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February 2004

Friday, February 27, 2004

I have reinstalled Borland Delphi 5 on my one remaining Windows system. I have started to reinstall all the components I use into the new installation, but that is a long and tedious process. And I have Delphi versions 4 and 6 to do, also. I really hate Windows.


Those of you who have played Mario brothers on Nintendo should check out the great Mario Brothers saga flash animation, parts one, two and three.

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Step on Your Own Tongue Dept.


"There's often more than one correct thing. There's often more than one right thing. There's often more than one obvious thing." --Larry Wall

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Thank you, RIAA

I want to thank the music industry for the check they were forced to send me as a result of the settlement of their anti-trust suit. It came as a pleasant surprise, especially since I have not bought any albums from any record company member of the RIAA for at least the past three years.

Anyone who signed up for the settlement got a check. So someone who bought 10 albums in the late '90's got a check for $13.86, and I, who bought over 1,000 albums, got... wait for it... $13.86. Now, how fair is that? What a wonderful government we have.


More free eBooks

I have posted 20 more Shadow stories over in my eBooks section. That makes a total of 8 1/2 years of stories from The Shadow magazine. Lots more to come, though.


Internet Shopping Tips:

These web sites are really handy if you are unsure of how to find what you are looking for. Thanks to Sean for tipping me to a couple of these.

* Walmart's web prices usually differ from their local store prices, so be careful.


Geek Toys

Some people just have nicer toys than others. I think I recognize the unique hand of the Rutan brothers in this toy.

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"There is no distinctly American criminal class except Congress." --Mark Twain

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

I reorganized the eBooks free Shadow stories section. It's now broken up by year, so there aren't so many links on one page. I have also added links for Cory Doctorow's two science fiction stories.


I finished MP3 disk 2 (of about 120) and am listening to it today. I got sidetracked with another project and never got to the reinstallation of Delphi. I'll talk about the other project after I have gathered more data.

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"If the automobile had followed the same development cycle as the computer, a Rolls-Royce would today cost $100, get a million miles per gallon, and explode once a year, killing everyone inside." --Robert X. Cringely

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

I've been busy ripping audio CDs and converting Shadow Magazine stories to HTML. Haven't had much time for anything else.


Back in November, I had to reinstall Windows 2000 on the only remaining computer I have that uses that proprietary P.O.C. Last weekend, I decided to fix some things in my rsEdit program, so I attempted to start up Delphi 5, which had been loaded several years ago. Imagine my non-surprise when Delphi failed to start up. The Visual Component Library seems to be stored in a Windows system directory and was wiped out when I reinstalled the O/S. Of course, almost every Windows program (except mine) stores their crap in the Windows system directories, so it is hardly surprising I am having a problem with Delphi.

The solution to this problem is long and painful. I must reinstall Delphi 4, 5 and 6. I must then reinstall all the components I installed in each of their Visual Component Libraries. This will waste a bunch of my time and I will be completely inclined to totally switch to Linux.

I also use a version control system called freeVCS to keep track of revisions to my programs. Something is wrong with freeVCS since the O/S reload. I should be really busy fixing Window screw-ups, while my Linux machine keeps chugging away ripping CDs for me.

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"Obviously I was either onto something, or on something." --Larry Wall

Monday, February 23, 2004

By the way, if you can't see the pictures I put up in Friday's and today's posts, I suggest you get a browser that isn't broken. Like any browser whose name doesn't start with the word 'Microsoft'. I use Mozilla, which is nice, compliant to web standards and very stable.


Zip-Linq USB mouseI got tired of using the lame, annoying and intrusive touchpad built into my wonderful eNote sub-notebook, so I went to a local computer store and purchased a USB mouse. It's about one half the size of a regular mouse and comes with a retractable cable. It's also optical. I really like it. I have now turned off the touchpad in the BIOS, so it no longer gets in the way of my typing.


