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BLOGical Thoughts Archive

January 2011

Monday, 31 January 2011

I got some of my projects completed over the weekend, but there are more to do. I have finished the workbench I was working on, but I have discovered I can't get the 2 rock saws onto the bench without external help. They are just too heavy. I will probably rent an engine hoist to get them onto the workbench. Doing that will free up a bunch of space in my garage.



 

My rant on Friday about Taco Bell got me in the mood for real spicy food. I made chili and cornbread last night. It was okay, but I have done better in the past. I will have to adjust my recipe, I guess.

That reminds me that I have started to put together a Dutch oven cookbook. It will contain the recipes that I cook for crowds, such as Dutch oven Beef Stroganoff, Dutch oven potatoes, pineapple upside-down cake and triple chocolate cake. I will assemble it as a PDF file and put it out where people can pick it up.



 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

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

 

Local/Other News/Security Theater

Friday, 28 January 2011

I have a weekend off. No meetings, no commitments at all, which is a wonder. It means I will be working on some of the home projects that need to be completed. I can also work on the soccer program - not just the help text, either.

I also have my taxes almost done for the year. I resent this tribute payment more each year. What are we getting for the bribe? Incompetent management and more national debt. That's just me, though. Maybe you really like being a serf.



 

Want to know why I don't eat at Taco Bell any more? Taco Bell 'meat' is 36 percent beef and 64 percent 'other'. That does not meet the USDA requirements to call it 'meat taco filling'. And besides, it tastes nothing like my home-made tacos. As a matter of fact, it tastes bad to me and I won't put up with it. If I don't lower my standards, I won't be able to eat any junk food at all anymore. MacDonalds, Subway, Taco Bell - all on my Do Not Visit list. And no one makes good onion rings anymore, either.



 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

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

 

Local/Other News/Security Theater

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Last year, I got an email from my friend and former co-worker Sam. He provided me with a link to a web site where he had found a list of free ebooks, and he suggested I update my ebook page with the links.

After all this time, I have finally gotten around to doing just that. What prompted me to do so was my reading of Robert Bruce Thompson's blog (Thompson writes books and Baen Books publishes them). He had just gotten a Kindle and was looking around for some free ebooks. Someone sent him a list of their favorite free ebook web sites and he posted the email.

I took both of these sources and updated my ebook page. I also removed some of the dead links that were on the page.

One of the ebook links is very interesting to me. When I buy a hardback book from Baen Books, it sometimes has a CD included in it, with all kinds of extra content that was also written or edited by the same author. It says right on each of these CDs that they can be copied, as long as you don't charge anything for the copy. The web site BaenCD at the Fifth Imperium has many of those CDs, all zipped up for download. So it looks like I will be reading Eric Flint on my Nook for the next month or two.



 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

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

 

Local/Other News/Security Theater

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

I had a pretty bad day yesterday. I was half right about the rain messing up the roads. I tried driving out yesterday morning in my car. I got up to the county road by taking a running (1/2 mile) jump at the hill. Once I got to the county road, I couldn't get up the 50 feet to the crown of the hill. I drove back down and got the 4x4 pickup and went back up to the county road. I could not get the pickup up that 50 feet, either. So I decided to work from home.

I went back home and then I tried to Citrix in to work from this workstation, and there was no response at the office. So I emailed my boss telling him the situation, and waited for an email reply. Several hours later, no reply had come, so I decided to try the hill again, this time in the daylight. The county had sanded it, so I was able to get out to pavement.

I then stopped by my bank's ATM to get some cash, and the ATM was turned off, as in broken. I had to go inside to get cash. I suspect that an Internet outage may have been responsible for that, but I didn't realize it at the time. The morning was not improving.

When I got to work, I found out that there had been an auto wreck somewhere, which had taken out a bunch of fiber optic lines. No Citrix, no email, no connection to the outside world at all. And not just for my workplace, either. For the whole day, there was still no connection, but at 5:10am this morning, it seems to be working.



 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

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

 

Local/Other News/Security Theater

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

The Plymouth restoration is almost done. The car should be rewired by the end of the week and running. The engine compartment has been completed and the front grille and bumper have been mounted. I have added 50 photos to my Picasaweb site showing the progress being made on the car.

This weekend I will have to clean up the space in the garage where I can park the Plymouth. It isn't very cluttered, but there is a lot of stuff I can move or throw out. I will also finally finish the workbench I was building, so I can move the rock saws on



 

It rained here all day yesterday, which means more ice on the roads. I am not sure if I can get my Honda up to the county road because of the ice. It's supposed to rain more today and possibly snow. That won't be a help to my work commute.



 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

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

 

Local/Other News/Security Theater

Monday, 24 January 2011

For the first time since I switched my computers over to Linux Mint 10, I attempted to use the gdvdslides program I wrote last year. The program initially did not run. I found that I had to recompile the program to get it to run. This is not a good thing and I will have to track down just what is wrong with the new configuration.

After I got gdvdslides running, I used it to compile my example slides to an MPG file. I found that there was a problem with adding sound to the video, and I tracked it down to a change in the command line options for a program called twolame. I fixed that by changing those options in the dvd-slideshow script that gdvdslides uses to compile the video. Once that was done, I was able to create an MPG file. I looked at it, and it didn't look very good, so I will be tweaking my configuration again.

I think the bottom line here is I will have to release another version of gdvdslides, but other things will come first. Like the soccer program for Windows.



 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

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

 

Local/Other News/Security Theater

Friday, 21 January 2011

I got home late last night and had no time to work on anything. I have to go plow now, as that is one of the important things I didn't do last night.

For those who are interested, the technical session of the North Idaho Linux Users Group meets tomorrow in Rathdrum. It's a good place to install Linux on your machine or to get specific technical questions answered.



 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

Thursday, 20 January 2011

My car is still in the shop. When they started to replace the defective parts yesterday, they discovered corrosion of some of the wiring. Instead of a new wiring harness (big bucks), they will be replacing some of the connectors with connectors they have around from other repairs. I hope they finish today, as I will look awfully foolish walking from Post Falls to Dalton Gardens for the North Idaho Mineral Club meeting.



 

One of my IRA CDs has matured and I need to go to the bank to deal with it. It will automatically be extended another 5 years unless I do something about that. It would be nice to have that money available.

I am also making an appointment with my broker to change the allocations for my main IRA. The current allocations involve too much risk for me, this late in the game.



 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

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

 

Local/Other News/Security Theater

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

I have added a bunch of new hints and tips to the North Idaho Mineral Club web site. I had a whole book of tips that were published in the 60's. I had to winnow out the ones that were not outdated to be added to the web site. Tips like those that involve using a (carborundum) grinding wheel no longer apply, as almost everyone now uses diamond wheels. I also eliminated tips that involved diagrams or pictures, but that may be shear laziness on my part.

The Mineral Club meets tomorrow and I will now have something to show for the month.



 

I took my car in for service yesterday. I had no problems getting on the county road, as most of the ice had melted off of the private road. The servicing went fine, except when it came time for them to figure out why the check engine light was on. That had to do with the exhaust system, and they had to order parts to fix it.

So I am taking my car in for service again today. The dusting of snow we got last night will be no impediment to me.



 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

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

 

Local/Other News/Security Theater

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

By what you will see below, it's pretty obvious I have nothing important to say today. I do hope everyone local to Hayden, Idaho is ready for more snow.



 

I picked this up from Google Reader:

Linux Sex:



 

I could not pass this one up:



 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

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

 

Local/Other News/Security Theater

Monday, 17 January 2011

I was unable to get my car serviced on Saturday, as the private road up to the county road was still an ice rink. I cancelled the service appointment and made another one for Tuesday. I will definitely be able to keep that one, as after four days of above freezing temperatures, the road is now passable. As a matter of fact, the two feet of snow that was on the roof of my house is also gone.



 

My workstations both have the Linux Mint 10 distribution, which is based on Ubuntu 10. The Linux Mint team is also working on what they call Linux Mint Debian 10, which has also been released. I decided to completely divorce myself from Ubuntu, so I wanted to install the Debian version of Linux Mint on both workstations.

I did the 64-bit workstation on Saturday. The install went fine, just like it always does nowadays. I had to install a few extra programs and I was done. The only difference I could see was there were a few more programs in the System Tools menu, and Compiz Fusion was not installed. I may try to install that tonight, if I get a chance. I kind of like the special effects it provides, especially wobbly windows.



 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

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

 

Local/Other News/Security Theater

Friday, 14 January 2011

It sure did rain last night. I'm glad I plowed on Wednesday night. When I went out yesterday morning in my 4x4 truck, I had no trouble getting up to the county road and over the crest to the part of the county road that goes down to a paved road. Even though I was going about 5 mph, when I tried to steer, nothing happened. The truck started drifting toward the ditch beside the road. Fortunately, when my front wheel touched the berm on the side of the road, there was enough traction to straighten out. As soon as I stopped sliding, I dropped the snow plow blade and got better control of my situation. All the paved roads were clear so I had no more problems on the way to work.

Coming in from work last night, the part of the county road I had a problem with was almost all clear (it's on the southern part of the hill). I got to the end of the county road and onto our private road. When I got to the corner of the private road, I decided to stay on the berm with my plow blade down. I ended up in the ditch at the top of the road. The plow blade kept me from just pulling out, as there was hard packed snow in front of and behind the plow blade. One of my neighbors finally came along. He had chains on all four wheels of his 4x4 and we hooked my chain up and he pulled me back up the hill and out of the ditch. After that, I carefully tipped the plow blade away from the left hand berm and followed it down to my driveway.

I now have a sack of sand in the back of the truck. When I go out this morning, I will spread some of it on that ice rink of a road. That will provide traction for my neighbors and I hope that it will encourage the ice to melt more, too, as I have to drive my car out tomorrow to get the oil changed.



 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

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

 

Local/Other News/Security Theater

Thursday, 13 January 2011

I spent last night plowing all the snow that had fallen, so I didn't get a chance to work on the soccer program. I had to move the snow last night instead of this morning because it's supposed to rain today (1/2 inch) and it's easier to move snow than it is to move slush. It's supposed to rain on Friday, too. This weather pattern is more like our normal pattern, so I don't have a problem with it.



 

I am looking for empty bottles I can use to hold hot sauce. I have an empty Cholula bottle, but the neck is too small to hold the funnel I use to fill the bottle. IF I get several of the bottles, I can give the hot sauce away as gifts. I will start my search at the local stores, like the hardware stores and the farm supply stores. If I don't find anything there, I will move on to the Internet, even though everyone there charges way too much shipping and handling. I need to find something, as I am tired of storing hot sauce in a rectangular plastic storage container.



 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

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

 

Local/Other News/Security Theater

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

I am adding content to the help pages for the soccer program. The home page now has useful content instead of being empty - I cribbed the content out of the old user manual. There is a lot more to write and I will continue to work on it, since the weather is not behaving (we expect a foot of snow today).

I also need to inventory the program to see what visual dialogs remain, and to see what (hidden) print dialogs need to be created. I will get to finished program eventually, I promise.



 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

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

 

Local/Other News/Security Theater

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

I was running very low on Pike Street Tea, so last week I attempted to order some more. I went to the Blue Moon Tea web site and attempted to log in, but the web site rejected my password. As far as I could find, they had no way for me to get a hint of what the password was, either. So I couldn't order more tea from there.

I went instead to the Marketspice web site, as they are the ones who actually make the tea (its true name is Marketspice Tea, not Pike Street). I found that their price was lower than Blue Moon's, so I ordered two pounds of loose leaf. It turns out that their shipping and handling charges are higher than Blue Moon's, so the total price for the order was the same. Shipping was supposed to be slower than Blue Moon, but the order got here in a couple of days.

I now have my tea and I don't have to live on that weak stuff they serve in restaurants and at work.



 

I've been taking a break from programming at home. I am just about ready to get back into it now, though. I have done a bit of work on the help pages for the soccer program, but a lot more must be done, and I need to create at least one more dialog and then thoroughly test the entire program.



 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

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

 

Local/Other News/Security Theater

Monday, 10 January 2011

The North Idaho Linux Users Group meeting on Saturday was pretty good. We didn't have any talks, but we helped a newbie get his Kodak printer installed. It turns out that printer was not not natively supported in Ubuntu, so we went out and got the source code for a user-supplied printer driver. We then compiled and installed it for the newbie. He has several more machines at home, and he will have to do the same for all of those machines, too. I hope he took good notes.



 

What is it with Arizona now? I always thought the nuts ended up in California, but lately they are showing up in droves in Arizona. They espouse the "I'm right - don't confuse me with the facts" philosophy and, with no moral compass, that leads to public shootings and other actions injurious to the public. The inevitable result will be more 'security' at the cost of our liberty. Is that what these people really want? Or are they just so stupid they haven't thought through to the consequences of their actions?



 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

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

 

Local/Other News/Security Theater

Friday, 7 January 2011

I have finished David Weber's book "Out of the Dark". I must say the ending was very surprising. I won't give it away here, but let's just say it hooks into a currently popular genre. I'm not sure I really like the direction the trilogy will be going in. Except for the Harry Potter books, I'm pretty much a hard science fiction kind of guy.



 

I have another busy weekend coming up. The North Idaho Mineral Club is having a meeting on Saturday morning concerning the upcoming mineral show, and the North Idaho Linux Users Group is having their monthly meeting on Saturday afternoon. Those two meetings don't give me much time to do any home chores on Saturday.



 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

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

 

Local/Other News/Security Theater

Thursday, 6 January 2011

I am a big fan of David Weber's military science fiction series about Honor Harrington. The books are very good and even though they have gotten very much bigger as he went along with the saga, I still hang on every word. However, Weber has basically described the entire career of the main character, and there is not much left for him to talk about. Which is why some of the current books talk about peripheral characters instead.

Now David Weber is writing a trilogy set in an entirely different universe. The first book is called "Out of the Dark" and it describes the invasion of Earth by aliens. The only problem is that the aliens based their invasion on the actions they witnessed in Earth's 15th century. They have returned and are now invading in the 21st century. They expected to encounter a planet that had possibly gotten to the use of gunpowder, but nothing more. They are very surprised at the level of civilization they see, but decide to go ahead and invade anyway, even though that's a violation of their rules of civilization.

The story is engrossing - I am about halfway through the book at this point. My major problem with it is that it does not focus on a single strong character, like the Harrington books. We shall see if he continues in that vein. If you like military science fiction, this one is pretty darn good so far.



 

The Post Falls Senior Center has suffered from a broken pipe. The Center will be closed for three or four weeks, which means there will probably be no mineral club meeting this month. Bummer.



 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

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

 

Local/Other News/Security Theater

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

At work I am doing research on extended support of network devices produced by SonicWall. Unlike some companies, they have provided a lot of information about their devices so it's much easier to do that than it normally is. On the other hand, they don't provide easy ways to get to some of their logs, so that takes a bit of research.



 

I have to stop experimenting with new Dutch oven dishes and shoving the results at other people. I did that Sunday night. I made Rosemary Red Potatoes for the first time and it was one of the pot luck dishes for a birthday party. The potatoes tasted okay, but I discovered two things about the recipe. The first is that it needed salt and pepper. The second is that even though the recipe says to turn the potatoes every 15 minutes, if you do that you will end up with a lot of destroyed potatoes in the dish. They will still taste fine, even if they don't look good, but it's the principle of the thing. Like the Chinese, I think that a dish has to look as good as it tastes.



 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

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

 

Local/Other News/Security Theater

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

I got a late Christmas present at work yesterday. My work computer now has two 22" widescreen monitors to replace the two regular screen 19" monitors I have struggled with for the last three years. So I went from 2560 pixels of display width to 3840 pixels. That's a lot of extra display space, and I use every bit of it. My work display is now exactly the same size as my home workstation. Makes it much easier for me to VPN into my work computer.



 

Since I accidentally left my hot sauce in Arizona, I had to make up a new batch. It's easy to do if you can find the ingredients: red chile peppers, garlic, vinegar and a bit of salt. The batch I made this time is great and about twice as hot as the batch I left in Arizona. I used 10 peppers, 5 cloves of garlic, chopped them up and put them in the food processor and pureed them. I added enough vinegar to make a sauce, them pureed them as smoothly as I could get them in the food processor. I then added some salt. I suspect that the batch was hotter because I chopped them up enough to break up the seeds. Boy, is it good!



 

The way things work is that when an intersection needs a traffic light, it is installed. So the number of traffic lights is always going up. I noticed a couple of weeks ago, though, that a traffic light had been removed. This is a rare occasion - the light on the corner of 5th Street and Sherman Avenue has been removed. I guess the city figured out that the traffic volume there did not warrant a light. An intelligent decision from the City of Coeur d'Alene - go figure.



 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

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

 

Local/Other News/Security Theater

Monday, 3 January 2011

As I mentioned on Friday, I spent some time in Lake Havasu City, AZ during the last two weeks. I visited with my parents, a niece, a nephew, a grand niece and one of my sisters. I updated my parents' computers, ate too much and generally had a good time.

Normally when I am down in Arizona, the weather is adequate - usually in the 50's or 60's and pleasant. This year was an exception, though. The storms that hammered California went on to hammer Arizona. Here is what we saw from my parents front porch.

True to the nature of the desert, the streets of Lake Havasu City turned into miniature flash floods. After the storm went through, the street my parents lived on turned into a rocky dirt road. It took the city four days to get around to cleaning up the mess.

I left to drive home on Wednesday, intending to get there Thursday afternoon. The weather did not cooperate and I would have ended up getting home after dark. Since I knew I would have to plow (a lot?) to drive the Honda to the house, I decided to spend the night in Kellogg, ID and get home Friday morning. It turns out the amount of snow that was dumped while I was gone did not meet my expectations - there was less than a foot of new snow.

It took less than an hour to clean up the snow. Part of that I spent trying to open the door on the truck, as it was about 6° F and the door was frozen shut. The snow was fairly dry, so it could be moved around fairly easily.

So now I am home, everything outside is taken care of and I can work on software projects. And try to fill up the 2TB USB drive I got for Christmas. Thanks, Dad.



 

I was showing off my Nook e-book reader to my sister last week. I showed her that you could plug a micro-SD card into the reader to get extra storage space. When I plugged the card back in, it no longer worked. I went down and bought another card for $12 and tried it - neither card worked in the Nook. So I plugged both of them into a notebook computer and verified that both micro-SD cards work. I then plugged the original card back into the Nook and forgot about the problem.

I spent Thursday night on the way home in Kellogg. On Friday morning, I finished the e-book I was reading and went back to my book list. Low and behold, the card was working again. I will not mess with it any longer. I will just tell people about the card instead of demonstrating 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/Other News/Security Theater