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November 2008

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

I am back to working on my home Java program. I have done a couple more dialog windows, one of which uses a file open dialog. This seems to be getting easier as I get used to what needs to be done using Java (instead of Delphi or C#). I have now done just about every visual component you could think of - text boxes, buttons, dialog windows, grids, calendars, radio buttons, check boxes and labels. There's more in there, but I can't remember them off the top of my head.

I will now have to start writing the database connection software and the business rules software for the program. Not nearly as exciting, as you don't get instant visual gratification from doing that. You eventually do get some, though, as some of the visual components I have already created are populated by the business rules code.


Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day. There will be no more entries here until next Monday, in honor of Thanksgiving and Black Friday. I hope everyone has a good Thanksgiving, even if it is my ex-wife's birthday.

Update: It snowed again overnight, only this time, some of it stuck to the ground. Of course, after I drove 1/2 mile from my house, there was no snow at all. I guess that snow tires on the cars and plow blade on the truck is the order of the weekend. At least we will have a little bit of snow for Thanksgiving.


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Tuesday, 25 November 2008

I swapped out the hard disk on my workstation with the one on my test machine. I also took the TV card out of the workstation and put it in the test machine. So now I have a new workstation (the old test machine) and a broken test machine (the old workstation). Running Linux as the operating system makes this kind of swap possible. Linux figures out the hardware as it is booting and loads the proper device drivers. On the other hand, Windows has fixed in concrete device drivers. If you tried this hard disk swapping trick with Windows, you'd end up with a machine that probably couldn't cope with the hardware. Ah, the joys of proprietary software.


I have figured out why the Java program I am working on wasn't running. It had to do with using the gcj Java package instead of Sun's Java package. I have the workstation switched over to Sun's JVM now, and am continuing development on the program.


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Monday, 24 November 2008

This entry will be short, as my workstation is not working.

I installed the new motherboard in my workstation and closed everything up, then plugged everything into the box. When I attempted to power it up, nothing happened. So I unplugged everything, opened it back up and figured out how I had plugged the front panel into the motherboard wrong. I applied the power again, and it powered up. So I closed it up, plugged everything into the box and tried a power up again. Nothing happened. I will have to work on it some more before I can use the box again.

This morning on the way to work, I figured out what to do. I will swap hard disks between the workstation and the test machine, then use the test machine as my primary workstation. It has a fancier motherboard and a more up to date power supply. I can then figure out what went wrong with the old workstation at my leisure. So I should be back with a normal blog entry tomorrow.


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Friday, 21 November 2008

I ordered an official copy of Ubuntu 8.10 from Canonical some weeks back. It arrived in the mail last night. I can use it to make copies for anyone who needs a copy of a very good operating system.

The motherboard I ordered for my workstation also showed up yesterday. I will install it on Saturday. I have never had a motherboard made by Foxconn. I hope it works well.


I attended the North Idaho Mineral Club meeting last night. They had a great video on how to do wire wrap jewelry. They are looking for other videos to show at the meetings, and I think my Dad has some gold prospecting ones. I will have to ask him. As I was driving in from the meeting last night, I noticed there was snow on my vehicles. First snow of the season and it's completely gone this morning.

Two of the people who belong to the mineral club are Jim and Lu Rauch. Almost two weeks ago, Jim went in to the hospital to have something done to help his Parkinsons. While he was in, Lu had a massive stroke. They flew her to Seattle and she has been there since then. We got an update on her at the meeting. They turned off her life support yesterday morning. I was very sorry to hear that. She is a nice lady who kept good care of herself and who worked extra hard to help her husband, who has obvious physical problems.


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Thursday, 20 November 2008

I am having more and more trouble booting my workstation. It's a good thing that new motherboard is on its way here. I hope it will fix a rash of problems I am having with this machine.


My web site was offline again last night for some time. If it happens again, I will try to find out what's going on.


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Wednesday, 19 November 2008

When the Eclipse IDE is installed (along with Java) from the Synaptic package manager in Ubuntu 8.10, an open source Java VM and JDK are installed, instead of the ones from Sun. I have removed them and installed the ones from Sun, but I'm not sure I got all of it, as my program still hangs up when I run it. I will continue to look at this, as it is very important that I continue writing the program.


