Dr. Jerry Pournelle

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Mailbag Part 2 for July, 2006
Jerry Pournelle jerryp@jerrypournelle.com
Copyright 2006 Jerry E. Pournelle, Ph.D.

July 16, 2006

Dear Jerry,

Nice job with Chaos Manor Reports. One minor glitch is that one of your posts scaled very poorly beyond about 800 pixels in screen width (my lcd is 1280x1024) and was almost unreadable when some text got hidden behind an in-line image, but other than that I think your new effort is pretty good.

The format is very readable and seems primed to move to a subscription basis for premium content.

Nice job. I recommend publicly thanking whoever helped you set it up.


Thanks. The credit goes to Brian Bilbrey of Orb Designs (http://www.orbdesigns.com), who says he's helping out so that I can do more of what I do. Brian also co-administers the server that hosts my sites.

We're still building this place. I want also to thank all the subscribers, both those who originally subscribed to www.jerrypournelle.com, and the new subscribers to www.chaosmanorreviews.com. We need more if we're going to stay open, but I'm encouraged.

Note that we do not yet have any hidden content for subscribers only, so I have not sent out passwords. I'll send them when they're needed.

Dear Dr Pournelle,

I'm not sure if this is a good solution to your correspondent (Lynn McGuire ) who worried about a solution to 16-bit Windows apps not working under Windows 64-bit (xp64). In my environment this is a non issue. We have lots of old licences of WfW 3.11. This allows me to bring up a 16-bit Windows on a virtual machine under Linux. It's really quite simple. Even simpler is to forget about installing a WfW virtual environment and run the relevant apps under WINE. Of course 'simple' might not mean the same to me as to Aunt Minnie...

For us the major advantage is that we can run the 16-bit stuff off a virtual machine on a remote server. So in Windows XP64, I crank up Putty, connect by SSH with X-Windows tunneling to the server, and wake up a Windows XP X-Windows session (from Labtam at work, using the free XminG at home). It's then simple to run the 16-bit Windows in a little rooted X-Window. It's just like having a Windows machine within a machine.

I'm sure Windows will have a solution to the 16-bit stuff by the time Vista comes out. Maybe not, but the above works. Macs used to have a similar issue when Power Macs completely obsoleted the old system 6/7 stuff. For that I would run Basilisk II. It's an exactly analogous situation.

Regards, TC

Terry Cole
  System Administrator

Thanks. Of course Microsoft has pulled the plug on all versions of Windows except Windows 2000 and Windows XP. Not that this matters much if you're running Windows 95, 98, or WfW 3.11 in virtual machines, since they're "finished" and the only upgrades needed would be for security; virtual machines don't have the same security problems as those exposed directly to the Internet. I've found it relatively easy to get programs to run in Windows 95 in Microsoft Virtual PC, but it can be a bit tricky getting them to print properly.

Dr. Pournelle,

I was having mysterious network problems just like you are, and it turned out to my my router. It was a D-Link di-614+, and it was slowly failing.

It would work fine for a while, but cause huge slowdowns or freeze entirely at times. It took about 2 months of troubleshooting to pin it down to the router, and I finally had to resort to having a travel router as a hot running spare so when I noticed network problems, I'd just swap 2 cables to the spare router to see if the problem went away. Sure enough, it was the router.

As this is the third D-Link router to fail in almost the exact same wishy-washy fashion, I switched brands. I have a new linksys WRT-54G and except for a problem with UPnP, it works great. My overall throughput, both upload and download speeds, doubled with the new router vs. the old router.

If you have a spare router (somewhere in your pile of stuff to get to), hook it up and see if your problems mysteriously vanish.


Thanks, but my problems were unrelated to anything at Chaos Manor. We use a D-Link Gaming Router, and it has never given us any problems. Our problem was Adelphia, and their policy of never allowing first level tech support people to admit they have any system problems; their first level tech support people have to make you think all troubles originate with the customer.

When I got to third level Adelphia tech support, they quickly told me there were many problems in my region, the symptoms were the same as mine, and they expected to get them fixed in a day or so.

Once I knew that I could stop internal troubleshooting and get my satellite link working again. It hadn't been turned on in a long time, and needed a bunch of upgrades, but once I got those installed the satellite worked just fine. Satellite throughput speeds are nearly as high as cable modem, but of course there's the latency problem. I used the satellite for two days after which Adelphia got their problems solved and all was well.

Dear Jerry,

You wrote after a recently linked YouTube video that one should see it before it goes away. Well, clever people have found a solution for this problem in the form of tools that let you download videos from YouTube and similar services.

The first is called VideoDownloader, and it exists as an extension for Firefox and as a widget for the new Opera 9. ( https://addons.mozilla.org/firefox/2390/ and http://widgets.opera.com/widget/4398 respectively).

Then there are web-based tools that do much the same thing:
(They seem pretty much identical).

The files you get are .flv (flash video) files, but (http://javimoya.com/blog/youtube_en.php#tabsini ) links to tools to convert them.

As for them disappearing, one could use one of the many services like: rapidshare.de, yousendit.com, or megaupload.com to host the converted video.

Yes, it's a somewhat troublesome/time consuming process, but if you really want to keep some video alive at least there's a way to do it.

Sorry for the length,



To Be Continued...