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BLOGical Thoughts Archive

June 2003

Monday, June 30, 2003

I found someplace with a lot of trees right next to a creek, and spent the weekend there. I was at Big Creek, which is about 5 miles east of Avery, Idaho, just off the St Joe river. It wasn't nearly as hot there as it got in Coeur d'Alene. And I missed both the Ironman and Hoopfest, which is a good thing.

I took a few pictures while I was there, and I will post them if I get a chance.


I got an inquiry about a program I wrote called HMSCalc, which allows you to add and subtract hours, minutes and seconds. This is a nice little program which I have neglected. I think I will add multiply and divide to it, and post the Linux version.

The guy that inquired about the program was looking for a Mac Classic and Mac OS X version. I can't do that, as I don't have a Mac. Maybe I should just release the source code...

This is not the first inquiry about HMSCalc. Someone else wanted a PocketPC version of the program. And I already did a couple of custom versions of it for a company that sells time clocks. So it has been a pretty popular free program.


"You know you live in the Northwest if you... Remember the date, severity, time of day, where you were, and how long you were out of power and phone service for every winter-weather event in the last five years."

Friday, June 27, 2003

Monday is the last day that the company I love to hate, Microsoft, will support Windows NT 4. That means that at work I will be using an obsolete operating system, until they get us over onto Windows 2000 (which requires a faster machine and more memory). Well, I can always turn the old machine into a mean, lean Linux server...


It's supposed to get into the 90's this weekend. I'm going to find someplace with a lot of trees and near a river, and veg out. Of course, that doesn't get the weeds whacked, or the lawn mowed, or any of the numerous other non-computer chores done.


"We must remember the First Amendment which protects any shrill jackass no matter how self-seeking."

F. G. Withington

Thursday, June 26, 2003

The RIAA has completely lost what little mind it had. They now propose to sue their own customers for downloading copyrighted songs from the Internet. As someone recently said, "When your product is stolen by thieves, you have a police problem. When it is stolen by millions of honest customers, you have a marketing problem."

The RIAA still insists that the distribution model currently used by the recording industry is sacred and cannot be changed or replaced by a better model. They are behaving as if they never read any history. They may want to read about buggy whip makers before they condemn themselves to a similar fate. The Internet is here, RIAA, and it isn't going away. You better learn to adapt to it as you can't sue it out of existence.


I am trying to get my Sharp Zaurus to play nice with SuSE Linux, but Linux insists that the device is a modem (serial) device. I will have to do some investigating to get it to work. It would be nice to be able to upload books to the device directly from Natasha. Currently, I am going through an incredible work-around to get books on the PDA's compact flash card.


"Duct tape is like the force. It has a light side, a dark side, and it holds the universe together...."

-- Carl Zwanzig

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

I've been looking for a diamond-plate aluminum storage box to mount on the tongue of my teardrop trailer. I went to a truck store last night and struck out yet again. I guess if I want a storage box that will hold a 25 quart Coleman cooler, I will have to build it myself.

The problem with building it myself is that I need tools I don't have. A box brake and riveting tool are just 2 of the things I don't have that I would need to work on the project. Too bad there is no community machine shop around where you could rent tools to build your project.


The Linux World publication has changed publishers' hands. The new publisher believes that they shouldn't have to pay reporters for stories, so two of the premier Linux reporters, Joe Barr and Nicholas Petreley, no longer work for Linux World.

Nicholas Petreley has had his own web magazine running for some time now, and his articles are picked up in other publications. He will still be visible, but not quite so visible as when he worked for Linux World.

Joe Barr is starting up a newsletter. I am thinking of subscribing, since his writing is good and he always talks about stuff I care about. And subscription will cost one dollar per issue, which you can't beat anywhere.


"We do not live by rule of law, because no one can possibly go a day without breaking one or another of the goofy laws that have been imposed on us over the years. No one even KNOWS all the laws that apply to almost anything we do now. We live in a time of selective enforcement of law." --Dr. J. E. Pournelle

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

I broke in my new dutch oven on Sunday. I made some lamb curry from scratch in it. Came out pretty good, but a little bland, as I didn't put enough chili powder in it. Maybe I should stick to those curry bricks they sell in the supermarkets.<G>

Next up I will be producing my own ghee for use with the parathas I will be making. If you have never had parathas, I recommend them. They are really simple to make - wheat flour, water and a little salt. Pan fry to a golden brown and cover with ghee. Use them as a scoop to sop up all that good curry gravy.


