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FRANK'S FALLACIES, FACTS, AND FICTION

Frank's Fallacies, Facts, and Fiction
(August 1995)

Once a month, about 2 weeks before the monthly LANET meeting, 
I get a friendly e-mail message from the editor of this rag to
remind me that I am welcome to send her my latest diatribe
on the strange world of DOS, Windows, Netware and Unix. When 
reminded thusly, I log into a PC on a Netware LAN and combine 
various e-mail messages that I have sent to myself with the
e-mail and fax messages that have been sent to me by various 
LANET members, and voila! an article shows up on the the mapped
S:  drive.  Sending e-mail to oneself is better than talking 
to oneself, but I prefer the read the messages that 
various LANET members have been sending to me to the ones that I send 
to myself.

If you feel the urge to bend my ear over something, please 
contact me by any of the following means:

1) e-mail at:                  fchao@cerfnet.com
2) fax at:                     1-800-316-8206
3) "snail mail" at:            P.O. Box 2548 
                               El Segundo, CA 90245-2548
4) beeper with voice mail at:  1-800-756-1808

We greatly appreciate the messages that we have been getting from
various LANET members and will protect the anonymity of those 
who correspond with us.


FACTS ??

"Network Trade Center" in Utah (801-572-8200) continues to have
the lowest prices for Netware 3.12 and 4.1 that I can find.
During the past 2 months, they apparently expanded their 
advertising campaign to virtually every trade rag that I read.
I cannot find a major trade rag that does not have their ad, so 
they must be doing well. All of their competitors continue to be 
100 to 200 dollars more expensive that them. Let me know  if 
you find anyone that comes below their fabulous subterranean 
prices of:

$495 for 5-user Netware 3.12 or 4.1
$1075 for 10-user Netware 3.12 or 4.1 

Several distributors continue to advertise and sell "Netware 
Lite." As stated in a previous article, I remain steadfastly 
loyal to this stellar product and purchased an additional 
copy for my home in the current month. I plan to purchase 
still another copy in the upcoming month. My attempts to 
run "Personal Netware" continue give me grief in spite of 
about 6 months of serious trial and error. Each attempt to 
use it results in a desire to scream and throw things. 
However, Novell is continuing on it's campaign to turn up 
the heat on "Netware Lite" users: After purchasing my 
latest copy of "Lite", I mailed the registration card to 
Novell but the darn thing was returned by the U.S. "Snail Mail" 
system with "Box Closed, No Forwarding Address, Return to 
Sender" stamped on it. As stated in previous articles, the 
major proponents of "Personal Netware" continue to be network 
administrators who sing the praises of its AUTO.VLM and it's 
ability to automatically re-establish client connections as 
various "servers" go up and down. I am glad that somebody likes 
it. For me, it is too buggy and too much of a RAM hog for prime 
time. In fact, several CNE's, all of whom refused to let me use 
their names for fear of retribution, have confided to me that 
they are telling their customers to use Artisoft's "Lantastic" 
instead of "Personal Netware", whenever a choice is available. 
I have not been able to gain personal access to a live 
"Lantastic" installation. If any LANET members have anything to 
say about it, drop me a line. Your anonymity is assured. 

FALLACIES ??

During the month, a senior engineer at Rockwell Space 
Division told me that he refuses to buy a computer of any sort 
for his home. After giving myself time to recover from the 
shock of hearing such a blasphemous statement, I asked this 
gentleman how he came to have this point of view. He stated to 
me that it was not worth owning something that once procured 
would become obsolete in a year or two. As you all well know by 
now, I do not agree with his point of view, I have put my money 
where my mouth is by enlisting the aid of a few bankers so that 
I can have the pleasure of having a few of the darn things at 
my place of residence. For me and an ever-expanding horde of 
people, in spite of rapid obsolescence and other pitfalls, 
having a computer at home is a crucial part of the way of
conducting personal business efficiently. Also, just because  
something becomes obsolete does not mean that, in its heyday, 
it has not massively enriched one's life. Finally, computer 
obsolesce is evolutionary, not revolutionary: When a piece of 
computer hardware becomes obsolete, I relegate it to a less 
critical function. When a piece of computer software becomes 
obsolete, I order an upgrade for it. For example, my obsolete 
PC/XT is now relegated to the function of file storage and 
modem testing. With the exception of a couple of 360k floppy 
disk drives and a couple of "dead" Seagate ST238R hard drives, 
every piece of computer hardware that I have purchased for my 
home in the past 3 years is still in use today--doing some 
function on my home network. On the software side of the issue, 
many of the software commands that I learned 10 years ago are 
still the same and every version of "DOS", "Paradox", "Netware", 
"Unix", and "Wordperfect" has taught me commands, skills, and 
concepts that I then used on the next one so software 
obsolescence is a gradual and evolutionary process. Each 
version of software is my stepping stone to the next later and 
greater one. To me, at least, "rapid obsolescence" does not 
mean "useless".  


