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Electronic Design

Bob's Mailbox: What’s All This Leopard Stuff, Anyhow?

Bob responds to letters regarding his "What’s All This Leopard Stuff, Anyhow?" column.

*** Hello, James,

I read your amusing column. You are almost 70 and apparently you have just learned:

1. A lot of computer/technical stuff *doesn't work*.

*** Yet all my friends told me that the Mac was a great machine, and user-friendly. Even my wife, even my sons. If they don't know the truth, who the hell will?

2. A lot of technical books *lie about it* or keep silent.

*** Or, don't know anything...

*** When a guy has all the credentials that Pogueman has, ((CLAIMS he has)) I had to try his (((MUCH worse-than-useless))) book. How was I supposed to know that he didn't know C_ _ P? And gave false instructions. And in this case, not just a “LOT of technical books.” ALL of them. If there had been one that told the truth, I'd have bought it.

*** That's okay, wait 'til you see how I NAIL Bill Gates and Microsoft next month. They are within 1 dB of being just as rotten, just as good at lying as Apple. Plus or minus 1 dB.

*** I already knew that Microsoft was pretty bad, which is why I jumped to Apple on the strength of their good "reputation". I never expected a Mac would crash ~ weekly and eat dozens of e-mail drafts and Outbox e-mails. How the hell am I supposed to know? Now everybody knows.

I am deeply *shocked*.

***Thanks for writing anyhow. Meanwhile, my ANALOG computers don't *lie* or refuse to work.  / rap

best wishes

j.g. owen

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*** Hello, Howard L.

C’mon Pease, you old goat, what are you doing futzing around with computers. Stick to Post and pencil—No. 1 soft lead is very pleasurable. You never saw the day you needed more than one decimal point anyway.

*** Cut the BALONEY, Howard. Pencil word processing does NOT make good e-mail. All I need is for my computer to NOT lose or destroy what I typed. Then I can print it or send it. Or publish it. What do YOU publish?

*** I agree that 1 or 2 decimal places is often adequate. Sometimes I do 4 or 5 or 6 or more. Don't tell me what I can do. I can do 5 or 7 or 9 decimal places in my head when I need to. Even better than my 25" slide rule.

Dave Pogue—sorry, not buying it. He may have only one horn left, but he got you dead center and if heights bother you stop flailing.

*** No, actually, I got _HIM_ dead center. His books are full of things that don't work. Have you read any of them? The computer is full of good ideas - - - that are un-documented, and may do more harm than good. I explained how these can be fixed. READ WHAT I WROTE...

The point you need to enshrine is that a customer of average intelligence could not (no matter why) avail himself of a solution to a simple problem through your book, and upon several different occasions.

*** YOUR "POINT" is pointless and makes no sense. You don't even define which of my books you are thinking of. Would you like to try again to explain what you were driving at?

Pease, if you want suggestions, spend your time on these:

Why is it that small-time consultants/engineers cannot afford MATLAB, Agilent, Mentor, etc. CAD but they sell it to students for 39 cents?

*** Because if you are professionally more than a student, they expect you to be able to chip in big bucks, after they got you HOOKED.

*** This is like ICs—the price is set at - - what's it worth to you? - - and is quite unrelated to what the IC _COSTS_. With students - - they are just trying to get you HOOKED...

*** Myself, I am hooked on "Back-of-Envelope" SPICE.

What is the range of mismatch loss if VSWRout drives VSWRin?

*** Sorry, I don't do RF... that's somebody else's specialty.

Has “why do tubes sound better?” been settled, and why not?

*** YES. Refer to the 1985 debate between Bob Carver and a bunch of tube-oriented audio freaks. He said he could make a solid-state power amplifier that sounded THE SAME as a very good vacuum-tube amplifier; they said he couldn't. They were wrong. When he had tweaked his amplifier, the Golden-Ear guys were shocked BECAUSE they couldn't tell them apart.

*** See at: and see the 1985 story at "Amplifier Modelling". Other accounts of this can be found and documented.

*** Maybe some tube amplifiers sound like a (pleasantly distorted) style that some people like. But, don't give me that "sound better" crap. It is dead and buried. Because tubes can't REALLY do anything that transistors can't. If you want a solid-state amplifier that sounds as CRAPPY as a tube amplifier, it can be done. And probably more reproducibly.

