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January 2006

Tuesday, 31 January 2006

No packages arrived yesterday, which is probably good. When I got home, our private road was a slush-fest. I spent about an hour plowing down to ice or gravel. Hopefully, it will be good enough for UPS - if they show today with all the pieces for the new workstation I will be building.


I got the other book about C# that I ordered from Amazon. It is somewhat disappointing at first glance. Instead of talking about the C# language and how to use sharpDevelop, it actually describes how sharpDevelop was written. That may be instructive, as there are plenty of code examples. We shall see.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software RIAA/MPAA/BSA/FCC Other News Stupid Patent Tricks and Other IP Nonsense Security/Our Rights

Monday, 30 January 2006

I have quite a few Linux distros to look at, and no computer to look at them with. I sent a nasty note of the Surplus Computers on Saturday. We shall see how they answer it.


I had to take two passes to get up the hill to the county road this morning. I hadn't realized that the road had as much snow on it as it does. I will have to plow it when I get home tonight. I just hope UPS doesn't try a delivery today.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software RIAA/MPAA/BSA/FCC Other News Stupid Patent Tricks and Other IP Nonsense Security/Our Rights

Friday, 27 January 2006

I am officially pissed at Surplus Computers. It's been 15 days and the only thing I have that tells me they even know I ordered a computer from them is an order acknowledgement on 01/12/06. And now, the computer is no longer being advertised on the web site. So what's the deal? If I am forced to send an email to them to verify the order has been shipped, they will be minus one good customer.


Verizon seems to think they can charge extra money to use one of their (already installed) phone lines for DSL, as well as charging for an ISP connection. So if you were to sign up for DSL, They would charge you 14.95 for the ISP connection (M$N or Yahoo!) and 37.50 for the connection! That's much more than I pay for a (much faster) wireless link. I always knew Verizon were ripoff artists, but they are really maestros of the art.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software RIAA/MPAA/BSA/FCC Other News Stupid Patent Tricks and Other IP Nonsense Security/Our Rights

Thursday, 26 January 2006

I am downloading SuSE 10.1 beta 1. It will take at least 20 hours, as I am using bit torrent and there aren't enough peers to push the transfer rate up. The total files size is around 3.3 gb, so even with direct download, it would take a while.


The book I am reading to learn about C# is based on an earlier version of Visual Studio, so it doesn't quite match Visual Studio Express 2005. This is, of course, Micro$oft's fault. Every piece of software I have ever used from that company has always completely changed when it is upgraded. They call it 'adding features'. I call it disguising the fact that they haven't added much new by adding eye candy and shuffling stuff around to hide the fact there's nothing new.


We are expecting more snow today, so it doesn't look good for UPS deliveries. I still haven't received the Dell computer I ordered from Surplus Computers, and I'm starting to get upset about that.

I expect all the parts for the new AMD 64 machine I will be building to arrive next week, so the weather had better start cooperating.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software RIAA/MPAA/BSA/FCC Other News Stupid Patent Tricks and Other IP Nonsense Security/Our Rights

Wednesday, 25 January 2006

I am going to build another PC (for someone else). It will be a dual-core AMD system with lots of everything. It's just so much fun spending someone else's money...

I have gotten to the point in the C# book I bought, where I have to start up Visual Studio and follow along. I'll start doing that tonight.

I also have to do some graphics for another web site, so I have to sandwich that in, too.


Silly sign of the day:


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Tuesday, 24 January 2006

One of the books I ordered from Amazon showed up yesterday. It's called Beginning Visual C# 2005, and it was recommended to me by a C# programmer. (Thanks, Sean). I started reading it last night and have not formed any opinions about it yet.

The other book I ordered was shipped yesterday and should be here in the next 6 working days.


Silly sign of the day:


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Monday, 23 January 2006

What is it with Micro$oft software? There are always problems when you try to install any large M$ program.

I upgraded my old Windows workstation to Win2k SP4, and that seemed to go ok, but it rebooted (of course).

I downloaded M$ Visual Studio Express 2005 yesterday and created a CD from the .iso image. I then attempted to install it on my old Windows workstation.

The first time, the install program told me I had to upgrade to Internet Exploder 6, so I did that and, of course, rebooted. Then I attempted to install Visual Studio and the setup program crashed and forced a reboot. The second time, the M$ SQL Server portion would not install and caused the other parts not to work. After another reboot, the third attempt to install worked, forcing yet another reboot. I'm afraid to try the program, as I fear it will crash and burn. Or maybe reboot, reboot, reboot, reboot.....


