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BLOGical Thoughts Archive

June 2004

Wednesday, 30 June, 2004

I finally got the ball mount for my Stealth's trailer hitch. I hooked up the teardrop trailer and ran it down to Hunter Outdoor Products to show it off to one of their prospective customers. The combo looks pretty good, and the Stealth can definitely handle the trailer.


I am starting to look at Xfce. It took quite a while to install it on my notebook, then it wouldn't work becuase the prior version was also loaded. I now have it loaded, and will need to build some menus with it so I can give the whole thing a test drive. I will say that it loads much, much faster than KDE, and that it operates completely differently. It will take some getting used to.


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Tuesday, 29 June, 2004

I am going to try out a new desktop manager for Linux. I have been using KDE for years, but it keeps getting bigger and bigger, and slower and slower. A friend at work has suggested I look at Xfce 4. I will be doing that today.


I've been on a water-drinking jag for two weeks now, ever since I had a kidney stone attack. I've been drinking at least 48 oz. of water every day.

I seem to have lost some weight from this. I tried on a pair of pants this morning that are two sizes smaller than I usually wear they fit fine.

Is there such a thing as a water diet?


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Monday, 28 June, 2004

The RIAA/MPAA/BSA are well on their way to owning the FBI as their own private enforcement agency. This is comparable to having buggywhip manufacturers in the early 20th century mandate buggywhips for cars and having federal troops enforce the mandate. What is wrong with you, America? Why are you so stupid as to elect officials who are willing to legislate away your rights for a few bucks from the entertainment and software industries?

I just don't get it. I liked living in a free society. That's all long gone. Want proof? Go to an airport and tell someone from the TSA that you think their stupid rules suck and are constitutionally illegal. Bring your toothbrush, though. You'll need it in jail.

Read Fred on Everything's column. My sentiments exactly.


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Friday, 25 June, 2004

I am doing some user interface clean up on my hours/minutes/seconds calculator, HMSCalc. I have changed the calculator window style from Java to Windows and I have made the display section a different color than the rest of the window. I have also removed the dotted 'highlight' box drawn around window buttons when you click on them. This makes for a cleaner and less confusing interface.


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Thursday, 24 June, 2004

I got a gmail account yesterday. It has storage for up to 1 gigabyte of email. You never have to archive email again. Very cool.

You can't just sign up for one of these. You need an invitation, as gmail is in beta test right now. I got an invitation from a friend at work.

For those who are interested, the account address is michael dot burton at gmail dot com.


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Wednesday, 23 June, 2004

Well, I spent three hours after work yesterday at Wiltrek Automotive. It took them longer than they thought to build and install a trailer hitch for my Dodge Stealth. It was worth it, though. I will now be able to tow my teardrop trailer with a car that gets much better gas mileage than my truck.


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New Miranda Warning

"You have don't have the right to remain silent or to refuse to answer questions. Do you understand? Anything you do or don't say may be used against you in a court of law. Do you understand? We can make things up if we want to and charge you on that basis. Do you understand? You have no right to consult an attorney before speaking to the police or to have an attorney present during questioning now or in the future. Do you understand? If you cannot afford an attorney, tough luck. Do you understand? You do not have the right to refuse to answer questions at any time. Do you understand? Knowing and understanding your complete lack of rights as I have explained them to you, are you willing to answer my questions or do we have to beat it out of you?"

Tuesday, 22 June, 2004

Tale of the Missing Memory: A little over a month ago, I ordered some more memory for my notebook computer. The memory wasn't special - it was SODIMM PC-133, 512mb. I ordered it from a place called Eagle Computer. I filled out the order form and they sent back a notice that my order had been entered, they had charged my credit card and the memory was backordered.

The credit card charge/backorder immediately ticked me off. If I had known they were going to use my money while I waited for them to fulfill the order, I would never have placed the order in the first place. That seems like a not-quite-illegal way to do business.

Anyway, after two weeks - no memory. I did get an email stating the item was still on backorder, did I want to cancel or keep waiting? I figured it had to come in soon, so I kept waiting.

After four weeks - no memory. Eagle sent me a note stating the item was still backordered, so they were cancelling my order and crediting my credit card. So they got to use my money for a month, and I got nothing.

