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BLOGical Thoughts Archive

March 2011

Thursday, 31 March 2011

I am cleaning up my computer at work. I have had it for over 3 1/2 years and have never reinstalled 32-bit Windows XP on it. I have been very careful what I put on the machine, too. Despite that, it runs at the speed of a snail when I shut it down or reboot it.

I am now being offered a new machine. It will be a Dell Optiplex 980 with dual-core CPU, 8GB of memory, a big hard disk and 64-bit Windows 7 Professional. Since I will be switching to a 64-bit (toy) operating system, and I need a 32-bit environment to do some of my work, it is necessary for me to virtualize my current workstation. That is why I am cleaning it up - files total 175GB on the machine. That doesn't count the 80GB drive where I keep the main project files that don't need to be virtualized.

I will continue to trim that number down to a reasonable level, then I will use Clonezilla to make a backup of the disk to a USB hard drive. I should then be able to use that to make a virtual machine of it.



 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

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

 

Local/Other News/Security Theater

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

I went back to reviewing my talk for LinuxFest Northwest last night. Getting away from it for a few days was very helpful. I hope to add more content to it to further explain some of the things I have talked about. Come to think of it, it needs a section with links to useful web sites. I will put that in for the web document, but won't talk about it.

The conference will be held the last day of April and the first day of May in Bellingham, WA. That is at least a full day drive from here, so I am taking off the prior day so I can get there in time for the whole event. I may also take off the Monday after, so I can take a full day to drive back.



 

I have started to look for a couple of parts for my '52 Plymouth. It needs a set of seat belts, for a start. I am undecided on whether to get lap belts or try to find some three-point belts. I am used to the latter. I will visit the nice auto graveyard we have on highway 95 just north of Garwood and see if they have anything I can use. The older cars didn't have just a straight bumper, either. They had cross-pieces sticking up (these are called bumper guards), and I will also look for those.

Speaking of the Plymouth, if you go to Google Images and search for "1952 Plymouth restoration", the very first picture they show is my 1951 Plymouth Cranbrook parts car! Amazing that I get first position on a Google page.



 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

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

 

Local/Other News/Security Theater

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Over the weekend, I also did some hard disk house keeping. I was getting low on space on the 1TB NAS where I keep ISO images of my movies. It also had a bunch of audible books, old time radio shows and photos on it, so I decided to move all that stuff off and dedicate the NAS to videos. I moved them from the network attached storage unit to a 2TB USB drive I got for Christmas.

There was over 100,000 files, totaling 177GB, to move. It took 12 hours to do that, using my regular workstation. The process ran over Sunday night to yesterday morning, but I am now finished with that housekeeping. Now all I have to do is to get the pictures up to date from my workstation's Pictures directory.



 

I drove my Dodge to work yesterday, after freeing it from snow berms on the weekend. Once the battery was charged and the tires were filled, it ran perfectly. Now all I need is a small break in the weather so I can do the other car-related spring chores (it rained again yesterday).



 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

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

 

Local/Other News/Security Theater

Monday, 28 March 2011

We had a productive technical meeting of the North Idaho Linux Users Group on Saturday. We fixed two computers whose owners were unable to get sound working on them. Mostly, this was just updating the computer with a later version of Linux. We also got VLC installed on one of them, so the lady could play DVDs on it.

I took my laptop with me as well as a computer I use with my scanner. That computer has been having problems. Sometimes it powers on, and sometimes it doesn't. At the meeting, we determined it needed a new power supply. This will be the third power supply for the machine. The first was an Antec supply that went bad. I replaced it with an off-brand supply and that one is now bad. I have ordered another supply that should be here sometime this week. I really need to use the scanner, so this will help me a lot.



 

Never state what you intend to do if the weather figures into the equation. I said I was going to do some spring chores and, of course, it snowed on Sunday so I could not do them. I did get my Stealth out, charged the battery and put air in the tires. I think I will drive it to work today. Regardless of weather predictions.



 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

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

 

Local/Other News/Security Theater

Friday, 25 March 2011

For the past couple of weeks at work, I've been attempting to monitor a device produced by NetApp with our Windows Security Event Log tool. We had it set up so it would work with a device they showed us in 2008, and we needed to update the tool so it could monitor the latest two versions of the device.

It obviously was not straightforward, or I wouldn't be mentioning it here. Probably the biggest problem with talking to these devices is the fact that virtually all the documentation for them is locked up behind NetApp's web site. They require an account with them before they give you even a taste of the documents. They have certain strict categories for people they interface with, and we don't fit in the customer category.

