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 14 May 2001

Much progress on The House of Steel -- two walls clad in corrugated zincalume. Lacking the usual sort of scaffold, we improvised with ladders and ladder brackets. The ladder brackets look like rusted iron mediaeval torture instruments and allow planks to be suspended from two ladders. The day was exhausting, physically and emotionally. Each long sheet of zincalume requires a move of the ladders and planks. My wrists, elbows and leg muscles are throbbing. My left palm is bruised from hitting the back of the electric screwdriver to speed up the self-drilling screws. But the two walls Fran and I put up are magnificent!  The silver-grey of the corrugated zincalume reflects the colours of the sky above in the highlights and the ground below in the shadows. Looking at a wall from the end, the severely horizontal lines carry the eye toward the convergence point at infinity...

Thought for the day:

Light is the symbol of truth.

James Russell Howell


Tuesday 15 May 2001

A day of intermittent rain. Kaycee Nicole passed away at age 19.

Thought for the day:

Death be not proud, though some have called thee Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so. For, those, whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow. Die not, poor death, nor yet canst thou kill me.

John Donne


Wednesday 16 May 2001

Not much to write about today apart from The House of Steel update. My friend Garry has found me a second hand 8 port 10/100 mb/s switching hub, so we will be upgrading the network to 100 mb/s soon. He's finding that repairing computers and selling second-hand machines interesting intellectually (he has repaired several "unrepairable" machines), but not particularly rewarding financially. He asks my advice on the direction to go and I tell him to learn server-side Linux. When he delivers the switch, I'll give him copies of a few distros and a couple of my older Linux books.

Thought for the day:

I would sum up my fear about the future in one word: boring. And that's my one fear: that everything has happened; nothing exciting or new or interesting is ever going to happen again... the future is just going to be a vast, conforming suburb of the soul.

J. G. Ballard


Thursday 17 May 2001

Matt Beland writes: "Thank the Gods for Partition Magic..." a sentiment with which I heartily agree. Life before PowerQuest's utility meant tedious reinstallation of everything when a new disk partition scheme was called for. I have been using PM for several years now and not once has it let me down. But not everyone has had such a wonderful experience with PM. And I ponder Robert Thompson's and Bo Leuf's problems with Win2k Pro versus my almost complete lack of them. And the belief that VIA chipsets are not as reliable as Intel's. My Win2k Pro is running on an early VIA chipset for an original AMD K7. Could it be that our expectations influence our computers' behaviour? That there is some subtle interaction between the electrons zipping around the computer and those in our brains?

Thought for the day:

Whatever we expect with confidence becomes our own self-fulfilling prophecy.

Brian Tracy


Friday 18 May 2001

Following in several others' footsteps, most notably Paul Thurrott, I decided to install Service Pack 2 for Win2k. There are several security updates that Windows Update had been unable to install. Unknown Error 20########### or some such. Rather than DL the whole 110 MB, I opted for the automatic option -- 10 MB and much quicker. Naturally, I told the installer to back up critical files so I could undo the update if necessary. Anyone else remember SP2 for NT?

 The process stalled at backing up dtcsetup.exe -- Setup cannot copy the file dtcsetup.exe. Ensure that the location specified below is correct or change it and insert "Windows 2000 system files in the drive you specify". Bugger! Changing the path to any of the eight copies of dctsetup.exe where Find Files told me it was living produced the same message. Piffle! I told it to skip the file and everything went smoothly from there on. Note that cancelling the installation of a Service Pack is not A Good Idea. A reboot has my machine running noticeably faster -- improved disk access speed being the obvious cause.

Thought for the day:

For the truly faithful, no miracle is necessary. For those who doubt, no miracle is sufficient.

Nancy Gibbs


Saturday 19 May 2001

From Robert in Canada comes the following:

Enjoy your website and news about the House of Steel but am anxiously awaiting pics of the new cladding.

I heard about e-smith from Tom Syroid and since my company is investigating firewall/vpn boxes to connect ten branch offices together, I went to Ottawa to pay them a visit.

