10 DIM Shopping, Days
20 GOSUB 200
30 GOTO 32767
200 SET Shopping="27"
300 FOR Days = 1 to 27
400 Shopping=Days - 1
500 NEXT Days
700 GOTO 32767
Monthly Archives: November 2003
Today is the Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S. Thanksgiving
can have many meanings. For some, it is the calm before the
storm of Christmas shopping. For others, it is a gathering of
the clan where the generations come together to share in the
bounty of this great land. And for the newest citizens, it is
part of becoming whatever it is that makes our nation
But for me, 30 years ago today, I was an undergraduate
student in southern California. My school was only about six
hours by plane from home but it might as well as been a 100
as I could not afford to fly there for such a short time (the
school break was typically about half-a-week). So I was
looking forward to staying in the empty dorm and eating
whatever I could heat up in my rice cooker.
Actually, no I wasn’t. There are times when life can get
awfully lonely. The holidays are one of those times. At least
for me, anyway. Fortunately, a guy I knew from our floor in
the dorm lived in town and invited me to his family’s home
for the holiday. To say I was thankful would be an
Through the kindness of a relative stranger, I got to
enjoy a home cooked meal in an environment that is slowly
dying in America: an intact family. A family made up of both
parents and their son. Living in single-family dwelling.
Where each is loved and cared for and values are more than
what Wal*Mart is discounting on sale.
After stuffing ourselves on a great meal, we gathered in
their living room and went through an album of old
photographs. The pictures were black-and-white and were very
old. Some of them were of a time when the parents were
themselves in college. The conversation then got around to
memories of their days at Loma Linda University (or what was
then known as La Sierra College) and how they were friends
with some people from Hawai’i.
While I realize this is indeed a small world, sometimes
I’m surprised by just how small it is. First they talked
about Ross and Ree Hiatt. Mr. Hiatt (even after all these
years I still call him Mr. Hiatt), was to become my
7th and 8th grade teacher in elementary school. He and Mrs.
Hiatt were married for 52-years before cancer suddenly took
her life this year.
They then talked about a girl that they were all friends
with. As they slowly turned the pages of the album, I was
taken aback when I saw her picture. Her raven hair shining in
the hot California sun. The smile, a little timid, perhaps
from being so far away from home herself. Her eyes looking so
much like my own. The girl who would one day become my
There are lots of things to be thankful for today. I am
thankful for a time in which families stayed together, ’til
death do us part. I am thankful for Daryl Luthas’ (now pastor
Luthas, who would have thunk it, rascal that he was?) parents
who taught their child to be an open, caring individual. I am
thankful to my own parents for making the sacrifices they
made so that I could attend a quality private college and be
where I am today.
Thanks be to God from whom all blessings flow. And thanks
mom and dad, I couldn’t have made it without you.
I talked earlier (see Monday) about a few small problems StarOffice 7 a
had in importing an MS Word document. Today I’ll take a look
at how StarOffice does with a Corel WordPerfect 9 sample.
But first, let me say I like alternatives. Having a choice
in office suites is, I think, a Good Thing. But if your
office uses WordPerfect and you want to switch to Sun’s
StarOffice 7, you are in for a world of hurt.
As a test document, I used a fairly typical, for us,
report. It is a little over 10-pages long (including two
charts at the end), uses bulleted lists, and indented
paragraphs to indicated extended quoted material. What you
have could vary so you have to take what follows in the
context of how you usually format your documents.
All of the problems I found are related to formatting.
Rather than go through a long narrative, I’ll just create a
Failed to display and print out the watermark.
Changed the font from Univers to Thorndale (a Times
Ignored tab settings, substituting its own on a
seemingly random basis.
Failed to display all bullets.
Substituted some, but not all, bullets with Roman
Inserted the following string in random places:
Converted the footnote type size from eight points to
something that looked like two points (even though it
said it was 8 pts).
Altered page breaks.
