. That fixed the W3C verification, but did nothing for Chris who still got the error under IE, but not Netscape.

Following my reinstall, I finally saw the error Chris refers to. It's in a dialog box that IE 5 puts up and it includes a checkbox to suppress further error messages. I then recalled many months ago getting sick of the dialog box and checking the box that sent it away. Is W3C's verification to be believed or MSIE? I'll go with the former.

Thought for the day:

Your damned nonsense can I stand twice or once, but sometimes always, by God, never.

Hans Richter


Thursday 15 March 2001

A busy day putting down flooring in The House of Steel's kitchen. Late in the day I was visited by a long-time friend. He builds the best hi-fi loudspeakers I ever heard, but I couldn't afford them, even at mates' rates. I expected him to criticise my VAF DC-X speakers. What I didn't expect was to have him spend a little under half an hour with his test gear, then adding a small (3.3 ohm) resistor in series with the tweeter to effect a dramatic improvement in the bass and mid-range. Quite different to reducing treble at the amplifier.

Thought for the day:

Until we can manage TIME, we can manage nothing else.

Peter Drucker


Friday 16 March 2001

Today saw the completion of the floors in The House of Steel bathroom and laundry. While I was doing that, Fran finished the nogging and cripple studs above the windows. With the wall framing complete, it's the framing of the roof next, starting with the gutter.

The MS IE error is (or rather was) in the JavaScript code on this page used to garner visitor statistics. Thanks to Dan Bowman for pointing me to it.

Whoops! Dan Seto! I will repeat one hundred times: "There are at least two Dans in this world".

Thought for the day:

Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.

Carl Sandberg


Saturday 17 March 2001

Shopping day. First, we went to the Home Ideas Centre -- it's a large building full of small displays of all the sorts of things home owners/buyers/builders are likely to want to buy. A sort of real-time, touchy-feely string of advertisements if you will. Most participants are there most of the time, but there's always some turnover and something new to see. As you walk around the exhibits, you carry a card with numbers on it and if an exhibit interests you, you circle the exhibit's number on the card. At the end of your wander, you hand your card with circled numbers to the pleasant person behind the counter and they place brochures from the exhibitors into a bag for you to take away and peruse. This is marketing at its best!

Last time I was here, about a year ago, Architectural Rigging Services wasn't in evidence, or I wasn't looking for that kind of thing. One of the finishing touches on The House of Steel will be the stainless steel wire balustrade around the large front deck. The deck's high enough that a balustrade is a legal requirement and we want one that doesn't obstruct the view. Our view is much nicer than the one in that link!

Actually, I get ahead of myself. We arrived at the Home Ideas Centre five minutes after opening time only to discover it wasn't. Open that is. So we hied off to Brewsters to purchase a screwdriver bit or two. They are nice people at Brewsters, but like most places they know nothing about marketing. When I purchased 2,000 screws from them the other day, it didn't even occur to them to ask if I'd like to purchase screwdriver bits so that I could actually use them. Similarly, when I purchased the engineer's and woodworker's vices recently. No screws came with them to attach them to the bench, or to attach wooden face plates to the woodworking vice.

There's a prevalent belief that marketing is a "bad thing". Much better to have the customer drive away without all the requisites. They'll come back again, won't they? Except for me it's a 2-3 hour round trip. Or I could shop locally at Mitre 10 5 and pay twice as much.

Then it was a trip to the lighting shop, only to discover that the person we need to talk to is only in Monday through Thursday and we need to make an appointment. I left a copy of the relevant house plan so that Mr Relevant Person can have a think about a new solution to lighting The Great Hall. She is finally convinced that I'm not ascending to great heights to change light globes. And I think the cost of the stepladder to do so helped.

Then we went to Beaujangles for coffee and focaccia before visiting Garry and Monique at their new house. I've mentioned Garry before -- he's the ex-chef that I mentored into the computer biz and he now has a long room absolutely filled with computers for sale and being repaired. Apart from the obligatory tour of the residence, I was there to pick up a second-hand computer for a friend who suddenly discovered a need for a second computer. Sunday will see me installing software and setting up networking for Brum and his wife, Anne.

On the way home we stopped at the local antique dealer, Treasures, in Franklin. She Who Must Be Obeyed "just needed to drop off a book". "Yes dear, you can have that silver necklace, but only on condition that I can buy this desk!". The desk is made from a beautiful and highly prized local timber called Blackwood. The work surface is protected by a sheet of plate glass that's worth as much as the asking price of $A120. It's much bigger than the desk in the cottage, as well as in much better condition. But then the current desk was a freebie for taking it away some years ago. The new proprietor's Significant Other, Alexis was in charge today and after paying for the desk, necklace and a set of canisters for coffee and tea, he gave me a punnet of his home made chicken liver paté. Yum! Now that's marketing!

