BLOGical Thoughts Archive

March 2012

Friday, 30 March 2012

In the Linux Mint 12 LXDE virtual machine I created, I cannot get PHP to talk to Apache, and mySQL won't run. So I created another virtual machine - this time using Linux Mint 11 (Gnome version).

I then installed Apache and PHP and got them to talk together. I also got mySQL installed and working. Looking at Internet documents allowed me to figure out why I was having the problem with mySQL.

Since they were all working, I then attempted to install Joomla. I got to the place where Joomla creates its database and tables, and ran across yet another problem. I now have to figure out why Joomla can't talk to mySQL and PhpMyAdmin can (they are both PHP applications).


Despite all the rain we are getting, I have changed the tires on my Honda to the regular ones. This will give me a big boost in gas mileage, as the Hybrid no longer has to fight against all those tire studs.

Next up is to put the snow plow away and get the Plymouth out and cleaned up from its winter nap. There are several things that need to be done to it, and I will do them as I get a chance.

I am going to a gem show this weekend, so that will be a nice diversion from the soccer program and the other work I have to do.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Thursday, 29 March 2012

I am starting to evaluate content management systems for the soccer program. To that end, I have installed Linux Mint 12 LXDE as a virtual machine and installed Apache, mySQL and PHP in the VM.

Apache and mySQL work fine. My problem is (always) to get PHP to work with Apache. It doesn't. I know this because I downloaded the Joomla CMS and attempted to install it through its install.php script. Apache doesn't recognize a .php file, so nothing works. I will have to Google how to get those two to work together.


Last week, I went into a store called Chef's Heaven. It has all manner of chef's tools and it is my idea of a cook's paradise. As I came in the store, I saw that the owner was playing an episode from the first year of Babylon 5 on his flatscreen TV. We talked about that, as well as the fact he did not have a 10" tortilla press.

I was thinking about how good the Babylon 5 show was, so when I got home, I started with the first episode and played each one as I was doing other things. I am now on episode 13 of the third season. The series ran five seasons, so I have a ways to go. Great science fiction.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Wednesday, 28 March 2012

As they each come up for renewal, I am transferring my domain registrations away from GoDaddy to a place called NameCheap. NameCheap has made it extremely easy to do this, they don't support Sopa or ACTA or PIPA, and they don't have nearly the annoyance factor that GoDaddy does. All good reasons for me to use them instead.

I bring this up because the soccer program domains I have been paying for the past many years are up for renewal. I am letting one of them lapse, but I am transferring the other one to NameCheap.


Linux Mint has released a new version of their LXDE-based operating system. I have downloaded Linux Mint 12 LXDE and have installed it in a virtual machine. It is fast, lightweight and it can do things that the XFCE version cannot do. I will be looking into it closer. It may be an alternative solution to my aversion to Gnome3 and KDE.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Yesterday I looked for a good content management system (CMS) I could use for the soccer program web site. There really isn't one out there that is completely dedicated to commercial web sites with ads, though. The commercial ones are pretty much dedicated to taking money (shopping carts). I found three CMS that may be adapted to the task: Drupal, Joomla and Mambo. I don't know anything about Joomla and Mambo, but I have used Drupal twice.

The worrying part is the advertisements. The web site will be ad-supported, so it is necessary to set it up to display the ads. I will be looking to see how easy that is to do with these CMS.

One thing about Drupal - my web host directly supports its installation, so that gives it a better chance to win than the other two.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Monday, 26 March 2012

I have completed the Campfire Cooking cookbook and it has been announced to the world. You can pick it up here. If you want to save the file on your computer using Firefox, right-click on the link and select "Save Link As". The cookbook PDF file is 10.4 MB and it is 572 pages long, so it's probably not something you will want to print.

I attempted to create an EPUB file along with the PDF, but the results are so bad they can't be distributed. I will stick with the PDF for now.

Now that the cookbook is completed, I will go back to work on the soccer program. I have a list of things to do, including the support web site.


I went to the technical session of the North Idaho Linux Users Group on Saturday. I ended up trying to help one person who had really, really screwed up his installation. After 3 hours of trying to fix his boot loader, we gave up and recommended that he re-install Linux so it could fix the boot loader. I hope never to see that problem again.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Friday, 23 March 2012

I am not quite done with the cookbook, even though it has currently expanded from 385 pages to 511. I probably have around 40 or 50 more recipes to go before I can generate a table of contents, add a cover and convert that to PDF. I guess I should also re-spellcheck the thing and check the formatting again, too.


