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November 06 through November 12, 2000

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This is about computers, Linux, camping, games, fishing, software development, books and testing... the world around us. I have a weird viewpoint from a warped perspective. If you like that, cool.
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November 06, 2000 -    Updates at 07:00,  17:45

Good Morning. I've thrown Sendmail into Tom's hands for poking and prodding - I look at the Bat Book from O'Reilly (Second Edition, Revised and Updated, 1000 plus pages), and realize that all we have to do is get people up and running, and asking interesting questions. I think I've accomplished that in 20 pages, at least I hope I have. I know I reached the point where I either had to stop, or write for two more weeks and a hundred pages! We don't have room in the book for that. Still, we're almost done - two chapters and an appendix to finish out the primary manuscript - we're shooting for Friday and I think we're gonna hit it. Then 3 or 4 weeks of Author review (according to IDG's schedule) and Caldera OpenLinux Secrets goes to production.

Now there's lots to be done, work and writing and more, but remember - TOMORROW, NOVEMBER 7, 2000 IS ELECTION DAY - GET OUT AND VOTE, ENCOURAGE OTHERS TO DO THE SAME. Seriously, voter turnouts have been pathetic for decades. I haven't missed a single opportunity to vote NO since I reached my majority, and we might not be saddled with the half-wits, frat boys, dead-congressional wives and lawyers we do have, if enough people actually gave a rat's ass.

Dan Bowman noted yesterday that Dave Winer linked to the Daynotes Gang. My only problem with scripting news and other Manila/Userland type 'blogs is they tend to take forever to render, at least in Netscape on Linux. By way of currently available comparison, it flies on Konqueror. I think it's actually time to cut over to Knoqueror. I need to get the SSL stuff running, but then everything should be hunky and dory.

Now I am late, so have a great day. Back later, for sure. TTFN

17:45 - Reading Tom's post today... ::sigh:: You just gotta feel for the guy. I think that everyone with a critical need detector circuit has sent their most sensitive version to Tom for testing. Clearly, most of this hardware and software down here is in California laid-back mode, and knows that I don't care whether it's running, in the stack of A-Oh-Hell disks, or crunching under the tires on the road outside the home office window.

The funny thing, of course, is that most of this Linux stuff just works for me. But then again, so does the Windows stuff. I know that it's time to reboot when something goes screwy in Win98, I can use the task manager to close an errant program in Win2K and <usually> everything is OK, in Linux I have a look at the process table, and figure out what program I left running that's eating memory, and preventing me from reaching 2 years of uptime... <g>

Additionally, I can do everything *I* want to do (on the computing front, anyway), in Linux. The only thing really holding me back is the need to reliably exchange documents with Windows users (of which I am one, still, part-time). I can do almost all of that now, except for certain specialty formatting. It's really not hard to work without the special (read - proprietary) feature that are used in Word. I know how to strike text, and type in new text, and how to read that in other people's text docs. If I could work in RTF as an exchange format, I could hose all of my Windows boxes. Period.

Well, <sheepish grin> except for games, anyway!</sheepish grin> Yeah, there are features I really, really like in Windows, and there are features I really really like in Linux. I work in both environments every day, and it isn't nearly as hard as when I was swapping back and forth between DOS and CP/M. I'll tell you - the Latest Gnome Helix and KDE 2.0 both ROCK! They're resource hogs, of course, and I like IceWM and Blackbox too, for a much more minimal environment, clean, crisp and fast. But I don't lose any more material than I do to the same damn stoopid mistakes I make in Windows.

Speaking of California laid-back, it must be November, because I was just out on the porch in shorts and t-shirt, watching the sunset for a couple of minutes while I fired up the barbeque. You don't mind, do you? Now, I have last minute work to do on Chapter 25 which goes in tomorrow AM, and election material to review, and a start to make on Chapter 20. Oh, and dinner, and ... and... G'night!

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November 07, 2000 -    Updates at 06:50,  09:40

Mornin' - lots to do and absolutely ZERO time. I've got to get to the polling place, vote, and hit the road before the traffic begins to really suck. I've got a 4G HD to package and send to Saskatoon, to replace the drive that died in Donovan last night. Svenson chimed in this morning with the pleasant reminder that with 52 Fridays in any given year, Tom and I are bound to finish the book by one of them. Gee, thanks!

