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BLOGical Thoughts Archive

February 2007

Wednesday, 28 February 2007

I've been using Google Mail (Gmail) since its start. It is now out of beta and open to the public. You can sign up for a free Gmail account by going to the Gmail home page. But why would you want a Gmail account?

  1. Gmail has a very good spam filter. I never find any junk mail in my Inbox, and the Spam box is easy to peruse and to empty.
  2. Emails can be easily organized into what Google calls 'labels'. A particular email can be classified under more than one label if necessary.
  3. You can store your emails on the 2.8GB of file space provided by Google for that purpose. This is especially good if you subscribe to several list serves, as I do.
  4. Once you have a Gmail account, you have access to a whole mess of free stuff from Google, such as a very good calendar, online word processor and spreadsheet programs, Google Groups and the brand new online picture gallery.

I have started using the new Google picture gallery, which is called Picasa Web Albums. It currently provides only 250 MB of storage, but I'm sure that will probably increase as more people use it. It has a slideshow capability which is really snappy, as it preloads the next picture before displaying it. Very nice, and recommended.


Apparently, I attempted to access the KSPS and Friends of Seven web sites on the wrong day and time. Those sites are now publicly available. Sorry for the rant, but why would they require a password at any time? If they were updating the site, a simple static web page stating that could be used as the home page until they were ready to go live.


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Tuesday, 27 February 2007

I'm having a good time using Book Mooch. I have 45 books in my inventory as books I want to give away, I've given away 3 books, received 3 books from others, and am awaiting two books to show up here. I just mooched Lucifer's Hammer. This will be the third copy I will have of that book. I wore out the other two.


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Monday, 26 February 2007

Actually, my speculations about my job status were correct. I got a formal letter from the company clarifying my status. If I stick on the job until June 30, I will get a 3 week bonus. As of July 1, I will no longer have a job. So I have 4 months to decide what I want to do. That's pretty fair and it gives me a chance to dig something else up, if I want to.


Imagine a public television station, whose very life depends on the good will and generosity of the public. A station who, by its very nature, is public in every aspect. Imagine that the station has a dot-org web site. And imagine that the web site is CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC. Now imagine that the station is KSPS in Spokane, WA. And you wouldn't be imagining any more.

What's going on? Is the web site only available to people who have paid the ransom? I stopped doing that for this station years ago, for other reasons. And a closed web site won't make me any more inclined to pay the ransom now.


We had a goodly amount of snow over the weekend, and it's just sitting on my road and the road up to the county road. I can't plow it, because the four wheel drive in my truck went out. I'm hoping to get it fixed on Wednesday, but we expect more snow before then.


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Friday, 23 February 2007

We got a couple of inches of snow yesterday. I went out to plow it, and my truck wouldn't move. Turns out it was in two wheel drive, and the snow plow on the front prevents the rear wheels from getting any traction. The problem is, it was really in four wheel drive, but something is broken. So I have no way to plow the driveway or the road up to the county road. Wonderful. Today at lunch, I will have to go down and make an appointment to get it fixed.


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Thursday, 22 February 2007

There are a few plugins for WordPress that I need in order to clean up the Inland Empire Dutch Oven Society (IEDOS) web site. I need a better calendar for it, and I need a recipe plugin. The recipe plugin may be tough to find, so I may have to learn how to write plugins for WordPress.


I need to do some more work on this web site. The eBook section hasn't been updated in a long time, so that may be where I start. I would also like to convert the teardrop trailer section over to WordPress, and I will be looking into that, too.


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Wednesday, 21 February 2007

My Internet connection was down this morning, so I'm doing as much as I can offline.


I drove the 1952 Plymouth home from where I bought it in downtown Coeur d'Alene. It started easily and everything worked pretty well except for the brakes. There were no brakes at all. Which made the 11 mile drive home quite interesting. There were 5 stop signs between Cd'A and home. And I couldn't really stop at any of them.

Now that I have it home, I will start working on it. I guess brakes will be the first order of business. Other items do not include anything of operational concern.


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Tuesday, 20 February 2007

Science fiction television shows have almost always been commentaries on present situations dressed in futuristic clothing. The original Star trek series did that many times, from its multi-racial cast (a first in the '60s) to its essay on discrimination and foolhardiness in "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield".

I bring this up because I have been rewatching Babylon 5, a show that ran from 1993 to 1998. That series also predicted and remarked upon contemporary situations, but it was prescient - it was remarking on events that have occurred after November 11, 2001. I'm up to the middle of the third season (of 5 seasons) and I'm getting much more out of it than the other times I have viewed it. I recommend the show to anyone who likes good SciFi.


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Monday, 19 February 2007

I've been cleaning up a bunch of stuff at home. I mailed my tax returns in, balanced my checkbook and did a bunch of cleaning. I also started hanging some dry wall.

I haven't done the checkbook thing in 17 months. It was off by $5.90, of which about $5.70 was interest. I'm pretty good at correctly entering stuff into the register.


I downloaded another Linux distro. This one's called Lunar Linux, and it's a source code distro. Whatever you want to be included, you compile and install. Sounds like a lot of work, but I don't think it will be.


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Friday, 16 February 2007

My VPN connection is now working. It only took me 15 days (and an extra $25 a month) to get it back. A guy from my ISP came out yesterday and did a little magic with my wireless modem, and the VPN client that has never worked here suddenly started working.

Basically, before the reconfiguration, my connection consisted of a wireless router (which does NAT), a wireless modem (which does NAT) and the ISP's office equipment (which does NAT). The change consisted of them giving me a static IP address, then a change to my wireless modem and router. They changed the wireless modem from NAT to passthrough, then changed my router to static IP support, giving it the IP address, gateway address and DNS addresses. That was all. And I printed all those IP addresses out in case something goes wrong with the router.

The new client appears to work much better than the old Verizon connection I was using before February first. I downloaded the latest build of our product (417 MB) from our build machine in Bothell, WA, and installed it yesterday. It all went fine. The old Verizon client wouldn't let me do that. It would timeout every 12 minutes, so I could never download huge files.


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Thursday, 15 February 2007

I have my Linux workstation set up as a Samba server, so I can share files and the printer with other computers. In the past few days, I have been using that capability a lot. I have been printing test data from my work Windows XP to the HP LaserJet 6L on the Linux box. It really works fine, once I figured out how to actually make the connection.

I have also used that machine in the past few weeks to print 780 double sided pages for the Dutch oven workshop booklet. And I have printed 120 covers for the booklets on my Canon inkjet printer. That's a lot of printing for a home setup. If I ever finish the Dutch oven cookbook, it will be printed by someone else.


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Wednesday, 14 February 2007

The program I work on now has only two programmers working on it - my boss and me. The company is concerned about the situation and took steps to ensure that I don't go shopping for a job, too. If I stick around until the end of June, they will give me a bonus. So I guess my speculations about my job status were wrong.

Of course, in July, it's all up for grabs.


I'm still working on getting my VPN connection to work. My ISP will be out here tomorrow to replace my wireless modem with a different model, so I will be able to use the MS VPN package. I hope.


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Tuesday, 13 February 2007

It was pointed out to me at the NILUG meeting on Saturday that OpenOffice.org Calc can save a spreadsheet in .csv (comma separated value) format. That means I would have saved at least an hour in my quest to move my audio CD list over to Tellico. Oh well, it's done now, so no big deal. It was an interesting challenge to do it the way I did it, anyway. And I'm a sucker for interesting challenges.


I still have no VPN. It doesn't look like I will anytime soon, either. My ISP says I need a commercial account for VPN. I will look into that, but I suspect it will cost too much, since what I'm paying now is too much, too.

In the meantime, this morning I will be taking my computer over to my bosses house to hook it up so I can check in the source code I have modified, and check out more.


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Monday, 12 February 2007

Saturday morning, I figured out how to get the old menu setup in openSUSE 10.2. While I was at the NILUG meeting, I took the opportunity to load it on my notebook computer. It worked fine except for the most important part - the WiFi. So I ended up reinstalling Mepis 6.0. Lesson learned.


I have finished printing 90 of the Dutch oven booklets. 30 more to go.

As part of the workshop Jack Jacobsen and I will be running at Minden, NE this summer, I will be cooking an actual dish. I experimented with doing zucchini bread this weekend. The bread turned out fine, but not sweet enough. Even so, I will be doing that dish at the workshop.


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Friday, 9 February 2007

This has been a busy week. I went to a going away dinner on Tuesday, the Lunar Group meeting last night, and tomorrow is the North Idaho Linux User Group meeting. Add to that the fact I have to get my new (old) car registered and moved, and it adds up to a lot.


My VPN connection woes at work continues. I can't connect to the Verizon solution now, as some actions that the company IT department told me to perform has caused the program to not work, not be uninstallable and not be reinstallable. I'm not sure what can be done now.


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Thursday, 8 February 2007

Well, it's a 1952 Plymouth, not a 1951. But it's mine, now.




It runs and there's no major body work to be done. It needs a front bumper and a trunk lock, as well as two chrome strips along the bottom of the doors. The heater needs work.

Inside, the upholstery has all been redone. It needs new door panels and floor carpet. No rust to speak of. It's got a 12 volt system and I need to add an electrical hookup for my trailer and a trailer hitch.


I ran the Gramps genealogy program in a virtual Ubuntu environment and imported an externally produced .ged file into the program. It seemed to work fine. The only problem is, I don't know anything about how to use Gramps to produce links between entries. I'll look at it again if I get the time.


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Wednesday, 7 February 2007

I went out to dinner last night with some of my coworkers. The dinner was kind of a going-away party for two of them. We went to the White House in Post Falls and had some good food. There were six of us there, and I seemed to be the only one who wasn't going anywhere new.


I downloaded a Linux distro that was oriented towards genealogy, and installed the distro as a virtual O/S on my standard Linux workstation. The distro is called LGenealogy and is very nice, as well as comprehensive. It is based on Ubuntu 6.06, and it includes three different genealogy programs.


I will be looking at the 1951 Plymouth Concorde today and will make a decision on whether to buy it. I hope it meets my expectations.


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Tuesday, 6 February 2007

The WordPress Content Management System (CMS) I use for this and other web sites has an included plugin called Askimet, that will block spam comments. It works so well that I have had only one spam comment get past it since I started using WordPress. As of this morning, it has blocked 1,826 spam comments. 99% of those are for drugs.

You would think that after not being able to get any comments on this site that the spammers would give up. This spamming process is all automated and the poor quality of the spamming software prevents it from knowing the effort is futile.


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Monday, 5 February 2007

I spent some of the weekend updating this web site from WordPress 2.0.5 to 2.1. I also updated two other web sites in the same manner. When I first did this site, I was afraid I had hosed the site, since when I ran the upgrade script, it failed. Then I completely erased all the 2.0.5 files and directories, then copied the new ones into place, and the upgrade went fine.

The most tedious part of the whole process was backing up the databases and the other files. I'm very glad I did that, as I accidently removed some pages I should not have, and I had to copy them onto the web site from the backup.


I have finished printing 30 Dutch oven booklets. That's 1/4 of the total I have to print. I will continue to do 5 per day until the task is complete.


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Friday, 2 February 2007

I still have no VPN connection. It appears to be Verizon's fault, and they won't fix it unless I give them a 'site id'. Which I have never had. So I guess all I can do is to bug our IT guy until it is fixed. In the meantime, I have source code to check in, email to check and I can't do it. I also can't use VOIP for a conference today, so I will have to use a normal telephone connection for that.


I may be helping out a local seniors group with some of their computing needs. We will see how that turns out.


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Thursday, 1 February 2007

I had no VPN connection to work yesterday. I called Verizon about this, and they didn't know a thing about it. It turns out that the error message I was getting pointed to one of our company's devices, not Verizon's. Who could guess? Anyway, I still don't have a connection and I need to get that fixed today. I have a lot of code that needs to be checked in.


I made a reservation for a trailer space at the 2nd International Teardrop Gathering. Now all I need is a recipe for the Dutch oven workshop. At this point, I'm thinking that zucchini bread might be a good recipe.


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