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August 2005

Wednesday, 31 August 2005

I have loaded the text editor I am working on into my notebook. It was nice, sitting in the living room, talking to the server in the computer room over WiFi. That connection is a lot faster (802.11g) than my USB 2.0, so the files came over very quickly.

I would never use the notebook as my primary computer, as I don't like the small keyboard and I hate the touchpad. But it is nice to have a machine that you can lug around to meetings, camping trips or whatever.


My boss is moving over to the dark side tomorrow. I want to wish her the best of luck as a Microsoft lackey (.Net, SQL Server and C# development).

Our customer support group (to which I belong) is slowly dwindling into extinction. Outsourcing is the culprit. Considering the quality of the code coming from their outside source, I'm surprised our customer is still doing it.


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Tuesday, 30 August 2005

I had to re-load SuSE 9.3 onto my server. I forgot that every time you make changes to the video, it goes into stupid sign-on mode. The change I made was to download the NVidia driver.

I also reloaded SuSE 9.2 onto my notebook computer. The DVD player on the notebook doesn't like my 9.3 DVD, so I am one version back on the notebook. This is to replace Kubuntu, which has none of the apps I normally use.

When I got the notebook running again, I put Lazarus and the free pascal compiler on it. That will make a nice portable development system, where I can work on my text editor.


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Monday, 29 August 2005

I have been converting cassettes to CD again. I tried an experiment that seems to work pretty well. I have some cassettes that I cannot copy, as parts of them 'squeal'. This may be due to the tape tightening to the point where the player can't pull the tape past the heads, or some other reason. Whatever the reason, I have devised a mthod to play them one last time and record them to CD.

I got a quality blank tape - one that has a body which is screwed together. I unscrewed it and removed the tape portion. I then took one of the bad tapes (which are always glued together) and used a utility knife to cut it at the seams. I then used a small flat-blade screwdriver to pry the body apart. I removed the tape and installed it into the blank cassette body.

I rewound the resulting tape in both directions, in an attempt to loosen up the tape. I then played it as normal, and recorded the contents.

I did three of these bad tapes over the weekend. I was completely successful with two of the recovered tapes, and 75% successful with the third. Not a bad record for tapes I couldn't play before.


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Friday, 26 August 2005

I went to North Idaho Fair last night. The weather was perfect and I really enjoyed the fair. They do seem to keep pushing my favorite things into corners where you can't get to them, though. I think they will have to expand the fair area again, since they seem to be running out of room.

I picked up some hot leads on possible broadband access for my house at the fair. That makes the thing worthwhile in my eyes.


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Thursday, 25 August 2005

I seem to be waging a constant battle over declining resources. I keep running out of CD-Rs, DVD-Rs, sleeves, jewel cases and labels. They just kind of disappear.

Of course, I know where they are going. Just last night I made a CD of Leon Russell's Will O' The Wisp album and another copy of Mepis Linux, version 3.3.1-1. Each required one of the aforementioned resources.

If someone would invent a replicator for this stuff, I would be a happy camper.


Dear George:

At the height of Watergate, when Congress was looking into articles of impeachment, President Richard 'Tricky Dick' Nixon's popularity was at 39%. He resigned from office soon after that point.

Yesterday, your popularity was at 36%. What does that say about your leadership abilities? About how you treat the citizens of this country? Quite a lot, I suspect.

Even Tricky Dick talked with citizens who had differing views, George. And he went to funerals of fallen soldiers. He also did not prohibit his political opponents from attending his speeches.

Here's a suggestion, George. Talk with Cindy. Don't talk at her, like you did last time - actually listen to her and respond like a normal human being. And attend some funerals of some of the soldiers you got killed for war profits instead of for the capture of Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda. Maybe your popularity would rise a bit. But I doubt it.

Or maybe you should just wait to be impeached.


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Wednesday, 24 August 2005

Luckily, the spirit of open source software has not confined itself to Linux. I have been able to find all the necessary utilities required for Windows 2000 on my dad's computer without resorting to my wallet. Here are the results:


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Tuesday, 23 August 2005

As I mentioned the other day, KNOPPIX Linux comes with 5,100 other programs. You literally don't have to go looking for anything in any program category.

