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BLOGical Thoughts Archive

April 2007

Monday, 30 April 2007

I got curious about CentOS, so I installed it on a 20GB disk, wiping out the MSDN version of Windows Vista (no great loss, believe me). CentOS is a graphics-sanitized version of the Red Hat Enterprise Linux product.

Installation went very smoothly, exactly the opposite of what happened on that machine when I tried to install Ubuntu 7.04. During installation, I just answered the questions and the thing installed. No big deal. The only confusion occurred when it allowed me to select an NTP server, but even that wasn't such a big deal.

CentOS is basically a server platform. Right now I have it set up for a web server and a file server. I am looking to see how hard it would be to set it up as a database server. I'll keep you updated.


I had a good time at the Rathdrum Dutch oven workshop. My zucchini bread came out great, except for a spot in the middle of the oven that stuck when I tried to take the bread out. That sticking was caused by a hot spot in the middle. I should have been more careful when I put the coals underneath the oven.


I have been hearing that Windows Vista has a new nickname - Windows ME, too (Windows ME 2). Seems appropriate.


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Friday, 27 April 2007

Despite my bad experiences with Ubuntu 7.04 on two of my computers, I am considering switching to that distro on my main workstation. Before I do that, I will make a list of the applications that I frequently use on SuSE 10.1. I will then see if they are available under Ubuntu, or if reasonable substitutes are available. If they are available, then I will probably switch.

This decision is in no way as traumatic as reloading the Windows operating system is. When you reload Windows, you may lose everything, including all configuration information of programs you have installed, data, etc. Not happening in Linux.


The Rathdrum Dutch Oven Workshop will be held tomorrow at Rathdrum City Park. The Inland Empire Dutch Oven Society, of which I am a member will be presenting the workshop. I will cook up some zucchini bread for the workshop. This event is not free, but will cost $20 for the privilege of learning how to cook with Dutch ovens. A bargain at that price, believe me.


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Thursday, 26 April 2007

I keep running across articles touting the new Ubuntu 7.04 as the greatest thing since sliced bread. How can anyone say that, when it won't even load on a machine that is running Ubuntu 6.10? Is this the open source software version of Microsoft ads promoting Vista? The Linux-using public really wants to know.


I am slowly getting parts moved over from the '51 Plymouth to the '52. I just put the trunk lock on the '52. To do that, I had to take it down to Kuma Stoves, who welded an extension onto the handle. That has to be done because the trunk on a Cranbrook is different from the trunk on a Concord.


It's really very simple, RIAA/MPAA, etc. If you keep adding nasty stuff to your product that people don't want, they will find a way to get the product without the nasty stuff. That nasty stuff includes popular items like DRM, encryption and popup ads. The harder you try to force it down our throats, the less inclined the public will be to actually purchase your product. Get a clue!


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Wednesday, 25 April 2007

As you may be aware, last week I attempted to install Ubuntu 7.04 from a Live CD onto my Ubuntu 6.10 development machine. I failed at that, as the CD just dumped into a command line prompt.

Yesterday, I decided to do that upgrade in a different way. I used the Ubuntu Upgrade Manager to download all the 7.04 files from the Internet, and update the machine in that manner. When I rebooted the result, I ended up in a command line prompt, just like the Live CD.

Now, I don't want to call a brand new version of Ubuntu a piece of crap, but what conclusions can you draw? Three attempts at installation on two separate machines, and three failures. Was this version ever beta-tested?

The machine I was attempting to upgrade is a Compaq Evo D51, a fairly new computer with a > 2 gHz Pentium processor and 512 mb of RAM. Why won't it work? Why wasn't it tested on one of these fairly common machines?

I had to reinstall Ubuntu 6.10 on the machine, which is a story in itself, since I first had to back up the development files from my home directory. This had to be done because i chose to use the default Ubuntu disk configuration, which is one swap partition and one partition for everything else. My configuration of choice is one swap partition, one root (/) partition and one home partition. When I load a new O/S onto that configuration, I don't lose everything in the home partition.

After the reinstall, I had to also reinstall the stuff that is not installed by Ubuntu, like proprietary drivers, some games, development software, etc. Total time used for this was a couple of hours.

So I guess that the moral of the story is: be careful of new upgrades to working distros, as you can really get screwed by them.


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Tuesday, 24 April 2007

I had no broadband connection this morning and also had a doctor's appointment, which is why this posting is so late. When you have no connection, you soon realize how much you depend on the Internet. Whenever I'm going someplace I've never been before, the first thing I do is run up a Google map to see exactly where the place is. There are lots of other examples, too.

Right now, I have to stop writing so I can go check my Google calendar. I think I have a Dutch oven workshop coming up this weekend.


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Monday, 23 April 2007

I attempted to install Ubuntu 7.04 on two different computers over the weekend. I failed in both cases. Since I successfully installed Ubuntu 6.10 on both of those machines, it seems that the latest version of Ubuntu is less compatible with older machines. Too bad, since I've been using an Ubuntu machine to do Mono development. I guess I will have to look for another distro that can satisfy my development needs.

I did order some Ubuntu disks from Cannonical. I will give them away when they arrive.


If you like wallpaper for your computer screen like I do, here is a web site with some of the greatest wallpapers ever. I never knew about this web site before, yet I have accumulated at least three or four of the wallpapers, simply because I liked them so much.


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Friday, 20 April 2007

I have requested CDs of Ubuntu 7.04 from the web site. That's much easier than downloading them, especially right now. The Ubuntu web site was up and down all day yesterday because of the download demand.

When I get the CDs, I will make a bunch of copies and give them away, as usual.


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Thursday, 19 April 2007

I watched Crossing Jordan last night, and they hit the Homeland Security thing right on the nail head. Their depiction of DHS as entirely focused on security, to the detriment of our constitutional rights, was right on. Except for the overall sense that the DHS guys are nonviolent nazis, of course - that's an oxymoron if I ever heard one. Poor Bug now thinks he is not really an American, as he was treated like terrorist trash by the stormtroopers. If I had known what the content of the episode was to be, I would have recorded it.


The job fair was interesting, and I got a couple of contacts for when I am out of a job in July.


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Wednesday, 18 April 2007

There is a job fair today at the Cd'A fairgrounds. Although I am undecided about persuing another job, I will be going to the job fair to see what is out there. How can I work up any enthusiasm for another job if I keep getting laid off?


I am working on getting VHS tapes out of my house. I just recorded four Babylon 5 movies from VHS to DVD. I need to go through them and edit out the commercials, though.

It turns out that I have all the original Star Trek episodes on VHS. At two episodes per DVD, it will take me 42 DVDs to convert them.


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Tuesday, 17 April 2007

I heard about freeNAS from a friend who will be using it to serve songs to his LAN. freeNAS is a BSD-based Unix that will turn your computer into a Network Attached Storage device. It supports all kinds of file systems and will talk to other computers using FTP, SMB, NFS and other protocols. Sounds pretty cool eh?

I downloaded and attempted to install freeNAS on any of three computers. I failed on all three. On two of the machines, the freeNAS installer failed to recognize the hard drive. On the third machine, the installer failed with a CPU register dump. That is typical behavior for BSD based images that don't like Compaq hardware. I guess I won't get a chance to evaluate freeNAS.


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Monday, 16 April 2007

I have re-enabled commenting on this web site. It turns out that the 14,249 spam comments the site has received were not caused by the commenting mechanism. The cause was what WordPress calls 'trackbacks'. I disabled trackbacks by renaming the trackback module on the web site. Maybe all those spammers will get the idea when they try to send me their bogus messages and get no response in response...


Here is a particularly insiteful response comment by eldavojohn that I found on Slashdot. This is in response to "Should Schools Block Sites like Wikipedia?". It's refreshiing to see there are still some american citizens with some sense.

= = = = = = = = = =

Should Schools Block Sites Like Wikipedia?

They should make a big deal about blocking Wikipedia--announce it to the student body. Then tell students that they are forbidden from accessing it at all. Pick some other sites too, like MySpace or Hotmail or a news site like CNN or the BBC News.

Then turn around and in the students' social studies classes, teach them about free speech and the horrors of censorship. Be sure to explain what rights an American Citizen has and how many people have demonstrated or fought and died for these rights to remain intact.

Then sit back and wait. Wait for the students to put this together and realize that they don't have to put up with your censorship shit.

When someone holds a demonstration, make a big deal about it and herald them for being an American Citizen. Ask the rest of the students why they waived their right to read Wikipedia as free speech. Who cares why they wanted to read it or even whether they wanted to read it all, just ask them why they waived a right they knew they had. Make them think about it.

Then, if you've got enough time, ask yourself why you've been waiving so many rights in the name of The DMCA, The Patriot Act & The Patriot Act II. Why did you waive your rights in the name of national security and the comfort of huge corporations?

Go ahead, take your time.

If you're advocating blocking Wikipedia in a serious manner, please do explain how you're going to--at the same time--teach the students about the rights they have. It will entertain me, the excuses that fascists come up with always have.

"It's for your own good." just doesn't suffice, in my opinion. Who's determining what's "my own good" again? Oh, you want to. Right. It's called 'responsibility' and it comes with living so let the students have a helping of it.

As for the person asking the question, I don't know about you but I went to a high school where the first thing we were taught is that we are responsible for the information we present in a paper. The student is responsible for citing sources & verifying that the source is reliable. If you can't do that, you're going to end up reading The Onion with either hilarious or catastrophic results. This is a valuable life lesson, let the students learn it early when the consequence is a bad grade instead of a lawsuit. If you told the students Wikipedia is not a reliable source of information, give them an F if they use one single reference from it. How can they argue with you, the instructor?


The funny thing about the above comment is that Wikipedia has been rated to have an accuracy comparable to the Encyclopedia Britannica. So why the stink? I think it comes down to one thing - control. The Powers That Be can't control the web, and they really, really hate that. Because if they could control the web, they can control you, and that's their raison d'être


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  • Friday, 13 April 2007

    I hope to get some work done on my Plymouth over the weekend, working around the NILUG meeting on Saturday. It really needs brakes before I can do anything more on it. I have new parts for the brakes, but I want a professional to install them.

    I will also continue my assault on the potholes up by the county road. We had a setback this week, as the rain helped remove some of the work I had already done.


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    Thursday, 12 April 2007

    I have turned off commenting entirely on this web site, yet I am still receiving an average of 100 to 200 spam comments a day. As of this morning, I have received 12, 854 comments. Not a single one of these comments has been allowed to be posted here. Get it, spammers?

    If they don't get it, I will have to go into the WordPress code and completely disable the reception of comment posts..


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    Isn't Microsoft Windows a wonderful Operating System?


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    Wednesday, 11 April 2007

    I will create most of the Rimrock Software web pages dynamically. That way, when I make a change, it will only have to be made in a couple of places.

    I have already written a Perl program to do this kind of thing. It takes a text page and a template page, combines them and sends the result as the requested web page. To make a global change, I would have to update the index page and the template page. I used this tactic on the Beaudry Motorsports web site, and it works pretty well. No database or PHP needed.


    I think those annoying entertainment news shows should all rename themselves to "The Continuing Anna Nichole Smith Death Rattle Show". Never have so many said so much about so little.


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    Tuesday, 10 April 2007

    I have started work on a new Rimrock Software web site. It will have no PHP pages. If there is any dynamic web content, the programs will be written in Perl. Major sections will include Linux, Windows and Graphics.


    I backed my notebook home directory up to the Network Attached Storage hard drive. It took a while, as I have 30 GB of files on the computer. I was really surprised at that. I would have guessed I had maybe 10 GB. Since I have reinstalled the O/S on that machine many times, I figured it was a good time to ensure that I don't lose any of the data on it. One of the files on it is the style sheet for the new Rimrock site.


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    Monday, 9 April 2007

    I finished work on HMSCalc over the weekend. I need to extensively test it, then create the documentation that goes along with the program. I will then put it up on the Rimrock Software web site, which means I have to get that site started up again.


    Besides the program, I got a lot of stuff done over the weekend. All small stuff - filling potholes, washing vehicles, ordering car parts, and fixing a bent part on my snow plow. Lots more to do, though.


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    GWB Quotes:

    Friday, 6 April 2007

    I got the Copy function working in my HMSCalc program. I had copied the original line of code from a Mono forum entry, and I tried all kinds of things when the code did not work. I finally found some documentation on the Mono Gtk Clipboard class and read it. You don't have to use the system clipboard, you can actually define your own clipboard and use it. If you want to use the system clipboard, you pass the 'CLIPBOARD' name to the function. The code I lifted was passing the name 'CLIPDOARD'.

    From extensive testing, I found that the recently implemented change sign function is not always working correctly in HMSCalc. I need to fix that before I can deploy the application.


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    Thursday, 5 April 2007

    I found out that openSUSE has more Java support than Ubuntu. I wrote an app in Java using the AWT Java library. It works fine on openSUSE, but not at all on Ubuntu - the AWT library is missing from that distro.

    The reason I am using Ubuntu is that it has more Mono libraries than any other distro. When are the distro producers going to get it together when it comes to development tools? I would really like to use only one distro as my development platform, but I can't, since each platform has its own emphasis on development. Try doing Ruby on Rails on some of these distros, and you'll see what I mean.


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    Wednesday, 4 April 2007

    I am working on my HMSCalc program. I have re-done the button layout so it looks better, and I have added a change sign button and a copy to clipboard button. The only problem is, the copy to clipboard code doesn't seem to work at all. I got the code from a Mono forum, and it was published in several threads, so it is probably correct. It just doesn't work for me. I wish the Mono project had better documentation.


    Two days ago, it snowed in the afternoon, enough so there was still snow on the ground yesterday afternoon. By Friday, the temp will be in the 70's. And I thought the Texas panhandle had squirrelly weather!


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    Tuesday, 3 April 2007

    The automated comment spammers have tried 8,268 times to add spam comments to this blog. A couple of days ago, they tried 1,120 times in a single night. You would think that they could figure out that the spam blocker built in to this site prevents their comments from showing up here, but apparently their automated software is too stupid to figure that out. Stupid software; stupid people. Figures.


    I have a couple of more things to add to the Hours, minutes, seconds calculator, then I will package it up and redo my Romrock Software web site to distribute the program. It should run on any Linux box with at least Mono 1.1.

    My big problem is to get the program to copy a calculated result to the system clipboard. This is an important function and I have realized I can't just leave it out. I will hit the forums to see if anyone has figured out how to do this with Mono 1.1.


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    Monday, 2 April 2007

    As you can see from my Saturday post, I have purchased a parts car to help me with restoring my 1952 Plymouth. I plan to go over to Post Falls today to talk to a guy about helping me do the restoration. I hope to have it ready for the trip to the 2nd International Teardrop Gathering in Minden, Nebraska, at the end of June. I will also be driving it to the Fourth of July Fun at Carnation, WA teardrop gathering.

    The other item I want to do is to powdercoat the fenders of my teardrop to match the fenders of the Plymouth. That means removing the cabin from the trailer bed, which isn't that big a deal. I think it's held on by about 6 bolts and an electrical connector.


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