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BLOGical Thoughts Archive

July 2010

Friday, 30 July 2010

When you look on the Net for parts for the drivetrain of an old car, it is a fairly simple task to find them. On the other hand, finding non-drivetrain parts is a real bear. I am looking for trim, door handles and other parts for my 1952 Plymouth and I am not having much luck so far. The parts car I have cannot supply some of these parts as they are either damaged or missing on that car, too.

I have found one place that seems to have many of the trim parts for my car, but not the ones I really need. I will keep looking.



 

If you get a chance, stop by Art on the Green this weekend. They usually have a very good show and craft fair. I am wearing my poisonous tree frog shirt today, in honor of the event.



 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

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

 

Local and Other News

Thursday, 29 July 2010

The Idaho Department of Motor Vehicles makes good money by producing and selling specialized license plates, I have a custom plate on my Dodge that reads "1S N 0S". For the benefit of the non-programmers in the crowd, that means "ones and zeros".

I decided that I should promote one of my hobbies (rock hounding/lapidary) on the license plate for my truck, so I ordered Idaho "The Gem State" plates. I received them yesterday and installed them on the truck. Here is what they look like:

My plate is number 00064, which means that so far, only 63 other people in the state have these plates. I like the number, too - it's a power of 2, which appeals to the programmer in 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 and Other News

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

I am going to set up an old computer with a 40GB hard drive, and install Debian Linux on the machine. I want to evaluate the distro to see if it is a reasonable alternative to Ubuntu. Yes, I know Ubuntu is based on Debian, but I don't know the full extent of the additions Canonical has made to Ubuntu over the Debian baseline.

I am also looking around for an incremental backup program. Now that I have backed up my workstation's home directory, I need something to help me keep the backup up to date. I suppose I could do those backups to DVD+R, as they will be much smaller than the 171GB I backed up to my network attached storage.



 

This weekend is Art on the Green weekend, and I will be going to that. I enjoy that event and that's where I got my poisonous tree frog shirt. Everyone seems to love that shirt, maybe because it's so bright.



 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

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

 

Local and Other News

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

At work, I am fixing bugs in the code I have been writing. No one told me when I added code to write to a new database table, that the code would also have to handle buffers from the old version. So I have to go through the code and do conditionals around the code I have added. There are several severe problems with doing this. I have solved one of them, but I'm not sure how I will solve the others. Well, this wasn't even my code in the first place - I just fixed a bunch of bugs in it. No rest for the competent, I guess.



 

I ordered two more pounds of Market Spice tea (Pike Street tea) from Blue Moon Tea on Sunday. It should be here today. I'm very happy with using them instead of depending on a supply from a local restaurant like I was doing. Their price is a bit higher, but I get very good, prompt service.



 

Silly sign of the day:



 

Free/Open Source Software

 

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

 

Local and Other News

Monday, 26 July 2010

I backed up my workstation hard disk, starting Friday night. There were 112,000 files in 171GB to back up. I backed up to my network attached storage device, and it took well over 24 hours to do the backup. There was some manual interaction that caused the process to slow down, as the questions popped up on the screen in the middle of the night and no copying occurred during the time the dialog was up. To top things off, the power failed close to the end of the backup. I think I will look for a better way to do all this.



 

I am continuing with my hot sauce experiments. This time, I used Chili Cascabel (Guajillo) dried peppers, fresh tomatillos and garlic. The results were a bit disappointing. I re-hydrated the chilis before I used them, but they just don't have the flavor of fresh peppers. I'll keep experimenting and maybe I will stumble upon something that is not just good, but outrageously great.



 

I did something I told myself I wasn't going to do - I bought another eBook reader. I got a Barnes and Noble WiFi Nook on Saturday. It works much, much better than the original Cooler Reader I purchased. I haven't used it enough to form any other opinions, though.



 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

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

 

Local and Other News

Friday, 23 July 2010

I have noticed that the internal video player software in MythTV does not always play every video that you feed to it. Luckily, MythTV is highly configurable, so I set it up so it uses VLC to play videos instead of the built-in player. That worked extremely well, so I will leave it configured that way.

I have a bunch of movies that were on VHS which I copied over to DVD. I sometimes have problems with those copies, so I am ripping them to ISO images which I can play on my DVR. I was doing the ripping with the DVR, but that was problematic, so I have been using k9copy on this workstation instead. Even with that, I have problems with some movies. I tried about six or eight DVDs and was able to rip two of them. I will have to set up another machine to do this, so I can try yet another DVD drive, as the drive capability seems to be the limiting factor here.



 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

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

 

Local and Other News

Thursday, 22 July 2010

I am fixing someone else's code at work now. The code I created a few days ago uses the code I am working on now, which populates a new database table. The only problem is that I am not familiar with the code, but single stepping through it with a debugger is a good way to learn it. I have fixed four problems so far, and there is at least one more to fix. I hope to hit our (sliding) freeze date of this Friday.


 

I am getting low on silly signs, so I am once again contemplating starting over at the beginning. I have collected over twelve hundred of the signs, so it's been several years since the early signs have been displayed here.


 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

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

 

Local and Other News

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Marketing types can only be happy if they can force developers to make changes to the software to make it 'sexier' (more attractive to new users). They completely ignore usability; they usually have no input at all from the actual users of their software. All that matters to them is 'bling'. So what if it is harder to use - if it looks cooler, that's all that matters to them. There are two current examples of this 'bling' principle.

The first example is Microsoft Windows. The original Start Menu for Windows in Windows 95 required the user to do two mouse clicks: click to pop up the Start Menu, then click to start the program you want to run. Navigation within the menu was a snap - just move to a menu category and it would open like a flower. Simple, elegant and fast - a user's dream of an interface.

Then the marketeers got their mitts on the product and now the Windows Start Menu is a multi-click nightmare: click to bring it up, click to pick a category, click to run a program. No indication of how deep your are in this multi-layered menu and the way to get back up a level is to click yet again. How do users put up with this crap? A power user, such as myself, does not put up with it.

Microsoft is not the only one to fall for this marketing 'bling': the Linux KDE 4 desktop has fallen for the marketing myth and has the same kind of nightmare menu system. The primary reason I moved from SUSE and Mepis to Ubuntu is that they both use KDE and I was uninterested in a more complex user interface. I found that the Gnome desktop in Ubuntu was better at easily getting to my applications. Since I moved to Ubuntu, I have noticed that distros with newer versions of KDE have gotten worse with their user interface. I will never move back to a KDE-based distro.

But now it appears that even Gnome has fallen for the 'bling' myth. The next version of Gnome (3.0) will have a more complex interface which will try to be all things to all people and sexy, too. I am disgusted. If XFCE had better support programs, I would move to that in a heartbeat.


 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

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

 

Local and Other News

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Over the weekend I started to download the latest Debian distro so I could give it a try. I finished downloading ISO file number 13 (of 31) and ran out of weekend (each file averages about 650MB). I mentioned at work yesterday that I was going to take a look at Debian and that I had downloaded 13 ISO files, and my co-worker said, "Why don't you just download the network install ISO and get the rest as needed from the Internet?" So that's what I will do. Who needs the entire source code tree for Debian, anyway?


 

I finally got a ring for my cast iron waffle iron. It isn't the correct ring, but it is the right size and it can be adapted to work with my waffle iron. It is from an old Griswold waffle iron that was dropped and broke.

I also discovered that what I thought was a hex screw in my pie iron is really just a very small rolled pin. That means I will have very little luck removing it, as the pin does not go all the way through the iron.


 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

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

 

Local and Other News

Monday, 19 July 2010

I actually had the weekend off. I finished my coding at work and did not have to do any of that on Saturday or Sunday. I did some chores that needed to be done instead. Then on Sunday evening I started thinking about the code I had written and realized there are at least two bugs in it. I will fix those this morning.


 

Since I went to the Kelson Kampout in mid-June, I have been looking for a pie iron. I needed something to warm up English muffins when I was camping and a lady at the Kampout suggested a pie iron. It is an old-fashoined solution but will work perfectly. I would also be able to do toasted cheese sandwiches in it, as well as other foods.

A pie iron is a square or circular device made out of aluminum or cast iron. It is hinged like my old waffle iron, but it has two long handles, as it was meant to be held over a campfire. The aluminum version is the one most stores stock, but I wanted one of cast iron, as it holds and distributes the heat much better than the aluminum.

I looked all over for a pie iron. I found them in Cabela's, Walmart, Target and the Discount Sports Warehouse. In all those cases, they sold the cheap aluminum version. I finally went to Black Sheep sporting goods and found a cast iron version there.

When I got it home, the first thing I did was grind off all the casting bits left over from a bad mold. Once the iron was all cleaned up, I intended to shorten the handle, but they are held in place with a screw and I don't have a 3/64" hex wrench. So I guess I will put up with the long handles. Next thing I need to do is clean all the wax off of it and season it, just like a Dutch oven.


 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

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

 

Local and Other News

Friday, 16 July 2010

I had another late night at work yesterday. I missed a potluck dinner to do it, too. I hope to make our Monday deadline for having my code working. The final problem I am working on is one where the GUI is requesting data for something called 'User Name'. This makes sense when requesting it from the raw data source, but when doing that with the database - there is no such field. So we have mapped that request to two different fields. To top things off, those two fields are overloaded, which means they are in different places in the database, depending on other considerations. So the bottom line is that instead of creating a single SQL statement to get this information, I need to create at least 10 SQL statements. Are we having fun yet?


 

Silly sign of the day:


One really good reason why I don't use Adobe anymore


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

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

 

Local and Other News

Thursday, 15 July 2010

I am spending very little time at home this week, as we are coming up on a code freeze on Monday at work and I need to finish my part of the code. I was supposed to go to a potluck tonight, but I will be working so I can't attend.

I hope to get back on home projects and chores on Saturday, but that may not be possible, as I may not be done with my code. I had to go back to the bubble chart portion and redo it for the third time. It worked the first two times, but was not presenting the proper data in the proper order. So I have to work a bug out of the third incarnation. Then I have to implement the rest of the code to access information from a new table, and help implement the code to put data in that table. It will be a busy few days.


 

I got a request from the guy who runs the teardrop gathering on the 4th of July for the pictures I took, so I burned a couple of CDs and sent one to him and one to the couple who do the Memorial Day teardrop gathering.


 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

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

 

Local and Other News

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

There was only one small bug in the code I did at work to support bubble charts. I fixed that and have moved on to my next assignment, which must be done by Monday as we are freezing the software to do QA testing on Monday.


 

I made my own hot sauce last night, to put on some pork. It is really, really good and I also put it on my breakfast muffin this morning. It consisted of two hot green chiles, two mild yellow chiles, some garlic and some vinegar. It may spoil me, because it is better than the Tapatio I usually use.


 

When I was at the 4th of July Teardrop Fun in Carnation, WA, I drove a 1936 Packard in a caravan over to Snoqualmie Falls. One of my passengers took these pictures:



 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

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

 

Local and Other News

Monday, 12 July 2010

I did finish the code I was working on at work. It was easier than I thought, but was still complicated. I commented the code as much a s possible, because many other people will be maintaining it, too.

Next up for me is to add a new table to the database, populate it in real time with data, and use that data in our new product to produce graphs of the results.


 

I am going to a potluck picnic on Thursday night. I will have to come up with some dish for it. Maybe I will do the jello salad I usually do at Thanksgiving. That's pretty easy and can be done well ahead of time.


 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

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

 

Local and Other News

Friday, 9 July 2010

At work, I have my new code working, so I now see data in bubble charts. Before I committed the code to version control, though, I thought I would run the results past the lady who maintains the charting components, since the chart results didn't look much like the results from the other data source.

I'm glad I did that, as she told me that the data I was getting had the wrong limits on it and needed to be sorted and limited after I received the result set from the database. This is way complex, as two sort specifications in the SQL statement just won't work. So I have to get the sorted data back from the database, put it in some container, sort it again, then use those results to populate what I send the charts, while placing the second limits on that data. Whew. I hope I can do all that today, so I won't have to work the weekend. It all has to be finished by Monday, as I have another assignment I must start working on then.


 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

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

 

Local and Other News

Thursday, 8 July 2010

I spent all day yesterday at work trying to fix one problem. When requested by the GUI interface, the code portion I have written takes information about the requested data, creates SQL statements from the information, sends the statements to the database and gets back a result set of data. It then reformats the result set and passes it along to the GUI interface to be displayed as a series of charts.

The problem was that the code was doing all that, but no data was being displayed in the charts. I looked at the result set coming back from the database and there was data in it, but when I went to get it and reformat it, I could not.

The actual problem is that for this particular set of data, I have to go through the result set twice. The first time is to figure out how many containers I need to store the reformatted data in, and the second time is to actually get the data and reformat it. That second step was not happening. When I tried to go back to the start of the result set so I could read the data, Java would not let me. It turns out that the result set was set up as a read forward only set, so I could only go through it one time.

My solution to this will be to figure out how many containers I need on the fly, as I go through the data one time, creating the containers as I go. It won't be easy, but that should allow me to see the nifty bubble chart information I am looking for.


 

Saturday afternoon is the North Idaho Linux Users Group meeting. I look forward to not going anywhere and just talking to other enthusiasts about my favorite operating system.


 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

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

 

Local and Other News

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

I recently got a book through BookMooch called Developing Linux Applications. It's a few years old, but it has some useful information in it. It also has several fully written applications in its pages.

I entered the code for a calculator from it, and the calculator screen looks fine. It's the internal code that isn't working correctly. I will have to run up a debugger to see exactly what is going on. The code is written in C, so it isn't like debugging a Pascal program.

Gdb is probably the debugger I will use, but I know nothing about it. I will have to read up about the debugger before I can even use it. There is nothing in the book about debugging, which is a sad commentary on the book. Of course, there is also nothing in the book about program deployment, either, but I expected that.


 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

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

 

Local and Other News

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

I spent the weekend at the 4th of July Teardrop Fun event at Carnation, WA. As you can see by the picture, it did not only involve teardrop trailers. I ended up driving both a 1936 Morris (see first picture) and a 1936 Packard. I was just not comfortable driving the Morris - it has extremely quick steering and bias-ply tires, which can make for a deadly combination. It was a four set car, but the seats were constructed for midgets. So I ended up driving the Packard.

The weekend was a lot of fun but very tiring. Needless to say, I didn't finished anything I thought I would. There were lots of mosquitoes, so I was stung a lot, too. I still had a good time.

After having contact with so much good old iron, I would like my Plymouth restoration to be finished so I could run around in it. It isn't sporty like some of the cars that Ken has, but it is old and in great shape, so it should be fun to drive around.


 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software