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December 2003

Wednesday, December 31, 2003

I'm glad to be back in the Pacific Northwest. Arizona is nice for a limited time, but give me North Idaho any day.

I hope you all have a Happy New Year. May the best of your yesterdays become the worst of your tomorrows.

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Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Travel day. Pocatello, ID to Coeur d'Alene, ID.

Monday, December 29, 2003

Travel day. Lake Havasu City, AZ to Pocatello, ID.

Friday, December 26, 2003

Post Christmas laziness. I'm the only one up at 8:20! And I'm trying to get over a nasty cold. I always seem to get one when I change environments radically. It was 80° F here yesterday.

My parents have a broadband (DSL) connection, which spoils me for anything else. It's much faster than the connection I have at work, and of course it far outstrips my puny 28k connection at home. Too bad I will never be able to get one where I live.

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"I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book." --Groucho Marx (1890 - 1977)

Thursday, December 25, 2003

Have a Merry Christmas. All my best wishes to everyone.

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

I have added 28 new stories from The Shadow Magazine to my eBooks section. I will be adding more as I get time over the holidays. There is a total of about 300 stories that were published by The Shadow Magazine, and I plan to put them all up as HTML eBooks.

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It is hard enough to remember my opinions, without also remembering my reasons for them!

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

The Linux Show continues with its month-long trend of interviewing people who work on major Linux projects. Today it was two folks from the Gnome organization. The Linux Show is a great way to pick up good stuff about Linux, and to hear them grouse about SCO.

Speaking of Linux, I installed SuSE Linux 9.0 Professional on my Dad's machine. Absolutely a pleasure, unlike that other proprietary operating system. No problems at all installing it. And I have talked him into migrating from Netscape Mail to Evolution. That's a big jump for him.

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" What we become depends on what we read after all of the professors have finished with us. The greatest university of all is a collection of books." --Thomas Carlyle (1795 - 1881)

Monday, December 22, 2003

It's a nice day here in Arizona, but just too warm for me. News might be a bit sparse for a while.

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"Always acknowledge a fault. This will throw those in authority off their guard and give you an opportunity to commit more." --Mark Twain (1835 - 1910)

Friday, December 19, 2003

I bought the DVD of the very short lived Firefly series. It was good when I originally watched it, and seeing it without the commercial interruptions makes it even better. There are 15 episodes on 4 DVDs. I have rewatched 7 of them. I will be watching the rest next week.

Basically, Firefly is a western set in space. It has an eclectic cast, including a fugitive doctor and his weird sister, a preacher, a goofy dangerous hired hand and a cute female ship's mechanic. And, of course, the Captain, his second in command and her pilot husband. Oh yeah, the most intriguing character is the prostitute they haul around. In that day and age, her position is much more honorable than it is now, but more parochial attitudes also still exist. Her relationship with the captain is interesting and charged with tension, to say the least.

The situations the crew get into are mostly based on the fact that these are a bunch of losers that have to do lots of stuff they don't want to do, in order to keep body and soul together. To top things off, the government is after the doctor's sister, so that kind of keeps the tension going. Despite that, there is humor in many of the situations. One especially funny episode had the hired hand escaping from a moon by dropping his stealings, then coming back 4 years later to a heroes welcome as a modern Robin Hood. Too bad this series got axed by Fox, but they do that a lot.

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"There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty." --John Adams (1735 - 1826), Journal, 1772

Thursday, December 18, 2003

I picked up a SanDisk Cruzer Mini 256 meg flash drive at Costco. It works fine with my notebook.


I wish that Burt Rutan's Scaled Composites wasn't so secretive. They flew their SpaceShipOne for the first time as a powered vehicle and immediately achieved supersonic flight with it. There is a press release on their web site, but none of the fanfair you would normally expect from such a momentous event. Maybe they need to hire Darl McBride (SCO CEO) as their publicist.

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"Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns - the ones we don't know we don't know." -- Donald Rumsfeld

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

I have discovered that I wasn't having trouble getting Linux to talk to a flash (pen) drive, I was having trouble getting it to talk to my flash drive. I tried two other flash drives on my notebook, and Linux recognized them right off.

It's typical - my flash drive works fine with that proprietary operating system from Redmond, but trying to use it with a real O/S results in nothing. I guess I will have to go out and upgrade to a 256 meg flash drive that is USB 2.0 compatible.

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"Never raise your hand to your children; it leaves your midsection unprotected." --Robert Orben

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

I have loaded my notebook up with Free Pascal and Lazarus, so I can do some heavy computing at Christmas time. I have also loaded it up with all the text files for The Shadow Magazine stories I keep meaning to convert to HTML.

I can't get a flash drive (pen drive) to work in the notebook for some reason. I have tried other devices, and they seem to work fine. I will be trying some other flash drives to see if it is just the one I own.

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"Suburbia is where the developer bulldozes out the trees, then names the streets after them." --Bill Vaughan

Monday, December 15, 2003

The Linux User Group meeting went well. I picked up quite a bit of info about putting video on DVDs. I will have to clarify some of it.


I finished up the Linux hours/minutes/seconds calculator. I need to make some changes to it, but it is all working.

I found some bugs in the Lazarus IDE and its visual component library while I was doing hmscalc. I have to decide whether to just report the bugs or whether to become part of the development team and fix the bugs myself.


We had lots of snow over the weekend. It took me a couple of hours to clear it. That doesn't count the time it took me to get unstuck from the berm I ran over.

More snow predicted for the rest of the week. Oh, joy - plowing in the dark.

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"The saying "Getting there is half the fun" became obsolete with the advent of commercial airlines." --Henry J. Tillman

Friday, December 12, 2003

I'm still reorganizing the office. I have my Windows development machine running again. I need to move my server and main development machine. That means unplugging a boatload of cables, moving the machines and plugging everything back in. What a pain.


The North Idaho Linux User Group meeting is tomorrow. We need to drum up some advertising, or it will continue to be just a few people. Everyone is welcome - no dues, no strings. So if you are in the area and interested in what I keep blathering about, drop by tomorrow at the Hayden Library at noon.

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"The thing is, it will get noticed in the end. The kernel source code is endlessly replicated, and we will find out if anything nasty was added." -- Linus Torvalds

Thursday, December 11, 2003

I am finishing up my computer rack installation. I have to move the desk out and put the rack in the proper place. It looks like some of the cables won't be long enough to do things the way I wanted, but I will put the rack in a different place to remove that problem.

Having two monitors and two keyboards on the computer desk makes it pretty crowded. Good thing the scanner will be moving out to the rack.

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"The office of president is a bastardized thing, half royalty and half democracy, that nobody knows whether to genuflect or spit." --Jimmy Breslin

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

We were talking about Battlestar Galactica at lunch yesterday, and the concensus was that the space fight scenes were cool because there were no Star Wars noises. Then we talked about the Cylon attack method, theorizing about the Cylons possibly transmitting computer viruses to kill the human ships. So it came around to "What if the human ships were running Microsoft Windows?" My response:

Microsoft Windows - In space, no one can hear you scream.

Well, now we know who survived, who is a Cylon and what the humans did after the attack. We don't know about Gumby and Pokey, though.

In the entire 4 hours of the miniseries (if it really is over), I only saw 4 mechanical Cylons. But the battle scenes were outstanding.


I have updated Free Pascal and the Lazarus IDE on my development system. It works great, except for some small bugs in the IDE. I would expect that, since Lazarus is only at version 0.6.

I have the user interface for HMSCalc designed and running using this setup. Now I just need to import my Delphi code into the project in order to have a fully working calculator.

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"We have to sadly decline taking business model advice from a company [SCO] that seems to have squandered all its money (that it made off a Linux IPO, I might add, since there's a nice bit of irony there), and now seems to play the US legal system as a lottery." --Linus Torvolds

Tuesday, December 9, 2003

Well the Battlestar Galactica miniseries is certainly different than the TV series. More sex, for one. The space battles are more realistic, as the sound effects ala Star Wars are missing. We are treated instead to some very good music that fits right in to the action.

Except for Starbuck, everyone in the series seems to be suffering from an excess of guilt. Boomer, Apollo, the Commander, the XO, a world-famous scientist, even the (new) President have something in their past or present causing them to feel guilty or depressed. Maybe that's why the Battlestar Galactica miniseries comes off as a much darker show than the TV series. Of course, it doesn't help that they are getting the crap beaten out of them by a bunch of deadly tinker toys.

The second block of this is tonight, so I'll let you know what I think of that one. Is it really true that two of the main characters were killed off in the 1st part? Will the world-famous scientist make up for inadvertantly helping the Cylons discover everything they needed to know about the human's defenses? Will Gumby find Pokey before he becomes a grease spot on the highway? All will be revealed.

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"We find your references to a negotiating table somewhat confusing, since there doesn't seem to be anything to negotiate about. SCO has yet to show any infringing IP in the Open Source domain, but we wait with bated breath for when you will actually care to inform us about what you are blathering about." -- Linus Torvolds

Monday, December 8, 2003

I installed SuSE Linux Professional 9.0 on my main development computer with a single try, no problems. Everything on the machine is back up and running, and I really like the new SuSE configuration.

