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BLOGical Thoughts Archive

May 2011

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

I am looking in to the database connection problems on this web site. I hope to have things fixed sometime this week, one way or another. In the meantime, the blog entries will be sparse.



Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software

Thursday, 26 May 2011

The developers at work who are attending a conference are not out of contact. Each one took a laptop and they can VPN in to their work machine. It just isn't very efficient to do development on a little nothing laptop screen when your work computer has two screens and a total of 3840 by 1080 pixels to play with.

Those guys have fixed a couple of things I had no experience with, and this new round of software is nearly ready to be thoroughly tested. I can't believe that we did in 7 weeks what took 6 months the first time. Of course, there was only me last time and this time there are 6 others helping.

The rewrite was worth it. The speed up of search requests is remarkable.



 

This weekend is Memorial Day weekend. I will not post anything here either tomorrow or Monday. I hope everyone has a good extended weekend.



 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

My old Canon S630 color inkjet printer has died a quiet death, so I ordered a new printer from Amazon. I picked up a Canon Pixma MP495 All-in-One printer, mostly without checking to see if it would work with Linux. It turns out that it doesn't work out of the box, but the users in the Ubuntu forums found a way. One guy describes how to download the printer and scanner drivers from Canon and how to install them. I installed both drivers and I now have a combination printer/scanner/copier machine.

The first thing I did was check out the printer quality by printing a couple of photos of my '52 Plymouth. They came out just fine. I think this will work for me, despite the fact that Canon has selected the greed-stream by building electronics into their all-colors-in-one ink cartridge.



 

At work, most of the development staff has gone to a conference. One other guy and I are still here and we will be fixing bugs on the rewrite of the search stuff we all just finished. I plan to be very busy the next couple of days.



 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

I have had a few comments about the cookbook I edited for the T&TTT forum. The comments are all pretty good. No critical reviews, so I guess that's okay. Now that it is out of the way, I will go back to editing the other cookbook I was working on. And, of course, all the other various projects I have that need to be completed.



 

I am getting together the equipment for teardrop trailer camping and Dutch oven cooking. So far, the only problem I have found with the equipment is the Dutch oven gloves I use for flipping baked goods out of the oven. I loaned one of them to a Boy Scout a few weeks back, and he returned it partially melted. I guess I will have to go to Harbor Freight and pick up another pair of welder's gloves.



 

This web site is getting too slow to be useful. I suspect web hosting problems and I will be looking into moving it to the other web host I use. These folks cost too much, anyway.



 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

Monday, 23 May 2011

I made it to Lost in the 50's on Saturday. It was a perfect day for a car show - mostly overcast and the temperature was just right. I took 140 pictures there and you can see them here. I only took pictures of cars that were interesting to me. If I had taken a picture of every car there, I would have had over 300 pictures. This event keeps getting bigger and bigger.



 

I also put pictures up of the North Idaho Mineral Club field trip to Saddle Mountain, WA for petrified wood. I was doing a Dutch oven demo that weekend, so I could not attend, but it looked like fun.



 

I did some spring cleaning on my teardrop trailer. I greased the hubs and repaired a drawer in the galley. The trailer is pretty much ready to go now. I just need to gather up and check the other equipment I usually take along on a teardrop trip.



 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

Friday, 20 May 2011

I find myself in the exact same position as I was last year at this time. Lost in The 50's starts today, and I want to go to that car show tomorrow. My problem is I should be working tomorrow to be finishing up the software changes which are due Monday morning. The changes are a re-write of the software I did last year at this time, changing it to be more efficient to to improve performance.

I think I will go to the car show, then check in to see if I am needed to help with finalizing the new code. I may have to work on Sunday, but I'm going to take Saturday morning for myself.



 

My 1952 Plymouth originally came with U.S. measurement tires: 6.50X15. We have since then gone to measuring our tires in metric measurements. I have done an extensive search on the Internet to determine what metric size would come closest to that, so the speedometer will accurately indicate my speed. I have found that 195/75R15 tires are the exact thing I need. They are 1.2" wider than the stock tires, but they are the exact same diameter.

The tires currently on the car are 235/75R15, which are 2.8" wider and 2.4 " greater in diameter. They are just wrong, and will cause the odometer and speedometer to indicate incorrect values. They also fill up the wheel wells so much there is danger of rubbing when I turn a corner.

The problem with this analysis is that 195/75R15 tires are not your normal sized tires. I will have to order them on the Internet. They are $128 a piece and the tubes (remember tubes?) are $27 a piece. Whew.



 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

Thursday, 19 May 2011

I spent a lot of time last night doing paperwork. Which I hate. But I am the treasurer for the North Idaho Mineral Club, as well as its webmaster, so the work must be done. It's finished, so I can do other stuff again.



 

I noticed that Oracle has released an upgrade for VirtualBox, just after the last release. I upgraded last week and I have to upgrade again, because the new release apparently supports Gnome shell. So Gnome 3 will now work in a VM, but they didn't mention support for that mythical Unity.



 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

I downloaded Ubuntu 11.04 and created a CD from the ISO image. I did this so I could evaluate the Unity desktop manager. I booted the live CD on my 64-bit workstation and ended up in ... Gnome 2. I tried booting it on my regular workstation - no Unity. It seems that the live CD defaults to Gnome 2.

I then installed Ubuntu 11.04 in a virtual machine. It booted into Gnome 2 again. It claimed the VM did not have the resources to support Unity. So I installed the VirtualBox Guest Additions and rebooted the VM - still no Unity.

At this point I have to doubt the actual physical existence of Unity. I will not install it on any of my boxes just to verify my unfounded opinion of it, so we will have to leave things at that, unless any of you have any other ideas.



 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

I spent some time looking at Gnome 3.0 last night. For those who don't like reading long rants with conclusions at the end, here it is: Gnome 3.0 sucks.

Gnome 3.0 is like a full screen version of the Windows 7 menu system. That may be all very well for a netbook or a tablet, but for a normal desktop computer, it requires a lot of mouse movement to get anywhere close to what you want to select.

My eyesight is okay, but I had to squint to read the same print attached to each of the menu icons. It seems that big pretty pictures count for much more than text information about the picture.

With Gnome 3.0, it takes at least 4 mouse-clicks to select an application, and you have to move all over the screen to do that. Gnome 2 requires 2 mouse clicks in a confined area. How is 4 better than 2?

Whoever designed Gnome 3.0 should read a few books on user interface design. The bottom line is, the design should make user access easier, not prettier or cooler.



 

I was shredding some paper last night and when I attempted to shred a flat envelope, the shredder jammed. I spent some time taking the shredder apart to remove the offensive item, which turned out to be a fake car key that some car dealer sent me. If I never get another item of junk mail, it will be too soon. At least it didn't hurt the shredder any, but it took a while to remove the key and reassemble the shredder.



 

I finished the 2nd edition of the Teardrops and Tiny Travel Trailers cookbook, and have posted it here. You can click on the image to download it.



 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

Monday, 16 May 2011

The North Idaho Linux Users Group meeting on Saturday was okay, but I like it better when someone gives a talk on something. We are getting into the summer months, so that may not happen for a while.

I did some outside chores on Sunday, until it started raining. I then came in and spent some time doing some graphics for the soccer coach program. They look okay, but I'm just not an artist. And it's hard to come up with a graphic for Games Schedule...



 

I will be taking a look at the Unity and Gnome 3.0 desktops, but I expect I will have a negative view of them and will stick to the current meme in Gnome 2 and XFCE. I refuse to install something that causes me more work when selecting items for execution, which is why I don't use the Linux Mint default menu. Of course, that is not the current 'wisdom', which says "if it looks cool, go with it".



 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

Friday, 13 May 2011

I have installed all the support I need to do Androids applications on my workstation. I should be able to create an Android application with Eclipse now, but I tried running some of the Android examples and could not get them to run. I hate software that is so complex you have to have a book to know how to run them.

One of the problems with Android apps is that some of them may be free, but they are locked up behind gates that require you to sign up before downloading them. I don't do social networks and I don't do arbitrary sign-ups. I work for a security company - believe me when I say those are both bad ideas.



 

The North Idaho Linux Users Group meeting is tomorrow afternoon. I will show off my g Tablet there and compare it against the Xoom that one of the other members forked out way too much money for.



 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

Thursday, 12 May 2011

I mentioned last year about this time what I was doing at work. I was writing a translator that could take search descriptions from our GUI console and translate them into complex SQL statements. That work caused me to miss both the Lost in the 50's and Car d'Lane car shows.

A year later, we are rewriting the translator to optimize the SQL statements and improve its performance. Instead of a single person, we have seven people on the translator and we are taking an entirely different approach. I am pair-programming with some one else on it. We should be finished in 6 weeks instead of the 6 months it took me the first time.

Normally, when you throw more people at a task, the task takes longer to complete. The exception is when the task pieces are well designed so each piece can be worked on separately. That is why it will only take us 6 weeks this time. Last time, there was no design - it was a matter of "Oh Mike, can you add this?" We are just re-implementing all those oh-by-the-ways.



 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

I added a couple more recipes to the Dutch oven cookbook last night, but other than that, I took the night off. Didn't even look at how to develop Android applications.

I do need to find a couple of items for my 1952 Plymouth. It needs armrests, door thresholds and some special clips for mounting rocker panel molding. I think the clips will have to be manufactured, but I might be able to find the other two items. The door threshold was originally made of hard rubber, with little rubber knobs under it that plug in to holes in the floor to keep it in place. There is no way to find one of those now. I will substitute a threshold made of metal. I am thinking of using an aluminum house door threshold, sometimes called a door saddle. It need to be 43" long and 3" wide. The length is a problem as most house thresholds are 3 feet long. I'll keep looking.



 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

I worked on the T&TTT Dutch oven cookbook again last night. I went through the book, copied each photograph to the clipboard, pasted them in GIMP and reduced them to the size they are actually displayed in the cookbook. I then copied them back in to the cookbook. The size of the resultant PDF file went from 3.4MB to 1.3MB, so it was worth the effort.

I also corrected a few typos and added an attribution for the the front cover picture. The cookbook is ready to go, but I think the forum owner wants to wait until April 1 to distribute it. He is hoping for a few more recipes to be added between now and then.



 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

Monday, 9 May 2011

The Dutch oven portion of the Community Preparedness Fair on Saturday went well. It was an all day affair and when it was finished, I was really tired and sore. But a lot of people learned about Dutch oven cooking. I prepared a few dishes, but the Boy Scouts did all the cooking. I was there from 8 am to 5 pm, with no real breaks.

I got my normal Saturday errands done on Sunday. I also installed the Android Developers Kit on my workstation. That works with the Eclipse IDE for Java. I haven't had any time to actaully use it, though.

I started working on the soccer program again. I am looking for icons that can be used in the toolbar. That is a tough thing to do when the buttons are things like Player Statistics and Practice Schedule. What can you use for stuff like that?



 

I blocked the 'bot that caused my bandwidth exceeded last month and have been monitoring to make sure nothing like that occurs again. As far as I can tell, it is still getting in. I don't know enough about the .htaccess file to understand why, though. I have added a mess of restrictions to my robots.txt file, so I should be getting less 'bot hits.



 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

Friday, 6 May 2011

I did Dutch oven stuff last night. I unpacked the ovens from their winter rest and checked them to see if they needed any re-seasoning or clean-up. My 10" oven was the unfortunate recipient of water on the lid, caused by a leak in the garage roof. I cleaned that rust up, re-oiled the lid and cooked it in the oven for an hour and a half. The lid looks good as new. The other ovens needed no help.

I also printed the recipes we will be doing on Saturday onto not cards. I made one card for each cook station the Boy Scouts will be manning. This makes it easier for them to cook the food while I am doing the Dutch oven workshop talk. I already have a script for the talk, that I gave at one of the teardrop trailer gatherings.



 

I un-installed the EE version of Eclipse on my 64-bit workstation and installed the SE version. The former version has way too much crap I will never use. I also installed a plug-in for Eclipse that will allow me to design program forms visually, just like Delphi and Lazarus. If I can figure out how to use it, I should be able to easily create some O/S agnostic programs.



 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

Thursday, 5 May 2011

I worked on paperwork for the North Idaho Mineral Club last night. There is quite a bit to do, so it took all evening. Except...

While I was working on the paperwork, I was also downloading Linux Mint XFCE. When it finished, I installed it in a virtual machine. It looks pretty much like other versions of Linux Mint, but it boots up wicked fast.

I also downloaded and installed a plug-in for the Java Eclipse IDE that allows you to visually create and edit forms for your programs. With all the paperwork I was doing, I haven't had a chance to evaluate it yet.



 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

I am going to give a Dutch oven demonstration on Saturday at the Coeur d'Alene LDS church. I spent last night with the organizers, getting a menu put together and deciding how it would be arranged. It's going to be a long day, I can tell.

I need to unpack my Dutch oven gear from winter storage and make sure it is all ready to go. If you aren't careful with how you put the pots away, they may pick up some rust from condensation from extreme temperature variations. I will look for that and also clean up all the assorted accessories I use, so I can present an organized appearance to the crowd.



 

I have my Dodge in the shop so they can figure out why the starter won't work. If you push it to start it, it will run just fine. I can't do that every time I stop the engine, though. I kind of need it by the end of this month.



 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

It was an interesting weekend. The bandwidth exceeded you may have seen on this web site was caused by a Yahoo bot hitting it every three or four seconds for the last half of last month. I have taken care of that by completely denying access to the site by that bot, as well as cleaning up my robots.txt file to better handle robots in general.

To top things off, this is the time of month when my web host and Internet provider debit my credit card for this month's services. I had to provide an alternative to that card, since I cancelled it on Thursday. I actually had to ues my debit card, since I have not yet received a new credit card. Believe me when I say that cancelling a credit card is a royal pain.



 

I was at LinuxFest Northwest on the weekend in Bellingham, WA. I gave my talk on rapid application development in Linux and it went over fairly well. I attended several of the sessions and they were fairly interesting. I won nothing at the raffle. Oh, well.

I also saw three other people with a ViewSonic g Tablet. That's a good thing. And I got interested in doing applications for Android, just so I can have a Reverse Polish Notation calculator on my tablet.



 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software