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BLOGical Thoughts Archive

November 2003

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

My best wishes for a happy Thanksgiving. May your spam bounce back to its sender, may no popups interfere with your surfing, and may Windows actually not crash on you during the holiday. Just stuff the turkey, not yourself.


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"On Thanksgiving Day all over America, families sit down to dinner at the same moment - halftime." -- Unknown

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

I stopped for gas this morning on my way to work. The cash register at the gas station hung up, just as I was about to pay for my gas. One guess what operating system the register (really a computer) was using. Answer: Microsloth Windbloze.

As more and more devices switch from dumb to smart, more and more of them will have their own built-in operating system. You must complain to the appropriate people when you run across one of these devices that is displaying a Windows error message or the blue screen of death, instead of the menu you were expecting. There is no excuse for a simple-minded device to choke and die because it has the world's buggiest operating system loaded in it. There is another way.


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Monday, November 24, 2003

I got lots done this weekend. Mounted snow tires on my car, the plow on my truck, plowed on Saturday and did my normal weekend shopping. This morning I plowed again, as we got about a foot more snow out where I live. It would have been completely impossible for me to get my car out of the garage otherewise, much less get it up the hill. As it turns out, the county road had not been plowed, either. So I snow-planed to Rimrock Road.

I also backed up my Rimrock Software web site. I am getting ready to move it to another ISP.


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Friday, November 21, 2003

Battery trouble this morning. I had to get a new one for my truck. Couldn't drive my car because there is 6 inches of snow in the driveway and I need the truck to plow it. What a conundrum.


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Thursday, November 20, 2003

If you like science fiction and Dr. Who, there is a new flash-animated story from the BBC called Scream of the Shalka. It is six episodes long, with a new episode being introduced every week until the week before Christmas. Episodes 1 and 2 are currently available.


I received 299 email messages in my Rimrock Software email account yesterday. Of those messages, 298 were spam. It's time for radical action.


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Wednesday, November 19, 2003

I am trying to get my water system straightened out again. Someone was supposed to dig a new ditch and lay water line from my house to the well, but he told me to have the well service look at my pump and pressure tank first. In the meantime, I must suffer with less than 10 psi of water pressure.


Completely and totally clueless dept.: Check out the first RIAA article below. They are urging the record companies to remove the filler from their albums, but not to replace it with quality music. Their logic: 'Bruce Springsteen's Born in the USA was a big hit with only eight songs.'

What they don't seem to understand is when they remove the crap, you are left with 2 or 3 good songs for the same price as 12 or 14. And people won't stand for that. Whatta buncha maroons.


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Tuesday, November 18, 2003

I have fixed the teardrop trailer slide shows. Several of the pictures weren't being displayed with the proper width and height. That portion of the program was fixed to be more flexible. Also, if you clicked on the index button of a slide, you went to the teardrop index page instead of the teardrop gathering index page. I fixed that by adding the index page name to my text description page.

I intend to eventually document my slide show program and add it as a free download. I just need the time to do it.


It seems there may be a national teardrop trailer meet in the Midwest. Sort of like the Harley thing they hold in Sturgis. It sounds interesting, but I've never been a big fan of the midwest. Too flat and cold for my tastes.


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Monday, November 17, 2003

I loaded my sub-notebook up with SuSE Linux 9.0. Good bye Lindows. SuSE works well with the hardware, and I have 2 DVDs worth of applications for it. Lindows had barely enough to get you running, and expected you to download the rest over your wideband (!!!) connection.


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Friday, November 14, 2003

Once again, I got sidetracked. FedEx showed up last night with SUSE Linux Professional 9.0, and of course I had to install it. So the computer reconfiguration never took place. Maybe this weekend.


Take note of the article below about Diane Feinstein and her new bill. I first saw a bootleg movie of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back in 1980 - just after the movie was released in theaters. It was obviously done with a camcorder someone had snuck into a showing of the movie, and it was terrible.

How has 23 years changed anything about this? The copiers the MPAA should really be worrying about are the professionals - the ones they are ignoring. They're just trying to get to the amateurs because those people are easier to intimidate. What a buncha maroons!


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Thursday, November 13, 2003

I'm going to try to reorganize my computer collection, so I can more easily use the various machines. I started to do this a while ago, but got sidetracked (like always).

