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Computing At Chaos Manor:
The Mailbag

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

December 23, 2008

We open with some words about cloud computing (see the November column)

Cloud Computing

I conduct training sessions at big branch offices of two very large international corporations, whose revenues are in the 2 figure billions. In one of these companies there is triple security to physically enter the IT department where servers and main distribution equipment is located: an electronic badge plus closed-circuit TV to verify who you are and let you through the first electronically-locked door; then a person physically must open a second mechanically-locked door to again verify that you should be admitted. Outsiders--like me--must be accompanied by--not one, but--two people to gain entry to this area. And this is not even the headquarters building.

One company has no wireless connections at all inside the building, and the other has a second, independent network for wireless, used only in conference rooms, but that has very limited access to the corporate intranet. Most people still want to plug into an Ethernet wire for broader access.

During the last several years, security procedures of all kinds have tightened significantly at both companies. In one company, I am now physically escorted to our training room by security personnel, and escorted to the lobby by one my students afterwards. Frankly, it will be shocking to me if companies with this kind of security concern would ever switch to cloud computing. I just do not see it even being considered as an option, regardless of any potential cost savings. Security is exempt from cost cutting efforts, and computing is an absolutely integral part of security in this era. Everywhere I teach these days, 99.9% of employees' work is done on a computer, so this is not a minor issue. In many cases, the computing system now *is* the company; top executives are well aware of that. And IT departments are not going to commit certain suicide by recommending it, either.

Even at smaller companies where I also conduct classes, security is becoming much tighter. I now have to sign in and out everywhere, whereas I did not have to do that at the smaller firms two years ago. By smaller, I mean they are offices with fewer than 30 people. And those smaller firms are telling me that their security procedures are being dictated to them by their contracts with larger companies. Microsoft is not the only one embracing and extending. My students at one small company were quite upset when thumb drives were disabled on their workstations due to security requirements imposed by a new contract. They had previously been allowed to bring in their music on thumb drives and listen with headphones while at work, but now they must use (or buy) separate iPod players. So even many smaller companies are not able to make their own independent decisions, but are having terms of their computing dictated to them by outsiders.

Clearly your advisers are wowed by the technical possibilities the cloud represents, but really, there would have to be a seismic change in thinking and practices regarding security before it occurs. Even copy machines are now integrated into the computing system. In one of the large corporations, a copy of every scan the machine makes for photocopying is now recorded by the company. Cloud computing is an interesting idea, but in facing the reality of what is actually going on in corporations, cloud computing has very little chance, IMO.

--Chuck Waggoner

Peter Glaskowsky comments:

"Clearly your advisers are wowed by the technical possibilities the cloud represents..."

Apparently he didn't notice that the guy saying the most flattering things about cloud computing (me) is also the guy you specifically mentioned came from a stealth-phase startup that wouldn't have touched cloud computing with a 10,000-kilometer pole. :-)

-- PNG

Windows networking is maddening.

Even if you do everything right, it doesn't always work. Microsoft has really blown it on a lot of fronts lately. I just lost about half of my Hotmail. And they want us to use cloud computing? The only cloud they are going to see is from the funny cigarettes they must be smoking, if they think we are going to trust them with our user data...

Adam Smith

Well, my experience with Windows networking has been more nerve wracking than disastrous; I have never actually lost anything. But I would not entrust the only copy of a novel I am working on to any cloud...

Cloud Computing and IA

In the November Mailbag, Mike said, "The high priesthood of the mainframe has been replaced by the high priesthood of IA. They will kill any system that leads to government/corporate data stored outside of their control."

Since that is precisely what I'm working on right now, I thought I might offer a rebuttal but it seems that the CIO of DISA beat me to it.

October 20, 2008 DISA CIO: Cloud Computing 'Something We Absolutely Have to Do' Derrick Harris, Managing Editor, On-Demand Enterprise


Cloud computing has its share of naysayers, no doubt, but John Garing is not among them.

