Documents

Archives

Search

BLOGical Thoughts Archive

December 2015

Thursday, 31 December 2015

I hope everyone has a safe and happy new year. I have an eye appointment today, and I will be spending most of the day recovering from having my eyes dilated.


My sister's old Acer laptop kind of died. The battery stopped being charged and I think the problem is in the adapter plug. Anyway, she got a new Toshiba laptop for Christmas.

Since she hates Windows as much as I do (guess where she got THAT attitude), it was up to me to install Linux Mint 17.3 on the new laptop. There were some impediments to that: Windows 10, UEFI and Broadcom.

The Windows 10 problem (coexisting with another operating system) was easy to avoid. We simply wiped out Windows and replaced it with Linux Mint. The UEFI problem was only a bit more challenging: apparently, UEFI requires an MSDOS hard disk partition of about 35MB for its own use. Once I figured that out, it was easy to add that partition and then add the swap, root and home partitions.

The Broadcom problem is an old one for me. The new laptop has a built-in Broadcom WiFi connection. This means that you need to download a driver for it. To do that, you need an Internet connection. I used my handy dandy USB WiFI adapter to do that, and once the driver was installed, the WiFi worked fine with the built-in connection.

All in all, it was a fairly trouble-free installation. I spent most of my time getting updates and installing non-distro programs my sister uses. She's a teacher and she uses the computer for all kinds of school stuff. She was really surprised when I added support for her wireless printer with just a few mouse clicks. She is now a happy camper.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Security Theater/"Intellectual Property"

Sunday, 27 December 2015

I hope everyone has had a good Christmas. Here's hoping you also have a safe and happy new year.


Someone in the North Idaho Linux Users Group suggested that my final puzzle program should be a crossword puzzle generator. I would love to do that, but It would be a very large project.

First, I don't have any word lists with definitions, so I would have to create a definition list editor, then create the definition files. That would be the largest part of the process, as it takes a lot of time and effort to type in words and their definitions, along with alternate definitions.

Once that was complete, I would create the crossword puzzle editor. It would create a grid, then remove the spaces where you wish to place the words. It would do that in a symmetrical manner, as crossword puzzles are almost always symmetrical. FInally, it would figure out which words to insert into the puzzle, along with their definitions. All that would have to be saved in a puzzle file, so the user can incorporate the created puzzle into other documents.

The bottom line is that this is a huge project and something I can't tackle unless I have a lot more free time.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Security Theater/"Intellectual Property"

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

last month I took my Honda down to the local dealer to have the oil changed and to put snow tires on. When I got home, I found that the car was displaying a 'Check TPMS System' message. It turns out that when the dealership put the snow tires on, they did not recalibrate the tire pressure monitoring system. I had to go down there again to get them to do that.

The car ran fine for a week or two, then it displayed a 'Check TPMS Pressure', indicating that a tire was low. I finally got around to checking and discovered that the dealership had filled all four tires with 5 PSI less air than recommended. What kind of a place that specializes in Hondas can do that to my Honda? Anyway, I topped off all the tires and everything is fine. I'm getting better mileage, too.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Security Theater/"Intellectual Property"

Saturday, 12 December 2015

I have completed the Cryptic List program. Given a list of words, it produces a list of encrypted words, exactly as the Cryptic Quotes program does for quotations. Here is a sample:

I have also completed a puzzle program called Letter Shuffle, which takes two 6-letter words and shuffles them together to produce a jumbled 12-letter word.

Here are the programs I have done so far:


I am finishing up a web page for the talk I will be giving this afternoon on how to use LibreOffice to create newsletters. I always learn a lot when I have to explain something in detail to someone else.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Security Theater/"Intellectual Property"

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

I have finished the Word Finder puzzle program. I am glad I stepped back from that program to do the Sudoku program, as that gave me time to evaluate my approach. Once I had done that, I came up with a completely different way of doing the puzzle creation. It worked out very well, too. Here is an example of the program in action:

When the puzzle is saved, everything you need to incorporate it into a newsletter or publication is also saved. So you can publish the puzzle in one section of the newsletter and the solution somewhere else.

Having finished the Word Finder, I am now writing another puzzle program. This one is called Cryptic List. The principle is the same as for Cryptic Quote, but for a list of words, instead.


I will give a talk at this coming Saturday's North Idaho Linux Users Group meeting, entitled "Creating Newsletters with LibreOffice". The object is to show that you can do very good documentation without resorting to a desktop publishing program.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Security Theater/"Intellectual Property"

Saturday, 5 December 2015

I have finished the Sudoku Creator program. When I started it, I used brute force and awkwardness to fill in the puzzle. That did not work well, and I had no way of starting over if the program reached a point where it had to completely restart the creation. I then decided to take a more logical approach.

I determined that the placement of a number in the grid had the following requirements:

  1. The number is unique in the horizontal row in which it resides,
  2. the number is unique in the vertical column in which it resides, and
  3. the number is unique in the 3 x 3 subgrid in which it resides.

So I wrote three functions that would check for those conditions. I then wrote the function which would put the numbers in place by filling each subgrid. To avoid bad placements, the function tries for 100 times to create the entire grid. If it can't, it backs up and starts completely over.

This approach works fine, and is screamingly fast when compared to my original approach. It also never hangs up like the original approach. Here's what the program looks like:


Considering the events of the last couple of weeks, I have reached the conclusion that our 'nanny state' government will never do the right thing if it means they should relinquish some control over us. Never mind that they say "we can protect you and you don't need to protect yourselves" - obviously they can't and we should.

With that in mind, I went down to the Black Sheep on Thursday and purchased a sidearm. I will be taking a firearms class in the next few weeks, even though I already have experience with rifles and shotguns.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Security Theater/"Intellectual Property"

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

I have cataracts, and I will be having cataract surgery in January and February to have them removed. This means I now have 7 appointments to see doctors in the next 3 months, including one on December 31st. I am not looking forward to all that.


I started programming another puzzle program over the weekend. This one creates Sudoku puzzles. I know there are a lot of Sudoku programs already out there, but this one is designed to save the puzzle so it can be incorporated into newsletters and other published information.

I have looked at the source code for several of the existing Sudoku programs, and have noticed that they 'cheat'. Instead of generating a fresh puzzle themselves, they have data that is actually already-generated puzzles. My program will create brand new puzzles.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Security Theater/"Intellectual Property"