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April 2008

Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Since we will be demonstrating various Linux distros at the NILUG meeting a week from this coming Saturday, I thought I would load a different Linux distro on one of my machines and demo that. I am thinking of doing Linux Mint, even though I hate the menu on it. The menu system reminds me of MS Window's menuing system for Vista.

If Linux Mint doesn't work out, I will look for another distro. Maybe look at the latest version of SimplyMepis.


Tonight, I will be getting my Dutch oven equipment ready for the Dutch oven workshop in Rathdrum City Park on Saturday. I haven't used it since the snow started last year, so I need to check it for cleanliness and rust. I doubt I will have either of those problems, but you can never be to careful. I plan to teach how to do a pineapple upside down cake at the workshop.


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Tuesday, 29 April 2008

I got in the Plymouth last night so I could drive it down to the local classic car hangout. I was very surprised when it wouldn't start. The carburetor wasn't getting any fuel, so it could be one of three things: I'm out of gas, the fuel pump quit working, or the fuel line filter is clogged up with gunk from the fuel tank. I'm going with the latter, and I will work on the thing if I get a chance (May will be a very busy month for me).


There is one news item you won't get today. It was a link to an Information Week article about how Apple's success is bringing it more patent lawsuits. Why am I not linking to it? When I clicked the link, it went to a full page ad (it's on the Wall of Shame already) and when I clicked past the ad, it went to a full page survey! I never got near the article. Way to go, Information Week - you are rapidly losing your relevance, and you have completely lost me as a viewer.


I got another update notice this morning on my regular workstation that Ubuntu 7.10 wanted to update a couple of packages. The difference with normal notices and this one is that it offered to update my entire system to Ubuntu 8.04. I think I will take them up on that. I usually do a complete reinstall, but this is a good opportunity to try the upgrade path. I will have to back up the entire system first, though. I'm glad I have a 1TB NAS I can back it up to.


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Monday, 28 April 2008

I created a new virtual machine at work on Friday and loaded Ubuntu 8.04 onto it. The first impression is that it behaves much better with VMWare than 7.10 did. It actually behaves more like Windows when interacting with VMWare. I no longer have to hit Ctrl-Alt to release the mouse cursor so I can go to another window other than the VMWare window.

I also installed Ubuntu 8.04 on my laptop, over the release candidate. It behaves exactly like the release candidate. I still had to install vmcutter to get wireless to work, but that was painless. I didn't notice before, but it is difficult to get pre-recorded DVDs to play on 8.04. There is now no Automatix to fall back on to get things working. I will have to investigate to find out how to do this.


I worked on my 1952 Plymouth Concord this weekend. I discovered that the automatic choke linkage was missing, so I took the one out of the '51 and installed it. After that, the '52 starts right up. I then replaced the spark plugs, added coolant and did some work on the interior. I may take it down to the Paul Bunyon 2 diner tonight, where the classic car folks hang out on Mondays.


I have added OfficeMax to the Wall of Shame. Some pages on their web site require the use of Windows Internet Exploder, version 5.0 or greater. Which leaves out those of us not running that proprietary, crummy operating system.


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Friday, 25 April 2008

I have downloaded the Ubuntu 8.04 production ISO, burned a CD and verified that the image was downloaded correctly. I am going to use it to create a virtual machine of the distro at work, and I will load it on my notebook this weekend. If all that goes okay, I will burn ten copies for the May NILUG InstallFest and Demo.

I discovered last night that, apparently, the latest Linux kernel has coverage for the Broadcom wireless chip set. I will find out if that is true when I install it on my notebook.


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Thursday, 24 April 2008

I stopped by the F1 for Help computer store in Rathdrum last night. I did this because I go by it every day on my way to and from work, and because the owner is on our Linux user group list serve, where he mentioned his intentions to move many of his customers to Linux. I found out when I was there that they recycle equipment and that one of the very knowledgeable members of NILUG works there. I have a couple of monitors that I am going to recycle, so they will go to that store. It's a lot closer than the store in downtown Coeur d'Alene for recycling.


I will try to update the NILUG web site with a news item about the next meeting, which will be an InstallFest and Demo day. We will be demoing as many Linux distros as possible. We will also have to get out the ads so everyone knows about this.


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Wednesday, 23 April 2008

The Dutch oven workshop that was to be held at Rathdrum City Park on Saturday has been postoned until May 3rd. Too many principal players seem to be ill at the moment. Since May the 3rd is the only Saturday in May when I don't have something scheduled, I will still be there as a mentor.


I updated one of my credit cards last night. Imagine my lack of surprise when I ended up talking to someone in India to do that. Not good for our faltering economy but fine and dandy for the card company's bottom line - in the short term.


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Tuesday, 22 April 2008

I am looking forward to the Dutch oven workshop we will be doing at Rathdrum City Park on Saturday. The weather may cooperate a bit, as the temperature will be in the upper 50's later in the day. I will wear my jacket, though.

I was going to prepare my beef stroganoff, but I decided to do some dishes from George Holcomb's Dutch oven cookbook. Preparing those dishes will help promote the book, whose proceeds goes to the city of Rathdrum. I guess I better get out the equipment and make sure it's in good shape.


I got a 'used' book in the mail yesterday. I ordered it from Amazon and it was shipped from one of Amazon's partners. The book originally cost $20 and I got it for $4.85, including shipping. The book is not 'like new' - it is new. Quite a good deal for a technical reference called CodeNotes for J2EE.


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Monday, 21 April 2008

I have had Ubuntu 8.04 Beta installed on my notebook computer for just 4 days shy of one month. During that time, I have updated 927 packages. It's pretty obvious that the development team is really serious about getting things right.

Canonical announced the first release candidate for Ubuntu 8.04 yesterday. I downloaded it and burned a CD, then installed it.

Ubuntu 8.04 Release Candidate 1 Setup

When you first boot the Live CD, the whole front end is different. The first thing you will be asked is the language to use. You will then go to the standard selection menu. A big difference there is that there are lots more options available with function keys, and there is an option to install Ubuntu. that's the one I selected.

Actual installation was pretty much like Ubuntu 7.10, with a few minor exceptions. Some of the screens have better explanations. The time zone selection has actually been made harder, but the partitioning portion has been made somewhat simpler.

Once the O/S was installed, the first thing I did was download 42 package updates. Since I always have wireless problems (Broadcom chip set), I then used Synaptic to download and install fwcutter. During that installation, fwcutter found and installed the firmware for my WiFi, and I was then all set up to use wireless. The last thing I did was to install the ATI hardware driver from the restricted hardware menu. I then enabled compiz so I could have all the nifty special effects.

The final thing I looked for before ending the setup was whether DMA was enabled for the DVD drive. It was, so it seems that all of the minor glitches with the beta have been taken care of.


We got more snow Saturday morning, but it melted. We have more snow this morning, too. I have a Dutch oven workshop on Saturday, so it better quit doing this weird weather stuff before then.


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Friday, 18 April 2008

There are six more days to go until Ubuntu 8.04 goes into production. I must admit that I am looking forward to it. A new version of a distro always fixes many problems with older versions, and always supports more hardware that was not supported in older versions.

I will be upgrading my notebook from the Beta version to the production version, and will also upgrade my main workstation. If I chose the upgrade route, I will not have to reinstall all the other programs I have installed over the last year. There can be problems with upgrading, though, so if I run into a major problem, I will do a reinstall instead.



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Thursday, 17 April 2008

I have signed up and received two coupons for two TV converter boxes, to convert digital broadcast signals for use with old analog televisions. I purchased the two boxes last night. I hooked one up and am now seeing digital channels on my analog TV. The (RCA) box is not quite as sensitive as the one built into my digital TV, but it does a pretty good job. I'm ready for the shutdown now. What we need, though, is some actual good content to watch.

I think I may have to replace my TV antenna with a better one. That may help quite a bit, and may help me get channel 22, which is the only channel the new box could not auto-detect.


11:55 Update: I just realized there is a meeting of the North Idaho Mineral Club tonight. I missed last month's meeting, so I'd better attend this one.


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Wednesday, 16 April 2008

I hope you had a good Tax Day yesterday. The IRS, the agency that no one controls, is insistent on their yearly tribute. Don't let them down.


One James Bond movie strikes me as being the absolute worst in the series. The Man with the Golden Gun is silly and prentious. It has no redeeming qualities. The series has gotten much better since. Unfortunately, the same Bond (Roger Moore) starred in one of my favorites (For Your Eyes Only) and the worst.


Listening to the radio this morning about the Pope's visit to the U.S., I heard that the Pope and the Prez have 'an affinity'. An immediate response popped into my head on hearing that: "Yeah, the Pope loves God and the Prez thinks he is God. Silly, I know, but what can you expect at 5:00 am?


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Tuesday, 15 April, 2008 (Tax Day)

I started to post this entry this morning, and discovered that the server that hosts this site and my other sites was down. This is happening more frequently and I am not happy about it. From the symptoms, it looks like they may have been doing some maintenance, but the least they could do is inform us beforehand.


I believe that winter will be with us all year this year. It is snowing this morning. There's about an inch on the ground. I'm getting pretty tired of this. It went from 73° F on Sunday to 32° F this morning. It's like living in the Texas panhandle again, where you never know what the weather will be one hour to the next.


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Monday, 14 April, 2008

It's the middle of April, and here's what my front yard looks like:

That mound is where I pushed some of the snow during the winter. It is still 29 inches high. It was a pretty tough winter. Looking south from the house, there is a lot more snow.


I created a chicken dish last night and it came out great. I call it Spicy Mexican Chicken, and I have published the recipe in my recipe section. Thanks for your inputs, Betty.


I got lots done over the weekend. The NILUG meeting took up a lot of Saturday. I demoed Ubuntu 8.04 Beta to the group and helped install Ubuntu on two more notebook computers.

On Sunday, I went down and got new cables for the battery on the '52 Plymouth and replaced the old ones. After that, the car started right up with no problems. So I guess I'm ready to do some major restoration work on it.

Once I got the Plymouth out of the garage, I swept the garage out, moved a workbench into its proper place (instead of in the middle of the garage, where it interferes with everything) and put the snow plow away again. I put the regular tires back on the Honda, so I should be getting 50+ mpg on it again. I also backed up my web sites' databases and I installed the latest version of WordPress on both web sites.


I have added a Wall of Shame section to the Topics in the right-hand column of this site. These are web sites that display full page ads instead of the web site content you actually expected to see. This is a service so you can learn to avoid those web sites.


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Friday, 11 April, 2008

The North Idaho Linux Users Group meets tomorrow in Post Falls. I will give a short talk on my experiences with Ubuntu 8.04 Beta and we will also be talking about adding another meeting to the agenda. If you have any problems with Linux, or just want to find out what the heck Linux is all about, come to the meeting. We always welcome newcomers, and there are no obligations attached to attendance.


I don't know about you, but I am fed up with the timed full page ads you get instead of the web pages you clicked on in the first place. Yes, I know I link to some of those web sites in my news items, but what else can I do? All I can do is warn you and apologize for the annoyingly poor taste of the web sites. I am toying with the idea of creating a list of news sites that use this 'sales' technique, and adding the list to my front page.


There were 224 more updates for Ubuntu 8.04 Beta. Only thirteen days left until release, so I expect to see a lot more changes in the next few days.


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Thursday, 10 April, 2008

I did my good deed for the week. Last night after work, I went to a place in Coeur d'Alene and installed a new power supply in one computer and anti-virus software in another computer.

A dead computer can be from a variety of problems. This computer had the pilot light on the motherboard working, but when I hit the power button, no CPU fan, no power supply fan and no hard drive power up. So I figured it was the power supply. I got one from Computer Geeks for $14.50 and installed it. The machine started working, so I guessed right.

The other machine had a brain-dead 'security suite' called eTrust. I removed it and installed Avast. The moral there is never trust any product that has the word 'trust' in it. It would be like trusting a snake oil salesman or politician who utters the magic phrase 'trust me'.


Since I started my job, I have had to program using Delphi, C#, Java and Perl (XML, too, if you count that as a language). Now I have been assigned a task which takes me into the arcane realms of *NIX command line shell programming (bash, sh, csh, zsh, whatever). Ah, the joys of programming...


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Wednesday, 9 April, 2008

I participated in an interesting experiment at work yesterday. A co-worker used the 'sed' program to convert some data into a web page. The page was 13.9MB in size, and he was complaining about how it wouldn't load into Internet Explorer 7. It turns out, he just didn't wait long enough. It took over 30 seconds to load the page. The second time we tried, it wouldn't load at all. Obviously some kind of memory allocation problem.

I suggested that he share the file with me so I could try loading it with Firefox. He did that, and Firefox displayed the page in 1/2 second!

I figured out what Firefox had done, and the fundamental difference between the two browsers. Firefox loaded just enough of the page to display, and kept loading the remainder in the background. Internet Explorer 7 insisted on loading the entire page before attempting to display it.

I suggested to my co-worker that he abandon IE7 and use Firefox instead (you knew the moral before I got to it, didn't you?).


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Tuesday, 8 April, 2008

<rant>It's been weeks now since the broadcast companies and the writers union settled their strike. Where are all the real television shows that were replaced by crap when the strike started? It's obvious that the networks are milking that crap for all it's worth, as they make much more money that way. Because it does cost money to hire professional actors to produce real entertainment.

So, all we are seeing is warmed-over versions of the Gong Show, the $64,000 Question, Supermarket Sweep and inane 'reality' shows. No Heroes, no Chuck, no Pushing Daisies, no real entertainment. I am sticking to my reading.</rant>


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Monday, 7 April, 2008

I updated Ubuntu 8.04 Beta again on Sunday. There were 220 packages to be updated. They are coming hot and heavy now, as there are only 18 days until the production release.


I have added 64 Dutch oven recipes to this web site from the now-defunct Inland Empire Dutch Oven Society web site. They all sound pretty good to me - I may try some of them out this summer, or even at the Rathdrum Dutch Oven Workshop on the 26th of April.

I have also added 8 recipes from a Lodge Cast Iron brochure that sounded pretty good. This brings the total recipes on the web site up to 103. I hope they come in handy.


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Friday, 4 April, 2008

I will be moving the Dutch oven recipes that were on the IEDOS web site to this web site over the weekend. Since those recipes were in the same kind of database my recipes are in, it shouldn't be too hard. Simply a matter of changing the recipe categories to the ones I use instead of the ones they used.


I'm going to try once again this weekend to put my snowplow away and change to regular tires on my car. Who knows if I will succeed. It all depends on the weather. My advice for the weekend is: slow down and smell where the roses may bloom.


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Thursday, 3 April, 2008

At the request of the group's founder I have closed down the Inland Empire Dutch Oven Society web site. Before I did that, though, I backed up the site and the database. I will be extracting the Dutch oven recipes out of that database and will post them on this web site. They don't deserve to be hidden away, as many of them are quite good.

The IEDOS members are still cooking like crazy and another group has formed, called the North Idaho Dutch Oven Group (NIDOG). Their published schedule of events includes at least six for this year. The first event is the Dutch oven workshop in Rathdrum on the 26th of April. I will be there and I hope that others who are interested in Dutch oven cooking will attend.


This is hilarious and right on the money, so to speak. Don't click the link if you actually like our current President, though.


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Wednesday, 2 April, 2008

So now there is a server problem at my web host, and all of my web sites are down. I am getting a little upset with this. It may be that my problems have always been their problems and I just didn't realize it. When you see this entry, you will know that the server has been restored to service.


My BookMooch activity seems to come in cycles. I have sent out 4 books in the last two days and have received two books. My inventory is down to 44, so I guess I will have to dig up some more books to give away.


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Tuesday, 1 April, 2008

I use BookMooch mostly to pick up books for entertainment. The other day, though, I got into a conversation with my boss and he indicated that he would be throwing more Java work my way, so I decided to check BookMooch for Java references. I picked up two of them - Java Cookbook and CodeNotes for Java. They came in the mail last night, and I am reading the CodeNotes book. It is well written and interesting, which is very hard to do for a technical book. I will be taking both of these to work for reference. Net cost of these books to me - $0.00. I really like BookMooch.


The new router also seems to have cured my web site update problem, which I mistakenly thought was an exterior attack, and which prompted me to back up the web site in the first place. I guess bad hardware can cause all kinds of problems that can be diagnosed as some other problem.


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