Garing, CIO of the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), believes cloud computing will be a driving force in the Department of Defense (DoD). In fact, Garing says that although he shares some of the concerns espoused by the IT media (such as the danger of hosting multiple applications on a single platform), he, personally, is more than optimistic, calling cloud computing "something we absolutely have to do."

"We have seen what ... Amazon [and] Google have done, and it seems to us that there is a need for that," he explains. "For example, if you deploy a force somewhere in the world for disaster relief ... or a special operations team, they ought to be able to connect to the network like you or I can from home, and bring together or compose ... the services and information they need for what they're doing at that particular place and time, rather than have to connect to a bunch of applications."


Security is the BIG issue, sure, but solutions are out there. I know because I'm leading a team doing it right now. The customer wants it - badly.

Braxton S. Cook

I am sure that there is a cloud in my future. If I can ever get Roland Green to get onto high speed networking we may do another Janissaries novel (after I finish Mamelukes, which I am 80% done with as of this moment) and we may work in a cloud - but we'll also each keep a local copy. Actually, Niven and I work as we will in Word and then I simply merge the versions; it never takes very long, and it works very well, so we have never felt any need for clouds at all. On the other hand, those who do cooperative spread sheets and Power Point presentations may well find the cloud vital for cooperative work.

Provided, of course, that the security problems can be overcome so well that everyone is confident in the security...

A Correction:

Dear Jerry:

Belle (Boyd) did marry a guy named John Hammond and had four kids by him. She was in an asylum in California in 1868. Nervous breakdown. He beat her up a lot and she divorced him, as she did Sam Hardinge, who pursued her to London after she got him court martialed and thrown out of the Union Navy. Nice guy, Sam. They married in August 1864, and by November he was at the American Embassy offering to spy on her. (See "The Journals of Benjamin Moran".) She divorced him as well. Generally she had very poor judgment with men. Except the last one. Her third husband was a theatrical type named Nat High, who was 17 years younger and got her career started again. She went around to chapters of the GAR giving a presentation called "The Perils of a Spy". She was on tour in 1900 in Kilbourn , Wisconsin when she had a heart attack and died. She's buried there (It's now Wisconsin Dells).

Belle Starr was another person entirely. There was a some penny dreadful novel that did conflate the two women. Probably bad enough to be made into a movie



I suspect I saw a penny dreadful movie at an early age and never questioned it; indeed, I think there was more than one movie that confused Belle Starr and Belle Boyd. Thanks for the correction.

Long time readers will remember Marty Winston, who comments on the December column:

One: I see the new Intel i7 CPU as a watershed component, especially since its ability to handle more memory natively and to good effect (for example, the ASUS board that supports it can handle 12GB) is going to push a lot of people into 64-bit computing. That change in population (even if it starts slowly but consequentially) will drive more developers to devote more attention to their applications for 64-bit platforms. With better-behaved 64-bit applications in a 12GB RAM environment running on a processor with 4 cores & 8 threads and much tighter internal integration (including better power management and reduced heat generation), we could be in for a welcome sea change. The user segments who will be first to see major improvements are those doing HD video editing, tons of multitasking or a lot of compiles.

The system guys like to claim it's all for gamers, but really, if games couldn't be played by people with comparatively mediocre hardware, the game publishers wouldn't long stay in business.

Two: Your advice to un-holster Google for other interests also applies to people seeking job or career alternatives. First pass: There have been several recent stories about areas that are hiring and having trouble finding enough good people because of secondary effects of the current bad economy. Second pass: Read up on the announced infrastructure improvement priorities of the incoming Administration - schools, roads, bridges, dams, transportation, the electrical grid, alternative energy - and explore opportunities with companies involved in or supporting those activities. Third pass: Since rats seldom board sinking ships, do your homework on any job alternatives you may have been considering to explore the relative economic health of those segments; it doesn't make sense pursuing jobs in niches with more layoffs than hires; map those sink-holes & look elsewhere.

Three: I am somewhat optimistic about a recovery for the media for those traditional outlets that can hang on for two more years. I believe the government-fueled jobs programs are going to materially boost consumer spending overall while other programs help restore some availability of consumer credit to the same effect. Consumer spending catalyzes most other elements of the economy, including the ad spending so critical to the survival of media, but that will be a slow recovery at first. I believe that there will be a faster recovery in circulation for newspapers because I believe that reading a newspaper represents a symbolic return to normalcy for many people; if newspaper publishers learn to compete based on the unique strengths of newspapers, that can happen speedily. Broadcast news is shucking some of its fat, cutting down to just one anchor on many newscasts, despite a year of windfall revenues from political campaign spending; as ads from their mainstays like automotive and banking return, they may restore some abandoned news beats. The recent successes of MSNBC strongly suggest (like news radio of decades past) that more polarizing commentary will be ushered in under the news banner - ultimately, it's all about audiences.

Four: While it was recently trendy to segment technology coverage into separate pages or even whole sections in a newspaper, those are dissolving, for several reasons. One is the bad newspaper economy. One is the bad consumer electronics economy (driven by the almost overnight erosion of TV set sales following the WGA strike in 2007) that caused a categorical recession and starved many ad budgets (just ask Circuit City). But we've all been through enough cycles to know that new technologies seduce our interests as tarnish appears on their predecessors. I think the American public is soon to be seduced by stories of high-speed rail, wind turbines, solar thermal plants, almost-desktop-strength applications in our cell phone handsets, a very different approach to American cars, household lighting without an Edison socket & a number of very intelligent advances in our appliances. The trade and vertical-interest magazines we used to explore for information or approbation of our leanings have had that role subsumed by the Web and by the simple fact that even the largest of those never had enough of a circulation footprint to reliably provide a positive ROI for companies that invested in ads on their pages. We foresee the creation of a communication venue somewhere between cable TV & YouTube & video on demand, where interesting reports on such things are accessible to us in a structure friendly to advertisers. If you remember how seductive it was when you first watched the Food Network on cable, I think that may happen with this kind of next-gen gear coverage - though I think it's about 5 years away.

Marty Winston

The hardware improves; you may be right, the next step is so much power that a lot of people can write new software that works (even if it's not elegant). With good enough hardware, elegance isn't necessary; it really doesn't matter if a program wastes resources when those resources aren't being used in the first place.

As to the economy. having lived through the Depression, I know just how far down an economy can go; but I tend to agree, this one won't get that far.

When I first got into science fiction, it was easy to write about the future and get a lot of it right. Now things change so fast, and so many of them are related, that it's easier to jump to the really far future and write action adventures than it is to try to write stories taking place a few years from now - and yet, a lot of the stories in my Exile - and Glory!! hold up pretty well despite having been written during the very beginning of the computer revolution...

On memory leaks and their remedies:


"MAC OS X has memory leaks too, and needs periodic restarts. We're back to the early days, when you really should turn your computer off every night, not to save power, but for the mandatory restart. I used to get letters from people bragging about how long they could run without a reset"

Try a little utility called iFreeMem, available from versiontracker or just google it. This forces all OS X to deallocate much of the memory they have taken up. Not a magic bullet, but it does help. I used to use this a lot and would run for weeks at a time without a reboot, but read on for an even better approach.

The second thing is that, in recent Mac laptops, (my 2/2008 MBP) you can put -6- gigs of RAM. Honestly, I do not understand how this works, because it exceeds a 32 bit address space, but it does work. With this much memory, I can run every app I use all the time, and run Parallels with WinXP with no troubles. Easy to install. I'm running a 4+2 gig memory module setup, got the 4 gig DDR2 (the DDR3 for the newest MBP is available, but more expensive) from Newegg for $160.

Over the last week, Activity Monitor saves I've had 3.8 gigs of pageins, and 70 megs of pageouts, ie, almost none. Very nice to have that much memory...


Peter Glaskowsky comments:

"The second thing is that, in recent Mac laptops, (my 2/2008 MBP) you can put -6- gigs of RAM. Honestly, I do not understand how this works, because it exceeds a 32 bit address space, but it does work."

