BLOGical Thoughts Archive

May 2003

Friday, May 30, 2003

I am consolidating all my digital photos into one computer. I have about 58 megs worth left to do. I never realized how poorly my first digital camera (a Vivitar) took pictures, compared to my current camera (a Canon). It looks like I will have to retake some pictures. More traveling - yeah.

When I am finished, I will put all the photos on a multi-session CD-ROM or a CD-RW. I will have quite a bit of room for new photos, as I only have about 200 megs worth right now.

I have added a slide show for the Lost in the 50's pictures. I have also added an index for each slide show, including an index for Lost In The 50's.

As much as I hate them, I still looked at the Walmart web site yesterday and saw a nice HP laptop I could turn into a Linux portable computer. So I went to Walmart last night and imagine my non-surprise when it turned out they don't sell that model in the stores. I will look elsewhere.

They also don't sell the portable DVD player they are advertising on the Internet. For having so much in their stores, they don't have much in their stores.

Thursday, May 29, 2003

Hawkweed is one of 36 plants that the state of Idaho classifies as noxious. It is an import from Europe and there is no known pesticide that can kill it. It can be suppressed for up to 2 years by the application of dicamba (Banvel), which will also affect dandelion, white clover, knotweed, red sorrel, spurweed, spotted spurge and wild strawberry. dicamba is expensive, so a local program helps to subsidize its use. A small percentage of my 10 acres is infected, so it shouldn't be that big a job for me. I hope to spray over the weekend.

I have added slide shows for both the 10th Dam Gathering of teardrop trailers and the 5th Northwest Spring Fling. I will be fine-tuning the slide shows, thanks to input from my favorite beta tester, Betty Zirkle. She has noted that it would be nice to be able to start anywhere in the slide show, instead of just at slide 1. She also indicated it would be nice if there was a way to tell how many slides were in the show. I will be doing both of those things.

I will be spending some of my time creating a functional specification for an educational program I hope to write. The program will be written for the Linux operating system, so schools can use it without proprietary O/S blackmail. It will be written using Kylix and will employ either the mySQL or PostgreSQL database. Should be loads of fun.

Wednesday, May 28, 2003

I have finished a program that will allow me to turn my picture collections into a web slide show and have posted it. The program will make it much easier to look at the pictures and will make it a trivial exercise for me to turn them into a slide show.

I have to spray my place to eliminate the hawkweed that has grown up around it. Hawkweed is a pernicious noxious plant that has invaded Kootenai County. It will cost me $130 for the spray to take care of this problem. Ah, the joys of living in the country....

The spray will also take care of pesky plants like dandelion, so I look forward to that. I just hope it doesn't eliminate the wild strawberries, too.

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

I'm back from camping. Now I have to get back into work mode, and I really don't want to. I had a great time at the 5th Northwest Spring Fling. The people were very friendly and the weather was even fairly good. I got a picture of Mount St. Helens and two of Mount Ranier. You can see all the pictures in the teardrop section.

I continue to be impressed with my teardrop trailer. I will be making a few changes to it in the storage area, but I expected that. You really don't know what you need until you try it out and find something lacking. In my case, I lack two cabinets to hold pots and a drawer to hold silverware and sundries. I will construct a box that will attach to the trailer tongue to hold my cooler, then use the cooler area in the galley to hold pots and pans, and a drawer.

Thursday, May 22, 2003

I got my trailer ready for the road. Installed curtain rods and curtains for a bit of privacy, and put in new linen and a new blanket. No more sleeping bag for me...

I also got more information about the Northwest Spring Fling and about the campground where it will be held. Looks like I will be cooking more than I thought - they are having a potluck dinner on Saturday and a Dutch Oven cookoff and potluck on Sunday.

The campground is located in between Mount Ranier and Mount St. Helens. I hope to get some spectacular photos. And some photos of the 24 teardrop trailers that will be there, as well.

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

The new mother board doesn't work. I will have to debug it when I get a chance. Right now I'm too busy with getting ready for my teardrop trip.

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

The new motherboard for my server showed up, so I yanked the old board out and put the new one in. I will test it tonight.

The new board supports a faster bus, but I put in the memory from the old motherboard, so it will be running at the old speed, not the new speed. I also put in the old CPU, so it will be running at 1.53 gHz. The nice thing is I can get an Athlon XP 2400+ and replace the 1800+ with it any time.

Monday, May 19, 2003

I went up to Sandpoint, Idaho on Saturday to attend the Lost in The 50's gathering. This is essentially a gathering of a bunch of vintage car enthusiasts who also dig the 50's music scene. There is a big car show and musical events. I have posted pictures on my teardrop web site.

I also went in to Office Depot on Saturday to buy a LAN cable. I came out with the cable and a Samsung 172s - a 17" LCD screen with 1280 x 1024 display resolution.