I have also loaded up Free Pascal and Lazarus, which is an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) for Free Pascal. It looks very good. It has the same functionality in Linux as Delphi does in the Windows world. I have started work on the Linux version of HMSCalc using Lazarus. HMSCalc is an Hours-Minutes-Seconds calculator I wrote for Windows. It's a good way for me to evaluate new programming tools.


I started rearranging my office over the weekend. I have moved a steel shelf unit in which will hold all the computers. To make room for that, I need to move a desk out. But first I need to move the 19" monitor, keyboard and speakers off the desk. It's all a big long chain, and you have to pick the right place to start.

It was nice doing all this with a toasty fire going in the woodstove. My thanks to my beta tester for the firewood.


Tonight is Battlestar Galactica night. Totally different from the old series, this one has a female Starbuck and female Cylons! My recommendation is to watch but make no comparisons with the old series.

Now I have to chose between the company Christmas party and Battlestar Galactica.

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"A university is what a college becomes when the faculty loses interest in students." --John Ciardi (1916 - 1986)

Friday, December 5, 2003

I was successful in backing up a couple of my DVDs onto DVD+R. I used DVD Shrink to create the DVD images on hard disk and then used the neoDVD program that came with my DVD writer to create the DVDs.

DVD Shrink is my idea of an ideal application. It does exactly what it's advertised to do, and does using the minimum resources (the program itself is less than 300k). The interface is fairly intuitive, but there are also tutorials (guides) available to help you use the program.


Go to Google and type in "miserable failure". Check out the first entry.

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"People who work sitting down get paid more than people who work standing up." --Ogden Nash (1902 - 1971)

Thursday, December 4, 2003

I made another CD of Knoppix Linux for someone at work. I think that Knoppix is absolutely the best way to spread the Linux gospel. For those who don't know, Knoppix is a version Linux that boots directly from the CDROM and does not use your system's hard disk. That doesn't mean you can't install it on your hard disk if you want to, though.

Personally, I am zeroed into using SuSE Linux for my day to day work. It has the same elements as Knoppix, but SuSE has tons more software packages, since it isn't a 'demo' system like Knoppix is. The Personal version is $39.95 and the Professional version is $79.95. I use the Professional version. It comes with everything on 5 CDs or one double-sided DVD. Version 9.0 is the latest and it's a really incredible package.


I loaded SuSE Linux Professional 9.0 into my server system. The only problem I had was the installer itself. My Samsung 172s LCD monitor didn't like the video mode the installer was trying to use. So I switched resolutions down to 1024 x 768 for the install. No biggie.

Since I did a reinstall, I now have to go back and reconfigure the NFS, FTP and Samba servers on that machine. Hopefully it is a bit easier this time.


I tried a little DVD experiment last night that didn't work. I will try again tonight with a different tool. Got to do this before the holiday break. It's a good thing I have a bunch of DVD+R disks to experiment on.

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"A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul." --George Bernard Shaw (1856 - 1950)

Wednesday, December 3, 2003

The Rimrock Software web site move has been completed. All that's left is to update the site. After two years, I guess it's about time for that.

Between this web site and the Rimrock Software site, I have enough storage for the rest of the Shadow stories I want to convert to web pages. I will be taking the text files along with me at Christmas and will do some conversions in Lake Havasu.

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"You see, Microsoft has never been about being technically better. Microsoft is about creating the perception that it's the best and embracing any technology that might disrupt that illusion." --Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols

Tuesday, December 2, 2003

I have started the process to move Rimrock Software to a new host. There may be some interruption of service at one point, but nothing drastic.

I have most of the files in place on the new site, but most of the download files are missing. I will take care of that tonight, along with working on the site upgrade.

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"Unix is like a toll road on which you have to stop every 50 feet to pay another nickel. But hey! You only feel 5 cents poorer each time." -- Larry Wall

Monday, December 1, 2003

I had a relaxing Thanksgiving. I hope everyone else did, too. I did absolutely nothing productive with the computer, so I can't report any great software breakthroughs.

I will be changing web hosts for Rimrock Software this week, and I hope to get some new web pages up for that domain. I will also try to put up some new button glyphs. We'll see.

One of my teardrop trailer pictures will be used on a teardrop trailer calendar. It's the one of Ed Felson's fancy 1940's restoration.

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"You can take all the sincerity in Hollywood, place it in the navel of a firefly and still have room enough for three caraway seeds and a producer's heart." -- Fred Allen (1894 - 1956)