Dr. Jerry Pournelle

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Computing At Chaos Manor:
July 5, 2007

The User's Column, July 2007
Column 324, part 1
Jerry Pournelle jerryp@jerrypournelle.com
Copyright 2007 Jerry E. Pournelle, Ph.D.

A note from the Managing Editor: Two problems present themselves in this column. First, Jerry's issues with images as they display in Word don't translate well to the web. This has been addressed by putting in thumbnails and larger image links cropped to closely simulate the images that Jerry saw inline in his Word document. The second issue is that there are many more images than usual in this column, so we'll be departing from the standard occasional image appearing in thumbnail on the right side with text flowed around. Instead, you'll find blocks of images, with captions below each.

We have had a local Fourth of July parade in the Studio City Triangle for at least ten years now. It doesn't go far, and there's little organization, but in our village you don't need much organization. Everyone knows each other and we're all fairly intelligent people with good sense. I put up a bit of a report over in the Chaos Manor web site, but I thought I would try using Word 2003 under Vista to write this story for Chaos Manor Reviews.

Vista Ultimate and Word 2003: First Problems

Preliminary report: Vista Ultimate and Word 2003 suck dead bunnies. As soon as I hit the insert picture button, I am taken to the My Pictures directory; and presumably if the pictures I wanted to insert were in there I would have no problems. However, I keep these in a Photos Directory; and when I try the Browse button, the whole system locks up. Eventually I have to close the program. I get a message that Microsoft is trying to resolve the issue, then Word closes, and that's that. Since I had just shut down the computer and opened it again I am sure the system is in good shape. It has 4 gigabytes of memory plus a 2 GB thumb drive set to speed up operations.

The granddaughter's new puppy
That's my grand daughter's new puppy. [View larger]

The parade begins.
The parade begins. [View larger]

I'll try to insert a picture again... It's not from the Fourth of July; that's my grand daughter's new puppy, taken when we were visiting back east. It's in the "My pictures" folder, and this was no problem.

Now I'll try to put in a picture from the Photos folder. This one is when the parade begins. We could tell because people were parking behind our house two blocks from Marjorie's house where the parade begins. [Thumbnail and linked image cropped as Jerry saw it in Word].

This time everything worked just fine. I was able to browse to the Photo folder. I did nothing other than open Word 2003 again, and recover the document lost when Vista shut down the program. I guess the secret of success with Vista is to be patient and keep trying. One problem: that's not all of the picture.

Cropped image under Word and Vista
An Import in Word 2003 under Vista Ultimate, displays "cropped". [View larger]

Liz, Bea, and Will, uncropped
Liz, Bea, and Will [View larger]

The picture (at left) looks all right if severely cropped, but scrolling up and down to look at it did not work too well, even on this Core 2 Duo system. When I scroll I get broken parts of the picture, but eventually it coalesces back to what I expect to see. I thought it might be because the picture has too many pixels, so I compressed it; it still has the scrolling problem. Fortunately it's not a very serious difficulty, and in fact I can pretty well eliminate it by making Word 2003 Full Screen rather than in a Window. That's not terribly convenient, but it does work. The scrolling problem delayed my discovery that the pictures were cropped. This turned out to be a serious problem. First thing, though, is to get the picture into the document.

When I imported it with Word 2003 under Windows XP (at right), everything was fine.That's Liz and Bea, and Will is over to the right. Liz writes a finance column for the LA Times and the Wall Street Journal. Bea is the best dressed debutante at the parade. Will is a professor at the Art Institute and knows more about computer graphics than I ever will. He also does consulting in graphic arts for Disney.

Another failure by Word 2003 under Vista.
Another failure by Word 2003 under Vista. [View larger]

The Panasonic Lumix does a good job
The Panasonic Lumix does a good job. [View larger]

Once again, Vista seems to have cropped the picture at left. I will try again.

Back in Word 2003 under XP, you can see the whole image — The Panasonic Lumix does a good job with this very rich photo. This is the breakfast line, more or less. This is the picture I thought I was importing. This time I used XP, not Vista.

