Chaos Corner V01 N04 07August91 AIX 2, PC-RT, NetNews It has been a VERY busy two weeks he

Master Index Current Directory Index Go to SkepticTank Go to Human Rights activist Keith Henson Go to Scientology cult

Skeptic Tank!

Chaos Corner V01 N04 07August91 -------------------------------------------------- AIX 2, PC-RT, NetNews It has been a VERY busy two weeks here in Chaos Corner. For some unknown reason, Dr Chaos decided to attempt a network-load of a BSD Unix operating system onto an IBM RT. One week later, with many phone calls to Paul Schwartz and Gary Kakazu in the Theory Center and the job was basicly complete. Dr. Chaos would have mentioned the invaluable assistance he received from Gary Buhrmaster of CIT Systems Programming Services, except that Gary already extracted full repayment in terms of the abuse he gave Dr. Chaos during the process. Sometime when you have some spare moments, ask Dr. Chaos about the "ifconfig" command that displays the current value of a parameter in one format, but only accepts a new value specified in a different format. Ask him how many times he updated the items on the install menu (for a program that can't remember the changed values from one time to the next). Ask him about the keyboard that was locked and wouldn't function until the key on the front of the machine was locked and then unlocked. Ask him about what it's like to have the system finally boot and then realize that you only know the password to an unprivileged userid and the system won't let you login as "root" to complete the configuration. Ask him how, with a bootable diskette and physical access to the machine, Gary B. and Dr. Chaos were able to crack the system and login with root privileges. Finally, when it appeared that success was at hand; Dr. Chaos, with trembling fingers entered "cd /usr/games" .... and discovered that the directory was empty! Aaaarrrggghhh! -------------------------------------------------- OS/2 beta test All in all, the experience of the networked installation of Unix on the RT made the installation of OS/2 2.0 on a PS/2 seem trivial. Partition the disks; let the installer load the contents of 6 floppies; and there you are. Ahhhhh .... Solitaire! Reversi! Tetris! The big question now is why OS/2 on penguin doesn't accept the same file for wallpaper used by puffin with DOS/Windows? The online HELP didn't. It looks like it must be time to hit the OS/2 Forum on CompuServe. One neat program is called Pulse ... it opens a small window that gives a recent history graph of the CPU utilization. It sometimes doesn't take much to amuse Dr. Chaos. A program similar to Pulse that runs under Windows 3.0 is available in in the /pub/pc/win3/util directory in a file named (Of course, all these programs are based on the Unix "xload" utility.) -------------------------------------------------- High speed modems Dr. Chaos did do some real work during the past two weeks. He bravely volunteered to test some new 9600 baud (V.42, V.42bis, V.32, V.32bis) modem hardware. I tried to tell him to read the manual first, but he grew impatient after a day (and I wasn't making much progress on the manual), so he hooked it up and just tried it. It was beautiful! It was fast! It worked! Before you get too excited, I have to remind you that Dr. Chaos was using this modem with a PC-AT Model 339, so it was a nonstandard setup and the grellins must have been asleep. When Tester- Tom testily tried the modem with his Mac, the communications gremlins had recovered. The modem would not connect to its partner at the other end (that's what we all expected, right?). -------------------------------------------------- Network install of AIX 2 One final comment on the network-install of BSD Unix. A second RT was loaded and configured across the network in a single afternoon. Like many things, its not IMPOSSIBLE to do quickly, it's just very difficult to do without already having done it before. The best policy appears to be to make as many mistakes as possible the first time, 'cause it makes things go easier after that. Dr Chaos figures that all of you oldest children out there know what it is like to be the prototype on whom your parents concentrated their child-rearing mistakes. In any case, say hello to click and clack (the RT brothers) and penguin -- the newest additions to Chaos Corner. Mailbag -------------------------------------------------- BinHex -- unconfused (?) In the last issue, we reported some information from Tom Young about the confusion between BinHex versions 4 and 5. Tom also related that there are some helpful utilities written for (gasp!) CMS available from Brown University. BINHEX allows you to verify the integrity and check the contents of MacBinary (BIN, BinHex 5.0) and HQX (BinHex 4.0) files before downloading to a Macintosh. BINHEX can also convert files between the two formats. Assembler source for the BINHEX program is in the file binhex-vm-cms-files.txt at in the mirrors/info-mac/utils directory. -------------------------------------------------- StuffIt! Bob Blackman points out (relative to the comments about StuffIt! being a standard) that since StuffIt! has turned into a commercial product (StuffIt Deluxe), there is a new "standard" called Compactor. It seems that Compactor generates files with a ".cpt" extension, stuffs them into files with a ".sit" extension for subsequent processing by BinHex. Compactor also has a facility for creating "self-extracting archives" (with an extension of ".sea", of course). Look