The Coeur d'Alene Press may have paid attention to my latest email about their web site, because it is all actually readable today. That is, except for the popover ads that are guaranteed to cover up whatever article you are interested in reading.


My web site was down again this morning, probably due to 'scheduled maintenance'. That maintenance is welcome, but NOT in the hour and a half in the morning when I post stuff to the web site.


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Tuesday, 18 November 2008

I've started looking to see why my program is now broken, since I have installed the new Ubuntu and new Eclipse and Java for Linux. So far, I have had no luck. I may have to create a test program to verify that some things that aren't working, really do work.


I went to a web site the other day, intending to purchase a battery. I selected the battery and put it in the shopping cart, then went to checkout. One of the things it asked is if I wanted to use a bank card or PayPal. Since there was no way in hell I will ever use PayPal I selected bank card.

I filled in the rest of the order information and submitted the order. I got back the standard order summary and thank you - from PayPal. If I had known that's what they were going to do with my money, I would never have ordered the battery in the first place.

PayPal is not a bank or other recognized financial institution. As such, they are not subject to any regulation at all. That means they can do any damn thing they want with a transaction (and they have done so). This is wrong, and I will have nothing to do with them. So if a place plays switcheroo with a transaction, like Walmart does with checks (turning them into debit transactions), I will no longer patronize them.


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Monday, 17 November 2008

I have tested my workstation to try and determine what exactly is wrong with it. The tests told me nothing. So I went shopping for a replacement motherboard. The good news is I found a socket 939 motherboard. The bad news is no company I usually buy motherboards from still make them. So I ended up with a Foxconn motherboard for which I paid $34. I hope it works okay.


I usually read the Coeur d'Alene Press web site every morning, but lately it is completely unreadable. Whoever is producing articles for the web site is saving them as Unicode documents, and Unicode is not displayable by Firefox under any operating system. I emailed this to the editor, but it's obvious they don't care about it. Since you can't read the web site with Firefox, I urge you to stay away from it, despite the fact I have provided a link to the site.


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Friday, 14 November 2008

I am having a hardware problem with my workstation. I was lucky to get it to boot at all this morning, after the way it acted last night. I will have to track down exactly what the problem is. Unfortunately, the only things that can be replaced are those like the hard disk, memory and DVD drive. If there is a problem with the motherboard, it means I chuck it out and get a new one.

The alternative is to replace the machine with the test machine. That will work if there is nothing wrong with the hard disk. If that is the root of the problem, I need to back up the hard disk and get a new. Luckily, I have room on my NAS to back it up.


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Thursday, 13 November 2008

I am impressed with all the good work that has been done on Compiz since the last version of Ubuntu. Compiz is the software that allows your Linux box to perform all those fancy special effects, such as wobbly windows and telescoping windows. The latest version has added more capability to the Compiz manager. The old version allowed you to organize your (4) desktops into a cube, and you could make that cube spin when you change desktops. The new version has extended that metaphor by morphing the cube into a cylinder or a sphere. You can also tell Compiz you want the windows on your desktop to be in 3-D when you rotate desktops. That means that the top window will look like it is sitting in space, and the window beneath it will also be sitting slightly behind the first window. Both windows will look like they are sitting in space just above the desktop. Is this cool, or what?

As you can tell, I am still experimenting with all this new stuff in Ubuntu 8.10.


What's the world coming to, when you can get a Google map street view of Lompoc, CA?


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Wednesday, 12 November 2008

I have finished reinstalling the applications on my Linux workstation. I found there were at least two applications that were present in Ubuntu 8.04 and were not included in Ubuntu 8.10: Klickety, a puzzle game I enjoy playing, and KAudioCreator, a CD ripping program. I'm not happy about going without either of these.

More serious is the state of Java and Eclipse on my workstation. I ran up Eclipse and recompiled the program I am working on. The program compiled fine, but when I ran it, it popped up the main window, then the program just hung up. I eventually had to kill it. I think I will have to go through all the Java installs and ensure that everything is there that should be there, especially the SwingX library. I will also have to re-add the Java documentation, as it is very annoying not to have proper hints when working in Eclipse.


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Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Last night, I wrote down the additional programs I had installed on my workstation, then blew away the Ubuntu 8.04 installation and installed Ubuntu 8.10. I did not touch any of the data on my home partition, though. The install was quick and easy. Then I had to reinstall all the extra programs I use. I never realized how many of those programs were huge.

Installing things like Tellico (which I use all the time) causes most of KDE to be installed. When I installed the Eclipse IDE, I got all of the Java SE JDK. When I installed the Lazarus IDE, I got all of the Free Pascal install. So, at 10pm last night I decided to call it quits. I will install the rest of the programs tonight. It all seems to be working fine, at any rate. More on this later.


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Monday, 10 November 2008

The Linux users group meeting on Saturday was good. There were a dozen people there, and we talked about the difference between KDE and Gnome. I also gave a presentation on spicing up the Ubuntu desktop, and I learned a few things about that myself. It may be time for me to move my main workstation up to Ubuntu 8.10. Since I will be installing from scratch instead of upgrading, that means I will have to make a list of the applications I use, so I can reinstall them after installing the new O/S.


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Friday, 7 November 2008

The North Idaho Linux Users Group meeting is tomorrow at 1 pm at the River of Life friends Church in Post Falls. I am going to talk about how to dress up Ubuntu 8.10, and I will be doing that using a desktop I have installed that version on. There will also be a comparison of Gnome and KDE, presented by two of our members.


I will be meeting with one of the officers of the North Idaho Mineral Club this evening. We will be talking about the web site. I suspect she wants me to maintain it, but I would be happier if I taught her how to maintain it. She had someone do the original site for the club, and I think he overcharged her, but I haven't done any professional web design in about 10 years, so what do I know?


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Thursday, 6 November 2008

The stitches in my arm will be removed tomorrow. That will be a happy time, as they are very annoying. The skin still pooches up at the ends of the incision and my covering up the thing every day with a bandage hasn't helped those pooches to settle down. I will try going without a bandage today to see if that helps a bit. I will be doing that tomorrow, at any rate.


We had a rainstorm earlier this week, which dumped snow on local mountains like Rathdrum, Spokane and Canfield. The snow line looks to be about 1,000 feet above the valley floor. It is now cold enough that we should be getting our first snow down here sometime in the next few days.


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Wednesday, 5 November 2008

When I demo how to spice up Ubuntu 8.10 at the North Idaho Users Group meeting on Saturday, I think I will just go ahead and go through the entire installation of the O/S. It doesn't take that long, and it will be informative for many people.


I think I may have screwed up this year and voted for someone who actually has a chance of winning.


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Tuesday, 4 November 2008

At work, I managed to get our Windows event monitoring DLL to work for monitoring Windows events on remote computers. That sounds like an insecure thing to do, but it isn't. The remote computer must be part of the LAN and the person logged in to use the DLL must have access rights to that remote machine.

This is a big step for us, as in the past, we required our monitoring agent to be installed on all machines to be monitored. That requirement cannot be met in many circumstances, as there are situations where no 'unapproved' software is allowed to be installed on the machine. For instance, in a hospital, the workstations are certified with the software they use, and no other software can be installed. That environment is perfect for this DLL modification. We can run the DLL on a non-workstation (possibly a server) and set it to monitor each of the workstations in question.


Today is election day. I urge you to vote. I don't care who you vote for, just do it. If you don't; if you think "my vote doesn't count", you are just wrong. Every vote counts, if not for the person who is actually elected, as a counter to some fool who votes for an idiot or power-hungry would-be criminal. So just vote.


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Monday, 3 November 2008

I am still evaluating Ubuntu 8.10. So far it works pretty well, although there is a minor glitch in windows title bars. When you move from the window itself into the title bar, the bar blanks out so you can't see the minimize, maximize or exit icons in the upper right corner. This is very annoying. It probably has something to do with all the fancy animated decorations I have running. I will try to track down the cause and eliminate it.

Since I went through a big process to spice up the Ubuntu 8.10 desktop, I think I will talk about that at the next North Idaho Linux Users Group meeting on Saturday.


I checked out the HSQL database on the Ubuntu 8.10 machine. It seems to work just fine, but I will need to investigate more closely before I decide to use it in my project. Speaking of which, I also added another dialog box to the project.


Saturday morning I went to Costco and got gas for my Stealth. I paid $2.24, which is 20 cents a gallon less than I paid last week for the Honda. I went back to Costco a couple of hours later to get items, and the price had gone down to $2.20 a gallon. As you can see from the last story below, gas is even cheaper in a couple of other places in town at Costco, as of Sunday morning.


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