BLOGical Thoughts Archive

November 2011

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Despite the fact that I have declared the soccer program to be finished, I am still working on it. I want to make its use more uniform.

The program's dialogs come in two basic flavors: one set has a single Done button to allow you to leave the dialog. The other set has an Ok button and a Cancel button. The difference between the two is when the changes you make get applied to the database. The dialogs with the Done button have their changes applied when the Check button is clicked. The other dialogs have their changes applied when the Ok button is clicked.

For the dialogs with the Done button, I always check to see if we are in the middle of an edit before actually leaving the dialog. If we are, I state we are in an edit and are you sure you want to leave? Clicking yes will abort the edit.

The Ok/Cancel dialogs don't work that way. If you click Cancel, the dialog just closes. No checks or anything. I now do a check, so if you are in the middle of an edit and you want to leave, all dialogs now ask if you are sure.


When I come from and go to Coeur d'Alene, I never use highway 95. It always has too many cars on it, so I use either Government Way or 4th Street. Yesterday I was coming back from delivering some North Idaho Mineral Club brochures to the Lake City Center in Coeur d'Alene and I decided to take highway 95. I was stopped by the light at Dalton and 95, and I happened to glance over towards the ice rink. Imagine my joy at discovering Orlando's Mexican Food in the ice rink parking lot! I have really missed Orlando's giant burritos, so I stopped and got one and also caught up with him on the local gossip.

For those who have read this blog a long time, you may recall I mentioned Orlando's when it was in Hayden. He was pretty much driven out of town when they tore up Government Way and no one could use that road for 3 or 4 months. Anyway, my opinion of Orlando's food has not changed. He makes really good burritos. I will have to have an excuse to go down there for breakfast so I can get one of his breakfast burritos, too.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Tuesday, 29 November 2011

I took the day off yesterday from working on software. I went over to Spokane to have my teeth cleaned, then stopped by Harbor Freight. I wanted to look at their smallest wood lathe. I was going to get one, but they didn't have any turning tools, so I didn't get the lathe. I think I'll just find a shop where I can use the lathe - I only want to do a few small things with it anyway.

After Harbor Freight, I stopped by my old job at Solarwinds to pick up the last of my retirement presents. Except that those things were not at work; they were at my old boss' house. So next time I'm in the neighborhood, I will give fair warning before I go there.


I have a breakfast appointment with Ken on Thursday to talk about the soccer program. He indicated he had found some bugs, but did not indicate what they are and where they are. I guess I'll find out on Thursday.

In the meantime, I will be looking in to creating some Android programs. I want to do that so I can have some programs I will really want to use on my tablet. Do you know how hard it is to find something like that?

I am also re-doing the North Idaho Mineral Club brochure. It needed updating and converting from M$ Publisher to a more reasonable format. I have done it using LibreOffice.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Monday, 28 November 2011

I went through the soccer program and found some bugs. In fixing some of the bugs, I created more bugs and fixed them. There was even a missing help page I was unaware of until Friday. I have got all those fixed and have created the install program for all the soccer files. The only thing that remains is some kind of mechanism to register the program, and what to do if it isn't registered. I need to meet with Ken to talk about all that - see what he is interested in doing there.


On Saturday I went to the technical session of the North Idaho Linux Users Group, which is held at F1 for Help in Rathdrum. While I was there, I installed Linux Mint 11 on my laptop. I went back from the 64-bit version to the 32-bit version, as I have been having intermittent problems with the 64-bit version of Linux Mint 10.

Since I did a clean install, I also had to install some extra programs, like Galculator, Eclipse, Chrome and VirtualBox. Installing extra programs is not a problem, but you have to know what you need to install. Before I did the clean install, I went through my old start menu and made a list of the programs I wanted to reinstall and that I knew were not included in the distribution. After the install, I used the package manager to get most of the programs from the repositories. For a couple of them, I had to go to specific web sites to download the latest version. So I now have an up to date laptop and it works much better, too.


Inserting text into a Delphi TRichEdit component:

    Value:='some string';
    RichEdit1.CaretPos.X := MyX;
    RichEdit1.CaretPos.Y := MyY;
    SendMessage(RichEdit1.Handle, EM_REPLACESEL, 0, Longint(PChar(Value)));



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Wednesday, 23 November 2011

I have complete the soccer program and have emailed the result to Ken. I need to go through the program again using the test plan and verify everything is okay. And I need to document any bugs I find, so I can fix them. I know of a couple bugs already, but they are just nuisances at this point. They will all be fixed before the program is deployed.


