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Computing At Chaos Manor:
The Mailbag

Jerry Pournelle jerryp@jerrypournelle.com
Copyright 2008 Jerry E. Pournelle, Ph.D.

January 14, 2008

There's a lot of mail this week, including a serious report on converting from the PC to the Mac for all one's work. We can open with a simple question and answer:

Subject: frustrated

Dear Jerry,

recently,I have encountered a most perplexing and aggravating problem. My cable modem was reset(not by me) and my AVG antivirus program would not function. I can not delete it nor can I re-install it.AQls,the same problem happened to McAfee Security center. Almost everything else is functioning.

My question is: Is there any really effective uninstall utility and/or delete tool you can recommend. Either fre or pay makes no difference;as long as it works. I have been on many forums without success...

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,

My immediate thought was Safe Mode, but I put the problem to the advisors, largely because I've been snowed under this week.

Managing Editor Brian Bilbrey mused

Maybe safe mode? Alternately, boot with a late-model Knoppix, mount the Windows disk, and blow away the "Program Files\AVG" directory. Without its binaries, AVG might be more amenable to reinstallation or utter removal?


Get the Knoppix 5.1.1 CD, that's the most recent I can see. The DVD version isn't needed.


Captain Ron Morse added

Yes, I would definitely have him try restarting the machine in safe mode and then attempting the uninstall, and when that fails follow it with install/uninstall while still in safe mode.


And Rich Heimlich reminds us

Don't forget about System Restore. Many apps now create several restore points so he may find a good one that won't lose much.


Now if all that doesn't work, you have a problem; but I think it should do the trick.

Last week we looked at the beta version of Vista SP-1.

Vista SP1 release candidate

Was just looking at your mailbag from 12-17-07 and saw the two comments Re: Vista.

I have installed (and un-installed) three separate times on an HP Pavilion dv6000. Within 10 minutes of each installation, I was blessed with screen of death. Different circumstances each time. I have plenty of processor, memory and hard disk. At this point, I am feeling paranoid regarding the final release also.

Pat Stevens

We also have reports that SP-1 has improved Vista performance without problems. As near as I can tell, if Vista was working well to begin with, SP-1 makes it better. If there were any problems before, SP-1 not only doesn't fix them, but may make them worse. Perhaps we need to wait for the next Release Candidate.

Here is a question we used to get a lot:

Subject: Electric spray

Dear Jerry!

It is a crazy thing, but I used to be BYTE subscriber probably 20 years ago. I remember you mentioning a spray you used to spray on keyboards or electric connections and being quite enthusiastic about it. I am badly in need of such a product.

Hard as I try, cannot recall not only the name, but cannot even think what category or products should I be looking for.

For the old times sake maybe you will be kind enough to make a suggestion.


P.S. Best wishes for the new year. How is the life in Chaos Manor?

The product in question is Stabilant 22 Stabilant 22 used to be sold in Hi-Fi stores as "Tweak", but for the past decade or more there's only the one brand name.

Stabilant 22 is a Contact Enhancer; it assures good electrical contact, and it really works. It's expensive and worth every cent. I use Stabilant 22 on noisy audio connections; memory cards; CPU's; and generally any place where I worry about electrical contact. If I hear noises in my telephone, it's the first thing I try, and it almost invariably solves the problem. I can't say enough in favor of this stuff, and thanks for reminding me about it.

Do note that Stabilant has to reach the contacts to have any effect: that means it won't work on most of the keyboards we like.

Another entry in the Delayed Write Error discussion:

Delayed Write Error.

Hi Jerry,

This thread is very interesting about the above:


I've not had any delayed write errors yet but I have this bookmarked just in case!



Professor Kumar, a recent Chaos Manor subscriber, has been converting from PC to Mac, and sends us this valuable report:

Subject: converting to a Mac

Dear Jerry,

I was a regular and admiring reader of your column in Byte in the late 80s through the mid-90s, then lamented the disappearance of Byte from newsagents in Australia and occasionally wondered if you were still writing such columns for some other publication. Not until last year, though, did I have the good sense to search for your name via Google and discover that you had made a wealth of material available on line. I read it all, feeling somewhat guilty that I wasn't in any way paying for the privilege. Then I read, several times, that you were seriously contemplating converting to a Mac, or at least acquiring one and checking it out. After 23 years of using a PCompatible, starting with MS-DOS 2.11 back in 1985 and then various flavours of Windows through XP SP2, I have just acquired a MacBook Pro. I did this because my previous laptop was dying (the shift keys stopped working) and nothing was going to persuade me to buy a laptop running Vista; because Leopard looked so attractive; and because Intel Macs meant that I had a fallback position anyway.