I am finding out that this isn't working very well, and that's astonishing. The pictures are cropped, and I don't know why. It didn't do that when I imported them into Front Page.

Over to Windows XP and Word 2003

Neighbors Daniel and Margot
Neighbors Daniel and Margot. [View larger]

Importing: At right you can see our neighbors Daniel and Margot (center, red shirts, she has a characteristic flower in her hair). Margot teaches languages at Harvard school, and recently went to an education conference in Paraguay. I don't think I have ever met anyone else who has gone to a conference in Paraguay (which is why she went...).

Note that this is not cropped. The entire picture imported properly. The difference is that I am working on this same document in Word 2003 on Alexis, my communications machine. Alexis runs Windows XP. Alexis is not as fast or as powerful as Roxanne, the big Windows Vista Ultimate machine.

I will do the rest of this on the XP machine; clearly I have got something set wrong on the Vista system. Hmm. One more try. I'll go back to the Vista machine and open this in Word 2007 and see if anything is better. Maybe Vista likes Word 2007 better than it does Word 2003.

So we are now in Vista and Word 2007. For some reason the text doesn't look as good, but that's probably because it's at 140%. Changing to 110% makes it look all right. Now we'll see if it can import that picture. Of course we will first have to FIND the picture import buttons. I guess it's in the insert menus. Word 2007 has reorganized everything.

The good news is that the picture of Daniel and Margot imported into Word 2007 under Vista just fine. [so you don't get that picture again. ed.]

Text Won't Import

On the other hand, I have another problem: Mr. Heinlein's 100th Birthday is at the Centennial in Kansas City this weekend. I couldn't go, but I have been asked to furnish a short blurb to be read by the outgoing president of SFWA. As an aside, I find that hard to do: I am probably Robert's closest living friend, mostly because I am two generations later that Robert and all his oldest friends are dead. I ought to have a lot to say about the man who was my friend and mentor, but it's the closest thing to writer's block I have ever encountered.

Trouble importing text into Word 2007
Trouble importing text. [View larger]

I was able to write a requiem which I read at the SFWA Nebula event shortly after his death, and I was looking for that; alas it seems to be lost among the remnants of older files and floppy disk storage; at least I haven't found it yet. In trying, though, I tried to open an older Word file in .doc format. The result is in the screenshot at right.

I have been trying to find some means of fixing this, but with no success; the Knowledge Base document that message points to describes the problem perfectly, but it doesn't tell me anything useful about fixing it. Apparently users of Windows VISTA are expected to know a lot about the Registry and become experts on Registry policies, or else forgo opening older Word documents. This does not argue well for Vista.

Now I should, I suppose, now open Word 2003 on this Vista machine and try to import the document, but the problem is that with Vista, when you open Word 2007 after you have been using Word 2003, you get a "configuration screen". The "configuration" process takes well over a minute. If you later open Word 2003, the configuration process opens again. I don't know what happens if you try having Word 2003 and Word 2007 open at the same time. I'll try it. The machine certainly has enough memory.

Well, that didn't work. When I tried to open Word 2003 I got a window proclaiming it was an installer, then Word 2003 opened; but when I did Open and then tried to change directories, the program locked up and had to be closed. Fortunately the only thing that closed was Word 2003; Word 2007 and this document were not disturbed. I will now close this document and Word 2007 and go experiment with Word 2003 under Vista. Isn't this exciting? I do lots of silly things so you don't have to...

Back to Word 2003 and Vista

The parade organization begins.
The parade organization begins. [View larger]

Well, that works: that is, the document that produced the error with Vista and Word 2007 works just fine with Vista under Word 2003. Now let's find out if something has fixed itself in the picture import department:

And - astonishingly - now the picture import works. This is with Vista Ultimate and Word 2003. I now find myself saying beedee beedee beedee...