Contrast this with Microsoft Windows. It comes with practically nothing. You are lucky they felt inclined to include a visual program manager, as lame as it is. Basically, you aren't finished shelling out the dough when you purchase Windows.

So after I installed Windows 2000 on my dad's machine, I went searching for the important pieces of software that are missing from Windows. I found a firewall (one is included in Linux), an anti-virus program (not needed for Linux), two adware/spyware blockers (not needed in Linux), a real web browser to replace Internet ExploderExplorer, and a visual ftp program (several included with Linux).

I have installed all of these except the ftp program. That one is in a zip file, and guess what: Windows has no unzipper! What good is an operating system if it includes nothing to operate on?

And don't even get me started on music editors, video editors, desk top publishing, office suites, programming tools or ROM-burning programs.


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Monday, 22 August 2005

Friday I received an AGP video card, a dual-layer DVD writer and an 80 gb hard disk that I ordered from Surplus Computers. I installed them over the weekend - not a straightforward process.

I had three computers that needed updating. The first one is my server, which had a PCI video card in it, but it had a slot for an AGP card. The second is my mom's computer, which had a lousy built-in video card, but no AGP slot. It also had a failing CD writer and a real old 1x DVD drive. The third is my dad's new (old) Dell computer, which is in good shape except it only had a 20 gb hard drive.

So here's what I did. I pulled the video card (PCI MX-4000) out of my server and installed the new video card (AGP MX-4000) I then re-installed SuSE Linux 9.3 Professional on that machine, as the O/S couldn't recognize that a change of video bus had been done.

I then installed the PCI video card out of my server into my mom's computer. While I was at it, I removed the CD writer and DVD player and installed the new Sony DVD writer in their place. I then re-installed Mepis Linux on the machine. I left the machine open, as I needed access to it for my next step.

On my dad's machine, I removed the old 20 gb hard disk. I hooked it up to my mom's machine, along with the new 80 gb drive and used the DOS Drive Copy program to clone the old disk to the new. Then I put my mom's machine back together.

I installed the new 80 gb hard drive on my dad's machine and verified that Windows 98 would still boot. I then booted up the Mepis Linux Live CD and used QTParted to adjust the Windows 98 partition to 50 gb. I also created a 1 gb swap partition, and two Linux partitions of 15 gb each - one for root and one for home. I then installed Mepis Linux on them.

While I was checking to make sure everything was working, I noticed that Windows 98 doesn't recognize the USB keyboard. So I decided to install Windows 2000 in its place.

I have to tell you that the Windows 2000 setup program is the world's worst. If anyone other than Microsoft unleashed such crap on the buying public, they'd be out of business within a month. I tried to do the install 5 times before I was successful. And then, of course, I lost the grub boot loader and was unable to access Mepis Linux. So I had to re-install it.

Anyway, at the end, I had a working server with a new video card and re-installed O/S, a working refurbed HP machine with a good video card, new DVD writer and re-installed O/S, and a nifty little Dell with everything working just fine and two re-installed O/Ses. And that was how I spent my Saturday morning.


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Friday, 19 August 2005

I burned two more Linux distros last night. One of them is set up to boot from a pen drive, and the other has the world's most unusual desktop.

FlashLinux is a 250+ mb distro with a Gnome desktop. It has several scripts with it that allow you to install it on a 256 mb USB pen drive. After I burned the distro, I booted into it and proceeded to create a bootable pen drive with it. The only problem is, I don't have a machine that can boot from a pen drive!

SymphonyOS is a distro with a very unusual desktop. It would take a lot for me to get used to it, so I think I will give the distro a pass. After all, it took me five minutes to figure out how to shut the thing down...


I am still converting cassettes to CD. Last night I did my all time favorite Linda Ronstadt album: Living in the U.S.A. I forgot how great that album is. What a great voice - and she was looking terrific then, too.


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Thursday, 18 August 2005

I tried to run Knoppix 4.0 on my mom's computer last night. Like so many other Linux distros, Knoppix was unable to correctly configure the video for proper operation. I got a nice, colorful, completely unuseable graphics screen instead of the KDE desktop.