Once our account problems was straightened out, we attempted to find the information we needed in their documents. That was a real chore, too, as they are not well-organized - at least not for what we were attempting. We finally got all the information and we can now monitor all the NetApp versions of the device. I am more than ready to move on to something else.



 

The technical session of the North Idaho Linux Users Group is tomorrow. I am going to clean up my laptop there, so it will be ready for the LinuxFest Northwest talk I will be giving at the end of April. I am entertaining notions of getting a larger hard disk for the laptop. When I bought it, it came with a 20GB drive and I have replaced that with 80GB. I was thinking of a 120GB drive now. I will look around for one and see if it makes any sense to purchase one.



 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

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

 

Local/Other News/Security Theater

Thursday, 24 March 2011

I think I will start doing the spring chores this weekend. I need to put the snowplow away and change the tires on my Honda. I am doing this because the snow around my house is rapidly disappearing, so it must be almost spring,

I'm also going to get all the accumulated crap together that I have collected and don't use, so I can get rid of it. I have two perfectly good Canon cameras I no longer use, lots of dusty technical books, some stereo equipment, old clothes, etc. I need to decide if it is all worth sending through the auction place or if I should just unload it on St. Vincent's.



 

"Keep a government poor and weak and it's your servant; let it get rich and powerful and it's your master." H. Beam Piper, Lone Star Planet, 1958



 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

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

 

Local/Other News/Security Theater

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

The podcast arena is looking somewhat bleak, unless I am looking in the wrong places. I dropped three podcasts from my daily list and added three that are related to Linux and Open Source. I also added exactly one science fiction podcast, which is all I could find where the RSS link was still valid. maybe I need to approach the problem from the web site side instead of just picking up an obviously bad podcast link. It may be that many of them have changed their distribution method.

Actually, there was one podcast I did not pick up - Linux in the Hamshack. The content sounded interesting, but one of the moderators has such a heavy southern accent that it is almost impossible for me to listen to the content.

I will be listening to what I picked up during work today. Should be an interesting experience.



 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

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

 

Local/Other News/Security Theater

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

I have been listening to the same podcasts for a long time now. In the past, I trimmed out the ones that have stopped podcasting and added new ones as I could. I haven't done that in a long time, so my podcast consumption now is much less than 8 hours per day. That's bad - it means I have to listen to other stuff while I'm working, like the old-time radio shows at Antioch OTR. I like some of those, but I have already heard some of them and others are just not interesting to me.

So I have decided to do a thorough edit of the podcasts I am listening to. I will make sure I have enough to listen to so I won't have to listen to some of the old time radio duds. I already have a list of some podcasts to look at, but they are all Linux-related. I need to add some variety - maybe mystery or science fiction podcasts.



 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

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

 

Local/Other News/Security Theater

Monday, 21 March 2011

I spent the weekend doing lots of small chores. I am going through my LinuxFest Northwest talk to see if everything is covered. I cut up an agate I got at the silent auction at the North Idaho Mineral Club for $0.75. I also shopped for and bought a 32" TV for the mineral club. I ripped a couple of movies to ISO and I even did a bit of work-type work. All in all, it was a busy weekend, but with nothing you could say "There. I did that" about.

I was thinking about taking the snowplow blade off of my truck, but then we got 2" of snow on Saturday. We are expecting rain all day today, turning to snow tonight. I guess it's a bit early to think about getting set up for spring.



 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

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

 

Local/Other News/Security Theater

Friday, 18 March 2011

I attended the North Idaho Mineral Club meeting last night, so I didn't work on any home projects. I did update the mineral club web site, though.

I added this month's newsletter to the web site. I added more gem show information and corrected the date for our field trip to Saddle Mountain. I also added some articles to the About Minerals and How-To sections. The web site is starting to accumulate enough content to actually be useful, so if you are interested in gems and minerals, check it out.



 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

Thursday, 17 March 2011

I have finished the talk I will be giving at LinuxFest Northwest. I will need to go back through it, figure out how long it is and make any changes that need to be made. It's longer because of bugs in the current version of Free Pascal and Lazarus, so I hope I don't run over an hour in presentation.

There are basically three ways to hook up controls in Lazarus. The first and easiest is to use an action list. This concentrates all the characteristics into a single place and allows the program to be written very quickly. There are bugs in the action list that make the resultant program unacceptably slow, though.

The second method is to hook up all the menu items, then use them in the toolbar buttons by connecting them to the menu items using the MenuItem property. When you do that, all the properties of the menu item is shared with the button. So you get the icon and the control hint, etc. You also get the OnClick handler from the menu item. The only problem is, when you run the program and click the toolbar button, the OnClick handler doesn't execute. This is another Lazarus bug.

I had to fall back on the third, and original, method. I hooked all the buttons up manually and then connected them manually to the menu item OnClick events. This works just fine, but it takes more time to do this than the first two methods.



 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

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

 

Local/Other News/Security Theater

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

I finished up the toolbar section of my talk for LinuxFest Northwest, but I need to adjust it. I found another bug in the Lazarus components, so I will have to work around it. I think that can be done fairly easily, though.

The only item left in the talk is to hook up two more menu items and then it will be complete. Except for the new ideas section, that is. I will be adding a section on suggestions of what to add next.



 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

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

 

Local/Other News/Security Theater

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

I finished reading all the stories and novels on my Nook written by Robert Sheckley, Clifford D. Simak, Cordwainer Smith and E.E. 'Doc' Smith, that I picked up at Project Gutenberg. I removed them from the Nook and then downloaded and installed stories and novels by Edgar Pangborn, H. Beam Piper and Frederik Pohl. Project Gutenberg is a great resource if you enjoy any literature not written in the late 20th or early 21st century. I expect that I will never run out of something to read with the thousands of books that are on Project Gutenberg.



 

I took the night off last night, so I have nothing to report about projects I am working on.



 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

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

 

Local/Other News/Security Theater

Monday, 14 March 2011

I have finished the section of my LinuxFest Northwest talk concerned with creating a main menu and writing code for the menu. It is somewhat longer than the original version, but it is a better explanation of what is going on.

I still have to create the toolbar, but that should be very easy. There are still two commands that can't be hooked up until I do that, as they directly affect the toolbar.

I have decided to put a final section in the talk about what kinds of things can be added to the editor to make it better. Things like new status indicators, checks in the code so what you are editing isn't wiped out and information about text highlighters.



 

My talk at the North Idaho Linux Users Group meeting went very well. I showed them everything I know about how to configure your desktop the way you want it. I did that for Gnome and another member did it for KDE.

It's a good thing we had an organized talk for this meeting, as we had several visitors and that presented the best possible impression of our group to them.



 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

Friday, 11 March 2011

I am now in the part of the LinuxFest Northwest talk where I explain what commands will be implemented in the editor, and how to populate the image list. Here's a hint: If you are using Gnome and you want to use the default KDE images, just install Quanta Plus - the programmer's editor. That will also install the images. I like those images better than any of the default ones I found in Gnome.

Next up is how to create and populate the main menu, including the actual Pascal code to perform the various commands. This is actually the real meat of the talk.



 

The North Idaho Linux Users Group meeting is tomorrow afternoon over in Post Falls. I will be giving a talk on how to configure your Gnome desktop. Remember: the right mouse button is your friend.



 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

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

 

Local/Other News/Security Theater

Thursday, 10 March 2011

I spent all day yesterday at work trying to track down a bug in the reports program that I maintain. I figured out what was happening in the first 1/2 hour, but it took the rest of the day for me to figure out how to fix. The end result was the addition of a single line of code to the program. Sometimes the little ones are more of a pain than the big ones.



 

I am still working on the talk for LinuxFest Northwest. I am doing the section that talks about adding non-visual components. There are four I need to explain: main menu, image list, open file dialog and save file dialog. They are fairly straightforward, but the audience might get hung up on the fact they don't display anything, except that they do, but only on demand. Next up is explaining how to populate the image list. Which means I have to have a list of the commands that will require an image.



 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

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

 

Local/Other News/Security Theater

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

I got busy last night re-writing my LinuxFest Northwest talk. I am re-arranging the topics so they make more sense, as well as adding items that need to be in the talk. There is more to do now, as I need to use an TOpenDialog and TSaveDialog component. Those two were buried in the action list code before, so I didn't have to do anything with them.

Removing the action list will actually make things better, as a lot of the code that the action list hid will now be exposed. Hopefully, this will make it easier for the listener to understand what is going on.



 

The North Idaho Linux Users Group meeting is this Saturday. I will talk about how to configure your Gnome desktop. There a lot of people out there who use Gnome, since that is the default Ubuntu desktop. Another of our members will talk about how to configure your KDE desktop.



 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

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

 

Local/Other News/Security Theater

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

The problem I was having with the sample program for my LinuxFest Northwest talk was definitely the use of a component called TActionList. Using that component for the actions performed by various controls slowed the program's response down so much it was practically useless.

I have decided to rewrite the talk to not use the action list. I verified last night that a program built that way would work just like any other Linux program, so I will start working on modifying my talk tonight. I'm glad I looked into this, as I don't want all those thirsty minds at the conference to get the wrong idea about Lazarus.

In practical terms, this means that I will have write more code during the talk. This means it will be a bit longer than the original. I hope I can still get it into the allotted hour, 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/Other News/Security Theater

Monday, 7 March 2011

I have finished working on the talk I will be giving at LinuxFest Northwest. I got the problem I had straightened out and I suspect it may be a Lazarus problem. I will look into the problem and if necessary, I may have to rewrite a huge chunk of the talk (eliminate the action list). We shall see. If I do rewrite it, the result will take longer to talk about, since I would have to talk about implementing the stuff that an action list does. Like open and save dialogs.



 

I am not, and have never been a fan of social networks. I suggest that if you want to invite me to join Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or any other network, forget it. I will not join and I will not respond at all to your request. If that means you think I'm anti-social, so be it.

I mention this because I keep getting invitations from people I worked with years ago to join one of these networks. Since I spend a lot of my time on the Internet, anything that would increase that time is not a good thing. So cut it out, would you?



 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

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

 

Local/Other News/Security Theater

Friday, 4 March 2011

I started watching American Masters Wednesday night on PBS. It was so interesting I thought I would record the remainder of the program so I could watch it last night. Imagine my surprise when I got to watch the whole program from the recording. It seems my MythTV DVR caches programs when I chose a TV channel to watch.



 

I had no trouble getting to work yesterday. We had a hard freeze overnight and the road was no longer slushy. Last night when I got home, the road was mostly free of snow and ice, so I shouldn't have any problems until the next storm (more snow coming).



 

I have to do some computer systems reconfiguration over the weekend. I need to hook my scanner up to a computer that works, as the one it is currently hooked up to seems to have some kind of boot problem.



 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

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

 

Local/Other News/Security Theater

Thursday, 3 March 2011

I went back to work on my LinuxFest Northwest talk last night. I have screwed up in my instructions somewhere, so I have to go back and figure out what I have done wrong. When I do, I will finish up the talk. It is fairly close to being finished at this point.

For the next North Idaho Linux Users Group meeting on the 12th, I will talk about how to configure your Gnome desktop. I have invited anyone who uses KDE to do the same. This kind of thing is a no brainer for me and I don't have to plan out what to say, so it won't interfere with my LinuxFest talk.



 

It rained all day yesterday, and when I got home from work, I plowed the slush. I wanted to ensure that I could get my car back up the hill to the county road. I'm not sure if that worked - I will have to check the road after I finish up this entry. I hope there is enough dirt showing to get me the traction I need.



 

The CMS for this blog is pretty nice. It has a built-in spell checker with one annoying fault: it spell checks using a British dictionary. So words like plowed, theater, favor and color all check as misspelled. I have not been able to find a way for it to use a U.S. English dictionary.



 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

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

 

Local/Other News/Security Theater

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

I spent last night putting away the 2,900 emails that were in the gmail inbox of Thunderbird. When I finished, there wasn't any time to do anything else. At least I will be able to keep up with Google mail now.

Now that I've taken care of the huge interruption, I hope to get back to work on my talk for LinuxFest Northwest.



 

I have to go out and plow some more right now. We have a lot of snow and it's supposed to get up to 43° F today and there is a 70% chance of rain. If that happens, we will end up with a lot of slush and I will have a tough time getting up to the county road again.



 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

I took an unintentional detour last night. You may have heard of the problem that Google mail had losing some emails. I have had a Google mail account since the bitter beginning in 2004, and I have never backed up my emails. So I decided now would be a good time to back up my Google mail account. I went in to my gmail account settings and enabled POP support. I then went to my Thunderbird email client and added gmail as an account. When I looked for email in Thunderbird, I got 300+ messages from gmail. That went on for quite a while as I was attempting to store those emails in folders. I ended up downloading somewhere between 4,000 and 5,000 emails, including attachments.

I still have about 2,900 emails in the gmail Inbox. I am putting them away as fast as I can, but that's a lot of emails. I didn't get anything else done last night, needless to say. I think it's a good thing I didn't save every email I got from that account.



 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

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

 

Local/Other News/Security Theater