Well, SCO has told their Linux customers that they are exempt from any SCO-initiated lawsuit. A Slashdot reader points out "If they approve the use of 'their' IP in Linux in a single kernel, then the GPL holds that IP SCO allows to be used by a select few must be freely released to any and all. It appears that all Linux users everywhere were just given a license to continued use of Linux even if SCO would win their suit with IBM."


A second Microsoft employee has been accused of stealing software from his employer. This time, Microsoft says he stole $17 million worth of their software by ordering 5,436 copies of Windows XP, MS Office, SQL Server and Exchange from the company store. He then resold them to non-employees.

Let's see... 17,000,000 divided by 5436 comes out to $3,127.30 per copy. It seems that Microsoft's math skills are as good as their software. <BG>


"Mosher's Law of Software Engineering: Don't worry if it doesn't work right. If everything did, you'd be out of a job."

Monday, June 23, 2003

I got the Linux Links web page at the North Idaho Linux User Group web site working. Linux servers just don't like Perl programs with carriage returns at the end of each line. Normally, the carriage returns are removed by the ftp client when it sends the file to the server in ASCII format. In the case of NILUG, though, the ftp client is a secure client and all files are sent in binary format. So the carriage returns are never removed.

To remove the carriage returns, I could have sent the file to BLOGical Thoughts in ASCII, then gotten it back in binary. What I did instead was find a (Windows!) text editor that could save the file in Unix mode instead of DOS mode.

I have also added a search capability to the Linux Links web page at NILUG. This is the same search capability I added here.


Since the weather was not cooperating, I whacked some weeds over the weekend instead of doing a little camping on the St. Joe River.

There are a couple of things I want to do to the teardrop trailer, so it was no big deal not to use it. Mainly the TD needs more kitchen storage. I will be building a diamond plate storage box for it that will fit on the trailer tongue, which will be used to store the cooler. The cooler storage in the galley will be converted to drawers and pots/pans storage.


Software Engineering Term: 'Documentary hypothesis' - The discredited notion that software is the outcome of a systematic and rational process of development, rather than the result of divine inspiration.

Friday, June 20, 2003

GIF Liberation Day!

U.S. Patent No. 4,558,302 expires today. This patent describes the LZW compression algorithm that is used in .gif files. Corporations no longer have to pay fees to Unisys to use this compression technology in their products.


I have added a search capability to the Linux links and Teardrop links pages. Try looking for Linux with the Linux search and Teardrop with the teardrop search. It works pretty well.


It doesn't look good for the weekend. The weather folks are predicting rain on Saturday. Well, I can always stay at home and whack weeds.


"Mankind's yearning to engage in sports is older than recorded history, dating back to the time millions of years ago, when the first primitive man picked up a crude club and a round rock, tossed the rock into the air, and whomped the club into the sloping forehead of the first primitive umpire. What inner force drove this first athlete? Your guess is as good as mine. Better, probably, because you haven't had four beers."

- Dave Barry, "Sports is a Drag"

Thursday, June 19, 2003

I got the notebook computer that contains a bunch of my photos working on the LAN. As a result, I finally have all my photos in one place on one machine. I cut a CDROM of them - only 250 megs of pictures.

Now if I can get Samba working on Illya, I can copy the photos over to the server, where they belong.


I was planning on doing some camping this weekend, but I'm not sure the weather will cooperate. It's been very nice recently, but the weather people predict lower temperatures and rain for the weekend. We'll see if they know what they're talking about.

I need to get out so I can practice with my dutch oven. I suppose I could do that at home, but it isn't nearly as much fun there.

I also want to take another boatload of pictures, more of scenery than specific items. My beta tester is looking for pictures she can use as the basis for some of the stuff she is doing with Bryce, Painter, etc. and that will dictate what I shoot over the weekend.


"As usual, I'm overstating the case to knock a few neurons loose, but the truth is usually somewhere in the muddle, uh, middle."

Larry Wall

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

I paid for the parts to fix my car's transmission. The differential is where the problem occurred with my car. A shaft in the differential broke, allowing the spline gears to not engage. This action also screwed up a bearing housing, part of the differential housing and caused the oil in the transmission and differential to become saturated with soft, ground-up aluminum. This aluminum appears to have had no effect on the transmission. Phil will be cleaning up everything to remove all those particles, though.

When all is said and done, I will still have a driveable car. But I am also looking around for another car to use for my daily 50 mile round trip commute to work. If it can haul a teardrop trailer, too, so much the better.


"If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man."

- Mark Twain


"God made the Idiot for practice, and then He made the School Board."

- Mark Twain

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

I have a long list of things that need to be done and I haven't even started on most of them. I will be adding Samba and Apache to Illya, my server. I will be converting more Shadow Magazine stories to HTML. I will create a generic hosts file for all the machines on my LAN. I need to whack more weeds. And it goes on and on.

I did get a few of the easy things done. Like the Cd'L pixs, laundry, groceries and seasoning the dutch oven.


"America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between."

   - Oscar Wilde


"Programming today is a race between software engineers striving to build bigger and better idiot-proof programs, and the Universe trying to produce bigger and better idiots. So far, the Universe is winning."

   - Rich Cook

Monday, June 16, 2003

I went to the Car d'Lane Classic Car Show on Saturday and have posted pictures of the show. It was a very nice day and there was a big crowd, as you can see by the number of people interfering with the car pictures. The show was supposed to be limited to all cars older than 25 years, but there were some custom-created cars and even one that is not yet in production.


Season premiere of Star Gate: SG-1 on Friday on the Sci-Fi Channel. They brought back Michael Shanks as Daniel Jackson this season, which means he's getting paid better than he was. There are even veiled references to that in the premiere, when Daniel asks, 'Do we get paid for this?' He is talking about the SG-1 team efforts, but it's crystal-clear what he is really talking about.

Crin Nemec as Jonas Quinn was a good character, but didn't have the charisma that Daniel Jackson did. They sent him back to his home planet.

Friday, June 13, 2003

Today is the day that SCO makes good their threats against IBM and the Linux community. Put up or shut up, SCO.


If it's nice tomorrow, I will be going down to Coeur d'Alene to the Car d'Lane Classic Car Show. it isn't as big as the Sandpoint show, but it should be fun. I'll post pictures when I get a chance.

If it isn't nice, I also have plenty of projects to keep me busy over the weekend.

Thursday, June 12, 2003

I'm feeling much better. Time to get doing again. I will be looking into getting Samba running on Illya, my Linux server, so I can serve files up to Windows machines.


It seems my employer is suffering from a Denial of Service (DOS) attack. Do people think that's funny, or fun? What is the motivation? Is it the 'power' they gain over others or is it just just plain sadistic pleasure? I don't think they even know themselves. There's nothing worse than a hacker with no moral values.


I just ran across a very handy resource, called 'The table of equivalents / replacements/ analogs of Windows software in Linux'. It lists as many important categories of software as it can for Windows, then supplies equivalent software links in Linux. This is not only handy for finding Linux programs, but if you need to find a Windows program to do a job it can help with that.

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

I'm still sick and don't have enough energy to do anything. So I haven't.

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

I'm feeling a bit better today. Nyquil sure helps when you need a good night's sleep. Now if I can get rid of the cough and runny nose...


I now have Illya, my SuSE Linux server, working as a Linux file server. It was dead simple to do, even using fixed IP addresses like I do.

I can now start using the server to put my data on instead of Natasha's home directory. Thus, I should be able to avoid embarassing episodes such as the one that occurred over the weekend, when I accidently erased my home directory. I lost all my email, but I had backups for practically everything else.

Monday, June 9, 2003

Sick today. Not doing much.

Friday, June 6, 2003

I heard a pretty good segment on the RIAA's actions this morning on NPR's Morning Edition. They titled it ' Illegal Online Music Swapping Hits All-Time High'. I would have titled it 'RIAA Uses Illegal Actions Against Customers to Enforce Outdated Business Model'. But I don't like the RIAA, do I? ;-)


I found that moving my server from a lame 17" monitor to a 17" LCD monitor resulted in some problems. SuSE Linux was selecting video modes not supported by the LCD. So I reloaded the SuSE Linux OS. Hopefully, I will now be able to configure Illya as a file server, a print server (I hooked my HP 6L printer up to it), a web server, a database server and an ftp server.


My Borland stock sold yesterday, when it reached the sell value I put on it. I've had that stock ever since Borland first announced it was going to produce a Linux version of Delphi (Kylix). I should have sold it when it hit $16, but it sold for $11 yesterday. I increased my original investment by 83%, which is not too bad.

That money now gets invested by someone who knows what he is doing, instead of yours truly, who kind of stumbles through financial matters.

Thursday, June 5, 2003

I finished watching the Dark Angel DVDs. That first year was great, but it got progressively weirder as James Cameron lost interest in the project. I don't think I would spring for season two.


I am helping Phil Wilson at WilTrek to get his email to work reliably, while he is trying to find a new transmission for my Stealth and is working on Eddie Bauer teardrop trailers. His computer is in remarkably good shape for a business. I usually find that people who know little about computers also know little about maintaining them. I suspect that Phil's son may have had a hand in keeping this one in good shape.


Haven't done any server configuration. Maybe today after I get the weed eater working again.

Wednesday, June 4, 2003

Haven't got that much done since I purchased the DVDs of the first year of Dark Angel. I spent last night watching DVD #5, which contained an episode that Fox never aired. I guess I can't blame their 'politically correct' little souls - the episode was about Original Cindy's lesbian lover. The ending was politcally correct, but that didn't make up for that kiss...!!! ;-)


I have moved my new server onto the LAN and pinged it from another machine - it showed up! That is 100% better than the old motherboard ever gave me. Next stop is configuring the various server daemons.

I need to get this server set up so I can move stuff like my digital pictures to it. That way, all the machines can access them instead of me doing some kind of sneakernet thing all the time.


The transmission in my Stealth is hosed. One of the bearings to the transaxle bound up and ate itself to death. the bearing housing is shot and there are cracks in the transmission casing. Phil is looking around for a transmission for me, but it will take a while - he has to complete three teardrop trailers for Eddie Bauers' by tomorrow. Then he has five more to do in the next two weeks.

He told me a funny story about Eddie Bauer. They called in a panic because the prototype trailer Phil did for them was one inch wider than the door of their store. They wanted to know if it was alright to lay the teardrop on its side to get it through the door! Phil suggested taking the cabin off the frame (held on by 6 bolts) and tilt the frame. Then he told them not to bolt it down again, as they would just have to undo that to get it back out of the store. True story - marketing people don't have much sense.

Tuesday, June 3, 2003

It started out as a very nice day. I got in my car to drive to work and stopped in Post Falls to pick up a breakfast Bruccis (18 miles from my house). Pulled out and headed toward work (another 7 miles), heard a couple of thumps and stopped at a stop light. When the light turned green, I let the clutch out and the car went NOWHERE. No gears would work at all. I had it towed into Coeur d'Alene to Wiltrek Automotive and bummed a ride back to my house to get my truck. So it took me 3 hours to get to work this morning. And it will cost a lot more to get the car fixed. I'm glad I didn't spend all that income tax refund on a portable CD player or notebook computer.


I finally got around to working on my server. I have installed a new motherboard and removed the extra boards that were necessary with the old MB, like a LAN board and an IDE board. Loaded up the machine with SuSE Linx 8.2. I will configure it later today.

Illya, the server, will be a file and print server. It will run NFS (Linux Network File System), Samba (SMB server for Windows clients), Apache (web server) and FTP (file transfer server) daemons for a start. I will figure out the rest as I go.

Name CPU Speed Memory Hard disk O/S Usage
Illya Athlon XP 1800+ 1.53ghz 512 mb 40 gb SuSE 8.2 LAN server

Know anyone who needs a 10/100 PCI LAN adapter? Or extra IDE ports on a PCI IDE card? ;-)

Monday, June 2, 2003

I attempted to purchase the 7" portable DVD player from walmart.com. Filled out their form and got to the purchase page. They were going to charge me shipping and sales tax for the item. The sales tax was something like 6 percent, when Idaho tax is 5 percent. And no sales tax is collected on the Internet, anyway. So no sale to me. And I called them up about the sales tax.

They actually have a case for the sales tax, as they have an established business presence in Idaho. But with the wrong amount of sales tax and the shipping charges, I would be paying more for the unit than if I went over to Spokane and got it from a Walmart store there.

Update: According to my beta tester (Betty Zirkle), those idiots in Boise raised the Idaho sales tax to 6 percent on May 1st. They never asked me or told me and they certainly don't represent me, since I didn't vote for any of them. This is what they call taxation without representation, right?


I saw another Hunter Shadow teardrop trailer down in Coeur d'Alene on Saturday. I followed it into the Perkins parking lot and talked with the owners. It was a 5' x 10' teardrop. They had just gotten it and were embarking on their second outing with it. They love it. It's great to see there are more teardrops wandering around than just the ones I know about from the Internet.