I am ripping my audio CDs to MP3 again. I'm listening to the first one today at work.

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"Whenever anyone says, "theoretically", they really mean, "not really"." --Dave Parnas

Friday, February 20, 2004

I completed the circuit board for the interior light for my teardrop trailer. It consists of 3 resistors and 9 bright, white LEDs. Now I have to mount the circuit board on the base of the light housing and hook up the power leads. Pictures will be posted when I am finished.


I have our road plowed down enough so some dirt shows through, and I don't have to take a running jump at the hill in my car. It is certainly acting like spring is getting here. We'll see if that's true.


Note the web page style change. I never changed a single HTML page - it's all been changed in the magically delicious stylesheet, blogger.css.

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"That which hits the fan tends to get flung in all directions." --Larry Wall

Thursday, February 19, 2004

I am starting to get really antsy about getting out and camping. I went through the last two issues of the Good Sam magazine last night and the last issue of Tales and Trails this morning. I need some daylight to work on my teardrop trailer, cleaning it up and possibly making some cabinets for it. I also want to reseal the doors, as I have had a problem with them in rainy weather.

When everything is cleaned up and set up, I would like to take it out before the first teardrop gathering in April. Maybe to Farragut State Park, which is right up the road from my house.


I need to start some spring housecleaning. One of my sisters has threatened to come up and visit me, and I don't want to have to use a front end loader just to make room for her and her clan.

When she does show up, I will be using the teardrop trailer as another bedroom, as I don't have enough room in my little house for everyone.

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"It must be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to plan, more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to manage, than the creation of a new system. For the initiator has the enmity of all who would profit by the preservation of the old institutions and merely lukewarm defenders in those who would gain by the new ones." --Machiavelli

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Have you ever had one of those mornings when nothing goes right? This morning was one for me.

I have to cross three sets of railroad tracks to get to work. The crossings are not within 2 miles of one another, and they don't merge, unless it's in Spokane. This morning, I had to wait for trains at two of the three, and I barely got over the last set without waiting, as a train was on its way. Good thing I've been living on 'Idaho time' for the past 20 years, or I would have had a cow.

When I got to work, I stopped off in the cafeteria to get a bagel. I picked up the plastic bag and started to open it when I noticed a hole in the side. And chunks out of two bagels next to the hole. Our cafeteria apparently has mice.


I found out the other night that Roy Magnus, one of my neighbors who lived right across the road from the former Aryan Nations compound, died of a heart attack last Wednesday. He was a great guy and a hard worker. He helped set the fencing around my property and did a great job. My condolences go out to Earl, Keith and the whole Magnus clan. He will be greatly missed.

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"When you go into court you are putting your fate into the hands of twelve people who weren't smart enough to get out of jury duty." --Norm Crosby

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

I hope you all had a nice Presidents Day. I did. I ended up not doing anything productive on Monday. On Sunday, I worked a full day. And on Saturday we had our North Idaho Linux User Group meeting.

Even though it was not mentioned anywhere, we had half a dozen people at the meeting. Mostly it was just talk about Linux and other open source software. We will have to dig in and get our agenda going.

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Lawyer (noun) - A human subspecies capable of exterminating their own children for monetary gain. See Politician.

Friday, February 13, 2004

I get a day off! Monday is Presidents' Day, and I will be relaxing instead of working. Actually, I'll probably be working on home projects, but they are fun.


I picked up a great book called 'Linux Toys' at Barnes & Noble the other night. It's subtitle is '13 Cool Projects for Home, Office and Entertainment'. That's pretty accurate. It gives you the software and explains how to build stuff like a music jukebox, TV recorder/player, home broadcast center, web-hosting service and a digitial receptionist. I bought this in response to articles about ReplayTV and TIVO that basically point out how bad those TV recorder/players can be. The TIVO box records all your actions and sends them to the company, and ReplayTV has been playing contract (read 'money') games with their customers. So I may build my own PVR instead of buying one.

