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March 2005

Thursday, 31 March 2005

Today is the last day for the current food service contractor at work. The other company that shares our building (the majority of it, now) will be bringing in their own contractor. So we will probably be going from good, warm food to vending machines or cold crap. Par for the course.


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Wednesday, 30 March 2005

I have almost finished updating my resumé. It has much less detail than its precursor, but it has more detail about the tools I have used in the past. I think the new resumé will have better focus on the things a prospective employer will want to know about me.

On a related matter: at my current employer, the job situation is still uncertain. Our major customer still wishes to cut back the number of dedicated support in our contract. Rumors are this will be about twenty (more) people. We will see what happens. It does pay to be prepared, though.


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Tuesday, 29 March 2005

I will be backing up one movie per night for a while. The older VHS recorder seems to work fairly well with the tapes I was having trouble with. I did Star Wars: The Phantom Menace last night.


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Monday, 28 March 2005

As you can tell from Saturday's posting, I have been using Tellico to create a collection of my DVDs. I added two new media types to my movie collection: DVD and BETA. I did this because I wanted to distinguish between DVDs I bought and DVDs I recorded.

I then used Tellico's internet search capabilities to find information about each of my DVDs. So I now have a movie collection database with 170 commercial DVDs and 140 home-recorded DVDs.

By the way, the latest version of Tellico fixes a really nasty bug. Tellico was guaranteeed to crash if you tried to do an internet search to Amazon. That is now fixed. What a great program.


I hooked my old Zenith VHS recorder up to my computer and am now going through the VHS tapes I could not read with the newer recorder. I have already done three movies, so it appears I may be able to back up the 40 or so movies I was unable to do with the new recorder.


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Saturday, 26 March 2005

Adding New Media to Tellico

Tellico is a terrific program for maintaining information about collections. It supports many kinds of collections, including music, book, stamp, video and coin. You can even create your own custom collection.

Tellico has specific media types for its video collection databases: DVD, VHS, VCD and DivX. The program does not offer the capability to add new categories to the media, so I decided to do that by adding new categories in the program source code. The new categories I wanted to add are DVDR (DVDs on recordable DVD-R and DVD+R disks) and BETA (Betamax video tapes).

After adding these new categories to the program, I discovered that my already existing Tellico movie database would not recognize the new categories, as it had been created with the old categories. So I also had to modify the old database to contain the new categories. These two actions would allow me to use the new categories in my original database and any new video databases I create.

Adding new categories to the Tellico program

Since I have the source code to Tellico, I can make changes to it, recompile it and re-install it. First, change to the Tellico source directory and remove the old compilation:

cd /home/mburton/Downloads/tellico-0.13.4/make clean

Then to be certain nothing has changed, redo the configuration:

./configure

Now for the editing. To find where the video categories are created, change to the src/collections sub-directory and grep for DVD:

cd /src/collections

musiccollection.cpp: media < i18n("Compact Disc") < i18n("DVD") < i18n("Cassette") < i18n("Vinyl");

The one we want to modify is in videocollection.cpp. Open up a text editor and edit that file, adding the following to the media line:

< i18n("DVDR") < i18n("BETA")

So now the line looks like this:

videocollection.cpp: media < i18n("DVD") < i18n("VHS") < i18n("VCD") < i18n("DivX") < i18n("DVDR") < i18n("BETA");

Save the file and exit from the editor. Now you can recompile and relink the code:


cd /home/mburton/Downloads/tellico-0.13.4/make

Then reinstall the newly compiled Tellico program:

su

You can now create new video databases with new media categories.

Adding categories to an existing video database

A Tellico database is basically a compressed XML file. You can make changes to it manually if you are very careful. I added new categories to my exisiting movies.tc database as follows.

  1. Make a backup copy of the file, so you can go back if you screw up too badly.
  2. Rename the file to have an extension of .zip.
  3. Unzip the file. It wil unzip to a file called tellico.xml.
  4. Start up your editor and open the tellico.xml file.
  5. Search for 'DVD' (in upper case). You should find the following:
  6. Add the new categories to the 'allowed' string, separating them by semi-colons:
  7. Note that if the media tags you are entering are longer than the ones that are already in the file, you will have to change the 'format' size from 4 to whatever the length of your new tag is.
  8. Save the file and zip it back up.
  9. Change the name back to the original, and Tellico should be able to use the file.

If the new database runs with Tellico, don't forget to remove the old files tellico.xml and movies.tc.old.

Friday, 25 March 2005

I cleaned up an old notebook computer before I donate it to a school. I removed Red Hat Linux from the machine and removed those partitions. I then added that free space back in to the Windows 98 partition. So the school will have a Pentium 150 with 32MB of RAM and 3GB of hard drive. Not a real powerhouse, but good to do word processing on.


