Thursday, April 13, 2006

Not dead... just in electronic hell...

Forgive my absence. Or not. It really should not matter, except as evidence that David Brin has priorities.

What have mine been? Other than my daughter's birthday, planting my garden, replacing my pool heater, doing more hours of daddying each week than I received in most years of my own childhood (not my father's fault, but another story) ... and generally living?

What's been the biggest time sink? Well, alas, it has NOT been writing science fiction novels.

Rather, it has been a modern form of medieval torture called technology.

I have just been through the worst imaginable month of electronic hell, with all of my files and computers trashing relentlessly and repeatedly, making me rebuild like a Katrina victim.

It began simply enough, with my son's #@$@#$# Dell 4700 (with expensive graphics card) fritzing just as soon as its internal clock said that the warranty had expired. Three hours on phone with a helpful fellow north of Delhi did not nail it down (so much for $#$@$##@@# MS diagnostics). After five attempted memory swaps, finally realized it is the #$#@# mother board. (Shall I buy a cheap Frys basic, transfer the HD and graphics card and hope for the best?

Oh but then there were all the replacement PCs bought, tried, rejected, returned... till finally a Pavillion HP Media thing seems to work, knock on wood... Only then the downstairs wifi crashed.

But at least I had my Mac. Right? A 4-year old G-4, reliable as a plow horse and just as loyal. I've used Apples (and owned stock) since 1981. Once had an Apple II with a serial number in 5 digits (stolen, alas). I've been quirky and kept the G-4 running sys 9.2, in order to run the only decent word processor ever made, the 1989 version of Word Perfect for Macintosh.

So, did my trusty G-4 HAVE to choose the same month to go fffffft?

Even more frustrating... there in the Mac shop, they said "we can't find a thing wrong with it!" (Oh, yeah, what about all the missing files? I drive south tomorrow to try and save THOSE. Pray for me)

Ah, well, I had already been planning to buy a new G-5 before they switch to Intel chips. Two reasons. The old guys will still run OS9 software. (And yes, I still can use WP'89). Moreover... Intel chips are all "numbered". If you get my drift, folks. So what the heck? I splurged. Hey, once every 4 years ain't bad for a work-horse machine. Give the G-4 to the wife and kids.

Only now I must learn OSX. (Sigh. Must I? Yes, you must) And yes, OSX is marvelous. It's merest bootlace, Windows is not worthy to kiss. Yeah. I know the hype. I even agree, it's all true. But oh! Ten years of productivity tools! Of tricks and time-savers! All needing replacement! Ouch!

Ooooog, I could go on all night. Things that had my blood pressure up and cussing... then slowly calming as I learned to turn into servants instead of horrors. Take the "dock". Sure, it is cute... and annoying... till I got the "dockyard" widget and tamed the thing just great. (Anyone at Apple? I have FIVE suggestions how it could be made better.)

Oh, how I hated the way Apple copied Windows formalism for minimizing, by shunting windows down to the dock and forcing you to go get them out again. Taking away my old OS9 "windowshades"... till I found a $10 app called "Windowshades_X" that wonderfully gives all the old tools back to me, and then some! Suddenly, when you add in stuff like Expose' - my double-wide pair-o-monitors is starting to feel like home. Kind of magical, in fact.

But first, argh... old Quickeys won't work in OSX. Bought the NEW Quickeys because I cannot live without it. Every key on the number pad can become a supercharged macro button. Must have... must... have... only now I must reprogram every single macro and key one at a time, by hand, relearning as I go. My back! Who can spare the neurons!

Is the pain over? Not so fast. Gotta get used to Safari. To the obnoxious blaring colors that they insist folder labels use, if you use colored folders. To browser-style navigation... probably good but hard to adapt. And to the weird logic of desktop/user/HD hierarchy in which NONE OF THEM CONTAINS THE OTHERS!

Oh! Managed to salvage use of my old LAserwriter IINT... a product so fine that it belongs in some Hall of Fame. Asante makes this Appletalk-to-Ethernet box and the guy there talked me thru it.... and it only took ten times longer than it should have.

Oh, it goes on and on. Maybe by May I may be back up to speed... back to NORMAL levels of drowning.

I wonder, might all of this have happened because of my last blog posting? Was it THAT effective?
(There are ways to shut guys like me up, you know....)
As evidence, just look at Newt Gingrich. In the last month, since I started hectoring him, the man has started showing real spine. Oh, I won't claim credit for any of it. (He was already grumbling.) But I sure want to.

And here in Cunningham's district, the democrat, Busby, almost won outright! Oh, there are signs of hope, in the polls, in the defections. But will it all be fast enough to stiffen the few thousand people the republic needs most right now? Those who can step up and say NO to any planned "October Surprise"? Thje officer corps. The intelligence community. The professionals who can save us from monsters, when those monsters start to panic....


Let me close with a couple of items.

Memes1. The inimitable Dan Simmons offers a colorful (and extremely xenophobic)rant about war between civilizations. It sounds like he's been reading my famed predictive speech about "meme wars"
while on a fistful of downers. He names folks that I name pretty often, like old Alcibiades, though drawing a very different lesson. His lesson is wrong. Just plain flat-out wrong. But I respect the guy. He writes well. You deserve to be entertained.

2. Here's a snippet. No special reason. Just one of a myriad I've collected while in the 4th circle of electronic hell. Just clip it and give it to that wvering conservative. All the follows was written by Russ Daggattt.