for Compactor on wuarchive. -------------------------------------------------- GIFconvertor (for the Mac) correction CORRECTION! RETRACTION! ERROR! In the last issue we made the mistake of maligning GIFconvertor by saying that it did not seem to get along with Mac System 7.0. It seems that tested version retrieved from wuarchive was 2.2.6 and the current version (supporting System 7.0) is 2.2.8 (also on wuarchive). Anyway, it works fine and uses less memory than Giffer. -------------------------------------------------- The mystery of files ending with ".Z" Tom Bruce at the Cornell Law School asked Dr Chaos if he knew of PC utilities that could deal with the Unix-processed files ending in ".tar" and ".Z"? The "standard" uncompress utility (to deal with ".Z" files) is in on wuarchive in the mirrors/msdos/sq-usq directory. Similarly, is also available from wuarchive to handle the ".tar" format files in the /mirrors/msdos/fileutl directory. -------------------------------------------------- Installing the Windows 3.0a update (again) Gerhard. Dear Gerhard Rentschuler at the University of Stuttgart. Gerhard actually questioned the correctness of the modified and updated version of the instructions for installing the Windows 3.0a update! In the end, he did agree with Dr. Chaos (don't we all?) and claimed that it took a whole hour to get his first UAE with the new version of Windows. As an interesting sidelight, the original version of Windows was in German; the update was in English. The language that appears in any given menu or popup is now unpredictable. Gerhard claims that it keeps him flexible. Just thinking about it certainly makes Dr. Chaos go 'round the bend. Random and Self Similar Things -------------------------------------------------- WUARCHIVE statistics Dr. Chaos received some interesting statistics on what it is like to be a major archive site. The Washington University archive in St. Louis ( published their statistics for the month of July, showing that there was an average of nearly 2,000 MB and 20,000 files transfered EACH DAY! Interestingly, two collections, /mirrors/msdos (the Simtel20 mirror for PC software), and graphics/gif account for 75% of the files and nearly 70% of the data. One additional morsel is that Simtel20 ( now has an interface to NSFNET through WESTNET -- it seems that some people were getting upset about the gateways between Milnet and NSFNET being clogged with Simtel's file transfer traffic. It's not often that you see a DECSystem 20 being "better connected" as opposed to "unconnected" these days! -------------------------------------------------- Stopping the keyclick in AIX 3 As an example of the international nature of the networks, someone from Australia posted a query to the comp.unix.aix Usenet newsgroup, asking the important question (for IBM RS/6000 users), how do you get the keyboard to stop making the electronic click that is makes by default. Answers came in from Heidelberg, Germany (a member of the Heidelberg Red Barons Ultimate Frisbee Team); Boston, MA; Yorktown Heights, NY; Palo Alto, CA. Finally Andreas Siegert from the AIX Field Support Center for IBM Deutschland in Munich (Muenchen), Germany responded with the ultimate sledgehammer (it was quite apparent that getting the keyboard to be less noisy on the RS/6000 was an issue that many people could identify with). The instructions were to first issue the command: chdev -l siokb0 -a click=0 -P (this tells the ODM that you do not want it). Then edit /usr/bin/xinit and add the -c 0 option to all invocations of X. Reboot the machine and everything is quiet. (have fun) P.S.: If you want a fast keyboard permanently, before you reboot, use chdev -l siokb0 -a typmatic_rate=30 -P -------------------------------------------------- AIX fix available Also on the AIX front, Mark Whetzel reported in comp.unix.aix a happy ending to a problem that he originally reported to IBM in January. It seems that there is a simple error that any user of an RS/6000 can make and it will require the system be rebooted. In April, IBM closed the problem, saying, in effect, "Don't make that mistake!" After Mark complained on the network about the closing, IBM reopened the problem, developed code that Mark has tested, and he reports that the problem is now fixed! General availability of the fix will occur with the 2007 update tape, but if you want it in advance, call the IBM support center and ask for apar IX19117. Dr Chaos wonders how long it will take Rick Cochran (Cornell Materials Science Center) to obtain and apply that fix -- probably not before he gets back from vacation! -------------------------------------------------- AIX archive sites Charlie S. Lindahl from the University of Texas posted the responses he received to an earlier query on comp.unix.aix about archive sites for AIX software. The sites he has checked out are: pub/rs6000 pub pub/aix/RS6000 pub/ibm_rs6000 pub/xntp pub/aix -------------------------------------------------- Fortune Cookie anyone? Dr. Chaos has discovered availability of a new twist in Fortune Cookie programs. QT-QUOTE has the ability to select quotes from its database (it comes with over 4000 quotes) based on subject, in addition to the standard random selection. Look for QT201.ZIP at in the mirrors/msdos/txtutl directory. -------------------------------------------------- Blue Ninja on Compuserve A recent media event that you probably didn't miss, but just in case you did, was the open discussion of OS/2 Release 