I did manage an update last night, however. Hope that can tide you over until the day's rushing about is ended and I can be a little more relaxed about this whole process. I wrote to Dan Bowman last night, observing how much I really enjoyed a second, evening update as a way to recap and rewind my day. That can be a reflective moment. The one little problem is that it is more challenging to be calmed and centered, knowing that another 4 to 6 hours of hard work await. Ah, well. All the more reason to attempt it, eh?

To the road for me. I'll see you back here later, yes? CYA.

09:40 - Got in and out at the polls, quite a line - I am hearing that there's a good turnout today. The clear weather no doubt helps too. Got this funny in from Trudy, thought I'd pass it along...

Subject:        THE CANDIDATES

  Ralph Nader, Al Gore and George W. Bush went to a fitness spa for some 
fun (if you will believe Nader ever has fun) and relaxation (if you  believe
Gore ever relaxes).

  After a stimulating healthy lunch, all three decided to visit the men's
room and found a strange-looking gent sitting at the entrance who said,

"Welcome to the gentlemen's room. Be sure to check out our newest feature:
a mirror which, if you look into it and say something truthful, you will be
awarded a wish. Be warned, if you say something false, you will be sucked
into the mirror to live in a void of nothingness for eternity!"

All three men, being presidential candidates, toy with danger and quickly
enter the men's room and find the mirror hanging on the wall.

Ralph Nader walked up to it and said, "I think I'm the most truthful of us
three" and in an instant he was surrounded by a pile of money, which I
suppose he invested in tech stocks.

  Albert Gore stepped up and said, "I think I'm the most ambitious of us
three" and he suddenly found the keys to a brand new Lexus in his hands,
which he liked because it looked better than Clinton's car.

  Excited over the possibility of having his wish come true, George W.Bush
looked into the mirror and said, "I think --", and was promptly sucked 
into the mirror.

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November 08, 2000 -    Updates at 06:50

Good morning. It appears to be the time for uncertain outcomes in Presidential elections. Not only do we not know who gets the hot seat for the next 4 years, but SVLUG's new President remains to be selected as well. After a show of hands vote at last Wednesday's meeting proved too close to call, online voting started yesterday evening. Votes are logged by both IP and stated email address. Sure, it can be hinked, but why bother. The candidates are Marc Merlin, current SVLUG President of Vice, and Karsten Self, Linux evangelist. Don Marti won the Vice Presidency at the meeting last week by fulfilling the primary requirement: Showing Up!

I've had the following list sitting in my inbox for the last week or more, out of sight and out of mind. One of my favorite features of my radio station, KFOG, is called 10 at 10. They have the voice of Don Pardo (traditional game show prize announcer guy), and each day play 10 songs, usually from a single year, and more than 10 years old. Occasionally, the show is themed, instead. Friday the Thirteenth is always Hits from Hell, the worst imaginable songs from Rock and Pop, as nominated by the listeners (the Carpenters ALWAYS make the cut). And every once in a while, Dave (DJ Dave Morey, the guy that opened broadcasting for the station 16 years ago when they adopted their current format) picks a TV set, like this:

1.Frank Zappa - Slime
2.Lucy & Ricky - Babalu Music
3.Lalo Schifrin - Mannix
4.Nelson Riddle - Route 66
5.Rembrandts - I'll Be There For You (Theme from "Friends")
6.Ventures - Hawaii 5-0
7.John Sebastian - Welcome Back Kotter
8.Henry Mancini - Peter Gunn
9.Joan Jett - Bad Reputation (from "Freaks & Geeks")
10.Mike Post - Rockford Files

The kick is that many of these are apparently available, like Babalu Music. Heh. Now normally this might be insignificant, but KFOG is online, 10 at 10 is on weekdays at both 10 AM and 10 PM Pacific Time, and the most popular music station in the SF Bay Area is now garnering a world-wide fan base. Their library starts with early Beatles and covers most of the intervening 35 or more years in Rock. Nice stuff. The stated format is Album-oriented Adult Alternative, whatever that means. I like'm.

I got about another 7 pages in last night on our last chapters - I think Tom and I are going to try to just enjoy ourselves and see if we can communicate that to the readers. The topic of the moment: Stupid GUI Tricks (and their relatives, like how to make X sit up and beg).

