Documents

Archives

Search

BLOGical Thoughts Archive

February 2009

Friday, 27 February 2009

I got stuck in my driveway yesterday, on the way to work. We had about 5" of heavy, wet snow and I could not get up the hill to the county road. So I backed down the hill, into my driveway and got hung up on the berm next to the driveway.

As a result, I spent most of the day yesterday working on VPN. I got some work done, but I really needed to talk to some people about what I was doing, so I dug the car out at about 1:30pm. It turns out one of the neighbors had plowed the road, so I was able to get up the hill and drive to work. Hopefully, I won't have the problem this morning.


The North Idaho Linux Users Group meeting will be held tomorrow afternoon at F1 For Help in Rathdrum. Check the NILUG web site for more details and a map.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software

RIAA/MPAA/IFPI/BSA/SIIA/FCC

Stupid Patent Tricks, Copyright and Other IP Nonsense

Local and Other News

Thursday, 26 February 2009

I installed FreeDOS over DOS 6 so I could try better CDROM support, but Windows 3.11 complained about not being able to run on an 'incompatible operating system'. This is typical Microsoft, as you can see from the many Microsoft links below. Only it's typical of them from the early 90's, so they've been dishing the crap out to us for at least 20 years. I, for one, am damn tired of it.

I have now officially given up on trying to upgrade Windows 3.11 to Windows 98. If Windows 3.11 isn't good enough to demo that DRM'd SoccerCoach program, that's too bad. It's the best I could do.


At least for this month, there is a second meeting of the North Idaho Linux Users Group. This one will be held on Saturday from 1pm to 4pm at F1 For Help in Rathdrum. Joseph Hume has kindly donated the use of his facilities so we could do some technical stuff with Linux.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software

RIAA/MPAA/IFPI/BSA/SIIA/FCC

Stupid Patent Tricks, Copyright and Other IP Nonsense

Local and Other News

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

I discovered that the three hours I had spent the other day copying the Windows 98 disk onto the Windows 3.11 VM hard disk were wasted. When I opened up the VM and looked, none of what I was copying was there. That's what happens when someone shuts the power off on a VM, I guess. I tried to do this again last night, but the DOS 6 CD driver is really poor. I was not able to copy the disk, although it copies fine in other operating systems.

I think that the only other thing I can try is to install FreeDOS over DOS 6. The problem with that is Windows doesn't like to run under operating systems other than Microsoft's. Same old attitude they have to this very day...


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software

RIAA/MPAA/IFPI/BSA/SIIA/FCC

Stupid Patent Tricks, Copyright and Other IP Nonsense

Local and Other News

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

I tried to upgrade the Windows 3.11 VM to Windows 95 last night. I created 13 image files from the 13 floppy disks that Windows 95 comes on. I then copied those over to my workstation and mounted the first one. I entered the 'setup' command and Windows 95 started to install. When it asked me for disk 2, I mounted that and clicked okay. At that point, I got an indication that one of the .CAB files on the disk image was damaged. I recopied it and tried again - same problem. I googled the problem with disk 2 and found that the disk could be damaged from a virus when I installed it on an earlier machine. At that point, I gave up trying to upgrade to Windows 95.

I then tried to upgrade to Windows 98 again and I got the same indication I got on Sunday - it can't access the CD. I made a copy of the CD, tried using the copy and got the same indication again. I then decided to copy the entire CD onto the virtual hard disk from the Windows 3.11 file manager. After 3 hours, it was still copying, so I let it run overnight.

When I got up this morning, the computer was off. It had lost power again. I will check to see whether the copying was completed tonight. All I can say, it's a good thing a new power supply for the machine is on its way to me.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software

RIAA/MPAA/IFPI/BSA/SIIA/FCC

Stupid Patent Tricks, Copyright and Other IP Nonsense

Local and Other News

Monday, 23 February 2009

I finally got the DRM protected program to install in a virtual machine. I spent all day Sunday trying to create a Windows 98 VM so I could install the program. I could not do that, as I only have a Win98 upgrade CD. I had to install DOS 6.0, then install Windows 3.11, then try to install Windows 98. No go on the Windows 98 install. So I installed the program in Windows 3.11! I hope my buddy remembers how to use Windows 3.11, because it took me a while to remember, too.

This was not a straightforward process, as the computer I was installing the VM on does not have a 3 1/2" floppy drive. I had to use another computer with Linux on it to create a set of over a dozen floppy disk images that I could load into the VM as floppy disks. This is dead simple in Linux. You just go to the command line and enter 'cat /dev/fd0 > imagename.img' and the image gets put in the imagename.img file.

I have Windows 95 on about 12 floppy disks, so I will try to upgrade Windows 3.11 to that tonight.


I have also created a VM for Windows development. So far, I have installed Delphi 5 and Delphi 6 on the machine. I am also going to install the latest version of Eclipse.

I am having some trouble installing VCL components into Delphi 6, but it has been quite a while since I have had to do that, so it will take me a while to get the hang of it again. I want to install components to allow me to re-skin an application, so it doesn't look like a plain-jane Windows program.


I also updated the members page on the North Idaho Mineral Club website this weekend.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software

RIAA/MPAA/IFPI/BSA/SIIA/FCC

Stupid Patent Tricks, Copyright and Other IP Nonsense

Local and Other News

Friday, 20 February 2009

I will have a busy weekend. I will put photos up on the North Idaho Mineral Club web site of member's projects from the last two meetings. We have some very talented people and the pictures will show that off.

I also have to try installing that DRM-protected program again. If I can't do it from the install disks, I will have to search around on my Windows development machine and see if I have a version that can be installed. My friend Ken needs this so he can show it to a potential investor.

I will look into cleaning up the development machine so I can do useful work on it. Or maybe I will create a virtual machine on my workstation and install all the development stuff there. That would be a lot better, actually.

A general cleanup is also in order around here. I have been doing that, but the rate at which I clean up is slower than the rate at which things get messed up. Fancy that.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software

RIAA/MPAA/IFPI/BSA/SIIA/FCC

Stupid Patent Tricks, Copyright and Other IP Nonsense

Local and Other News

Thursday, 19 February 2009

I spent last night attempting to install a program that was originally written for Windows 95/98. The install program just keeps quitting. The error probably has a lot to do with the draconian DRM it employs.

I wrote the original version of this program, and that version had no DRM or any kind of restrictions. The doofus who rewrote the program (badly, I might add) convinced the owner to add DRM to it. So not only is it badly designed, it's tied up so you can't even install it to see that it's badly designed.

This is the program I was attempting to rewrite in Java. I got hung up on a few problems with that version, but I may get back to it as there is currently no alternative.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software

RIAA/MPAA/IFPI/BSA/SIIA/FCC

Stupid Patent Tricks, Copyright and Other IP Nonsense

Liberty and Security/Our Rights

Local/Other News/Public Stupidity

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

I will be studying SQL statements today at work. We are changing the DBMS we use in our application from PostgreSQL to one called Vertica. With that change we are also changing our database design, so we can store and retrieve data much, much faster. This is important because the application is a real-time application, i.e., it gets and stores data as near to the event that occurred as possible. One of the main reasons for changing is to increase our ability to handle all that data.

So our reports module will have to change to handle the new database design. Each report is based on one or more SQL statements to retrieve data from the database. The kicker is, there are hundreds of reports, and they must all be changed. Hopefully I can come up with a program to do that, as I would hate to have to do it by hand.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software

RIAA/MPAA/IFPI/BSA/SIIA/FCC

Stupid Patent Tricks, Copyright and Other IP Nonsense

Liberty and Security/Our Rights

Local/Other News/Public Stupidity

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

I made the mistake of picking up the first two seasons of 'Bones' on DVD over the weekend. That means I've been in a non-stop viewing session since then. I have finished all of season one and the first four episodes of season two. I like Bones, but this is a lot of video to watch. The first season was approximately 15 hours. I think I will try to get some work done tonight instead of watching the DVDs.


When I put Xubuntu on the Dell GX50, I also tried to load it up so I could listen to streaming radio stations on the Internet. I can't seem to make that work, though. I'm trying to remember how I did it on my regular workstation, but am not having much luck.

I have installed Windows 2000 as a virtual machine on my workstation. I was going to use it to do podcast downloads, but I'm not sure I will. I may look for another Linux podcast downloader instead.


I had to upload today's blog from work. My Internet connection has been intermittent in the mornings lately.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software

RIAA/MPAA/IFPI/BSA/SIIA/FCC

Stupid Patent Tricks, Copyright and Other IP Nonsense

Liberty and Security/Our Rights

Local/Other News/Public Stupidity

Monday, 16 February 2009

Over the weekend, I installed Fedroa Linux and Ubuntu Studio on a single machine at the North Idaho Linux Users group meeting. I also installed Xubuntu on my little Dell GX50 machine. They all install much, much easier than any Windows installation, and they all know about other operating systems, so they never interfere with other operating systems. Windows just assumes it is the only operating system in the Universe.

I also demonstrated how to install virtualization software, how to find programs on a Linux system and how to install a .BIN file in Linux. I explained how Windows determines what can be executed by looking at the file extension, and how Linux doesn't care about file extensions. Linux knows whether something can be executed by looking at file permissions.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software

RIAA/MPAA/IFPI/BSA/SIIA/FCC

Stupid Patent Tricks, Copyright and Other IP Nonsense

Liberty and Security/Our Rights

Local/Other News/Public Stupidity

Friday, 13 February 2009

The Excelixis Linux desktop looks like Ubuntu's except it has one of those pop-up toolbars down at the bottom of the screen. You know the kind - when you move the mouse cursor over it, a lot of icons pop-up in a bar. Then when you hover over one of the icons, it explodes to twice its original size. Geeze, if I wanted a SmackIntosh, I would have bought one. That menu bar is extremely annoying.

Since I am immersed in Delphi at work right now, I figured I would look at Lazarus on Excelixis. It came up with only one problem, which may have been from the upgrade problem I had the other day. I didn't actually do anything in Lazarus, but I verified the IDE came up and it looks a lot like Delphi. I will look into this later.


I tried to update the BIOS on the Dell GX50 computer, only to discover it already has the latest and greatest BIOS - one that does not support USB external DVD drives. I guess if I really want to load a lightweight Linux on that machine, I will have to settle for Xubuntu instead.


Don't forget that there is a North Idaho Linux Users Group meeting tomorrow in Post Falls. We will be answering questions and helping to install software.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software

RIAA/MPAA/IFPI/BSA/SIIA/FCC

Stupid Patent Tricks, Copyright and Other IP Nonsense

Liberty and Security/Our Rights

Local/Other News/Public Stupidity

Thursday, 12 February 2009

I fixed the update error I got when updating Excelixis Linux. The error was in a Free Pascal package. I went to the command line and entered 'sudo apt-get install -f'. This cleaned up the problem and properly installed the package. I then went back to the update facility and updated the rest of the packages.

I haven't had time to look any further in the distro than that. I will be investigating it further, as I really want to use it to do software development. I can tell you that the desktop is slicker than the one for Workbench Linux. It has a bunch of applets installed as default, including ones for the time, the weather and CPU/memory usage. I will leave them installed and if they are too annoying, I will take them off.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software

RIAA/MPAA/IFPI/BSA/SIIA/FCC

Stupid Patent Tricks, Copyright and Other IP Nonsense

Liberty and Security/Our Rights

Local/Other News/Public Stupidity

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

I downloaded and installed the latest version of Excelixis Linux (formerly Workbench Linux) on my Athlon XP-1800 computer. After installation, it showed that I had updates available, so I started downloading those. There were 305 updates, so I the downloading run overnight. At least one of the downloaded package had an error in it, so I still have updating to do on the system.


The North Idaho Linux Users Group meeting is on Saturday. We will be talking about virtualization, installing .BIN files and getting remote files using the command line. we will also be helping anyone who cares to attend with any problems they are having with Linux, or with installation of Linux.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software

RIAA/MPAA/IFPI/BSA/SIIA/FCC

Stupid Patent Tricks, Copyright and Other IP Nonsense

Liberty and Security/Our Rights

Local/Other News/Public Stupidity

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

I tried to install Workbench Linux on the little Dell GX50 I brought home from my parents, but I couldn't do it. Workbench is on a DVD and the computer only has a CD drive. It also has no support for USB external DVD drives. So I guess I will just continue to use Workbench on the Athlon XP-1800 machine I have already installed it on.

I downloaded a new version of Workbench last night. It was a bit tough to find, as the name has been changed from Workbench Linux to Excelixis Linux. That's a mouthful. I think I like Workbench better, but I think they were anticipating copyright or trademark problems.

I have downloaded a BIOS upgrade for the Dell, and I will look at flashing that tonight.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software

RIAA/MPAA/IFPI/BSA/SIIA/FCC

Stupid Patent Tricks, Copyright and Other IP Nonsense

Liberty and Security/Our Rights

Local/Other News/Public Stupidity

Monday, 9 February 2009

I have a dual-boot computer I wanted to set up to do some development work. The machine normally boots into Windows 2000 and I use that to download podcasts (which I could easily do in Linux, but I haven't gotten around to doing that). The other boot option is into Workbench Linux, which is a variant of Xubuntu.

Workbench works fine and it comes with all the development tools anyone could ask for. It easily connects to USB devices, which was one of my requirements, but it does not like to look at other computers on my LAN. There is no easy way to connect to a Windows share with the machine. There is a program to let you do that, but it doesn't seem to work. I will try it with other machines.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software

RIAA/MPAA/IFPI/BSA/SIIA/FCC

Stupid Patent Tricks, Copyright and Other IP Nonsense

Liberty and Security/Our Rights

Local/Other News/Public Stupidity

Friday, 6 February 2009

We have our monthly Linux Users Group meeting a week from tomorrow. I have a list of things that will be discussed, but I haven't posted them on the web site. I hope to do that tomorrow.


Last night on the way home from work, I saw a moose grazing in the woods next to Highway 53 between Hauser Lake and Rathdrum. This morning I saw that same moose, lying in a broken pile next to the highway. People just don't pay any attention to what they are doing, do they?


Here's a cast iron cookery tip: If you have a cast iron pot or skillet with a bad case of the cruds, warm up the piece, then pour in a healthy dose of vegetable oil. Then add a lot of salt - enough to make a wet paste. Use paper towels to scrub the paste into the pot, then rinse completely with hot water.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software

RIAA/MPAA/IFPI/BSA/SIIA/FCC

Stupid Patent Tricks, Copyright and Other IP Nonsense

Liberty and Security/Our Rights

Local/Other News/Public Stupidity

Thursday, 5 February 2009

At work, I have fixed the problem with determining how to disable filesystem redirection under 64-bit Windows. I would guess that about 90% of my problems with doing this was figuring out how to translate between Microsoft's Windows API calls, which are written in obscure C defines, and Java. While I was doing this work, I was also documenting it on our Wiki so others would know how to do it next time.

I currently document just about everything I do at work now. Not documenting actually bit me yesterday, when one of the testers asked me how to use a reader I had written last year but did not document. I couldn't even remember writing it, as he was calling it something other than what I recognized. Once I figured out which reader it was, I looked at the source code for it. It turns out I had documented it a bit in the source code. There was enough there to allow me to explain how to use the reader. Bottom line is, it pays to document.


Here's an interesting tip: If you ever accidently write on a white board with a permanent marker, you can usually remove it even though it's supposed to be permanent. Just take a dry-erase marker and completely mark over the permanent marker writing, then wipe the board clean. If you wait too long, though, you may never get rid of the permanent marker damage.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software

RIAA/MPAA/IFPI/BSA/SIIA/FCC

Stupid Patent Tricks, Copyright and Other IP Nonsense

Liberty and Security/Our Rights

Other News/Public Stupidity

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

I was reading Jeff Duntemann's blog the other day, and he mentioned that he had tried a boot editor called Kgrubeditor and could not get it to work. I installed it on a test computer running Ubuntu 8.10 and could not get it to work, either. I then installed it on my main workstation (also Ubuntu 8.10) and it works fine.

I came to the conclusion that the install package was missing a vital piece that was being installed with another KDE program. So I am trying to figure out which other KDE program provides the piece. I have started by installing Quanta Plus on the test computer. That had no effect on Kgrubeditor - it still won't run. I will keep installing KDE programs until I find the program that provides the missing piece, then try to pare it down from there. I will contact Jeff if I can figure which piece is missing. I may even contact Cannonical (Ubuntu) about it, too.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software

RIAA/MPAA/IFPI/BSA/SIIA/FCC

Stupid Patent Tricks, Copyright and Other IP Nonsense

Liberty and Security/Our Rights

Other News/Public Stupidity

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Since I count sports contests on television as reality shows, there was absolutely nothing to watch on TV on Sunday. So I decided to watch 'The Last Templar', a mini-series that was broadcast on TV in the last week or two. I went to Hulu and searched for it. It came in two parts, each one an hour and 20 minutes. I watched each part and was subject to only one 20-second ad every ten or fifteen minutes. That's a lot better than the ads on regular TV.

Note the length of each part. That means they have to add 40 minutes of advertisements, station breaks, etc. to bring each part up to a full 2 hours. I didn't miss a thing by watching it on Hulu. I will be doing this more and more, as TV gets worse and worse.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software

RIAA/MPAA/IFPI/BSA/SIIA/FCC

Stupid Patent Tricks, Copyright and Other IP Nonsense

Liberty and Security/Our Rights

Other News/Public Stupidity

Monday, 2 February 2009

I have discovered that some of my recorded DVDs can be backed up by one computer, some by another and some just can't be backed up. I came across one of the latter yesterday. It gets to the 84% mark and just slows to a crawl on one computer. On the other computer, it eventually causes K9Copy to throw an exception and die a horrible death. I guess I won't be backing that DVD up.


I have discovered why my workstation computer shuts off suddenly for no apparent reason. Let's just say this: never put a space heater on the same circuit as a computer. Even if the computer is plugged into a UPS on that circuit.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software

RIAA/MPAA/IFPI/BSA/SIIA/FCC

Stupid Patent Tricks, Copyright and Other IP Nonsense

Liberty and Security/Our Rights

Other News/Public Stupidity