Chaos Corner, V01, N05, 21 August 1991 News from the Soviet Union As this is being written

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

Skeptic Tank!

Chaos Corner, V01, N05, 21 August 1991 -------------------------------------------------- News from the Soviet Union As this is being written, our news watcher has informed Dr. Chaos that the coup in the Soviet Union has collapsed, and Gorby is coming back to Moscow. If you are interested in tracking current events on the follow-up, the newsgroups below are recommended (but not necessarily endorsed) by Dr. Chaos: soc.culture.soviet misc.headlines talk.politics.soviet Other lists like soc.culture.german and soc.culture.polish may also have opinions expressed (Dr. Chaos urges me not to leave out alt.conspiracy as a source of opinion but not necessarily information). -------------------------------------------------- Internet directory of services Scott Yanoff at the University of Wisconsin has posted a very interesting guide to "special" services that are available across the Internet. Because these services appeal so much to Dr. Chaos, we have decided to quote from Scott's list: -Cleveland Freenet telnet offers: USA Today Headline News -Geographic Name Server telnet 3000 offers: Info by city or area code (Pop, Lat./Long., Elevation, etc) -IRC Telnet Client telnet offers: Internet Relay Chat access -Library of Congress telnet offers: Online catalog (you can even look up musicians work!) -Lyric Server ftp offers: Lyrics in text file format for anonymous ftp downloading -NASA SpaceLink telnet offers: NASA news, including shuttle launches and satellite updates -NLS telnet offers: Network Library System -UNC BBS telnet (login: bbs) offers: Access to Library of Congress and nationwide libraries. -Weather Service telnet 3000 offers: Forecast for any city, current weather for any state, etc. -Webster telnet 2627 offers: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Spell checker. Type 'HELP' when online! * NOTE: No login names or passwords required unless stated * Dr. Chaos would like to take a little bit of space to thank the maintainers of the newsgroup comp.archives. They scan a number of the other newsgroups looking for articles that announce interesting software or information being available for FTP access and publish that information in comp.archives. The newsgroup was not active during the month of July and it has certainly made Dr. Chaos' job much easier to have it back again. Thanks guys! -------------------------------------------------- Inside CIt drops Chaos Corner from circulation! Chaos Corner is no longer being carried in the internal CIT newsletter Inside CIT. Their publication dates were too irregular to match any reasonably chaotic flow of information. If you enjoy this service, consider passing it along to a friend. Requests to be added to the direct distribution should go to Mailbag (Send cards and letters to -------------------------------------------------- Bits, bauds, and bps Gary Buhrmaster of Systems Programming Services in CIT is quite concerned that Dr. Chaos may have mislead you gentle readers in the last issue. Since he has been very concerned that your inquiring minds get the correct information, I will quote from the text of his letter to Dr. Chaos: I am sure you know the difference between bps (bits per second) and baud (the signal change rate per second). Your fingers must have been trembling after your RT encounter. In case it has become fuzzy, and because I know you want to provide correct information to your followers, perhaps you owe them a clarification. In fact, most of the 9600 bps modems actually transmit at 2400 baud. At each signal transition, four bits are represented in the new state. Four bits per transition at 2400 transitions per second and you get 9600 bps. I am sure you also know that V.32bis is a standard for transmission at 14,400 bps (not 9600 bps as you implied). My recollection from my days as an engineer was that 14,400 bps transmission was to use trellis encoding to reduce the number of errors in transmission (and actually transmits 5 bits per transition, resulting in a theoretical 19,200 bps, however the 'extra' bits are used by the correction scheme). I expect that is what V32bis eventually ended up 'standardizing'. For those of you with a thirst for what V.32/V.32bis/V.42/V.42bis really mean ... here is a summary of a summary written by Toby Nixon, a engineer for Hayes (the modem people) and a frequent contributor to the comp.dcom.modems newsgroup on Usenet: V.32 is the international standard for 4800 and 9600 bps modulation on dial-up and leased two-wire voice-grade circuits, both asynchronous and synchronous. It was first standardized in 1984. V.32bis was adopted in February of 1991. It is an upwardly- compatible extension of V.32 that supports 4800, 7200, 9600, 12000, and 14400 bps transmission on two-wire voice-grade circuits. It also supports fast rate renegotiation, so that the modems can shift speeds rapidly in response to changing line conditions (whereas V.32 modems must go through a lengthy complete retrain cycle). V.42 is the international standard for error control in modems. It defines two protocols: a primary protocol known as LAPM which is defined in the main body of the standard and is based on other internationally standardized protocols; and an alternative protocol defined in an Annex to the standard which provides for backward compatibility with MNP2-4 modems. V.42 was adopted in November, 1988. V.42bis is the international standard for data compression in modems. It uses Lempel-Ziv techniques to achieve up to 4-to-1 compression on text and other compressible files. Relationships: V.32bis is an upwardly compatible extension of V.32; they both define only a modulation scheme. V.42 error control can be used with either V.32 or V.32bis. V.42bis data compression is an extension of V.42 LAPM; support for V.42bis implies support for V.42. If that isn't more than you ever wanted to know about modems in a single sitting, then you'll do well on the mid-term exam (but Dr. Chaos claims you will have a real case of burn-out by the time of the final). -------------------------------------------------- X-Windows under DOS Dan Bartholomew of CIT's Research and Analysis Systems (aka SEX@CORNELLC) asks about packages for running X-Windows under DOS. Dr. Chaos points out that the August 12, 1991 issue of PC Week carried a review of just those products. Although you may have heard rumors that they are slow, the testers found the performance of the leading products to be acceptable on a 33Mhz machine. Dr Chaos has used only one of the products reviewed, and was relieved to see that the people at PC Week also had trouble getting it configured. -------------------------------------------------- boustrophedon Melinda Varian of Princeton provided the following REXX Exec from her CMS Pipelines presentation that is further proof of the value (?) of the boustrophedon: /* BOUSTRO REXX: Filter that writes records boustrophedon */ Signal On Error Do recno = 1 by 1 /* Do until EOF */ 'readto record' /* Read from pipe */ If recno // 2 = 0 /* If even-numbered */ Then record = Reverse(record) /* line, reverse */ 'output' record /* Write to pipe */ End Error: Exit RC*(RC<>12) /* RC = 0 if EOF */ -------------------------------------------------- Correction for Unix tar example Paul Zarnowski of Systems Programming Services in CIT gets the award for being awake (a cup of decaffinated coffee). The rest of you need to sit on a tack for a while ... not having seen the example in issue number 3 giving the example for un-tar-ing a file with the command "tar -xvt glarch.tar" when it clearly should be "tar -xvf glarch.tar". Congratulations to Paul (he just got back from vacation); and deepest regrets to the rest of you. Dr Chaos claims that the Unix programmer corollary to the injunction "Have fun!" is "A misleading error message is more fun than no error message at all!" Random and Self-Similar Things -------------------------------------------------- USGS Maps available on CD-ROM If you like maps, you must know that the U. S. Geological Survey is distributing their 1:2,000,000 scale maps on a CD-ROM. The last reported price was $20 for data on all 50 states organized into 21 regions. You need to have a PC with an EGA display and 512KB. For more information contact: Earth Science Information Center U.S. Geological Survey 507 National Center Reston, VA 22092 Telephone: 703+648-6045 or 1+800+USA-MAPS (872-6277) -------------------------------------------------- CD-ROM on Novell networks Micro Design International has announced that they have the first CD-ROM drive certified for Novell networks. If you are interested. try contacting: Micro Design International, Inc. 6985 University Boulevard Winter Park, FL 32792 Phone: (407) 677-8333 Fax: (407) 677-8365 -------------------------------------------------- More Pi than you can possibly eat Do any of you have a passion for sweets? If so, you can satisfy them at site where in the info/general directory they have the file pi.dat containing more than 1.25 MILLION digits of pi. Dr Chaos suggests that you try plotting them to determine if you can discern a pattern. Good luck! -------------------------------------------------- Kaos (the real thing) On the local front, Dr. Chaos reports on a program called Kaos (for sunview) written by Swan Kim and John Guckenheimer at Cornell to investigate dynamical systems. Look for the files kaos_4.1.tar.Z and kaos_users_manual on in the /pub directory. Dr. Chaos has a report that an X- windows version of the program will be available soon in the same place. Does anyone have more detailed (or accurate) information? -------------------------------------------------- Scientist's WorkBench The Scientist's WorkBench project at the Cornell Theory Center is winding up their -pre-beta testing (is that like alpha-plus?) and plan to have the beta version available on September 15, 1991. If you haven't heard of SWB, it is an X-based application combining "tools to enhance the development, testing, and execution of scientific codes." Binaries are available for IBM RS/6000 and SPARC workstations on in the pub/swb directory. Dr. Chaos suggests reading the file README.TOP for more information. -------------------------------------------------- ISIS For those of you interested in the ISIS distributed system developed in the Cornell Computer Science Department, it is still available on (look for ISISV21.TAR.Z). There are some patches/bug reports that are also available in that location. Ken Birman reports that version is no longer supported at Cornell because they are all using the commercial version (ISIS V3.0.2) from