They seem to be doing a great job approaching the holy grail of a linux-based Small Business Server. They have a next release planned for this summer where they will implement a network operations center that will monitor the small business users' servers.

I installed e-smith on my own personal server and was impressed with how painless the install went and continue to be impressed with the operation of the box.

-- Robert Montreal, Canada

I'm anxiously awaiting pix of the wall cladding, too. But you will have to wait until I have finished the cladding and been to the city to have the film developed. I'm hoping that window installation will delay the latter, so the pix will show The House of Steel with the completed outside.

That's great news about e-smith. It's a pity there's such a big gap between their free product and the paid-for version, That doesn't make much sense to me. I'm a great believer in small profits make quick returns. I am hoping to perform an e-smith install the day after tomorrow.

Thought for the day:

The most common error made in matters of appearance is the belief that one should disdain the superficial and let the true beauty of one's soul shine through. If there are places on your body where this is a possibility, you are not attractive -- you are leaking.

Fran Lebowitz


Sunday 20 May 2001

Robert writes:

Not quite sure what you mean about the difference between the paid-for and free products. I understood that the software was the same. The payment is for purely for support. I agree it is not the cheapest support offering at $595US, but then I would prefer they stay in business and continue to develop the product. Unlike many other dot-coms (Stormix linux for one).

In our case, we will work with one of their partners to configure our ten+ server/vpn/firewalls and I suspect arrange an annual support and network monitoring plan for less than 10 times $595, paid to the partner rather than to e-smith directly. Unless we decide to go the dedicated hardware firewall/vpn route!

Bit surprised you don't have a digital camera! Perhaps that's where subscription dollars may end up! No word on paypal yet?

- Robert

The free and paid for versions being the same is what poses the problem. If they are relying on the $US595 for support as their revenue stream, there's a lot of small users (like me) who have little choice other than to go without support. $A1,100 is a lot of money. If they had a smaller payment as *part* of their revenue stream, I would pay a smaller amount and be happier because I knew I was helping them stay in business. If I am completely happy with e-smith and continue to use it, I will likely send them some dollars, though not as much as they are asking.

A digital camera approaching the quality of 35 mm film costs around $A20,000. I purchased a film scanner instead for $A1,400. I could have purchased a low-end digital, but I prefer to keep my life simple. If my book about owner-building The House of Steel ends up on paper, I'll need the 2700 dpi of a 35 mm film scan.

Subscription dollars at this point are likely to only cover part of the web service provider costs at this point, though I have been offered free web serving and this may yet come to pass. No news on CC payments via Paypal yet.

I am hopeful that I can generate sufficient revenue from writing to continue working from home. Our lifestyle does not consume huge amounts of money and our borrowings for The House of Steel are offset by the value of the cottage and half-acre when we sell it after moving into The House of Steel.

I have some things I feel a strong compulsion to write about and one is taking more control over our lives. When Marguerite and I moved out of the city, I performed time and motion studies of several self-sufficiency projects. Brewing our own beer worked out at a cost-saving of $A20/hr in 1986, though the beer was of higher quality than the commercial brew I was comparing it to. I could legitimately have compared it to boutique beer at near double the price. Similarly, vegetables are readily produced at a similar cost saving. The Big Lie is that economies of scale prevent us from doing such things for ourselves economically.

The trick is to find a balance between self-sufficiency and revenue to pay for things that can only be paid for with dollars. I know plenty of people with lots of money, but insufficient time to pay for the lifestyle they aspire to. And I know an equal number with plenty of time, but insufficient capital. Then there are the few, like Fran, who manage to live in balance with their income and time.

Robert Wright has some interesting things to say about globalisation, income and happiness.

Thought for the day:

The joy is that we can take back our bodies, reclaim our health, and restore ourselves to balance. We can take power over what and how we eat. We can rejuvenate and recharge ourselves, bringing healing to the wounds we carry inside us, and bringing to fuller life the wonderful person that each of us can be.

John Robbins

Meet Kaycee

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Jonathan Sturm 2001

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Jonathan Sturm 2001