Dysmey Post Archive > Pages for 1999 > 16 December 1999 Edition

16 December 1999 Edition

I am nearing the end of a two-week cold that was one step from developing into pneumonia. First came the runny nose, the sneezing and the and sore throat; then the chills, the congested bronchial tubes and the hoarse coughing. When that died down, my nose started running again, which started another cycle.

I caught this cold from one of the departments at work. This is where I tried to fix a laserjet printer that kept getting paper jams. The printer did get fixed (though not by me: see the 6 December issue), and I get a nasty cold for all my effort. In this world no good deed passes unpunished.

And I still do good stuff for that department, this time by freeing them from the evil grip of WordPerfect, which that department must use to generate form letters. WordPerfect has obsolete printer drivers which work on their becursed printer but do not work with our other, newer ones. Sooner or later, that department will get a new printer, and then they will not be able to generate anything.

One could reply that I could download updated drivers off the WordPerfect site. Yes, but there is another problem. My employer has standardized the use of all major applications. For word processing needs, we are to use Word. That's OK by me because I've used it since it was a DOS program and I know it inside and out. But that department's form letters depend on that, which is not Word, and that makes it the odd one out.

So, for the past week or so I have been thinking up how they will generate form letters in Word. I make good progress and can expect a test macro by the end of the year.

As for the end of the year, it does not end the twentieth century. By a quirk in our Gregorian calendar, the last year in the twentieth century is not this year, but next. The new millennium begins on the first of January 2001. The end of this year only means that if you are still using an ancient 286- or 386-based computer running DOS, it's time to give it a decent burial — and to hope you didn't run anything important on it.

This will not persuade the masses benumbed by endless marketeering ("the end of the millennium!" and the constant playing of the song 1999 much to the dismay of the Artist himself) and terrified by demagogues prophesizing "the end of days" brought by the Y2K bug. Who would have thought the short-sighted incompetence of all those managers and COBOL-wallahs of decades past would being about the death of the human race?

It is futile to enlighten the masses. Let them party themselves silly or let them cower in their cellars waiting for the end. I will celebrate the end of the millennium a year after January 1.

I upgraded the memory on my experimental Linux machine to forty-eight megabytes and reinstalled Caldera Linux. Yes, it works much better now, but I can't get the modem to work. I have decided to find a Hayes modem — an external one so I can see what it's doing — and try experimenting with that. I know I can connect my Linux box to the outside world. I intend to make a backup site for this Web page.

The televised version of Fox TV's Harsh Realm was a total loss. That's too bad, because it would have been a good show if Chris Carter (The X-Files) had stuck to the original premise of the 1991 comic series, where Harsh Realm was an artificial pocket universe rather than a virtual reality game, and 'Hobbes' was a hardened detective rather than a naïve soldier.

The events that led to the series' birth and death have left a smelly legal and emotional mess for lawyers to mop up. Fox, plagued with managerial incompetence and the loss of much of its former viewership, may well lose an angry Carter, just as Carter is losing X-Files star David Duchovny.

It's time for Rupert Murdoch to start firing people.

Copyright © 2005 by Andy West. All rights reserved. Last updated 11 September 2005.