Now off to work with me - I have a second revision of a Printed Circuit Board to design - We're trying for a new format of Category 5e patch module - Jack and I have been mucking about with the first prototype design for the last few days, and got solid NEXT and FEXT numbers on the network analyzer. Now to confirm that our manual modifications to the board translate to an actual, repeatable fabrication.

Have a lovely day. Take care. Later.

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November 09, 2000 -    Updates at 07:00

Well. Hmmm. No president. Can someone tell me if this is a good thing? It might could be, eh?

Good Morning! I don't know when you'll read this, since downtime has reset the DSL modem twice in the last 10 minutes. I got home yesterday about 1, and started fighting with adding a Gnome startup to KDE2. They've changed things since KDE1, and I was having difficulty. Finally I shifted over to using the Gnome Display Manager (gdm), which has an easy easy scheme for adding sessions to the list. I think I could puzzle out the KDE2 version with more time on my hands (and I will, I will), but for now one or two good answers is just fine- we have a book to finish. Yes, the failure gets written up too. It's OK to be unsuccessful in some things; if we can communicate a difficult path to reader, it's nearly as useful as pointing out the best one, isn't it?

The good news is that in between outages, Sendmail managed to squeak out the email to Tom with a 1.5 MB attachment: the configuration files for KDE and KDE2 that ensure that when we both do screen shots, the configuration (colors, fonts, etc) look the same. Meantiime, the Christmas presents are also winging their way towards Syroid Manor, and we've just receive mail from our friends in Finland, Markku and Christina. They deserve a better answer than I can pound out in 3 minutes so I'll hold that until later in the day.

Now to work with me. Lot's of irons in the fire, and more queued up for heating. We'll see what happens. Take care of each other - I'll see you later.

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November 10, 2000 -    Updates at 06:57

Howdy. Well, it's Friday, and it's not. The good news is that I plan on having a Friday next week. An actual honest to goodness Friday that has two days following it during which I don't work. Haven't had one of those in a longish while. I can putter, and there are a number of around the house chores that have needed attending to , but that's not "work" in any real sense.

However, today, with 10 to 15 more pages to write myself, and Tom the same, in order to get our last manuscript elements in on Monday, the suspense is agonizing. As I slept, I dreamt of bits that I have left out of the book that really, really needed to be in there. Now I don't remember what they are. Aaaaeergh!

Along the lines of things that I haven't been doing, aside from having a life or spending enough time with my lovely Marcia, Holden Aust writes in reminding me of a product called Win4Lin, which apparently competes with VMware in some manner or another. I suppose I'd best have a look in the next couple of weeks. Ah, that reminds me - I want to see if I can demo something in Wine for the book. . . . there, noted!

Subject: Toard the goal of hosing all your Windows boxes, have you tried...?
   Date: Fri, 10 Nov 2000 06:55:32 +0000
   From: Holden Aust 

Hi Brian,

  Have you tried Win4Lin?

  This runs a real copy of Windows ontop of Linux. It costs $39 and might be a way for
you to run Word on a Linux PC and thereby not need to have any PCs running Windows
anymore. They have a trial version, too.

  I haven't tried this yet myself, but one of my programmer friends says it works very
well. He has also tried VMWare and likes Win4Lin better (for one reason it has much less
demanding hardware requirements). He says it is more stable than Windows by itself and
says that you can easily make a backup copy of your Windows environment, so that if you
install a new program and it blows up Windows, it is easy to recover your earlier
version. He also likes that, when Windows crashes, it doesn't bring down the whole
machine because the machine is running on Linux and says it is much faster to reload the
Win4Lin environment than wait for a Windows PC to reboot.

                              --- Holden

P.S. This Presidential cliffhanger is unbelievably tense and looks like it's going to go
on and on and on. I'm a Democrat and when the Florida vote was seesawing back and forth
at 2:00 a.m Wednesday morning, I really wanted to call one of my friends and talk about
it. But I thought, probably everybody who's got any sense is sound asleep and I better
just wait until tomorrow - although, on reflection, I bet a lot of my friends were
probably still up, too. One of my coworkers said that the sort of voting irregularities
that are going on in Florida probably go on in every election and in other states, too,
but usually they don't have a magnifying glass looking at them as they do now. I heard on
PBS that the Republicans had consulted lawyers and had the papers already prepared and
ready to file a lawsuit if Bush had won the popular vote and Gore had won the electoral
college, so it looks like they would have been (will be?) sore losers, too. Oh, man! Just
like that Chinese curse about "May you live in interesting times" -- 
hard to be more "interesting" than this!

