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BLOGical Thoughts Archive

August 2008

Friday, 29 August 2008

I guess I will have to learn something about Flex. At work, we are planning to do a major upgrade of our application's user interface and we will use Flex to do that. For those of you who don't know, Flex is an open source framework for building and maintaining web applications that can be deployed across all major browsers, desktops and operating systems. That fits right in with our philosophy and is the main reason our application is written in Java.

We have hired a design firm to model a new interface and have used customers and in-house personnel to critique the results. Hopefully, the resulting interface while be even more useful than the current one, while sporting a bit of 'bling' at the same time.

Now I know I should have gotten that Flex book that I saw at JavaOne.


There won't be any entry here on Monday, since that is Labor Day. I have that day off and I intend to take full advantage of it.


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Thursday, 28 August 2008

Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed that DVD burners are getting cheaper (pricewise) and cheaper (mechanically and electronically)? I have been having problems with at least two DVD burners on two separate computers. I replaced an LG unit last night with a new Pioneer unit I got through Computer Geeks.

One ongoing problem seems to be that the laser on the units seems to get dirty and are hard to clean. If I mounted the units on their sides, I suppose I would have less of a problem with that, but I feel that the units don't perform as well when you do that. Also, that isn't easy to do if you have chassis that only allow horizontal mounting.


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Wednesday, 27 August 2008

I finished the log reader I was working on and have unit tested it. It works great. I can't believe I wrote the whole thing.

There is a bit more code to add to it so it will support multiple tools, but I can do that any time. I will be moving on to other topics today.


This weekend is Spirit Lake, ID's 100th birthday celebration. It is also the last Dutch oven event of the season. I will attend the celebration, but I won't be participating. They want you to wear a costume if you participate. Considering my birthday is Halloween, I'm pretty much down on wearing costumes of any kind.


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Tuesday, 26 August 2008

I am still debugging the log file reader I wrote at work. As you can imagine, it is a complex piece of software. I am down to the point where I know the data is going out to the line processing tool, but that tool is not seeing any matches. I will have to adjust the data stream to match what that tool expects. I hope to finish this up today and move on to another challenge.

We are still interviewing for programmers. There was a hopeful interview yesterday with someone from Colorado. The interview process they go through is more like a series of tests than an interview. It seems to work very well, though. Other parts of the company don't use such an exhaustive process and they have more trouble getting the people they would like.


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Monday, 25 August 2008

I went to the North Idaho Fair on Saturday. It was pretty good, but it has been better in the past. The tone and participation in the show changes from year to year and this was the year of more cheap carny booths.

One nice thing was an entire building for 'green' stuff, including electric cars and trucks. One of the trucks was a Mazda converted to 144 volt electric, with an 80 mile range. There were also a lot of scooters present, with MPGs from 52 to 82. I'll stay with my car for now.


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Friday, 22 August 2008

I attended the North Idaho Mineral Club meeting last night. I enjoyed myself and I had some chrysocolla to show off in show and tell. Some of the members were showing off some star garnets they had collected down at Emerald Creek. Makes me want to go down there again. In the meantime, though, I have enough cabochon material to last me into next summer.


Now that we are past the extreme heat of the early part of the week, and the thunderous downpours of the last couple of days, I will be attending the North Idaho Fair on Saturday. It is supposed to be in the mid 80's, so it will be very nice for a change.


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Free/Open Source Software

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Testing the program I wrote at work indicates that it is making a valid secure (https) connection, receiving cookies and everything else that it's supposed to do. However, there is no data in the XML document it is supposed to receive. This could mean there is no data to send, which is probably the case. I will check that out today.


I may stop gathering in silly signs when I hit 1000. That would be a good place to start recycling them. Today's sign is number 768, so we have a ways to go yet before I make that decision. I have signs saved up into the 800's and gather more on a weekly basis, but that is time that could be spent on other stuff that needs to be done around here. Same old complaint, same old solution.


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Wednesday, 20 August 2008

I was late for work yesterday. We had a big storm come through here night before last and one of my trees fell over the driveway, up by the entrance. I had to cut it up and drag it out of the way before I could leave. This happens every once in a while. It comes from having so many trees so close to the road, but I am reluctant to thin them.


I have finished the log reader I was working on. I had to write two classes for it. The parent class handles all the sundry things that our normal reader does, and connects to the secure web site that contains the log data. That connection is inherited by the child class, which opens a stream and parses the result with SAX. The fields obtained are reformatted and sent to the rest of our system.

At least, that's the theory. I still need to test it to see if it works. I will do that today.


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Tuesday, 19 August 2008

NetFlix is back on track. I got a delivery of 'Innerspace' on Saturday and returned it on Monday. I can't complain about a three day delay; I kind of needed the break.


