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BLOGical Thoughts Archive

November 2007

Friday, 30 November 2007

We have a new meeting place for the North Idaho Linux Users Group. We were running out of room at the old meeting place, so one of our newer members volunteered the use of the American Legion hall in Post Falls.

I attempted to incorporate a live Google map into our web page for the meeting location, and was unable to do that with the Content Management System we are using. I would have to build a separate static page, which is something I don't want to do. I guess this is one of the drawbacks of using a CMS I didn't write. At any rate, the new map has been statically posted on our website.


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Thursday, 29 November 2007

Whenever I have needed to display a less than (<) or greater than (>) symbol in a web page, I have always used '&lt;' and '&gt;'. In every case, those symbols are part of the displayable part of the page; in other words, they are not a part of any tag or a tag's atttributes. For example:

<P align="center">if (a &lt; b) then</P>

Note that the &lt; is outside the bounding less than and greater than of the 'P' tag.

Since I have been doing XML at work, I have run into a situation where I had to put those symbols inside of a tag. For example:

<fastpattern matcher="^.*><.*"></fastpattern>

The 'matcher' attribute is a regular expression for evaluating a line of text. In this case, we are looking for a greater than/less than combination in the line.

I figured I could get away with the above line, as the two symbols in question were inside a set of quotes, so they wouldn't be evaluated as the end of and beginning of tags. I was wrong. Our XML parser looks at them like tag components, and I get a parser error when I attempt to load the XML file. I finally figured out that I had to do the line this way:

<fastpattern match="^.*&gt;&lt;.*"></fastpattern>

which makes absolutely no sense to me, but it makes the parser happy. I guess whatever floats your boat is ok. It's little stuff like this that makes the work a challenge.


Speaking of work, we are in the market for programmers. Specifically, we need a person familiar with InstallAnywhere (Java-based) and InstallShield, to do installation builds. We also need Java programmers for regular programming efforts. If you know of anyone who is interested in that kind of job, send me an email and I will give you the company particulars. Or comment this entry and I will do the same.


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Wednesday, 28 November 2007

I attempted to install a Ruby gem package last night, and failed completely. The package in question was called 'streamlined'. I downloaded it, then tried to use the 'gem' command to install it. I found out that gem is not included in Ubuntu 7.10. So I had to install that first.

After I got gem working, I tried installing streamlined again. Gem complained that it wouldn't install the package because ssl support was not installed. It kind of sounds like the standard Linux ploy of old, which I assumed was completely eliminated in all the newer Linux distros. Especially one like Ubuntu that uses apt-get to install packages.


We got about 4 inches of snow here night before last. I had no problem getting in to work, but others were not so lucky. It takes many people some time to realize they can't drive the same way in snow than they do on wet or dry pavement.


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Tuesday, 27 November 2007

I am doing XML and regular expressions at work right now. It is pretty taxing on the brain. I don't know how some of my co-workers can do this day in and day out. I admire them for it.

The good thing about it is that I am now really learning regular expressions, which is something I have avoided in the past. Until now, I have learned enough regular expression syntax to just get by. Now, though, I am working on an XML file that will have about 200 regular expressions in it. That will drill them into my head like nothing else.


I just picked up a new book called "Practical Rails Social Networking Sites". It looks pretty interesting, and it may help me with the coaching software. The book implements a web site with a Content Management System, blog, forum, photo gallery, etc. I'm looking forward to reading it.


Sorry this is so short today. I have to go plow snow, then go to work.


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Monday, 26 November 2007

I got around to installing Ubuntu 7.10 on my workstation. It works fine, but I still have some fine-tuning to do. It won't play encrypted DVDs right now, but I can fix that.

I did a fresh install over Ubuntu 7.04 because I don't trust upgrades. They always manage to screw things up.


I redid the database schema for the coaching program, so it conforms to the Rails standard, then installed the database. This conformation makes it easier to do everything in Rails. I then generated all the models for the program (Rails uses a model-view-controller design pattern). I also added the many-to-many table descriptions to the models. I need to add field constraints and need to work on the controllers for the program.


I also managed to get a bunch of winterizing and other stuff done. I changed to snow tires on the car, did a big dump run and put all the summer stuff away. I also got a Christmas present for my folks and a GPS unit for myself. I guess you could say I've been pretty busy.

I ripped 50 or 60 more CDs into MP3s to add to my music server. I am now down to the C's in my collection. This task is going to take a long, long time to finish.


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Wednesday, 21 November 2007

There will be no postings here for tomorrow or Friday. I hope everyone has a nice Thanksgiving and a productive Black Friday. See you on Monday.


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A+ - Isn't that a Microsoft certification? They can't do math, either.


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Tuesday, 20 November 2007

I finished my first XML application at work yesterday. Very strange, but logical. It isn't really an app, it's directions for another app.


We got only a very light dusting of snow yesterday. The weather folks made out like we were going to get dumped on, but it didn't happen. So I have a reprieve on the snow tires until the weekend.

I will have both Thanksgiving and Black Friday off. I haven't seen anything in the Black Friday ads that is interesting. I may just opt out of the shopping rush.


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Monday, 19 November 2007

I got some of my winter chores done over the weekend, but got seriously sidetracked when I picked up the complete Northern Exposure from Costco. I love that show...

It's supposed to snow today and I still haven't put snow tires on my car. I did put the snow plow back on my truck, though. I may drive it to work instead of the car.


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Friday, 16 November 2007

I am learning how our company uses XML to create software tools for our product. I need to do this because my boss is going to assign a couple of these tools for me to create. It doesn't seem to be a straightforward process, but I don't know enough about them to say for sure yet.


In between getting ready for winter and cleaning up around the house, I need to work on the several home software projects I am doing. I really need to keep going on the sports program. It would be helpful if I produced some visible results.


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Thursday, 15 November 2007

The Ubuntu disks I ordered from Canonical came yesterday. I used one of them to reload my notebook computer. That install went fine, up to the wireless configuration. I will have to dig into the guts to get wireless working again. Same old problem as always, with a twist. Ubuntu now allows you to install the Windows firmware for the wireless card. I did that, but it doesn't work. I hope it works on other wireless configurations.


I'm going to a mineral club meeting tonight. I'm taking along my raw opal, from both Australia and Mexico. I have my arbor sort of working, but I need two electric motors - one to operate the arbor and one to operate the trim saw. Oh, yeah, I also need someplace to set that stuff up that isn't freezing.


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Wednesday, 14 November 2007

This blog is getting more exposure than I thought it was. The work project I have mentioned for the last two days was picked up by an employee of one of the two programs I was integrating. I really didn't say all that much in the posting, but they are interested in everything about their product.


I will be doing some Java programming at work. We are behind with the implementation of some logging tools, and my boss wants to throw more manpower at the problem. So I will be getting yet another crash course in yet another language I have used in the past, but am rusty on.


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Tuesday, 13 November 2007

The integration between Bugzilla and VersionOne that I finished at work has not been tested yet. We will extensively test it before I add the code to the production Bugzilla system, to ensure it doesn't make VersionOne crash and burn.

My boss has lots of ideas for extensions to the basic code I implemented. He wants to send the proper assignee instead of himself as assignee. He also wants to send a proper time estimate instead of a default 1 hour time. This is all fairly simple and doable, but we first have to get the original code into production.


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Monday, 12 November 2007

During the North Idaho Linux Users Group meeting on Saturday, my notebook computer shut itself off. So I rebooted, and it did it again. I then rebooted into Windows XP, and everything was fine. I then decided that this was a dandy time to switch from Ubuntu 7.04 to 7.10. So I did a fresh install of Gutsy Gibbon.

Despite the fact that a lot of work has been done on the wireless stuff for Gutsy Gibbon, it still won't install correctly for my Broadcom wireless. So the only thing that won't work on the install is the wireless. I will look into that when I get some time, and before the next NILUG meeting.


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Friday, 9 November 2007

The project I was doing at work is pretty much finished. It is less than 80 lines of code, added to two Bugzilla Perl programs. When you add a new bug to Bugzilla, it creates a new defect in VersionOne. When you change a bug's status in Bugzilla, it changes the status in VersionOne.

I also found a way to get the code out of the Damn Small Linux virtual machine where I developed it and into my workstation. I used scp to do that.

We use at least three operating systems at work, and it is confusing going from the command line of Linux to the command line of Windows. To alleviate the confusion, they have installed a directory of Unix commands on each Windows box. That way you can type 'ls' instead of 'dir' and still get results. One of the commands that was left out, though, was scp. So I downloaded and am using the Putty scp. Works great, after I discovered that Damn Small Linux was running an ssh daemon.


The North Idaho Linux Users Group meets tomorrow, back at the normal meeting place. We shall see if the people that showed up at the last meeting also show up at this one.


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Thursday, 8 November 2007

I am working on the second part of my work project. I have figured out what to do, but the problem is, where do I put the code? I picked a spot in the Bugzilla Perl code (process_bug.cgi) that looked good, but it doesn't seem to work, which means that place is probably not executed when a bug's status is changed. I will add a log file to the code to verify whether it gets executed. If it doesn't, I will have to keep looking for the proper place to put the new code.

One of my problems with this project is the limited tools I have to work with. The Bugzilla virtual machine I'm using is based on Damn Small Linux, with no GUI. That limits me to command line tools available in DSL. I have found a reasonable editor - Joe (a WordStar workalike) - but I have no way of getting code out of the VM and into my workstation. No ftp daemon, so no way to transfer files. I will see if scp is available. Maybe I can transfer files that way.


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Wednesday, 7 November 2007

I have upgraded the pendrive Linux I installed, with the latest Damn Small Linux. It works great, so I decided to try installing it on a USB hard drive. That effort failed miserably. I have now downloaded the latest version of Puppy Linux, and will try to install that on my USB hard drive.

This brings up another problem. While doing all this data movement, I discovered that the DVD writer on my workstation will no longer read or write DVDs. It still reads CDs, though. It looks like I will be getting another DVD writer for the machine. Before I do that, I will check all the cables and blow out the lens on the drive.


This says it all about today's music.


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Tuesday, 6 November 2007

I have finished the first part of the project I am doing at work. When we create a new bug report in Bugzilla, it now feeds that information to VersionOne and creates a new defect report in that program. It wasn't easy, as Bugzilla is written in Perl and I haven't really done any Perl programming for a while. As for VersionOne, I don't know what it's written in, but I do know that it's database is what I like to call 'over-normalized'. There are far more linking tables in it than there are actual data tables, and it was really hard to find anything in them.

To top things off, VersionOne has an API that is poorly documented in the areas I needed specific information. So I have been having a lot of fun trying to get that interface running.

The final piece of this project is to update the VersionOne defect report when a bug in Bugzilla changes. I'm not sure that can be done. We may have to limit that to an update when Bugzilla closes a bug.


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Monday, 5 November 2007

Thanks to a suggestion by Sam Daniel, I have Linux installed and working on a USB pendrive. It's Damn Small Linux and it works just fine. I'm surprised that the other distros I tried didn't work as well. Some of the distros I tried this weekend were Ubuntu, PCLinuxOS and Feather Linux. I always had boot problems with them.


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Friday, 2 November 2007

So far in my new job, I have done apps written in C# and Delphi. I am now working on one written in Perl. I am getting a whole mess of experience in different languages on this job, and am completing projects left and right at the same time. I must be enjoying myself.


I have been working on a lapidary arbor I have had for over 30 years. It ended up sitting in water for 3 or 4 months, as the basement flooded at one time and I could not empty it. That problem is gone, but getting the grinding wheel off of the arbor remains. The arbor itself survived that dip and the sealed bearings held up fine. But the washer that helped hold on the grinding wheel has frozen tight to the arbor shaft. I soaked it in WD-40, but I am still struggling to get it off.

If I ever manage to get the arbor in good shape, I will start doing some lapidary work. I have a rock saw, so cutting the rocks is no problem. It's the shaping I can't do right now.


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Thursday, 1 November 2007

I am still trying to put Linux on a bootable USB drive. I have come the closest yet by installing PCLinuxOS 2007 RC3 on the drive. It boots, but it hangs up when trying to resolve hardware issues and trying to install drivers. I'm not exactly sure where it is hanging up, as PCLinuxOS won't let you look at what it's actually doing. All you get is the stupid Windows-style splash screen with the progress bar on the bottom.

I think I will download the latest version of this and try again. Note that I was using a release candidate. The final release may have fixed this problem.


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