Average annual budget change as a percentage of U.S. gross domestic product during these administrations:
Roosevelt 14.8%
Truman -8.6%
Eisenhower -1.3%
Kennedy 0.2%
Johnson 1%
Nixon 1.6%
Ford -1.4%
Carter 1.8%
Reagan -0.6%
G. Bush 0.2%
Clinton -1.8%
G.W. Bush 2.4%

How about that?  Bush (with a Republican Congress) has overseen the biggest GROWTH in the Federal Government in almost 60 years.  That follows Clinton, who oversaw the biggest DECLINE in the size of the Federal government in a generation. Conservatives who cling to their cliches about this are like freed slaves who stayed with their masters as sharecroppers, rather than standing up, looking around, seeing a new world, and coming to terms with it.

“Corporate profits accounted for 11.6% of gross domestic product in the fourth quarter -- the biggest share of the nation's income companies have taken since 1966. They have been able to do so, say economists, by sharing less with their workers."

I hope to be back in business soon. Thrive till then....


(PS can anyone tell me why so many programs like Word insist that when you are selcting passages of text, that you MUST select whole words? Who thinks up these things? WHat PLANET are they from?)


NoOne said...

David, get a cheap linux server and put it in your closet. Heck, for what it's worth, buy a Mac Mini and put linux on it. Backup all your files on the server. It'll probably run forever and you'll always have a backup.

David Ivory said...

OS X...

I must admit to being a user since the day the public beta was released.. before that my Mac were running Linux.... though I do run Freehand in OS 9.1 in Classic on my iBook...

I know what you mean about the need to get up to speed in productivity in a new environment. Number one for me is hiding the Dock and turning off magnification!

Also a few interesting links for you and your new OS X world... - I read your blog in this every day. - nerdy writer and his OS X productivity obsession.

Sogundi - website shortcuts for the Safari address field... sounds wierd but damn cool.

Quicksilver for more nerdy macros than your keypad can handle.

Rsync back-ups - got to back up ... hmmm something I need to do as well I think.

OS X also brings a whole world of UNIX apps - check out the Fink Project ... and you could always try NeoOffice based on Open Office.

Anonymous said...

Uh, your HD contains a "Users" folder, which contains your home folder (and those of any other users). Your home folder contains your Desktop.

Or did you mean something else?

NoOne said...

I could not find Dan Simmons' rant on the clash of civilizations on his website. I found it in Google's cache however. Overblown as usual, but that's Dan Simmons.

Anonymous said...

Given the timing, I'd guess your bad mobo was a victim of capacitor plague:

My office bought a crapload of Dell desktops, and we've had over 75% failure on several batches, all mobo's with bad capacitors.

If you don't have the time or energy to piece together your own system, my experience is that a reputable nearby screwdriver shop will give you a better machine and better service than most of the "big box" PC vendors.

Ultimately, the best computer is the one that does what you need it to do. I'm not much of Mac-head, but I've never heard people that actually use them complain about them much, and the new UNIX-based Macs give you access to a LOT of software.

Don Quijote said...

Anyone who writes about Eurabia & Dhimmitude has long lost their grip on reality.

There is not a single majority moslem country that has the industrial capacity of France, there is not a single Moslem Country that has it's own independant aerospace industry, automobile industry, or electronic industry.

Anonymous said...

Read Dan Simmon's stuff...
Paranoid delusional.
Somehow, Islam, which if they were all united (never happen, they hate each other too much) would have 1/5th the world's population, hardly any industry, only one real resource (oil) is supposed to conquer the world by terrorism...
Terrorism is not the tactic of the strong, it is the tactic of the weak. Al Queda went after undefended targets on 9/11... 9/11 is not the equivilant of Pearl Harbor. At Pearl Harbor, the Japanese went after the strongest naval and air presense in one spot in the world... on 9/11, Al Queda went after 4 almost undefended airliners and attacked 3 undefended buildings and failed to attack a fourth because a mob of unarmed people overwhelmed them.
And his list of things 'destroyed by terrorists in the future'... I have a counter list...
Pick the 24 largest cities in Islamic countries... not landmarks, buildings, historical sites, but entire cities... now wipe them off the map.
One Ohio Class submarine could do that in about 2 hours.
We have 6 such submarines.
In 1941, Japan had the world's 3rd largest navy. Germany had the world's largest air force and 2nd largest army.
By 1945, Japan had no navy to speak of, Germany's air force was unable to accomplish anything but harrassment, and Germany's army was on it's last gasps.
And "United" Islam has what?

I worry about terrorism, I do. I live in a poorly guarded border city.
But not as much as I worry about that idiot driving with a cell phone glued to his ear.
Because I know that odds are, I'll die in a traffic accident, not a terrorist attack.

Anonymous said...

"And 'United' Islam has what?"

Will and demographics.

Europe is dying; almost every country in Europe has a growth rate that is below replacement. At the same time, muslim immigrants are one of the few populations that is actually breeding; in a few generations, some nations may have a greater islamic population than native European (and a larger number of practicing muslims than practicing Christians within a handful of years).

If you allow hordes of immigrants into your country, and neither properly assimilate them or reproduce your own, the biggest defense industry in the world won't save you from being conquered from within.

Anonymous said...

If Europe is dying because of that, it will take my lifetime to do so. Also, some of us are integrating Muslims reasonably happily (just as well as 85% of my workplace is muslim). Also, London has a fair claim to be the political centre of the Muslim world - largely because we are a neutral ground which does not have state sponsorship of a fundamentalist branch of Islam, do have a pretty peaceful society, and do have pretty good education for most who live here. (Of course, this might mean we are the first target for any would-be muslim despot...)

(Before anyone mentions the London bomings, IIRC the people who did them were from Bradford, not London - and Bradford is one of the very few towns in which we've elected BNP members (I don't know the US equivalent - but they are as near as we get to the Klan) to the local council).

Still, unlikelier things than Islam conquering all have happened. Like a tiny sect started by someone who was later nailed to a cross, and propogated by someone who both started out by stoning members of that sect and never met the founder becoming the world's leading religion. Or a small windswept and impoverished set of islands on the Atlantic coast of backward Europe conquering a significant portion of the world. I just don't put very high odds on such things happening.

DoctorB said...

What does Simmons intend that we do? He leaves out a clear call for action in this story aside from "be as ruthless as your enemies." What exactly does that mean? Should we imprison or kill all muslims? Should we go to war with every muslim country in the world? Should we expel all muslims from our own countries in Europe and America? All of those actions are insane (and probably impossible) in a geopolitical sense as well as antithetical to the values of western democracies.

It sounds like more fear- and hate- mongering to me with no reasonable resolutions suggested. Perhaps that is why Simmons apparently pulled it from his website.

Anonymous said...

Two bits, one on word, and one on terrorism:

1. David, in Word 2003 under Tools->Options->Edit tab, there is a checkbox labeled "When selecting, automatically select entire word". Uncheck that, and you don't get the auto word check functionality. No, it's no defense against the frustration that is Microsoft Nerd - I, too, would kill for a good word processor with "View Codes" included.

You might also want to look at Emacs - Neal Stephenson wrote some rather glowing things about using it in his essay "In the Beginning was the Command Line".

I quote:

"I use emacs, which might be thought of as a thermonuclear word processor. It was created by Richard Stallman; enough said. It is written in Lisp, which is the only computer language that is beautiful. It is colossal, and yet it only edits straight ASCII text files, which is to say, no fonts, no boldface, no underlining. In other words, the engineer-hours that, in the case of Microsoft Word, were devoted to features like mail merge, and the ability to embed feature-length motion pictures in corporate memoranda, were, in the case of emacs, focused with maniacal intensity on the deceptively simple-seeming problem of editing text. If you are a professional writer--i.e., if someone else is getting paid to worry about how your words are formatted and printed--emacs outshines all other editing software in approximately the same way that the noonday sun does the stars. It is not just bigger and brighter; it simply makes everything else vanish."

On the other hand, his use of Emacs might explain his tenuous and abusive relationship with things like plot and character development. :P

If you're interested, some followup links:

2. On terrorism: The issue is not that today these people can crash three planes into three defenseless buildings - it is that at some point in the future, due to increasing technological knowledge, people like them will be able to create or acquire weapons of such power with minimal resources that they can kill many times more people than they were able to do on 9/11/01. Nukes are a good example of something that can be acquired these days by a determined fellow; in the future who knows what toys (NBCIN - Nuclear, Biological, Chemical, Informational, and Nanotech) could be used to cause mass havoc in a society...

Note that I am not justifying the current junta's actions - I'm much more in favor of Brin's "transparent society" ideas. As in the encryption world, transparency provides the best security.

Anonymous said...

* Dan Simmon's rant quickly became a "must see" item for the freaky right fringes of Blog Space. It seemed to both justify and dignify their xenophobia.

Why did it suddenly disappear? Could Simmons have realized that he'd unleashed something ugly?

There's a theory out there that the "three words" mentioned at the end of the rant were: "April Fool's Day!"

I hope that's it. If it is serious, I suspect Simmons has thrown a rod mental-equanimity-wise.

* RE Word's selection behavior: I think you can disable "whole word" text selection. Which is a feature that stinks of focus-group thinking.

* There's a hilarious, probably bogus "White House Insider" report up on Something Awful that is worth a look for its sheer chutzpah:

The author DOES say something that I fear may be dead on:

Democracy as a government relies upon the ability of factions to compromise on divisive issues through rational debate instead of violence. The current political power brokers have figured out how to short circuit this process by focusing national attention on issues which are based on differences of non-negotiable, irrational moral sentiment, and are thus not subject to resolution through rational reconciliation. They've broken democracy.

Anonymous said...

OK. Here's how to keep Word (and dependent products) from selecting whole words:

Tools menu => Options => Edit tab

Uncheck "When selecting, automatically select entire word."


Anonymous said...

Gandhi didn't have nukes or guns or even brass knuckles. Many perceived him to be a threat.

Is there anyone like Gandhi in today's world? Could his nonviolent approach even work in today's world?

Solutions may be nonmilitary and nonpolitical. With luck, some unnoticed social trend or consumer product or scientific discovery could make the world's current political mess evaporate.

I've been wracking my brain but I can't see what the trend/product/discovery might be. Some hoped it might be the Internet, but even the Internet can be used to oppress people rather than free them. (As with certain net browser companies helping the Chinese government catch dissidents.)

Short of space aliens landing next to the United Nations building, anybody have any ideas what might drastically and positively change the geopolitical landscape?

wkwillis said...

Spending money is a bug, not a feature, for Republicans. Please remember that the Red Counties like taxing Blue Counties and spending the money on Red pork.

Rob Perkins said...


A comment some isolationists around here probably won't appreciate: It's really quite heartening to hear that you found a helpful person when your call completed to India.

It tells us something about Dell: Like *everyone else* (with the dubiously possible exception of Apple and maybe HP) they find the cheapest components possible and assemble the machines at the lowest possible cost. Depend on it: People who do much lower volumes than Dell can top them for quality. And if you know how to build 'em yourself, then you win overall, 'cause you won't *need* that extended warranty.

Alas, that's not all of us.

So when buying Dells I always recommend the 3-year parts replacement warranty. I had to replace every single moving part but one, and the battery, on my ol' Inspiron 4000, but because of the warranty it's still going strong, albeit in my kids' possession.

I'll take your point about the numbered Intel chip as soon as you take mine about every podunk doctor's office in my hometown wanting my social security number PLUS a credit card number on-record. Meantime, just dig into the BIOS and disable it! (Oh wait, you're talking about the Core Duo.)

Can't disable it, anyway! IP laws permit me to tie my products to a machine ID, and having that in the CPU core makes it almost foolproof. Face it; companies like mine (3 guys selling software which optimizes foundry processes) need and want that sort of thing. It's not just a Sony/Apple/Microsoft juggernought thing.

