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February 2005

Monday, 28 February 2005

The Oscars do not accurately reflect the feelings of the public with regards to how well the film industry performs its job. The Academy Awards are just a self-congratulatory pat on the back, so why should we pay any attention to them? Is it the influence of the evil MPAA? The Peoples Choice Awards better reflect the true nature of the "work" coming out of Hollywood.


I am about 2/3 of the way through the Learning PHP 5 book. I am under-impressed with the book's support of the object-oriented aspects of the language. There are exactly 2 pages on the subject - no examples, nothing else. When you consider that anything I write will be done as classes, this is not a good reference manual for me, is it?


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Saturday, 26 February 2005

I have discovered why some Linux distros will not run on my mom's old HP computer. It turns out that when I select a display mode of 1024x768, the distro is not reducing the number of colors from 65,000 to 32,000. And when the display is tested in that mode, it tests ok!

I installed SuSE 9.2 Professional on my mom's machine last night. I set the display to 1024x768 and the number of colors to 32,768. It works great.

So ends the great search for a good distro for the old HP531w computer. It now has two CDROM writers in it, but it is ready for yeoman Internet service and game-playing.

Friday, 25 February 2005

I replaced the bad CDROM drive in my mom's computer with a Yamaha CDROM writer. I then reloaded Libranet on the machine, and used K3B to finish copying the SuSE 9.2 Professional CDs. The old HP CDROM drive that was in there goes in the trash.

After I burned the CDs, I attempted to load Fedora Core 3 again. It still goes into never-never land when I boot into it. I will have to try a different monitor to see if that has any affect.


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Thursday, 24 February 2005

I had poor luck last night. I was trying to create copies of the SuSE 9.2 CDs. First, I tried to do that using Xandros on my moms old machine. It wouldn't work, and I think one of the CDROM drives died in the process. I will check that out tonight.

Next, I got out my notebook. I kept having trouble with this. K3B would read the disk to be copied, then die. With all this trouble, I only got 3 of the 5 disks copied and I'm not sure about the copies. I will also have to look into this tonight.

At least the backup of Spawn to DVD went fairly well.


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Wednesday, 23 February 2005

I am now learning PHP. This is not a great stretch, as PHP is really just bits of Perl, C and C++. But knowing PHP is a critical skill when you want to develop a sophisticated web-based application. I have one in mind, so I am learning PHP.

My philosophy in this is simple: if it is proprietary, I won't touch it unless my day job forces me to. Like commercial airports, proprietary software is just something I'm not willing to use.


I need to figure out how to add modem support to an Ubuntu Linux install. We did such an install for someone at the NILUG meeting, and now they can't connect to the Internet. I tried to help him last night on the phone, but was not successful. Where the hell is KPPP when you really need it?


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Tuesday, 22 February 2005

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Monday, 21 February 2005

Today is a holiday for me. I am celebrating by doing all the chores I put off from yesterday. Happy Presidents Day, everyone.


I finally got my Linux notebook working with a wireless PCMCIA card. It works very well - I transferred a 50mb file from the notebook to my server. Cool stuff.

I got it working by buying a D-Link card to replace the LinkSys card I was trying to use. And I got a Wireless router while I was at it.


I added some more programming articles over on Rimrock Software. They are oriented towards the Delphi programming language.

I also updated the article I wrote about reducing the number of lines of code in a Java program. I added containers for the components so they could be accessed in other laces in the program.


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Friday, 18 February 2005

I have a doctor's appointment this morning, so this is kind of short.

Did a backup of Bad Boys last night, and it only took about 4 hours. At this rate, I should be finished sometime this spring.


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Thursday, 17 February 2005

I backed up my VHS tape of Armageddon to DVD last night. This is one of those movies that requires an extra step in the process.

Thursday, 17 February 2005

First, I use neoDVD to capture the movie from tape onto my hard disk. The movie plays at 1X, so this step took 2 hours and 31 minutes.

The next step is an extra step necessary for long movies that normally won't fit on a single layer DVD (longer than about 2 hours, 10 minutes). I ran the recorded output through DVD-Shrink. That program employs some clever techniques to reduce the size of movie files without affecting the quality too much. In the case of this movie, I reduced the size by 11%. I always reduce the recommended size by an extra 200k to allow room for a menu.

Next, I ran the output of DVD-Shrink through TMPGEnc DVD Author. This program allows me to add a menu to the video and its processing seems to straighten out problems introduced by the recording process.

Finally, I use neoDVD to write the output of DVD Author to a DVD+R.

All in all, this process took about 6 hours for Armageddon. It's no wonder this conversion process is taking me such a long time.


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Wednesday, 16 February 2005

For me as a non-coffee drinker, the smell of coffee brewing in the morning ranks right down there with the wonderful odors emanating from a sugar beet processing plant.

When I went through Rathdrum at 6 this morning, the Super 1 sign said it was 14° F. Warmer than yesterday, but still a bit nippy.


I installed Xandros 3.0 on my mom's machine last night. I will start evaluating it tonight. It was easy to install and seems to have gotten all the hardware configuration correct with minimal interference on my part.


I posted information about my hours/minutes/seconds calculator on Freshmeat yesterday. That posting resulted in an order of magnitude increase in downloads of the program. I think I like Freshmeat. And I think I will have to enable the forum section of Rimrock Software for questions and suggestions about the program.