If you have the patience to read this long email, I would like to share with you some of the things I have learnt during the process of converting. Most of these matters haven't come up in the discussions on Chaos Manor Reviews. If any of this is of sufficient interest for you to wish to use it in any form, I would be delighted for you to do so. Before I took the liberty of writing to you, I did the right thing and paid for a proper subscription via PayPal.

By way of background, I'm a university academic, working in Pathology and teaching mostly Medicine and Science students. I'm also active in research, with a particular focus on asthma. My computer is a very large part of my working life. More than 85% of my correspondence is now by email. My bread-and-butter work is mostly done in Microsoft Office, with lecture slides of course all assembled as PowerPoint presentations, and documents of various sorts being my core currency -- these include research papers, which frequently involve embedded graphs etc from GraphPad Prism and line diagrams created in PowerPoint, as well as complex academic proposals etc because of my significant role in academic administration, and grant applications that involve lots of text entry but in other software. I also do quite a bit of developmental work for electronic teaching resources in Pathology, including hyperlinked closed PowerPoint shows and a very substantial commitment to virtual microscopy (gigabyte images scanned with a x40 microscope objective, viewed in a Web browser via an applet). So I demand a lot of my machine, take the time to get to know it well, and when the Medicine Computing Support Unit hears from me, they know it's a serious problem or I would have dealt with it myself.

Changing to a MacBook Pro was not a decision taken lightly, and I set aside 5 full days of my pre-Christmas leave to work on this. I needed that and more to reach the point of being happy. My greatest source of problems proved to be Microsoft Office, not the Mac itself. This is to a small extent related to issues with fonts and the unequal interpretation of "single" line spacing in Word, which ruins pagination. However, the real problem for someone with an existing collection of document files containing embedded images, and especially PowerPoint files, is the inability of Mac Office 2004 to correctly convert PC graphics metafiles. This is not a Mac problem because Pages and Keynote (components of iWork) can handle all the files virtually effortlessly. However, Mac Office 2004 does not achieve genuine cross-platform compatibility. There is some hope that these problems may be fixed in Mac Office 2008, due out this month -- I will obtain a copy via the university's site licence and test it as soon as possible. I imagine it still won't solve another problem with Mac Office 2004, however, which is the absence of embedded objects -- in Office for the PC one can edit a Prism graph embedded in a Word or PowerPoint file without having to go back to the original Prism file, which is a tremendous convenience (and actually allows the embedded version to be different to the source file i.e. it's not just a link). Whether it will solve a fourth problem is as yet unknown -- Mac Office 2004 is absolutely hopeless with scrolling long documents containing EndNote embedded citations using the scroll wheel on the mouse, it just locks up and then suddenly scrolls through multiple screens if one clicks in the document. This is not a Mac mouse driver issue because the scrolling works fine in Office for the PC running in Parallels!! Perhaps it relates to the fact that Mac Office 2004 is running under Rosetta (binary translation) in OS X. If so, then it ought to be fixed in Mac Office 2008 as it is a universal binary.

Not so much a source of problems, but certainly my biggest time investment, was mail message conversion. This reflects the fact that I was a Eudora user of long standing and had made a decision to convert to Apple Mail. I did try out Eudora 6.2.4 for the Mac and did get it to work but it really wasn't worth it -- Apple Mail is a much more slick piece of software and very useful. Also I can no longer obtain a registered (ad-free) version of Mac Eudora as Qualcomm has terminated the Eudora side of its business. However, in the process of trying out Mac Eudora and different approaches to converting PC Eudora mailboxes for Apple Mail, I learnt a few things of interest. Firstly, PC Eudora and Mac Eudora mailboxes are both basically huge text files, but you can't get the Mac version to read the PC mail because of the CR/LF line endings in DOS/Windows vs CR only in the Unix/Mac environment. I converted the files using the shareware program BBEdit, but I recommend the free editor from the same company, called Text Wrangler, which is available at this link.