That's fantastic-- Apple officially claims support for only 4GB of RAM on those machines, but NVIDIA is on record saying the chipset supports 8. I always figured it would work-- you may remember I was asking Samsung about that at WinHEC, since they have 4GB SO-DIMMs.

Mac OS X 10.5 is a 64-bit OS, too.


Eric Pobirs adds:

Perhaps that was based on the SO-DIMMs then available for testing at the time of that MacBook model's launch. That is often the case with PC motherboards. Whenever I'm looking at memory upgrades I always check both Crucial and Kingston, not just to see whose price is better but also because they often disagree as to what a particular board can support.

At T/K, we recently purchased some P4 Compaq EVO units from a liquidator. If you ask Compaq they'll say 768 MB is their limit but they arrived with a GB of RAM in each. You couldn't buy DIMMs of that density when those machines were new but the design held up when tried.

I was recently surprised when looking at an article about Core i7 motherboards. With six slots they're currently specced to support 12 GB of RAM but Intel says the chipset should eventually handle up to 48 GB with enough tweaking, six slots, and 8 GB DIMMs. Now if we just had non-volatile RAM in that speed and density...


Amazing. The hardware gets better all the time. Software, on the other hand...

You say: "...you really should turn your computer off every night, not to save power, but for the mandatory restart. ..."

I am a "devoted" Mac user. I've been using the Mac as my primary computer since 1984.

I still perform a "safe boot" once a month in order that the system maintenance tools run and do a "cleanup" of the system.

Today's youngsters are still victimized by oldsters who don't teach how to not make memory leaks and other nasty things.

Don't despair. The Mac is still a better way to compute. Feel sorry for the technically disadvantaged who struggle with Vista.


I have found that the Macs are really a lot happier if rebooted every week or so. That may be because I run a lot of software you'll never hear about because those programs aren't worth mentioning; but in any event, the Macs do seem to slow down and get sluggish after a while. Rebooting seems to fix that.

Comments on the economy and the December column

Things to do during a recession:

1. Reinvent yourself.

2. Teach people who are reinventing themselves

3. Work in computer security--a need that isn't going away right now

4. Work in biotech--my biotech stocks are holding up--people want to be healthy most of all

Harry Erwin

-- "an academic who listens to pleas of convenience before publishing his research risks calling into doubt the whole of his determination to find the truth." (Russell 1993)

Exactly what I needed to hear

Mr. Pournelle,

I read your essay "How to Get My Job," and it affirmed something I've been wrestling with for a very long while. I'm just now overcoming a years-long existential crisis. I had to learn and accept that I'm not a mediocre Unix sysadmin. I'm an unemployed mediocre writer/artist/musician that makes a living as a mediocre sysadmin. This has made all the difference in the world, although it may seem trivial on the surface.

I've written for years, always in the back of my mind searching for the "how" that fits me, and reflects actual tasks I can perform in reality without the sinking feeling that I'm just going through someone else's motions or shortcuts.

One Million Words. I get it. I'll start now. Thank you.


Dear Jerry:

On self-publishing. Amazon is not the only place where folks can buy "The Shenandoah Spy". It is available by special order at any general bookstore, chain or independent, and is stocked by over 40 Hastings Entertainment stores. (I am doing book signings at four more Hastings this month during our trip to Texas.) It is not a POD book. I went with a regular offset print run, figuring I could sell enough to break even, and even with this lousy economy the book is selling because it keeps getting five star reviews and the word is getting around. Next month we start the finish work on the second book in the series, which I plan to have out by June. I can only do so much at any one time and right now we are trying to get some podcasting promotional material out.