ISIS Distributed Systems Inc. There may be another free version (V2.2) but it will take 6-8 weeks of time and as yet there is no estimated release date. -------------------------------------------------- Security and good passwords For those Systems Administrators that want to keep up on security by making sure your users have not chosen easy-to-guess passwords, crack 3.1 is currently available from in the /packages directory under the name crack3.1.tar.Z. Dr. Chaos claims that a newer version "that can take apart systems in just a few minutes" is being worked on and will be available "real soon now." -------------------------------------------------- Programming contest Once again this fall, Duke University will be sponsoring a Internet Programming Contest and is soliciting problems to use in the contest. The problems should be solvable in C or Pascal in less than 4 hours and the preference is for the "algorithmically challenging" type (as opposed to coding long tables, etc.). Send potential problems to More information about the contest itself will be available at a later date. -------------------------------------------------- Startrek For those Startrek fans among you, Dr. Chaos reports the availability of the Lists of Lists for both versions of the show are available at in the pub/strek directory -- look for tos_lists and tng_lists. A summery of each show is included along with original air dates, episodes in which Picard violated the Prime Directive, and mistakes/inconsistencies that people have caught. Similar information is available for the Simpson's in the pub/simpsons directory. -------------------------------------------------- Weather GIFs Dr. Chaos was excited to see a posting on19Aug claiming that there were some nice gif images from the weather satellite showing hurricane Bob. The bad news is that they are stored on a computer at the University of Rhode Island -- and they haven't been on the network since some time on that day (attempts to reach still get the "network is unreachable" message). All is not lost, Dr. Chaos manages to get a satellite image from (in the phil.515 directory) that shows Hurricane Bob approximately centered over Rhode Island. Look on (our Unix home-away-from-home) in the /pub/gif directory for the file ts-bob.gif. -------------------------------------------------- PC Fractal software On the PC front, the popular fractal generating program FRACTINT is now at version 16.11 and is available at in the /mirrors/msdos/graphics directory under the name of ( for the source). -------------------------------------------------- PC computers and keeping the right date If you have noticed that leaving your PC on overnight means that the date doesn't get updated at midnight, here is just the program for you. On a periodic basis, CLOCKDEV reads the battery-backed clock chip to verify that the DOS date/time agree with it. Dr. Chaos has installed this program on puffin and found it worked like a charm ... the date is now correct when he arrives in the morning. Look for file on in the /mirrors/msdos/sysutl directory. -------------------------------------------------- OS/2 beta test Since Dr. Chaos has received an early evaluation copy of OS/2 2.0, he has gotten interested in archives of OS/2 software. The most promising appears to be mims- (in the os2/* directories). He promises more info later after he has a chance to investigate further. -------------------------------------------------- Hex, octal, ascii comversion tables Tired of looking up the hex/octal/decimal values for various ascii characters? Xascii is a small application that displays those values for the whole ascii character set and is available from Get the file xascii.tar.Z from the /pub directory. For Windows 3.0 users, Dr. Chaos recommends ACHART from in the mirrors/msdos/windows3 directory stored as -------------------------------------------------- CPU utilization under Windows Speaking of Windows 3.0 software... there is an updated version of the Performance Meter utility (it shows a moving graph of you CPU utilization) that uses the keep-in-front option. Look for on in the /pub/pc/win3/util directory. -------------------------------------------------- Windows and win32 At a Windows 3 conference last week, Microsoft distributed a white paper detailing the Windows 32-bit API and products that would contain it. A compressed PostScript file containing the paper is on in the /vendor/microsoft/isv-communications directory. Look for file (or ntwn32.txt for text-only). Dr. Chaos reports that he also found in the same directory the file which appears to be a compressed form of an application to beta-test Microsoft Windows 3.1. (I can hear the keys clicking away even as I write this.) -------------------------------------------------- Jargon and TLA Confused by all the jargon in this business? Do you find that the person next door to you speaks a different set of TLAs than you do? A new, updated version of the Jargon File is available from in the pub/jargon directory (look for jargon296.ascii or, for the compressed version, jargon296.ascii.Z). Out of space and mostly out of time for this issue. Please keep those electronic cards and letters coming in ... remember! Dr. Chaos (rdc) at -- we all thank you! Dr. Chaos (I have a Masters Degree)


E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank