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BLOGical Thoughts Archive

August 2004

Tuesday, 31 August, 2004

Nullum Gratuitum Prandium

or, as Robert Heinlein would say it,

TANSTAAFL


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Monday, 30 August, 2004

Everything arrived on Friday. I got the three books I ordered from Bookpool.com, and I got three DVDs from Novell.

I've only had time to look at one of the books, and that was 'Even Grues Get Full' by Illiad. Very enjoyable.

The other two books are real computer books - one on user interface design and the other on writing lightweight Java programs. The interface design book is by Joel Spolsky, a former Microsoft slave. I'm not sure how much I will get out of it, even though he writes some pretty good stuff.


The water line to my well will be out of commission on Wednesday. H & H Dozer Works will be installing a new line. Maybe then I will have more than about 3 pounds of pressure. Hope so.


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Friday, 27 August, 2004

I buy a lot of books from Bookpool.com, a discount technical book seller. They are always delivered in a timely manner, usually two days. I have always opted for snail mail delivery and that works just fine.

Last Friday I ordered three more books from Bookpool.com. They still haven't arrived (7 days). The difference is I asked for them to be delivered by Fedex instead of snail mail. Don't ask me why - I must have been unconscious or something. It even cost me more to do that. What a doofus.

I checked this morning and my books are in Billings, Montana. Maybe they'll be here in time for Christmas.


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Thursday, 26 August, 2004

It's North Idaho Fair time again. I'll be going on either Friday night or Saturday. I have only missed one of these fairs in twenty years, and that was because I was in Baltimore for my company. That was the same year I missed Art on the Greeen, too.

I enjoy fairs. I even enjoyed going to the Los Angeles county fair when I was a kid, but that was because my Dad had an exhibit in it. I don't go on the rides, I just go for the exhibits and the (sometimes marginal) food.

I'll probably go to the Spokane County Fair in a couple of weeks, too. They have loads more exhibits and weird food.


Microsoft Windows sucks my day right out from under me. Here's why.

I have several permanent connections to other computers. My H, I, J and P drives are mapped to other computers. Those connections are to computers in Baltimore over a WAN. Any time I run a program and invoke an Open File dialog, then attempt to switch drives, it takes Windows at least 30 seconds to re-discover what drive connections I have. All those 30 second pauses add up to significant time over a day. Why can't they read those drives once, and let everyone use that list?

I started this rant while waiting for M$ Outlook to do some kind of update. It happens sometimes when I am moving mail into storage folders, and it hangs up Outlook for the 2 or 3 minutes it takes to do whatever trivial task it is doing.

Most Microsoft programs seem to act to this way. Maybe Microsoft's slogan should be "We put the "M" in mediocrity".


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Wednesday, 25 August, 2004

I'm tired of getting all the crap jobs at work. And having to work on crap code. I'm going to tune up my resumé.


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Tuesday, 24 August, 2004

Science Fiction predicts Science Fact: In the movie "Star Trek: The Voyage Home", the Enterprise travel back in time to capture two humpback whales to bring them back to the 23rd century. Scotty needs material to build a big whale tank, so he and Dr. McCoy go to a plexiglas plant and Scotty gens up a formula for 'transparent aluminum', something no one in the 20th century ever heard of.

Yesterday, 3M announced they had created transparent aluminum. Where does 3M get their ideas? Maybe from Star Trek?


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Monday, 23 August, 2004

backed up six more VHS tapes onto DVD over the weekend. I would have done more, but I had to build a menu system into one of them. That one was actually two sixty minute tapes taken of me giving software lectures at GeTUGether '91 and '92. Those were the fun old days.

Building menus takes about three times longer than just backing up video. First you have to capture the video. Then you load those videos into the video editing program. Then build the menus. Finally, you create a final video and burn it. Not something I'd rather be doing.


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Friday, 20 August, 2004

I'm under the gun at work again. No time to write anything.


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Thursday, 19 August, 2004

I'm going to set up my Linux test box again, in order to test Xandros 2.01. I've been hearing such good things about it, I figure it deserves a look-see.

Lycoris has just released a new version of their Linux product. They are also one of the 'buy to try it' gang, like Xandros used to be. It would be interesting to try Lycoris out, too.

Debian is very close to a new release of their Linux. Their 'Woody' version has been around for a long time, so it's nice to see that 'Sarge' will be released soon.

Despite all the FUD being spread about Linux by the likes of Microsoft, SCO, Sun and biased reporters, Linux is doing just fine. Like the cost of gasoline will drive people to other modes of transportation, the cost of using software with security holes the size of Cheyenne Mountain will drive users to alternate oprating systems. The easiest and most stable alternatives out there are Linux and FreeBSD/NetBSD. Things will definitely be more interesting in the next few years.


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Wednesday, 18 August, 2004

I've been pretty busy at work. Our customer is playing little games again. I fix one problem and they reject the fix, not because it doesn't work, but because they want to 'add functionality' to the fix. So I add their functionality. And before I get the patch out, they request more 'functionality' changes. So, even though they want the patch yesterday, I am stopping work on it so we can conference about what they really want. Idiots.


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Tuesday, 17 August, 2004

It was kind of nice to actually see another teardrop trailer on the road. I was coming home from work last night and pulled off of I-90 on the first exit in Post Falls. A homebuilt teardrop was pulling on to I-90, heading west towards Spokane. It was a Kit-style woody, with light wood sides and dark wood trim. A white pickup truck was towing it.