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Tuesday, 15 February 2005

I needed to make some CDROM copies last night. Since my main computer was busy backing up a VHS movie to DVD, I decided to use my mom's (Libranet 2.8.1) machine to make the copies.

I tried to use K3B on her machine, which is my CD burning program of choice. No joy there - some drivers were missing. So I looked around and found xcdroast. What a hoot!

The user interface for xcdroast is primitive, but it appears to function very well. It took me some extra time to figure out how to use it, but I can't deny it actually worked. It was a little like having to know how your car engine works before you start it up and drive your car.

Bottom line is I was successful, but I will happily go back to K3B any time.


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Monday, 14 February 2005

I installed Mandrake 10 on my moms computer on Thursday. It works pretty well, but the application mix is not up to my standards. So I will move on.

I was going to try Xandros 3.0, but I got a bad disk for that. So I reinstalled Libranet and selected KDE as the desktop manager. Libranet seems to be a distro that's a reasonable competitor to SuSE.


The NILUG meeting was very good this time. One of the guys brought his Xbox, as he installed Debian Linux on it. Impressive like the first video games were. Not my cup of tea. Of course, nothing Microsoft is my cup of tea.

I picked up the SuSE 9.2 DVD .iso image at the meeting. The checksum is not correct for the image, but it seems to work ok. And I am definitely NOT going to download 3.2GB .iso image myself.


I finished up a bunch more VHS to DVD backups over the weekend. I haven't counted, but I think I have about 40 more to go. More to record than I have DVD+Rs for. Since OfficeMax was out of those bargain DVDs, I will be ordering 100 more from Meritline again.


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Friday, 11 February 2005

A nifty web site called CouponCodes.net. It lists coupons, values, merchandise and rebates for all kinds of companies. The following is typical of what you can pick up off this web site:

OfficeMax week of 02/06/05 - 02/13/05 Weekly Deals

Since I'm running low on DVD+Rs, I may visit OfficeMax to take advantage of this.


The North Idaho Linux User Group meeting takes place tomorrow at noon. I have placed an ad on the Spokane Craig's List for the meeting. We'll see if anyone is listening.


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Thursday, 10 February 2005

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Wednesday, 9 February 2005

I installed the latest Libranet on my mom's old computer. I will be testing it to see if it will be acceptable for her. Kinda doubt it. At first look, it seems kinda geeky to me. Not really something my mom could handle.


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Tuesday, 8 February 2005

Not much going on. I backed Patriot Games up on DVD and made a copy of the Fedora Core 3 DVD for a friend. I also installed the Windows wireless driver for my WiFi card onto my Linux notebook. I now need a network to verify that it is working.


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Monday, 7 February 2005

I have finished redoing all the DVDs I recorded from VHS. I am now back on my original course of backing VHS tapes up onto DVD.


I am still experimenting with operating systems for my mom's HP computer. I tried to install Debian on the machine, but I gave up in the middle of the (arcane) install. Maybe I will try the latest version of Debian when it stabilizes, but the Debian install is just way too complex for mere mortals.

I installed Xandros 2.01 on the machine, and was impressed with how few problems I had. I was also less than impressed with the number of apps available, but that was due to the distro being on only one CDROM. Of course, the real Xandros comes on more than one CD and contains all kinds of nifty apps. Maybe it's time for me to actually buy Xandros instead of downloading the sample version.


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Friday, 4 February 2005

My mom's old HP seems to be a pretty strange computer. I tried loading BeatrIX on it and had no luck. I tried Ubuntu and had no luck. I tried Fedora Core 3 again and had no luck.

I don't know whether the problem is with the video card or the monitor. I do know that the distributions detect my monitor as unknown, and that Fedora Core 3 no longer has the monitor configuration screen in the installation program that Fedora Core 1 had.

So I finally booted up Knoppix and installed it as the operating system on the hard disk. The only remaining problem is that Knoppix was installed on only one partition. I will have to manually move the /usr and /home directories over to the partitions I have reserved for them.

Since Knoppix exists on a single 700mb CDROM, it comes with a limited amount of software. Fortunately, since Knoppix is based on Debian, I can use the apt-get program to get any other programs I need from the Debian stable and unstable trees.


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Thursday, 3 February 2005

I found another fan for my server at a local Spokane computer store. 10 bucks and my server is now quiet as a mouse.


I tried to install Fedora Core 3 on my mom's old HP computer. No joy. It's very hard to find a distro that will support that machine. The last version of Red Hat does, and Fedora Core 1 does, but I haven't found anything else that will. I'll keep looking.

I think I will try BeatrIX Linux next.


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Wednesday, 2 February 2005

The CPU fan in my server died. It had ball bearings, but that didn't prevent it from developing a fatal wobble. The BIOS detected the very much lowered fan speed and shut down the computer. Fan was made in China.

So now I have to dig up another fan, or shell out 20 bucks for a new CPU cooler. I have another cooler that I got out of my dad's computer, but it doesn't fit - it bumps into a couple of capacitors that sit adjacent to the CPU.


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Tuesday, 1 February 2005

I have put the HMSCalc hours/minutes/seconds calculator up on Rimrock Software. Please note that this program requires that you have Java on your system.

I have also included a permanent link to Rimrock Software on this web site. I will be adding more content to the site as soon as I can.


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