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BLOGical Thoughts Archive

January 2007

Wednesday, 31 January 2007

I have updated the Dutch oven booklet I will be using for the Dutch oven workshop at the 2nd International Teardrop Gathering. I plan to print about 120 of the booklets, so I figured I would do a few at a time to spread out the effort. I am printing 5 a day, and probably more on the weekend, so it should take less than 24 days to get them all printed. The booklet still looks the same, even though it has 4 more pages.


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Tuesday, 30 January 2007

On Saturday, I went to Costco to do some window shopping. When I was leaving, I ran into Dave Dasher, who worked with me at eMake and the last time I worked at AMS. We had a good catch up conversation and I left.

I then went to Super 1 Foods to get groceries. When I was going in, I ran into Steve Jones, who worked with me at eMake and the last time I worked at AMS. We had a good catch up conversation and I went on to get my groceries.

I'm not a big one for fate, but it is somewhat strange that I run into two guys I haven't seen in years within 1/2 hour of one another.


There's a woot-off going on today. Check it out if you get a chance.


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Monday, 29 January 2007

Normally, I keep track of my audio CDs on a spreadsheet. This weekend, I decided to transfer all that information over to the Tellico Collection Manager. Tellico can handle all kinds of collections. I already use it to keep track of my Videos.

I started adding items from the spreadsheet, one at a time, by hand. I did about 60 of them and decided it would take me forever to finish, since I have 1,456 CDs. So I tried another tactic. Tellico has an import capability, and one of the formats it can read is CSV (comma separated values). I decided that would be perfect, as most spreadsheet programs can export to something like that.

Unfortunately, the OpenOffice.org spreadsheet program can't export to CSV. It can export to DIF, though, so that's what I did. I then moved the DIF file over to a Windows system so I could use the macro capabilities of a text editor I wrote to change the DIF format into CSV. That was very straightforward, and I ended up with a CSV, which I then imported into Tellico.

All this activity took me a bit less than an hour. I now have all my CDs in Tellico, but I'm not finished. I couldn't bring over my album ratings, so I have to go into each Tellico item and add the rating. Now THAT will take a while. At the end of this all, I will have an easily-maintainable record of what CDs I already have.


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Friday, 26 January 2007

At the last International Teardrop Gathering in 2005, Jack Jacobson and I ran a Dutch oven workshop, where we passed out a 24 page booklet that was an introduction to Dutch oven cooking. This year, we will be doing the same workshop and I hope to increase the size of the booklet to 28 pages. The extra four pages will be more recipes. I will be adding the Dutch oven potatoes recipe and the beef stroganoff recipe. I will be asking Jack to add two recipes, too.

The reason I bring this up is that it is going to be a lot of work, as I will be producing about 120 of the booklets. That's 3,360 pages to be printed. Luckily I print it 2-up, double sided, so it's a lot less paper. But it's still 840 pages. My printers will be getting a very good workout.


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Thursday, 25 January 2007

Well, DHL finally delivered my package to me. It was two days too late for me to take advantage of the contents, but at least it got here. It took me 5 hours to copy the contents to my NAS storage. Now I can mail the hard drive back to College Station, TX, except for one small matter: they didn't include a return mailing label. So now I have to wait for them to mail me a return label.


I'm looking at a 1951 Plymouth Concorde as a tow car for my teardrop trailer. Please note that the one I am looking at is in much, much better condition than the one I supplied the link for. This one has a working flathead 218 engine and three speed transmission. The only thing missing that I can see is the front bumper. I hope to tow my trailer to Minden, Nebraska with the thing this summer.


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Wednesday, 24 January 2007

Well, DHL overnight has extended a delivery to 4 days. The driver refuses to drive up Boot Hill Road. Says his truck won't make it because of snow and ice. Tell it to my neighbors, who drive cars up here all the time. What a wimp.


I was on the net in a Webex demo yesterday. I was pleasantly surprised how well this application works over my broadband connection. Webex basically offers VNC functionality to Windows-based computers. One of the programmers in Bothell needed to show me how he tests database conversions, so we got together in Webex.


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Tuesday, 23 January 2007

I feel like I'm finally back on track with work. I fixed a bad data access problem yesterday, which was holding up the second round of our beta tests.

Today I have to load a newer version of Visual Studio, so I can use the updated version control tool that is built into that version. This will give me a chance to get out of the house, as my boss over in Post Falls has the disks for the new version.


