Breathing Sandpaper

This is a reconstruction of a post from my first blog,, with text pulled from The Wayback Machine.

Thursday, April 6, 2000
Watched The Matrix with the boys again last night – still a good flik. Listened to some Greatful Dead with Robert. Read more of Voyager. Still didn’t get enough sleep, can’t breathe. The air’s like 100-grit sandpaper. The Pollen count’s somewhere in the 900’s today, whatever that means. Nothing to be allergic to, no symptoms other than coughing, I just can’t breathe comfortably.

“The bells are tolling for the cyberchurch, but the parishioners remain unfazed.” What did you think of Bill Joy’s, ummm, article?

“That toothpaste is not going to go back into the tube. … Intellectual property in the form of bits cannot be secured, not by laws and not by technology. Its makers need to listen hard to what their customers want, and then to give it to them at the right price with unbeatable convenience.” – Keith Dawson

The browser wars are back. “…I’m afraid to install the IE5.5 beta, but didn’t have a problem with installing the Netscape one…” – Edd Dumbill

Will Browsers Ever Not Suck? “…the very nature of the Web’s success — its simplicity — is directly responsible for much of its downfall. ” – Jeffrey Veen

Lego’s buying Zowie?

Can hyperlinks be outlawed?

Is there life on Europa? Hmmm. “All these worlds are yours, except Europa… ATTEMPT NO LANDINGS THERE.”

Is pizza good for me?

This is a reconstruction of a post from my first blog,, with text pulled from The Wayback Machine.

Wednesday, April 5, 2000
David Weinberger: “The web is remaking business in its image. This is a bottom-up, distributed network of people creating their own loose structure. You’re not in charge anymore. Resist the reflex to reassert your control. ”

Not just open-sourcers, but “Microsoft shareholders should depose Bill Gates.” Jesse Berst “…if you’re a Microsoft investor, you’re getting screwed by the tech industry’s poster child for wrongheaded arrogance.” C’mon, Jesse, tell us what you really think.

But then again, as a friend said yesterday…

I’m having a hard time making the connection between the Microsoft decision and my personal life, perhaps it is my mistake to try.
The decision is consuming a small amount of my day as I listen and participate in the kabitzing. It is mildly entertaining.

According to one theory, which I have yet to substantiate, my personal wealth may have gone down some $2,500.

I am vastly more concerned with helping my mother understand about her touch pad being sensitive enough to cause unexpected mouse clicks. For example, she managed to click-and-drag her Mircosoft Windows 95 taskbar size down to essentially no height. Perhaps Microsoft should be held liable for that?

Code covered in U.S. under Free Speech.

I’m reading Voyager, the story of Rutan & Yeager’s round-the-world non-stop non-refuled flight. Very good book.

Robert’s starting to read some Sherlock Holmes. Not bad for a nine year-old.

The Braves won’t have an undefeated 2000 season. 3-5 to the Rockies.

Yesterday: Tomatoes good. Today: Dairy bad. What about Pizza?

Who changed my clock?

This is a reconstruction of a post from my first blog,, with text pulled from The Wayback Machine.

Monday, April 3, 2000
Yea, we missed the change and were late Sunday morning. sigh. Well, it’s got to happen to someone each year, right? We were just doing our part for society.

Play Ball! Go Bravos! Aaaah, Robins nesting in the shrubs out front, the Braves coming back to roost, and lots of pollen in the air. Nothing like spring, is there?

From RCFOC, Star Wars Probe Droids come to life. Sun clomps on Sunhelp? If the Register reports it, it must be true right? snicker

Can Mir be saved?

A review of The Making Of 2001: A Space Odyssey

…I was convinced I had just experienced one of the most interesting, puzzling, disturbing, confusing and at times beautiful things I ever had encountered.

JPL’s Administrator Daniel S. Goldin on Wednesday (pdf): “Do things that have not been done. Fly things that haven’t been flown. There will be some failure, but when it occurs, we will face the problem together . . . and fix the problem together.”

I’m about halfway finished the P-51 that I picked up at Robbins AFB last weekend.

I did get a chance to finish Beyond the Wild Blue: A History of the United States Airforce. A pretty good book. A little dry but that’s to perhaps be expected considering that it’s meant to be more of a history text than a story. Every Man a Tiger was a lot more fun, though of course didn’t have the same coverage.

New Planets on Thursday

This is a reconstruction of a post from my first blog,, with text pulled from The Wayback Machine.

Posted by Steven, 3/30/00 at 5:55:44 AM.

A New Planet or two? Cool!

How many IP addresses do you have assigned to your server? I hope it’s not 52 or more. Not cool.

What’s keeping Jini in the bottle? Hey, how ’bout that ol’ bugaboo, Lack Of A Killer App?

Just how open is your source ? ZDNet writers have some words for you.

Bagles & Baseball

This is a reconstruction of a post from my first blog,, with text pulled from The Wayback Machine.

Posted by Steven, 3/29/00 at 4:49:07 AM.

Go Cubbies! It’s early am in the U.S. but the Cubs and Mets are playing their opening game of the season… in Japan. It’s the first time that an official MLB game has been played outside of the North American continent.

Oh, and I finished Eye of the World on my flight back from Houston last week. This week I’m digging into Beyond the Wild Blue: A History of the United States Airforce.

Dave had some interesting words on eating yesterday.

NASA’s issued reports on the Mars missions and announced cancellation of the planned launch of the Mars 2001 lander awaiting approval of an overall Mars ‘architecture’ plan. Bletch. Stop waiting around and let’s get going. There were plans in the works thirty years ago for developing manned missions to Mars but today we can’t even get robots to do the job right?

Hey, get those tornadoes out of my way. Yes, I’m heading back to Texas later today. Oh, and I’ve got another manager. Same company, same district, just a reorg.

Gotta go pack.

[pause for a few hours]

Ok, packing, flying, all that done. Now from Houston TX…

The Cubs won. Way to go, cubbies! And while on the subject of baseball, check out Microsoft Baseball 2001 – looks good.

Heard about the Cube yet? Dan Gillmor’s got an article today about it as well. I havn’t had time enough yet to read all the details, but it’s got my interest.

Robert’s Story

This is a reconstruction of a post from my first blog,, with text pulled from The Wayback Machine

Posted by Steven, 3/20/00 at 2:33:53 PM.

I’m in Houston TX this week and without connection much of the time, so updates will likely be fairly irregular.

The Scout Show was great, by the way.

Here’s a story that Robert wrote for his class last Friday.

The Troble With Catching a Leprechaun

Written & Illastrated By Robert

Chapter 1: A Great Discovery

Once apon a time I was walking along when I heard a noise from behind a bush .So as you can guess, I went over and looked. As I pulled back the bushes I could see it was a wee little leprechaun! He was polishing away at a pile of dirty, brown shoes. “A leprechaun!” I whisperd to myself.” I’ve got to catch him” But how? every body knows leprechauns are very tricky. I looked at him again. “Discusting!” He was saying “I’ll polish every single boot in the world if nobody else does, because I hate muddy, dull shoes!” This gave me an idea. Slowly I figured it out. It might work!

Chapter 2: A Plan for the Better

The next day I woke up with an angry feeling. When I remembered the leprechaun, that feeling went away as quick as a cheetah. Then I thought should I really catch him? Yes. No. Yes. No. I finnaly decided to catch him. I could use the money from his pot of gold. So I took the oldest pair of boots I had and started out the door.

Chapter 3:Catching,Catching

I took the boots to a little swamp called Swamp Buggy. I worked for over a hour, getting them as dirty as possible. Then I went back to the place were I first saw the leprechaun. As I pulled back the bushes, they made a rustling noise. The leprechaun looked up from his polishing. I quickly closed the bushes. I decided I had to find a different place to spy on him from. I went around the bushes as quietly as I could. I found a spot behind some trees. Now I could see him. He was on his 3rd to last shoe. “This is my chance” I muttered.