FICTION  ??

It is generally thought by various users of on-line services that 
file attachments can be shipped between the various "Big Boards" 
like Compuserve and America Online. I decide to elevate this notion
from a rating of "fallacy" up the that of "fiction". Nothing could 
be further from the truth. One of the biggest pains in the you know 
where in the e-mail world is the fact that neither (America Online) 
AOL or Compuserve has MIME (Multipurpose Internet Mail Extension)-
compliance for their file attachment features. Neither service 
bothers to explain these facts of life to their members. As a 
result, the users of these on-line services tend to send meaningless  
files of gibberish to each other and to e-mail addresses of Internet 
account holders. So let me state it once and for all:

If you use AOL mail, you can send an attached file only to other AOL
members.

If you use Compuserve mail, you can send an attached only to other
Compuserve members.

If have an Internet account of some sort--
Netcom, Cerfnet, Kaiwan, etc.--
do not send a MIME attachment to a "@compuserve.com" 
or "@aol.com address. All you will do is to send a file of useless 
garbage to that account.

And for you UNIX gurus out there, yes I know about "uuencode" and 
"uudecode", which lets you convert and bury binary files in a 
matrix of text characters to place in the body of any e-mail 
system. I just have not found anyone short of a Ph.D. in computer 
science that has enough technical expertise to use it or that 
thinks that it is worth the hassle. By the time most people get 
around to even thinking about "uuencode", they have transported 
the file via the "floppy disk mailer by U.S. Postal Service" 
method. Plenty of magazine articles tell you where you can find 
freebie and shareware "uuencode" and "uudecode" software. As 
soon as I find anyone that uses any of these software utilities, 
I will let you know.

Several members contacted me this month to tell me that one of 
the most annoying things that happen to them online is receiving 
an attached file full of meaningless gibberish. In the case of 
the Internet mail feature of Compuserve, you receive a file of 
meaningless gibberish from an Internet address and get 
automatically charged for it even if you do not read it or want 
it. That is one of the greatest aggravations of using Compuserve. 
My guess is that when you are the oldest and largest on-line 
service, you can afford to do these sorts of things to your 
customers. 

Another item in the cyberspace environment is the concept of fax 
modem compatibility which, is still a distant dream in spite of 
myriad of the standards that exist:

During the month, I spent a day in a computer lab and I kept 
running into "you cannot get there from here":

A "VIP" at work has a 486 with Winfax 3.0 and a V.32 14.4kbps 
"Cardinal" external modem:

I installed Winfax 3.0 on a 486 and tried to send him 
Microsoft Word and Microsoft Powerpoint documents via the 
following external modems:

Modem 1: Zoom V32bis 14.4kbps Fax/Data modem
Modem 2: Zoom FX9624 Fax/Data Modem modem
Modem 3: Cardinal Technologies V.34 Modem

Only Modem 2, the Zoom FX9624, successfully transmitted a fax 
to the Cardinal V.32 modem. Cardinal's latest and greatest 
V.34 modem failed to handshake with the older Cardinal modem 
that this VIP was using. In the big iffy world of modem 
compatibility, manufacturer's of modems do not even design 
in backward compatibility to modems in their own product 
line. And this also applies to Hayes modems:  Last year, I 
was not able to get the latest Hayes "Optima 14.4" fax/data 
modem to send faxes to a Hayes "Smartmodem" 9600.  Modem 
testing is the one of the few computer-related activities 
that can me mad enough to use words that cannot be used 
in a family publication. 

FACTS  ??