I have metal shelving to put the computers and UPSes on, but I have to move a computer and a desk to get it into the computer room. In order to move the desk, I have to move some other stuff, and on, and on, and on. Maybe I should throw out the whole house and start over.


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Today's Oxymorons:

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

I have tried every combination I can think of to record VHS pre-recorded tapes onto DVD. I am defeated by the copy protection on the VHS tape. I tried an older recorder - no luck. I tried a guard stabilizer I bought 21 years ago for copying betamax tapes, and it had no effect. They sure don't make it easy for you to exercise your fair use rights, do they?

I will keep looking into this, as I need to backup those tapes or lose them from old age. In the meantime, I will be copying Babylon 5 episodes onto DVD (for at least the next 100 years <BG>)

There are some commercial solutions to the problem (thanks, Betty). I will look into them further.


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"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."
     -- Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

I have started a new 'Watch' category. This one is for all those companies who make grandiose claims for their vaporware, implement outrageously wrong features designed to hinder their customers, and just plain think of their customers as 'consumers' instead of people.


My VHS recorder knows about copy-protected video tapes, and there is nothing I can do to get it to forget about them. I will have to get the older recorder tuned up if I want to save all my VHS tapes.

I recorded a TV movie onto DVD last night. It didn't come out as well as I expected, but it was recorded on the tape at the slowest speed. I also didn't get the commercials out of it. I need to learn more about the editing process.


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"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."

-- Edmund Burke

Monday, November 10, 2003

I have been experimenting with my DVD writer, and have found out a few things. One thing I discovered is that many commercial VHS tapes have a rudimentary copy protection on them. This seems to prevent them from being copied to DVD. I am going to look into this more, as I need to get my VHS movies over to DVD. Maybe if I capture them from the TV tuner instead of using the composite input...

The neoDVD software that came with my DVD drive also has an editing capability. I captured the first episode of Babylon 5 onto the hard disk and attempted to edit out the commercials. I could do that, but the sound sync was lost. It was like watching a cheap Hong Kong movie. I will try this again by capturing it into MPEG format and then editing. I have every episode of B5 and would also like to get them onto DVD.


I wasted the entire morning on Sunday trying to pick up SuSE Linux 9 Professional at a local store. After trying on Friday at Staples, Office Depot and Office Max, I tried Best Buy, Circuit City, CompUSA and even tried Costco. It was a complete waste of time and 70 miles of gas. I will order it on the net.

The last two times I purchased SuSE, I got it at CompUSA. The only thing they have now is Red Hat, which will no longer be selling end-user versions. Pretty short sighted, if you ask me. They seem to have lost my business, anyway.


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Friday, November 7, 2003

I looked into the DVD software that came with my DVD-R drive. It's called neoDVD and it's pretty nifty, regardless of the eye-candy exterior. It allows you to create DVDs, MPEGs or VCDs from multiple sources.

I hooked an old VHS recorder up to the inputs on my ATI Radeon TV/display adapter and fired up neoDVD. It found the card and connected to the proper input. I recorded about an hour of a VHS tape and it came out fine. I didn't save it on DVD, as the old recorder has a head alignment problem. I will hook my normal VHS machine up for the record-fest. Looks like I will be busy saving a couple hundred VHS movies onto DVD.

I stopped by Staples on the way home to pick up some media for the new drive. They had Memorex DVD-R and DVD+R media on sale for $19.99 for a 10-pack. I know, $2 a disk is a high price to pay, but if you buy it as singles or a 3-pack, you have to pay about $3 a disk. I will make my big orders on the Internet, probably at a place like Meritline.


I am toying around with the idea of a Microsoft Watch on this blog. They're just too good a target to pass up. Their latest announcement was the release of their digital rights (restrictions?) management software for Windows Server 2003. Since when is stricter control of content something their customers want? And guess who will control that content - not the companies using the technology, that's for sure. This is just another way for M$ to lock customers into their mediocre proprietary operating system.


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"Whenever 'A' attempts by law to impose his moral standards upon 'B', 'A' is most likely a scoundrel."

-- H. L. Mencken

Thursday, November 6, 2003

No input from the pump service about my new water system pressure tank. No input from the car dealer about my car being fixed. No input from my 401k program about rolling over my eMake 401k. Life is just a series of no inputs on fairly important things.


I have (finally) finished the updated web pages for Beaudry Motorsports. They are now stocking a new shifter kart called the Rotax RM1. Very classy machine.


My new DVD-R/RW/+R/RW/RAM drive came. I installed it in my development box, but haven't had time to do anything except verify it reads CDs. I'll have to get some blank DVD+R and DVD-R disks to play with. In the mean time, I will check out its CD-R recording capabilities.

I picked the LG GSA-4040B based on a DVD burners review at Tom's Hardware. Compared to my old Toshiba 1x DVD drive, the new one is quiet as a mouse.


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"The only difference between the Democrats and the Republicans is that the Democrats allow the poor to be corrupt, too."

-- Oscar Levant (1906 - 1972)

Wednesday, November 5, 2003

Clueless: In a move that will surely make Windows a more secure and bug-free operating system, Microsoft has created a 5 million dollar reward program to help law enforcement identify and convict those who illegally release worms, viruses and other malicious programs. They have specifically targeted the MSBlast.A worm and the SoBig virus, with a reward for $250,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible.

This is not a joke. Microsoft really thinks that a reward program is going to make the Internet a safer place. Talk about putting an ambulance at the bottom of a cliff instead of a fence at the top!

How about you make your software safer instead? Stop adding eye-candy and features that increase your market share, and start fixing the problems you already have. If I used Windows fulltime, I would be one of the first to put my name on a Windows recall petition. We do it for unsafe cars - why not do it for unsafe software?


What money can buy: The FCC has voted to mandate the broadcast flag for digital broadcasts. Basically, this allows the $4 billion entertainment industry to take over and completely control the $40 billion high-tech industry. They can mandate whether new technology can be marketed, and whether that technology must contain their software for preventing illegal copying of digital media.

What does this mean to you? You'll have to go out and buy all new equipment such as TVs, radios and ROM drives. The old equipment won't play the new media. And don't expect to ever see another quantum technology leap, as we had from tape and record to CD and DVD. If the entertainment industry can't completely control it, they won't allow it.

You won't be allowed to copy a program for your own use in another device, i.e., copy a TV show and play it on your notebook computer, etc. Think of it as an uncontrolled regulatory agency taking away your fair-use rights in favor of corporate greed.


Local Election: Richard Butler, former head of the former Aryan Nations church, received just 50 votes in his bid for mayor of Hayden. The incumbent mayor, Ron McIntire easily held onto his post with 1,924 votes (90.7 percent). Two other Aryan candidates for city council were also soundly defeated. One of those candidates is still in the county jail on $50,000 bail. He is charged with a felony hate crime. He plans to leave Idaho once his case is resolved.

Al Hassell, a personal friend and former mayor of Coeur d'Alene has been re-elected to the Cd'A city council. Way to go, Al!

Kootenai County voters have once again voted for a 1/2 percent tax increase to help pay for the new county jail. The first try was declared unconstitutional. I hope this one is, too.


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"There is no nonsense so errant that it cannot be made the creed of the vast majority by adequate governmental action."

-- Bertrand Russell (1872 - 1970)

Tuesday, November 4, 2003

Well, all good things must come to an end. Novell has announced they are planning to acquire SuSE, producers of SuSE Linux. If they know what's best for them, they won't mess with the company at all once they have acquired it.

Apparently, Novell also acquired Ximian, another Linux software company, a few months ago.

I will be upgrading to SuSE Linux 9 when I get a chance.


My condolences to those of you who use the Red Hat Linux distribution. Red Hat is abandoning their user-base in favor of big bucks enterprise systems. They are advising their customers to go over to Fedora.


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"The love of liberty is the love of others; the love of power is the love of ourselves."

-- William Hazlitt (1778 - 1830)

Monday, November 3, 2003

Well, I got a lot done over the long weekend, but there is more to do. My car is still at the shop, as they didn't have parts to fix the overheating problem. I should get it back sometime this week. I hope I will be able to get home with it, as we got our first snow (more on the way) and the car has no snow tires on it. I was going to do that little chore on Saturday.

I'm in the middle of a water problem, too. I removed the relay that activates my water pump and when I did, the corroded pipe twisted right off. So I had the well service guy out to redo some of that plumbing. Turns out my 19 year old pressure tank needs replacement, so I'm expecting them to get that in sometime this week, too.

And I spent all day Sunday reinstalling that P.O.S. Windows 2000 on my development machine. I don't have everything reinstalled, but I think I have enough that I can finally do the web pages I promised to Steve Beaudry.


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