You don't have to get used to safari, though I have and... the kool aid tastes fine, David, just fine! :-)

There's a copy of Firefox for Mac, which costs nothing but another 1/2 hour of reconfig...

Also, *why* would you have needed an appletalk to Ethernet box? I'm confused; every Mac since '98 or so has come with Ethernet built-in!

(PS can anyone tell me why so many programs like Word insist that when you are selcting passages of text, that you MUST select whole words? Who thinks up these things? WHat PLANET are they from?)

Dunno. I just kind of got used to it.

Rob said...

Short of space aliens landing next to the United Nations building, anybody have any ideas what might drastically and positively change the geopolitical landscape?

1. The use of "tactical" nuclear weapons to attempt to destroy Iran's nuclear program. The positive aspects of this would not accrue to Americans, at least not in the short term. The resultant global revulsion against the United States would quite possibly lead to an alliance of nations against the rogue superpower we have become and hopefully kick off a worldwide campaign against all fundamentalist religious movements, be they Christian, Muslim, or whatever. The extirpation of religious fundamentalism and a resurgence of the United Nations as a potential world government would be an indisputably positive development. But the question is whether there would actually be any consequences to the United States for such a despicable act. Billmon posted a long analysis of why we would probably be able to get away with it.

2. A miraculous November sweep of the House and Senate by Progressive Democrats. I'm not talking about Henry Cuellar-style DINOs or DC Dems like Joe Lieberman who talk a good game but side with the neo-cons when the chips are down. If Ned Lamont crushes Lieberman, Sandals or Pennachio take down both Casey and Santorum, and so on and so forth...a true Progressive swing that rivals or surpasses 1994; then there is a chance we can restore the true traditional American values. Self-reliance but not abandonment; politics but not corruption; rationality and tolerance, not knee-jerk reaction and bigotry.

3. Jesus comes back, gathers up all the believers, and leaves. Secular humanists then can get on with good stewardship of the planet in peace. Hallelujah!

Kagehi said...

So... Didn't get the memo David? The new moto of Dell is, "Dude! Your stuck with a Dell!" See, besides the self destruct at end of warranty trick, which I hadn't heard of until now.., they screw the BIOS, so you can't flash it with a working one or alter the settings for your processor, memory or anything else. In other words, the only way to upgrade a Dell, beyond simply switching out drives, is to send it back to Dell. Where they simply yank the entire MB, processor and perhaps even the memory out, jam a new one in, then ship it back to you. Its the only way to "fix" anything that goes wrong with those things. Worse, I wouldn't put it past them at some point to do what Apple did on their new machines and imbed special code in either the machine or the OS, so that if you change the motherboard, it stops working, with no way to fix it with a new key from MS.

Basic rule is, if some pre-built system company tries to give you a great deal on a system, about 50% of the hardware will be substandard garbage and that is just the stuff not buried in the fine print, where they declare that you don't actually own the machine, or now that the contract is signed, your own soul. While the later hardly worries me, the former is a major pain in the ass.

John Dougan said...

So, besides the selection issue, what is it about Word Perfect (besides just being used to it) that you think is superior? Have you looked at any of the other OS X word processors (word processor is to words as food processor is to food) or other text handling software? Nisus Writer? NeoOffice? VersionTracker has 33 matches to the search "word processor". And the category Word Processing/Text Tools has 377 entries.

And there are other less obvious ways of going about it, such as Outliners. I do most of my technical writing in OmniOutliner Pro and know people who write fiction in it. Some others prefer text editors, idea processors or specialist writing software for things like screenplays.

MS-Word has unfortunately become the default choice for writers and that's kind of sad. There are lots of other good products out there, maybe without all of the bells and whistles of Word, but with better UI's and more useful approaches to the problem of recording and editting your words.

Anonymous said...

Glad to see you're getting your electronics back under control! They're great until they betray you.

I see some folks have recommended a Linux server. I've worked with servers since IBM PC LAN Program (back in the late 1980s), and I have to say that as much as I love technology, and as much as I love tinkering with Linux, the best server I've ever purchased for home use was a Mac Mini with OS X server. I run file/print sharing for Windows clients and I run Apache/MySQL/PHP for web development. It's more stable than Linux, way easier to setup, and much easier and more stable than any Windows server.

Sounds like you have your OS X experience under control. Sorry to hear it's taking you so long to get everything back together!

For easy, easy backup, slap an external hard drive in a Mac Mini (you can get one faster and larger than its default), and just copy everything periodically to that drive.

Of course, I'm probably not telling you anything you don't already know.

Hope you can get back to writing soon!

David Brin said...

“Screwdriver shop?” I was thinking of taking the Dell down to Frys and looking into having its hard drive, memory and Rdeon card installed into a basic unit. But how would I look around for a local shop that does this too? Is there some yellow pages entry?

If it’s the same hard drive, am I still registered as the same Windows user, etc as I was on the Dell? Or will the damned numbered Intel chip betray me?

Naturally, a 2 year old Dell uses completely different-pinned dual memories than they are now using. Psigh.

I agree that Simmons is off the deep end... Though entertainingly. Still, we are entering an age of asymetrical WMD. For a chilling scenario, hunt up a copy of Mike McQuay’s JITTERBUG... And then pass it on. It is a scary extremum, as all dire warnings are supposed to be.

Hawker, in fact I agree with you on two levels:

1. It is utterly insane to say that America is presently “at war”. Just using that word was a Rovean culturewar manipulation of the most craven and insecure members of our society, and only the bona fide dingbats among our fellow citizens fell for it. (Very few people did in the cities that were actual terror targets!) In fact, more people die of traffic accidents every month than died of terror in the history of our republic. May change tomorrow. But tis still a fact.

