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BLOGical Thoughts Archive

April 2003

Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Restful day today. I got my truck back after $907 of repairs, washed my teardrop in anticipation of the next leg of my trip, and then just goofed off for the rest of the day. Didn't even think about working on any computer stuff.

Tuesday, April 29, 2003

I have finished with the first 43 Shadow stories. They are posted and you can get to them from my ebooks page.I will convert the rest as I have time.


It's going to cost me $850 to get back home from Lake Havasu City, AZ. I had a power-steering leak that turns out to be the steering unit. So I'm not going anywhere until it is fixed. Good thing I brought my checkbook along.

Monday, April 28, 2003

I will be converting more Shadow stories today. I will post them as soon as I am done. I will be doing a lot of maintenance stuff for my parents, also. That happens when you go visiting. At least, it does to me...


I got to try out my teardrop trailer this weekend. Works pretty good. And it tracks as well at 55 mph (Oregon) as it does at 75 mph (Arizona). I took it through sunshine, rain, sleet, snow, hail, high winds and bad roads.

Friday, April 25, 2003

I have now converted 82 stories from the Shadow magazine into web pages. I will not be able to do any more until next week, though, as I will be very busy this weekend.


It looks like I will be telling our payroll department that I decline to sign their mandatory direct deposit enrollment form. This should be interesting, as I am not usually the type who stands up to authority. I grumble and gripe instead. This time they've just gone too far, though. But unless Bush and company took my rights away when I wasn't looking, an individual's right to privacy still has precedence over corporate convenience.

I will have to talk to a lawyer about this. And this continuing saga will be suspended until Monday, May 5, since I will be on vacation until then.


I've just realized I probably should not have called the current government Emperor George the Dubya of the Imperial States of America. I think the Korporate States of Amerika (George W. Bush, COB) is more appropriate.

Thursday, April 24, 2003

I have finished the ebook program. I have used it to convert 54 Shadow Magazine stories from text to web pages. When I finish the rest of the stories, I will post them on this web site. Unfortunately, I think I will have to put them up in compressed (zip and gzip) format, as they take up too much room uncompressed.

When I get a chance, I will also be posting the ebook program on my Rimrock Software web site.


I seem to be in terminal discussions with the payroll department of the company I work for. They believe they can force me to receive my pay by direct deposit, and I believe they have no right to more personal information about my finances. They claim what they are doing is according to Idaho state law, but they will not tell me which law. We seem to be at an impasse.

If I thought I could get away with it, I would demand that they pay me in legal tender of the United States, instead of with a document that is simply a promise by their bank to compensate my bank with the appropriate funds.

Wednesday, April 23, 2003

I am doing more work on the ebook conversion program today. It currently generates the cover page and some of a chapter page. It wasn't putting chapter text into the html file. It always helps if you don't try inputting from the output file. :-(


I am also working on my Introduction to Bash. I love to do stuff like this, because I always learn how much I don't know about a subject if I try to teach it to others. Their is a lot I don't know about Bash. But less than I used to not know.


Installation of SuSE 8.2 will be done in a week or two. Too much going on right now for that kind of interruption.

Tuesday, April 22, 2003

A fellow worker has a Red Hat server that has crashed hard and won't reboot. I made a copy of the Knoppix distribution for him, so he can boot into Linux from CD. He will then be able to recover the files he needs from his Linux partitions, before he reinstalls Red Hat. Knoppix is great for this kind of thing. Highly recommended for this and for determining if Linux will actually run on your particular machine. The great thing about Knoppix is that it will run on your machine without affecting anything on the hard disk.


I am getting SuSE 8.2 today and will install it tonight. It's not that I dislike Mandrake, it's just that I like SuSE more.

Monday, April 21, 2003

The ebook converter is about 66% complete. I still have to add code to create a Table of Contents. It's going to be real nifty. I am trying to make it as generic as possible, so it can be used with any text-file books - Project Gutenberg, for example.


I have my teardrop trailer all set up for the trip I will be taking soon. I drove it over to the Zirkle's house to show it to Lou and Betty. Lou was concerned with manufacturing questions regarding its construction (as I would expect), while Betty was concerned with space, utility and style. They both thought it was pretty nice.

I also made up some Red Hat CDs for Betty. I am trying to talk her into loading Linux on one of her boxes. She has an older laptop that might be an ideal candidate, but she hasn't said she'd load it yet. I will have to dig up some nifty graphics programs for Linux as an inticement for her to load it.


