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February 2008

Friday, 29 February 2008

Happy Leap Year Day


I am working on an outline for a Dutch oven seminar I will be giving in May, so I figured it would be easier if I used an outlining program. I got into the Ubuntu Synaptic program and searched for 'outline'. I didn't find anything I could use. I then googled 'Linux outline' and found a match. It turns out these kind of programs call themselves note card programs. I searched for 'note' in Synaptic and found two programs. I installed one called notecase.

I fired up notecase and found that the user interface did not indicate how I should get started. I moused around in it for at least ten minutes before I right-clicked on the left-hand column. There it was - 'Add a note'. Once I got used to this weird paradigm, it was easy to use. It turns out you can add notecards, sub-notecards, etc. Think 'subject headings' instead of 'notecards'. You can even add pictures to a notecard. The only thing you can't do is print the cards. To do that, you can fire up your favorite web browser and load up the .ncd file that notecase produces (it's really an HTML file). All in all, note case is a pretty useful program.


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Thursday, 28 February 2008

I haven't had time to look for news links, so you don't get any today. I have been busy with another computer.

The computer in question is an AMD-64 FX machine with 2GB of memory. I installed a 160GB hard drive and a dual layer DVD burner in the machine. I then booted up with the Ubuntu Live CD, and installed that operating system on the hard drive.

I started the installation from the Live CD and when I got to the hard disk partitioning section, I partitioned the hard drive with a 4GB swap partition, a 30GB root partition and the rest of the drive as a home partition. I then installed Ubuntu onto the hard drive. Here's a little tip: if you install Ubuntu on a system, make sure you have an Internet connection working on the machine when you do it. When necessary, the installation downloads a few packages from the Net. Like the restricted driver it uses with the NVidia video card.

After installation, I updated the O/S with patches for the installed programs. At this late date in the life of Ubuntu 7.10, there were 190 packages to download and install. That took a couple of hours. I then installed the VLC media player, streamtuner and xmms, so I would have something to listen to and watch. I also installed automatix2 and used it to install some more proprietary software. Needless to say, I got nowhere near what I wanted to do last night, which was to investigate a program called notecase.


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Wednesday, 27 February 2008

I get a kick out of some of the utterly stupid things that phishers do on the Internet to suck in the unknowing. This picture shows one of them. Very interesting: I didn't know Linux runs the Windows 2000 O/S. If the phishers were a bit smarter, they could have figured out the machine was running Linux and not even tried...


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Tuesday, 26 February 2008

We will be switching meeting locations for the North Idaho Linux Users Group again. We will now meet in the River of Life Friends Church in Post Falls. We met there once before and there is a map in the blog section of the web site. The starting time will also change to accomodate the lunch hour. The meeting will start either at 12:30pm or 1:00pm. That will be firmed up this week.

The reason for the change has to do with our contact at the American Legion hall. No, we weren't rowdy or anything like that.


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Monday, 25 February 2008

I have to start thinking about teardrop trailer camping again. I got an invitation to one teardrop gathering I go to every year (except the year my car crapped out). I will be attending and I am thinking of doing a dutch oven seminar there. So I need a seminar outline, so we (Jack Jacobson and I) don't just ramble on. And I need to put in for a day's vacation at work. The gathering happens over the Memorial Day weekend. Here's what we ate for one meal.


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Friday, 22 February 2008

It wasn't a computer my credit card thief purchased. It was an Epson Multimedia Projector. It showed up here yesterday. The only entity that is likely to benefit from this whole mess is the company that shipped it - Lenovo in North Carolina. I am returning the projector to UPS and am telling them I refuse delivery. I have already canceled the transaction and the credit card.


Are you getting tired of having to remember your user name when you log into your Ubuntu-based computer? All you have to do is change the login screen. Select the System menu, then Administration and Login Window. You will be asked for your password. Enter it and you will see the Login Window Preferences dialog. Click on the Local tab. You will see a list of various login screens. Select the one called Human List, then close the dialog. The next time you log in, you will be presented with a list of users for the computer. Click on the one you want to use, then type in your password, and you are good to go.


It took me too long to figure out how to take a picture in the dark with my digital camera, so this is the only one I took of the eclipse.


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Thursday, 21 February 2008

I had no Internet connection again this morning, so this entry will be short. It was cold and clear last night and there is no excuse for my ISP's equipment to pack up. I reset my equipment, so the problem must be their's.


Someone stole my credit card number and attempted to purchase a computer from Lenovo with it. I hope I have taken care of the problem. I discovered this problem when I attempted to order a hard drive and DVD burner from Newegg and my order was rejected. The credit card company had flagged the Lenovo order as suspicious. Good for them.


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Wednesday, 20 February 2008

I am amazed at the number of small notebook computers being introduced which use Linux as their operating systems. Microsoft should be amazed, and scared, too. The more frontline publicity Linux gets, the worse it is for that very lame Vista.


I am a sucker for desktop wallpaper. I like to see a nice picture of something interesting when I have no program windows running on the computer. I have just picked up more than 1100 wallpaper images and I now have Ile Cocos, The Seychelles, up. It makes my office a bit warmer when we have sub-freezing temperatures overnight.


Silly sign of the day:


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Tuesday, 19 February 2008

I updated four Windows computers over the weekend. I had forgotten how much I really hate that operating system. Restart this, restart that... One of the machines required five restarts. Not to mention the fact that the program I was upgrading pulled a typical Windows trick. The upgrade no longer worked with Windows 2000 and two of the machines had that version of the O/S. So I uninstalled the program and put a very good free substitute on the machines.

I also installed four new programs on a Linux box for the same person. Those just installed - no restarts. Fancy that.


Silly sign of the day:


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Monday, 18 February 2008

I am a keyboard-oriented person. I would rather do everything with keystrokes instead of doing some keying, lifting my right hand off the keyboard, going to the mouse, moving the mouse pointer to the proper place and clicking one or more times, leaving the mouse and moving back to the keyboard. I think you get the idea.

An application like Firefox has plenty of keyboard shortcuts that I take advantage of. Here are some of the keystrokes I use on a regular basis.


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Saturday, 16 February 2008

I don't normally post on Saturday, but I thought I would drop a note indicating that I now have a normal Internet connection from my house. I immediately took advantage of the connection by downloading Netbeans 6.0 (117MB) and its Ruby support package (23MB). I also answered all my email, which I have been keeping trimmed down from work.

You really don't realize how much you depend on something until it is taken away from you. I started writing down stuff I needed from the Net so I could get it after I got connected again. Which is exactly what I have been doing.


Silly sign of the day:


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Friday, 15 February 2008


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Thursday, 14 February 2008


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Wednesday, 13 February 2008

I have had an EEE PC notebook computer for a month now. I delayed saying anything about it because I want to present it at the user group meeting last Saturday.

The machine came with 512MB RAM and a 4GB flash drive for mass storage. It has no hard disk. I replaced the memory with a 2GB stick and added an 8GB plugin flash card, for a total of 12GB.

The machine also has 3 USB ports, an ethernet port and a VGA connector. It weighs less than 2 pounds.

I will talk about it more when I have more time.


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Tuesday, 12 February 2008

I have had an EEE PC notebook computer for a month now. I delayed saying anything about it because I want to present it at the user group meeting last Saturday.

The machine came with 512MB RAM and a 4GB flash drive for mass storage. It has no hard disk. I replaced the memory with a 2GB stick and added an 8GB plugin flash card, for a total of 12GB.

The machine also has 3 USB ports, an ethernet port and a VGA connector. It weighs less than 2 pounds.

I will talk about it more when I have more time.


Silly sign of the day:


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Monday, 11 February 2008

Here's a scenario for you. Let's suppose you have a computer with an AMD motherboard and AMD 64 processor, with a television card and an NVidia 6800 video card. Let's suppose it is fully stocked with all the applications you need and you have all kinds of data on the computer. It's running Microsoft Windows XP as its operating system.

Now let's suppose that something goes wrong with the motherboard. So you go out and buy a motherboard with an entirely different chip set, an Intel Core 2 Duo processor and an NVidia 8500 video card. You plug the TV card, the old DVD drive and the SATA hard drives into the new system. What do you have to do to get Windows to run on this 'new' system? That's right, you have to blow away all the O/S and applications and re-install Windows, install the new device drivers and re-install all the apps. And hope you haven't accidentally blown away your data.

Now, let's suppose instead of Windows, the machine was running Ubuntu Linux 7.10 with all the applications and all the data. What would you have to do then? Blow away the O/S and apps?

Nope. I did this to an Ubuntu machine yesterday. Plugged the old drives and TV card into the new motherboard, powered it up and Linux recognized all the new hardware. I was up and running with NO changes to the system. I just love Linux.


Silly sign of the day:


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Friday, 8 February 2008

The current issue of Linux Format magazine is a Linux distro bonanza. It includes a double-sided DVD, which has 10 distros on it. Everything from Ubuntu, openSUSE and Mandriva to PCLinuxOS, Fedora and Damn Small Linux. I have read the magazine but haven't had a chance to look at the DVD yet. It should be interesting.


The North Idaho Linux Users Group meets tomorrow at noon in Post Falls. There will be two presentations on low-end Linux notebook computers, plus all kinds of help for those who are new to Linux or want to make the switch. We want to change the world, one computer at a time, so bring your computer and we'll start with you.


Silly sign of the day:


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Thursday, 7 February 2008

I have been using my GPS quite a bit lately. I am tired of it indicating that I take roads that are abandoned or non-existent, or not indicating roads that are at least two years old. The abandoned road is one between Rimrock Road and Boot Hill Road. It is now just a cow track. The road that never existed is the one that used to be a logging road and that ends in my front yard. The new road is a one mile stretch that connects Hwy 53 to Seltice Way (Pleasant View Road) in Post Falls.

Last night, I wanted to take Government Way home. It parallels Hwy 95 and is much less busy. The GPS kept telling me to 'turn left' at every intersection to get on to Hwy 95. It even did that at the last intersection before the one where I turn RIGHT to go up on the rimrock on the way to my house.

Why can't GPS units be smart and learn from repetitive actions? It wouldn't be that big a deal. Maybe the expensive ones do that. My little $99 Mio doesn't.


Silly sign of the day:


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Wednesday, 6 February 2008

One of our software developers left yesterday. We had a going away lunch for him, a cake and gave him a Guitar Hero guitar (he's a gamer). Pretty much blew most of the day. He left work yesterday at the normal time, and expected to start on his new job in Portland today. Good luck, Marshall.


I was wrong about the snow totals yesterday. Those were for Spokane. The normal snow fall in Coeur d'Alene is 67 inches. So far, we have had 127 inches, which is a new record (old record: 124 inches, 1915-1916). It is expected that we will get another ten to fifteen inches before the season is done.


Silly sign of the day:


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Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Chronology of my house this winter


December 16, 2007 - It started snowing real hard after the 22nd.


February 2, 2008 - Worrying about the snow load on the roof.


February 4, 2008 - My worries are over, for a while.

More snow due today - 3 to 5 inches. We are now in the 60 inch area for the season, and we still have February to go. Normal snowfall is 46 inches.


Silly sign of the day:


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Stupid Patent Tricks, Copyright, DRM and Other IP Nonsense

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Monday, 4 February 2008

My Internet connection was down all day Saturday and most of Sunday. When it came back up, I retrieved my email and had two messages about why the connection might go down. It turns out that my ISP's SnoCat broke down, and they needed to order a part from Seattle. They got it much faster than anticipated, and they were able to use the SnoCat to get up Rathdrum Mountain to the generator, and to restore the power there. The connection is back, but we are expecting more snow tomorrow, so that may affect the connection again.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software

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Stupid Patent Tricks, Copyright, DRM and Other IP Nonsense

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Friday, 1 February 2008

I got my truck back from the shop. When they put it back together after replacing the clutch, they routed a wire wrong. The insulation on the wire melted against a hot part and blew a fuse. No charge to me and the truck runs fine.


I am building yet another computer this weekend. I will also push the snow off the roof of the house. I will try to get pictures of before and after, so I can publish them here.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software

RIAA/MPAA/IFPI/BSA/FCC

Stupid Patent Tricks, Copyright, DRM and Other IP Nonsense

Liberty and Security/Our Rights

Other News/Public Stupidity