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Monday, 22 January 2007

I spent a lot of time plowing on Saturday. We got about 8 to 10 inches of snow up here on the rimrock. The problem is getting to be where to throw it, not just getting it off the road. I have a six foot berm in front of my house right now.


There are a couple of really old projects I need to get back to, and I plan to start doing that this week. One of them is the coaching program and another is The Shadow stories. Remember them? I still haven't finished converting them to HTML. I will see about that this week.


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Friday, 19 January 2007

I have downloaded Knoppix 5.1.1 and have checked it out. This version comes with Beryl, a 3-D effects desktop that really spices up your screen. To use Beryl, though, you have to boot with the command line 'knoppix desktop=beryl'.

Beryl is an OpenGL accelerated desktop that has features such as scale effect, live window previews, desktop cube, window animations, window effects, zoom-in with mouse,blur effects and true themes. There is so much built into Beryl that it will take quite a while to learn all the actions.

Beryl just shows how antiquated an operating system that has been in development for the past five years can be. There is no way our favorite monopolist can develop software as fast and as stable as that being developed by the open source community. Take that, dancing monkey boy!


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Thursday, 18 January 2007

I have been having file transfer problems with work files. Our VPN doesn't seem to be stable enough to allow us to transfer big files from one machine to another. The file in question is 67MB, and I can only get about 8MB or so before the machine reports that the connection is lost.

So I set up a site on the Internet that we can all use to transfer files. Problem is, we can't seem to use it from the DOS ftp command. I can't find a command in ftp that sets the program to Passive mode. So you have to use a GUI program to use the web site. Oh, well.


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Wednesday, 17 January 2007

I have all the pictures back up as slideshows in the BLOGical Section Teardrop Trailers. The final slideshow I did was for the 2006 Car D Lane car show.



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Tuesday, 16 January 2007

I had yesterday off, which was a pleasant surprise. I spent much of the day working on picture slideshows. I have one more to do and I will then be all caught up. Until the ones I will be taking this year, that is.

The 2nd International Teardrop Gathering will be held this year, in Minden, Nebraska. I will be going and will be taking more pictures than the last one, held in 2005. I will also be going to several other teardrop gatherings, as well as dutch oven events. I hope to get pictures from all these, and post them on this site.


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Monday, 15 January 2007

I have finished adding slideshows of all the pictures I have for 2003, 2004 and 2005. I still have 2006 to do and I will get that done in the next few days. Check out the BLOGical section Teardrop Trailers for the slideshows.


The NILUG meeting was held on Saturday, and there was a big turnout. We also got a lot done, including installing Mepis on a virgin machine as a dual boot to Windows XP. I brought up the subject of leveraging our Linux expertise into some kind of a full time job, and there was some good discussion on that, but no others are willing to put themselves out for that. I would really like to, but I don't know how successful it would be.


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Friday, 12 January 2007

I have finally gotten around to working on re-adding the pictures back to this web site. I have moved the slide shows back to the software that I wrote. If you want to see the slideshows, go to the BLOGical Sections Teardrop Trailer section and check out the First International Teardrop Gathering, the 10th Dam Gathering, the 5th Northwest Spring Fling, 4th of July Teardrop Fun at Carnation, WA or Weekend Trip - 06/28/03.


I thought you might like to know that as of 7:20am, the current temperature outside my computer room is -7.6° F. With the wind chill, it is -18.8° F. Those in warmer climes - consider yourself very lucky.


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Thursday, 11 January 2007

I missed the Lunar Group meeting last night because of the snow. I have to start attending that again, as I may need a new job by the middle of the year. I don't really expect to be allowed to work from home longer than that.

Actually, this working at home like a hermit could get very old very fast. A nice job in an office would go just fine for me.


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Wednesday, 10 January 2007

I recently posted a link to an article entitled Review: openSUSE 10.2 Earns A Seat At The Head Of The Table. When I posted the link, I made a comment that indicated I thought the guy's conclusion was erroneous. Time for me to explain.

A lot has been written about the new KDE menu system. I believe I can sum it up in just two words: It Sucks. I design and implement user interfaces for a living, and the KDE team has violated all good design rules when they put the new menu system together. Here are a few design rules they violated:

  • Never borrows ideas for your user interface from a company that produces grade D software and sells it with a grade A+ marketing organization.
  • Never 'improve' your user interface so that it is harder to use than it was in the first place.
  • Never make major changes in the user interface without providing the user a way to go back to the older interface.
  • Never remove functionality from an interface or program unless that functionality already exists somewhere else in the system.

Let's say, for example, you want to start up K3B. Here is what you would do with the old interface:

  1. Click the Start menu.
  2. Move up to the Multimedia entry.
  3. Move over to the CD/DVD Burning entry.
  4. Move over to the K3B item and click it.

You can see at a glance all the items in each submenu as you move through them. Here's how the new menu system works with this:

  1. Click the Start menu.
  2. Move over to the Applications tab.
  3. Move up to the Multimedia item.
  4. Click the Multimedia item.
  5. Move to the CD/DVD Burning item.
  6. Click the CD/DVD Burning item.
  7. Move to the K3B item and click it.

Specifically, movement up and down the menu hierarchy in the new system requires more mouse movement and mouse clicks. Note in the scenario above, there are two clicks in the old menu selection and four clicks in the new one. It gets much worse when you want to back out of a submenu.

I think the rest of openSUSE 10.2 is better and more stable than earlier versions, but this menu system prevents me from using it at all.


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Tuesday, 9 January 2007

I recently ran across an article entitled Making DVDs in Linux, and decided to give his method a try. First thing to do was to download and install the two required programs: Avidemux and DVD Styler. This was completely painless for me, since I used the Smart Package Manager to do it.

I had picked up the pilot episode of Star Trek: New Voyages in .avi format, so I used that as a test. I ran it through Avidemux to convert it to .mpeg2 format, then I used DVD Styler to create the main menu and the other required files for the DVD. I then compiled all of it into a .iso disk image, then used K3B to burn the DVD.

The result? A DVD that my regular DVD player could not play. My computer could not read it, either. Obviously, I did something wrong. I am going to print out the instructions and do it all again, ensuring I don't screw anything up. If it works, that will eliminate yet another Windows dependency for me.


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Monday, 8 January 2007

My Internet connection has been down since sometime yesterday until 7 am this morning, so I don't have as much news to report.


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Friday, 5 January 2007

I installed the latest version of Smart Package Manager on my home workstation. It is much easier to install now than it was. The instructions on the web site are detailed enough to address any issue in installation. And Smart works just as well as it always has.

I installed Smart so I could pick up an application that has never been a part of openSUSE - Cinelerra, a video editing application. I used Smart to install Cinelerra, and that install went without a hitch. I will be looking at Cinelerra to see if I can create DVDs without resorting to the use of Windows software.


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Thursday, 4 January 2007

Verizon has fixed the problem that caused me to not connect with VPN to my office in Bothell, WA. I then installed the VOIP software, checked to see if my email was really working, and checked all the other connections I need to do my job. The only problem I found was being unable to connect to the version control server. That problem was caused by a DNS configuration problem that cropped up when they moved the server from Coeur d'Alene to Bothell. I solved that problem by using a more explicit address for the server, i.e., instead of using '\cda-nt3', I used '\cda-nt3.corp.amsworld.com'. So I now have access to version control, which is implemented with the world's crummiest VCS program - Microsoft Visual Source Safe. (You knew that was coming, didn't you?)

The bottom line is, now I can really get back to work.


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Wednesday, 3 January 2007

Well, the configuration we set up for me to VPN into work, doesn't work. It was working fine before Christmas, but now it doesn't. I spent a lot of time yesterday trying to get it to work, but was not able to. I have opened a trouble ticket with Verizon, to no effect. I have also talked to our IT guy, but no luck there. I will be talking to my boss today about it.

It isn't just me - one of the other guys is having the same problems.


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Tuesday, 2 January 2007

I hope everyone had a nice holiday. I did. I spent the holiday in Lake Havasu City, AZ, at 65 degrees, with my family. I drove down and back, and encountered no bad weather or bad road conditions in either direction. I am certainly glad I didn't have to drive through Colorado, though.


Today is the first official day of my working at home instead of in an office. My work computer is almost set up - I still have to get the VOIP phone working. Other than that, I'm ready for work.


I am trying to figure out a couple of things about openSUSE 10.2 before I write an article about it. Specifically, are these KDE menu changes done by the openSUSE crew, or are they part of KDE 3.5.5? And are they reversible? After I answer those two questions, I will be posting the article.


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