A Daily Diatribe by a Pompous Git

Who is that fat bastard? 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 7 May 2001

Tom Syroid is excited about e-smith: "A server appliance that cares about security and your network? What a novel idea. . . . We have no problem recommending the e-smith server and gateway to small to midsize businesses looking to test the Linux waters." -- Network Computing. 

I am excited too and looking forward to playing with it when a visitor from Canada brings me a copy. This looks awful like the Small Business Server knock-off I have been looking for. It doesn't have a pretty GUI, but it does appear to pack all the essentials in a lightweight, easy-to-use, secure bundle. More on e-smith later.


A busy day ahead installing window frames in The House of Steel and a visit to the bank to borrow money so we can complete it.

Thought for the day:

Having more money does not insure happiness. People with ten million dollars are no happier than people with nine million dollars.

Hobart Brown


Tuesday 8 May 2001

The story about my meeting with the bank is over on The House of Steel page.


Well, it looks like I'll be be getting e-smith earlier than anticipated. Reader Steve Grady writes:


I am one of your regular readers from Sydney (northern island) NSW.

I noticed in todays Ephemerides that you showed an interest in the e-smith software, I too read Tom's comments yesterday and decided I would like to check it out (I only read Tom and yourself regularly on the Daynotes list).

It is available on two Australian mirrors and I have downloaded the iso image. If you like I will burn you a copy and mail it to you (my treat). It should reach you by the end of the week at the latest. Please advise if you are interested with a mailing address.

I would also like to say I do enjoy your writings and I also envy you living in Tasmania. My wife and I would like to move south away from the rat race of Sydney. Unfortunately my work prevents this, I am a specialist and there is not a big call for my work in Tassie, but we are looking. Well it may end up a medium to long term goal.

Anyway, if you would like me to send a copy (depending on the arrival of your Canadian friend) please let me know.

Steve Grady

Thanks for the kind offer Steve, yes please.

Moving to Tasmania often seems a sacrifice, the pond is too small for some varieties of fish; incomes are lower. But there's plenty of benefits, too. Many are like my friend Fran who used to be a typesetter/compositor and lived the high life, even for a while after he moved to Tasmania. Now he deliberately lives a slower, simpler lifestyle as a home handyman. Our lifestyle's not for everyone and many who are attracted to it find themselves bored when out of the cut and thrust competitiveness of the rat race.

Thought for the day:

You don't appreciate a lot of stuff in school until you get older. Little things like being spanked every day by a middle aged woman: Stuff you pay good money for in later life.

The Oracle


Wednesday 9 May 2001

John Biel writes (about e-smith):

Sounds like you won't need the copy I burned :) 

Still it made me look at E-smith rather than just knowing it existed. (had to make sure the burn actually worked!) 

It installed quickly and easily, it's very well thought out. I have a Cobalt Cube at one of our locations, but I believe that E-smith is at least as good and in many ways better. I'm going to install it onto our network and test it out in an engineering department of about 15 people to see whether they even notice. I've got a Compaq 2500 that was taken out of service that will be just the right test of the raid and tape backup capabilities. So thank you for bringing it to my attention in a way that I had to actually do something about it rather than just read Tom's report and nod my head. :)


This sounds better and better. I expect to receive my copy tomorrow, though Ghod knows when I will find the time to play. I might just put Thomas in charge of it and catch up later.

Some weeks ago, I purchased a huge second-hand desk from the local antique dealer, leaving it for later collection. Yesterday, they informed Marguerite that they are running out of storage space so I have to go and make room for it in the carport at The House of Steel


Torvalds Vs Mundie

Tim O'Reilly made an interesting point about the OSS affair: "Mundie's contention that open source encourages code forking is a red herring," he said. "Windows 2000, Windows Me, Windows NT, and Windows 9x provide a more compelling example of 'unhealthy forking of a code base' than any open-source project."

But who gives a fork about the battle of words? Until recently, MS provided us with fairly decent productivity software and useable, but power-hungry server OSs. Linux provides us with better server OSs that can run on hardware MS would have us throw away. When are the Linuxen going to wake up, smell the coffee and provide us with desktop apps that come within Cooee of MS Office? Or is it just too hard to write code as good as, or better than MS?