Here is my take on the bad decision by publishers to stop accepting submissions. It's an ideal opportunity for self-publishers (and I get closer to doing that book all the time) to crack the review space and the brick and mortar space. If the mainstream press stops producing new books, the big newspaper and magazine sections will have to start reviewing our books or close down and the big chains will have to start stocking them on the shelves and scheduling book signings with self published authors. Smaller chains and independents who figure a sale is a sale, already do this. I saw some statistics about what people are buying. Over forty percent of what's selling is fiction. So they have a choice: Sell our stuff or have some empty shelves. The book trade is mostly about best=sellers by brand name authors. That will work for a few years, but where do the publishers think the next generation of best selling authors are coming from? It begins to look like "rolling your own" may be the new path to success as an author. I'm far from the only one doing it.

As for magazine freelancing, I'm just as happy to be out of that game. My peripheral neuropathy is at the point where I can't walk very far without getting exhausted and short of wind. It's been creeping up on me for several years and is now officially a disability. It's on the Agent Orange list.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,

Francis Hamit

Certainly there are opportunities in self publishing; but of course books have to be good enough to publish, whether by self publishing or by a commercial publisher, if one is to expect reasonable sales. While publishers don't know what makes a best seller, their editors do have a reasonable idea about what is publishable. Alas, most authors don't have that kind of sense. Even professional authors can produce turkeys and not recognize them for what they are.

That has been the main reason that self publishing has such a terrible reputation: many self published books could never have been published any other way. Now, with publishers in trouble, and computers making self publishing a lot easier, the game is about to take a new turn.

I was able to solve my networking problems - it turns out that with Vista when you invoke the Network command from the START box that may not be enough; you may have to wait for the boc to finish, then to the '' Refresh command, after which the Vista system will see machines it didn't see before. Karen Parker tells me

Networking Woes (windows and possibly Macs)

Hi Jerry

I recently stumbled on my hardcopy of this blog article which may have a bearing on your network visibility issues.

Apparently when working in netBios mode, which is what workgroups use, there are several ways to find out what machines are on the network, controlled by a couple of registry parameters. In certain situations not having the right parameter set could cause a machine to not be visible. This article and the two MS articles it links to sort of explain this. Reading between the lines, it appears to me that you need to have everything set up to broadcast to have things work reliably unless you have a WINS server set up, which you most likely don't have.

Anyway, it's probably worth your while to take a look at it, at least. Hope it's helpful.

Karen Parker

Which was very useful although it doesn't explain why I must refresh the Network window on Vista machines. Thanks. Incidentally, it's worth a lot to be able to forget about WINS servers.

Regarding dBase2:

Dear Jerry,

>>>>>>>>>>> "There was a time when the most widely used programming language was dBsase2 scripting. That went away when George Tate, the founding publisher(Ashton-Tate; Ashton was either made up or Tate's dog depending on when you asked) of the language died at his desk and his successors couldn't get their act together. I often wonder what would have happened had Tate lived." >>>>>>>

Actually, up until about 2 years ago, I was chugging along in the descendant of the dBase language, FoxPro, which I would argue was the equivalent of Cobol in terms of versatility for business programming. After the FoxPro product was acquired by Microsoft, it got connections to all of the Microsoft office products and various SQL-Server back ends, and it could talk to almost anything. Sadly Microsoft has been intent on killing it in favor of Access (a nightmare) and the Visual Studio languages. There seem to be no currently supported 4th generation languages suitable for moderately complex business, medical and scientific programming that can be managed by one programmer or a small team. And what about the Mac and Linux boxes? Seems that if you don't learn C you are out of luck.

Best wishes,

--- Larry
Lawrence Keyes

The dBase2 programming language was easy to learn and surprisingly powerful, which is why it was so widely used. There doesn't seem to be anything quite like it now: a way to make useful programs and get them running quickly.

Peter Glaskowsky tells me I am behind the times, and there really are programs like dBase2 out there; I just haven't kept up. I can believe that, and no doubt I'll soon have more mail...

I have been reading about and dreading your planned move from Active Directory to a workgroup (with Home Server in the mix). I run AD here for the 8 machines I have here in my home office partially because it works really well, and partially because I use it when supporting customers. I can try out Group Policies and other such things here, and then deploy them to my customers when I know they are working as planned. The one thing I do not have here that you have are Mac machines.

