Chaos Corner V01N07 30Oct91 Chaos Corner thoughts Chaos Corner returns! Back from Californ

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

Skeptic Tank!

Chaos Corner V01N07 30Oct91 -------------------------------------------------- Chaos Corner thoughts Chaos Corner returns! Back from California, newly married, and having gotten a passing grade on the first exam in German, we are going to try changing the format a little bit. Dr. Chaos was having trouble getting together the "perfect newsletter" (especially one that was 4-6 pages long), and we learned that readers were also having trouble digesting information in that large a chunk. Therefore, we will experiment with producing the information in smaller chunks and in a bit more timely fashion than we have been in recent weeks. -------------------------------------------------- German - Samstag and Sonnabend The results of the great German survey are now in (thank you Walter)... the word used for "Saturday" is "Sonnabend" in the North and "Samstag" in the South. Unless you happen to go very far south (and east) and end up in Vienna. We guess that Saturday being considered as "Sunday Eve" in German goes a long way towards explaining why in English (which has a great deal in common with German) Christmas Eve is December 24th and not the evening of December 25th (the same thing applies to "All Hallows Eve"that is coming up on October 31 ... just before All Saints Day on November 1). Seemingly Random and Similar Things -------------------------------------------------- Macintosh stuff Let's get the Macintosh stuff out of the way first. The archive at the University of Michigan continues to grow. You can signup as a frequent FTPer, and while you don't get credited with miles, you do get put on the mailing list for recent additions to the archives. Send mail to to get added to the list. Recent additions include a number of After Dark screensavers (including one that powers your Mac off after a certain interval); also, an application that creates yellow PostIt notes on your screen and allows you to cut and paste from them. -------------------------------------------------- Macintosh and MacAstro Dr. Chaos has heard of a shareware program for the Mac that allows the display of the sky, even on cloudy nights. Included are the planets, Sun, Moon, and 2500 brightest objects (not on the display all at once). Has anyone tried this program? It is available (shareware) from sumex- in /info-mac/app/mac-astro-15.hqx and we would be interested in any reactions people have about it. -------------------------------------------------- Shoebox (for storing notes) An interesting textual database management program has come to the attention of Dr. Chaos -- in the linguistics subdirectory of the wuarchive of the simtel20 mirror (that means it's in /mirrors/msdos/linguistics on the machine named is file named that when decompressed yields the program SHOEBOX. SHOEBOX has various features and we quote: + A text editor for the entry and editing of data, + The ability to conduct very rapid searches; any data record can be accessed nearly instantaneously for editing or review, + A rigorous select option that allows the user to view only those records that conform to certain criteria, + The ability to specify a special sort ordering, taking into account groupings of digraphs and characters from the IMB extended character set, + A flash card function to aid in language learning, + Functions to number and interlinearize text. Sounds like it may not be fancy but it may be useful for dealing with textual information (better than putting index cards into a shoebox, right?). Dr. Chaos hopes to use the flashcard feature to learn the strong and irregular verbs in German. -------------------------------------------------- Frequently Asked Questions -- where to get the answers If you have read any of the Usenet newsgroups for any length of time, you know there are certain questions that come up over and over again. Some of the newsgroups organize a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and their answers and post them to the network on some regular basis. These FAQs are also collected and available via anonymous FTP from in the usenet directory. Look for postings either under the name of the newsgroup you are interested in, or under news.answers. -------------------------------------------------- Word for Windows (W4W) upgrade to 2.0 Microsoft is currently taking telephone orders for the Word for Windows 2.0 upgrade that is expected to ship just before the end of November. Once you get an operator, the process is pretty painless. Dr. Chaos found that the regular 800 number was always busy, but the educational 800 number allowed you to eventually get to the same people (if only the Cornell telephones had a re-dial feature like the telephone we got from Radio Shack). Version 2.0 is supposed to really take advantage of Windows 3.0 (the previous version had to run with older Windows versions). -------------------------------------------------- comp.unix.aix available in digest form via mail The comp.unix.aix newsgroup is now available in digest form over BITNET. About twice a day, collected articles from comp.unix.aix are redistributed in digest form. To subscribe: send mail to and in the body of the file place the line: sub aixnews your-firstname your-lastname While you can t post items directly to AIXNEWS, you can send items to for forwarding to the usenet group. -------------------------------------------------- Hockey discussion List Now that the World Series is over, and the morning temperature is below 0 (C), it is time to turn attention to the next