Chapter 4: The Trap

I went a little ways toward him, then about 20 steps right. When I got to a little hill I put my mud-caked, icky shoe on top of it, and hid behind it. It was aproxametly 5 minutes till’ I heard him coming, singing “I’m off to find a dirty shoe, an ugly, dirty shoe!” To the tune of ‘I’m off to see the wizard, the wonderful wizard of Oz’. When he saw my shoe he let out a deafening scream! “EEEEEKKKKKK!!!!” I heard him running my way as fast as he could. When I thought it was time I jumped over the hill to catch him. It didn’t work. In fact, I flew right over the leprechaun, and landed on my rear-end! “OOFF!!” I grunted as I landed. He saw me, grabbed my shoe, turned around, and started running as fast as he could!

Chapter 5: Chase # 1

I chased him back past the trees I had hid in, past the place where he had sat polishing, and back around the buses I had first seen this annoying little leprechaun. When I thought I was close enough I leaped again. No better luck this time. I landed short. My bottom got a spanking from the rough, cement, sidewalk. “OOFF” I cried out for the 2nd time. Now do you know what that little rascal of a leprechaun did? No?, O.K. I’ll tell you! He stopped, turned around, dropped my shoe, and started to laugh!! So I got up, brushed myself off, and gabbed him! I ran to my friend Julie’s house, and showed it to her. She was hysterical!! She started jumping around, and sceaming like she got a 3rd degree burn!! Suddenly she stopped, tuned to the leprechaun, and asked “Where’s the pot of gold?”

Chapter 6: The Runaway Leprechaun (or Chase #2)

“I can only tell me catcher.” Was his only reply. “Oh well.” She said. ” I have to finish my homework anyway.” After she went inside, I asked the same question. “Where’s the gold!” “Let me go and I shall lead you to it” He said. Oh, how I wish I didn’t, for the instant I let go he started running away! I ran after him, back to the place I caught him, around the bushes, past the polishing place, and past the trees I had hid in. When I thought for sure I was close enough, up into the air I went, and down on the ground I plopped. “This is getting annoying.” I grumbuled. I got up for the 3rd time, but this time I just started chasing. When we got to the hill, I acsadentaly tripped on it. My legs hit the leprechaun, knocking him out. ” Well what do you know?” I awed in amazement. So I picked him up, and went home.

Chapter 7: The Happy Ending (for me at least)

When he woke up he started wiggling to get free. I held him down. “Where’s the gold?” I asked in a stern voice. “Let me go and I shall…..Oh, I already used that trick on you.” He said as he stopped wiggling. “Oh all right, I shall show you where it is.” So he showed me, and whenever I see a leprechaun again I just smile and remember that story.


Ide, Ide, what’s an Ide?

This is a reconstruction of a post from my first blog,, with text pulled from The Wayback Machine

Posted by Steven, 3/15/00 at 5:14:20 AM.

Havn’t you always wondered? From Those Were The Days:

44BC – The ancient Roman calendar referred to the 15th of March, May, July or October as the Ide or Ides of the month. The fifteenth day of every other month was the Ide. We only remember March as the month that has Ides because it was on this day that Roman Emperor Julius Caesar was assassinated. It was one William Shakespeare who helped to promote the Ides of March. He sure knew how to run a PR campaign.

MS Outlook users who would like to move to Linux may want to look into Magellan

Microsoft has released an update to their technology preview, the Microsoft® XML Parser (MSXML).

Make it easy, Make it popular

This is a reconstruction of a post from my first blog,, with text pulled from The Wayback Machine

Posted by Steven, 3/14/00 at 6:44:28 AM.

The sunshine’s back, but where’d the warmth go?

You want a fast PC?

Do you know what GPL has in common with the U.S. Constitution? J.S.Kelly claims to. Btw, when did you last read the Constitution? (for me, the answer it “last week, with my older son in preparation for a scout advancement”)

From Troubleshooter’s Linux Log, some words of wisdom:

“UNIX almost died due to its egghead image. Only Microsoft’s incredible series of flubs and the timely appearance of Linux saved UNIX from certain death. …
“The root cause is elitism. Anti-empiricism. It’s a philosophy that if the reader needs to see examples or experiment in order to learn the product, they don’t deserve to work with your operating system. Banish them to the Redmond penal colony. If they can’t do page layout in a teletype interface, they’re just not intelligent enough for a real OS.