2. Yes, barring an extreme bioplague scenario, like in JITTERBUG, even shock-surprise asymetrical WMD could not give the new Uma anywhere near the kind of power portrayed by Simmons.

For one thing, the present jihadist leadership clade are not logical people. Were they logical, they would have ‘welcomed home’ the Jews of Europe with open arms, in 1945, as fellow “sons of Abraham” who had suffered at the hands of Japhetic-Aryan Crusader-barbarians. This notion is, in fact, what the brilliant Prince Faisel (of Lawrence of Arabia - Alec Guiness fame) tried to do, after WWI. Co-opting the world’s Jews and turning them into a vast resource to establish universities and science all over a restored Uma.

But shortsighted dopes stymied him in favor of reflex tribalism.

In some parallel universe, it worked and did wonders. After Hitler, millions of highly educated jewish refugees would have embraced the notion of pan Semitism vs the Japhetist-hedgemon-imperialists of Europe. The combination of Ashkenaz sophistication and Arabian oil could have made the Middle East the university and research center of the world, as it was under the First Uma. But nobody listened to Faisel. The shortsightedness of the r’oils and their ilk, instead following the Nazi Grand Mufti into petty fratricide, was utterly imbecillic. It was the path of moronic self destruction. Not Islam, but brutally stupid machismo.

Just one thought experiment shows HOW stupidly shortsighted. Ask any vehement jihadist what will happen, if and when (God forbid) he ever gets his wish... when Israel is liquidated and 3 million Jews spread around the world in a New Diaspora, angry, hyper-educated, angry, scientific, angry, utterly focused and angry. With all the world suddenly behind them out of guilt and sympathy. Does he think they will pathetically limit themselves to strap-on suicide bombs and hijacked planes? Har!

Ask this, and you will always - always - get a look of sudden, wide-eyed realization. Realization that “victory” would be ashen. That no Arab city would be worth its weight in radioactive sand. The realization is so obvious, and yet never, ever contemplated. Because - again - this is NOT about Islam or religion, or even the worthy and respectable goal of reestablishing a new Uma.

It is about machismo. And machismo does not ponder consequences.



Misc: I know how to disable Whole Word in Word, but how do you disable it in Macintosh TextEdit?

Rob, the best prineter ever made uses AppleTalk. A 1992 model laserwriterNT. If it had treads, I would drive it to Baghdad. If it were airtight, I would ride it into space. It puts out more heat than a Saturn V and always works.

Anonymous said...

emacs for word processing? OK. I would prefer nu/TPU which was a port of DEC's last great (programming) language sensitive editor.

You could probably have it emulating WordPerfect in no time, or maybe find a 'section file' to provide the emulation.

Any way, life is change.

Don Quijote said...

Ask any vehement jihadist what will happen, if and when (God forbid) he ever gets his wish...
It's not an If it's a When.

when Israel is liquidated and 3 million Jews spread around the world in a New Diaspora, angry, hyper-educated, angry, scientific, angry, utterly focused and angry. With all the world suddenly behind them out of guilt and sympathy.

I would not count on the world's guilt or sympathy if I was an Israeli. There will not be much sympathy outside of the US. The general thought will be more along the lines of what goes around comes around.

Does he think they will pathetically limit themselves to strap-on suicide bombs and hijacked planes? Har!

What leads you to believe that Israeli refugees will be treated any better than the Palestinian refugees were?

Anonymous said...

Nisus Writer is a very nice word processor. For myself, I still prefer Word 5.1a. It loads so fast and has just enough features but doesn't get in the way of writing.

As for full word selection, yeah, that's pretty weird in OS X. In OS 7-9, you used to use a key command to bring it up when you needed it. Much better way of doing things.

Anonymous said...

There's too much depressing discussion going on. I'd like to change the subject to something more lighthearted. Which do you prefer: cats or dogs?

David Brin said...

Tangent, you miss my point. Fear is PRECISELY the central motivating emotion of machismo. Please do look up that paper I cited, in which I was among the few to predict the iminent fall of the Berlin Wall, followed by an early 21st century featuring simmering struggles like the ones facing us today.

David Brin said...

There is a lot of mythology. For example, that Jews appeared out of nowhere and grabbed Arab land.

In fact, nearly all of the land settled by Jews before 1948 was legally bought from owners who were happy to sell.

Yes, the 48 war did result in refugees and the new Israelis were not guiltless, tho they did not start the war. But dig this... they took in twice as many jews from arab lands. So why were those homes never offered to the Palestinian refugees? In fact, it was POLICY by Arab leaders never, ever to allow Palestinians to resettle out of the camps. Men could go to work in the oil fields, in Riyadh, in Cairo. But the women and children, and their children, and theirs, had to stay in the camps.

This aspect is never, ever, ever mentioned or noted by lefty-euro-racist flakes, who delight in the chance to justify age-old antisemitism in new cloth. That utter hypocrisy -- managing to actually convince themselves that the underdogs are titanic giants who refuse peace -- makes one marvel at the power of human rationalization and imagination.

Karl Haro von Mogel said...


I share thy computer woes. While I was writing for my college paper, and doing my radio show, (which I am still doing) I learned what it meant to sweat bullets, as every last means I had to get my material on paper for my show died with about 25 minutes left to get to the station. I expressed my techno-troubles in one of my columns, which you might find enjoyable.

Currently, I am looking at the shrinking space on my hard drive, and thinking about all my files up and fizzling away. So I'm in the market for storage devices and backup systems before its too late. I hear that double-backups are really the minimum for good security.

Don Quijote said...

There is a lot of mythology. For example, that Jews appeared out of nowhere and grabbed Arab land.

Did they get an invitation from the Palestinians? Did the Palestinians have a say about this immigration?

In fact, nearly all of the land settled by Jews before 1948 was legally bought from owners who were happy to sell.