While these programs can both make the process of text file conversion pretty much effortless, Mac Eudora doesn't use the .toc files used by PC Eudora, and the conversion loses all status information and most attachment information. This means the result of conversion to Mac Eudora is no better than to Apple Mail, in terms of data retention. So at this point I made the decision to convert to Apple Mail regardless, which meant a whole new route for conversions. If anyone wants to know how best to do this, let me assure you that although Apple Mail can convert very small PC Eudora mailboxes directly, this is an almost hopeless route for mailboxes of any size. Doing it properly involves 3 stages. Firstly, consolidate the mailboxes using Eudora Rescue, available for nothing at this link.

This program "corrects" the .mbx format of Eudora mailboxes and can even recover mailboxes with damaged .toc files (I had two, which I had to go back and do again with toc file usage turned off, but it worked). Then import the resultant files into Thunderbird on the PC and locate the new mailboxes (several folder levels deep in Application Data). Finally, copy these files over to the Mac and import them into Apple Mail. I now have 14,000 readable "active" messages and 55,600 archived trashed messages, all the way back to 1999. Although I have lost status information and outgoing attachment information on all of those, I still have incoming attachment filenames appended to the converted messages and the whole thing is searchable (with remarkable speed and convenience) in Apple Mail. Oh, and I still have my favourite Eudora new mail sound -- this is available on the web but the .wav file I downloaded had too high an amplitude, so it played far too loudly. What I needed was the equivalent of Sound Recorder for the Mac (of course I could have edited in Parallels, but I am making the pilgrimage over to the Mac shrine so might as well do it properly) and I found WavePad, also a free download, to be very effective (there are issues with viewing the Help file but it almost doesn't matter).

So this got me working happily in Apple Mail, with the major remaining annoyance being that I had to re-educate my fingers to type Option-Left etc instead of Ctrl-Left and Cmd-Right instead of End. It's weird that Home and End do not work correctly in any Cocoa-compliant Apple software yet these keys do behave as expected in Mac Office. However, Cocoa-compliant software does have some other useful keyboard shortcuts e.g. Ctrl-T to transpose the two letters around the cursor. See this link.

Meanwhile, because Mac Office 2004 was useless for most of my PowerPoint presentations and the many hundreds of documents that contained embedded figures, I have had to continue to do most of my "real" work in Office XP in a virtual machine. As indicated earlier, I am using Parallels (build 5582) and it works well, provided that Parallels Tools is correctly installed after the main program -- it substantially changes the interface (seamless mouse movement from PC to Mac windows) and apparently improves stability and responsiveness. Parallels is near enough to be good enough. It has some issues with copying large groups of files from a USB thumb drive (locks up, loses the drive altogether) and produces strange screen blanking intermittently when using the Informed Filler software I am required to employ for a grant application. However, most things run quite reasonably. The Windows screen saver behaves in brain-damaged fashion as it's unable to find pictures in folders on the Mac side. My HP scanner software wouldn't work at all but as it is bloatware I didn't mind all that much anyway. Instead I have installed the TWAIN SANE interface and can now scan without drama via Adobe Acrobat and Photoshop Elements.

I'm not crazy about the Apple-supplied applications software such as iTunes and iPhoto -- their approach to storing things in libraries rather than folders (i.e. concealed from the poor novice user -- a Mac philosophy I have long detested) is not for me. What I do love is OS X itself, which is a beautiful operating system with an intuitive and efficient interface -- in particular the Finder + Preview and/or Coverflow views are gloriously effective timesavers when organising files. And Time Machine is effortless. I was initially very attracted to Spaces in OS X but am no longer sure how good an idea that really is. One apparent peculiarity of OS X turns out to be Spaces-specific: when one changes windows by clicking on the icon of an open application in the dock, the visible window is not an active window if running Spaces, which can be irritating. It seems better to use F9 to show all open windows and select -- this shortcut is smart because it doesn't show minimised windows. A minor problem is that OS X has no inherent mouse driver support for thumb buttons, although existing IntelliPoint drivers work reasonably well, even if not Leopard-certified. However, the buttons don't seem to work correctly while browsing PubMed using Firefox, which behaves as if "back" has been pressed within the input text box and so refuses to return to the previous screen and vice versa. This doesn't occur in Safari, but Safari is weird on lots of common things, so I've decided to ignore it.

