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BLOGical Thoughts Archive

May 2008

Friday, 30 May 2008

Why is it that some companies think they are immune from the law? That they can do anything they wish, and they justify their acts by placing the blame on someone else? Now MediaDefender, the attack dog of the RIAA, is trying to justify their illegal actions with the old "we're after pirates, so we can do anything we want. It's obviously their fault we have to resort to illegal acts." (See the multiple articles about this in the RIAA section below.)

Placing the blame on someone else is a disease of the last 20 or 30 years. People who should know better are perfectly willing to say "Oh, it's not my fault - if that guy hadn't jogged in front of me, I never would have been distracted and hit that kid with my car." Yeah, like you aren't responsible for your own actions.


I ended up sending out five books this week for BookMoochers. Since I had enough points to mooch 31 books for myself, I went out and mooched six SciFi books. I couldn't find any mysteries I wanted.


Some of my workmates have come up with another nickname for the shrub. I thought I would share it and maybe it would catch on. Ready?

Edsel Bushesfault


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software

RIAA/MPAA/IFPI/BSA/SIIA/FCC

Stupid Patent Tricks, Copyright and Other IP Nonsense

Liberty and Security/Our Rights

Other News/Public Stupidity

Thursday, 29 May 2008

Traffic on BookMooch is picking up again. I will ship two more books today, for a total of four this week. Now all I have to do is to find some books on there that I can mooch. The last one I picked up was one of the CodeNotes series, which was published in 2002. Maybe a bit more science fiction this time.


I will be doing a series of articles on using the Linux command line. One of the other NILUG members did an impromptu session on it, so I thought I could follow up with more concrete information. I will put the articles on the NILUG web site as I finish them.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software

RIAA/MPAA/IFPI/BSA/SIIA/FCC

Stupid Patent Tricks, Copyright and Other IP Nonsense

Liberty and Security/Our Rights

Other News/Public Stupidity

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

I bought a steering wheel puller last night, and pulled the steering wheel off of my 1952 Plymouth. I have a kit that I will use to refinish the steering wheel, including filling in the cracks that have come into being over the last 56 years. Hopefully, it will look like new when I finish.

I also need to figure out why no fuel is getting to the engine, and why the gas gauge is not working. Getting the gas gauge working should be easy, as it is all electric and should be easy to diagnose.


I picked up the CodeNotes for Web-Based UI from the used book selection at Amazon. It cost me about $5 (including shipping), even though it has a suggested retail price of $29.95. Actually, the shipping cost for the book was more than what I paid for it. It really isn't used - it is new, but surplused. Amazon has some great deals in used books. If you are looking for a book and the prices nowadays really hurt you in the pocketbook, try them.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software

RIAA/MPAA/IFPI/BSA/SIIA/FCC

Stupid Patent Tricks, Copyright and Other IP Nonsense

Liberty and Security/Our Rights

Other News/Public Stupidity

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

I hope eveyone had a relaxing and enjoyable Memorial Day weekend. I did - I took my teardrop trailer down to southern Washington and spent four days in Morton, at the 10th Annual Northwest Teardrop Spring Fling. I did a lot of Dutch oven cooking there, too.

I used my GPS to keep track of how far I had to go during the trip (348 miles). On the way to the Spring Fling, when I got to George, Washington, the GPS quit working. Just packed up. I figured out how to reboot it when I got to Naches. I also figured out what was wrong with it - it runs Windows CE.

On the way back, I also used the GPS. And when I got to George, it stopped working. So is the problem with my map data, or is a satellite wonky? It has never done that before, even when I went to Arizona and back. Weird. Microsoft.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software

RIAA/MPAA/IFPI/BSA/SIIA/FCC

Stupid Patent Tricks, Copyright and Other IP Nonsense

Liberty and Security/Our Rights

Other News/Public Stupidity

Thursday, 22 May 2008

The machine I am setting up at work with our standard development setup has exhibited some strange behavior. It is running Windows XP, and Windows Explorer (file manager) has a life of its own. When I open the file manager, some (not all) of the folders expand by themselves. I can't figure out why that is happening. Stuck '+' key on the keyboard? Who knows. You all know what I think of that O/S if the first place. Let me tell you this has not changed my opinion.

If I had my druthers, I'd rather do development in Linux. Linux handles the Java development environment just fine, with current versions of Java and the Eclipse IDE. There are tools we use, however, that only run on Windows. And I would not be able to do any C# development on Linux, as that development makes heavy use of Microsoft .Net 2.0 and 3.0 assemblies. So I'm stuck with a Windows box at work.


This weekend is a national holiday. I will not be making entries here on Friday or on Monday. I hope everyone has a good Memorial Day weekend.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software

RIAA/MPAA/IFPI/BSA/SIIA/FCC

Stupid Patent Tricks, Copyright and Other IP Nonsense

Liberty and Security/Our Rights

Other News/Public Stupidity

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

I can now see why version 1.0 of much software is usually not so good. The SQL Server database auditing program I wrote at work has been out for six or seven months now, and we have had a few tech support calls. There were places in the program that just didn't stand up to the craziness of some companys' servers. I have added more exception processing to the main code for version 2, and I think I have cleaned up all the nasty surprises.

One area where I did not anticipate problems was logging to a file. Basically, I have a log file thread which is used by each of the auditing threads. When an auditing thread picks up new auditing information it sends it to the logging thread, which writes it to a central log file. I did not anticipate that between one logging call and the next, the log file might no longer be writable. That was occurring because the log file is also being read at the same time as it is being written, but with another part of our system. There was a bug in that part, which would end up locking the log file so it's real owner (my program) could no longer write to it.

I took care of that, too. While I was at it, I added checks to ensure that there is enough disk space to hold all the log files we could write (10 - 50MB files). If there isn't enough space, we write an error message to the Windows application log and remove the oldest log file.

Bottom line here is, when I thought I had all the bases covered, it turns out that our users were doing stuff that challenged my opinions. So I adjusted to it and now have a much more robust program.

This doesn't mean that I no longer think that every version of Microsoft Windows isn't crap, it's just that I now know how some of those bugs got there.


Silly sign of the day:


And now...the news

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

I do a lot of reading. Normally, I can put the book down and go do whatever needs to be done. My problem last night was a new book by Cory Doctorow, called Little Brother. It's a cautionary tale set slightly in an extremely probable future, where the Department of Homeland Security goes way, way overboard. It's about high-schoolers deciding to take their government back. I'm on chapter 17. I can't put it down.

Cory gets his books published in hardback and paperback, but he also distributes them under Creative Commons license. Which is why I can read them online.

So my preliminary excuse for less news links today was the book. But I got to thinking about it, and I realized just how much time I spend getting those links together. Time that could be used for other work. So today is an experiment in cutting down on the news links. Let me know what you think.


Silly sign of the day:


And now...the news

Monday, 19 May 2008

I had no trouble at all installing Debian Linux on the computer that already contains Vector Linux and Linux Mint. It slipped right in just like the others. On the other hand, I downloaded a fresh copy of Foresight Linux and it still would not install on that box. At this late date, it seems that some distros still have problems with some computers.

The computer in question is not unusual. It is an AMD Athlon 64 box with an ASUS motherboard and an NVidia video card. No other Linux distro seems to object to that combination, but Foresight Linux still can't find the image of itself on that box's DVD drive. I will no longer attempt to install it.


I finished the outline for the Dutch oven seminar, and emailed to my co-presenter. I am waiting for any comments he has on the outline. I hope that I have covered all the necessary topics. We really needed an outline, as the last two times we presented the information, we were just kind of winging it.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software

RIAA/MPAA/IFPI/BSA/SIIA/FCC

Stupid Patent Tricks, Copyright and Other IP Nonsense

Liberty and Security/Our Rights

Other News/Public Stupidity

Friday, 16 May 2008

I am going to try installing the latest Debian distro on the machine that already contains Vector Linux and Linux Mint. It should install easily with no problems. I will then try once again to install Foresight Linux on the box - if I can get around the problem of it not being able to find itself on the DVD.

I've been thinking about this, and the only way we can get more people in this area onto Linux is to demo Linux publicly. The InstallFest we had last weekend was not exactly successful, as we mostly had people who were already convinced of Linux's good qualities. So a more public venue is necessary. I will have to look into that.


The local rock club, the North Idaho Mineral Club, is having a show next month on June 7th and 8th. I have volunteered to help at the show. It's too bad that the collecting trip they organized for this weekend is too far for me to go.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software

RIAA/MPAA/IFPI/BSA/SIIA/FCC

Stupid Patent Tricks, Copyright and Other IP Nonsense

Liberty and Security/Our Rights

Other News/Public Stupidity

Thursday, 15 May 2008

The podcasts I would have listened to last week are the ones I am listening to this week. I download just enough to fill a week's worth of time, but I am now doubled up. I have had to dump a few of them because I don't have the time to listen. Maybe I should cut back, but I like listening to the Pottercast, The Signal, net@nite, Security Now, This Week in Tech, etc.


I need to finish up the outline I am doing for the Dutch oven workshop Jack Jacobsen and I will be giving next week. That will happen at the 10th Annual Northwest Teardrop Spring Fling in Morton, WA over the Memorial Day weekend. I have to make sure my truck will handle the trip, too, so I will be busy until then.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software

RIAA/MPAA/IFPI/BSA/SIIA/FCC

Stupid Patent Tricks, Copyright and Other IP Nonsense

Liberty and Security/Our Rights

Other News/Public Stupidity

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

When a new version of a Linux distro that I am using comes out, I usually do a complete new install (without destroying my home partition). I decided that for the Ubuntu 8.04 distro, I would try to update to 8.04 instead of blowing away 7.10. There was one major reason for that; I have a lot of extra applications installed that would have to be re-installed.

So when the Ubuntu Update Manager came up and asked if I would like to upgrade, I said yes. The upgrade required that over 1,500 packages be downloaded and installed. This took over twelve hours, so if you go this route, be aware that it will take quite a while to complete. You will also be asked a few questions after the packages are downloaded and the install starts.

The ultimate result was an Ubuntu 8.04 system with no problems from the installation. I am very happy with the results, no matter how long it took to accomplish.


I have added CNET News to the Wall of Shame. Shame on all of you posted there.


Silly sign of the day:

Sign number 700!


Free/Open Source Software

RIAA/MPAA/IFPI/BSA/SIIA/FCC

Stupid Patent Tricks, Copyright and Other IP Nonsense

Liberty and Security/Our Rights

Other News/Public Stupidity

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

I picked up a CD containing OpenSolaris last week while I was attending JavaOne. Saturday morning, before the NILUG meeting, I attempted to install it as the third O/S on the demo box I was going to take to the meeting. That exercise can be summed up in one statement: OpenSolaris doesn't play well with others. The installation got to the place where the boot loader was to be updated, and the installation hung up. Of course, that killed the two other installs I had already loaded on the box.

To get back the other two installs, I had to reinstall one of them. Luckily, Linux Mint is an easy install, so that's the one I did.

I also tried to install Foresight Linux on the same box, from a DVD in Linux Format magazine. There was something wrong with the DVD, though, as it could not find Foresight Linux on the DVD as part of the install process. I may burn a CD of that and try it again, as I have heard interesting things about Foresight Linux.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software

RIAA/MPAA/IFPI/BSA/SIIA/FCC

Stupid Patent Tricks, Copyright and Other IP Nonsense

Liberty and Security/Our Rights

Other News/Public Stupidity

Monday, 12 May 2008

I spent all last week in San Francisco, two blocks from Moscone Convention Center. I was there with 15,000 others, attending Sun Microsystems' JavaOne conference. If you ever want to know what information overload feels like, try going to one of these conferences. No time to see the sites, that's for sure. Although on Friday morning I managed to get over to a mall on Market Street, next to Union Square, where I picked up a copy of Lois McMaster Bujold's "Cordelia's Honor". Autographed by the author, no less. So the trip to SF was worth it.

Worth it, that is, except for the airport nazis. A classic example of being polite, while implying "we took away your constitutional rights when you came in the door, and we can do anything we want to you." I'm very glad I stayed away from airports for 6 years. If I had my druthers, I'd druther stay away forever.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software

RIAA/MPAA/IFPI/BSA/SIIA/FCC

Stupid Patent Tricks, Copyright and Other IP Nonsense

Liberty and Security/Our Rights

Other News/Public Stupidity

Friday, 2 May 2008

I have visited 6 technology-related stores in this area over the last two days, searching for a notebook lock. I found at least one in each of those stores. And each and every one was a combination lock, which a six year old child could defeat. Not a single store had a lock which used an actual key. Basically, like our government, they are not selling safety, they are selling the perception of safety. Most of those 'locks cost between $25 and $40. Shame on you people. I guess it won't hurt me to keep my notebook computer close to me instead of locking it up.


Please don't expect any blog entries next week. I will be extremely busy and will not have the time to make entries here. I will definitely start blogging again on the 12th, though.


The Dutch oven workshop at Rathdrum City Park is tomorrow. It starts at 11 am and ends when everyone leaves. For those who want to learn how to cook with a camp Dutch oven, the registration is $25. George Holcomb, the organizer of the event, is also selling his Dutch oven cookbook for $10. If you are interested in this great way to cook, plan on attending. It should be a really nice day.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software

RIAA/MPAA/IFPI/BSA/SIIA/FCC

Stupid Patent Tricks, Copyright and Other IP Nonsense

Liberty and Security/Our Rights

Other News/Public Stupidity

Thursday, 1 May 2008

I didn't get a chance to work on my Dutch oven equipment last night. I was busy in a VPN session to work. The powers that be decided we needed more information when the 'test' function indicated that a connection test failed. Since I happen to agree with that assessment, I went ahead and made the change (since the information was already available). I finished up at 9pm, so had no time to do anything else.

Except...before I started my VPN session, I started a download of the full-blown Linux Mint. The version I installed was called Linux Mint Light and I wanted to demo the full capabilities. The Light version did play a Disney movie after I downloaded a couple of codecs, though. I will burn a disc and install it tonight.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software

RIAA/MPAA/IFPI/BSA/SIIA/FCC

Stupid Patent Tricks, Copyright and Other IP Nonsense

Liberty and Security/Our Rights

Other News/Public Stupidity