Marguerite wanted to continue browsing, so I desultorily followed her around the old church. Then I spied a set of delightful framed prints and She noticed! "Yes, I would love them for my fiftieth birthday present!"

We watched Alexis put a "sold" sticker on the desk and left with the smaller goodies. I well remember when Jane and Tracy, the original owners of Treasures, started up. She wasn't going to buy anything. "I just want to look!" We left with two large wingback chairs for $A120 each! Reupholstered, they are worth several times that now, but Treasures is a dangerous place!

Thought for the day:

A man is a person that will pay two dollars for a one dollar item he wants. A woman will pay one dollar for a two dollar item she doesn't want.

William Binger


Sunday 18 March 2001

Latest pix of The House of Steel are posted.


Thomas has been playing at multiple monitors since yesterday. He has a Hercules GeForce MX in his AGP slot and yesterday I got him a Cirrus Logic PCI card for his experiment. He reports it working "out of the box" with Win98, not even requiring a reboot, but Win2k doesn't want to play ball yet. He found a website that told him to change the BIOS setting to go to the PCI card on boot, but that locks the machine when he chooses Win2k. More on this later.


Some differences of opinion about Linux among The DayNotes Gang over the last week. I agree with all of them <grin>. No, Linux won't be a success with the unwashed unless it gains some consistency. I hate that I can't just cut and paste between applications. I hate that F1 doesn't always bring up Help. Yes, one of Linux's greatest strengths is the command line. The lack of a command line always frustrated me when using Macs. You can't really take full advantage of an OS like Linux unless you come to grips with the command line and a decent editor, such as vi.

What really puzzles me is that people seem to want an OS to be all things to all people. I am more than happy with Win2k/Office2k/CorelDRAW!/FileMaker/PageMaker for my desktop. I'm not so happy with Win2k on my server. Eventually, I'll be running *nix or Linux on my old 486 as an Internet router. If SuSE Pro is as good as I'm led to believe, it'll live on the 400 MHz K6 II box for file and print serving, and CD burning. When I find time, I'm going to attempt putting OS/2 Warp in place of Win95 on the laptop.


I've been reading about memes lately. What is a meme, I hear you ask? Richard Dawkins coined the term in The Selfish Gene. A meme is any idea, behaviour, or skill that can be transferred from one person to another by imitation: stories, fashions, inventions, recipes, songs, ways of ploughing a field or throwing a baseball or making a sculpture. Dawkins believed (he has since had a change of heart) that stronger memes displaced less successful ones in a survival of the fittest parallel to speciation. The meme is one of the most important and controversial concepts to emerge since The Origin of Species appeared in 1859.

Susan Blackmore -- The Meme Machine

When we look at religions from a meme's eye view we can understand why they have been so successful. These religious memes did not set out with an intention to succeed. They were just behaviours, ideas and stories that were copied from one person to another in the long history of human attempts to understand the world. They were successful because they happened to come together into mutually supportive gangs that included all the right tricks to keep them safely stored in millions of brains, books and buildings, and repeatedly passed on to more. They evoked strong emotions and strange experiences. They provided myths to answer real questions and the myths were protected by untestability, threats, and promises. They created and then reduced fear to create compliance, and they used the beauty, truth and altruism tricks to help their spread. (page 192)

Fran, the person helping build The House of Steel, is a Christian who believes in what is called Creation Science. In order to converse sensibly on the topic, I read some of what's available on the Internet. Apparently, if you have been infected by the Creation meme, you generally become infected by several others: languages do not evolve -- we all have spoken languages the same way since the tower of Babel. The words in The King James version of the Bible are God's actual words -- i.e. God must have been an Englishman and I'm just wasting my time reading The Jesus Seminar. It's not the strong nuclear force holding atoms together -- it's Jesus -- presumably meaning that nuclear explosions are caused by Jesus losing his grip. In summary, God was too stupid to invent such things as evolution or the strong nuclear force.

My favourite religious meme though is the one that claims Microsoft is merely an imitator and never an innovative leader. I can buy the concept that Windows was based on the Mac, but find it amusing that the most popular software on that platform is Office. And there are cries of anguish for an office suite for Linux that's as good as Office even though Linux is so much better than Windoze! And I must be just as crazy! I'm hoping to find an alternative to MS Small Business Server in Linux.


Recipe for a proper St. Patrick's Day celebration:

1. Fill glass with beer

2. Lift glass

3. Shout "Happy St. Patrick's Day!"

4. Drink beer

5. Refill glass

6. Repeat until unconscious

Variation on theme: add green food colouring to your beer for a tasty treat.

Thought for the day:

The man who has nothing to boast of but his illustrious ancestry is like the potato -- the best part under ground.

Thomas Overbury


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© Jonathan Sturm 2001


© Jonathan Sturm 2001