I replaced my old 17" monitor with the new LCD and immediately got the leftover impression that the old monitor had been trying to push me into the back of my office. The LCD leaves me with more room on the computer desk, and the colors are even brighter than the old monitors'.

The only problem I have is the fact that Samsung does not do drivers for Linux. So I am using the driver for the old monitor, which was a Mag Technology screen. Seems to work fairly well at this point.

I will be working on cleaning up and equipping my teardrop trailer for a trip this weekend, so I won't have much time to work on software or web content.

Friday, May 16, 2003

I took half a day off yesterday to try to beat this cold I've acquired. It seems to have helped somewhat, as I am no longer coughing my lungs out.

I have gone through 4 distributions of Linux in the last month. I was using SuSE 8.1 and was very happy with it. Then Red Hat 9 and Mandrake 9.1 came out. I loaded Red Hat over SuSE, but was still disappointed with their software choices. So I loaded Mandrake 9.1. Mandrake used to be my distro of choice, and I still have it installed on my old main machine. But the current version had some unacceptable problems, so I decided to load the latest SuSE, 8.2, over it.

I did that and it loaded smoothly as usual, except for connection to my modem (as usual). SuSE looks at ttyS0 through ttyS3 for a modem. My modem is on ttyS4, so I have to create the symbolic link between /dev/modem and /dev/ttyS4 myself. Once I did that, the modem ran fine and I was able to get on the Internet with no problems.

Why am I talking about all this O/S switching? I did all this switching without affecting any of my user data in any manner. I still have the Evolution email folders and emails I had when I started this. I still have all the pages to this web site and all the text files for the Shadow magazine stories. All because I put the Linux /home directory in its own separate partition. Forethought is a wonderful thing.

I went through quite a process when I built my main machine. At the end, I had almost enough parts to build a Linux server, so I did. Only problem is, that motherboard almost works right. I have had to add an IDE board and a LAN adapter to replace the ones built into the motherboard, since they don't work correctly. Well, I have had enough. I am going to get a new motherboard to replace this schizo one. When I finish, here is what I will have:

Name CPU Speed O/S Usage
Natasha Athlon XP 1800+ 1.53ghz SuSE 8.2 Main development machine
Igor Pentium III 500mhz Windows 2000
Mandrake 8.0
Windows development machine
Boris Pentium I 120mhz Windows 98 Graphics scanning
Illya Athlon XP 1800+ 1.53ghz SuSE 8.2 LAN server
Irina Pentium MMX 200mhz Various O/S test bed

Not the fastest bunch of machines in the world, but they perform well enough for me. I wish I could get rid of the Pentium 120, but my scanner uses an ISA interface card and that's the only machine of the bunch with that bus.

Thursday, May 15, 2003

We had a pretty good user group meeting last night. I gave my presentation on the bash command shell, and it was appreciated. We had no lab session, as there weren't enough people present to make it worthwhile.

It looks like we will have a picnic instead of a meeting for the July meeting. The last one was fun, but it was really, really hot. Hope it's cooler this year.

Well, SCO has finally declared their true intentions. Since their business model is in the toilet, they are attempting to make money by suing or threatening to sue everyone in sight. Their latest ploy is to threaten all users of Linux with violation of copyright. If they ever had any customers left before this, they will surely lose them because of it.

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

I am finishing up the talk I will give at the NILUG meeting tonight. I am working on the shell script programming part. I have to decide when to stop, which is a tough decision.

At work, I am trying to fix what our customers call a problem, but it is actually the way the program was designed. Implementing their requested changes is like trying to change Angel Hair pasta into Fettuccine. The right substance is there, but it is very difficult to rearrange what you have into what they want.

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

There is a company across the street from where I work called Software Spectrum. At that location, they provide technical telephone support for their clients' software. Yesterday, one of their clients abruptly cancelled their contract and signed up with a firm in India.

As a result of this loss, Software Spectrum is letting 350 people go. That doesn't seem like a lot, but it is half the people at this location! And it's the biggest tech layoff in our area, ever. Only Key Tronic ever came as close.

Who was this evil client? Why, Microsoft, of course. The moral: when you make a deal with the devil all you can expect is for the devil to take what he wants from you and leave you as a rotting, stinking husk.

I am continuing work on my Bash talk. It will be done in time for the NILUG meeting tomorrow night.

Monday, May 12, 2003

I did a lot of housekeeping over the weekend. Fixed my mailbox, cleaned out and washed the teardrop trailer, put some books and tools in the garage, etc. Lots more to do.

I also did a little upgrading of my Web page editor beta. I added an INS/OVR indicator, fixed and enhanced the Meta tag dialog and added a Refresh (F5) command. The Refresh was necessary because of a problem with one of the commercial programming components I am using. Sometimes the mouse cursor changes by itself, and you can't see where it is, so you can't use it. The Refresh command puts the cursor back to an I-beam. For those who are curious, you can get the beta version at

I will be working on my Bash talk today. I have about half of it done. Sorry, no ebooks or chili recipes today.

Friday, May 9, 2003

I have updated my teardrop trailer links to add a section on outdoor cooking. This is one of the enjoyable aspects of teardrop camping. I had fun cooking chile verde on my dam gathering trip, and appreciated the response of the other teardroppers (I can't believe they ate the WHOLE thing!). I will publish that dutch oven recipe here soon.

I will be doing spring cleaning this weekend. I have accumulated an incredible number of books, papers, etc. that really need to be removed from my house. I don't believe in throwing away books though - that is akin to book burning. I will have to figure out something to do with the books.

I also have a mess of old software I don't use anymore that I will be eliminating. Mostly Windows stuff, since I hardly use that OS at home anymore. But I also have a Linux distribution archive dating back to 1993 - the bitter beginnings.

Thursday, May 8, 2003

I cleaned out my trailer, after that 2600+ mile trip. It's in good shape - no mechanical failures or anything. The only problem I've run into is leaking underneath the doors. That can be solved with better weather stripping.

My next trip will be to Randle, WA on Memorial Day weekend for the 5th Northwest Teardrop Spring Fling. That will be quite a bit shorter than the prior trip, but the camping environment will be about the same. I met Trudy Glassett, one of the Fling's organizers, at the Dam Gathering.

I have patched an exploit in one of the web sites I maintain. Turns out that a small Perl program I wrote would allow users to display text files from anywhere on the server. Nasty. Not anymore.

Book Pool processed my order and shipped it yesterday - the same day I ordered it. With that quality of service, I'll just keep coming back. Keep up the good work, Book Pool.

Wednesday, May 7, 2003

Our NILUG meeting is next Wednesday, not today. Vacation tends to turn my brain to mush.

I have a mess of 8 1/2" x 11" pages with micro-perf business cards on them, so I was working on a business card for this web site, using OpenOffice Writer. The only way I could see to align them correctly was kind of crude. Maybe I should read the documentation on OpenOffice, or pick up a book.

I'm a book freak, so I am ordering the book on OpenOffice from the Book Pool. Book Pool has the best prices and service of any book seller on the net. Kinda like Amazon used to be, before it got way too big. Only better prices. And the books are mostly technical.

Tuesday, May 6, 2003

I have put the pictures from the teardrop trailer gathering I went to up in the teardrop section. There were some incredible homebuilt efforts at the 10th Dam Gathering. I didn't do some of them justice with my photo efforts, but you can partially blame that on the fact that the gathering could be called the 'field of blue tarps'. ;-)

I am finishing up the talk I will be giving on the Bash command shell. I will present the talk tomorrow night at the North Idaho Linux Users Group meeting. I will be publishing more information about the meeting today on the NILUG web site.

I was listening to Morning Edition on NPR this morning, and they had two very good segments. One of the segments was on the so-called Super DMCA and the other segment was on audio blogging.

The Super-DMCA story was just a news article. Basically, these current and potential state laws introduced into states by the odious MPAA, are supposedly intended to protect against theft of copyrighted material such as motion pictures. Actually, the laws prohibit anyone from hiding the source address of any message sent on the Internet. This makes common items such as routers and encryption software illegal. Some states that have enacted this law are taking a second look at them. I think we would be better served if the politicians would not attempt to legislate what they do not understand, or at least stop listening to people who present them with legislation intended to protect only their vested interests, at the expense of our liberties.

The second story is detailed on the Morning Edition web site. It was balanced and well presented. It gave a brief history of web logs, then began talking about audio web logs. Check it out - I thought it was very interesting.

Monday, May 5, 2003

I'm back in Idaho after my mini-vacation to Arizona and California. The only thing I can say is I'm glad I don't live in California. How could any state government allow the price gougers to charge $2.25 per gallon for gasoline? (30 or 40 miles up the road in Klamath Falls, OR it was $1.44 a gallon)

Friday, May 2, 2003

Drove from Lake Havasu City, AZ to Lake Shasta, CA. 819 miles in one day. Boy, are my feet tired...

Thursday, May 1, 2003

Getting all packed up for the continuation of my trip. I will be leaving from Lake Havasu for Lake Shasta in the morning. Got groceries and packed up most of the teardrop trailer. I have tried to take a picture of the teardrop with London Bridge in the background, but there is so much crap grown up near the bridge, you can't hardly see it.

I have been listening to The Linux Show and to Radio Paradise while I work on my Bash talk. It sure is nice having broadband access to the Internet. Wish I could get that at home.