I think I will do an article on using cron in Linux. It's something that most people don't know about and could definitely make use of. As far as I know, no one has developed a GUI interface for cron, so it must be used from the command line. That's probably why many people don't use it.

For those who don't know, cron is a task scheduler. It schedules and runs tasks by second, minute, hour, day, week or month. It can come in really handy for repetitive tasks.


Not much news this morning, as I spent last night ripping CDs so I could listen to them while working.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software

Monday, 18 August 2008

Since I knew that my ISP would be making their internal network changes starting at 9am on Saturday morning, I changed the settings on my router at 6am and then went out for breakfast and to run errands. After I got back, I stayed away from the Net until 11am, knowing they said it might take up to 8 hours to get everything running right. Imagine my surprise when everything was running just fine after only two hours. Kudos to J & R Electronics for their fine preparation and implementation.


It was just too hot this weekend for me to do anything outside. It was 97° F on Saturday and 100° F on Sunday, so I just did stuff inside.


Silly sign of the day:


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Friday, 15 August 2008

At work, I have done an analysis of what needs to be done to read and parse an XML file and present the result to one of our logging tools. This morning, I will be writing a quick command line Java program to open a local file and parse the XML in it the way it should be parsed for the log reader. When I get that working, I will replace the file opening mechanism with code to read the XML from the Net. Then I can create a log reader, knowing that the important bits already work.


Tomorrow will be the hottest day of the week, and I will have no excuse (Internet connection) to stay inside in the cool. I guess I will be doing a lot of chores outside. Maybe I can actually get the steering wheel back on the Plymouth.


Silly sign of the day:


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Thursday, 14 August 2008

I was expecting a NetFlix DVD yesterday. Imagine my surprise when I received a notice stating they are having trouble with their shipping system. The trouble appears to be company-wide, as I was reading Robert Bruce Thompson's blog this morning, and he is complaining of the same problem. Robert lives in North Carolina.

This is the first time anything like this has occurred. I have had delays before, but only because they were shipping DVDs from somewhere other than Spokane. They have shipped me DVDs from Boise and even from Maryland, but network difficulties have never tied them up until now.


My ISP has informed me that my Internet connection will be down all day on Saturday. They need to make address changes to their network. My wireless modem also must reflect those changes, and the ISP has sent me instructions on how to make those changes. I hope it all goes smoothly.


Silly sign of the day:


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Stupid Patent Tricks, Copyright and Other IP Nonsense

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Wednesday, 13 August 2008

I've been assigned to write a new log reader at work. The old log reader no longer works, as the company that produces the device has changed their protocol.

When I think protocol, I think about low level bits and bytes. But they are basically talking about a change from one XML DTD to another. I have found nothing so far in the old log reader that would prevent it from processing the new log. I will continue to look at it today, as I need to formulate a plan of attack for the problem.

One of my co-workers has suggested using XSLT to translate the new protocol to look like the old one. I'm not sure that would work, as the XML must be well-formed to do such a translation.

All this means I will be learning new stuff, so it can't be bad.


I have downloaded another variation of eeebuntu. I will burn a new DVD tonight and attempt to install it on my EEE PC.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

The steering wheel for my 1952 Plymouth no longer has cracks in it. I will have to sand down the epoxy to get a smooth surface, but it doesn't look like too hard a task. After sanding, I have some paint that exactly matches the old color of the steering wheel. Once I get the wheel back on the car, I can work on the gas tank.


I downloaded eeebuntu (twice) over the weekend so I could try installing it on my EEE PC. In both cases, I was unable to use the resultant disk. Very disappointing. I will try again later this week with another variant of Ubuntu.


Silly sign of the day:


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Monday, 11 August 2008

I finally got a pressure washer. I bought it at Lowes for the same price I would have gotten it at Harbor Freight. The difference is the one I got at Lowes is a name brand and probably has a longer life.

The pressure washer does a good job. I spent some time on Saturday and Sunday washing the back deck and the north side of the house. The deck looks about 10 times better than it did. The side of the house looks pretty good, too.


I epoxied the steering wheel for my 1952 Plymouth on Sunday. The epoxy was really sticky and hard to work with, and I won't know the results until it is completely cured - this morning, but I will look at the results this evening.


Silly sign of the day:


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Friday, 8 August 2008

I gave a spare monitor to one of the North Idaho Linux Users Group members yesterday. In exchange, he gave me a bag of rocks. He thought they were turquoise, but I think they are chrysocolla. I will be cutting them up at any rate.

We did all this yesterday because he can't make the NILUG meeting tomorrow. That's too bad - I think we may have quite a few attendees.