The MacBook Pro itself really is marvellous hardware, with very few issues -- perhaps that's why it's so expensive. Mostly, it lives up to the "It Just Works" philosophy. One thing I really love is two-finger scrolling on the touch pad -- this even functions in the PC persona of Parallels. A known MacBook hardware (or possibly OS X) issue is the loss of a USB mouse after putting the machine to sleep (comes back with a dead USB port requiring a restart) but this is well documented and at the moment simply means one pulls out the mouse first.

However, I couldn't get used to the Mail default text editing keys. Fixing these proved to be a bit of a challenge, but OS X turns out to have amazing customisation features for keystrokes (especially those for text editing) in Cocoa applications. I have now solved all of my problems using information from the definitive discussion of key bindings available at this link.

I started with the the sample file on this web page, and modified it to make it work properly (it didn't on my machine -- a Leopard issue?) as well as add one more relevant keystroke. There are some oddities about the behaviour of Ctrl-shift-right arrow that I don't quite understand (it is the only keystroke that doesn't always seem to take the binding, apparently somehow related to the number of additional keystrokes mapped?!) and it's not really possible to emulate Ctrl-up/down arrow (one can make it move to the beginning/end of the current paragraph but not to the beginning of the next para, which is kind of pointless) but the attached file is what I am now using -- and it certainly makes text editing in Apple Mail much easier for a former PC user with established keyboard reflexes! In summary, it fixes Home/End plus Page Up/Down, provides Ctrl-right/left arrow to move by a word (and one can hold down shift to select) as well as Ctrl-Home/End to move to the beginning/end of the document; plus it adds classic PC editing features of Ctrl-Backspace (Delete on a Mac) to delete a word backwards, Ctrl-Del (forward Delete on a Mac) to delete a word forwards, Shift-Del to cut, Shift-Ins (the Help key on a Mac keyboard) to paste, Crtl-Ins to copy and Ctrl-Z to undo (all standard Mac text editing commands are still available). All you have to do is drop this file [**] into a folder called KeyBindings that you create in the Library in your user and restart Mail -- it's remarkable what the OS can manage.

[** This is a link to the DefaultKeyBinding.dict file referred to above]

Unfortunately Firefox is not a Cocoa application and the Home/End keys don't work properly in its text/address bar fields, which is exasperating. But there is a fix for that too, available at this link

So it's been an interesting journey thus far .....

Best wishes,

Rakesh K. Kumar MBBS, PhD, MD
Professor of Pathology, School of Medical Sciences
Director of Academic Projects, Faculty of Medicine
Deputy President, Academic Board
The University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia 2052

Thanks! You are starting on a journey that I expect to take in the near future: while I am not committed to abandon Windows and the PC, I do intend to get a new Mac and spend a full month learning to use it properly so I can come to a meaningful conclusion about the usefulness of the two systems.

Captain Morse, who has moved his entire operation to Linux with no regrets, comments:

In reading Dr. Kumar's letter, had I experienced that much trouble migrating from Windows to Linux (Ubuntu), I would not have done it.

In fairness to the doctor, my struggle to near death with moving off Eudora Mail was strictly a Windows affair so I didn't have to fight cross-platform issues. Unfortunately, it left me with Outlook and that became the motivator that ultimately took me off Windows entirely.

There is a tool that will migrate Outlook's .pst files to Apple Mail's format (one which most Linux mailers can use, too) called O2M (Outlook to Mac....eh). It costs $10 USD and is available from this site. It just works.

Ron Morse

And another Mac user reports:

Dear Dr Pournelle,

For historical reasons, I run both Parallels and Fusion on two different Macs. I also see many colleagues' issues who have one or the other.

Basically, if you want to run Windows from a virtual disk (i.e. the usual large file that Windows is fooled into thinking is a disk), there is not much between them. However, if you want the option to dual boot (as normally setup via Apple's Boot Camp) -- as I'm sure you will, in order to run games (etc.) -- while, more often, running the Windows partition under virtualization, I recommend Fusion.

The reason is that Fusion does not mess with hal.dll (and possibly similar system files) whereas Parallels does. That is, Parallels replaces hal.dll when starting up and shutting down. All is fine normally, but if you have a problem, say coming out of sleep (not that uncommon with Windows) or some other crash, the hal.dll will not be replaced. You will then find one of the following situations:

- Windows won't boot via Parallels;
- Windows won't boot natively;
- possibly both of the above.