Two days after the cancellation, I placed the same memory order with Newegg. Three days later, I had my memory. Eagle's web site shows that the 512mb SODIMM memory card is still backordered.

The moral is: pay close attention to terms and availability when you order something on the Net.


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Monday, 21 June, 2004

Well, I didn't feel up to tromping around Car d'Alene on Saturday. Sorry to say, no pictures of the car show. Next year for sure.

The next event on my calendar is another teardrop trailer gathering on the 4th of July in Carnation, WA.


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Friday, 18 June, 2004

Well, I'm feeling better, so I came in to work. As long as there is a source of drinking water and a bathroom around, I'll be a happy camper. It'll be great when I pass this stone.


My HMSCalc program in Java is finished. I need to package the thing up so people can easily install and use it. That may be the hard problem.


Update: Car d'Lane is happening in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho tomorrow. Car d'Lane is a car show that takes up much of the parking on Sherman Ave. I will be there taking pictures, if I have no more kidney stone problems.


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Thursday, 17 June, 2004

Sick day today. I have another kidney stone.

Wednesday, 16 June, 2004

I am now working on the About box for my Hours/Minutes/Seconds Calculator (HMSCalc). I have everything else working. Java is nice, but you have to know what class to look in for specific functionality. That's kind of a pain.


HMSCalc written in Java

The About box will exercise some Java functionality I haven't used before, so things should be kind of interesting.


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Tuesday, 15 June, 2004

I was reminded last night that there is yet another alternative to Microsoft Internet Explorer. Netscape can do all of IE's tasks, just like Mozilla, Mozilla Firefox and Opera. And you can get a popup ad blocker for it now. Thanks for the reminder, Betty.


I have mostly finished the Hours/Minutes/Seconds Calculator (HMSCalc), written in Java. There is a problem using it with the keyboard that must be resolved before I can release it on an unsuspecting world. I also need to add an About box to it.


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Monday, 14 June, 2004

Important: If you are using that proprietary operating system (Windows) from Microsoft, do not use Internet Explorer for web browsing. Four new holes have been discovered in Internet Explorer which could allow it to be used by malicious hackers to run programs on your computer. Use Mozilla, Mozilla FireFox or Opera for your web browsing.

There are just too many problems with IE for you to depend on it for everyday use.

Mozilla Firefox Takes Last Step to Full Release


We had a very good North Idaho User Group (NILUG) meeting on Saturday. With just a bit of advertising, we had lots more people at the meeting. Joe Dubner even turned up (I'll get that pen drive to you soon, Joe).

We will have to do something about formal presentations at the meetings, if the interest keeps up.


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Words of Wisdom

"Allow the President to invade a neighboring nation whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion, and you allow him to do so whenever he may choose to say he deems it necessary for such purpose — and you allow him to make war at pleasure. Study to see if you can fix any limit to his power in this respect, after you have given him so much as you propose. If, to-day, he should choose to say he thinks it necessary to invade Canada, to prevent the British from invading us, how could you stop him? You may say to him, 'I see no probability of the British invading us' but he will say to you 'be silent; I see it, if you don't."

"The provision of the Constitution giving the war-making power to Congress, was dictated, as I understand it, by the following reasons. Kings had always been involving and impoverishing their people in wars, pretending generally, if not always, that the good of the people was the object. This, our Convention understood to be the most oppressive of all Kingly oppressions; and they resolved to so frame the Constitution that no one man should hold the power of bringing this oppression upon us. But your view destroys the whole matter, and places our President where kings have always stood. "

[b]Abraham Lincoln[/b]

Friday, 11 June, 2004

The North Idaho Linux Users Group meeting is tomorrow. We will be burning CDROMs of a bunch of new distributions, including Damn Small Linux, Slax, Knoppix 3.4, Mandrake 10 and Fedora Core 2. Everyone is invited to come to the meeting. See the location information on the NILUG website.


I am still working on the HMSCalc program in Java. I hope to have it finished next week. New features will be multiplication and division of HMS by a scalar.


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Thursday, 10 June, 2004

I have solved my keystroke problem in Java. It is handled the same way that other events are handled, except a different event handler is invoked.

My next step is to convert the Delphi routines that do all of HMSCalc's work to Java. This is a bit challenging, since in Java a String is a class and in Delphi a string is a data type.


I saw Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban last night. This sequel has an entirely different feel from the first two movies. It is darker and more adult than the first. It is also faithful to the book. Each book is also darker than its predecessors. Wait until they get to books 4 and 5!

Another nice thing about this movie is that the kids can now actually act. The actor who plays Draco Malfoy does an excellent job with that part. All the others do very well, too. I really enjoyed the movie.


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Wednesday, 9 June, 2004

I am working on the Java version of HMSCalc, my Hours/Minutes/Seconds calculator. Along the way, I am learning a lot more about Java. Right now I am learning about how to process keyboard events in the langauge. Should be loads of fun...


I am following the current debate in Congress about how the current adminstration has decided it is above international law. Interesting stuff.


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Tuesday, 8 June, 2004

I finished the Java course. Got 94% on the final exam, so I guess I passed. As I said at the outset, it's just another object oriented programming language. Once you know one of them, it's easy to pick up another one.

I am starting on the java version of HMSCalc. I will work on this in my spare time (hah).


This is my new hybrid gas/electric car. Very ordinary looking, isn't it?

This is the instrument console. Many of the instruments are completely digital.

The group in the lower part of the middle display is the trip meter. It keeps track of trip miles (upper right), total miles per gallon for the trip (upper left) and has a realtime display of miles per gallon the engine is currently using (bottom).

The display on the right has the fuel gauge and temperature gauge. It also has battery status. One gauge shows current battery charge and the one on the top shows whether the battery is charging or the electric motor is assisting the engine.

All in all, the gauges help to show how you can get the most for a gallon of gas. They are very helpful.


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Monday, 7 June, 2004

I am finishing up my Java course today. It's been interesting and it has pretty much repeated most of what I learned about object oriented programming when I was using Delphi.

I think I will reprogram my HMS Calculator in Java as a way to exercise my new java skills.


I bought a Honda Civic Hybrid on Saturday. Works very well. I am getting 50.7 mpg at the present moment. It has a computer that constantly calculates your mpg and gives you a real-time display of when the electric motor kicks in. Cool stuff for a gadget geek.


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Friday, 4 June, 2004

It's Friday again, and again I have way too much to do over the weekend. If I can stay away from the TV and the Internet, I may be able to get it all done.


Thanks to Sean Montgomery for a couple of business card CD samples. I put Damn Small Linux on one of them. The business card-sized CDROM fits very well into my shirt pocket. Just the right tool to demo Linux or fix Windows systems that are tits up (most of them?).


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Thursday, 3 June, 2004

I stopped voluntarily flying on commercial airlines in December of 2000. It isn't that I don't like flying, because I do. It's the attitude of both the airlines and the airports that got to me. They treat you like cattle, and you are expected to feel that they are doing you a favor allowing you to fly in their little cattle cars.

It's gotten much worse since 9/11/01. The airlines are no longer the part of the system that doesn't care about its passengers. The airports are. They don't seem to realize that American citizens have certain rights they are not willing to give up. Like the right to protection from unreasonable search and seizure. Like the right to be treated as a citizen of a 'free' country, who will not be arrested for saying sarcastic things about the TSA to their faces.

None of them get it. Treat your customers well, and they will come back for more. Treat them like dog droppings and they will stay away in droves, unless they are forced not to.

I won't be flying any time soon.


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Wednesday, 2 June, 2004

I have finished the text that goes along with the pictures I released yesterday of the 6th Northwest Spring Fling. I probably should have taken a few pictures of the people, but they were all huddled underneath the gazebo for the whole weekend.


I backed Apollo 13 up on DVD last night. I do long movies like Apollo 13 in two steps. First I capture the movie and record it on hard disk with neoDVD. If the result is bigger than can fit on a DVD, I use DVD-Shrink to shrink it to DVD size. In the case of Apollo 13, I had to shrink it 3.4%. The result was recorded on the DVD with neoDVD and there was no appreciable loss of quality.

Next, I will be backing up Contact. That's a long one, too.


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Tuesday, 1 June, 2004

I got back from the 6th Northwest Spring Fling on Monday afternoon. It rained most of the time on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, but we had fun anyway.

I am working on getting the pictures from the Spring Fling onto the web site. Should be finished soon. UPDATE: the Spring Fling pictures are now available.


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