I am also working on a talk I will be giving at the next Linux Users Group meeting, entitled "Introduction to Bash, Your Friendly Neighborhood Command Shell". I will be talking about what it does for you and how to use it. Command line editing and completion, aliases, prompts and shell programming will be included. The programming part will not be in detail, though.

Friday, April 18, 2003

So I started work on my ebook converter. Unless I do a bit of camping this weekend, I hope to have it working by Monday. I can then convert all 301 Shadow Magazine stories to html and post them here. It's fortunate that I have plenty of space for these on the server. Zip files for the text versions take up about 28meg alone.


I just finished reading an Isaac Asimov story called 'The Winds of Change'. I won't spoil the story by relating the punchline. Let's just say that the story pretty much fits the current condition of our country and government. In the story, Dr. Asimov suggests the need for a 'League for Constitutional Freedom'. Sounds like a very good idea to me.

Thursday, April 17, 2003

I finished the NILUG web site changes, but I still think it needs a big change in content. I might be able to work on that in a couple of weeks. I also need to upgrade the Rimrock site, so that comes first.


I want to add a lot more e-books to this site. I have a source for the books, but it's a lot of work to convert books from ASCII text format to HTML. Maybe I should write a program to do it. Hmmmmmm.

Wednesday, April 16, 2003

Updating the NILUG web site today. Color changes will be done to indicate content changes. That's dead-simple when you are using style sheets.


Took time off to peruse the latest issue of the Tales & Trails newsletter. Interesting stuff about teardrop trailers.

Tuesday, April 15, 2003

I'm going to go down to Arizona in a couple of weeks. I will be helping my dad with my mom for a few days. She is recovering from gall bladder surgery, complicated by her other health problems.

I will be using my teardrop trailer on the trip. On the way back, I hope to spend at least one night at the 10th Dam Gathering in CA. We'll see how that goes.


I have to catch-up on updating the other web sites I maintain. I will be starting with the NILUG web site, then move on to Rimrock Software. The Rimrock site is way, way out of date. I had started an update, but got caught up in other matters. Let's hope that doesn't happen again.

Monday, April 14, 2003

I installed Mandrake 9.1 on my main machine as a complete replacement for SuSE 8.1. Since my home directory is on its own partition, I did that with the loss of no personal data. Isn't Linux great?

The only additional detail I had to take care of in Mandrake 9.1 is to create a symbolic link between /dev/modem and /dev/ttyS4 so I could use the modem. That only happened because I guessed the wrong port for the modem when the install program asked me for it.


Why would someone spend $140 on a 10' x 10' outdoor canopy? I needed one for camping in my teardrop and picked up an 11' x 11' model at Big Lots for $19.95. Looked later that day at Fred Meyers and they had a similar canopy for $39.95. Yet you see them in stores all over for more than $100. What's with that?


I finally have mail support for my Rimrock Software web site. It's only been down for about 3 months. What a great way to get rid of unwanted spam, though.

Friday, April 11, 2003

When I burn CDROMs, I don't just write on them with a felt tip marker. I create a CD label for each CDROM. I was using a program called Stomper to do that, until I ran out of their special label paper.

Now I am using a bunch of labels I picked up at Big Lots - brand name labels. The problem is, Stomper can't use them. So I have to create each label in a word processor. That's pretty hard, as you have to keep printing samples until you get everything adjusted correctly.

Anyway, since I am now the proud owner of Knoppix 3.2, Red Hat 9 and Mandrake 9.1, I was pretty busy for a couple of hours creating the labels for these Linux distros. Open Office Writer got quite a workout and I learned more about the program. I even found a bug - if you put a graphic in your page and set it so it will be sized proportionally, if you adjust the size of the graphic, it won't be resized proportionally. If you use Open Office, watch out for that.

Thursday, April 10, 2003

We had a really good Linux Users Group meeting last night. In an effort to get a bit more structure into the meetings, we did some planning. We then proceeded to show how to do a Red Hat 9 install and how to use the secure shell (ssh) to create a secure email tunnel. The secure email tunnel allows your email program to talk to your pop server over an encrypted link, without knowing it is doing that. You no longer have to expose your email to the outside world. Very nice.

We also learned about Wikis. WikiWikiWeb is an excercise in collaborative web site creation. Basically, someone creates a web page using the Wiki engine, and someone else can modify that page or create a link on that page to a new Wiki page. Wiki programming is really just writing with a few extra punctuation characters to indicate things like bold, italics, bullets, etc. This sounds like something that would work well on the user group web site, and could even work well on this site.

The NILUG site will be updated later today to reflect the results of last night's meeting.

Wednesday, April 9, 2003

Well, now the government nazis Bush Administration wants to extend provisions of the so-called 'Patriot' Act that expire in 2005. That means they want to permanently bypass the Constitution of the United States. What do you think about that? I think they didn't have my consent to take away my rights in the first place. If they make the loss of rights permanent, I also think they will have more to worry about than foreign terrorists.

Reaction to the 'Patriot' Act indicates the publics' dislike for it. Librarians are minimizing the amount of information available to the feds without warrant or public disclosure, by deleting information about patrons book borrowing once they return the book, clearing the browser caches after patrons use the library computers, and shredding Internet sign-up lists at the end of each day. All because this egregious Act has us living in a police state.


I am downloading Mandrake 9.1 right now. When I finish that, I will also do Red Hat 9. Gotta keep current, don't I?

Tuesday, April 8, 2003

I have added a truckload of links to the teardrop trailer page. Check them out.

Monday, April 7, 2003

I have finished the teardrop trailer links and have posted them. Have a peek from the teardrop home page. I need more links for this section, though. Any input is welcome.


Didn't do any programming over the weekend. I spent it doing things that needed doing, like taking the snow tires off my car. I visited Harbor Freight again. A very dangerous place for your wallet.

Friday, April 4, 2003

I am working on the teardrop trailer links, but they aren't ready for primetime. Maybe this weekend, if they don't interfere with any other activity. I will be actively soliciting new links and categories for this, so get your Lookout Outlook program warmed up.


Snow this morning at home. We are supposed to take off our snow tires soon - Washington has already done that. But we keep getting snow. This does not bode well for any weekend camping trips.


One thing I am implacably opposed to is anyone who considers the almighty dollar as the sole cause for their existence. With that said, I note that the RIAA, the self-appointed keeper of the recording industry morals, has filed suit against three college students who maintain peer to peer networks at their colleges. The RIAA is asking for $150,000 from each of these students for promoting 'piracy'.

They blame 'music pirates' for a 9% dip in CD sales in 2002. How can they say that, when they cut back artists and releases by 25% in 2002, and then raised prices? Do they think the american public is that gullible? Apparently, they do. This is another symptom of our sick society. Always look for someone else to blame, especially when the problem is your own fault.

The RIAA will never have a clue that song-trading is not a method for them to lose money, but it is a tremendous way to advertise artists and make money. Their efforts are doomed to follow in the footsteps of buggy whip manufacturers, whose efforts to ban cars from our roads were fruitless. I have no sympathy for them.

I boycott any record companies that are members of the RIAA, and have done so for the last three years. Sorry, Luaka Pop, Alligator and Bullseye, but you won't get any of my money unless you leave the RIAA.

Thursday, April 3, 2003

I have the dynamic web pages working. Check them out - They are the top link on my Links page.

The dynamic web pages list a truckload of links to Linux web sites. All kinds of sites - distributions, portals, news, software, etc. I try to keep the links up to date, but that's a tough job.

I wrote a Perl program to create these web pages. The program uses a web page template and a text file to create the displayed web page. The text file acts as a flat file database. The program looks up the appropriate entries in the text file and displays them in the proper place in the template. Simple, really.

Now I need to gather up a links list for teardrop trailers.


Mike's Rules for Figuring out Who to Vote For

  1. Do NOT listen to anything the candidate says. Assume that anything he or she says is a complete lie, meant to obfuscate what they really intend to do.
  2. Pay CLOSE attention to what the candidate actually does. You shall know them by their actions, not by what spews out of their food holes.
  3. Vote for the candidate whose actions most closely match your own philosophy. For me, this means I end up voting mostly for Independents.

Wednesday, April 2, 2003

I'm working on web sites. I'm trying to get dynamic web pages working again on the NILUG site and I will also get them working here. It will be nice to have a really comprehensive list of links to Linux web sites again. And a list of teardrop trailer web sites....

Tuesday, April 1, 2003

You can certainly tell it's April Fools Day. Check out the following: