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BLOGical Thoughts Archive

February 2010

Friday, 26 February 2010

I bought the complete Fawlty Towers TV series collection. I enjoyed that series a lot when I was younger, as I enjoyed many other British comedies. Now I find that I have a hard time watching more than one episode of the series at a time. It just grates on me now. I can't explain it. Anyway, I have watched 6 episodes, so I have 11 or 12 more to watch. As I recall, they get crazier as they go along, since Basil Fawlty is clearly headed for a mental institution. I will get through all the episodes, but it will take me longer than it took me to get through Monk.


The North Idaho Linux Users Group has a technical session tomorrow, over at F1 for Help in Rathdrum. I will be uninstalling Free Pascal and will install the latest version on my laptop. Should be interesting.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software

"It's Mine, and You Have to Pay (and Pay and Pay) For It"

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Thursday, 25 February 2010

I am trying to gather up some songs I can use for background music for a video slideshow. The slideshow will contain all the pictures I took at the Northwest Spring Fling teardrop trailer gatherings from 2003 to last year. The problem is, I want a particular kind of music and I am having trouble finding some. It has to be Creative Commons, so I won't have any problems with the RIAA mafia. It has to be instrumental only and it has to be non-distracting. Ambient-type music may be what I need. I will just have to search harder, I guess. I think I need at least an album's worth, so that would be 10 to 12 tracks.

The reason I want to create this video is so I can give it to the folks who set up and run the Spring Flings, to show my appreciation of their efforts. It's hard work setting up and coordinating for an event that will have 50 or 60 teardrop trailers and all the attending people. I for one would not want to try that. At least while I'm still working for a living.


I didn't get very far in Java programming at work. I got pulled off of that to work on a problem in the reports program. We didn't catch this problem in testing (a customer found it), but that is not surprising. This is one of those "you've got to do exactly this, and this, and this - then the problem occurs". That is the hardest kind of scenario to think up when you are testing. It's easy to add it to the tests in retrospect, though. Anyhow, I fixed the problem and will commit the code for testing this morning.

That won't get me back on the Java project, though. I will then be looking in to a new capability for the reports program.

The reports program will allow you to run reports in batch mode, i.e., unattended. They want me to add the capability of automatically e-mailing the reports. That should be interesting - a chance for me to learn more, as I have no idea how to do it at this point.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

I am still working on this web site. Things would go a lot faster if it stop hanging up on me when I ftp to it. It did that again last night. I had to finish up one page this morning. At any rate, I have added two more photo events from 2008 to the photo section. 2007 is next on my list. It goes slow, but I will eventually end up at 2003 and will be done, just in time for the 2010 photos.


I ordered two more punds of Market Spice (Pike's Street) tea from Blue Moon Tea on Sunday. It came yesterday and along with it, they enclosed a single-serving sampler of something called Mango Swirl Black Loose Tea. It smelled good and tasted pretty good, but I have found nothing to actually match Pike Street. Nice try, Blue Moon.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software

"It's Mine, and You Have to Pay (and Pay and Pay) For It"

Local and Other News

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

I am having a bit of trouble getting back into the Java frame of mind. Part of it might be that it does not allow me the opportunity to express myself in terms of user interface (I don't work on that part). I think the main reason is because of all the libraries I spent the last five or six months (working in Delphi) forgetting about. Despite this, I have charted out the work I need to do and will tackle it today.


I did a little work on the web site last night in the photo area, but mostly I took the night off and finished a book I was reading. I will get back to converting my photo slideshows tonight. Those conversions are labor-intensive, as there is a lot of HTML code that needs to be modified. The results are worth it, though. Check out the 2008 Wooden Boat pictures as an example.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software

"It's Mine, and You Have to Pay (and Pay and Pay) For It"

Local and Other News

Monday, 22 February 2010

As you can tell by this web site, I spent the weekend working on the site. The latest version of WordPress is much nicer than the one I was working with, so it makes things easier to do. Note that I added a plugin to collapse the right side menu so you can see the major portions of it.

I started converting static pages over, and that was taking quite a bit of time. I had to stop on Sunday, as this web site stopped responding. I hope to pick up where I left off tonight.


What I said about restaurants on Friday was spot on. If you want fancy-looking mediocre food, find a restaurant way up in some tall hotel. The one in the Cd'A Resort has a way of absolutely ruining giant prawns.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software

"It's Mine, and You Have to Pay (and Pay and Pay) For It"

Local and Other News

Saturday, 20 February 2010

First up was an upgrade to the latest version of WordPress, then a change of themes. I hope you all like the new theme.

Next up is moving all the static web pages to WordPress pages. I also have to straighten out the categories for items I have filed here, so the new collapsing menus on the right side of this page work correctly.

Friday, 19 February 2010

I did all the stuff I described yesterday to the reports program at work. Except for the splash screen. The splash screen is really just the about box with some of the text turned off, but when I tried to use it as a splash screen, I ended up with a really weird EAbstractError. I looked at the screen itself and it is all generic Delphi components. I looked at the components and it turned out when I selected a PNG image to display, that called in some code that is not generic. I will convert the image over to a BMP and load it again. That will remove the extra code and should allow the splash screen to be displayed without crashing and burning the program.


We have a product turnover lunch today on the 7th floor of the Coeur d'Alene Resort. My own opinion of restaurants is the higher they are, the more expensive and less tasty the food is. We shall see if that philosophy holds.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software

Thursday, 18 February 2010

It came to my attention a couple of days ago that the about dialog for the reports program I maintain at work needs some extra work. About dialogs normally have a graphic image in them and the one in our current dialog is at least three or four years old.

So today I will create a new about dialog, one whose entire window is constructed from a new graphic one of my co-workers created. In Delphi, it is really easy to remove all the normal Windows decorations from a window, including all the controls and the windows borders, leaving just the interior of the window itself. And you can also make the window transparent, so just the interior components are visible.

Modeling this in another Delphi program, I put a graphic component in the window and pointed it at the (oddly shaped) graphic image. I then ran the program and the image came up, looking just like a splash screen. After that, I added the other text components and a button to close the window. It looks fantastic, if you are into 'bling'. The powers that be are also thinking about a splash screen for the program, so I will use the same graphic with less verbiage and no button to do that.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software

"It's Mine, and You Have to Pay (and Pay and Pay) For It"

Local and Other News

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

At work I am now doing Java programming again. This feels a bit weird, as I have been doing Delphi for most of the last six months. Testing found a couple of bugs in that Delphi project, but they are minor and I won't be fixing them for a while. The Java project is a log file reader, and I have to study what I did before in order to get up to speed on it again. We recently got more information on the log files, so I should have enough information to be able to read them properly.


A couple of weeks ago, I broke the glass coffee pot on my coffee maker (actually a tea maker). Instead of spending $12 for a new pot, I spent $15 and got a new coffee maker. I just noticed a nice feature on the new machine - if the pot is not positioned in the machine properly, the water will not percolate into the pot area. This means you will not end up with a kitchen counter full of hot water if you don't have the pot in the machine correctly. Very nice.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software

"It's Mine, and You Have to Pay (and Pay and Pay) For It"

Local and Other News

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

I have posted version 0.9.0 of gdvdslides on the Rimrock Software web site. Other than that, I took yesterday off, so I have nothing more to report.

At work we will deliver the new software we have been working on for the last six months. It looks pretty good, but there are still a lot of minor items that need to be cleaned up. None of the bugs are earth-shaking, so I expect us to immediately go into a .1 cleanup cycle.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software

"It's Mine, and You Have to Pay (and Pay and Pay) For It"

Local and Other News

Monday, 15 February 2010

It seems that if I find a bug in gdvdslides, I am unable to keep myself from fixing the bug. I have fixed some bugs in the program and will add the new version to the Rimrock Software web site today. Then I promise to stop updating for at least a month, or until the next bug fix.

I will also be working on my deployment article today. The article will focus on deploying in a Debian environment, which covers distributions like Debian, Linux Mint and Ubuntu.


Have you ever had a holiday sneak up on you? President's Day snuck up on me. I didn't realize it was a holiday until this morning, and I remoted into work to verify that we have it off. So anyway, happy President's Day.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software

"It's Mine, and You Have to Pay (and Pay and Pay) For It"

Local and Other News

Friday, 12 February 2010

The usual process has occurred with gdvdslides. Now that I am in the program, fixing or adding small things, I have developed a list of more items to fix or add.

I have also had a conversation with someone at work about program deployment and have come to the conclusion I need to write an article on how to create Debian packages for deploying your latest programming opus. There are articles like that already on the Web, but none of them go far enough. I believe those articles were done to document their own efforts, but only in the areas where they had trouble. Sorry, Zonker, but it's true (http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/linux/library/l-debpkg.html).


The Coeur d'Alene Press has updated their web site. I thought the old site was bad, with their really, really annoying pop-over ads, but this one is worse. There is almost no actual news content on the home page, which means you have to click through to get to the content. That means more ad revenue for them, I suspect, and no joy for us. If you want to read about local news, I suggest you try out the Spokane Spokesman-Review web site instead. I know I will.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software

"It's Mine, and You Have to Pay (and Pay and Pay) For It"

Local and Other News

Thursday, 11 February 2010

I did some more work on gdvdslides last might. The menu is now in good shape, with smaller icons next to the menu items. When you initially install the program, it now shows up in the upper left hand corner of the screen, instead of at the spot where I designed it from. The only thing left for me to do is to fix a bug in applying crop information to a slide. And, of course, to change any images in the user manual to reflect the old menu system.


I picked up some more silly signs yesterday. This latest batch indicate just how ignorant the American public is. When the sign talks about education or literacy and the words are misspelled, that's pretty bad. This country is in deep, deep trouble - if you ever saw the movie Idiocracy, I think that is exactly where we are headed.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software

"It's Mine, and You Have to Pay (and Pay and Pay) For It"

Local and Other News

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

I was at work for 12 hours yesterday, so nothing much got done around here. I am trying to fix the bugs in gdvdslides, but work keeps getting in the way.


The regular North Idaho Users Group meeting will be this Saturday. One of our members will give a talk on Samba, and we will have a giveaway of Ubuntu case badges (see the web site for details).


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software

"It's Mine, and You Have to Pay (and Pay and Pay) For It"

Local and Other News

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

At work, we are coming up on a major software release. That means more work hours for us and less time for me to do anything at home. It also means I won't have much to say here for a few days, either.


For those of you who use Ubuntu Linux, make sure you keep on top of the updates. There is a security issue in the kernel and Ubuntu should be shoving out fixes for it.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software

Monday, 8 February 2010

I did some software installs on a friend's computers on Sunday. I installed DeVeDe and gdvdslides on two computers and Windows XP Service Pack 3 on a third. The Linux installs went fine, as usual, but Service Pack 3 seriously broke the XP box. I finally had to get into Safe Mode and restore it back to the restore point that was taken just prior to installing the service pack. Just another example of how well Microsoft writes software, I guess.

While testing the gdvdslides install, I found a couple of bugs, so I will be looking at those this week.


I spent a lot of time on Saturday rewriting my bookmarks page. That page allows me access to links of interest to me while I am not at home. The problem with it was with maintenance. It was laid out well, but to add or remove items from the page was really hard. This is because the page was laid out as a two column table with sections. If you adjusted the size of one section, you had to do something with the adjacent section to make up for the adjustment. It was just too much trouble to add and remove links.

I redid the page into unordered lists with a twist. The twist is that the lists can be collapsed into their headings. So what you see is about 20 lines instead of several hundred. There are four topic headings: News, Entertainment, Technology and Miscellaneous. You can expand subheadings by clicking on them. It works well and doesn't take up the real estate of the original design, but you really have to know what you are looking for to find something. Check it out at http://blogicalthoughts.com/bookmarks.html


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software

"It's Mine, and You Have to Pay (and Pay and Pay) For It"

Local and Other News

Friday, 5 February 2010

My recently returned Cooler ebook reader seems to behave itself. It boots faster, turns pages faster and remembers where you were after you turn it back on. It also keeps better track of battery life. All in all, I'm fairly satisfied with it, but I still can't recommend it to others. There are definitely better ebook readers on the market.

I bought a silicone sleeve for the reader from Wirester.com for $14. Since the sleeve is pink, I had some thoughts about whether I should get it. I figured that since silicone is semi-transparent, the blue of the reader would modify the pink of the sleeve and I would end up with something I could live with. Turns out I was right.


I have a fairly free weekend. The only thing I have on tap is (I think) a software install. And that would only be DeVeDe and gdvdslides. I will have to verify that job, though.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software

"It's Mine, and You Have to Pay (and Pay and Pay) For It"

Local and Other News

Thursday, 4 February 2010

I have tested the RPM files I created from the gdvdslides' DEB files using alien. They half work - that is, the program and its help files are installed, but the dependencies are not installed and there is no menu entry for the program. I guess I will have to take a closer look at the alien command line switches. If that doesn't help I will have to actually create the packages using a distribution that is based on Red Hat packages. This is too bad, I thought I had my problem solved.


We have about 6 weeks left in winter, and we still haven't had any significant snowfall. It is currently 34°F. If this continues, we are going to have a really dry summer. I have never had trouble with my well, but it depends on subsurface water and I may have a problem this year if things don't get white and deep soon.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software

"It's Mine, and You Have to Pay (and Pay and Pay) For It"

Local and Other News

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

With a little help from the Internet, I have found the 'alien' command line tool, which allows me to convert Debian packages to RPM packages. I have done that for the latest version of gdvdslides. After I test the packages, I will post them on the Rimrock Software web site.

I need to sit down and document the processes I am using to produce the gdvdslides distribution. Some of them must be run in the correct order, and I need to document that order. I probably could turn that into a web article on how to deploy your program.


The video that came down in my podcast downloads was not worth the bandwidth. Too bad those people run the best Harry Potter podcast, or I would unsubcribe from it.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software

"It's Mine, and You Have to Pay (and Pay and Pay) For It"

Local and Other News

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Every morning, I use a podcast program to download podcasts so I can listen to them at work. The sum total of what I download rarely exceeds 200MB. I was quite surprised this morning when a video from the Pottercast crowd showed up in the downloads. It is 549MB (that doesn't count the other four podcasts being downloaded) and it is still downloading. It may well make me late for work. I think I'm going to send off a nastygram to those folks. I really didn't expect a video to show up in audio downloads.


I have actually advertised the newest version of gdvdslides on the Lazarus and Freshmeat web sites. We shall see if the download statistics pick up a bit from that.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software

"It's Mine, and You Have to Pay (and Pay and Pay) For It"

Local and Other News

Monday, 1 February 2010

As you may recall, I am having problems with a new video card in my 64-bit workstation. I was going to boot up the Ubuntu 9.10 Live CD to see if that would solve the problem. Instead, I used the Ubuntu 9.04 Live CD and my problem disappeared. Apparently, If you install Ubuntu with the ATI driver (to support my original on-board video card), then change to an nVidia card, the driver is not smart enough to recognize the video card has changed.

So I spent part of the weekend re-installing Ubuntu 9.04 64-bit on my workstation. That was the easy part - the tedious part was re-installing all the programs I had installed to support the work I do on the machine. Although there are several more programs to re-install the last one I did over the weekend was the Lazarus and Free Pascal development system. That one was not so straightforward, as you have to install from a couple of dozen DEB packages obtained from the Lazarus web site. And you have to install them in the proper order. When I finished that, though, I had a working 64-bit development system.


I have also finished and released the latest version of gdvdslides, my video slideshow program for Linux. The latest version fixes some problems I found in the program, including slow menus and buttons and a tendency to lock up the buttons and menus (drag and drop was the culprit there). You can pick up the latest version at http://www.rimrocksoftware.com/.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software

"It's Mine, and You Have to Pay (and Pay and Pay) For It"

Local and Other News