BLOGical Thoughts Archive

March 2004

Wednesday, 31 March 2004

I'm working on the database design for my teardrop trailer registry database. I have the basic tables fleshed out, but need to add a few more fields and ensure some fields always contain data.

I also need to turn out about 46 web pages in the next couple days. Piece of cake, right?

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Tuesday, 30 March 2004

I have nothing to say today. Besides, I probably no longer have a right to say it. All I know is you can't exercise your free speech rights in an airport or any public venue with a government employee present without being threatened with imprisonment. So I guess we don't have free speech rights any longer.

Here is a link to a flash movie that says it all.

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Monday, 29 March 2004

I enjoyed the Spokane Auto Boat and Speed show. It was held at the Spokane County Fairgrounds, inside the main buildings. There were mostly autos and motorcycles being displayed. Some of the autos were extremely modified, Fords from the 20's and 30's being the most popular. Other autos were simply restored. At least one Pierce-Arrow was not restored, but simply kept in excellent shape for 70+ years.

A show like this makes me want to restore a vehicle, like maybe a 1950's Chevy pickup.

I have set one of my machines up for LAMP - Linux, Apache, mySQL and Perl/PHP programming. The one problem I am having is to get PHP to run with the Apache web server. I'll have to ask someone in NILUG for some tips.

I am setting up so I can do some Perl database programming for use with the Web. I want to do a worldwide Teardrop Trailer Registry to help people find teardrop owners in their local area. I want to do this app in Perl, using mySQL as the database.

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Hypocritical Quote of the Year

In response to the World Trade Organization's ruling that the U.S. policy prohibiting online gambling violates its obligations under international trade law, several U.S. politicians responded, including this clueless soul:

"It's appalling," said Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va. "It cannot be allowed to stand that another nation can impose its values on the U.S. and make it a trade issue."

Talk about the pot calling the kettle black!

Friday, 26 March 2004

Well, my overtime ordeal is over. I will now have my weekends off again. To celebrate, I'm going to the Spokane Auto, Boat and Speed Show at the Spokane County Fairgrounds. I'll be on the lookout for a good tow vehicle for my teardrop trailer.

I still have a bunch of web pages to do for the local motorcycle dealer. I will try to get them done this weekend. it would be so much easier to do if those guys' ISP supported a few simple things like mySQL and PHP. But I ask for too much.

George W. Bush's Resumé: not written by a Republican, that's for sure. Thanks, SCuM.

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George Bush Resumé











Thursday, 25 March 2004

For my Windows machines, I gave up on Norton Anti-Virus long ago, when they decided I could no longer update my virus definitions without paying a yearly fee. I have switched those machines to AVG Anti Virus by Grisoft. They offer a free version with free upgrades.

For the most part, I don't worry about an infection on those machines, since I spend 99% of my home online time on the Net with Linux.

I've been trying to split a single chapter TV show I recorded into multiple chapters, without the commercials. I have succeeded with that, but have so far been unable to get my DVD creation program to record all the chapters. It thinks I only have one chapter.

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Wednesday, 24 March 2004

Spare me from idiot customers! He should have a line in his config file - USER=ID10T.

I recorded a travel show last night that had a teardrop trailer segment, using the wireless link between my satellite receiver and my computer. I have removed the commercial breaks and will be burning a DVD from it tonight. We'll see how that goes.

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Tuesday, 23 March 2004

I just love this. It's a dual boot Windows/XP and Red Hat Linux computer, built into the glitzy retail Microsoft Windows XP box. Great way to recycle junk!

Red Hat Linux computer in a Windows XP box

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Monday, 22 March 2004

I got quite a bit done over the week end, despite the fact I had to work on Saturday.

I installed Mandrake 10 on my old Windows machine (Igor) and decided I still don't like Mandrake. I then installed Fedora Core 1 over Mandrake. Everything seems to be working fine, and I can still access all my home directory files from the original Mandrake install. I will be moving some of them over from Igor to my newer Linux box (Natasha) so I can update them and get them out to people.

Last year, I converted some Sherlock Holmes episodes from vinyl to CD. The resulting conversion had hisses, clicks and pops galore on it from the condition of the old vinyl records. I used an extinct Windows program called CoolEdit to remove the noise. They sound a lot better now, but I still haven't done noise reduction on them.

Actually, CoolEdit is not really extinct. Adobe bought it and raised the price from $69 to $299, with upgrades costing $99. That makes it extinct in my book.

I got the snow plow off the truck, swept out the garage and got some plastic storage containers to hold stuff I will be storing in the garage. Also did a massive dump run. Seems like spring really has sprung here.

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Teardrop Spare Parts Kit Recommendations

Teardrop Spare Parts Kit Recommendations

Karl Stevens: I would say anything to do with your water supply. Hoses, clamps, valves, etc. Light bulbs, fuses, elect. tape, connectors, etc. Jumper cables! Nuts, bolts, washers. Duct tape, the handyman's secret weapon. And absolutely, positively, without fail, a spare tire and whatever you need to change it. And how about this: a notebook to write down the items you forgot.

Mike Olsen: I would add to the list a set of bearings, cotter pin, axle seal and grease. You never know when a bearing might decide to give up and start heating up. Having these parts could keep you from being stranded in the out back, on the free-way or in some far off distant town with only 1/2 of a gas station. Also you would need some way to lift the offending axle, a lug wrench, a hammer and punch if you need to install new races for the bearings, and probably pliers to manhandle the cotter pin. You might also add a test light and multi-meter to test and troubleshoot and electrical problems.

Gage Enoch: Seems like everyone is missing the point. I run through a maintance check list before I go anywhere. Then for the teardrop or my vintage travel trailer, all I take is a spare tire, fuses and a battery charger. You can't predict blown fuses or flat tires. Now my truck is another story. I carry everything but the kitchen sink for it and right now it's not even running.

Joseph Ruckman: I'm with Gage on this one, with the exception that regardless of vehicle I always carry a tire repair kit and a 12 volt air pump. Most flats are the result of punctures which can be fixed once you're away from traffic. The Ranger has a full-sized spare and I plan to get one for the ZX2, but I do NOT like driving on a donut (or a spare, for that matter) any further than I have to.

Pamela Hernandez: I'm with you Gage. I think that maintaining and preping the trailer is more important than having a ton of stuff on hand for any problem that may come up. We carry a small selection of tools, duct tape, WD-40, baling wire, a small hydraulic jack and stands - that's it. The hydraulic jack helped when one of the levelers got stuck in the down position and duct tape has solved a few other problems, including a leaking hatch hinge and a broken roof vent. We've got 8 years and 20,000 miles on the trailer.

Don Million: I think this is the real key. If your teardrop is full of complicated systems then you're going to have to expect, and be prepared for, more problems. If it's a very basic tear then you're not likely to have problems that can't be fixed with duct tape and baling wire.

Friday, 19 March 2004

I am attempting to load SuSE Linux 9.0 on my one remaining Windows machine. I am loading it on a separate disk drive that contained Mandrake 7.x. I got up to the point where the install updates the boot loader, and the machine choked. I tried installing Grub and Lilo both - no joy. I will reinitialize the boot sector tonight and try again.

I've always had troubles with this machine. It has little quirks you have to work around, which is a PITA. Like the fact I have it set to boot from CDROM, but it refuses to do that. It's an older P-III 500mHz machine with a weird motherboard. Maybe it's time to upgrade the CPU and motherboard to something better and faster - like an Athlon 3400+.

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Thursday, 18 March 2004

I used to visit a web site called 'Web Pages That Suck', so I could get a good idea of what constitutes good web page design. I try to ensure that any pages I design conforms to the principles espoused on that web site.

Last night, I visited a web site that violates every single design rule espoused by Vincent Flanders on 'Web Pages That Suck'. The site in question is a motorcycle manufacturer's web site, the italian MV Agusta web site. The site is all glitz and glamour, and is completely unusable. It really is unusable if you don't have Macromedia Flash 6.0. What a surprise.

What kind of design rules am I talking about? How about

  1. Never use a splash page unless absolutely necessary, and never build it with a dynamic tool.
  2. Never create navigation controls that are not clearly marked as to function, or that the user has to experiment with in order to use. This is called 'Mystery Meat Navigation', and it's a very bad thing to do.
  3. Web pages are meant to be read. Putting dark text on a dark background or light text on a light background is the antithesis of readability.
  4. Never resize the user's browser to conform to the size of your web page. It is rude and so annoying that I never revisit web sites that do that. This is the same attitude that Microsoft has: "Do it our way or don't do it."
  5. Provide clear concise page navigation in the same way and in the same area of each page of your web site.
  6. Never provide sounds or music unless you ask the user if they want them.
  7. Try to make each page as small (in terms of download size) as possible. There are still a lot of dial-up connections out there.

Anyway, you get the idea. Vincent wrote a couple of books on this. I haven't read them, but he voices the ideas from his books on his web site.

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Wednesday, 17 March 2004

I was watching NCIS on TV last night and was surprised when one of the characters said "Let's Google it.". They proceeded to a computer, went to Google and entered their query. Since it was a television show, the link they needed came right up on the first Google results page. Ain't technology wonderful?

Somehow, it seems like this gives Google legitimacy in the real world. Don't ask me how, though.

Responses to Allegations from Your Political Opponent

If you are a politician, you will be subject to allegations of wrongdoing by your opponent. There are five ways to respond to such allegations:

  1. Deny the allegation completely. "I did not have sex with that intern" or "I was not AWOL during my National Guard service" are examples of this. Of course, if you deny an allegation, you should make sure there were no witnesses to the incident in question.
  2. Admit to the allegation, but explain that it isn't like it appears. "I only lusted after women in my heart" or "I did not invent the Internet - they completely twisted my comments" seem to cool down rhetoric regarding the allegation.
  3. Attack your accuser with your own allegations. This immediately announces to the whole world that you can't deny the allegation and you can't explain it away. Sometimes this option even works.
  4. Say nothing about the allegation and it will go away. Of course, with these kinds of things, you are assumed to be guilty until you prove yourself innocent, so your opponent will take maximum advantage of the silence. This option should only be used if your opponent is terminally incompetent.
  5. Drop out of the contest. This option is only used by candidates who are unfit for office, or who cannot stay out of trouble. Of course, you'll never get another chance to run for office, but at least you got out from under the allegation, right? Ask Gary Hart about this one.

If someone asks me if I have seen 'The Passion of The Christ', I say "No, and I haven't seen 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre', either."

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Tuesday, 16 March 2004

Part two of the BOFH excremental experiment. Warning: may be offensive to thin skinned, ultra-righteous, free-speech hating individuals. And The SCO Group.

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Monday, 15 March 2004

I am depressed. I realized this morning that I work 8 hours a day on a computer that uses a buggy, insecure proprietary operating system written by a company that I hate. And I use it to talk to servers that use a proprietary UNIX operating system written by another company that I hate. (The answers are Microsoft and SCO).

And both of those companies are conspiring to do the most harm they can conceive of to the non-proprietary operating that I use at home and that I love.

I will have to do something about this situation.

  • DVD-Shrink
  • DVD-Shrink tutorials and tools
  • AV Toolbox
  • DVDx
  • DVD Decrypter
  • Doom9
  • DVD-R Digest
  • DVD Author
  • DVD Slideshow
  • Video DVDs Under Linux
  • DVD Authoring Thoughts
  • DVD Editing/Authoring/Burning with Linux
  • DVD Authoring with Linux
  • Polidori DVD Authoring for Linux
  • 'Q' DVD Author
  • DVD Style GUI front end

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    Friday, 12 March 2004

    I'm still trying to work out the exact format for this web site, using the e107 CMS. Please let me know what you think of the site as I experiment with the changes.

    I will be busy this weekend with the North Idaho Linux User Group meeting on Saturday and, hopefully my last day of overtime on Sunday. I will also try to take the studded snow tires off of my car and the plow blade off of my truck. We'll see how much I can accomplish.

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    Targeted Humor

    I was going to rant about that idiot we have in the White House and how any Libertarian could do a better job, but every time I think about him I switch to really pissed off mode. So I won't. Talk about him.

    Instead, we'll have some amazingly funny humor. You all know how I feel about SCO. Think about that, and look at this week's Bastard Operator From Hell. I just hope The Register won't be sued for this. WARNING: The BOFH column contains bathroom humor which may be deemed smutty by people who think they know what is best for everyone else, or by Republicans.

    Video/Audio Receiver/Transmitter

    video/audio receiver/transmitter package on the Internet, and got one. You hook the small transmitter up to your satellite receiver (or other source), and hook the receiver up to your TV or tuner card in another room. Viola! Instant connection. Transmission is about 300 feet line of sight, or 90 feet through walls or other barriers.

    The picture and sound seem to be excellent. I watched part of Stargate on the Sci-Fi channel last night and was impressed with the signal. I could even capture it to hard disk.

    Quick Update - rsEdit 2.5.2

    We have released another version of rsEdit today. This version cleans up a couple of annoying bugs that weren't covered in yesterday's release. You can pick up the new version here.

    rsEdit 2.5.1 released

    rsEdit version 2.5.1 has been released. rsEdit is a free replacement for the Notepad text editor that comes bundled with Windows.

    This version makes extensive changes to the Find in Files function, including a Cancel button, better matching and more intuitive storage of find parameters. rsEdit can be downloaded at the Rimrock Software web site.

    Completed LED interior light

    I have finished and mounted the interior LED light for my teardrop trailer. It is an exact replacement for the incandescent light in the trailer, but it puts out a white light instead of yellow. It isn't quite as bright, but that's ok, as I found the original light to be too bright.

    More rsEdit problems

    I finished the work on rsEdit. The final steps to making this version usable and installable by the public involve using the following programs:

    • Aspack - executable compression tool.
    • HTML Workshop - MS help file tool
    • Inno Setup - Creating the installation program from all the pieces

    Needless to say, since my re-installation of Win2K, none of these programs now work. Aspack thinks I need a license key. I already have one, but it doesn't work.

    HTML Workshop is missing libraries, which MS, in their infinite wisdom, put in the operating system directories, even though they are not part of the operating system.

    I haven't tried Inno Setup yet, but I'm sure it will not work.

    I have just about had it with this proprietary crap. I will be setting up my Linux machine so I can do C++ development on it. To hell with Microsoft.

    Shadow Stories for 1942

    I have finished converting and uploading the Shadow Magazine stories for the year 1942. They are available on my eBooks web page.

    More Editor Stuff

    I have done more work on rsEdit, my Windows text editor. I have added a Find in Files Cancel button, and have changed the way matches are displayed in the Find in Files list box. I still have to prevent the find routine from matching more than once on a single line. Stay tuned for the big finish....

    Movie Night

    I saw Lord of The Rings Return of the King last night. It took me this long to find a free night, but the movie was well worth the effort. Spectacular and heart-wrenching.

    I found the books extremely boring, but these series of movies were just great.

    Winter's Last Gasp

    It seems that winter just doesn't want to let go. From no snow or ice in my driveway to 6 inches in one night. I can't plow until I fuel the truck. Bummer.

    Delphi 5 and rsEdit

    I've gotten the Delphi 5 compiler installed to the point where I can now work on rsEdit, my Windows text editor, again.

    I am fixing a bug I introduced that broke the macro hot key, and I am working on the Find in Files function. That function works, but not as smoothly as I wish it to. When I finish the update, I will announce it here.

    NILUG for March

    I have the North Idaho Linux User Group signed up for the meeting room at the Hayden Library for their meeting on Saturday, March 13. We will see if more advertising about the meeting produces more participants. I'll be there, demonstrating the baby mouse I have hooked up to my notebook computer.

    Speaking of NILUG, we have to do something about the web site. I would like to do something similar to this web site, but it requires PHP and MySQL. The web server for NILUG has neither of those. If I could find an equivalent content management system written in Perl and using a Postgress database, we would be good to go.

    New BLOGical Thoughts

    The new BLOGical Thoughts is now online. It is based on a content management system called e107. Not only can you still read my rantings, but you can contribute your own comments on them. You can also submit articles and links for inclusion on the web site. The key here is participation. Of course, you can also just lurk, like the old setup encourages.

    Some of the old web site content will not work well with the new CMS. That content will be left alone or will be converted to the new format by hand. The new CMS uses a database to hold information, and the old content will not be in that database.

    Please let me know if you have any suggestions or comments about the new layout.