Ouch. The truth cuts sometimes, nes pas? How much more does it hurt to see others continue to use Windows? Does it hurt enough to be nice, to put a nicer face on Linux installs? Is it better to be macho about how you were able to tame Linux, or to work toward making easier installs, easier application configs and toward greater acceptance?

Dave has also had some words of wisdom
Microsoft is a collection of developers, many of whom do fine work…
Microsoft has hundreds of products and hundreds of millions of users. Compatibility with their users is a huge carrot…
Microsoft, like it or not, is a leader…
Windows is important because it’s what so many end-users use.

Are you making life easier for the users of your programs? Your websites?
Another way of thinking about it… are the systems you build the same ones you’d recommend to your mother? John Sumser addressed this in his series about a “set of features for MMC (My Mother’s Computer” (

  1. It’s unbreakable.
  2. It’s mine.
  3. It helps me do something I enjoy doing or have to do.
  4. I learn from it.
  5. It makes me feel better about myself.
  6. It makes me want to use it.
  7. It’s a delight to use.
  8. It always delivers more than it promises.
  9. It’s something you want to tell your friends about.
  10. Makes communicating with others easy.
  11. Work in progress can be shared and understood by others.
  12. I can carry it around (may be optional).

The Choices We Make

This is a reconstruction of a post from my first blog,, with text pulled from The Wayback Machine

Posted by Steven, 3/13/00 at 4:46:49 AM.

What a great weekend. The whole family had fun on Lego build night Friday, with lots of models built (and pizza eaten). And we finished The 10th Kingdom, which we had been taping. Saturday morning we all went to Karate, then in the afternoon James visited a retirement home and did some crafts with the residents (a church youthgroup project) while I spent a few hours at the library, finishing up my OS article. James and I stayed up way too late, playing StarCraft. After church on Sunday we just relaxed, playing basketball and some more computer games, reading, then watching Fox Family Channel’s movie The Legend of St. Patrick (somewhat lame but passable entertainment). And of course, The X-Files.

Anyway, I’ve been promising to talk about Operating Systems for a while now, so…

The Choices We Make
I’ve got a friend, Tom, who works for our favorite Redmond-based software company. I happen to be doing some work with Linux these days (who isn’t, other than the Microsofties?) and of course tossed some pro-Linux words his way. We were talking about a particular client where he wanted some assistance installing Windows NT and various applications. Nah, I said, let’s just pick up a copy of Red Hat Linux and toss that on instead.

Well, no world wars erupted but we had some fun jousting about the various merits of both NT and Linux. This piece was born of that discussion and the way it made me think further about operating systems and the choices that we all have, whether we know it or not.

I’m platform-agnostic
Sure, I’m working a bunch with Linux these days – who isn’t? That doesn’t mean that I’m anti-NT, or even truly anti-Microsoft (though I am anti-monopolistic, which some might take to be anti-MS. Tom, of course, disagrees, but that’s an entirely different article). I use and support (or have supported at one time) Windows 98, Windows NT 3.x and 4.x, Windows 2000, Office 2000, IIS, Flight Simulator, InterDev, MS SQL Server, Visual Basic, Internet Explorer and many other tools shipped with the Microsoft logo on their box.

Some of them I even enjoy using, though not the HTML they create.

I also enjoy using Linux. And Macintosh. And OpenVMS. And Perl. And Netscape Communicator, when it doesn’t crash. And I’m getting into something called Frontier.

At one point in the past, I was fond of saying “I’ve never met a computer that I didn’t like.” Since then, I’ve worked with an MVS system and don’t say that any longer. Sorry, Bob.

I do enjoy poking fun with people who claim that there is only one true answer to all situations. I poke at the “Linux everywhere” people too. And the pure-Macintosh lovers. And the “OpenVMS is the only system anyone needs” folks. And the “nothing but Solaris” people. Sorry, Mike.