I have installed the examples for the 'Web Database Applications with PHP and MySQL'. I will be working through some of them this weekend.


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Thursday, 24 March 2005

I now have all my favorite Robert Heinlein books in hardback. I finished re-reading Glory Road last night. It was almost as good as I remembered it from the last time I read it.

I've been having a hard time getting up any enthusiasm to read books from newer authors or go to any new movies. The stories just don't appeal to me. Of course, there are newer authors whose works do appeal: David Weber, David Drake and Erik Flint come to mind.


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Wednesday, 23 March 2005

If you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all. Especially about so-called 'government'.


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Tuesday, 22 March 2005

I loaded Mepis Linux on my mom's computer last night, because I was curious about it. It seems to be a great distro, but limited in its initial installation by the single CDROM's size. This means you get only about 1.5GB of software from the initial install. The Mepis folks assume you have a broadband connection and will be downloading the other packages you require. That's fine for my parents, who do indeed have a broadband connection. Not good for me, who suffers from 28k-itis.


I am now listening to Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. It's unabridged, so it's a great way to absorb the book again. I think I like audio books.


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Monday, 21 March 2005

I removed the VCR from my computer and installed it in the living room. I also configure all the video equipment in the living room to go through the audio-video transmitter. So I can now view broadcast, satellite and DVD from the computer room.

I also entered all 170 commercially recorded DVDs in my collection into the tellico program. Of all of those, there were only 4 that could not be found at the Internet Movie Database (IMDB). That's a very good average. Except for 'Future Sport', the DVDs that were not found were basically movie collections.


I keep forgetting to do my taxes, so I will be doing them tonight. I will also be working on my resumé, as it desperately needs updating.

And if I get the time, I will be working on the PHP web application I have started.


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Friday, 18 March 2005

RIP Andre Norton, also known as First Lady of Fantasy. We appreciate your great works in SciFi and Fantasy and will miss you.


This morning I awoke to snow falling. I just hope it doesn't mess up the Home and Garden Show at the fairgrounds tomorrow.


I have one more VHS tape to backup to DVD. I will be doing that tonight. I can then finally hook the VCR up to my TV instead of the computer.

I will then hook up an older VCR to the computer, as I need to try backing up some Extended Play (EP) VHS tapes. At least the majority of tapes have been backed up.

I also need to start populating the tellico database with information about all the new DVDs. And maybe I can even catch the error that keeps crashing tellico.


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Thursday, 17 March 2005

I have installed krecipe on my server. krecipe allows you to keep a library of recipes in a database. I am using MySQL to do that. So far, it looks like a very good program. I will be doing a detailed review of it in the near future.


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Wednesday, 16 March 2005

Update: I have added a recipe for dutch oven meatloaf to the cooking section. Enjoy.


I have been reading the 'Web Database Applications with PHP and MySQL' O'Reilly book. I am learning quite a bit from it about PHP and MySQL's version of SQL. I am reading about SQL now, which is a good refresher for me. I haven't done any SQL in 4 years.

This is a very good book. I recommend it, as it focuses on the OOP aspects of PHP. It also distinguishes between valid statements in PHP4 and valid statements in PHP5.


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Tuesday, 15 March 2005

I am going to add cabinets to the galley of my teardrop trailer. I'm tired of having no room or organization for food and pots and pans. I have a preliminary idea of what I want, but I don't want to build it myself. I don't have the tools to do that.

I would also like better storage inside, but it will have to be one area at a time. No telling whether I will have a job at the end of the month.


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Monday, 14 March 2005

We had a good NILUG meeting on Saturday. No new installs, but lots of answers to questions about Linux. I talked about tellico, and gave a demo. It responded by crashing a couple of times (it is only at version 0.13, after all).

It was great not having to have an electrical connection to Frank's network. I used my notebook and D-Link WiFi card for access. The only fly in the ointment was when I could talk to the LAN, but not to the Web. Turns out the router needed to be reset.


I am still working on a slash pile at home. I have it burned down to about 1/3 of its original size.

I also did five more VHS backups. I have five to go before I try to do something about the tapes that were recorded in Extended Play format. They just don't play on the newer VHS player I have.


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Friday, 11 March 2005

I now have MySQL running correctly on my server, so I have the classic LAMP development environment running (Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP). I have verified that I can talk to MySQL with PHP, so I can now start real work on the web app I want to create.


The NILUG meeting is tomorrow at noon. I am looking forward to it. I can finally connect to Frank's LAN with my notebook using a wreless connection. I will then be able to test tellico with a broadband Internet connection. That should be interesting.


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Thursday, 10 March 2005

I will bring my entire Linux CDROM collection to the North Idaho User Group meeting on Saturday. So if you are interested in Yggdrasil with the 0.92 kernel, or more modern distros such as Libranet, Vector, Gentoo or even BSD, you should plan to attend.

I will also give a demo of tellico. It's a great program that deserves inclusion in some major distros. That won't happen, since it is at rev 0.13 or thereabouts.


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Wednesday, 9 March 2005

I backed up 6GB of data from the Illya server to the Natasha development computer last night. Then I reformatted the Illya hard drive and reloaded SuSE 9.2 Professional. After reloading, I started up the Apache web server, restarted NFS, copied the 6GB of data back and started up MySQL. Everything is working ok now.

While I was reloading the server, I was also backing up A Time To Kill from VHS to DVD. And while that was happening, I loaded tellico on my notebook.


Tellico helps you to keep track of your collections. It stores the information in an XML file instead of using a database. It is very versatile and I will be evaluating it so I can talk about it at the North Idaho Linux User Group meeting on Saturday.

I initially tried to install tellico using a precompiled binary in an RPM package. It wouldn't run after I installed it. So I got the source and installed it from there. It took a lot longer, but now it works with no problems.


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Tuesday, 8 March 2005

I reloaded Linux on my server last night. I wanted to get a few things working, but was unsuccessful. There is a problem in the home directory that I can't seem to get rid of. Basically, I can't delete a directory from the home directory, and I can't add files to it. I guess I will have to back up all the files on the server and completely reformat and reload the software. Weird.

I have been using the server for software development, so it has a bunch of files that I wrote on it. I will back them up to my main machine before wiping out the hard disk.


SuSE Linux 9.3 Professional is scheduled for release tomorrow. It will include a desktop file search tool called Beagle. It will also include support for iPods.


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Monday, 7 March 2005

I got a lot done over the weekend. That big slash pile is considerably smaller and my car has been serviced. I tried to load Solaris 10 on my mom's computer, but the installer would not work right on it.

I also started work on a web-based application I have in mind. I did a php file with the database definitions in it. I also tried to get mysql working on my web server. It is running, but I can't communicate with it. So I can't test the php file to verify it is properly creating the database.


I found a program called Tellico, which creates XML databases of collections. The perfect thing to hold my music and video collections information. Available for Linux only.


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Friday, 4 March 2005

Update: I have added a recipe for outstanding french frys. They are served at a restaurant chain called Islands.


I ran across another VHS tape I can't convert to DVD. A View to A Kill has sync dropouts in it, so it goes in the 'unable to backup' box. That box contains at least 20 tapes, so far.


I am still learning about PHP. I find it has no finalization construct, so the destructors would have to be used instead.

I am doing database design for the first major PHP application I will be writing.


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Thursday, 3 March 2005

I still have a boatload of VHS tapes that need to be backed up onto DVD. I think I've already backed up about 150 tapes at this point, and have about 40 or 50 more to do. At one per night, it takes a while to get through them.


PHP has many more mechanisms in it from Java, C#, C++ and object oriented Pascal. It supports constructors and destructors, variable and method overloading, private and protected variables and functions, and exception processing. I will admit to being impressed when I actually use these concepts in a program and verify that they all work properly.

My web site host does not support many of these mechanisms directly, as they support PHP4 instead of PHP 5. They have indicated I can install PHP 5 in my cgi directory and use it from there, but I'm not sure how to hook it up.


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Wednesday, 2 March 2005

Note the article about Wikipedia in the Open Source News below. Then go there and search for 'teardrop trailer'. I wrote that article, which proves that anyone can contribute to the world's largest encyclopedia.


I have started a WikiWikiWeb at work, about the software that we maintain. It's brand new, so not many contributions have been made to it at this point. I'll let you know how things go. My personal opinion is that wikis are a perfect way for many people to share their expertise on a given subject.


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Tuesday, 1 March 2005

I backed up Zombies of the Stratosphere to DVD last night. Reminds me of when I was a kid, going to the movies on Saturday and seeing an episode of a cliff hanger serial. Of course, I never went and saw the entire story, as trips to the movies were few and far between.

Zombies of the Stratosphere introduces some actor named 'Leonard Nimoy', who plays a green Martian. He only had a couple of lines in the thing.


The book "PHP and MySQL" fits my needs far more than the "Learning PHP 5" book. It uses object oriented programming constructs all the way through the book, except for the chapters that talk about the basics of PHP. It also explicitly states whether a concept can be used by PHP4, PHP 5 or both. I am impressed, so far.


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