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BLOGical Thoughts Archive

November 2005

Wednesday, 30 November 2005

I ran cable for my broadband connection through the attic crawlspace last night. I also ran it down through an inner wall to the computer room, but I'm having trouble fishing it out of the wall. I will (hopefully) finish this up tonight.

I verified that my cassette to MP3 player does not have a hardware problem. It just has lousy support software. I verified this by booting into Linux and using KRecord to record a song from the player. Sounds good, no stutters. I will be using that combination instead of the lousy Windows software accompanying the player.

We had our first good snow last night. We got about 5 to 6 inches at my house, and I was out 1/2 hour early this morning plowing my house and the road up to the county road. I was out even earlier than the county plow, as I met it on the way out to work after I had finished plowing.

I downloaded and am now using Firefox 1.5. Before installing it, I uninstalled Firefox 1.07, as there are radical differences in the internals. I've been told that you can't just upgrade from one to the other.


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Tuesday, 29 November 2005

Some of the hardware I ordered came yesterday. I received the Arctic Cooling CPU fan, which should reduce the operating temperature of Betty's multimedia computer to acceptable levels.

I also received two PC cassette decks, one for the multimedia computer and one for me. I installed mine and played a bit with it. The hardware works just fine, but the software that comes with the box doesn't. I attempted to record a song with it, and it recorded ok, except that there were frequent 'stutters' or 'hiccups' in the recording.

Since the device plugs in to the Line In jack in the back of the computer, I will try using other software to record the cassette. That should be fairly straightforward.

I am still waiting on a box of stuff from Surplus Computers that may help me with one other problem in the multimedia computer.


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Monday, 28 November 2005

I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving holiday. I know I did. I had Thanksgiving dinner at some friends, who invite me as a yearly thing. The dinner was very good.

On Friday, I participated in America's favorite sport - shopping. I got to Staples at 5:25 am to get in line for the Black Friday sale. I ended up as the second buyer of an Acer Aspire notebook for 459 bucks. What a nice computer! My sister will love it (Christmas gift).

On Saturday, I went over and installed a bunch of software on Betty Zirkle's new computer, and straightened out her new router. I was supposed to install a new CPU fan and cassette to MP3 device, but they haven't shown up yet. UPS gets busy during the holidays.

Yesterday, I changed the tires on my Stealth and got my new broadband dish and modem installed. He didn't have a power supply for it, so it isn't working yet, but that will happen this week. No more dial-up!

I also worked on a Linux translation of a program I wrote quite a while ago. Soccer Coach allows new coachs to do scheduling, training, statistics and all kinds of other stuff for their youth soccer teams. I am translating it to Mono, so it can be compiled for both Linux and Windows (.Net).


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Wednesday, 23 November 2005

I hope everyone has a good Thanksgiving holiday. For the first time ever, I will be trying to get into a store on Black Friday to grab an under 400 dollar notebook computer. Wish me luck.


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Tuesday, 22 November 2005

I didn't do any computer stuff last night. Just cooked a turkey with dressing and gravy. I'm gonna have some for lunch today.


I ordered some extra pieces for the mutlimedia machine I built. That hot Intel chip requires a better fan than the stock one, so I ordered an Arctic Cooling fan for it.

I also ordered a nifty little device that plugs into a 5 1/4 slot and allows you to play cassette tapes. It can record them on your hard disk as MP3 files, so this is a really cool way to copy cassettes over to CDROM.


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Monday, 21 November 2005

I loaded Windows 2000 onto the multimedia machine I built for Betty Zirkle. It exhibited a couple of problems. One was Win2K couldn't understand disk partitions larger than 128 gb. The other was a problem with the motherboard sound.

So I went to Office Depot and got a modem, a UPS and Windows XP. Installed all that on Sunday. Everything is working except the TV tuner card, which I will have to look into. Since the machine is now in its new home, troubleshooting this stuff will be tougher.

I also have to install a bunch of software on it. All that protection crap you don't need to use on Linux, and a real web browser.


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Friday, 18 November 2005

I have done some cleanup work on the multimedia computer I am building, as I want to deliver it tomorrow. I did some cabling cleanup, routing some cables so the inside of the case looks cleaner. This is important because the new case has a clear plastic side and you can see how messy it is in there.

I also partitioned the hard disks. I booted into Knoppix Linux from the CDROM drive, and used QTParted to partition the drives as NTFS partitions. It threw me for a bit of a loop that when I rebooted, I could no longer boot from the CDROM. That happened because the hard drive came before the CDROM in the BIOS boot sequence. I changed the sequence so it is now CDROM, floppy, then hard disk. I can't understand why manufacturers make the default anything else.

I tried to use the TV tuner card with Linux, but it didn't work. I will have to load up Windows to try that out.


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Thursday, 17 November 2005

I made a copy of Mepis Linux 3.3.2-3 for a friend at work. Mepis is one of my (two) favorite Linux distributions.

I also made a copy of the December DVD that comes with Linux Format magazine. One of the NILUG members subscribes to the magazine but didn't get his copy this month. He called them and got a CD version sent to him, but he wanted the DVD.


I have pretty much finished the multimedia computer I was putting together. It still lacks the DVD writer and modem, but here is what it now consists of:

I will partition the first drive with a 100 gb drive C and a 220 gb drive D. The second drive will be a 320 gb drive E. No Linux on this machine.

This ought to keep Betty out of trouble for a while


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Wednesday, 16 November 2005

I got a package from Surplus Computers last night. I had ordered a PCI WiFi card, an IDE to USB card, a keyboard and a satellite dish motor.

I installed the WiFi card. It works just fine, and is recognized by both Windows and Linux (the system I installed it on is dual-boot).

I haven't done anything with the other items yet.

I am expecting the final parts of the multimedia computer to arrive today. I will then finish that up and get it over to its true owner, hopefully this weekend.


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Tuesday, 15 November 2005

I should be receiving more parts today, for the multimedia computer I am building. Another disk drive, a CDROM writer and a video capture card. I hope to have the computer completely built by Thursday.

I am also getting a WiFi card for one of my desktop computers. I have put the computer in another room and it is hard to run cable to, so I figured a wireless solution would be the best bet. We shall see.


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Monday, 14 November 2005

The North Idaho User Group meeting was pretty good. We helped a couple of members with their setups and got a web censor program working for the LAN that Frank Ten Thy is building for a local school.

I am busy building the Pentium multimedia system for a friend. It has a lot of wires that must be connected to the motherboard, so the going is slower than on most machines.


I signed up for broadband on Friday. It will be a few days before I actually get hooked up, as they have to order the modem for the system.


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Friday, 11 November 2005

I got video DVD support working in SuSE Linux 10. The current issue of Linux Magazine has an article on how to do it. It's dead simple.

I also have the TV tuner working. I'm sure it could work better if I could compile the support software for it, but that's not possible right now. I am using the standard software that comes with SuSE Linux with the tuner right now.

I will take my new AMD-64 machine with all this wonderful capability to the North Idaho Linux Group meeting tomorrow for show-and-tell.


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Thursday, 10 November 2005

Well, wonder of wonders: after 21 years of 28K dial-up, I will be getting a broadband connection at home next week.

The connection is from a local firm that has put up Wimax (I think) repeaters all around the valley. They put one on Rathdrum Mountain, and I have line of sight to the mountain from the top of my house.

Their advertised download rate is 1 MBps and the upload rate is 800 Kbps. Beats dial-up by many miles, and it's even much faster than the connection I have at work.

Installation is 260 bucks and monthly fee is 40 bucks. Entirely reaonable, considering the only other alternative (Direcway).


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Wednesday, 9 November 2005

I used a proof chapter of an upgrade to a book called "Repairing and Upgrading PCs" by Robert Thompson, to learn a lot about Intel processors. I picked a P4 630 processor for the multimedia machine I am building. I have ordered everything necessary for the machine except a keyboard and mouse. Here's what I ordered:

The DVD writer for the system has already been purchased.


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Tuesday, 8 November 2005

I've been asked to build an Intel-based multimedia computer for a friend. I must confess that I haven't been paying much attention to the Intel processor market lately, and am somewhat dismayed by the number of different processor choices out there. Whatever happened to the 8080/Z80 days? Two distinct choices - pick the one you like best.

Now one manufacturer offers so many choices it's hard to determine not only the differences, but the processor that is best suited to the job. That's not progress, that's just stupidity.

I will have to find some articles on the Net that explain the processor differences and pick the best one based on that information.


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Monday, 7 November 2005

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Friday, 4 November 2005

I wasn't in the mood to write anything yesterday, as I had a root canal in the morning. Not painful, just makes you feel like crap. I went home early as a result.


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Thursday, 3 November 2005

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Wednesday, 2 November 2005

I have given up on SuSE Linux 10 on my server. There is also an issue with the DVD and CD drives, so I decided to re-install SuSE 9.3. It's up and running in its usual flawless fashion.

I even downloaded and installed the latest version of Krecipes. It is fast approaching a 1.0 release, and the latest version (0.8.1) is far better than the 0.7 version I was using before. I hope it will produce a recipe page layout that can actually be printed. I intend to start a mini-cookbook of stuff I cook all the time, so this would be a good way to do that.


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Tuesday, 1 November 2005

I installed SuSE 10 on my server and the modem no longer works. Why can't these distro makers keep things running if they're already running?

Other than that problem, the server is running fine. I even recompiled and reinstalled Krecipes on the box. That requires the mySQL server be running, which I also easily did.


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