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"There is no nonsense so gross that society will not, at some time, make a doctrine of it and defend it with every weapon of communal stupidity." --Robertson Davies

Thursday, February 12, 2004

I looked at Video audio receiver transmitters yesterday. This is a combination that allows you to transmit from your satellite receiver, DVD player, cable box or any other video device to another TV in your house. No need for messy wires or purchasing extra boxes.

It seemed like a pretty good solution for me. My main video stuff is in the living room, but I spend a lot of time in the computer room, where I have another small TV. With this solution, I could watch the Sci-Fi network in the computer room.

I searched Google for 'Video audio receiver transmitter' and came up with some good sites. Then I had a brainstorm: look at the web sites of local electronic stores, pick the box I wanted, then go to the store and get it. Nice in theory, poor in practice. Best Buy had two different boxes. I went to the Best Buy store, and they only had the box I didn't want. If I actually purchase one, I guess I will get this system from a web site.

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"The Constitution gives every American the inalienable right to make a damn fool of himself." --John Ciardi (1916 - 1986)

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

I went to Radar Electric last night to get six 51 ohm resistors - the resistors that Radio Shack doesn't have. If they did have them, Radio Shack would have sold 5 of them to me for 99 cents, which is 20 cent apiece. Radar sold them to me for 3 cents, which is 1/2 cent a piece! Needless to say, I will no longer be giving Radio Shack my business.


When I got to work this morning, my machine had a Windows update waiting. Since we had one last week, I can only assume that this one is about the most dangerous security flaw ever discovered in Windows (see the item below). I sure am glad I use Linux at home!

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"An incompetent attorney can delay a trial for months or years. A competent attorney can delay one even longer." --Evelle J. Younger

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

I really enjoyed my visit to the local office of my company's customer. It is interesting to learn exactly how they use the software that we maintain and update.


Sigh. Radio Shack used to be a place you could go to get parts for your latest project. Now they seem to be interested in selling the latest DVD player, cell phone or GPS unit instead of electronics parts.

I've been to two of the local Radio Shacks in the last two days. Neither one sells 51 ohm resistors. Come on, guys, what good are you?

I have all the parts for my LED interior light project except the 51 ohm current-limiting resistors. I will have to go to downtown Spokane after work today to Radar Electronics to pick some up. What a pain.

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Seen on a Bumper Sticker on Mom's Van on 02/09/04: "I'm out of estrogen and I have a gun"

Monday, February 9, 2004

I will be visiting the customer I work for today at their office in Coeur d'Alene. Watching their work methods for the whole day. Which means I have to behave myself and stay completely off the Internet.


I put 20 more Shadow stories up in the section. Check them out.

RIAA/MPAA/BSA Watch

Friday, February 6, 2004

Scratch NPR as a more nearly neutral distributor of news. I was listening this morning, and they had a too fairly balanced piece about silly patents. At the end, they compared silly patents with the SCO situation and their quest for money for nothing. But then they implied that SCO had just been attacked by a virus written by supporters of Open Source Software.

To top things off, the next segment was a little ditty sung by a couple of wanna-be's that implied that every CD ever recorded was being copied and distributed for free by regular people, and off of the Internet. Strictly RIAA propaganda. Their real problem is professionals making copies of CDs and selling them as the real thing. The Internet crews are just easier to go after.

Where is your impartiality, NPR?

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"Come to think of it, there are already a million monkeys on a million typewriters, and Usenet is NOTHING like Shakespeare." -- Blair Houghton

Thursday, February 5, 2004

It's interesting to note how Linux people are being accused of the MyDoom virus and subsequent DDOS attack on SCO. Considering the fact that the virus was written for, and resides only on, Windows machines, it must be some super-ultra Linux hacker that did that. Intimate, detailed knowledge of TWO operating systems. Wow!

Does that idea make more sense to you than blaming a (professional) Windows spam programmer in Russia? I think not.


