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January 2005

Monday, 31 January 2005

I have successfully resurrected my mom's HP computer from the dead. The final hurdle was the wiring for the controls like power, HDD LED, power LED and USB connectors. I used the connectors in the old HP case to figure out how to make the new connections. This was not easy, as the HP motherboard marks some of the connections, but they are incorrectly marked. A big minus for this board is no reset connector. There is a location marked for one, but there is no connector at that location.

I installed Fedora Core 1 on the machine and everything works great. Except for the fact that Core 1 has no support for MP3s. But we can't have everything, can we? I am downloading Fedora Core 3 and will load that when I get all four pieces.

This machine is an Intel Celeron 1.3gHz with 256mb RAM, a 40gb hard drive, CDROM writer and CDROM player. It also has a floppy drive with no front plate (HP has the front plate built into the case). I got a very nice Memorex optical mouse for it for 8 bucks at Big Lots.


I have completed the latest version of HMSCalc and will post it today on the Rimrock Software web site. I will even turn on the new web site today. About time, after two years!


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Friday, 28 January 2005

Well, I finally got JBuilder working for the application I will be maintaining at work. What a hassle. I think that NetBeans is easier to use, but I really haven't had that much experience with either IDE.

I have finished all the documentation for HMSCalc. This weekend I will zip everything up and put it out on Rimrock Software.


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Thursday, 27 January 2005

Last night, I got the new case for my mom's old HP computer. I have installed all the components in it, but haven't hooked up the peripheral controls - LEDs, power switch, USB connector, etc. I need a user manual for the motherboard to do that without experimenting.

I will try to find the manual on the Net, but I'm not sure I will be able to. I may have to go the experimental route.


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Wednesday, 26 January 2005

I have removed the NetBeans Java IDE from my computer at work, and have installed JBuilder Foundation instead. I've done this because the Java application I am updating is written by Borland with JBuilder, so it's easier to maintain it with their tools. Makes no difference to me.


I am almost finished with the documentation for the hours/minutes/seconds calculator. I need to do an install file for Windows and then post the stuff on the Rimrock Software web site.


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Tuesday, 25 January 2005

Along with re-doing more DVDs, I am now working on the documentation for HMSCalc, my hours/minutes/seconds calculator. Since I will also be releasing the source code, the documentation includes tools for compiling the source into Java class files. I will also have to create a Windows install for HMSCalc, using Inno Setup.

I am also working on a real Java project at work, although it's not very code-intensive. More interface-intensive than code.


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Monday, 24 January 2005

I have completed the new version (3.0) of my hours/minutes/seconds calculator. It is now written in Java and will be distributed under the GPL. The only thing left to do is the documentaiton and setup for various operating systems.

My thanks to Sean Montgomery for suggesting I add seconds to hours, minutes, seconds and minutes to hours, minutes, seconds conversion functions to the calculator.


I installed the 80gb hard drive I got at Best Buy before Christmas. With the 40gb drive already in my main system, I now have 120gb available.

I installed SuSE Linux 9.2 Professional on the new drive, then copied over the contents of my home directory on the old Linux install on the 40gb drive. I then used Partition Commander to remove all the Linux partitions from the old drive and expand the NTFS partitions. I now have a lot of room to do video editing on Windows, which is the only major application I run on Windows.

I picked up 4 DVD covers from a handy web site called CDCovers.cc. I printed them on photo paper, trimmed them down to size and put them in the DVD cases. These DVDs were purchased used from rental places without their normal cases, but they now look like normal DVDs. Ain't technology wonderful?


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Friday, 21 January 2005

Now that I've cooled off a bit, I won't say anything about that money circus in the Capitol yesterday. Except that if you Google 'Impeach Bush', you get 232,000 hits.


As I covered in the Open Source News section on Monday, SuSE is now offering 9.2 Professional as a free download. Now I hear that I can pick up Revolution Express Lite for free. Being an OOP tools junkie, I think I will give it a try.

I will be pretty busy this weekend, what with software downloads, updating my hours/minutes/seconds calculator and redoing DVD+Rs. Oh yeah, mundane stuff like changing tires, doing laundry, cleaning house, too.


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Thursday, 20 January 2005

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Wednesday, 19 January 2005

I got the used power supply I ordered for the dead HP computer. It won't work in the HP box - it's too big. I guess I will have to get a new case for the components.


I have finished the OOP calculator we were building at work. Next meeting, some C# users will come in to critique my Java code. That should be fun. These are the guys who said I wouldn't be happy programming for Windows.


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Tuesday, 18 January 2005

Our weather has taken a big turn, from cold to rain and freezing rain. I plowed last night, and it's a good thing I did, or I wouldn't have gotten to work this morning. Instead of a slush pile on the road this morning, I had a skating rink. The Honda handles those conditions much better than my Stealth ever did, so I had no trouble getting to work.

DHL left a delivery notice for my power supply yesterday. I'm not sure they will be able to get back to my house to deliver today, though.


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Monday, 17 January 2005

Cold weekend (-4° F Saturday morning). I spent most of it recording DVDs.


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Friday, 14 January 2005

It was 3° F this morning when I went through Rathdrum on my way to work. A little nippy.


This weekend I will be using that P.O.S. Micro$oft Windoze to recut some more DVDs and I will be rewriting my resumé. I will also try to finish up our Java calculator. Maybe even work on a web site.


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Thursday, 13 January 2005

Slow start this morning. I had to donate to my doctor's blood bank, and recover from all the layoffs we had at work yesterday. I'm still working, but several of my friends are not.


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Wednesday, 12 January 2005

The formerly dead computer has been connected to power for two days now. It still boots from the hard drive, so the CMOS is still retaining its information. No need for a new battery at this point. I will be taking it back to its owner tonight after work. Should be in Rathdrum about 4pm.


I've always been told "if you can't say anything nice about someone, don't say anything at all." In the case of Microsoft, I intend to disobey that. I will no longer say anything nice about them. If they're gonna act like the Borg, treat them like the Borg. And all of their brainwashed minions, too. "You might not be happy programming in the Windows environment", my ass. What do they think I've been doing for the past twenty years - knitting?


Linux: Failure is not an option - that option comes bundled with Windows.


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Tuesday, 11 January 2005

I worked on the other dead computer last night. When I started work on it, it wouldn't boot from either the hard disk, floppy or CDROM. When I finished last night, it would boot from all of those.

All is not rosy with this thing, though. I tried it again this morning, and it wouldn't boot from the hard disk. I suspect a bad CMOS battery is allowing some settings to be lost. I will have to pick up a new battery for it.

The computer is not a normal machine. It has 2 CPUs (1 gHz Pentium-III), 2 GB of RAM, 2 IDE hard drives, 3 SCSI hard drives, 2 SCSI CDROM drives, a floppy, a non-standard video card and a non-standard sound card.

I started debugging by going into the BIOS and resetting it to the defaults. I then went into the SCSI BIOS and reset it to the defaults, then selected channel B as the SCSI boot channel (the CDROMs are on channel B and the hard disks are on channel A). This allowed me to boot from a CDROM.

I used this capability to boot into Knoppix in text mode. I used Knoppix to look at the various hard drives and determined that the operating system is on the first SCSI drive. This information allowed me to go into the BIOS and set the boot order correctly. I could then boot into the operating system from the hard disk.

So everything works ok. The computer just can't remember its settings.


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Monday, 10 January 2005

The NILUG meeting was interesting, if sparsely attended. It seems a little snow kept many people from enjoying a refreshing indoor activity.

We are going to try a couple of things to boost membership. More media exposure and community projects are among several ideas being floated around. We will see what comes of them.


I am still working on VHS to DVD conversions. Over the weekend, I updated half a dozen DVDs so they now contain start menus. The software I used to do that also ensures that the DVD contains no dropouts which confound some DVD players.

I also picked up another computer which needs work. This one is a dual processor, multiple GB memory machine which just doesn't want to boot anymore. Not from floppy, CDROM or hard disk. I will be looking at it this evening.


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I ordered a power supply for my mom's dead HP off the Internet. The shipping costs twice as much as the power supply, but the total is still less than half of what they want to gouge us at a local store. The Internet store is in Victoria, B.C. and they are shipping DHL.

Friday, 7 January 2005

We finally got some real snow here. About 4-5 inches at my house, and it is still snowing. It's gotten a bit warmer as a result. We can expect at least 4 inches more by tomorrow, so I will have plenty to plow tonight and tomorrow.

Our North Idaho Linux User Group (NILUG) is meeting tomorrow at noon. We will be discussing community projects and promotion projects, as well as trading around and installing Linux distros.


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Thursday, 6 January 2005

It turns out that Linux can handle my new 2gb pen drive just fine. I didn't wait long enough for the SuSE automount system to recognize the device. When I did, it connected just like my old 256mb pen drive.

I went over to Spokane last night to check out power supply replacements for my mom's old HP computer. They sure prize their power supplies. I saw a used one for 40 bucks and a new one for 60. I think I will order a used one off the Internet. I can get one for 4 bucks plus shipping.


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Wednesday, 5 January 2005

My new pen drive is great, in that it will hold 2gb (3 CDROMs) of data, but it doesn't seem to be recognized by SuSE Linux 9.2. I will work on that tonight. If it isn't auto-mounted, I can manually mount the thing.

I will also be looking at a power supply tonight, for the dead HP I brought home from Arizona. It just has to be the right physical size. If it is higher wattage than the old one, that's a benefit. And it better not be more than about 15 dollars. Because I can get one off the Net for 5 dollars plus shipping.


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Tuesday, 4 January 2005

I still have lots more to do that I didn't get done over vacation. I will be looking for a power supply for my mom's old HP, as well as a working 5 1/4" floppy drive for myself. I have to finish working on my other web site and get ready for the NILUG meeting on Saturday. Oh, yeah - I have a doctor's appointment on Thursday, too.

Kind of leaves no room to do any recreational programming, doesn't it.


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Tuesday, 4 January 2005

Well, I got back from Arizona yesterday at 2pm. It was a good trip and I had no problems. Two prices for gas I didn't have an opportunity to take advantage of were - 1.59 in Lake Havasu City, AZ and 2.49 in Needles, CA. Quite a difference, for the same gallon of gas, eh?

I still have a lot to do before going back to work tomorrow, so I had best get at it.