Yes, I realize that one must at least pretend to have loyalty to “he who provides the paycheck.” It’s tough to tell a customer or client “no, you really don’t need the product that I sell, you need my competitor’s product.” Honesty is the best policy, though, even if it means sometimes loosing a sale. If your clients know that you truly have their best interests at heart, they’ll come back.

What I do enjoy doing is helping people find the correct solution for their needs. Often this shows a requirement for a little thing called interoperability. The days of running your business on one mainframe and a few dozen terminals, all from the same vendor, are long gone. This shouldn’t be news to you.

For quite a while I was in a true multi-vendor support organization. One of the things that I loved about it was the fact that we could talk about and sell whichever fit the customer’s situation best, be it NT, Windows, Macintosh, OS/2, Unix, OpenVMS, or microwave ovens. Ok, maybe not the ovens. But all the rest were ok – just like we said they should be back when we were learning about this stuff in school. Pick your applications, and then base the rest of your decisions on that choice.

Desktop Apps
The number one rule in choosing a platform must be this: look at your application requirements first.

For many of you thinking about your desktop system, this will mean that you’ll be tempted to use the Microsoft Office suite – that’s what your co-workers use, that’s what your partners use. You feel you need to share files with them, and you’re right about that last part. But sharing files with Office users, though, doesn’t mean that you’re tied into one choice for your operating system.

If you want to use “the standard” but still have a little rebel in you, Apple still has a viable alternative to offer. Microsoft Office continues to be one of the best selling titles for the OS for “the rest of us” – the Macintosh.

For those with even more adventure in their heart, Applixware, Star Office, and others provide file-level compatibility with your co-workers while opening your OS choices up even further.

Most every major word processor and spreadsheet vendor knows that MS Office is number one in the marketplace and most make darn sure their products can work in a Microsoft-centric world. It doesn’t matter if your platform of choice is Windows, Macintosh, or Linux, the main tools will likely share files without problem.

The major consideration, then, is the remainder of your tools. Does your office have a requirement to use a particular package in order to do business with the head office, your vendors, and your partners? If so, your platform choice has probably been made. I say probably because there are often options. That’s the topic of yet another article – application sharing.

Who’s at Home?
So, to return to the point, what OS do I recommend to my friends or family? Well, for home use, I still have to say Windows 98 Second Edition or Macintosh, whichever you prefer. Often this is determined by what mom and dad use at work or what the kids use at school.

I don’t see many reasons at all to look into Windows NT. If you are a little adventurous and have a system with enough horsepower, Windows 2000 Professional might be an option; it’s a little more stable than Win98.

Why not Linux? If you’re ready for an adventure, dive right in. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t pick up a copy and see what all the fun’s about. Most bookstores have dozens of books, many of which have a CD in the back with a reasonable distribution.

What I would recommend first, though, is to look at the requirements of the rest of your family. Does your husband or wife also want to share in the adventure? Can you (and they) get by without their data for a few days while you get the system and applications installed and configured? And what about the kids – it’s pretty likely that you’re not going to get Age of Empires or StarCraft to run on a Linux system.

Fear not. Linux is very happy co-existing with other operating systems, including Windows. Make sure you’ve got some spare disk space, document which disks have what data on them, and find the section in your book of choice that discusses LILO, the multi-boot loader. It is possible to have your cake and eat it too.

At The Office
For office “desktop” use the decision, as it should for everything, is really determined by the software that the end users will be using. Start with a good read through the section above on home use, and then throw away the part about the kids’ games.

In most offices, you as an individual are likely to have less of a choice of Operating System than many of us would like. Corporate politics, support policies of the company’s IT department, and specialized applications all tend to force your hand. Remember, your boss most likely wants you spending your time on the company’s business rather than learning a new computer system.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t use your off-hours exploration of “non-standard” software. If your office uses Windows or NT, challenge yourself to see how much of your required duties you can duplicate on your home Linux or Macintosh system. Use that as a way to expand your capabilities, to stretch yourself. You’ll also be able to speak up on a more authoritative basis when someone says “why don’t we…” and are told that it won’t work. “Sure it will, I’ve already done it” opens people’s eyes more than “I saw something about that in a magazine.”