Human brain takes 20 watts and the highest frequency is 3 kHz…

*** Which simply goes to show the advantages of parallel processing versus serial. A digital computer can't play quarterback for the Colts or the Vikings EITHER.

come on people…

*** Come on yourself, Harold, stop being silly.  / rap

Howard Leveque, Maryland

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*** Hello, K.K. Benner,


Your experience with Apple and the several absolutely worthless books to assist us stupid idiots desperately seeking help to solve the simplest problems mirrors my Apple experiences precisely. As one who has studied this phenomenon for years, Mr. Meek & Humble here, is well qualified to explain all this.

*** I'm pleased to meet you, Mr. M & H.

You see, Bob, this is related to my published treatise of about 1959 titled "Intentional Complexification for profit"

*** How can I learn more about this? Can I see it, download it, or buy it? Get my librarian to find it?

illustrating how many products promoted to solve these manufactured problems—i.e. identity theft, computer viruses, the sales of updated computers, etc. ad nauseam—accomplish little other than massive profits for the promoters.

It also serves to enhance the wealth of insurance firms, financial firms, credit-card solicitors, fund raisers, etc. using well-lawyered gobbledegook double-talk in their promotions and subsequent incomprehensible agreements.

*** Uh, YEAH.

Perhaps the most classic example is the U.S. tax code providing billion-dollar fleecing the American funding of the irresponsible but politically influential.

*** I already do know all about THAT. YOU probably know all about Form 6251 and the AMT. I've written a couple columns on THAT. Available on request:

*** Everybody says, "You can't avoid the AMT" but they are LYING. / rap

I really enjoy your columns, keep 'em coming!

*** Thank you for your SANITY CHECK.

*** Where can I learn more? / Best regards. / rap

Ken Benner, Arizona

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Just got thru reading your column on “What’s All This Leopard Stuff”. You are a cranky old bastard!

*** Check.

I feel that I can say that because you and I are apparently the same age. I started in semiconductors at Motorola Phoenix back in 1961.

Looking forward to your column about Microsoft next month (if I’m still around).

*** It goes on the web about 23 Feb.

Dave Richard, MA

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Hi Bob. I too switched to MAC this year. I could no longer STAND windows. My wife says she hears MUCH less swearing around the house now than she used too.

*** Ahem!! ( In a few months I may get to that stage.)

My experience is largely different than yours—although I am not ENTIRELY happy with my Mac either.

I have two or three things to say which I think are important:

1. Download and use FireFox as a browser instead of Safari. There are MORE users of FireFox than Safari and this is IMPORTANT for bug elimination.

*** Maybe so. But I am interested in Good Enough, and not Perfection. I use in Safari, na bad.

2. Mail clients are troublesome always. I use the Mac Mail client with GMAIL but I use IMAP as my mail protocol (not POP). This has some important advantages for me I could explain if interested. In any case, interestingly, it was MAIL that pushed me over the edge with Microsoft and FORCED me to get this Mac. I can now use mail offline and online and all over the place—which I could not do properly with my PC.

*** I have IMAP, too, but it loses too many of my drafts and e-mails.

3. If you are paranoid about backups like I am, use timeMachine on the Mac and also download and use CrashPlan. It is free and PRETTY easy to use. You can backup offsite to a “friend.” I have a CrashPlan backup portal in my basement that numerous people backup to.

*** If I put an e-mail draft in my Drafts, and 10 minutes later the computer crashes, Time Machine is NOT going to save or recover it.

Zooming is easy with two fingers. That is a new feature of the new Macbooks.

*** How charming.

*** I taped a toothpick on the left side of the sensor pad, to prevent interference from fingers.

I like the Mac but I admit it is NOT perfect. But it boots faster, lasts longer, recovers from Standby, and shuts down faster than any PC I have ever used.

A joke: “I finally found something a PC user can do that a Mac user cannot do… That is SHUT THE F_ _ _ UP!“

*** Maybe...  Thanks for writing. / rap


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*** Hello, Ajit

Glad to see someone openly challenge the shiek!

Just wanted to let you know that after getting tired of Windows I moved to Linux (specifically, Ubuntu) last year; which is free and very stable (good for me as the admin),has more free games (which my kids like)! My son actually went thru "Ubuntu Hacks" book from O'Reilly and most of the things actually worked!

Wonder if you've tried Linux (or are open to trying it).

*** Hi, Ajit. I have heard that Linux is very nice and simple and friendly ( just as people told me about the Mac)  and that the document that defines Linux is 8.5" x 11" x 85 inches thick, and that there is no man (or woman) alive that understands all of it. I don't think that's a good system for me. / rap

Regards, Ajit 


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