In the current month, I installed "Norton Antivirus" (NAV) on 
every PC that I touched. That should help the stock price for 
Symantec Corporation. But the effort was worth doing: The 
memory resident module of NAV detected  "Junky Boot" virus 
on a diskette that was given to one of my computer end-users. 
Therefore, NAV is credited with helping me to avoid a 
sleepless night, since "Junky Boot" infestations usually 
require the

FDISK /MBR

FDISK

and

FORMAT C: /S

sequence to rid it from the hard disk of a PC, as most of you
know, the above is not exactly a 5-minute procedure.

Kudos to the Norton division of Symantec. Of the 5 virus 
checkers that I tried in my lab, NAV is the only virus checker 
that can detect "Junky Boot", which was apparently unleashed 
into the world in June. The other virus checkers in my arsenal 
do not have upgrades that can detect this new virus as of the 
dealine date for his article. 

Also, I have to take back some of what I said about viruses 
last month. Evidently, the National Computer Security 
Association (NCSA) (717-258-1816) (74777.3061@compuserve.com)
has an "official" database of viruses and virus names. I have 
not been able to determine if they are getting their virus 
names and definitions from the various software publishers of 
anti-viral software or if they are creating their own names 
and definitions. If they are doing the former, then that would 
explain my finding last month: that different virus checkers 
often have the different names for the same virus. I just 
joined the NCSA and I will get back to you as I learn more 
about this subject. 

As this article hits the press, it is the advent of the 
non-beta, shrink-wrapped version of Windows 95. Some of the 
Microsoft "devotees" that I know have been running the 
various beta builds of this software for the past 2 years 
and they have stated that they can vouch for the soundness 
of the product. These "pioneers" tell me that the last two 
beta versions were more "stable" than Windows 3.1 so that 
there is no major risk over switching over to it. However, 
there are many warnings in the computer press over the fact 
that existing 16-bit utilities, such as last year's version 
of Norton Utilities and PC Tools, will not work well with 
Windows 95 so if you are going to make the plunge and buy 
the "dot zero" version of it, be sure to buy the 32-bit 
versions of the various utilities that you are using. Number 
one on your procurement list should be a 32-bit virus 
checker--those nasty, sadistic folks who write viruses are 
all well aware that they can inject 32-bit viruses into the 
world with relative impunity for a while so please be 
forewarned. I plan on picking up a copy of "95" myself in the 
next 2 months--probably when I have a spare minute or 2 during 
upcoming the Christmas season.  

I regret missing the July meeting because I ended up with twice 
as much work as I could do in an 8-hour day. By the time I got 
off from work, the stray cats were roaming the streets and even 
the most devoted patrons of the local pubs were heading home. 
In fact, I will miss all but 1 of the next 6 months of meetings 
because I signed for a programming class at El Camino College. 
I just could not pass up a chance to learn something new at a 
great price, so please contact we via one of the above methods 
to let me the good things that I am missing at LANET meetings. 
There are all kinds of things that I would like to know:

What will replace Bruce Gersen as our Novell liaison?
Is that person more or less sarcastic than he?
Is that person as careful about making statements that are
    "safe" with respect to continued employment with Novell?
How big of a crowd do meetings draw?  During the past 2 year, 
    some of the best meetings only drew 20 people and other 
    meetings like the meeting in June drew a crowd pushing 50. 
    There appears to be no rhyme or reason, unless there is some 
    link to celestial astrology that I am not cognizant of.
What vendors are displaying their wares at meetings?  
What wiz-bang stuff are they offering for sale to administrators 
    and end-users?  
What kind of goodies are being handed out at the end of meetings?  
What activities are being scheduled for weekends, if any?
   
Contact me on-line and keep me informed. I will relay what you 
have to say without revealing your name, if you desire the shield 
of anonymity. 


(The preceeding diatribe is the private opinion of the author and 
 some of his fellow computer fanatics. Neither LANET, SCNUI, NUI, 
 the editor, the author's or editor's respective employers or 
 clients, any software or hardware vendors that were named, nor 
 anyone else that is not interested in enhancing the financial 
 wellbeing of attorneys can vouch for the veracity of the 
 statements that were made. Any products that are mentioned 
 have registered trademarks that belong to their respective 
 manufacturers.)

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