Serve Me Well
“Server, to many, means either “File Server” or “Web Server” though there are actually many other uses of the word in our industry.

Where’s That File?
File serving is still easiest using the tools native to the systems used by your users.

If your office has standardized on Microsoft Windows, an NT server is the obvious choice. Not so obvious, perhaps, but still a viable candidate is the Samba server running on a Linux system. Why? Microsoft Networking is built on the SMB specification, something that is fairly easily built into other products. Sun Microsystems, Digital Equipment (now Compaq), and Hewlett-Packard, all have also used this technique to allow Windows users access to their minicomputer-housed data.

Likewise, a Macintosh office probably prefers to use a Macintosh file server. Again, there are other choices. Windows NT has an option to include the Apple Filing Protocol on it’s server, and a similar AFP server may be available for your other non-Mac systems.

Web, Web, Who’s Got The Web?
For web server use, choices can be even more open, thanks to standards. The Internet is built on standards – without them the Internet could not have been built much less grow into what we know today. Why does this mean that you have more choices? Because every vendor knows what the standards are and that their products need to meet them to work on the net. It doesn’t matter if you’ve got a Linux system running the Apache web server or a Windows NT system running IIS or a Macintosh running Frontier, the people in your office and around the world can use the same web browser to view your data.

Consider the source of your content – the data that you’ll be putting on your web documents.

Does your data come from a corporate database residing on a minicomputer somewhere deep in the bowels of the corporate IT department? If so, you need to make sure that you have an easily automated method of getting to that data. Many may love graphical interfaces these days, but a pretty face is often more difficult to automate. Consider the use of Perl or other scripting technology for automation.

Are you putting together a server for your non-technical writers to publish documents? Think about how they’re going to put that data on the server, and how much are you going to teach them about HTML? Perhaps something like Frontier would be better for them, allowing them to type freely without worrying about the details of HTML tags.

Do you have a community of users who want to build fancy web pages, full of graphics, counters, and sound? Check out FrontPage and a server with the FrontPage extensions installed. Be aware that you may be unleashing some non-standard HTML on the world, but as long as your users are all using Microsoft’s web browser they’ll never know the difference. Just double-check any documents that you’ll be publishing outside your company. Customers who happen to be using other browsers and can’t read your pages properly will likely not remain your customers for long.

It’s All About Choices
So, why did I give Tom such a hard time and tell him he should be installing Linux on some of his customers’ computers? Was it because I think that Linux would have been better on the desktops for the particular users in question? No, not in that case. It was mainly to remind him, as hopefully I’ve reminded you here, that there are other choices. No single operating system, hardware vendor, nor application can be pointed to and proclaimed “best” without considering all the factors. This is not a Borg collective; this is the Internet.

(C)Copyright 2000, Steven Vore. Please contact me for information on redistribution.

Rainy Days and Fridays

This is a reconstruction of a post from my first blog,, with text pulled from The Wayback Machine

Posted by Steven, 3/10/00 at 4:49:42 AM.

*sigh* the sunny days couldn’t last forever, and the plants do need the rain I suppose.

Robert’s third grade class is studying simple machines — wheel and axle, lever, inclined plane, wedge, and pully — and had an assignment to build one. He used his Lego bricks to build a platform and pully. Getting warmed up for tonight’s Lego Build Night.

Dear Microsoft, why not just show us how good your new OS is instead of trying to scare us into using it? From today’s email issue of Microsoft: This Week…

Is Your Competition Already Using Windows 2000?
Companies already running Windows 2000 face lower costs, thanks to improved reliability and a more manageable network. Plus, they’re more nimble with highly productive mobile users and an Internet-ready platform that’s second to none. Don’t waste another minute: See who’s benefiting now.

I finished Flight of Passage today – that was a great book. Highly recommended.