You forgot to mention all the settlements on the West Bank.

Yes, the 48 war did result in refugees and the new Israelis were not guiltless, tho they did not start the war.
Right, cause they did not execute Plan Dalet, Deir Yassin never happenned.

This aspect is never, ever, ever mentioned or noted by lefty-euro-racist flakes, who delight in the chance to justify age-old antisemitism in new cloth.

Yeah, cause observing a pattern of land theft, state sponsered assination, occupation and a total disregard for UN Resolutions by a nuclear armed state makes you a lefty-euro-racist flake.

That utter hypocrisy -- managing to actually convince themselves that the underdogs are titanic giants who refuse peace -- makes one marvel at the power of human rationalization and imagination.

If Israel wasn't the single largest recipient of US foreign aid, maybe they would have found a way to cut a deal with the Palestinians, instead of building borders on other people's land and shifting borders as to expel Israelis Arabs out of Israel.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, cause observing a pattern of land theft, state sponsered assination, occupation and a total disregard for UN Resolutions by a nuclear armed state makes you a lefty-euro-racist flake.

That could charitably be described as an oversimplication.

The phenomenon of "Palestinian refugees" was deliberately created by the Arab states to use as bargaining leverage after their disastrous losses to Israel in the wars they either started or provoked. Over the last 40 years Palestinians have cynically been used as the poker chips of the region by any other concerned parties. Ironically, the country that was friendliest to them was Saddam's Iraq.

Nobody genuinely cares about their worthless land, which may be disfavorably compared to a blasted desert with no resources. The Israeli settlements outside the 1947 borders are mostly akin to Las Vegas trailer parks, and mostly built for similar reasons: some place to live that's cheap.

When you pit the poor against the poor, they fight tooth-and-nail every time. There are a number of ways the situation could be defused by RESPONSIBLE Arab states bordering Israel... assuming any such thing could be made to exist.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the support, Dr. Brin.
And a frightening thought... a group of desperate, angry, EDUCATED men out for revenge... instead of strapping 20lbs of explosives to themselves and blowing up a bus, they strap on 20lbs of *name of nasty contagious virus here* and contaminate every bus in the city with no one knowing about it for 2-3 days...

On the subject of computers, I shall remain silent... I know enough to know I don't know enough.

On the Isreal/Palistine thing... BOTH sides have acted as barbarians, and it won't end until both sides can stop shooting at each other (you first!).
I might be repeating myself, but imagine this...
3-400 Palastinians pick a major road in a major city during rush hour Monday morning, and sit in traffic. Just sit. Stay there until arrested or driven off. Have the video cameras there to capture the Isreali reaction.
On Tuesday, pick a different road and do it again.
No violence offered. No bombs. Just people in the way and video cameras.
Gahndi won Indian independence with less.
They can't outfight them, they can't outbarbarian them...
So out-civilize them. Make them look like barbarians...
It would work better than bombs, and lead to fewer retaliations.

gmknobl said...

For browsers - use firefox. There're no two ways about it, it is the best browser and, once you get use to tabbed browsing and add in your favorite extensions, you will never go back. Period.

You probably don't have the time but you really should try Linux and all the open source stuff you can do with that. And you won't have to let the Intel chips tell everyone where they are at even if you buy a motherboard with one. Get a friend who knows the stuff to set it up for you.

Lastly, there should be a way to tell you word processor to only select what you want without it automatically trying to select whole words. Usually it's a shift, ctrl (apple command key?) thing in combo with a right click. And of course, GET A >1 BUTTON MOUSE!

Anonymous said...

OK. Who brought up Israel/Palestine? There are very few subjects any of my peer-groups avoid, but that is one of them.

The problem is that there is almost no "right" left in the situation. And both sides are acting in self-defence - with both sides fearing to ease up the pressure. And the rallying cry has become "Remember the atrocity at [foo] which will excuse the atrocity we are about to commit".

The Jews and the Philistines (almost certainly the same people as the Palestinians) have been fighting over that land pretty much throughout the bible.

When you talk about driving people out of their homes, I notice that you do not go back and ask the Jews driven out of their homes in e.g. the 1929 Palestine riots. (I don't like what the Israelis are doing - but I would far rather be a Palestinian in Israel than a Jew in Palestine).

As for Plan Dalet, who attacked who? Who triggered the implementation of Plan Dalet? Which was the side that tried to drive the other out of the territory?

I would have called the Israelis stupid if they had not had a plan in place both to defend themselves and to try to win as much as they could from the war if they could. An army that doesn't plan for eventualities is just plain stupid.

As for Deir Yassin, you have two sides involved. One attacks the other in an attempt to completely drive them out - and the other is cast as the villains because they wipe out a village in a war. Right.

(This isn't to say that Deir Yassin wasn't a tragedy - and it isn't to say that it wasn't an act of evil. Simply that it is just as well that the other side didn't win because it would have made Deir Yassin look like a drop in the ocean).

As to why the Israeli refugees would be better treated than the Palestinian refugees, the answer is that there are a lot of wealthy and influential Jews outside Israel. Never mind the religious Jews, most of the secular ones would see their relatives being attacked, driven out, and massacred. Any sensible country would see a lot of highly able and educated refugees who could do things for the economy and who will work like beavers. And every single Jew would take the complete destruction of Israel as attempted genocide...

If the Palestinians had influential cousins in influential positions in almost every country of the Western (or even Arab) world, they might be treated as well. If they were as educated (rather than almost all the university educated Paalestinians being educated through Israeli universities), they might be treated as well...

Anonymous said...

While I agree with you, David, on a lot of topics, this post about your Macintosh woes left me shaking my head. For a modernist, you're certainly stuck in the past there...

