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BLOGical Thoughts Archive

July 2008

Thursday, 31 July 2008

Since I had a single remaining partition on my test computer, I installed SuSE Linux 11.0 on it last night. The installation went fine, and was much faster than earlier versions of SuSE Linux.

The problems started after the installation. First, the grub boot menu came up and showed boot entries for only 3 of the 5 distros on the hard disk. It seems that the SuSE installer didn't recognize Mandriva Linux or Linux Mint. So I will have to manually put those two distros in the grub menu.

Next, the KDE Start Menu. It really, really, really sucks. The KDE crew has gone for bling over substance, and has come up with something that takes much more effort to navigate than the original start menu. If given the choice between cuteness and smoothly functioning operation, I will choose the latter every time.

I installed this distro from the Linux Format DVD. It was missing stuff - specifically a lot of necessary programs like The Gimp. I decided to install a bunch of the programs, so I did that using the Yast package installer. The programs were downloaded and I presume they were installed. But I can't tell, because none of them showed up in the start menu. None. of. them.

More on this later.


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Wednesday, 30 July 2008

I have received at least a half dozen emails about this web site's bandwidth reaching 80%. I will be emailing my web host to try moving to another hosting plan. My current plan is way old. It allows 1GB storage and 10GB bandwidth for $25 per month. I will move to their large plan, which is 2.5GB storage and 60GB bandwidth for $20 per month. If they let me. That should shut down the bandwidth messages and save me $60 a year.

I can actually use the space, as I will be creating the nidog.org domain very soon. That stands for North Idaho Dutch Oven Group, which is the group that is replacing the Inland Empire Dutch Oven Society group, which folded last year.


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Tuesday, 29 July 2008

I just got an email notifying me that this web site has reached 80% of it's bandwidth; 8.1GB out of 10GB. It must be more popular than I thought it was. What are you people doing here? Are you looking at the pictures, downloading ebooks, or just reading my prose and the recipes? It's a mystery to me...


Well, Art on the Green is this weekend. I'm not sure if I'm up to yet another weekend of going and doing, but I will try to get there anyway. I have only missed one Art on the Green in 24 years. That one just got past me somehow.

I bought a leather-covered notebook at Art on the Green about 15 years ago, and I am still using that notebook to this day. Home-crafted goods don't seem to have a built-in 'fall-apart' date like almost everything you buy in a store.


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Monday, 28 July 2008

I enjoyed the Dutch oven workshop I was part of on Saturday. We taught about 15 people how to cook in a Dutch oven, and at the end of 5 hours, we got to eat what we cooked. My beef stroganoff was a big hit. And the pineapple upside down cake disappeared, too.


There will be no mountain men, black powder riflers or Dutch oven cooks at the Rathdrum Heritage days celebration. The person who used to be in charge of making the arrangements was George Holcomb, who knows the people in those groups.

His job was appropriated by someone whose initials are E.L. and who doesn't know squat about any of those groups. She decided that she would invite the mountain men and black powder people for a single day instead of two days. George told her they would not show up for a single day, but she refused to listen. The end result is those people and the Dutch oven group (which consists mainly of people from the other two groups) will not be participating.

I've known E.L. for over twenty years, and I have never known her to pay any attention to anyone else's opinion. So that's how it goes. No more Dutch oven sessions in Rathdrum this year.


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Friday, 25 July 2008

I've been trying to get a pressure washer for a couple of months now. I went to Harbor Freight again last night, and they had the floor model, but none in stock. Yet again. I think I will just go down to Lowes or Home Depot and get one there. The price at Harbor Freight is not worth the hassle.

I did get some more giveaway items at Harbor Freight. I always donate something to the door prizes at the various teardrop gatherings I go to. This time I got three pairs of welder's gloves for $8. They make dandy gloves for handling very hot Dutch ovens.


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Thursday, 24 July 2008

Every time I hear about how fuel prices are going up and food prices are going up, etc., I think "Well, that's what you get for electing lawyers to run things." They obviously know nothing about ecosystems, so they always take actions designed to appease the voters instead of learning the proper way to fix things. Like their promotion of bio-fuel, which drives up the cost of fuel and lowers the availability of corn as a food product, so that drives up the cost of food. And that solution causes our vehicles to get worse gas mileage, which drives up our consumption. Good solution, eh?

I don't have solutions, except to recommend putting all the politicians in a big box and dumping the box into the ocean, right where the Russians have been scuttling their nuclear submarines. Then we could start over and elect someone who actually knew something. But what am I talking about, the voters (except for me) would just elect more would-be lawyers.

End of rant.


I haven't been to a KFC in many years. I went last night and now I remember why I haven't been. So it will be many more years before I go again. I will have to add it to my McDonalds list (I haven't had McDonalds food since June, 1976).


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Wednesday, 23 July 2008

I will be participating in a Dutch oven workshop this Saturday at Riverstone Park. I'm not sure how many people will be attending (at $25 per person), but it should be fun. I will be teaching how to cook beef stroganoff in a Dutch oven. It's actually pretty easy to do, and the dish comes out great looking and delicious. The recipe is in the Recipes, Main dish, Meat section here.


At work, I got that Windows C DLL running okay. Now they want me to create a Windows registry key for each item I read, instead of assuming that the keys already exist. The fun never ends...


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Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Writing C programs for Windows is like learning a new language. All the variable types have different names than the normal C names. This makes the code look like a Frankenstein monster: familiar but unrecognizable. The toughest part is learning all the new variable type names.

If you can't tell, I am doing a Windows C program (DLL) at work. I have it running and will find out this morning whether I did it right. Some of the ideas that those Microsoft folks come up with are strange and twisted, and they cause extra code to be written to use them. I will be glad when the real Windows C/C++ programmer finally makes it up here from California and his divorce from Hell.


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Monday, 21 July 2008

I have completed uploading and setting up web pages for the pictures I have taken so far this year. The first set is for Car d'Lane 2008. This is a car show held on the streets in downtown Coeur d'Alene.

The second set of pictures comes from the 10th Northwest Spring Fling, which is a teardrop trailer gathering held on Memorial Day weekend in Morton, WA.

The final set of pictures is from the 4th of July Teardrop Fun at Carnation, WA. which is held on The 4th of July weekend.


I got my Honda Civic Hybrid back from dealer service. They had it for 2 1/2 weeks. I took it in for an oil change and for recall service on the transmission. It turns out there were two kinds of recalls on the transmission. One required replacing parts of the transmission. They did that and that did not solve my problems. So they went the second route, which was replacing the entire transmission. I ended up paying for the oil change and got the transmission replacement for free. I am now getting in the mid-50's mpg, which is what it should be. I was getting 49 mpg.


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Friday, 18 July 2008

I enjoyed the North Idaho Mineral Club potluck last night. Since I was feeding my face and listening to interesting stories, I didn't really get anything else done. I almost cut the news articles short this morning, since I only had the morning to get some news links.


I will be at the mineral club booth at the Rathdrum Days celebration tomorrow. Our participation is low key, so you shouldn't expect someone sitting there turning out cabochons or someone doing some faceting. We will just be doing a couple of things for the kids.


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Thursday, 17 July 2008

I discovered that the files I had no trouble sending to the web site from a Windows machine had the same problems as when I had sent them from my Linux box. It turns out that the Windows ws_ftp program is too stupid to know that a file transfer has stalled.

I checked all the files I had sent and made a list of the damaged files. I then removed all the damaged files (except one) from the web site and used secure ftp on my Linux box to send them again. The files took varying amounts of time to get to the web site - anywhere from 3 seconds to 24 minutes. The transfers completely wiped out my evening, but they all got there and all I have to do now is to create some web pages to display them. I will do that on Friday.

I thought it might be of interest seeing the difference between a good file transfer and a bad one.


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Wednesday, 16 July 2008

My ftp problem was not my web host's problem. I had no problem transferring the files from a Windows 2000 machine, so the problem appears to be with Ubuntu 8.04. I will investigate further when I get the time. In the meantime, I have to add or update 4 web pages so you can all see the pictures I have uploaded.


I will be going to a potluck dinner Thursday night, with other members of the North Idaho Mineral Club. I will also be doing booth duty for them on Saturday at the Rathdrum Days celebration.


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Tuesday, 15 July 2008

I have tried everything I know to get my latest pictures over to the web site. I started with normal ftp, then tried secure ftp, scp and even the Cpanel file manager. Nothing seems to work reliably. I have turned in a trouble ticket to my web host so they can look into the problem.

All the files I am trying to transfer are binary (photos). Most of them are greater than 150K in size. I don't seem to have trouble with much smaller files.

I guess that tonight I will finish up the conversion of the pictures, so they will be ready when my web host solves my little problem.


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Monday, 14 July 2008

Boy, did I have a long day at the Dutch oven demo at Riverstone Park on Saturday. I got there at 8:15 am, as we were supposed to start cooking at 9 am. I took about an hour to get all the gear unpacked and set up, then we fired up the charcoal. I ended up doing one oven of sourdough biscuits, four pineapple upside down cakes and a cherry dump cake. With all the other food that was cooked, we had barely enough to feed all the people. That food included more rolls, 16 quarts of gravy, 30 quarts of stew, two huge chocolate chocolate cherry cakes and various other desserts.

After the feed was done, I packed up and got out of there at 7:15 pm. I could barely move that night and the next morning. I'm not used to spending a day standing on concrete and lifting all those Dutch ovens.


I found a way to reliably get my pictures over to the web site. I am using secure ftp. It works fine, but it is dog-slow. The first set of pictures I am doing are the ones from Car d'Lane 2008. I have processed the pictures from the Spring Fling teardrop trailer gathering, and will load them tonight. I hope to get the web pages up in the next day or two.


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Friday, 11 July 2008

I'm still having trouble with ftp. I will try to do secure ftp, and if that doesn't work, I will contact my web host about the problem.


I will be spending most of tomorrow at Riverstone Park in Coeur d'Alene with my Dutch ovens, cooking biscuits and gravy and some desserts. If you don't have anything else to do between 9 am and 4 pm, come down and sample the results.


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Thursday, 10 July 2008

I have processed the pictures from Car d'Lane 2008 and I attempted to ftp them to the web site. I was not successful - I kept getting a timeout. Some files did get to the site, and some only partially got there. I will have to email my web host to straighten out the problem.

In the mean time, I will continue to process the remaining pictures, so I will be ready to put them up on the web site when the problem is fixed.


Q: How can you tell when a politician is lying?

A: Easy - when he has his mouth open.


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Wednesday, 9 July 2008

I am going through the photos I have taken of this year's Car d'Lane car show, Spring Fling teardrop trailer gathering and 4ht of July Teardrop Fun gathering. I have to reduce them to 1024x768 format before I put them up on this web site. I hope to have at least some of them up tomorrow or the next day.


I am back to programming at work - away from testing. I am doing a log reader that will read two XML reports, once every four hours, then spit the data into our application as security alerts. The reader is written in Java, which has pretty good support for XML. I am using SAX for one report and DOM for the other. The SAX one is simple and I only need to extract IP addresses from it. The other one is complex, and I need to put all the data in a tree before I can extract the proper information from it.


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Tuesday, 8 July 2008

I dropped my car off at the dealer for some recall transmission work on Wednesday morning. It was supposed to take 5 1/2 hours. I ended up catching a ride home with a co-worker. The dealer still has my car - they found one more thing that needs fixing and it isn't covered by the recall. I just love it when they underestimate the amount of time a repair will take - by a WEEK.


This Saturday I will be participating in a Dutch oven demo in Riverstone Park. I'll be fixing biscuits and gravy and some desserts from 9 am to 4 pm. It will be a long day. I will have to remember to bring a chair.


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Monday, 7 July 2008

I spent the Fourth of July weekend over in Carnation, WA, at a teardrop trailer gathering. It was a lot of fun, except for the mosquitoes. We always get to drive the host's old cars when we are there. I tried driving a 1936 Packard, but we got a half mile down the road and the car quit. It has a bad coil, I think. When the engine cooled down a bit, we could start it and get it back to the garage.

So then I drove a 1936 Chevrolet. Turns out it had a throw-out bearing that was going bad. You had to keep your foot on the clutch to keep the bearing slightly engaged, so it wouldn't make a huge racket. And then the brakes grabbed when I stopped. It got me to the spaghetti feed in Carnation, though.

Finally, I tried the 1936 DeSoto Air Flow. It starts good, runs fine, but there is not much left of the clutch. So I decided not to drive the cars for the rest of the weekend, and I went as a passenger in a 1926 Model T to the XXX Drive-In in Issaquah for burgers. I hope I don't have those kind of troubles with my 1952 Plymouth.


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Thursday, 3 July 2008

I won't be posting again until Monday. I hope everyone has a good Independence Day holiday and weekend. If you are driving anywhere, be careful. I know a lot of you celebrate with your own fireworks, so be careful at home, too.


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Wednesday, 2 July 2008

I have finished the installation of Ubuntu 8.04 on the computer I took home the other day. I have rearranged the boot menu so the default O/S to boot is Windows XP.


Apparently, there is a limit to how much you can compress a DVD with K9Copy and still have the copy able to play on a regular DVD player. I compressed a 2 hour and 34 minute movie last night. The result played fine on my computer, but it would not load in my DVD player. I ended up using DVD Fab Platinum on Windows to make a two disk set of the DVD.


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Tuesday, 1 July 2008

I installed Ubuntu 8.04 on the machine I was talking about yesterday. It installed fine and I updated all the packages that required updating. I also added some extras in the mix, including K3B, K9Copy, KDE Games and Wine. Everything works fine and the sound (which didn't work with Ubuntu 7.10) works fine, too.

The machine has a TV card in it that Ubuntu doesn't seem to recognize. That cheap card was put in to replace a really good Linux digital TV card. I verified that the digital card does work with Linux, but in analog mode. I'm still having trouble finding a way to get it to pick up digital broadcast stations.

I also added the Compiz Fusion manager and enabled Compiz Fusion on the desktop. I set it so the rotating cube was available. So If the Ctrl-Alt keys are held down, and the mouse button is held down, when you move the mouse, the entire desktop rotates as a cube. Very classy.

I only have one more task to do. I have to redo the boot menu so Windows XP is the default O/S. The owner of the machine is not primarily a Linux user, so that's necessary.


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