Silly sign of the day:


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Stupid Patent Tricks, Copyright and Other IP Nonsense

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Thursday, 7 August 2008

The SuSE Linux software repository doesn't seem to have the width or depth that the Ubuntu repository has. I have unsuccessfully tried to find several programs in SuSE that were readily available in Ubuntu. These are programs I use all the time, but they don't seem to be available for SuSE. My decision to not switch back to SuSE remains.

I downloaded the latest version of Mepis Linux (7.0), verified the download and burned a CD. The CD will not run correctly - I end up at a command line prompt. I will try this on another machine. If that doesn't work, I will burn another CD on another machine. I really would like to see what the latest Mepis looks like, but this is discouraging.


Silly sign of the day:


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Wednesday, 6 August 2008

The way to get KDE 4.1 in SuSE 11.0 back to the classical menu style is to right-click on the start menu. There is a menu entry there that will allow you to select the old menu style. My thanks to Sean for pointing this out to me.


Here is a list of the things I have done at work in the past year. Each completed software project includes unit testing and bug fixing.


Silly sign of the day:


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Stupid Patent Tricks, Copyright and Other IP Nonsense

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Tuesday, 5 August 2008

This month I am celebrating the one year anniversary of working at that network security company in Post Falls. I will be making a list of the projects and languages I have used in the past year while performing my job. I was going to include it this morning, but I want to make sure it is as comprehensive as I can make it. I think you will be surprised at the variety of things I have done. I know I am.


The monthly meeting of the North Idaho Linux Users Group will be held this Saturday. I missed last month's meeting because of a Dutch oven event, so I am looking forward to this month's meeting. One of the things we will be doing is discussing our participation in Software Freedom Day.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software

RIAA/MPAA/IFPI/BSA/SIIA/FCC

Stupid Patent Tricks, Copyright and Other IP Nonsense

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Monday, 4 August 2008

I have figured out why SuSE 11.0 could not find a couple of my Linux distros. It takes the short-sighted approach of looking only where it is installed. What I mean is this: there are two kinds of partitions on a hard disk - primary and secondary (logical) partitions. There can only be a maximum of four primary partitions, and if you want more partitions, one of the primaries must be configured as a secondary partition.

If SuSE Linux 11.0 was installed in a primary partition, it would look at the other primary partitions for other operating systems. If it was installed in a secondary partition, it would only look there. The latter is what happened to me - the two Linux distros it could not find were installed on a primary partition, while it was only looking on the secondary partition.

To fix this, I reinstalled all the Linuxes. For the distros, I put each one in a logical partition, adding to the secondary partition for each distro I installed. I installed Vector Linux, Linux Mint and Ubuntu in logical partitions. None of the distros had any trouble finding each other.

Doing this brought up another problem: the SuSE Linux 11.0 partition editor would not let me create a logical partition from unallocated space. It insisted that I needed to create a primary partition. So I went looking for a partition editor that would let me get around this. I finally found QTParted on an old Mepis Linx disk that would let me resize the secondary partition to encompass the entire disk. I could then create a secondary partition with the SuSE partition editor.


I enjoyed the Art on the Green over the weekend. I went on Sunday, as it was easier for me. There were a lot more booths than in the past, and there was a lot of interesting quality crafts present. I even bought something this year, which I haven't done in about 15 years.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software

RIAA/MPAA/IFPI/BSA/SIIA/FCC

Stupid Patent Tricks, Copyright and Other IP Nonsense

Liberty and Security/Our Rights

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Friday, 1 August 2008

I found the extra programs I installed in SuSE 11.0. Unlike every other desktop manager in the known universe, KDE will not display new items in it's menu until you log out and log back in. This is very shortsighted and incredibly stupid, because most people will not know to do that.

I found no way to change the start menu back to the old style. I'm not saying there isn't a way, but they've done a Microsoft and moved everything around so you can't find what you want. I was also unable to recover the two Linux distros that were supposed to be on the machine. So I ended up with SuSE, Vector and Debian with Mandriva and Linux Mint gone into the great bit bucket in the sky.

I have an overall impression of SuSE Linux 11.0 and KDE 4.1 of lots of glitz, some substance and little cohesiveness. It was an interesting exercise, but I will not be using SuSE on my main workstation.


I mentioned the other day that the Dutch oven cooks would not be doing anything else in Rathdrum this year. The day after I mentioned that, I picked up the Rathdrum newspaper and it had an activities guide from the Rathdrum Parks & Recreation. I looked to see what it would say about the Heritage Festival, since we and the mountain men would not be there. Imagine my surprise when I read "Dutch Oven Cookery and Bluegrass Hootenanny". I'm not sure where E.L. will get the Dutch oven cooks. She sure isn't one herself.


Silly sign of the day:


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Stupid Patent Tricks, Copyright and Other IP Nonsense

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