Hmmm. I'd heard of Win4Lin, and also I understand that Wine is making absolutely great 
strides at the moment. VMware's system requirements aren't all that heavy, it's the 
overlying Windows that requires it, plus the memory footprint for a screen buffer (that 
last is the real space and speed killer if you're running at high screen res).

Lots of things to play with as this book winds down. 

Still toying with the concept of full-time writing, but don't know whether it's the right 
thing to do from a variety of angles. I can always continue to work for a wage, get back 
into doing a little coding, and write for the Linux Documentation Project as my way of 
paying forward. Hmmm.

Much to think about.

Good to hear from you.


Oh, on the politics? Let's just *not have* a President for four years, and see how 
*that* works out. No more hassles, no intern problems, no closed off areas in the 
White House for the tours... I offered Bob Thompson to be responsible for our nuclear 
forces during the Presidential hiatus... <g>

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November 11, 2000 - Veteran's Day -    Updates at 10:50

Thank you. Wars are fought, men and women die, battlegrounds are marked in our hearts and in our minds. To all those who have fought and sacrificed to the cause of Freedom, I offer my homage. Thank you!

Good Morning, albeit a bit latish for me in posting, but such is life. I've been at it with OpenLinux since about 7 this morning, fairly successfully. I've got screenshots of Windows running in VMWare, Win4Lin (thanks, Holden) and Wine. I want to see what I can get from VNC, then park the snaps in the chapter, write the words, and call it good.

Now I hate to be rude, but I really must get to work. We are going to finish in the next 36 hours, come Hell or high water. Maybe later, maybe later.

Subject: On writing as an occupation....
Date: Sat, 11 Nov 2000 03:03:47 +0000
From: Holden Aust 

My impression is that, unless your cost of living is very low (next to
 impossible in the Bay Area), almost all writers have to have a "day job" to
 pay the rent/mortgage.

Lots of writers live out in the boondocs, partly because they can live
 anywhere and largely because it is so much cheaper. I worked for a while for
 a software company in Ashland, Oregon and the cost of living up there was
 much, much cheaper than down here (12 years ago you could buy a
 three-bedroom '50s ranch house for $35,000 in Ashland - it would be a lot
 more expensive today, largely because a lot of retired Californians have
 moved there and driven up property values - you learn not to say you moved t
 ere from California to an Oregonian - but if you move outside of Ashland,
 Oregon is still very cheap compared to the Bay Area). I have a friend who is
 the head of the computer science department of a community college in
 Roseville in the  Northern Sierras. His wife is a poet who teaches a
 poetry-writing/therapy class in the local prison. Neither of them makes much
 money, but they own a nice large house on a large piece of land in a tiny
 town and have plenty of spare time.

I'm looking forward to your and Tom's Linux book, because I'm always on the
 lookout for good Linux books and it sounds like your new book will be one of
 the best for Linux.

Even if you decide not to do more books for the time being, you would
 definitely make a contribution by writing for the Linux Documentation
 Project. Some of the LDP is very good, but they are uneven and often
 incomplete and sketchy and you could probably write or update some good

Would your coding be open-source coding?  I have a programmer friend who's
 organizing a group of programmers to write an open source accounting app for
 small businesses. The app would run on Linux desktops and a Linux server. He
 works with a lot of small businesses and says that the inexpensive
 accounting software is terrible and the decent stuff is way too expensive
 for small businesses. Their idea is that they will be able to make money by
 consulting and customizing their open-source app, instead of tr ing to make
 money by selling the app itself.

I'll be interested to hear what you think of Win4Lin.  As Studs Terkel likes
 to say when he closes his shows, "Take it easy, but take it!"
Fulltime writing...

Well, we are DINK couple, and we could swing having me give a go at fulltime 
writing. However, we want to try to get into a house next year, and for a 
variety of income related reasons, it makes more sense to be pulling down a 
steady salary. If I could be assured of signing 3 books in a 12 month span, 
then I could probably make a go of it. 