season s sport Hockey! If you have considered joining the college hockey discussion list but considered that it would be too many mail files, consider subscribing to the newly created list HOCKEY-D. It contains all the information in HOCKEY-L but clumped together in digest form. To subscribe, send mail to with the following line in the body of the file: sub hockey-d your-firstname your-lastname -------------------------------------------------- PC software for dealing with images (GIF and other formats) Getting around to pictures and images, Cornell s own Homer Smith has recommended the GIF (and other format) viewer Graphic WorkShop (GWS). The program is on in /mirrors/msdos/graphics in a file named It allows on to zoom in on a particular part of a picture, a feature that Homer finds very desireable. -------------------------------------------------- JPEG information There are discussions flaming in a number of the picture-oriented newsgroups about the Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPEG) algorithm for compressing images. There have been several informative postings and a lot of uninformed panic. The summary seems to be that JPEG is "lossy" (meaning that some information is lost in the compression process). The JPEG compression of gray-scale or full-color images is usually much smaller than many currently popular forms of compression. However, JPEG does not perform well when the image contains many sharp boundaries (e. g., scanned images of text). JPEG is only a compression standard, not a file format standard. The file format that seems to be gaining some popularity is called JFIF (JPEG File Interchange Format). A standard for JPEG in a TIFF format file is being worked on, but Dr. Chaos thinks it will be some time before anything results from that effort. DOS users can experiment with JPEG files (they usually have a file extension of .jpe) if they get a program called alchemy -- get from the /mirrors/msdos/graphics directory on Unix users should get jpegsrc.v1.tar.Z from the /graphics/jpeg directory on By the way, Apple is using a slightly modified (of course) version of JFIF for their recently announced QuickTime software. -------------------------------------------------- GIF image of Oakland fire area available (and other things) A few more pictures that are available: a GIF image of the map of the area damaged by the file in Oakland is available from in /pub/firemap.gif; two CDROMs of pictures taken by the Magellan space probe are mounted at and are accessible in /pub/SPACE/CDROM and /pub/SPACE/CDROM2. There are a total of 6 volumes that are rotated onto the two drives on some basis; an image of hurricane Grace made last Sunday is named oct27_01.gif in directory fna101.195 on machine -------------------------------------------------- Aurora If you weren't outside looking to the north on the evening of October 28/29 before moonrise, then you missed the most visible aurora display in the last while. Brian T. Carcich, at Cornell, reported on the WX- TALK list that he was able to observe the aurora from his home in Groton at about 2200 hours EST. Dr Chaos is more than a little annoyed that I didn't take him to see the display. Just when we thought about trying to catch the display this past evening, the storm ended and the auroral activity warning was downgraded to a watch. Maybe next time we'll be better prepared. Dr. Chaos really enjoys the aurora information that has recently been added to the WX-TALK list. -------------------------------------------------- Kermit For those interested in Kermit (not the frog), the current version of C- Kermit 5A can be found as the obviously named file cku173.tar.Z in the /kermit/sw directory on There are LOTS of very nice new features in this version of Kermit so if you haven't picked up a recent distribution of Kermit for your Unix system, you might want to take a look at it. -------------------------------------------------- ELM mailer on RS/6000 Lou Montulli at the University of Kansas has been having trouble bring up the ELM mailer on his RS/6000; but now reports that if one adds the -U_STR_ and -lcur switches and get rid of -ltermcap, then ELM will not only work, it will use the more complete Terminfo library (rather than Termcap). He also points out that if you do use Termcap, you can get an updated, expanded version of the file from the wuarchive in the unix directory. -------------------------------------------------- OS/2 beta testing continues Dr. Chaos now has the 6.605 level distribution of OS/2 Release 2.0. Since the old version was level 6.147 and the discussion groups are talking about level 6.169 just becoming available; we're very confused about IBM's numbering systems. (IBM SE Extraordinaire Charlie Hill is working on the problem.) In any case, anyone at Cornell who has a 386 (or better) system and would like to test drive OS/2 2.0 should give Dr. Chaos' OS/2 tester a call at 5-7572. Only 8 more copies allowed and they are going fast. Before you get your hopes up, the Workplace Shell is not available yet. -------------------------------------------------- Fixes 4, 5, and 6 for X11R5 Last but not least, fixes number 4, 5, and 6 to the X11R5 distribution are now available from your favorite X11R5 distribution point. Dr. Chaos seems to recall that 6 fixes was the magic number before Scott Brim was interested in looking at the new code ... is that right Scott? Well it didn't get all that much shorter this time ... it would help if Dr Chaos would stop shoving interesting items under my nose, but it never seems to stop. Read! Dr. Chaos (I have a masters degree)


E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank