Documents

Archives

Search

BLOGical Thoughts Archive

February 2013

Thursday, 28 February 2013

I spent yesterday doing errands, then working on converting one Tom Swift novel to EPUB. Basically, kind of a lazy day, though.


 

I'm going to give a talk at the next North Idaho Linux Users Group. The talk will be about how to use Handbrake, which allows you to convert video files from one format to another. I know that ffmpeg also does that, but Handbrake is much easier to use. Anyway, I will be spending some of my time today working on that talk.

I am also going to do some work today for the North Idaho Mineral Club. I am the treasurer and the show chairman for our gem and mineral show, and I need to do a lot of stuff for those positions.


 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

I spent about 11 hours yesterday on the Tom Swift novels. I finished with 3 of them, so I have about 15 to go. Today is taken up with errands, so I probably won't get much done on them.


 

Last month, I sold an old faceting machine I have had for a couple of years but never used. It was all there except for the computer programs that came with it. That disk was unreadable, so I googled the Net for a replacement. I came up with a newer set of programs from the same guy. I downloaded and unzipped them, then burned them to a CD. I will give the CD to the person who bought the machine. They are all DOS programs, but what the heck.


 

Cooking Tip: If your recipe requires shredded cheese, don't use the kind that comes pre-shredded. Shred your cheese from a block of cheese, instead. The pre-shredded cheese has additives to keep the cheese from sticking to itself, which appear to interfere with the melting process. Pre-shredded cheese doesn't seem to taste all that good, anyway.

I use a grating insert on my food processor to grate cheddar cheese. I shred a whole 2 pound block, package the results in small zip-lock bags and freeze them. The difference between pre-shredded and doing it yourself is like night and day.


 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

I spent most of yesterday working on the Tom Swift novels. I reviewed the ones that are already done, and made some changes so that the text is uniform over all the novels. I also put italics on two more novels. 18 more to go.


 

I used one of my SD cards and put the latest install for RaspBMC on it. I then booted the Raspberry Pi with that SD card, sat back and watched as the RaspBMC O/S was installed. I then added a plugin for Blip.TV and verified that it all works. I have accepted a request from the Spokane Linux User Group to do a demo of the Raspberry Pi. I will demo RaspBMC, Raspbian and my configuration of the RPi as a file server/bit torrent server.


 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

Monday, 25 February 2013

I am still doing some editing on the Tom Swift novels. About half of them have words or sentences that are italicized. The other half need to be that way, too. Italics can indicate that someone is thinking something, or that the word or words need to be emphasized, so I need to add that to the rest of the novels. It isn't there in them because I got the novels' text from text files instead of from an HTML pages. (It is much easier to add formatting to text than to remove or change formatting from HTML.)


 

Useful tip: If you accidently use a permanent marker on something, you would not expect to be able to remove the marking. If you marked on a slick surface such as glass, formica, or even some glossy labels, you can remove the marking. Simply color completely over the permanent marking with a dry erase marker. Let the dry erase marking dry, then use a dry erase eraser to remove both the dry erase marking and the permanent marking.


 

Silly sign of the day:

(Thanks, Joe)


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

Friday, 22 February 2013

I finished up my tax returns yesterday morning. I then decided to go down to the Silver Lake Mall, where the AARP has set up a service to help taxpayers fill out and file their returns. They ran through my info and came up with the same results that I did. That's a good thing, as I haven't done a return myself in 28 years. The results are what I expected: I paid no state and federal taxes on my 'income' and I owe no money to the state and the fed. What surprised me is that the state owes me $90 for their 'grocery tax'.

The guy who helped me with my returns was nice and we got to talking. I told him I had worked in the bay area in California and that I worked at the Satellite Control Facility in Sunnyvale. He told me he did the same! It turns out we both worked for SDC in that venue at the same time. He was a computer operator and I was a software tester, so we probably met one another on several occasions. It's a small world, isn't it?


 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

Thursday, 21 February 2013

I finished up some editing work on the Tom Swift EPUB files, then I decided to do my taxes. I discovered that I had everything I needed for that task, except my tax return for 2011. I spent most of yesterday looking for that return, cleaning and arranging as I went. I finally found it at 8 pm last night.

One result from the search is that now all my tax returns for the last 28 years are in one spot. Another result is I have digitized some negatives I found, and am digitizing a boatload of pictures I found in two photo books. Many of those pictures are from the time I spent on the East coast, so they include extensive pictures of the Air and Space museum. I haven't looked at them in years.

I am using my Canon all-in-one printer to digitize the pictures. There is a small Linux app called Simple Scan that allows me to do this, now that I have installed Linux Mint 14.1 on this box and have properly installed the Canon printer drivers. Before that, I had to run up Windows XP in a virtual machine and use the lousy Canon application to scan things. This way is much better.

I will be working on my tax return today, then digitizing pictures, then going to the North Idaho Mineral Club meeting.


 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

I finished converting all the Tom Swift novels to EPUB. There are currently 41 stories, and I had the text for 40 of them. I copied all 40 over to my tablet and am reading the very first one - Tom Swift and His Flying Lab.

These stories are not the original stories. They have all been re-written to be more in tune with the 21st century. That means the background of the characters has changed, and more modern objects, such as cell phones are used. They are definitely more contemporary than the originals.

I'm trying to decide what to do with them now. I should contact the original author of these updated stories and tell him what I have done.


 

I am hugely disappointed at Costco. I went in there yesterday to purchase 5 items I know that Costco sold in the past. I came out of the store with one of those items. Those things are stuff I purchased on a regular basis from Costco. Where am I going to get Gallo Salami in 3 pound chubs, or the video of Season 7 of Bones? What about good deals on paperback books by J.A. Jance or J.D. Robb? Nowhere around here, that's for sure.


 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

I converted 17 more Tom Swift novels over to EPUB format yesterday. A couple of them gave me trouble, so they took somewhat longer than most. I have about 6 more to do.


 

My PVR is starting to act a bit funny. It is getting noisier and starting to throw errors. I suppose I can't blame it - except for power failures, it has been on almost continuously since I built it in April of 2010. Part of the noise might be the noiseless fan on the CPU. I am going to tear it down and clean it up.


 

When I woke up this morning, the news said we had gotten a couple of inches of snow. I looked outside and there was no new snow on the mostly snow-free ground. I guess the weather people were just talking about Spokane. We usually get snow up here on the rimrock when no one else has any, but this time it's the opposite. Doesn't bother me at all - nothing to plow.


 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

Monday, 18 February 2013

I finished the EPUB version of the Campfire Cooking cookbook on Friday morning. I then spent some time going through the cookbook to ensure it was the same as the original document. I made some changes, then posted it. I got a comment on the cookbook and went back and ran it through the Sigil EPUB validator. I then fixed the numerous "errors" it listed and republished the cookbook. You can download from here - just look under the BLOGical Sections menu on the right of this page.


 

I also went back and ran the EPUB validator on my Dutch Oven Dishes cookbook. I fixed a bunch of errors there, and have also republished that cookbook. You can also find it in the BLOGical Sections menu.

I have most of the Tom Swift, Jr. stories, both in book and HTML form. Since I was in EPUB mode, I converted the first 14 of these stories to EPUB format. I will do the rest of them today.


 

I have again attempted to install Arch Linux in a virtual machine, and have again failed. I got a little further this time than the last, but there is obviously something missing in the installation instructions. Something to do with installing the Grub bootloader. I have emailed the mailing list for NILUG and have asked if anyone else has any experience with this. I hope I get an answer.


 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

Friday, 15 February 2013

I got to within 98% of completing the conversion of the cookbook to EPUB format, when I just ran out of gas. I will finish up converting the last nine pages this morning, then go through a thorough edit to verify that I did everything correctly. I will then post the cookbook for public consumption.


 

After I finish with the cookbook, I will again look into installing Arch Linux in a virtual machine. This time, I will have the instructions from the Arch wiki in front of me, so I will know what to do next.


 

I have made a minor change to this blog. When you now click on a Free/Open Source Software link, it will now open in a separate browser tab.


 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

Thursday, 14 February 2013

I got a lot done on the cookbook conversion yesterday. I got completely through the Poultry and Fish/Shellfish sections, and the Sauces portion of the Sauces/Rubs/Marinades/Spices section. I am now 80% done with the conversion. I hope to be very close to done with it today.


 

I have another reason to use Handbrake to convert my backed-up video ISO files to MP4. Once I have finished, I can plug the RaspBMC SD card and the external USB hard drive with the videos into my Raspberry Pi and I should be able to play them on my TV. RaspBMC won't play ISO files, but it works fine with MP4's.


 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

I am still devoting most of my days converting the camp-cook.com cookbook to EPUB format. I have gotten through 64% of the cookbook. I am now in the Poultry section, which seems to be even larger than the Meat section was. It also has more pictures.


 

I was listening to a Linux podcast over the weekend and they happened to mention Handbrake as a way to convert between video formats. I downloaded and installed Handbrake to see if it could convert from an ISO image to an MP4 file. It turns out that it does a nifty job of that. One video I backed up went from an 8.3GB ISO file to a 624MB MP4. I have done quite a few conversions now, and the file compression ranges from 3 times to 13 times.

If a video backup includes a bunch of extras, those will not be converted. That doesn't bother me, since I don't usually look at those anyway. If I need to, I have the original DVDs with the extras on them.


 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

I am still working on the cookbook. It isn't difficult; it's just tedious. I am at the 52% mark and am starting Pork Meat dishes. The Meat section is the largest of any section, and I am through the part with beef and hamburger dishes.


 

Even after all the time I have used my Personal Video Recorder, I am still tweaking it. MythTV doesn't come with a visual editor, so I added gedit to the installed programs. I also found that it wasn't constantly refreshing the TV listings, so I added a cron job to the machine which will do that every Monday morning at 1 a.m.


 

I used my Raspberry Pi bit torrent server to download the latest Arch Linux. I attempted to install it in a virtual machine, but was unsuccessful. The boot loader was not successfully written, so I will give it another try when I get a chance.


 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

Monday, 11 February 2013

I usually do my grocery shopping on Saturday. This Saturday, I was shopping and caught the prices for diet Dr. Pepper. Each twelve ounce can is priced as 42 cents! I use a taste-a-like in my SodaStream called Dr. Pete, and it costs about 17 cents per 12 ounce serving. I'm really glad I got that thing.


 

The Sigil EPUB editor has a great feature I discovered last week. The cookbook I am converting to EPUB requires me to paste 4 separate unique items from the clipboard into the text. Sigil maintains a clipboard history, so those four items are easily available to me. Instead of going through older text to find and copy each of then to the clipboard, I simply press Ctl-Alt-V to popup the clipboard history and chose the item I want. That is completely cool.

I am now about 40% through the conversion process. It's a 570 page book, so there is a lot to convert.


 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

Friday, 8 February 2013

I am still working on the conversion of the Campfire Cooking cookbook to EPUB format. I got a brainstorm while I was doing this. The original file format of the cookbook is LibreOffice (ODT) and I wondered how much support LibreOffice had for converting ODT documents to EPUB. So I googled it, and it turns out there is a plug-in for LibreOffice to do that. It is called Writer2Epub and it was originally done for OpenOffice.

If the plug-in works, it would save me days of work, so I installed the plug-in and used it to convert the cookbook to EPUB. I then looked at it with Sigil. It does indeed do the conversion and does it fairly well, but there are still many things it does not handle well. I came to the conclusion that you would have to produce your original document with the conversion in mind in order for it to turn out well. The cookbook is huge and it would take me as much time to redo it for EPUB as it is taking me to convert it using Sigil.

The bottom line here is I went back to using Sigil to convert the cookbook. I am now in the Breakfast Dishes section.


 

The North Idaho Linux Users group meeting is tomorrow afternoon. The presentation is how to build a file server. The backup is how to build a Raspberry Pi file and bit torrent server.


 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

Thursday, 7 February 2013

I got the battery in my Honda Hybrid replaced yesterday. The check engine light and the IMA light are no longer on, so that's a good thing. It cost me nothing, so that's a very good thing. It turns out my estimate of $1,000 for the repair was a tad low. The estimated cost for the battery is in the neighborhood of $4,000 and total cost would have been about $5,000. So, I give many thanks to Honda for stepping up to this. If I ever buy another new car, I will definitely look at Hondas again.


 

I have gotten a request for an EPUB version of the cookbook I did for the camp-cook.com web site. I will be spending the next however-many days converting the cookbook over from a LibreOffice document to an EPUB document. Right now, I am currently working on the Side Dishes section of the EPUB document.


 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

I found the problem with my Raspberry Pi. Of course, it's always the last thing you look at, in this case it was absolutely the last thing I was going to look at. I have been using my AMD quad-pro workstation to copy the Raspbian O/S onto the RPi's SD card. I kept getting errors when I used the result, so I tried using my Intel i7 laptop to do the copying. I now have an RPi that is configured as a file server and bit torrent server. And I probably have several class 4 SD cards that I might be able to use for other operating systems for the RPi, if I copy them on my laptop.

Going through all this actually solved the original problem I was attempting to fix: the bit torrent files being downloaded used to be broken. Now that I have a good operating system image, bit torrents now download fine.


 

Last Friday, I went over to Spokane to shop. When I started the car up in the Harbor Freight parking lot, the check engine light came on, along with the IMA (integrated motor assist) light. On Saturday, I took the car over to the Honda dealer and they verified that the hybrid's big battery was going marginal.

The dealer checked with his Honda representative and Honda is going to replace that battery free of charge. Since I suspect it costs at least a thousand bucks, that's a big savings for me. I got 10 years out of the current battery, so that is a good deal for me all around. The battery replacement will happen later today.


 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

I am still trying to get the Raspberry Pi working again. I got a faster SD card for it, but it is still hanging up in the middle of the initialization process. I have one more thing I can try and then I will hang it up as a bad investment.


 

I built a small portable digital TV antenna stand yesterday out of PVC, for a powered antenna I have had around for a while. At the end of the process, after mounting and powering up the antenna, I discovered the antenna doesn't work at all. Thanks, Radio Shack.

So now I have a fine little stand with nothing to mount on it. I think I will look into mounting the antenna I built from scratch onto the stand.


 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

Monday, 4 February 2013

Since I am having problems with my Raspberry Pi file and bit torrent server, I decided to start from scratch. I downloaded the latest Raspbian O/S image, then copied it to an SD card and plugged that into the RPi. The image crashed during startup. So I copied the Raspbian image I initially used onto the SD card and started it up. It worked fine, or so I thought.

After the O/S was running, I ran the configuration utility and configured the O/s the way I originally had it. I then tried to do an upgrade, and that failed. I tried getting all this working again the whole weekend and have not gotten back to where it was ready to install the file server. I suspect that the SD card I thought was working fine with the RPi is not working so fine, so I will go down today and get a better SD card.


 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

Friday, 1 February 2013

There's something wrong with the Raspberry Pi file server and bit torrent server setup. I'm trying to figure out what the problem really is. I can't seem to copy files from the completed torrent download area to other computers. And after I turned off the RPi and turned it back on, the public directory disappeared.

I put the USB hard drive on another machine and ran diagnostics on it - with no problems. I tried copying the download when the drive is connected to a different computer, and it turns out the file had a hard error in it. I'm not sure where to go from here with it.


 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software