2.0 that Lee Reiswig (aka Blue Ninja) had with developers on CompuServe. A full transcript is available in ninja.compuserve.transcript at in the /pub directory. -------------------------------------------------- Cold winter forecast due to volcano and oil fires Enjoying the cooler August weather in the Eastern USA after the hot weather in the earlier? Dr. Chaos points out that the time for enjoying it is now ... the EcoDigest reports that Adam Trombly of the Aspen Institute for Advanced Studies and a member of a team just returning from Kuwait, predicts that the combination of smoke from the oil fires and the effluent from recent volcanic eruptions will produce a very cold and violent winter in the Northern hemisphere this year. Buy your snowshovels early and often! -------------------------------------------------- The 1991 hurricane season The prediction from William Gray (Colorado St. University) on the WX- TALK list (on BITNET) is that the 1991 hurricane season should be below average with 3 hurricanes and 7 named storms. This prediction is based upon indicators such as the directions of the high altitude winds above the equator and the presence or absence of El Nino (warm water in the Eastern tropical Pacific Ocean). Dr. Chaos recognizes that many of you plan August vacations in Florida, so he wants to set your mind at ease. -------------------------------------------------- Tornado videos Speaking of severe weather, those of you who are fascinated with tornados can order a videotape containing what is supposed to be great footage of a number of tornados (including the Wichita freeway underpass pictures from several months ago). Name of the video is "Tornado Warning II." The cost is $29.95 plus $3.90 S/H. The address is: Weatherstock PO Box 44124 Tuscon AZ 85733 -------------------------------------------------- Sun software on CD-ROM (applications) Users of Sun workstations (RISC ones) that also have a CR-ROM player may be interested in a new offering. A company named RAD has released a CD- ROM containing software for 30 popular applications. You can use the software for free (except the save and print functions are disabled). When you decide to buy a package, all you have to do is call an 800- number to get the password that enables the missing functions. Dr, Chaos points out that during the course of the telephone call you will likely be asked to provide some "coin of the realm" in exchange for the password. Neither the cost of the disk nor the cost of the software (relative to other delivery mechanisms) are mentioned in the press release, but you should expect to see more software delivered in this fashion as CD-ROMs become widespread. -------------------------------------------------- SPARC implementation of Macintosh Another bonus for Sun users with Mac envy. This fall, Xcelerated Systems in San Diego will be bringing out a SPARC implementation of an all software emulation of a Macintosh. (Dr. Chaos asks, "Will the lawyers from Apple arrive before or after the product ships?") -------------------------------------------------- Practical Unix Security Mark Bodenstein sent around an interesting book review (Dr. Chaos points out that the book looked interesting too). The review appeared to be written by Clifford Stoll (The Cuckoo's Egg) and concerned a new O'Reilly & Associates book titled _Practical Unix Security_, by Simson Garfinkel & Gene Spafford (ISBN 0-937175-72-2). If you're managing a Unix system, get this book. You'll learn much more than just how to secure your system. Garf and Spaf walk you through networks, file systems, and Unix internals, a tour customized for finding security weakness. Previous Unix security books were aimed at stand alone systems; this is the first that discusses Unix security in a networked environment. It sounds like a good buy ... have any of you seen a copy? Dr Chaos wonders at the fact that it takes 500 pages to explain how to get a "secure" Unix system? a -------------------------------------------------- Unix C Shell book In the category of recommended books, especially for beginners in Unix, Dr. Chaos found several people who liked _The UNIX C Shell Field Guide_ by Gail and Paul Anderson. (Prentice-Hall, ISBN 0-13-937468-X) -------------------------------------------------- boustrophedon So, you've read this far through a lot of drivel and you're still wondering what you have to show for it? CRASH! BOOM! Here is what you have been waiting for! One simple word that will wow your friends and force your enemies to their knees --- especially if you are among that select group of people having *boustrophedonic* devices! What? You don't know what it means? Boustrophedonic comes from old *Greek* words for "cow" (bous) and "turn" or "plow" (the rest of it) - describing the way a farmer with an ox-drawn plow moves across the field. -------------------------------------------------- Hubble Space Telescope For those of you waiting breathlessly for further word on the Hubble Space Telescope (HST), wait no longer. Current reports on HST can be found on in the stsci/hst_news/ directory. These include number and types of observations made along with discussions and comments about problems. -------------------------------------------------- TLA --- the limit to jargon When you are confused; when you feel like there is no hope; just remember that there are only 17,576 three letter acronyms (TLAs). Dr. Chaos (I have a masters degree)


E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank