Ephemerides

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 10 December 2001

A friend sent me one of those perennial Christmas-time emails. This one starts: 

"Gift Buying Rules For Men Rule #1: When in doubt - buy him a cordless drill. It does not matter if he already has one. I have a friend who owns 17 and he has yet to complain. As a man, you can never have too many cordless drills. No one knows why."

Whoever wrote that knows nothing of the sheer utility of cordless drills. For many years, the only power tool I owned was a cordless drill. When I commenced working on The House of Steel, I purchased a power drill, a hammer drill and a heavy duty power screwdriver. While these all have their uses, the cordless has a number of advantages in many situations. The primary advantage is the lack of a cord -- cords get in the way. Being independent of mains power means the cordless drill can be used where cords can't reach and when the mains power is off. One really nice thing about the Makita cordless drill that has served me so well is its light weight and small size.

Currently, I am doing cabinet work and the cordless is really great for screwing the small screws that hold things together. When its battery goes flat, I can use the heavy duty power screwdriver, but it's too heavy for comfort. Some of the screws require a pilot hole and the mains powered drill is even bigger and heavier. Then I'm screwing Posidrive and Philips head screws. Ideally in this situation, I'd have several cordless drills: one for the Philips, one for the Posidrive and one for the pilot drilling. Multiply those three by two, so that a flat battery means just changing over the bit. But that's just the light tools. Medium and heavy duty cordless drills would be handy, again doubled up so that workflow isn't interrupted by flat batteries. Let's see, that's ten cordless drills so far.

Thought for the day:

A man's wife has more power over him than the state has.

Ralph Waldo Emerson


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Tuesday 11 December 2001

I hate my new ISP; iPrimus sucks! Incoming and outgoing mail is going missing. Connections are dropping out after only an hour, sometimes less. Sometimes, making a connection is impossible. This can't be because they are busy, not at four o'clock in the morning! When the three months are up, I'm going back to DingoBlue or Access One. I am trying to upload some files to my website and it's taking forever due to "errors" requiring me to re-establish the transfer. What I need is a GetRight that works in reverse!

-oOo-

Australian psychiatrists are up in arms over the illegal immigrant "crisis". Apparently, keeping these people locked up while their application for residency is processed makes them "depressed" and that's a "crime against humanity". I wonder what those psychiatrists would say to my breaking into their houses. If caught I'd say: "You can't have me locked up for that. I might become depressed and that's a crime against humanity!" Maybe it's their occupation that sends them barking mad.

-oOo-

It's not just the psychiatrists that are barking mad. John Daly writes about the use of the TOPEX-Poseidon Radar Altimetry system to claim sea levels are rising.

Thought for the day:

When I was a young man I observed that nine out of ten things I did were failures. I didn't want to be a failure, so I did ten times more work.

George Bernard Shaw


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Wednesday 12 December 2001

A hard day's work on The House of Steel yesterday finds me somewhat tired this morning. The idiots Telstra has been forced by legislation to subcontract telephone connections to were supposed to arrive yesterday to put the cable from the pole in the street to our pole. Their "facilitator" explained that since we now planned to move into our new home in late rather than early December, this couldn't be done. "The telephone service won't work if the cable is placed before the switchover in the exchange is made". What a moron! I've known fence posts more intelligent than this idiot.

Thought for the day:

All parents believe their children can do the impossible. They thought it the minute we were born, and no matter how hard we've tried to prove them wrong, they all think it about us now. And the really annoying thing is, they're probably right.

Cathy Guisewite


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Thursday 13 December 2001

I find the religious war between Windows/Lunix advocates endlessly amusing. Many of us are more than willing to switch camps, but we want to take our favourite apps with us. Advocates of Windows applications such as Outlook (or Goldmine, or Trakker) that integrate several closely related tasks are told that it's more efficient to use several separate applications under *nix. For those of us that view the computer as a tool to efficiently perform useful work, it makes no sense to move from entering information in one place to a situation that requires manually shuffling that information between the different apps that make use of that information. Some of us think that it's the primary purpose of the computer to eliminate the inefficiency of multiple data entry.