In addition, StarOffice opened the document in read only
mode. This means I could look at the document, but could not
edit it. I read the on-line help and found you have to click
on the “Edit File” button to enable editing mode. This is
very curious behavior for any program. One can only wonder
why they have this mode and what advantage(s) they think it
has. As for me, I consider it nonsensical.
In a marketplace dominated by Microsoft Office,
alternatives are to be supported and praised. Unless, of
course, the alternatives can’t inter-operate with the
documents you already have. In our case, many offices still
use various versions of WordPerfect. But given the list of
problems StarOffice 7 has in importing WordPerfect 9
documents, I can’t recommend its use in such
I wonder if Sun isn’t missing a market segment that they
could serve (WordPerfect users) rather than going after
Microsoft? I think they could make a good return on
investment going after the millions of users who still use
WordPerfect (who everyone seems to have forgotten, or at
least ignored) rather than being yet another clone of MS. As
it is, Sun is also competing against OpenOffice which, at a
price point of zero, is impossible to beat. YMMV.
I tried to leave a comment on Microsoft employee Robert Scoble’s
site yesterday but his comment window did not display the
full text of what I had written in [gasp] MS Word and copied
into the comments section</irony>. So I am reproducing
here what I meant to say there in relation to his request for
comments on how to create a win-win situation re: MS.
You asked how to create a win-win situation. So here’s a
couple based on the asymmetrical relationship between
Microsoft and its customers.
Let’s start first with the warranty “EULA”. You can use,
for example, the one for Office XP found here.
Step 1: Create a quality product and then stand
behind it with a warranty worth a damn.
When you buy your car it has a bumper-to-bumper warranty
that last years. When you buy a TV you get a warranty that
lasts at least a year, if not three. If something fails in
either, and you are hurt because of it, you can collect
damages against the manufacturer because they are responsible
for the loss.
Contrast that with the paragraph numbered 9, where it says
Microsoft is not responsible for any “incidental,
consequential and certain other damages.” To a small business
owner, as I understand it, this means if the third quarter
profits suddenly shifts and Office XP *doesn’t* automatically
pick up the changes because of a bug in the software, and
thus the company goes into bankruptcy, that’s just too damned
bad because the full risk of using Microsoft software lies
with you, the customer. Microsoft makes no warranty, implied
or otherwise that the software will do what is promised (by
TV advertising or otherwise) it does.
Try making a product that you are willing to stand behind
with a warranty that puts Microsoft assets
in jeopardy. If nothing else, this should
focus people’s minds on quality and create a
basis for trust that does not exist now.
Step 2: Make everything transparent.
For example, most people who use Windows XP are willing to
let Microsoft know certain information when a program
crashes. This is based on the trust that whatever information
is transmitted to Microsoft is directly related to the crash
and will be used solely to fix bugs in Windows. And nothing
else. I say it’s based on trust because the customer has, as
far as I know, no way of knowing what is being transmitted to
Ratchet up that a bunch and think about the Microsoft
Windows Feedback Panel. This is optional software, downloaded
from Microsoft, gathers even more information. Go to this URL
to see what is being recorded:
Even if I trust Microsoft, why is it important for
Microsoft to record the names and locations of all
directories within the Program Files, My Documents, My Music,
My Pictures, and My Videos? Further, why does Microsoft need
to record a complete listing of all of my files in root?
And then, why is it critical to transmit all of this
information in binary format without the customer being able
to review and decide whether they want to transmit the
information? There is no reciprocity here. Everything is
asymmetrical. I am being asked to trust Microsoft without any
way, as President Reagan said to “verify.” Why not provide a
way for the user to see what is being sent?
Thank you for this opportunity to comment on this
Any office suite that wants to take on Microsoft Office
(as most do) has to be compatible
with its file formats and StarOffice does a pretty good job.
I have not run it through any kind of test suite, but it read
our 120-page masters capstone project (created in Word 2000)
and I found only three problems.
The first is the pagination changed. I’m not sure if I
tried to set the default margins it would have kept the page
breaks but in a document this large, having to go through it
page by page to check the breaks is not a Good Thing.
The second is an embedded bullet list. The list shows a
numbered list with bullets within the numbers. To be fair, I
had a heck of a time formatting the list in MS Office so it
shouldn’t be a surprise that StarOffice also had
The last problem is with the margins for some imported
Excel spreadsheets. The print area was wider than the page
and would required some reformatting to fit.
For the most part, I consider these problems as being
minor but only you can decide how important they are.
As for me, I still need to test how well a WordPerfect
document, which StarOffice, unlike OpenOffice, is supposed to
be able to open and edit, works. But if you don’t need
WordPerfect compatibility, and don’t want to send a lot of
money to Redmond, you may want to check it out.
In a stunning turnaround, the
Houston Chronicle is reporting that PC maker
Dell is returning some customer support jobs back to the US.
Dell, trying to cut costs, was one of the first companies to
rush support jobs to India. However, it soon became clear
that its corporate accounts were not satisfied with this
lower level of support and threatened to switch. Faced with
this possible mass defection to its competition, Dell is now
bringing back the jobs, but only for its corporate customers.
You individuals out there are still out of luck.
On a personal note, if the experience of our secretary,
who bought a Dell and had to call customer support to resolve
some problems, is any indication you will need every bit of
luck because Dells support sucks. She had to call Dell
multiple times to resolve her problem. In an attempt to speak
to the same person each time, rather than explain again what
the problem was, she had to synchronize her calls with office
hours in India. But even she could soon tell that the people
she was speaking with had a limited script to work from and
if the problem lay outside of that script, you were not going
to get any help. YMMV. Use at your own risk.
Paging AirIndia passenger Arheddis Varkenjaab, that’s
passenger Arheddis Varkenjaab, please pickup the white
courtesy phone. The
Sunday Mirror has a story about practical jokers
tricking Heathrow airport officials into paging for
passengers whose names, when pronounced sound like something
other than how they are spelled.
As many of you know, using the Windows NTFS file
system has advantages and disadvantages. One characteristic
that could be viewed as a disadvantage is the inability to
boot from a DOS disk and have access to the NTFS volume(s) on
your hard drive. Which, if you think about it, is logical.
DOS does not support NTFS so if you boot from a DOS diskette
you shouldn’t expect to see any of your NTFS volumes.
As an alternative, you can boot from the install CD but
it’s setup to do either a repair or clean install. The repair
install may be able to do what you want, but there is another
You can use something called Bart’s PE Builder.
It runs on Win2K, XP, and 2003 (what they heck is 2003? Are
they talking about server editions? – Ed.) but not NT4 or, of
course Win9x and ME. Among other things, the CD allows you
Access very large (>2TB) NTFS volumes or access
volumes that are not seen by the BIOS, like some fiber
Very reliable scanning and cleaning of viruses using a
Active Directory support.
Have remote control over other machines, using vnc or
In order to create the CD you will need your original
Windows install CD and more than a passing understanding of
Windows (which all of my 11 readers already have, right?). As
always, use at your own risk and insert disclaimer here.
This tip from Brian Livingston’s
A friend of mine was downloading Service Pack 4 for
Windows 2000 on his laptop when his system locked up and
gave him the Blue Screen of Death. Microsoft acknowledged
that this does happen sometimes, and the only solution was
to reformat his hard drive and reinstall Win2K.
He came to me because he had a substantial amount of
data on his system that he couldn’t afford to lose. In
essence, what I did was boot to a floppy and then re-size
the existing NTFS partition with Partition Magic. Next I
created a new FAT partition and installed a new copy of
Win2K on this partition.
Once the Win2K installation was complete, I had this
installation of Win2K recognize the NTFS partition and,
presto, all of his data was accessible. I’ve left out a few
steps, but to me this seems like it’s pretty easy to get to