I had a telephone interview with Social Security yesterday, to finish up the retirement application I had started online. I have finished with that, and I should start getting Social Security checks next month. The amount is about $100 more than I expected.

My Unisys pension should start in February, 2012. I have to apply for that in early January. There are financial reasons to do it then, which are clearly inconvenient for pension holders.


Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and the day after that is Black Friday. I want to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving and a profitable Black Friday. I will not be posting here until next Monday.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Yesterday morning, I had three more printing task to finish in the soccer program. Last night I had one left. Of the two I completed, one was very simple. The second one took quite a bit of the day. It involved creating a printed page for each exercise selected for a particular practice session. I am very pleased with the results, though.

The final print task is probably the most difficult. In earlier versions of the program, the letter mail-merge capabilities was handled in an external word processor. Now that functionality is being done in the soccer program. So I am now implementing mail-merge printing of letters. I tried to do it the way I considered the easiest, but there seems to be something wrong with that. So I will try a more difficult method.


I was going to hold off on the stew recipe until this weekend, but I will be scarfing on turkey. So I made it last night. It turned out to be pretty good.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Monday, 21 November 2011

I spent much of the weekend working on the soccer program. I have completed work on all dialogs and help pages, and am now fixing all the report printing. I have three more reports to finish and the program will be complete.

I have also finished the test plan for the program, but the test plan has nothing in it to test printing. I will add that support as I go through the text plan a final time. I have put the test plan in my Google documents and am sharing it with Ken so he can try the test plan, too.


As you can see from the blog entry prior to this one, I made bread over the weekend. When I went to the store, I forgot my shopping list and as a result I forgot to get milk. Since I knew I was going to do bread, I looked around for a recipe that didn't use milk. That is the one I found. It is very tasty bread.


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Free/Open Source Software


Friday, 18 November 2011

I had a doctor's appointment yesterday and after the appointment, I had breakfast at the Breakfast Nook. I saw a couple of people there that I knew, which is kind of unusual, since I was there at 9am. I haven't been in that Breakfast Nook building since it housed Beaudry Motorsports, which is at least 10 years. The building is still organized like a mini-maze. I don't know how they put up with it. Still the food was fairly good.

I spent the rest of the day working on the soccer program. I have verified that the print system needs work, so once I get the final three help pages written, I will be working on that. It seems like I will never be finished, but I am making very good progress and the end is in sight.


Last night, I went to the North Idaho Mineral Club meeting. The program was a DVD on the Chiricahua Mountains. It didn't have much about the geology, but was interesting as that area is the collision of 4 ecologies.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Thursday, 17 November 2011

I finished the soccer program's game results dialog yesterday. To do that, the games schedule and game lineup dialogs had to be working correctly, which is why this dialog is in the queue at the end.

I had to make major changes to the dialog. It is used to enter individual player results and to aggregate those results for the team. I also added a method to enter opposing team results, as those are important when looking at team statistics.

I started to update the soccer program's test plan when I realized I accidentally blew it away sometime on Tuesday. Luckily, I had emailed the plan to Ken, so I asked him to email it back to me. It came back scrambled but with the text viewable, so I had to rebuild the test plan from that damaged document. I will be working on the test plan today, as the dialogs are all completely finished. All that is left to do is verify that the printing capability works.


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Free/Open Source Software


Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Yesterday I finished the game lineup dialog for the soccer program. This was the one I had to think about overnight, and it required another database table. Using the new table was easy; populating it turned out to be a bit harder than I anticipated.

The soccer program uses a database that is implemented as a Windows DLL by one party. The interface from Delphi to that database is some components written by yet another party. All the interfaces are there, but they don't always work the way they should, or at all.

For instance, I should be able to delete all records from a table with a simple SQL statement: "DELETE FROM tablename", then run that statement with ExecSQL. It turns out that the ExecSQL method may be there, but it doesn't seem to work. So I have to "SELECT * FROM tablename" then run through the result set, one record at a time and use the Delete method, which does work.

The latest problem was populating the new table, which is identical in layout to an old table. I should have been able to run through the old table and use the AppendRecord method to add the old fields to the new table. Of course, that didn't work. I had to use the Append and Post methods instead. Frustration abounds - my next project will not be in Windows.


I watched the very last Harry Potter movie last night. It came in the mail from Amazon and I now have all those movies. I never had the time to watch the film when it was out in the theaters, so I'm glad I could do that now. It's a much better movie than part 1. The whole thing is resolved fairly closely to how the books were written.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Tuesday, 15 November 2011

I finished the soccer program's select exercises dialog. The final part was to save the selected exercises to the database, and that was very straightforward with the storage of both the exercise name and its index in the selected exercises box.

Next up is the game lineup dialog. I had to add another table to the database to use with this dialog. I will load all the players from the real positions table into the temporary positions table, then display that table in the dialog. That way, the dialog can update that information without updating the real table until you leave the dialog. When the OK button is clicked, I will update the real positions table from the temporary positions table. If the Cancel button is clicked, I will just leave without any updating.


I am attempting to start up my Social Security and have not yet succeeded. I did the online form, but got to a place where the form threw a Java exception. Now I know where all the Java programmers rejected by my last company work.

I went down yesterday and made an appointment to finish up the application. You have to make an appointment for telephone support, and it will take a week for those 'people' to call me.


Power users use their computers to do real work. To that end, they want to get around in their operating system as quickly and effortlessly as possible so they can run the applications they need. When the designers of the operating system (or, in the case of Linux, the desktop manager) make the newer version harder and slower to use, they are not paying any attention to their power users. If the new user interface has more 'bling', then the designers have fallen for the 'fancier is better' myth.

I was listening to klaatu on the gnuWorldOrder podcast yesterday, and he acts like he is not a real power user. He gave a glowing review to one of those 'more bling' interfaces - namely, Gnome 3. I wish he would have kept his opinions to himself, as podcasts can influence many users to switch from the interface they are happy with to something newer that someone has praised and they may not be happy with. Instead, they are better served with a balanced report so they can judge for themselves whether they want to change to the new interface.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Monday, 14 November 2011

The soccer program dialog I am currently working on is the select exercises dialog. This one is tricky. All the other dialogs display the contents of a single table in a single control. This one requires the display of information based on two separate tables. That means I have to do a SQL JOIN on the tables. That join worked very well, displaying the exercise string from one table, based on an ID in another table.

I also found that it would be to my advantage not to just display the exercise string, but to also have its ID hooked to that string. This makes the saving of the selected exercises completely trivial.

To have both the string and its ID together, I used a very nice feature of Delphi list boxes. When you add an item to a list box, you can use the Add method. If you want to add both an item and an object, you use the AddObject method. In my case the object is simply an integer, but that makes this no less powerful for it being trivial. I had to make changes in lots of places, but it works like a charm.


I put the snow tires on my Honda at 3pm Friday night. I woke up Saturday morning to 4 inches of snow, so that worked out pretty well. On Sunday, when the temperature got up to 45° F, I pulled the Plymouth out of the way in the garage and drove the truck in and put the plow blade on it. I then checked it out by plowing our road.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Friday, 11 November 2011 (11/11/11)

I have indicated in the past that I had become very disappointed in Ubuntu and I eventually switched to Linux Mint. Someone else I know (from the old Turbo User Group) also has the same problem. Since Jeff is also an author and former book publisher (Coriolis Group), he says it much better than I could in his Minty Failness blog entry.


I worked on the soccer program a lot of yesterday. I did more help pages and fix a few small bugs. I also found a place where the dialog doesn't work right at all and it doesn't put records in the database at all. I will be fixing that today. The 24 hour delay in fixing it allowed me to cogitate on how to fix it, and I came up with a great method that is exactly right.


I'm also doing some clean up around the house. Lots of that to do. And today I will be putting the plow on the truck and snow tires on the car, since it will snow tonight.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Thursday, 10 November 2011

I met with my financial advisor yesterday and came up with a plan for income for me. It isn't rocket science; I am starting up my Unisys pension and will start up social security. I will move some assets around a bit, and let all my IRA money cook where it is.

I did some analysis and, as my friend Sam indicated, it makes more sense to start social security now than it does to wait two years and take advantage of the extra money that would come in. So I am doing it now.


The egg salad lunch at Caruso's in Post Falls yesterday was a bit disappointing - the egg salad wasn't up to its usual snuff. I did enjoy meeting up with the guys I worked with and with one from Austin, TX. We probably will do something like that on only an occasional basis, as that is quite a trip just for food.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Wednesday, 9 November 2011

The breakfast at the Breakfast Nook yesterday was excellent. I had a ham and cheese omelet that was really good. The only two things missing was biscuit and gravy and Pike Street tea. They have the biscuit and gravy, but charge extra for it. No Pike Street, though. I'll stick with Jimmy's Down The Street restaurant on Saturday mornings, thank you.