Silly sign of the day:


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Friday, 20 January 2006

UPS showed up yesterday, but not with a computer. They delivered my 5-year anniversary gift from where I work. So I spent the evening assembling a Brinkmann Smoker. All I need now is something to smoke. ;-)

I'll be glad to see this weekend. I have a lot to do, including a newsletter article, ordering parts for another computer and working on the documentation for the coaching program.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software RIAA/MPAA/BSA/FCC Other News Stupid Patent Tricks and Other IP Nonsense Security/Our Rights

Thursday, 19 January 2006

I am going to get a couple of books on programming in C#. That's a skill that may come in handy soon.

That shouldn't be a big deal, as C# is basically Micro$oft's version of Java, and I know Java. The real trick is learning how to use M$ Visual Studio, which I have managed to avoid so far.

Maybe I will look at SharpDevelop first. That's also a .Net development environment, but it's open source (which I'm sure Micro$oft just loves!)


I'm trying to keep the road to my house open for UPS, but he's not cooperating - no packages yet. From what the website has emailed, I don't even know if the package has shipped yet. And we are expecting more snow today.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software RIAA/MPAA/BSA/FCC Other News Stupid Patent Tricks and Other IP Nonsense Net/Internal Security

Wednesday, 18 January 2006

At work, our customer now wants an estimate of how long it will take to fix each of their software's bugs. My immediate response was "How long does it take to create a new Venus de Milo? How long do lollipops last? How long does it take to find the cause of the common cold?"

There are some things that just can't be quantified. Some of the bugs we fix can be estimated, but others suffer from lack of adequate description of the problem, lack of steps to reproduce the problem and lack of ability to actually reproduce the problem. How do you quantify that?

If you took all the bean counters in this world, removed their brains and squished them all together into one giant brain, you'd end up with someone with an I.Q. of 70. Bean counters should stick to counting beans, not interfering in something as complex as demanding that software bugs be quantified.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software RIAA/MPAA/BSA/FCC Other News Stupid Patent Tricks and Other IP Nonsense Net/Internal Security

Tuesday, 17 January 2006

We got 3 or 4 inches of snow last night, and I spent a lot of time plowing the slushy mess this morning. When it's this warm, I end up plowing a lot of dirt as well as snow. Can't be helped, though.


I didn't accomplish much after work yesterday. Spent too much time on the telephone.

I did email my dad about re-installing Windows on his machine. I hope to back up his critical files by using VNC to do it long distance. Then he will have to install the O/S and restore the boot loader. I should have done all that at Christmas, but other things took priority.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software RIAA/MPAA/BSA/FCC Other News Stupid Patent Tricks and Other IP Nonsense Net/Internal Security

Monday, 16 January 2006

What a way to start a Monday. It's 7am, 32° F outside with a mild wind, and the fire alarm goes off. So we stand out in the parking lot for 1/2 hour waiting for the FD to check out the building. The suspect: burnt toast.


The dutch oven cookout was a lot of fun, even if it did rain the entire time. We cooked under canopies and I used my new 14" dutch oven for the first time to fix beef enchiladas. That was a long way to drive for food, though.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software RIAA/MPAA/BSA/FCC Other News Stupid Patent Tricks and Other IP Nonsense Net/Internal Security

Friday, 13 January 2006

I went to a local computer recycling place last night in search of a Linux test box. Recycle Techs specializes in recycling and disposing of retired computer and office equipment. They have a store at their recycle center, with lots of goodies in it.

I didn't find an acceptable computer, but I ended up with a 256 mb RAM card and a couple of 5 1/4" floppies (very rare). I went on to order another Dell computer from Surplus Computers as the Linux test system. It is a 1 gHz machine with 128 mb RAM and a 20 gb hard drive. When I get it, I will install another 256 mb RAM and it will be perfect for my purposes.


Tomorrow is the winter dutch oven gathering. It will be held north of Newport, WA, at a new member's cabin. I hope it doesn't snow on us.

That means I will be missing the monthly North Idaho Linux User group meeting. Can't be in two places at once.


Happy Friday the 13th. I hope you aren't triskaidekaphobic.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software RIAA/MPAA/BSA/FCC Other News Stupid Patent Tricks and Other IP Nonsense Net/Internal Security

Thursday, 12 January 2006

I tried using the mic/headphone combo I purchased from Newegg. It is set up to plug into the Line Out and Mic ports on the computer, but the microphone levels are too low. I would have to yell into the mic for someone on the other end to hear me.

I'm not sure what to do about this. I could run the mic through a preamp, but that kind of defeats the purpose of the built-in all in one portability. Oh, well.