It doesn't matter one jot how elegantly and efficiently coded those *nix apps are to save CPU cycles. What matters is how apps affect our efficiency as workers, be we writers, salesmen, clerks, documentary film makers, telephone sanitisers or hairdressers. The less time we need to spend serving the computer's needs, the better.

There's no argument that Microsoft's apps would dramatically benefit from the removal of cruft, better beta testing and bug removal. For all the talk of the shortcomings of core Microsoft applications, it's becoming increasingly obvious that so far no other company is delivering the goods! Word Perfect is almost as good as Word when run on Windows, but the Linux version is execrable. Star Office is a joke. Apps that lose the ability to open their own files are not better than Microsoft. In this day and age, I should not have to remember to periodically do a File, Save As... to avoid recreating the whole document.

-oOo-

The attempt to have Telstra reinstate Message Bank, the voice message recording service, produced some more inanity. Apparently, this would require the cancellation of our application to have our telephone services moved to The House of Steel. Then we would have to reapply to have the service moved, introducing a long delay due to our being at the end of the queue once more! The excuse, of course, is "it's the computer's fault!" Presumably the application was written to cater to the computer's need to be efficient in the Lunix sense, rather than the needs of the clients. I want to pay for a service, but I can't because a stupidly written application won't allow it.

While a telephone answering machine superficially looks like the answer to our needs, it takes no account of the pattern of our callers. They seem to possess an uncanny knack of phoning at the same time we are talking to another person on the phone. Message Bank takes their message, the answering machine can't!

-oOo-

At least Bob Thompson makes sense most of the time. He has some useful info on Win2k/XP and setting up email filtering rules to reduce spam in your inbox.

Thought for the day:

Efficiency is intelligent laziness.

David Dunham


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Friday 14 December 2001

From the Inbox:

Hello,

You could always run VMware or Bochs[1] and run one OS in a window in the other. This way you can have the best of both worlds.

Also, a large part of the "Unix philosophy" is to have many small apps that do one thing and do it well. You then tie these smaller apps together using scripts, etc. (Emacs non-withstanding. :)

[1] bochs.sourceforge.net -- David Magda <dmagda at ee.ryerson.ca> Because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new. -- Niccolo Machiavelli, _The Prince_, Chapter VI

I have been using VMWare under Win2k to run Linux for a couple of years now. Having "the best of both worlds". I was a beta tester of the Linux version Adobe FrameMaker and I suspect that had that project borne fruit, I would have moved from running Linux under Win2k to running Win2k under Linux.

Yes, the "Unix philosophy" appears to be that computer users should also be programmers that write their own scripts, but that's a cost most users don't want. Continuously reinventing the wheel makes sense to a programmer; presumably there's considerable entertainment value in doing so. But for the vast majority of the populace who just want to get their work done, that makes no sense whatsoever.

I am reminded of a Word macro I once saw that emailed the current Word document. Presumably, the macro writer had never noticed the Send to... item in the File menu.

Thought for the day:

Efficiency is doing better what is already being done.

Peter F. Drucker


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Saturday 15 December 2001

Last night we were at a Christmas function for STEPS, held at a local winery called Home Hill. While the food was of excellent quality, the volume was less than half what I am used to eating. And the wine was really first class, so rather than diluting it with water as I usually do, I drank it straight. About twice as much as I usually do. So, today finds me somewhat hung over. Marguerite's contribution to the success of STEPS over the last 15 years was recognised with a pastiche of framed photographs in a single, large frame -- Bowmont as it was before and after renovation and the various STEPS branches that now exist.