For those of you who like oriental food, there is a sort of oriental market in the factory Outlet stores in Post Falls. They have all kinds of oriental and filipino food, as well as other oriental goods.


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Monday, 16 August, 2004

We had a very good NILUG meeting on Saturday. We got a bunch of Linux distros to people who didn't have them, and we installed SuSE 9.1 Professional on a machine that was using Fedora. The install got rid of a few problems that were plaguing the machines owner, like how to print to her HP 832C printer. Just goes to show that different distros have different levels of difficulty.

I made a copy of Xandros 2.01 for a woman at the meeting. When she got home, she installed it on her IBM laptop, then immediately sent an email to me about it. She raved about it. She says its the best Linux or Windows O/S she has ever had. I guess I'll have to run it up on my test box and see what the buzz is all about.


I got a few chores done over the weekend, including some yardwork and backing up a couple more VHS tapes onto DVD.

One of the tapes started out bad (loss of sync), but I fast forwarded it to the end, then rewound it. The sync losses cleared up and I was able to back it up to DVD. So I don't have to go out and buy a replacement for 'While You Were Sleeping'.


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Friday, 13 August, 2004

The North Idaho Linux Users Group (NILUG) meeting is tomorrow. We meet from noon to 3pm at Frank Ten Thy's house. See the web site for more location info.

Linux distros are available for copying at the meeting. Also lots of help for novices and complete newbies. And hopefully help for me and my Perl module problem.

Frank has a broadband connection, so we can download anything you need at the meeting.


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Thursday, 12 August, 2004

For those of you who do web pages: you should look at The HTML Hell Page before you design your next web opus. Eric knows what he doesn't like, and he spares no feelings letting everybody know his opinions. There are some very good tips in here on what not to do on a web page.


The Perl programming language has a feature that allows you to get Perl modules from a central repository. The facility is called CPAN. You can access the facility from within the Perl interpreter or by going to a web site.

I attempted to use CPAN last night to install the Gtk.pm module. I tried both the language and web site and was unsuccessful in loading Gtk.pm from either. Another case of RTFM, I think. And I don't like to read the fine manual.


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Wednesday, 11 August, 2004

They're still working on our road. It's at the 'rolling ocean of 1 inch gravel' phase. This means you can't go over about 20 mph, since the gravel causes your car to move from side to side like an unstable boat. I'm hoping that they (another contracter) will be putting down pavement soon.


Our object oriented programming lunch group started designing our calculator yesterday. Our regular OOP crew is helping, and they have some strange ideas about the design. They are promoting a design where everything can be easily expanded, whereas my philosophy for small programs is 'just get it done'. To each their own, I guess.

We are currently just designing the classes for the calculator. We haven't even picked out a language to write the thing in (although I thought we had picked Java).


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Tuesday, 10 August, 2004

I am continuing to exercise my fair use rights with regards to movies and music. I encourage others to do so and to take active part in protests against legislation paid for by Hollywood lobbyists. Wake up - they're making you pay for the same content over and over again.


We start our group calculator, written in Java, today. This should be an interesting exercise.

And I should wrap up my hours/minutes/seconds calculator and put it out on the Net. And update my other web site.


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Monday, 9 August, 2004

I backed three more VHS tapes onto DVD over the weekend. It takes a long time to do each one, and I still have a boatload of them to do.


I have been assigned a real project at work, instead of just fixing bugs. It's been a while since that has happened. I'm not sure if I remember how to do a project.


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Friday, 6 August, 2004

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Thursday, 5 August, 2004

We had a pretty good thunderstorm last night. I had to turn off the TV because the hail reduced my satellite reception. Which was OK, as I had other things I should have been doing.

I ripped the Star Wars: Return of the Jedi radio play onto MP3. I can now listen to all three radio plays at work while I'm programming.


They've been working on the road that Boot Hill road dumps into for a couple of weeks now. Last night, they were laying down felt and putting gravel over that. This meant they wouldn't let me drive the 1/2 mile down Dodd to Boot Hill. I had to drive 5 miles out of my way to the other end of Dodd Road and come in to Boot Hill from the east. Kind of a pain, but they will be paving real soon now.

This morning, I got up early enough to beat the road guys to work, so I could drive over the 1/2 mile stretch they were working on last night.


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Wednesday, 4 August, 2004

I am attending a series of Object Oriented Programming seminars at work. We will be building yet another calculator using Java. It's not like I haven't done this half a dozen times, but the approach will be a group one and should be very different from the one I use. Should be interesting.


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Tuesday, 3 August, 2004

A BLOG on Internal Homeland Security: http://www.stephensonstrategies.com/


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Monday, 2 August, 2004

Have you noticed how many times manufacturers claim something about their product and it's a lie? It would be better if Krispy Kreme called what they make 'fauxnuts' instead of 'doughnuts', because they really are fake doughnuts.

What's worse is when they substitute ingredients and don't tell you. Besides being potentially dangerous to some of their (allergic) customers, it is an insult to the rest of their customers. Coke doesn't taste like Coke anymore, and neither does Dr. Pepper, Pepsi or 7-Up. They use corn syrup instead of sugar now.

Nothing we can do about it. Manufacturers no longer look upon us as customers; we are 'consuming units' and as such, have no intelligence or input into their manufacturing process. The only way you and I can get their attention is to NOT buy their product. So I don't. They have plenty of other 'consumers', so they even ignore our boycotts. What a world.


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