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BLOGical Thoughts Archive

May 2009

Friday, 29 May 2009

I was working on the sports program last night in the Windows 2000 virtual machine on my Linux box. I shut down the VM, thinking I was at a stopping place, then started it up again, as I had forgotten something. The VM no longer booted into Windows. It would get up to the point where it was setting up the desktop, then it would re-boot. I tried everything I could think of to get around that, but it just would not work. And I never took a snapshot of the VM - I kept forgetting to do that, so I have no older version of the VM to fall back on. I ended the evening thinking some very uncomplimentary thoughts about a certain company in Redmond, WA, and thinking about the fact I would have to reload the operating system.

This morning I attempted to power up the VM, thinking I could capture the error message that flashes briefly on the screen. Instead of an error message, the VM booted right up! I have no idea what the problem was, but it's gone this morning. I immediately took a snapshot of the VM.


No updates here for the next week. I hope nobody suffers withdrawal. 9-)


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software

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

Local and Other News

Thursday, 28 May 2009

I worked on the sports program last night. I hooked the new database up to the small utility program I was using to load the database, and it works fine. The components used for database access are not TQuery and TTable compatible, however. Whoever wrote them had a whole different paradigm in mind. They work okay, though.

I also finished converting the SQL statements to ones that the new database can handle. I now have to create statements to add the (default) soccer data to the database. At that point, I should be ready to start hooking the main program up to the database.


I will have limited Internet access next week, so there won't be any postings during that time. It's hard to get a Wi-Fi connection when 10,000 other geeks are trying to do the same thing.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software

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

Local and Other News

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

I am working on the sports program again. I am currently trying to get the SQL statements straightened out, so they can be used to easily recreate the initial database. SQL is an arcane skill, since there are as many dialects as there are database management systems in the world. For example, 'INTEGER AUTOINCREMENT PRIMARY KEY' is not the same as 'INTEGER PRIMARY KEY AUTOINCREMENT' in the dialect I am using. That's very confusing. It's a good thing there is a comprehensive on-line manual for the version I am using.


What We Have Learned From The Movies

  1. It is always possible to park directly in front of any building you are visiting.
  2. A detective can only solve a case once he has been suspended from duty.
  3. If you start dancing in the street, everyone you bump into will know all the steps.
  4. Most laptops are powerful enough to override the communication systems of any invading alien civilization.
  5. It does not matter if you are heavily outnumbered in a fight involving martial arts - your enemies will wait patiently to attack you one by one, dancing around in a threatening manner until you have knocked out their predecessors.
  6. After a person suffers a massive blow to the head, they will still be surprisingly good looking.
  7. No one involved in a car chase, hijacking, explosion, volcanic eruption or alien invasion will ever go into shock.
  8. Partnering police officers with their total opposites will always, eventually, lead to buddy teams who share unbreakable bonds and gruff affection.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software

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

Local and Other News

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

I spent the last four days at the 11th Northwest Spring Fling, a teardrop trailer gathering that was held in Chehalis, WA. It took almost 7 hours to drive there and 7 more to drive back. I hope we get the gathering back to its normal location in Morton, WA next year, even though this years location was great. Our sincere thanks to Steve and Peggy Birley for putting up with 100 people on their acreage in Chehalis.

I have posted pictures of the gathering in my teardrop trialer section.


I have ordered a motherboard, CPU, fan and memory to get the dead computer running again. It's a dual-core CPU and 4GB of memory. The memory is overkill for the current operating system (Windows 2000 Professional), which can only see 2GB, but I'm looking to the future. At $23 per 2GB, you can easily do that.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software

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

Local and Other News

Thursday, 21 May 2009

I have finished posting the pictures from my recent trip to the Lost in the 50's car show in Sandpoint. I hope everyone enjoys them.


There will be no more postings here until next Tuesday. I hope everyone has a nice Memorial Day holiday.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software

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

Local and Other News

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

I am back to working on the reports program at work. My boss has made some suggestions for adjusting the look and feel, and I also needed to fix a piece that has been broken since we started the upgrade. All that is now done, but I still need to see why the program is choking on one particular report. Lots to do, and only two days to do it all in.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software

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

Local and Other News

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

I went looking for a motherboard from a local source last night. I didn't find a motherboard, but I did pick up a box and packing material so I can send my sister the computer I set up for her. I also wrote a small letter explaining how to do some things on Linux, since she has no experience with that operating system.


I have an old LinkSys wireless router which I replaced quite a while ago with a D-Link router. I have not been using the LinkSys, so I had a friend load different firmware into it. It now uses DD-Wrt instead of the factory firmware. I tried it out over the weekend, as I will be using it this weekend. It's a bit like having a whole new router - I will have to explore all the new capabilities.


Postings here may be a bit sparse this week. I have a lot to do, and I have a 4-day weekend coming up, starting on Friday.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software

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

Local and Other News

Monday, 18 May 2009

I have verified that there is nothing wrong with the three SCSI drives from the dead computer I am working on. I have also verified that the two IDE drives from that machine are also fine. I just need to replace the motherboard, CPU, memory and possibly the video card to get the machine working again. I really need to know what kind of motherboard to get, though. Will the machine continue to be used as a graphics rendering machine, or will the data just be moved to another computer? And will Windows 2000 professional run with the new motherboard? That is a question that never needs to be answered with Linux.


I gave my sister advice about getting a new computer and offered to give her one if she didn't want to spend the money. She called back this weekend and took me up on my giveaway offer. So I reconfigured a computer that my mom had been using. It now has 1.5GB RAM, a 200GB hard drive and has Ubuntu 9.04 installed on it. Now all I have to do is find a box to put it in so I can send it to her.


I took 127 pictures at Lost in the 50's over the weekend. I need to make up a slide show page for the pictures and then I will post them here. Other than being way too sunny for good picture taking, the show was very nice.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software

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

Local and Other News

Friday, 15 May 2009

The SCSI adapter I ordered to help me get data off a dead computer arrived last night. I will be hooking it up tomorrow afternoon, after I get back from Lost in The 50's up in Sandpoint. There are three SCSI disks in the machine and each looks like it holds 33GB. I should be able to get all three onto a single 200GB IDE drive. I will partition the drive so it looks like three hard disks before I copy the data. That will take care of the data drives. The other two drives from that system should just plug in and be usable by the system I will be doing all this on.


I am still working on the sports program. Last night I created an SQLite database for the program. The only problems I ran into were SQL syntax problems. Different DBMS's have different syntaxes, no matter how much they say they conform to SQL standards.

I now need to find a set of Delphi components that will work with SQLite. I thought I had some, but they have trouble using the SQLite DLL. I will look into installing the Zeos components, which work with a bunch of different databases.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software

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

Local and Other News

Thursday, 14 May 2009

It seems that the Google News server has just gone down. I haven't seen that happen very often. This seems to be a serious problem, as their timeout screen says to wait 30 seconds and try again. But it has been down for a lot longer than that. I was going to search for more Linux links, but I guess the ones I found will have to do.

There is a Woot-Off going on. Check it out.


The economy may be turning around. My I.R.A. has lost 35% of its high value since the recession started. I received my monthly IRA statement and the account has gained 8% in a single month. Thanks, D.A. Davidson. I'm glad I followed your advice to just keep on doing what I was doing with the 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 and Other News

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

It seems that Digg.com has stopped using their annoying, intrusive interference between users and the web sites that Digg links to. So I will go back to looking at Digg links again. And hopefully, they won't try anything like that again.

I learned that they had abandoned this from an offhand comment on the 'This Week In Fun' podcast. Kevin Rose was a guest there and the two hosts, who are former coworkers, were razzing him about various things. This popped up when Martin Sargeant mentioned something about what a 'good' idea it was, and everyone laughed.


Sandpoint is holding their annual Lost in the 50's event, which includes a huge car show. I missed it last year, so I will definitely be there this year. Look for new photos in my teardrop trailer section.

Speaking of which, it's about time that I redesigned this site. It doesn't make much sense to have all the pictures I take in the teardrop trailer section, even though the majority of them are of trailers. I will try to come up with a better organized site.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software

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

Local and Other News

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

At work, I am back doing Java programming. I am writing and fixing log file readers again. It's fairly easy, but the results can have widespread implications. I will get back to Delphi as soon as QA finds some bugs in the reporting program I finished up.

We are having a tough time at work filling some programming positions. We need Flex programmers, but apparently so does everyone else. Whenever we find a candidate that we make an offer to, they get snatched up by some other company in a town where salaries are much higher. We just interviewed a good programmer yesterday and I think they will offer her a position. Here's hoping someone else doesn't outbid us.


I could not believe I saw these two bumper stickers on the back of a single SUV, but hey, this is North Idaho:

Conservative in Exile

Don't Blame Me - I Voted for Palin


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software

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

Local and Other News

Monday, 11 May 2009

The NILUG meeting on Saturday was good. I helped out a few people and installed the production version of Ubuntu 9.04 on my notebook computer. I also installed it on two other people's computers. I even installed my favorite theme, Balanzan, on the notebook. With the NILUG meeting and the one for the Gem and Mineral Show, I didn't get much else done on Saturday. On Sunday, I ordered a SCSI adapter from NewEgg so I could continue with the recovery of the dead computer I am working on. I also helped one of my sisters pick out another computer to replace the one she has that has suddenly died.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software

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

Local and Other News

Friday, 8 May 2009

I have a busy Saturday this week. In the morning, I will be attending an organizing meeting for the North Idaho Mineral Club's Gem and Mineral Show. In the afternoon, there is the regular monthly meeting of the North Idaho Linux Users Group. I hope to get back to looking at my friend's dead computer on Sunday. I also have to lube up the trailer, as the first teardrop trailer gathering of the year is fast approaching.


Programming Tip

Here's a great use for Delphi's TStringList class. Suppose you have a string that contains a multi-line SQL statement. You need to remove a line from the statement without screwing up the rest of the statement. Here's the statement:

  #13#10SELECT * FROM audit#13#10WHERE (alertid >= 300 AND alertid < 400)
    #13#10AND acctno = ?ACCOUNT#13#10ORDER BY alertid#13#10#13#10

Pretty nasty looking, with all those carriage returns (#13) and line feeds (#10). Let's say we want to remove the line that contains '?ACCOUNT'. To do that, we could look for ?ACCOUNT, then back up from there to the line feed character (and mark that place), then find the next carriage return (and mark that place). We can then do a Delete of that piece of the string.

There is a much easier way, though. First, we store the SQL statement in a TStringList:

  var
    slSQL: TStringList;
    iPos: integer;
  slSQL := TStringList.Create;
  slSQL.Text := SQLString;

The trick here is when you assign the string to the string list, the .Text automatically adds each line (delimited by a CR/LF or even just a LF) as a separate string in the list. The list will look like this:

  
  SELECT * FROM audit
  WHERE (alertid >= 300 AND alertid < 400)
  AND acctno = ?ACCOUNT
  ORDER BY alertid

Now you can just do the following to delete the line:

  iPos := slSQL.Find('?ACCOUNT');
  if iPos <> -1 then
    slSQL.Delete(iPos);
  SQLString := slSQL.Text;

This code looks for the word '?ACCOUNT' in the list and returns an index number if found. If not found, it returns -1. You can then delete the entire line. The final line takes all the strings in the list, adds CR/LF between each string and assigns the result.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software

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

Local and Other News

Thursday, 7 May 2009

I have updated the North Idaho Mineral Club web site, adding information about the gem and mineral show we will be sponsoring on June 6th and 7th. The web site was done by someone else, and it is not easy to update. I will be looking for an alternative to the static web pages currently in use. They may look nice, but underneath they are really ugly and convoluted.


I can't find a replacement power supply for the old PC I've been working on. There is one more place that may have a used supply - I will try there. If I can't find one, I will have no choice but to move up to a newer machine - just to get a bunch of files off the hard drives.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software

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

Local and Other News

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

I did some work on the sports program last night, but mostly I worked on my friend's computer that refuses to boot. A new power supply came for it last night, so I disconnected the old supply and started to install the new one. It was at that point I noticed the new supply lacked an important connector the old one had. So I plugged the old supply back into the motherboard and all the peripherals and turned the machine back on. The power supply immediately shorted out, so I turned off the machine.

At this point, I have several options: tonight I will stop by F1 For Help and see if Joseph has an AT-style power supply (the new one is an ATX). If he doesn't, I will install the two IDE drives from the machine into another computer and see if they are okay. If they are, I will get a SCSI card and then plug those three drives into the machine. That should do to retrieve the data from the machine, but it won't fix the loss of the machine as a graphic rendering machine.


Most Used Linux Applications, Part 2

Here are the rest of the Linux applications I use on a frequent basis under Ubuntu 9.04.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software

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

Local and Other News

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

The foreign key and primary key constraints I placed on the sports program database causes a problem I had not anticipated. When I attempt to drop the tables, some of them will not drop because of the constraints. This means I have to find the proper order in which to drop the tables, if I want to recreate the database from scratch. To help me with all this, I bought an O'Reilly's SQL Pocket Guide at Borders last night. I got it because the SQL syntax is a killer, and every DBMS manufacturer has their own syntax.


Most Used Linux Applications

The following is a partial list of the applications I use under Ubuntu 9.04. These applications are not a part of the Ubuntu initial installation. I use some applications from the install, such as Firefox and Openoffice.org. This list is applications I just can't seem to do without.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software

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

Local and Other News

Monday, 4 May 2009

I started to make changes to the SQL text file that contains definitions of the sports program's database, but I ended up accidentally destroying the file. I had to reconstruct the file from an older copy. While I was doing that, I added foreign key constraints to it, as the new embedded database supports that (the old one did not). I will also be adding triggers, as that will help ensure the tables are properly synchronized, datawise.


I got some fill dirt on Saturday and unloaded it that afternoon. It looks like I need at least five more loads to make a dent in the depression left by the drainage work in my front yard. I will do that as I can. There are a lot of other things to do around here, as well, so it will take a while to get this done.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software

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

Local and Other News

Friday, 1 May 2009

I started refactoring the database for the sports program last night. I have eliminated three tables so far, and have added information to it that I forgot to add before. I also changed the name of some fields to be more descriptive. So I am well on my way to completing the first item on my Mantis bug list. Note that it is marked as a feature there, not as a bug. Mantis is just a handy way to keep track of what is going on.

As I have mentioned before, I am doing this Windows development in a Windows 2000 Professional virtual machine. Mantis runs in Linux on my workstation. I access Mantis from the VM using Firefox. It works really well, even though it takes some getting used to. I am used to using Bugzilla.


I hope to get some outdoor work done over the weekend, if I don't get sidetracked doing work on the sports program. I need a bunch of fill dirt to put up against the part of the house where we dug up to replace the drainage system. I also need some material to put in front of the garage, where the drive has been eroded or moved (via snowplow). Plus I need to just do general cleanup. Looks like a fun weekend.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software

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

Local and Other News