Thought for the day:

Survival, with honor, that outmoded and all-important word, is as difficult as ever and as all-important to a writer. Those who do not last are always more beloved since no one has to see them in their long, dull, unrelenting, no-quarter-given-and-no-quarter-received, fights that they make to do something as they believe it should be done before they die. Those who die or quit early and easy and with every good reason are preferred because they are understandable and human. Failure and well-disguised cowardice are more human and more beloved.

Ernest Hemingway


Thursday 10 May 2001

Went shopping for bits for The House of Steel. E-smith arrived courtesy of Steve Grady. Thanks Steve. John Harris in the US is attempting to get e-smith working on his laptop. It seems that Xircom drivers are not included, but like John, I have a spare laptop to experiment with. I don't want to bring my working server down until I absolutely need to. Since e-smith is a modified RedHat, the Xircom drivers that come with RedHat should work. I await the results of John's experiment with much interest.

Late in the day, Michael brought by the blackwood desk I purchased from Treasures antique shop. He spent the last couple of days helping a friend frame up a house. One and a half days to frame the walls and half a day to get the roof trusses on! But then it's not The House of Steel where no two studs were the same length.

A Cute Story

A young Scottish lad and lassie were sitting on a low stone wall, holding hands, and just gazing out over the loch. For several minutes they sat silently, then finally the girl looked at the boy and said, "A penny for your thoughts, Angus."

"Well, uh, I was thinkin'... perhaps it's aboot time for a wee kiss." The girl blushed, then leaned over and kissed him gently on the cheek. Then he blushed. Then the two turned once again to gaze out over the loch. After awhile, the girl spoke again. "Another penny for your thoughts, Angus."

"Well, uh, I was thinkin'... perhaps it's noo aboot time for a wee cuddle." The girl blushed, then leaned over and cuddled him for a few seconds. Then he blushed. Then the two turned once again to gaze out over the loch. Then after a while the girl spoke again. "Another penny for your thoughts, Angus."

"Well, uh, I was thinkin'... perhaps it's aboot time you let me poot ma hand on yer leg." The girl blushed, then took his hand and put it on her knee. Then he blushed. Then the two turned once again to gaze out over the loch. After awhile the girl spoke again. "Another penny for your thoughts, Angus."

The young man knit his brow. "Well, now," he said, "My thoughts are a bit more serious this time." "Really?" said the girl in a whisper, filled with anticipation. "Aye," said the lad. The girl looked away in shyness, began to blush again, and bit her lip in anticipation of the ultimate request. "Din'na ye think it's aboot time ye paid me the first three pennies?"

Thought for the day:

Never forget that life can only be nobly inspired and rightly lived if you take it bravely and gallantly, as a splendid adventure in which you are setting out into an unknown country, to meet many a joy, to find many a comrade, to win and lose many a battle.

Annie Besant


Friday 11 May 2001

After spending the morning digging a drainage ditch along the front edge of The House of Steel, I went to Huonville to see my lawyer about the OneTel bastards. I told him I was more concerned about building my house than defeating OneTel and he said that a court appearance would be extremely expensive since they have decided it should be in a court in Queensland several thousand miles to the north of here. Obviously part of the company's tactics to screw money from their ex-clients.

The afternoon I spent in Michael Henrysson's workshop drinking beer and telling lies. There was a steady trickle of visitors to admire the furniture that he is making in co-operation with Tony Dunshea, the master of steel who welded several bits of my house together.

Balckwood and stainless steel chair

The above picture was an early version; the latest has a loop above the backrest and a cross brace from the front legs to the rear of the seat. They don't just look good, they are comfortable too. 

Thought for the day:

No one should drive a hard bargain with an artist.