Of course, the day jobs are never assured, either. But I'll always find work, 
and in a matter of days.

Ya, I'd GPL any work I do like that, to give back and pay forward. LDP is 
also interesting to me, especially since that'll give me a strong incentive 
to pickup Docbook one of these days soon.

You could sign me up to live in Oregon in a heartbeat, but it's too far away 
from the high-buzz industry that Marcia needs to work in.

Win4Lin looks OK. I'm a little fretted by the Win9X only aspect. I am really 
pulling for Wine, and of course, I like VMWare a lot as well. Lot's of 
interesting things to find in all of these tools.

Is Studs still alive??? Hmmm. Guess so. I remember laying hands on Working 
early on in my reading career. 

Gotta get back to work. Later,  .b

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November 12, 2000 -    Updates at 09:15, 19:00

Almost Done! We are just about through writing original material for the book. We put in Chapter 21 last night, and 22 should go in late today or early tomorrow am, along with the rough structure for Appendix C, which is an external references listing - We'll be fleshing that out as we go through AR and look up / check our data. While it's clear that we've done the best job we can to provide the reader with the information necessary to get up and going, then hit the real Linux learning curve with some built up momentum, we're not fooling ourselves. Some people work well with material presented in one style, some prefer others. If we end up having made it possible for our readers to ask answerable questions, and pointed her at the right resources, I won't feel bad at all.

News nybbles - Bob tells me that the .357 is overall easier to control in aimed rapid fire. Jerry points us at the SEAD-tasked UCAV. Tom's decided that the web-hosting services trade would be a good supplement for plying the book trade, in addition to letting those spare 3 CPU's have the possibility of earning a buck rather than just not finding Scully, Mulder or an Alien (hint: walk down Rodeo Drive and tell me that we need to keep looking for ET!). On the Daynotes Seti List, I've kept up the pace, moving up a dozen or more places in the pack. When I joined, I had 154 units in, at 22 or so hours per unit. Now, a few short weeks later, I've 423, and the average processing time per unit in the interval is about 10.71 hours. It'd be better for the average if I didn't have a K6-200? running.

Nope, nothing about election hoo-haw here, disgusted with the whole thing. Feh! Anyway, there's things to do, errands to run, chores to complete, that Appendix to lay out, and relax tonight being done-ish, right, Tom? Whhhooooo-hoooo! Back later, for sure, once I've had a chance to wake up, and have a little more time. I managed to make it through all the Daynotes today, which I haven't taken the leisure to do in about, oh, 6 months. Boy-o-boy, am I ever in distinguished, erudite company.

Again, see you later.

19:00 - Well, a slightly restful day. The morning was spent in some shopping at Costco and Frys. Astonishingly, Frys had not a single Creative Labs sound card within their 4 walls. Apparently all models have been discontinued, and new material is on the way in. This according to one of their ace aisle trawlers. Do you believe him? I don't. Maybe Randy forgot to sign the check for Creative, and they've withheld shipments pending payment. Or maybe the truck got lost. Double Hmmm. The Creative North America site only lists Good Guys and Office Depot as retailers in Sunnyvale. Heh.

The Campbell store is listed, though. And there are a whole bunch of new models. I suppose it's possible that Frys "chose" to run out of product, rather than be stuck with older stock. Heh. Either way is a loser, huh? And while it doesn't seem that I'm much of a T-E-A-M player with this Seti thing... it's just a subversive competitive streak that's surfaced. I certainly hope that no one's offended. I want the Daynotes team to be number ONE! (and I want to be number one on the Daynotes team, or at least, "Number Six", but that's not likely unless I can get the Setiathome people to write a Cray client, then have Moshe let me run his box with my account. Heh).

Speaking of Moshe, I had a nice little chat on IRC with the gentleman himself the other day. He is well enough, I suppose, but tired as only an Author/Kernel Hacker/Full Time Corporate IS VP can be. Whew. No wonder. Now I've got five minutes left on my download of the second disk of Mandrake 7.2, and one more disk to burn, then I'll spend the night with my lovely Marcia, thank you very much. Oh, yeah... I think that we're done with the book, Author Reviews aside. Thanks.

That said, good night. See you next week.

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All Content Copyright © 1999, 2000 Brian P. Bilbrey. Use what you want, but be sure to give me credit, and a link, if online.