Frankly, I wouldn't worry much about the Intel serial numbers, at least on a Mac. In Windows, be afraid. Be very afraid. But on a Mac, it's not a big issue. (And honestly, there are so many ways to get a unique hardware ID from modern computers, the processor is the least of your worries...) I'm sorry to see you used this (or the ability to run Mac OS 9 software) as a reason to stay back with a G5, because down the road a couple of years, you're going to have to go through all this headache again.

The other thing I have to say is - change is usually GOOD when it comes to computers. (At least in the Mac universe...) Yes, you get used to using product X, and therefore don't want to change it, but almost invariably, when you've switched to a much newer product Y and have gotten used to it, it's significantly better than what you used before. A whole lot of your problems have arisen because you clung to outdated hardware and software long past the time it needed to be replaced.

Your Laserwriter is a case in point. Yes, we had one of those (actually a series of them...), and swore by it for years, and bought an Appletalk/Ethernet bridge just so we could continue using it. But compared to the newer (relatively - it's 4 years old now...) HP laserprinter we have now, the LW was old, slow, clunky, and couldn't print anywhere near as well as our current printer, which has been just as rock solid, and is cheaper to maintain as well.

Give it time - you'll get used to it, and be better off than before. Oh, and stick with Safari -- I'll use Firefox on a PC, but Safari works better on a Mac, IMHO. (And has many of the same nice things people like about Firefox on the PC, like popup blocking and tabbed browsing, something I can no longer live without...)

BTW - I don't like full word selection either, but Apple's TextEdit application only does full word selection on a Double-click drag, not a single click-drag (which is character selection). Are you in the habit of starting a selection with double-click?

Anonymous said...

Missed you David! You never know how nice your the input you give here is until its gone.

@Simmons discussion: PLS guys, look into the Forum on his website. It isnt at all that clear what message he was trying to give and the fact that the message came online on April 1st should be... well, telling.
Btw, Davids essays are discussed there from time to time, I myself tend to mention them quite frequently, so it might very well have been Mr. Simmons read DAvids "Meme Wars".

Anonymous said...

"Which do you prefer: cats or dogs?"

Depends on how they're prepared.

Anonymous said...

Cats are better. Fried. With a dark beer.
Vegetables are good too.
Except for the wheelchair.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Brin,

Word *does* support click and drag select at the single character level.

The trick is to click once and drag forward (selecting entire words as you do so) then whithout releasing the mouse button drag *backwards* over your selection, *deselecting* at the character level. It may sound awkward, but I think you'll find out immediately on use that the technique is extremely easy to use. If you overshoot with the mouse as most of us do, you are likely already selecting past the point you want then backing up using your existing WP, so no new movements required really.


Anonymous said...

"Screwdriver shop" is a (possibly outdated?) term for shops that do component-level troubleshooting and parts replacement on PCs (e.g., motherboards, video cards, memory cards, etc.). They range from guys putting stuff together out of their garages, to larger companies that do that as a side-line to a related business (typically LAN/WAN setup or a smaller internet provider), and most of them will be happy to part together a decent PC for you, warrantied and of better quality than the "big box" brands.

Astonishingly, littler outfits like that still account for almost half of all computers sold in the US. People tend to like dealing with someone local on something that spendy and (depending what you do with it) unstable.

In my (smallish) town, you just look in the Yellow Pages under "Computer Dealers" or "Computer Repair".

Rob Perkins said... is an example of a "screwdriver shop". They'll build a system for you, but they won't install Windows. You go there, and the ceiling is unfinished, the parts stacked on shelves all along the walls, and the employees vary from monsterously immature to jaded and ascerbic. It's not an uncommon thing to see the display case monitors in the front of the store, every one of them, showing a Cartoon Network cartoon. From time to time you will see one of the employees sitting crosslegged on the counter watching the cartoon.

But the customers line up out the door every single day. You can get every conceivable high-volume part for a computer, and those geeky immature cartoon watching jaded teens and 20-something behind that counter know exactly what all of them do and which combinations of them to avoid or embrace, depending on your need. Just don't expect them to smile at you.

And, if you're not watching, an old dog named "Sega" will come up and sniff you, as you wait for the parts you ordered to be assembled in a bag.

I've built my last three work systems with ENU, and never once regretted it. One-year warranty on parts if you buy parts, or the same plus labor if they assembled the system.

Find a shop like *that* in San Diego, and keep them in business. And keep clear of Fry's, unless they employ just those sorts of people and keep the junk out of their product lines. (They don't, in either case!)

And whatever you do, never let your shadow cross the threshold of a CompUSA. Eeeeeeeeyuck.

Don Quijote said...

I might be repeating myself, but imagine this...
3-400 Palastinians pick a major road in a major city during rush hour Monday morning, and sit in traffic. Just sit. Stay there until arrested or driven off. Have the video cameras there to capture the Isreali reaction.
On Tuesday, pick a different road and do it again.
No violence offered. No bombs. Just people in the way and video cameras.

The people holding the Cameras better be Europeans with nice big Network Logos on the cameras.

A few days after the demonstrations, the leaders would be identified and if they are lucky arrested and thrown in jail and never seen again, if they are unlucky assasinated by the Israelis, and if they are truly unlucky the IDF will drop a few Jdams on the building in which they live.

There are a number of ways the situation could be defused by RESPONSIBLE Arab states bordering Israel... assuming any such thing could be made to exist.

Shock and Awe seems to be working out real well in Iraq.

And a frightening thought... a group of desperate, angry, EDUCATED men out for revenge... instead of strapping 20lbs of explosives to themselves and blowing up a bus, they strap on 20lbs of *name of nasty contagious virus here* and contaminate every bus in the city with no one knowing about it for 2-3 days...

A quick history of the car bomb,

Makes for fun reading...

Anonymous said...