The major difference comes down to authentication. When you have AD running, it provides authentication for all machines that are part of the domain, allowing you to easily connect from any machine to any machine using a single domain account. When you switch to a workgroup, *each machine* does it's own authentication. So to connect to Machine A to Machine B, you need to provide the username and password of an account on Machine B. Now, what I recommend to my customers is that they set up an account on each machine using the same username and the same password. Windows will be default when connecting to another machine, use the username and password you used to login on the local machine. The second problem you are going to run across is one machine "seeing" or being able to browse to it. One way around this is to just use the name of the machine directly. When connecting to a remote machine, I rarely browse since it find unreliable at best in a non-AD scenario. So, if you want to connect from "MachineA" to "MachineB", then on MachineA open an explorer window and put "\\MachineB" into the address bar and hit enter. You should be presented with a list of the shares available on MachineB. If not, you can always use the IP address as well (e.g. "\\"). In any case, that should always work.

On the issue of not knowing the Administrator password on Lisabetta: I have used a "Tools CD" called Hiren's BootCD (link) which boots and presents you with a whole bunch of tools for working on machines. (Disclaimer: I make no claims as to the legality of this CD.) It has a few password reset tools which allow you to reset passwords on a local machine. It has been incredibly useful for situations such as yours. To download it, just search Google and you can find download links. Hope that helps.

In any event, I look forward to reading your column with great interest as to how you accomplished it. Both here in my home office and for the various customers I consult for, I have never found Active Directory to be that hard to set up or manage, at least once you have done it once. I will admit that the first time I was completely and hopelessly lost. Since then I have come to really like AD, and especially the management tools that are connected with it (although certainly your average small network will never use them). It lets me VPN into my network when I'm out of the office, it lets me, my wife, or my kids log into any machine in our house and get access to their files which all reside on the two servers I run. If I need to change a password, I only have one place to change it.

Since my kids are young (3 to 12) it also lets me limit the damage they can do to a machine because I can lock down their accounts. In any case, glad to hear that you have had success in getting this running. I'm anxious to read about it because I more and more frequently get questions from customers / family / friends wondering the best way to set up multiple machines in the home, considering how common that is now.

On another note, have you read anything about the government mess up here in Canada over the last few days? It makes me pine for some of the positive elements of the US style system.

Glenn Hunt

I did manage to get out of the domain, and I now have a workgroup that works. The important thing to note is that if you are accustomed to log in through the domain network, you must be certain that before you remove the machine from the domain, you have a local account you can log in with. Every machine has an Administrator account, but many of us no longer remember the password for that account.

There are Linux programs that will allow you to remove the password from the Administrator account, and I used one to recover from having taken my TabletPC off the domain without being sure I could open the Administrator account. That done I created the local user account and password and put the Tablet on the local workgroup. It wasn't all that much trouble, but I did have a few moments of panic.

As to the domain itself, I have to say that it wasn't really all that much of a problem: setting up the domain took some work, and some of the quirks were tricky to understand, but really I find Vista and the workgroup at least as finicky. The problem with my domain was that it was Windows 2000, and support was fading, and I was down to a single server which was a point failure source for all my systems and network. By changing to a workgroup I don't have that failure mode any longer.

My second problem with the domain was that Macs and Active Directory have a mutual loathing that is hard to overcome. It can be done, but it's sure a lot easier to have Macs, Windows 2000, Windows XP, and Vista systems make nice together if you don't have to fuss with Active Directory.

If you have a big establishment with many users, and you need to control just what users have access to what data, you need something like Windows 2008 Server; but that is a far more complex setup than I need, and while I do a lot of silly things so you don't have to, that one was just a bit too much.

At present, Chaos Manor machines all talk to each other and can transfer files to each other. It's not quite as automatic and convenient to transfer files from one machine to another now as it was under the old Active Directory domain system, but it's sure a lot easier to get a new computer - particularly a Mac! - into the network now.