It's a good thing I haven't change the tires on my Honda, or put away my snowplow. By 10am yesterday, we had 5 inches of really wet snow. I plowed the best I could, on my way to run my errands. The snow was really hard to push out of the way.

By the evening, the places I plowed were bare again. However, this morning it is snowing again. So the snow tires stay on and the plow stays on the truck. Maybe until April.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Thursday, 22 March 2012

I spent all day yesterday working on the cookbook, and it has grown from 221 to 385 pages. I am approximately 2/3 through the recipes. I am currently working in the Poultry section, which includes chicken, chicken stews, turkey, other meats and wild game.

I am estimating that I should be able to finish the cookbook either today or tomorrow. I have errands to run today, so it may be tomorrow.


After I finish the cookbook, I have to see about putting up a web site for the soccer program. This mainly involves picking a good content management system - one which supports Internet commerce and advertisements. I also have a list of things I need to do to the program to support a try-before-you-buy approach to sales.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Wednesday, 21 March 2012

I went through all the recipe photos and reduced them to the size that they will actually be displayed in the cookbook. I then went through the cookbook and replaced the old pictures with the reduced-size pictures. Despite the fact that I added three pictures that I overlooked the first time, the size of the cookbook went from 2.7MB to 1.5MB. This will put the size of the finished cookbook into the 6MB to 7MB range, which is acceptable to me. Much better than the 11MB file I was headed for with the old-sized pictures.


After finishing the photo reduction, I added 94 new pages to the cookbook yesterday, for a total of 221 pages. I am now into the Meat section, which is huge. I have a little over 1/2 of the recipes to add to the document.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Tuesday, 20 March 2012

I started the cookbook document over again, and it is going very well. I am about one fourth of the way through the recipes and the document has 127 pages. My estimate of 500 to 600 pages seems to be pretty accurate.

I am somewhat concerned about the size of the document, though. It is currently 2.7MB and I was hoping for something smaller than that. At that rate, the finished product will be about 11MB, which is way over what I was aimed at. I know of one way to reduce the size of the document, so I will do that today.

The document can be reduced in size by changing the size of the photos in the document. Currently, when I add a photo, I incorporate it into the document, then change its display size so it fits in the recipe. This does not change its actual size, though. So using GIMP to change the actual sizes should have a marked effect on the size of the document.


Today is the first day of spring, so of course we got some snow last night. Not much, but it will delay my changing the tires on my car and putting the plow away.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Monday, 19 March 2012

I started to add more recipes to the cookbook document, and I realized that I had not spell-checked any of the recipes. So I spent the entire weekend going through all 1,113 recipe files using LibreOffice to spell-check them.

As a result of this, many of the recipes now make much more sense. This exercise not only uncovered all the spelling mistakes, but I also uncovered run-on words and ingredient sections that were not formatted correctly. All those things have been fixed now.

I will have to start the cookbook document over. I will use the experiences I have had with the original started document to create a much better cookbook.

I did create an EPUB document from the original cookbook web pages. It has a lot of formatting problems and I will not release it. For one thing, it is 1,187 pages long. A bit big for a cookbook. That's because each recipe has its own page. I hope to generate a much smaller document from the cookbook document, as the recipes will run continuously in it and will not have their own pages.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Friday, 16 March 2012

I have finished moving photos on each of the recipe web pages. After I finished, I did a search to see if I had missed any, and discovered I had missed 3 photos. Not too bad out of 345 photos.

I also finished re-arranging the table of contents. I decided that it would be way too much work to add new sub-sections to the table, so I just moved around what I had.

I have started the actual cookbook document. So far, it is 56 pages long. I estimate that the entire document will be between 500 and 600 pages when I finish. The table of contents alone will be at least 22 pages long. That's a pretty big book, in anyones' estimation. The largest I have done in the past is probably 120 pages.

At any rate, the construction is just copying web pages into the document, so it is easy but takes time. There goes my weekend.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Thursday, 15 March 2012

I am still working through all the recipes, moving pictures and fixing broken stuff. The recipe count now stands at 1,113. I added a couple of my own recipes and one for corned beef that was just posted.

The new posts are a real problem. It's like trying to hit a moving target. As I work on this cookbook, the forum members keep posting new entries, and I have to keep up with them. I will probably continue to add new recipes, right up to the time I create the final PDF and EPUB documents.

When I finish the photo moves, I will have to re-arrange the Table of Contents. I can then start on the LibreOffice document, with which I can create the PDF file. Once that is created, I can create an EPUB from the PDF.


"Failure is not an option - it comes pre-bundled with Microsoft Windows." -Anon


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Wednesday, 14 March 2012

I went through my list of recipe authors, and it did not completely agree with the number of recipe files I have. So I went through each recipe and checked to see if it was in the author list. If it wasn't I added. That is why the final recipe count is now officially 1,111.