As you may know, I subscribe to a great (expensive) magazine called Linux Format. It comes with cover CDs or a cover DVD. This month, they are celebrating their 50th issue anniversary, and have included a DVD with every one of their top program picks from the last 50 issues.

I loaded two of the programs last night. The first one is a (GPL) desktop publishing program called Scribus. The second one is a really addictive arcade game called Pathological.

The Scribus desktop publishing program has come a long way in the last year. It now has a lot of the same capabilities as the (very expensive) proprietary DTP systems. I will be using it to create templates for CD and DVD labels, as a DTP is much better at that than a word processor. It would also be nice to use it for a newsletter, but I had enough of that way back when I wrote one at Key Tronic.

Pathological - the name of the game describes both the attraction to the game and its action. Marbles spit out of the right side of the screen. Your job is to load up wheels with four marbles, all the same color. The game requires logic and planning. Very addictive.

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"Americans have different ways of saying things. They say 'elevator', we say 'lift'...they say 'President', we say 'stupid psychopathic git'...." --Alexi Sayle

Wednesday, February 4, 2004

I was going to say something about Halliburton, but the article below pretty much says it all. Nice to be buddies with the heads of government, isn't it?


I've been busy with web pages and other stuff. As well as the overtime at work. I will say the latest issue of Linux Format is very nice, indeed.

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:: Tuesday, February 3, 2004

I am getting the teardrop trailer DTs. I can't wait for spring, so I can roll out the trailer and just go someplace else. I have already put in for vacation time for two teardrop gatherings, but the first one I can go to is at the end of April.

In the meantime, there are a couple of things I am looking into implementing for the trailer. The first is the LED interior light project. Those parts are on order. The second is a couple of cabinets for the galley. I want to design them so they simply slide into place and are then attached with a couple of wood screws. If I do them right, they would make a good add-on to any Hunter Shadow teardrop trailer.

The third project is a diamond-plate aluminum box for my cooler. The box will be attached to the tongue of the trailer and will have a hinged lid. I have drawn up a plan for this, but I don't have the resources to build it.

The fourth project is a dressing area. There is no room inside a teardrop trailer to stand up, and you need to be standing to dress and undress. There are many clever solutions to this, but I think that a simple square frame of plastic pipe attached above one door of the trailer, with fabric hanging from it (like a shower curtain) would be sufficient.

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"Energizer Bunny arrested, charged with battery." --Steven Wright

Monday, February 2, 2004

I am perplexed. I just don't understand why anyone would continue to use an operating system that is buggy, insecure and, at best, mediocre. There are alternatives that supply 99% of a users needs without forcing the user to pay a 'tax' to a Redmond, WA software monopoly. And to get in return, continuous requests to 'reboot or reload' the so-called operating system. It just doesn't add up to me.

I suppose I have to admit that once I was also hooked on the so-called operating system. Since I had written lots of programs to run under that O/S, it took me a while to admit how bad it really was and to switch to Linux. I can now state unequivocally that the switch was worth the hassle. So you that are constantly cursing your slavery to Emperor Bill: declare your freedom and just say Linux, FreeBSD, OpenBSd or OS X.


I find it hard to believe that SCO, a company that writes operating systems and should understand the Internet, were warned about an impending DDOS attack on their web site and did absolutely nothing to divert it. Could it be that they welcomed the attack, since it would make them look like the poor, oppressed underdog in their self-inflicted legal problems? Nah... that thinking is too paranoid. Maybe they are just incompetent. Yeah - that's it - they don't know anything about computing. That would explain why they had to switch from software engineering to litigation. I have news for you, SCO, you aren't any better at litigation than you are at programming.

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Real Programmers don't play tennis, or any other sport that requires you to change clothes. Mountain climbing is OK, and real programmers wear their climbing boots to work in case a mountain should suddenly spring up in the middle of the machine room.