The following arrived in my inbox without attribution, so if anyone knows who wrote it, please let me know:

In these times, we must all stand together. A secret society, little known by most, has decided to allow inclusion of all those that would abide by the values that we cherish. Below is a short history of this organization. For those who accuse us of spreading barbaric concepts to the masses, we will revert to an age old tactic that has served us well: Deny, Deny, Deny, and make counter-accusations. Read on to learn of the...Brothers of Infamous Glory, Klan Of Khen.

Phuh Khen (pronounced Foo Ken) 1169-???? is considered by some to be the most under recognized and/or appreciated military officer in history. Many have never even heard of his contributions to modern military warfare. The mission of this secret society is to bring honor to the name of Phuh Khen.

A 'Khen' was a subordinate to a 'Khan' (pronounced Konn) in the military structure of the Mongol Hoards. Khan is Turkish for Leader. Most know of the great Genghis Khan, but little has been written of his chain of command. Khen is also of Turkish origin. Although there is not a word in English that adequately conveys the meaning. Roughly translated, it means, 'One who will do the impossible, while appearing totally unprepared, and complaining incessantly.'

Phuh Khen was one of ten Khens that headed the divisions, or group of hoards, as they were known, of the Mongol Army serving under Genghis Khan. His abilities came to light during the Mongol's raids on the Turkestan city of Turkestanis. Bohicans were fierce warriors and the city was well fortified. The entire city was protected by huge walls and the hoards were at a standoff with the Bohicans. Bohicaroo was well stocked and it would be difficult to wait them out. Genghis Khan assembled his Khens and ordered each of them to develop a plan for penetrating the defenses of Bohicaroo.

Operation Achieve Victory (AV) was born. All 10 divisions of Khens submitted their plan. After reviewing AV plans 1 thru 7 and finding them all unworkable or ridiculous, Genghis Khan was understandably upset. It was with much perspiration that Phuh Khen submitted his idea, which came to be known as AV 8. Upon seeing AV 8, Genghis was convinced this was the perfect plan and gave his immediate approval. The plan was beautifully simple. Phuh Khen would arm his hoards to the teeth, load them into catapults, and hurl them over the wall. The losses were expected to be high, but hey, hoards were cheap. Those that survived the flight would engage the enemy in combat. Those that did not? Well, surely their flailing bodies would cause some damage.

The plan worked and the Bohicans were defeated. From that day on, whenever the Mongol Army encountered an insurmountable enemy, Genghis Khan would give the order, "Send some of Phuh Khen's AV 8ers." This is believed, though not by anyone outside our secret society, to be the true origin of the term Aviator (AV 8er). Phu Khen's AV 8ers were understandably an unruly mob, not likely to be socially acceptable. Many were heavy drinkers and insomniacs. But when nothing else would do, you could always count on an AV 8er. A Phu Khen Aviator. Denied, perhaps rightfully so, his place in history, Phu Khen has been, nonetheless, immortalized in prose. As the great poet Norman Lear never once said:

"There once was a man named Phuh Khen Whose breakfast was whiskey and gin When e'er he'd fly He'd give a mighty war cry Bend over, Here it comes again."

Consider it an honor to be a Phu Khen Aviator. Wear the mantle proudly, but speak of it cautiously. It is not always popular to be one of us. You hear mystical references, often hushed whispers, to 'those Phuh Khen Aviators.' Do not let these things bother you. As with any secret society, we go largely misunderstood, prohibited by our apathy, from explaining ourselves.

You are expected to always live down to the reputation of the Phuh Khen Aviator. A reputation cultivated for centuries, undaunted by scorn or ridicule, unhindered by progress. So drink up, be crude, sleep late, urinate in public, and get the job done. When others are offended, you can revel in the knowledge that you are a

PHUH KHEN AVIATOR

Thought for the day:

It was a woman who drove me to drink and I never got the chance to thank her.

W.C. Fields


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Sunday 16 December 2001

 

Thought for the day:

 


 

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Jonathan Sturm 2001

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Jonathan Sturm 2001