Saturday 12 May 2001

Forgot to mention yesterday that the loan from the bank was approved. So The House of Steel project is in no immediate danger of running out of funds. Some of my friends thought we should have pushed on the home loan front and found a tame registered builder. The difference in interest rates between home loans and personal loans is very small. As soon as we sell the cottage, hopefully early summer, the loan will be paid off. The difference in interest is likely to be way below what a registered builder would charge for his unnecessary supervision.


People often ask me how come I know so much about computers, poor deluded fools that they are. Like Henry Ford, I just know the correct buttons to press and the information I need is nearly always available. In no particular order, here's a list of extremely useful resources I have found over the years:

Andrew Baker is "God" in the NT networking world. His site, Ultratech, is a portal to much of interest. If Andrew's FAQ doesn't answer the question, and you provide the required level of detail in a query, he nearly always has the answer. Andrew can be found on two email lists, the high volume Windows NT/2000 Discussion List and his low volume, high level list. Subscription details on the Ultratech site.

Whatever the problem, somebody, somewhere has probably posted to a newsgroup. DejaNews enables searches of Newsgroup posts and is now back in service after a frustrating hiatus.

My favourite general search engine is Google. Much better than its rivals.

Mark Russinovich and Bryce Cogswell's Sysinternals website provides a wealth of free must-have utilities and info on MS operating systems.

For MS Office issues, Woody Leonhard and crew maintain the WoodysWatch website where you can subscribe to various free email newsletters as well as post queries that are answered by experts. Woody also provides a set of useful MS Word macros. Mysteriously, the things that these macros automate nearly always end up as part of the next version of Word.

For hardware issues, I have a local expert, John Stephenson. If he's stumped, then the place to visit is Bob Thompson's HardwareGuys discussion board, or Ars Technica.

Anybody that spends significant amounts of time working with MS products for a living needs a TechNet subscription. Extracting the required information can be tedious, but if you put the most restrictive search term first, rather than the most general, searches are a lot quicker: e.g. ordinals winword, rather than winword ordinals. I like being able to search in the found set, gradually narrowing the search. Too restrictive search terms from the get go often means missing the vital information you are after. The index is far from perfect.


RIP Douglas Adams, author of the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy among many other works, originator of the theory that humorousness was proportional to the humorist's height. Died of a heart attack at age 49! Ye Gods, I'm a year older than that!

Thought for the day:

If you take all the experience and judgment of men over fifty out of the world, there wouldn't be enough left to run it.

Henry Ford


Sunday 13 May 2001

From Slackarses Dot Com:

Start with a cage containing 5 apes. Posted by silentbob on Friday, March 02 @ 19:27:44 EST

In the cage, hang a banana on a string and put stairs under it. Before long, an ape will go to the stairs and start to climb towards the banana. As soon as he touches the stairs spray all of the apes with cold water. This continues through several more attempts. Pretty soon, when another ape tries to climb the stairs, the other apes all try to prevent it. Now turn off the cold water.

Remove one ape from the cage and replace it with a new one. The new ape sees the banana and wants to climb the stairs. To his horror, all of the other apes attack him. After another attempt and attack, he knows that if he tries to climb the stairs he will be assaulted.

Next, remove another of the original five apes and replace it with a new one. The newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked. The previous newcomer takes part in the punishment with enthusiasm. Again, replace a third original ape with a new one. The new one makes it to the stairs and is attacked as well. Two of the four apes that beat him have no idea why they were not permitted to climb the stairs, or why they are participating in the beating of the newest apes.

After replacing the fourth and fifth original apes, all the apes that have been sprayed with cold water have been replaced. Nevertheless, no ape ever again approaches the stairs. Why not? Because that's the way they've always done it and that's the way it's always been done around here.

There is enormous power in the question 'why?'. It's at the heart of all ethical decision making, all sensible policy and all good leadership.

The next time you find yourself in a situation where you're being pressured to bash a stair climber remember YOU ARE NOT AN APE! Have the courage to ask 'Why?' (and don't accept tradition as an explanation).

Thought for the day:

Interfere? Of course we should interfere! Always do what you're best at, that's what I say. 

Doctor Who

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Jonathan Sturm 2001

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Jonathan Sturm 2001