Needless to say repairing the above can be a real pain. Of course, Parallels may change this approach (they might have even changed it already, but I think I have quite a recent version).

Finally, if you want to run 64-bit OSs or even to use both cores, Fusion wins again. (I have no connection with VMware Inc.)

I enjoy your writings.

Kind regards
-Ian Cottam

Ian Cottam
Information Systems Manager
Manchester Interdisciplinary Biocentre


And Tim Loeb, Mac Enthusiast Extraordinaire, has this comment:

Subject: mac prices

Dear Jerry:

In your year-end column you repeated the often touted canard that "a good Mac costs more than a comparably equipped Windows system."

I'd really like you to back that up.

If you try I think you'll find that a Windows laptop truly comparable to a MacBook Pro, for example, doesn't, in fact, exist. Very few Windows laptops have backlit keyboards, you'll find, a perhaps insignificant feature that leaps to prominence if you want to use your machine in a dim airplane, lecture hall, or even just to do a little late-night e-mailing without disturbing your significant other. If you do find a Windows machine with a backlit keyboard is it ambient light sensing like the MacBook Pro?

Another feature of the top-line Apple laptops is multiple powered FireWire ports. Many Windows machines come with a 4-pin FireWire port, but this will NOT run an external hard drive or any other self- powered peripheral. Apple provides both powered FireWire 400 and 800 ports, the latter being 2X as fast as the former and far better suited for transferring large files like videos. There is no USB equivalent to FW800, and FW400 spanks USB2 when moving large volumes of data (see Barefeats.com and Ars Technica for the relevant benchmarks).

Few Windows machines come with a remote control which is standard with every Apple laptop; again a small feature that' may not be important... until it is. What's the value of Apple's mag-safe power connector which keeps your laptop safe on the desk instead of in pieces on the floor if you (or the dog) trip on the power cord?

How about the things that "just work" on an Apple system that MS has still to master, like a completely reliable "sleep" function? What's that worth in the calculus of "comparably equipped"?

If you really pay attention - to CPU speeds, cache sizes, standard RAM allotment, video chip and memory spec, i/o ports, drive sizes, and all standard features and spec a truly comparable Windows machine I think you'll find the Apple product not only extremely competitive but in most cases the low-cost option - among laptops and all-in-one desktops certainly. Assuming, as I say, you can find a truly comparable Windows machine.

There is a tendency among the less well-informed than yourself to lump some things together and call it a wash, for example noting that the MacBook Pros does not come with a media card reader and calling the Windows machine's lack of a backlit keyboard "even." However you can buy an external USB media card reader for no more than $19; what would be the cost of retrofitting the backlight if it could even be done?

I think you owe it to your readers to either back up your claim with some specifics from Dell, HP, Sony or any other manufacturer of your choice or to retract it.

All the best,

Tim Loeb

You have misquoted me. At the higher end of the spectrum, Macs are reasonably competitive, but at the low end, you can get PC systems complete with monitor for less than the lowest cost Mac. Having said that, I'm not recommending the rock bottom low cost PC's; I merely point out that they exist, and you can get a lot done with them.

On Digital Rights Management:

Digital Rights Management Technology

I wonder if technology CAN fix the problem, is there really a problem in the first place?

The software industry has been dealing with DRM, they called it copy protection for a long time, for 30 years, not one technique developed in 30 years of trying, has succeeded in making it impossible to make an illegal copy, while being transparent to legitimate users. Most could be circumvented, and were a real pain in the donkey for the user.....

Current DRM tries to do in software, except you can expect sooner rather then later, someone will develop circumventing software.... Plus it still has the issue of reducing convenience for legal users. For example, not one DRMed product will run on my computer, which uses Ubuntu. Many lock you into a single content provider, or a single reader device. Spending $300 on a reader, may be acceptable, to some people, spending $300 each on 4 or 5 readers, I don't think so. I think I would rather just have a paperback, or maybe even a hardcover.

We have in libraries 400 year old hardcover books, that can be easily read, think if you found a Kindle in 2408 and could power it, that the contents could be read?


Good questions. My guess is that what man can encrypt, a hacker can decrypt, and this state of affairs will continue. The question is how much effort it will take to hack the DRM, and to implement the hack.

I continue to say that the best remedy to intellectual property theft is proper marketing of legitimate copies. If legitimate copies can be obtained without hassles at reasonable prices, they will sell. Baen Books is proving that daily.