I signed up for Skype anyway.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software Other News Stupid Patent Tricks and Other IP Nonsense Net/Internal Security

Wednesday, 11 January 2006

I am working on the specification and database definition for the soccer coach program again. The database is much more complex than the original. I have learned a lot about databases since the last one was designed back in the early 90's.

We had a meeting about all this last night and the input helped with some of the design issues. When I get all this to a place where others can review it, that will help, too.


Silly sign of the day:


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Tuesday, 10 January 2006

The UPS guy was unwilling to drive down to my house yesterday. I'm not surprised, as there was about 3 or 4 inches of slushy snow on the road, and he never would have gotten back up to the county road.

So he put my order in a plastic sack and hung it on my mailbox up at the top of the hill.

I ordered an external hard drive case and an earphone/microphone combination so I could try out Skype. The 200 GB hard drive that I got for Christmas went into the case. I hooked it up to my little Linksys network storage unit, and now have 220 GB of network storage.


Update: Serenity Might Fly Again? I wish Joss Whedon all the best on this and I sincerely hope there will be another Serenity movie. The first one was outrageously great, and I urge everyone to go out and get the DVD of it. If you like Sci-Fi, westerns or action flicks, you'll love Serenity.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software RIAA/MPAA/BSA/FCC Other News Stupid Patent Tricks and Other IP Nonsense Net/Internal Security

Monday, 9 January 2006

It took me an extremely long time to bit torrent the Xandros 3.02 iso image. The reason for this is the lack of seed sites. That's a big drawback of bit torrent. You don't get fast downloads unless you have a lot of downloaders. And Xandros won't let you download the .iso image as a straight download unless you pay them.


I got another of Betty's computers running on her network and on the Internet. It had a bad modem card, so I replaced it with the card I pulled out of my workstation. It's up and running at 40k dialup.

I also had to update Norton Anti-virus for her. What a piece of crap. It doesn't deserve to have Peter Norton's name on it. After three downloads and reboots, and over two hours of downloading, it was finally updated. I am so glad I don't have to contend with any of that crap on my machines. Linux rocks.


Silly sign of the day:


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Friday, 6 January 2006

I have fixed my network access problem. I went to Office Depot and picked up a NIC for 15 bucks. I went into the BIOS of my workstation and disabled both ethernet interfaces on the motherboard and then turned off the machine.

I removed the modem card from the machine (as I no longer need it), then installed the NIC. It works great, except I am now talking to eth2 instead of eth0 and the machine now has a different internal IP address.


I downloaded one of the Systm videos after I got online again. The one I looked at shows how to set up Asterisk, the open source telephone PBX software, on a Linux box. I was really impressed, both by the presentation itself and by its production values. Way to go, Kevin.


Silly sign of the day:


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Thursday, 5 January 2006

I couldn't connect to the Internet last night with my main workstation. Turns out I couldn't connect to my LAN, either. I replaced the cable, tried the other ethernet port, and it still doesn't work. It looks like I will have to buy an add-on PCI card to get it working again.

In the meantime, I accessed the Net from my server. That worked just fine.

I have read my email, but haven't stored it on a local machine, since I want to do that on my main workstation.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software RIAA/MPAA/BSA/FCC Other News Stupid Patent Tricks and Other IP Nonsense Net/Internal Security

Wednesday, 4 January 2006

I need to design the database for the soccer coach program. I looked at the old design and, in the words of some famous person, 'it stinks'. I can believe that we did it about 12 years ago, back when I knew next to nothing about databases. It is in no way a normalized database. It is missing major pieces. Some of the fields point to data files instead of containing the data.

I will be able to use the data files when building the new database, but the old table design has to go. The data files are descriptions of coaching exercises and associated graphics.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software RIAA/MPAA/BSA/FCC Other News Stupid Patent Tricks and Other IP Nonsense Net/Internal Security

Tuesday, 3 January 2006

I need to pick up more silly signs, or I will be running out shortly. They are getting tough to find, as I have picked up most of the best ones.

I've gotten positive feedback on them, so I will keep doing them indefinitely.


We can't use instant messaging at work. It's been shut down due to the lack of Microsoft's response to a critical vulnerability in that service. Thanks for your prompt response, M$!


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software RIAA/MPAA/BSA/FCC Other News Stupid Patent Tricks and Other IP Nonsense Net/Internal Security

Monday, 2 January 2006

I am working on the software specification for the Soccer Coach program. I am also reloading Linux on one of my computers, while watching the snow fall. A typical day off in North Idaho.


Silly sign of the day:


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