The only solution to this problem on that machine is another video card. In the meantime, I will try the distro on another computer.


My neighbor works at AMS, the company I was laid off from about 5 years ago. I was curious to hear about the latest round of layoffs from him. Turns out he was the one who did the layoffs. About 12 people were let go. Others will be moving to Bothell, WA, having been coerced into it in the hopes of keeping their jobs. I am very glad I don't work there any longer.


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Wednesday, 17 August 2005

I am still looking at Knoppix 4.0. There's a lot to look at. The menus are not well categorized, so some of them are huge. I will try to summarize them here when I get a handle on them myself.

So far, I am very impressed. I may load this permanently on a computer so I can give it a more comprehensive look.


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Tuesday, 16 August 2005

I now have the DVD version of Knoppix 4.0, thanks to Frank Ten Thy. I am looking at it, and it seems to contain more software than I have ever seen on any Linux distro. It also seems to run just fine on my notebook computer.

Knoppix even contains monoDevelop for creating Mono (.Net) programs.

It will take me quite a while to look at all the stuff on this distro.


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Monday, 15 August 2005

I had a very good time at the dutch oven campout over the weekend. I kind of overdid it, though, by doing three dishes. That was a lot of work.

Our next event is on September 24th in Rathdrum City Park. It will be a dutch oven demonstration. Which means we cook and you scarf it up.

I will be adding a picture gallery to the Inland Empire Dutch Oven Society web site today, so we can add pictures from the various events.


I finally figured out how to configure a BIOS so the machine could see a USB keyboard all the time. The BIOS item doesn't say anything about keyboards. I had to look at the help entry to confirm that the item would make a USB keyboard look like a normal PS/2 keyboard all the time.


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Friday, 12 August 2005

Update: I am thinking of changing the focus of this blog. It has been primarily focused on my personal experiences and how I relate to the world and technology. I am thinking about changing it to concentrate on my opinions and evaluations of specific technology, both hardware and software.

I will leave all the other sections of the blog alone. This change would only impact the news area. The news headlines I post would probably be gone, too.

Let me know what you think of this change of direction, positive or negative. I won't change if too many people say it won't be good.


I've been busy preparing for the Dutch Oven Campout I will be attending this weekend at Farragut State Park. I finally made up a standard checklist so I wouldn't forget anything. Computers do come in handy, don't they?

I will be cooking three dishes for the dutch oven potluck: herbed dinner rolls, chicken enchilada casserole and curry pork. I hope there are a lot of people at the potluck, or I will have a boatload of leftovers.

There will also be an R/C airplane contest going on at Farragut on Saturday. Should be lots of fun.


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Thursday, 11 August 2005

I ordered a 10 dollar keyboard from Surplus Computers, and it showed up last night. It's a USB keyboard with a very small footprint. It works very well plugged in to the USB port, but the machine I am using it on also has Windows 98 on it. Being such a fine operating system, Win98 doesn't support USB. So I dug out a USB to PS/2 connector I got with a mouse and plugged it in to the keyboard. Violá, instant PS/2 keyboard!

It works just fine, so the only thing left to do on that machine is put a larger hard disk in it. The current disk is only 20 GB, which isn't enough to support both Windows and Mepis Linux.


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Wednesday, 10 August 2005

Well, I don't need a new CDROM drive for my laptop. I'm glad I didn't give in to temptation yesterday and buy one.

My problem with the laptop was something else. To begin with, I tried to load Knoppix on the box, and it would no longer load. I tried three different versions - same problem. Then I gave up.

I solved the password problem in Kubuntu and attempted to make some system changes, but when I logged in as administrator, the items to be changed were still disabled. So I figured I had a bad install.

I started to install Fedora Core 3, but at the last minute, I selected the Kubuntu memory test utility. And that's where I found my problem.

Last year, I installed an extra 512 mb in the laptop. There are now errors in that memory, in several different places.

So I removed the the memory board (back to 256 mb) and reinstalled Kubuntu. Everything is working fine now, and I can even talk to my wireless router with the machine. Now all I need is some of the apps I normally use that I got with SuSE.


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Tuesday, 9 August 2005

I attempted to install Mepis 3.3.1 on my laptop last night, but was unsuccessful. Mepis does not recognize USB CD drives.

So I installed Kubuntu instead. It's ok, but it is missing a lot of stuff I use every day. So I tried to make some changes that involved my being root, and it asked for a password. Unknown. Not supplied anywhere. The last time this happened, I used Knoppix to change the root password. This time, Knoppix wouldn't boot into the laptop. I really need a new CD drive. (or a new laptop!)


I also backed up a Ravel/Tchaikovsky cassette to CD. Sounds pretty good, too.


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Monday, 8 August 2005

I went to Art on the Green on Saturday. The first people I saw as I came into the show were Clyde and Gretchen DeMoss. They are from western Washington and they go to the same teardrop trailer gatherings I do. I forgot they told me they would be in North Idaho for a bike rally. Nice to see them again.

Art on the Green was very good. I saw a lot of stuff that I would have liked to have had, but nothing that I really needed. Too bad the blacksmith boothes didn't have dutch oven lid lifters.


I finally got Debian 3.1 installed on my mom's computer, but was unable to configure the video interface so it was useable on that machine. The machine uses a weird Intel i810 video interface, which most Linux distros don't understand too well.

As a result of this video problem, I reloaded Mepis 3.3.1 onto that machine, as well as my dad's new machine. Mepis understands video cards very well, and is actually based on the Debian distro, anyway.


I started converting cassettes to audio CD again. I have done three more and have many more to go. Some of my cassettes are duplicated as CDs already, and those will not be converted. I am getting close to the 1,500 figure for audio CDs.


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Friday, 5 August 2005

I attempted to install Debian 3.1 last night. I was unsuccessful. I kept getting some weird CD error. I should probably try it from the other CD drive, but I installed Mepis 3.3.1 instead. That install went very smoothly. I like Mepis.


This weekend is Art on the Green. It's a big art festival held on the North Idaho College campus. I have only missed one of them in 21 years, so I am going to this year's.

I actually worked at a couple of these festivals years back. It was hard work, so I kind of got away from doing that. I don't envy the people who work there.


I passed the kidney stone that's been giving me fits for the last couple of months. What a relief. I pity Jeff Duntemann, because I know exactly what he is going through.


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Thursday, 4 August 2005

I worked a bit on my text editor, but spent most of my time on Linux distros.

I burned a copy of KnoppMyth, which is set up to do PVR functions. Now all I need is a capture card that really works with Linux.

I also created all the .iso images for both Dedian 3.1 and Fedora Core 4. I then burned the 6 Debian disks. I will be looking at that distro on my mom's machine today.


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Wednesday, 3 August 2005

I am still working on my Linux text editor. I think it will be a good one, but I always like the software I build. I wouldn't use it myself if I didn't.


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Tuesday, 2 August 2005

From Leuf Daynotes:

(Tuesday, 2 Aug 2005) Restaurants International Association for Action, a newly formed umbrella group for commercial gastonomical outlets, is contemplating seeking mass injuctions in major legislative jurisdictions againt the wide-spread practice of home cooking. "Food piracy is killing the restaurant business," spokesperson June Turnips said in a press conference on Monday. "How are creative chefs and five-star licenced restaurants supposed to earn a living when people can shop ingredients, download with impunity recipes off the Web, and prepare meals at home free? We seek only the legal means to preserve a long and rich tradition of recipe creation and to safeguard the existing marketplace. These so-called 'food-loving' people are no better than thieves, stealing plates of Today's Special off the restaurant table."

In related news, Mc Don King, the newly-merged global fast food outlet, has been granted a US patent for hamburgers and hamburger-related foods, and it is seeking to block sales and preparation of all unlicenced foods prepared with ground hamburger-meat. The company was at this time unwilling to state an opinion on the issue of 'food piracy' or detail how it was going to license its technology.


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Monday, 1 August 2005

I have been working on a Linux version of my text editor. So far, nothing I have written for it is any different than for the Windows version.

I haven't gotten around to installing the components for interfacing to mySQL. I need to do that, as I have two people who are expecting me to evaluate the lazarus-mySQL interface.


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