I reported in my View from Chaos Manor that I had been climbing on the roof to clean out the gutters before the big rainstorms hit. This prompted Chaos Manor Advisor Rick Hellewell to say

Looj Gutter Cleaning Robot

Dr. Pournelle:

Perhaps too late for this year's cleaning, but the new "Looj" Gutter Cleaning Robot (from iRobot, the folks that make the "Roomba" robot vacumn) looks interesting. The video on the page shows how it works. There is also a template that you can cut out to see if the Looj will fit in your rain gutters.

It was a finalist in the "Last Gadget Standing" contest at CES. (The winner was a camera memory card that has wireless built-in for easy transfer of pictures from camera to computer.)

"Looj" page here: http://www.irobot.com/sp.cfm?pageid=354

I think that you ought to get one for your son to clean the gutters on your house.


I will have to look into this. I have a Scooba from iRobot, and it works quite well on our kitchen and laundry room floors, although the necessity for getting all the chairs entirely off the floor before it can be used makes it more likely that we'll use a Swiffer mop and just move the chairs around.

My gutters protect my pool, and covered gutters would just precipitate all the elm tree leaves off onto the porch or into the pool itself; this would not be good. From pictures I've seen of the Looj in action, the device would similarly put a storm of leaves off into the pool and I'd still have to run the hose through the gutter to finish the job.

We'll see. Neither Roomba nor Scooba are quite what Heinlein described as "Hired Girl" in The Door Into Summer, but we can hope that iRobot will keep up the good work. Many of my fellow writers swear by Roomba.

Last week we had a discussion of the hazards of mercury and mercury spills. This week:

Mercury and photography --


On the topic of mercury usage WRT photography, there was a fairly early "forgotten technology" that was *so* ahead of its time (the late 1800s) that it still seems magical today.

It is the *only* TRUE form of color photography, i.e., it captures and displays the entire color spectrum, rather than synthesizing colors from three additive (RGB) or subtractive (CMY) primaries.

This is the work of Gabriel Lippmann, and it earned him a Nobel Prize (back when that actually meant something).

I have always been fascinated by what he managed to accomplish with the relatively crude tools of his day. (Even panchromatic emulsion -- sensitive to all visible colors -- was very uncommon back then; it wasn't until the mid-1950s that all consumer films were panchromatic!)

His method was utter simplicity -- a single layer of B&W emulsion, coated on a sheet of glass, and then, put into the camera backwards -- the image was exposed *through* the glass plate.

The secret "magic" that created color images? A layer of mercury!

The mercury, placed against the emulsion (hence the need for exposing through the glass "backing") operated as a perfect mirror (in perfect optical contact with the emulsion).

The image would pass through the emulsion, reflect off the mercury, and then pass back *into* the emulsion.

This caused an interference pattern, as the light waves collided with each other from both directions. Different wavelengths would form the pattern at different depths in the emulsion.

This can be viewed as a type of holography, although there is no 3D effect (the interference patterns capture color, rather than physical depth).

The closest anyone has ever come to implementing this technology (apart from holography, and those hobbyists who make their own Lippmann images) is the Foveon sensor, which, rather than using sensor with discrete RGB pixels, captures its three primary colors at different layers in the silicon -- the R, G, and B pixels are all at the same XY coordinates.

Even though it's close, it's still a "synthetic color" system, rather than Lippmann's full-color creation.

His endeavors were not limited to "fine" photography -- he also invented quite a few things, including the coelostat, which allowed stars to be photographed (a clockwork and system of mirrors that tracked the star while the rest of the universe refused to stand still<g>).

Here's some info on Lippmann and his work:





Photos: http://www.michi-kogaku.com/picsdir

Modern "Privacy": "If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear."

Suggestion: Watch "Cabaret!" (It's a documentary, not a musical; a portrait of the end-game of a decadent culture.)

Interesting. I remember knowing that mercury was important in the early days of photography, but I've pretty well forgotten all that.

Peter Glaskowsky adds

I'm very impressed by this invention. I'd never heard of it. I'm all distracted right now wondering if it's possible to achieve a similar effect with digital photography. The Foveon sensor is entirely unrelated since it involves no interference effects.

Also, Lippmann's work probably has nothing to do with why you remember mercury in connection with photography. Daguerre's process was far more widespread.

. png

And that should do it for this week's mail.