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December 2007

Monday, 31 December 2007

I will post something longer tomorrow. in the meantime, I hope everyone has a Happy New Year. Don't make any resolutions you are sure you will never keep.


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Friday, 28 December 2007

I ran up against a strange hardware failure - a DVD drive that wouldn't open or close without forcible help. I replaced it with a brand new drive and verified that the new drive was capable of burning CDs and DVDs. So another borked up HP machine gets a new lease on life.

Do you see a theme running through this week? I do. I may be doomed to fix hardware and install software for the rest of my life...


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Thursday, 27 December 2007

I changed the Acer Aspire's memory from 256MB to 2GB and now Ubuntu loads just fine. I did have a problem with the Ubuntu upgrade causing a hangup, so I just didn't do that.

It was particularlly surprising that the Ubuntu procedure for getting Broadcom wireless working on the Acer works. I was very happy about that, as the way I had to do it on my Compaq is a PITA.


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Wednesday, 26 December 2007

I finally got around to getting wireless working on my notebook computer with Ubuntu 7.10. Even though it has a built-in procedure to help you get Broadcom wireless working, that would not work. I went to the Ubuntu forums and followed their quick guide to getting Broadcom working, and that didn't work, either. I finally followed the tutorial on getting other chips working using ndiswrapper. That did the trick.


I think I figured out why I had so much trouble with the Acer Aspire notebook and Ubuntu the other day. It turns out the notebook only has 256MB of memory. We ordered some more and the machine will soon have 2GB of memory. I suspect we may not have any more trouble.

I came to this conclusion because I tried to load and run SimplyMepis 7.0, and it would load, but I couldn't run anything. I then tried loading it as a minimal system, and that worked fine. The conclusion is the machine didn't have enough memory.


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Monday, 24 December 2007

I am installing Linux on more computers. The latest is a Compaq desktop with a P4 processor and a gig of RAM. Ubuntu installed just fine on the machine, and I am writing this blog entry on the same machine, while listening to music using streamtuner.

I did not have the same luck with an Acer Aspire notebook computer. I tried Ubuntu 7.04, 7.10 and both of those in video safe mode. They essentially hung up at one point or another. I then tried Linux Mint (based on Ubuntu) and it did the same thing. Finally, I tried SimplyMepis 7.0 and it seems to work. I will be installing that one today. I will still have problems with the WiFi, though, even if it installs ok.


As tomorrow is a holiday, I will hold off on the entries until Wednesday or Thursday. I hope everyone has a nice Christmas.


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Thursday, 20 December 2007

With the writer's strike in full bloom, I have cut my TV watching down to practically nothing. Every show I watch is 'on hiatus', to be replaced by those god-awful reality and game shows. How grown adults with any sense at all can watch those is beyond me. I always thought TV was about entertainment. Guess not.


There will be no blog entry tomorrow. I will be too busy that day to write anything. I will post something on Monday.


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Wednesday, 19 December 2007

I performed an experiment last night and it was successful. I hooked up another LCD monitor to the NVidia video card on my workstation and discovered that it handles two monitors with no problems. So if I wanted, I could have both a development machine and a workstation with dual monitors. This means that I won't have to buy another video card for my workstation.


It is raining on our snow, so I might have a tough time getting up the hill to go to work. This happens every year, but never in December. Seems like things are a bit warmer this year than they have been in the past. Or maybe it's my imagination, like the government used to say.


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Tuesday, 18 December 2007

I was in a 4 1/2 hour meeting yesterday and I got home about 7pm. Needless to say, I didn't feel like getting anything accomplished at home, but there are some things that just need to be done before Friday. I will try again tonight.

That meeting directly targeted me for maybe 10 minutes. It was somewhat interesting, but not much fun.


Rails 2.0 is out. I linked an article about it yesterday, but I haven't seen it in person. From the article, it looks like scaffold generation is still present, but not individual model and controller generation. Which is a great shame. I may load the new Rails on a machine other than my development machine, to evaluate it without affecting my coaching project.


Silly sign of the day:

Number 600!


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Monday, 17 December 2007

I will be getting back to the Ruby on Rails coaching program this week, in between my pre-Christmas cleanup orgy. I have a fair start on the program, but the user interface needs a lot of work. It has a left side menu right now, but I want to put in a pull-down menu from the top, like a regular program. I have the code for all that, so it's just a matter of putting it in the style sheet and tweaking the page layout.


I now have two monitors on my development machine, giving me a 2560 x 1024 display. openSUSE Linux let me do that configuration easily, but Windows XP is giving me no end of trouble (as usual). It insists the monitors are reversed, so I get the display left side on the right, and vice-versa. I have tried everything I can think of, so I guess I will just have to physically switch the monitor. Windows causes these PITAs a lot.


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Friday, 14 December 2007

The trial on which I have been a juror is over, and I can go back to my regular life. It was an interesting diversion, but I'm glad I don't have to do anything like that more than once every few years.


I haven't found how to compile xine-hd for Ubuntu yet. I am still looking, but it should have been in the Ubuntu forum if it was going to be anywhere.

I would really like to see the digital broadcast channels on my computer, and recompiling xine seems to be the only way that will happen.


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Thursday, 13 December 2007

I haven't had a chance to do any more work on my HD TV tuner card. I hope to get that done tonight or tomorrow. I did work some on the coaching program and now have visual results for it. That's a good thing...


Here's how TV works now. They put on a really great show, which you watch avidly. Then in the middle of the season, they stop showing the series and put some really, really stupid reality or game show on in its place. You stop watching the network completely at that point and, when the show comes back on, you never go back to watching it because you have something else to watch or to do. Congratulations, broadcast TV, you are the assassins of your own content.


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Wednesday, 12 December 2007

I am attempting to get my HD PCI TV tuner card to work for digital stations. It works just fine with TVtime and shows me all the local analog (NTSC) channels. In order to get it working on the digital channels, I have to find and compile a change to the Xine movie player.

I have found the gzipped file, ungzipped it and compiled the library portion with no problems. When I try to ./configure for the xine-hd program, I get an error that I can't work around.

This program appears to have been compiled for the Fedora and Red Hat distros, but they have completely ignored the currently largest distro: Ubuntu. So I thought I was stuck.

I thought that until last night. I was talking with Betty Z, who's computer is the happy recipient of a newer version of the HD tuner card, and she suggested I look in the Ubuntu forums. Why didn't I think of that? I will be doing that tonight. Thanks, Betty.


I have to go plow snow now, then go to my jury duty trial.


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Tuesday, 11 December 2007

I was listening to a Linux podcast yesterday when the presenter started talking about a program he called 'Ay-gave'. When he spelled out the name, I knew he had never seen a western desert or an agave in his life. The program name is pronounced 'Ah-gah-vee', a desert plant with much going for it. The program is a nifty little tool that allows you to create a complimentary color pallette for your web site. It is available through the Ubuntu repository. I don't know about other distros. Very handy to have.


I have jury duty today, so I have to spend the day down at the courthouse. I hope it's not as boring as last time.


Christmas wish list


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Stupid Patent Tricks, Copyright, DRM and Other IP Nonsense

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Monday, 10 December 2007

I managed to get Rails to run on my development machine. My database problem was just a matter of pointing to the proper location for mysql.sock in the database.yml file. I now have a completely working development environment for Ruby and Rails.


We had some very nasty weather last week. It hit the national news when there was major floodiing over on the Washington coast. Two of the people I go teardrop camping with, Steve and Peggy B., live over there, and they came home from a trip to find that everything they owned was under water. Their Model A and their teardrop (shown below) were submerged. The teardrop was totaled, but Steve has had the Model A since he was 16, and he vows to rebuild it. My condolences go out to them - they are good people.


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Friday, 7 December 2007

I am working on my development computer, getting it set up to use Ruby and Rails. I now have a different problem with it - I get a socket error when I try to migrate a database with Rails. I think I will have to uninstall then reinstall Rails. At least the Rails console works on this machine.


I have 11 disks with Ubuntu 7.10 to give away at the North Idaho Linux Users Group tomorrow. I have also downloaded Clonezilla and created a CD of it. This may help with other non-standard problems encountered when installing Linux. I hope you all attend the meeting tomorrow, so we can help you get Linux running on your computer. Or just come and check out all the crazies who don't use Microsoft Windows...


Today is Pearl Harbor Day. Think about our government's response to that attack, then think about our government's attack on the Constitution in response to 9/11. Quite a difference, eh? You get what you vote for. I vote Libertarian.


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Thursday, 6 December 2007

I have installed openSUSE 10.3 over Ubuntu 7.10 on my development machine. I have some more stuff that needs to be loaded on the machine, and I should be ready to start developing on it again by Saturday.

The latest openSUSE has both Ruby and Rails on its list of things to load when doing an installation. We shall see if that install works better than the one in Ubuntu.

The install does not have a database installation checkbox. Instead, that functionality is rolled into a LAMP checkbox (Linux, Apache, mySQL, PHP). Not exactly obvious for database developers.


The North Idaho Linux Users Group meets on Saturday, at a new location. I will bring at least 6 Ubuntu CDs to give away to whoever wishes one.


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Free/Open Source Software

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Stupid Patent Tricks, Copyright, DRM and Other IP Nonsense

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Wednesday, 5 December 2007

I have come to the conclusion that Ubuntu 7.10 is not a good development environment. I will continue to use it on most of my machines, but I will install openSUSE 10.3 on my development machine.

I really wanted this to work, but there is too much Ruby and Rails stuff missing from the distro. When I try to open a Rails console, I get an error. When I try to use Ruby Gems, I get an error. I can't continue developing the coaching program until I have an environment in which I can do all things Ruby, so I will be doing the openSUSE install tonight.


I use Digg.com for many of the article links I post here. There are so many links on Digg that I use not only the front page, but up to 10 of the preceding pages. Last night, when I went from page 1 to page 2, I got nothing but an ad. It turns out that Digg has done something really stupid. They make you log in before you can read any but the first page. Way to go, Kevin, you really screwed the pooch on that one.


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Stupid Patent Tricks, Copyright, DRM and Other IP Nonsense

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Tuesday, 4 December 2007

I installed Ubuntu 7.10 on a computer on which I could not install Ubuntu 7.04. When I booted the 7.04 live CD on the Toshiba M65 notebook, it could not recognize the display at all. When I booted 7.10 on the same machine, everything worked great. I think the wireless connection even works. That kind of thing certainly doesn't happen with that other commercial operating system...


The Compiz Fusion keyboard shortcuts article will show you how to get around in that program. Check it out.


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Monday, 3 December 2007

I am having trouble with routing in the coaching program. I am writing the program in Ruby on Rails, and routing is one of the dark places in Rails. Routing tells the web server where to go to pick up various web pages, so you can map a very complex URL to a simpler one. It can also simplify the programming aspect greatly, if you know what you are doing. I obviously don't know what I am doing, and I need to learn a great deal more before I can figure why my routing is not working.


I have to go plow now, so I can get the car up the hill. The temperature is currently 36 degrees, and it is raining. All the packed snow on the hill turns it into a nice ice rink, so it's pretty tough to get up, even with snow tires.


Silly sign of the day:


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Stupid Patent Tricks, Copyright, DRM and Other IP Nonsense

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