Subject: Windows Home Server.

I have successfully used Windows Home Server for my 5 computer home network. It makes auto backup a breeze. I have tested it to fully restore a disc image. It can restore single files also. The only issue that might arise in moving from a full server with Active Directory is if the need for a local mail server is a requirement. There are some 3rd party solutions for this, but they do not seem to be well developed or supported.

It also provides a SSL secure web connection [https] for both remote control / access to any computer on your network. Configuration is fairly straight forward.

I have an HP Windows Home Server, and it will get installed in a few days now that the workgroup is set up. I don't expect to have any problems with it.

Subject: Robocopy.

I have sent email to you about this before, but here goes: This is available on the Windows SDK. It is a very robust command line program to replace xcopy that understands networks well; it has a somewhat bewildering number of command line options, but can work with a minimum number of these. I have deployed this in an enterprise environment running from a batch file set from the Scheduler. One very important command line option that must be remembered is /r or retry. If this is not set to some reasonable number, it will default to 10^6 times. This is highly recommended where you are trying to synchronize folders across various machines on a network.

Robert Welshe

Just got a Kindle

Okay my wife just got me a Kindle. Wow do I love it but at the same time is scares me. It is so small and light. I can carry hundreds of books with me at all time. It is so easy to read. I can click on any line and do a dictionary look up with it. Even the web access is very handy. The lack of color makes some books less than useful as do the small screen size but other than that it is just great.

Okay the scary things. You can't lend a book to your friend. If I read a great book on the Kindle I can not give it to a friend when I am done. No more used bookstores. I have bought some great books at used book stores that you just can't get any place else. The books of my father. I have some old books that my grandfather and father gave me.

On the plus side. No book should ever go out of print. Really why should they? It costs nothing to keep a book available on the Kindle. Books should cost a lot less. No print runs, no shipping, no returns. Publishing should be more available. This is a double edged sword. I fear that I will see about 900 junk books for every good book if that. Oh why can't we have a technology that all good? I do wish that that it supported PDFs right from my PC.


I continue to use my Kindle for nearly everything. As you say, it's hardly the ideal way to read big coffee table picture books, but it wasn't intended for that. The main thing is I can transfer almost any book that doesn't have copy protection to the Kindle by emailing it to myself (Amazon charges me a dime); and of course I can share those books with friends if I think that desirable and ethical. As to books bought solely for the Kindle, they are mostly under $10 for books that would be about $20 (with discount) in hardbound; if I think I'll want to give a copy away I can buy the printed copy. I've actually bought and sent Kindle books to associates when I found I wanted to share it, and the total cost would be about the same as if I had bought the paper copy - only now we both have copies. There are still Kindle books priced outrageously, but that's getting rare.

The Kindle is not the ideal book reader, but it's sure a big step in the right direction. I haven't seen a Kindle II yet, but I sure like my Kindle.

Hi Jerry

In the lively discussion in the Chaosmanor Reviews Mailbag, about USB device security, Rick Hellewell mentioned infected photo frames as one of the possible vectors for infection. I've just read on ISC that getting digital photos printed at kiosks is another danger.

The solution, burn the photos to a CD and use that in the kiosk. Unfortunately this isn't likely to be useful to me since I generally use online printers and I've only ever used kiosks when I need to get a picture printed quickly while I'm away from home.

Here's an interesting SANS link.

Best wishes

Paul Dove

I've been thinking of getting Roberta a Photo Frame for use at the breakfast table now that we are getting lots of grandchild pictures. I need to think about the security angle.

Happy Trash Day!

I thought about you this morning while I was reading the newspaper. A local mailman was just convicted in federal court and given probation. He'd gone a step further than Harry. For years, he simply discarded all of the junk mail addressed to people on his route. It took them so long to discover what he was doing because not a single one of his customers complained. Ever.

Robert Bruce Thompson

Fortunately, Harry the Mailman (a character in Lucifer's Hammer by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle for those few here who have not read the book) had a more patient - or at least long suffering - supervisor.