The only thing I can think of that would have "fixed" this would be the multiple attempts to open Word 2003 and Word 2007 with the consequent "configuration" and "installation" messages induced a sea change in the system. But do note that I have used both Word 2003 and Word 2007 on this machine many times in the past, so if they had to be configured one would think they would be configured, so to speak.

I confess utter confusion.

The bottom line for me, though, is that Vista isn't ready for use by ordinary people. Chaos Manor Associate Dan Spisak can use it without problems and likes it. Eric Pobirs doesn't have these troubles. All I can say is that I am not entirely unsophisticated as a computer user, and I find it's an adventure just to try to put together an account of the Fourth of July Parade; and it would not have been had I started with Word 2003 and Windows XP.

Back to the Parade

The Studio City Parade brings out the neighbors. This is an interesting village: property values are enormous, but many of us bought our houses for very reasonable prices many years ago, and thanks to Proposition 13 no one has been forced to sell out and move away by the real estate "boom". On the other hand, the younger people in our village triangle have paid enormous prices and pay huge taxes. This is a consequence of the government's attempt to help by injecting lots of easy credit in hopes of getting more people to own their homes: easy credit means injecting lots of money, and that mean inflation, defined as too much money chasing too few goods...

Anyway we have writers, movie stars, and little old ladies. We have a movie projectionist able to live in the house she grew up in. We also have dot com millionaires. Everyone gets together at events like the parade. I'll finish this with more pictures.

Meanwhile, Vista works with both Word 2003 and Word 2007 now, and I have no idea why I was getting pictures cropped on import before. That never happened under Windows XP.

More Parade Pictures

Ed Begley, Jr. helps out.
Ed Begley, Jr. helps out. [View larger]
Another shot of Ed.
Another shot of Ed. [View larger]
Ed on his electric bicycle.
Ed on his electric bicycle. [View larger]

Ed Begley, Jr. helps out. You may have seen him recently in Living with Ed, a series about living green on HGTV. His electricity comes from solar panels and a small 500 Watt wind generator.

Dueling cameras!
Dueling cameras! [View larger]
Marjorie organizes this every year.
Marjorie organizes this every year. [View larger]
Getting started
Getting started. [View larger]

Marjorie organizes this every year. She also tells everyone the rules. That's why she has the microphone: amplification helps when herding cats, and crowds.

And they're off.
And they're off. [View larger]
The parade gets to Cantura Street.
The parade gets to Cantura Street. [View larger]
Continuing on Cantura Street.
[View larger]

Roberta and I didn't walk in the parade. We got the Explorer and went around to park where we knew they'd be. Cantura (above, middle) is the street that Malcolm in the Middle was filmed on. It's one of our prettiest streets...

All done on Cantura Street.
All done on Cantura Street. [View larger]
Our friend Ivar.
Our friend Ivar. [View larger]
Sable was glad to be back in our cool house.
Sable was glad to be back in our cool house. [View larger]

We saw our friend Ivar at the party after the parade. You saw him as Angleton in the CIA TV series. We also brought Sable down to the party. She was very well behaved, and a lot less excited than we thought she'd be. Every kid in the party wanted to pet her. Sable loves that. She got her kid fix, and I suspect more than her share of cookies, but she was glad to be back in our cool house.

A Most Unusual Column

The parade organization begins.
The parade organization begins. [View larger]

I didn't start this out to be a column. I was just going to do a parade report. Things don't always work out as we hope.

And as usual I keep doing these silly things so you don't have to. And, alas, my adventures are not done.

Roberta wanted to see copies of these pictures. I tried to send them to her. From my Windows XP system. I got the error you see in the screenshot at right.

So I went down to her machine to see if it were turned on. It is. I looked at the sharing setup for her machine. It shows that her disk is shared and I am given full permission to use it. Just in case, I deleted the sharing and did it over again, being certain that the account I log in with has full permission. I got the same result.

I don't know what it means that "Not enough server storage is available." I suppose I will have to go find out what it happening. Sigh.