As was said by someone much wiser than myself, "The Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity." If they were willing to settle for less than the destruction of Israel - or were willing to use force against those who weren't - then there would have been peace a long time ago. Nonviolent protests, in the style of Ghandi, would have worked, and worked wonders, as long as there weren't groups like Hamas trying to blow people up.

The current situation is a mess, though. Right now, it seems to me that the Hamas "government" can be tolerated/ignored as long as it continues to refrain from attacks on Israel. The best thing Israel can do, as far as I can tell, is separate itself from the Palestinian territories, unilaterally declare the permanent borders of a Palestinian state, and let them deal with their own internal chaos themselves.

By the way, anyone here ever read any of L.E. Modesitt's novels? Some of their themes seem to be related to what we discuss here.

Anonymous said...

"There are a number of ways the situation could be defused by RESPONSIBLE Arab states bordering Israel... assuming any such thing could be made to exist.

"Shock and Awe seems to be working out real well in Iraq."

For those amongst us who are sarcasm-challenged (I'm looking at you, Donkey Hodey), that was sarcasm.

Restated: Palestinians are a political football that everyone seems to want to keep in play for their own eventual benefit. Especially their Arab "friends" who do everything they can to keep Palestine from making any progress as a nation-state.

Anonymous said...

It would be interesting if Egypt would agree to annex the Gaza Strip and make the Palestinians there citizens of Egypt (and also to enforce some law and order). Too bad they don't want the burden of dealing with a bunch of loonies and a populace that doesn't care enough to use force against them. :P

Anonymous said...

Not looking to flame anyone or fuel the Israeli-Palestinian-Arab-European issue (and yes, it IS a 4-sided conflict, as more than half the trouble, action, resources and mess used and caused are done by the non-Palestinian Arab folk and the Europeans,):

So here goes, first of all, Don Quijote, Israelis don't exactly go and slay Palestinians as if they were cattle for the slaughter, and for the other side, neither do all Palestinians go and blow themselves up (or try) on Israeli citizens.
Palestine FORCES Israel to maintain military presense within Palestinian territory due to the massive support the Palestinian population provides to the terrorist groups there-proof enough would be the election of Hamas. Moreover, there have been many attempts to remove the military presense, EVERY SINGLE ONE of them resulting in riots and an increase in terrorist attacks on Israel, literally demanding that Israel go back into those territories to purge the terrorist infrastructure and protect itself.

To top that out, we have the surrounding arab countries; not a single one ever agreed to accept even a single Palestinian refugee into its borders, they attacked them, they massacred them, and often treated them far worse than the Israelis ever had. They hate them almost as badly as they hate Israel, and would gladly see them done away with.

Moreso, a great deal of the Palestinian economy relies on work within Israel, and a great many times Israel resumed allowing passage for Palestinians in and out of Israel for the purpose of work-Israel could have easily done otherwise, it would even have been justifiable.

As for West Bank settlements-not a Las Vegas desert town type, that area is a very rich small-hills type terrain, perfectly fit for agriculture. Neither side ever really agreed upon a border in that area, resulting in both sides trying to push the border farther away into the opposite side, Israel being stronger and having more success at it.

And Lastly, despite all the evil deeds, with out an Israel, most of the Palestinian population would return to the stone-ages. ALL electricity and hydro resources are provided BY ISRAEL, usually at cost prices and sometimes even at loss prices. If Israel just stopped providing resources, and closed its borders to Palestine, Palestine's fate would be that of a beseiged civilization completely dependent on outside resources, and so would wither away and die.

Both sides made terribly foolish mistakes, both sides often educate for hatred towards to opposite side.

As far as historical claims go, no relation can be trully made between the Palestinians and the Philistines, and neither can the jews really claim ownership of the land by right of their 2000+ years gone ancestors. The true claim Israel makes is by being there, existing, and refusing to go away. It is a fact that intends to stay.

A new issue in the conversation is the jewish education-it is the actual product of the way jews were treated. They were chased and violated often, resulting in a culture that could not, and would not take upon trades that would root it to its place, as every time they would be persecuted, they would lose all they owned when leaving. The logical solution would be to make their trade knowledge-education. So the jewish culture became that of a distinctly highly educated people, capable of making trade with knowledge.


Finally, I am an Israeli. I never liked violence, I never accepted a single political persona as my representative, I never will. The education in Israel is mostly devoid of hate-mongering content (to oppose that, the majority of muslim oriented education depicts Jewish and Israeli societies as evil, bad, nasty, ugly, immoral etc... -the very definition of hate-mongering.)


And finally², the REAL solution to most conflicts on this planet is education. An educated people appreciate life, want to live, and have a personal will driven by a well-based knowledge, resulting in individuals who act and do for their own good, with the full realization that "their own good" is inseparable of "everybody else's good" - because when you don't think and live for yourself, logic becomes negligible, as we've seen too many times already.

Mark Brown said...

Nissan Haramati said..
Thank you Nissan.

A few brief thoughts on this old thread.

The comments about "screwdriver shops" is true. Best way to buy/build/obtain a PC for you.

I customize them for people. I make sure people like you have a server in your house that will take ALL the machines you have, and back up the files so they'll be there if you have another outage.

Nissan(above this comment) did a pretty good job (I think) of rebutting don quijote's complaints.

And for a slightly chilling thought I present: an entry I presented back in march, entitled interesting interview...
in which I found an interesting conversation about Israel's STRATEGIC submarine fleet.

And DonQuijote...
Please note that Israel OR the palestinians DID NOT originate the two state solution. The UN actually did that in 1948 when they proposed a Jewish state, and a palestinian state.
Do you happen to know what happened to the land allotted to the palestinian state? Bet not?
The (then) Hashimite Kingdom of Jordan annexed the ENTIRE palestinian state in 1948. Right at the same time that EVERY arab nation declared "EXTERMINATE them too!" at the newly born state of ISRAEL.