I spent the rest of the day moving pictures in each of the recipes that have them, and fixing any other problems I see in the recipes. I am only half finished with that, so I will be spending today doing the other half.


If I get any time, I will also be checking and re-organizing the North Idaho Mineral Club membership list. The one I am currently maintaining is in a spreadsheet that one of our members has trouble printing and reading.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Tuesday, 13 March 2012

I have finished gathering together recipes for the cookbook. There are 1,098 of them. I think I will have to dig up 3 more recipes in there, so I can say 1,100+ on the cover.

I also went through all the recipe photos and reduced most of them in size. Next step is to go through each recipe and move the photos in the recipe page to better positions on the page.

After I finish that, I need to create a single LibreOffice document from the web pages, so I can export a PDF document and an EPUB document. The only problem I see is creating a Table of Contents that will allow you to easily find a recipe. There are so many recipes that a multi-level table of contents is really a necessity.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Monday, 12 March 2012

This weekend was consumed by locusts. In other words, I had meetings to attend on both days and never got to any of the work I supposed to be doing.

I intend to finish up the survey of the site this week, as well as do some work on the soccer program. We shall see if any of that really happens.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Friday, 9 March 2012

The recipe count for the cookbook is up to 1,084. I still have a couple of pages to go with the Barbecue area. One person is responsible for my slow work through this area: he keeps posting pictures and recipes for entire meals. I appreciate all the material, but I can't help wanting to get through this area without having to capture three or four recipes per topic.

Today will be dedicated to the talk I will be giving at the North Idaho Linux Users Group meeting tomorrow in Post Falls. I have arranged for the use of an adapter so I can display the presentation over the church's video display. My laptop has a DVI-I connector and the church has a VGA connector, so it is necessary to have an adapter. I have ordered one from Computer Geeks, but it will arrive next week. A bit late.


Making your own flour tortillas is a bit harder than I thought it would be. It turns out that the stiffness of the dough produced markedly affects the end product. I used a recipe from a small 40-year-old Mexican cookbook. I thought everything was ok, but it was real work for me to roll out the tortillas with a rolling pin. They all ended up smaller than 9 inches, no matter how much dough I used. And when they were cooked, they ended up thicker than the store-bought equivalents. They are very tasty, despite their size and thickness.

I think that next time, I will use the recipe that comes along with that video I linked to yesterday. I hope I can get them thin enough for my liking.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Thursday, 8 March 2012

The cookbook recipe count now stands at 1,064. I have three more pages of topics to go through in the Barbecue area of the forum, probably with at least another 40 recipes to dig out. The forum area I have not yet looked at are very small compared to this one.

I probably won't finish this up today, since I have to do the talk I will be giving on Saturday to the Linux users group.


I ran out of store-bought flour tortillas this morning. That means I will be trying to make my own toady. That should be loads of fun. Actually, there is a video on YouTube that shows how to do this. Very entertaining.


Every time a Presidential election year rolls around and one of the candidates decides the U.S. should be a theocracy instead of a democracy, I pull out the Robert A. Heinlein collection called "Revolt in 2100". This is a collection of short stories that is part of his Future History series. The short story in the collection entitled "If This Goes On-" is a criticism of the authoritarian potential of Protestant Christian fundamentalism. I enjoy it and it serves to remind me never to vote for anyone with that mind set.

This time, when I opened the book, I came upon Heinlein's Future History timeline. Even though the stories and the timeline were created in 1940, the timeline indicates that now is the time when the U.S. becomes a religious dictatorship. Which is very scary considering what one of the Republican candidates believes about the separation of church and state. Be careful who you vote for this year.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Wednesday, 7 March 2012

The recipe count for the cookbook has reached 1,029. I have finished going through the Dutch Oven Cooking and Campfire Cooking areas. There are still several areas to be looked at, but there is one remaining major area that may contain recipes: BBQ Cooking. I will go through that one today. I will then take a break and work on a talk I will be giving at the North Idaho Linux Users Group meeting on Saturday.

The talk is the first of a series and it is called "Learning Linux, Part 0 - Where to Install Linux". The series will go through setup, installation and use of Linux. The emphasis will be on a graphical installation of Linux, so there will not be much about the command line capabilities, unless I can figure out an interesting way to include that.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Tuesday, 6 March 2012

The cookbook is cooking right along. I am about two-thirds through the Dutch Oven Cooking section and I am fast approaching the 1,000 recipe mark. There is one guy who has been posting entire Dutch oven meals, along with pictures. That does not hurt the recipe count a bit, and the pictures always spice up any cookbook.

I still have a lot of work to do on the cookbook, even though I have been working on it for at least six weeks. I will eventually need to straighten out the table of contents, as it no longer really reflects the proper recipe categories. I will also need to go through the pictures and reduce their sizes, as some of them are huge. Lots of work to do yet.


Every morning except Saturday mornings, I have an egg, bacon and cheese burrito for breakfast. I make these with flour tortillas, which I get at the supermarket. The brand I buy is the cheapest (at $2.16 for 10) and best tasting I have found in this area. However, they just aren't cheap enough and don't taste good enough - too thick, too small and too many preservatives.

So I have decided to try making my own flour tortillas. I know I can make them thinner and larger than the store-bought ones. I just don't know how much labor it will involve. I will let you know.


What Russ Limbaugh offered as an apology was definitely not one, but the media eagerly grabbed it as such. Not once did he say 'sorry' or 'apologize' - he just offered excuses. Maybe you should run for President, Russ - you would be good at it.

On the other hand, Ron Paul was in Sandpoint yesterday and had a very good welcome. I suspect that he will do quite well in the Idaho primary. I am hoping I will stop getting those crap robocalls from Romney and Santorum after the primary, which is next week.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Monday, 5 March 2012

The 50th wedding anniversary Dutch oven potluck I went to at the Rathdrum Historic Jail on Saturday was a big success. We set up our Dutch oven stuff in the parking lot next to the jail annex, which was where the party was being held. When I got there at about a quarter to eleven, the temperature was in the low 30's and the wind was blowing. The wind kept blowing the whole time, but the temperature crawled up to the upper 30's. It was damned cold with that wind chill. Luckily, we had a canopy with sidewalls which kept most of the wind off of us, most of the time.

The food ranged from a prime roast done in a big Dutch oven, to vegetables, desserts and even my Mexican-style rice. The food was good and the company was fine. I had a pretty good time.


When I decided to make my rice dish for the party, on Friday I pulled out my 10" Dutch oven, which I had oiled and put away in my unheated garage last August. Apparently I had gotten over-enthusiastic with the oil, as the oven was sticky all over. Since the oil was just sticky and not rancid, I put it and the lid upside down in my kitchen oven at 400 degrees for an hour. I then let it cool down for an hour. What I ended up with was the best seasoning job I have ever had on a cast iron piece.

After the potluck, I used hot water to clean out the pot, and it kept its incredible seasoning. You can't tell by this photo, but it is still as shiny and slick inside as when I started. I am amazed. You learn new things about stuff you have known for years all the time, so I guess I shouldn't be amazed. It looks pretty good for a ten year old pot.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Friday, 2 March 2012

I have gotten through 2 more sections of and have gotten 20 more recipes from those sections, so the total is now 922. The next 2 sections will probably have a lot more recipes: they are Cooking Tips and Dutch Oven Cooking. I know that I have put recipes in the Dutch Oven Cooking section when I couldn't find anywhere else to put them. There are bound to be many, many more in there.


I have decided to cook Mexican-Style Rice for the 50th anniversary party tomorrow. I looked all over the place and could not find a recipe I was happy with, so I will use one that I have not made for these folks and that I am happy with. I need to experiment more with new recipes, so I will be ready when something like this comes along again.


I have a meeting Sunday morning with the other principals for the soccer program. We haven't had any activity with it since the prime person behind it is busy with a new job and with fixing up his house. We will see what needs to be done, and I will implement it when we finish. So I should be working on the soccer program again next week.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Thursday, 1 March 2012

I have gathered up 902 recipes from I am still going through the Around The Campfire section; I have six more pages of topics to do in that section. I hope to be done with it at the end of today.

I took a break in the middle of the day. I kept reading at about all these great deals everyone was getting at the local thrift shops, so I went down to Coeur d'Alene and went through the St. Vincent dePaul, Goodwill and Women's Center Thrift stores. There were exactly three pieces of cast iron, and they were way over-priced. I enjoyed getting away from the cookbook, though.


I will be attending a 50th wedding anniversary party on Saturday for George and Beth Holcomb. He is the local organizer for Dutch oven events in this area. The party will be held a half block from their home, at the old Rathdrum Historic Jail. I know that sounds weird, but they have been instrumental in restoring that building, and it will hold a heck of a lot more people than their house.

The party is a Dutch oven potluck, and I am looking for something to cook that I have cooked for them before. We will be cooking outdoors and the temperature will be in the mid 30's to mid 40's, so anything that uses yeast is probably a bad idea. I will keep looking.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software