I had sent the latest soccer program to Ken, the other principal in the project, so he had it and looked at it at the meeting. He is happy with how things are ending up, but I'm sure he would be happier if the project were completely finished. I would, too, to tell the truth. I'm getting damn tired of programming for that stinking Windows operating system.


I have things to do today - an appointment with my financial advisor and lunch at the old workplace. They invited me to go to Caruso's with them so I could get an egg salad sandwich. I'm up for that, especially since I now have a $100 gift card for Caruso's courtesy of my retirement party.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Tuesday, 8 November 2011

As advertised, I worked on the soccer program most of the day yesterday. I hope it will be mostly finished by the end of the week, but there is still a lot to do.

I created an install EXE for the program and installed it on another VM. I discovered that I had left an entire directory out of the installer, so I added that. Those kind of bugs are found with the test plan that I am writing for the program.


I am now down to just one laptop - the ZaReason Chimera. I sold the Compaq laptop to a friend, who also bought my two netbooks. I guess he was impressed by how I take care of the machines and he knows I would not sell anything that didn't work right..


We have a dusting of snow on the ground out here. I will be changing the tires on my Honda, and hooking the snowplow blade up to the pickup. After I get back from the Breakfast Nook in Rathdrum, that is.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Monday, 7 November 2011

I'm pushing as hard as I can on the soccer program. I have done a bunch of work on it over the weekend. It was not as near completion as I thought. There is still a lot to do in the help area, and there are some things I thought I had hooked up that aren't.

By writing a test plan, I am testing parts of the program I would ordinarily not have touched. That's a good thing, as it shows me exactly what is buggy and what needs to be completed. I will work on it all day today, as I have a meeting with the other principles of the program on Tuesday morning.


I took a big chunk out of my thumb on Saturday, making that Cream of Wild Rice soup. Here's a hint: always use the food pusher when pushing food through a mandolin. Especially a quality one like I have. I gonna have trouble getting the gauze off of the wound when it comes time to do that. Too much soaked in blood. 8-(


I believe that the TV show Bones has jumped the shark. This year began with Bones pregnant with Booth's baby. That has to completely change the dynamic between the two characters, and that dynamic has defined the tone of the show from the outset. I guess all good things eventually have to come to an end.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Friday, 4 November 2011

I am still testing the soccer program. I copied the test plan from a text file into a LibreOffice document, formatted it nicely and added tables for the test steps. I then went back to testing. I have finished with the coach information dialog and with the team information dialog. Next up is the player dialog, which will be much tougher to test as it is more complex.

I also fixed a couple more bugs I found, and have developed a strategy for getting a user to change the default password. I will probably implement that tonight.


Today is my last full time work day. I get a retirement luncheon and a cake at noon. I also have some work to accomplish before I leave. I hope I can finish it up this morning.

And speaking of retirement, I got a phone call from a friend last night. Seems he has been forcibly retired because he was unable to get one of his people to document the system she has been maintaining. I've seen this kind of thing before; some programmer with massive insecurities keeps the details to themselves because they are secretly afraid they can't compete in the job market. It usually backfires on them, though.

Speaking for myself, I always document everything I do at work. That way I can move on to other things without having to go back and explain stuff I have already completed, when someone wants to change it.

My friend has told me that the company he worked for is moving to another system, and my friend's former boss has assured him the lady in question will be fired when that transition is complete. No company can afford loners like that. The company I am retiring from took major steps to ensure they never ended up with people like that, and it has paid off well for them. I wish them well in their future.


Silly sign of the day:


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Thursday, 3 November 2011

I am working on the test plan for the soccer program, and am testing it at the same time. I have worked my way through login and entering league information. Next up is coach and team information. It's a fairly slow process, as I am writing down what to do, then am doing it. Once it is recorded, though, anyone can do the testing.

I am also fixing any problems I find along the way, so the testing is going even slower because of that.


Silly sign of the day:


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Wednesday, 2 November 2011

I finally tracked down my problem in the soccer coach program havng to do with the database and the team name combo box. It actually had nothing to do with the database, and the problem was so stupid I won't even explain about it here. Let's just say that you should always check that when you exit from a dialog, you are presenting the proper exit conditions to the rest of the program. Now when I add a new team using the team information dialog, it immediately shows up in the team name combo box in the main window.

Now that I have cleaned up all the bugs I found incidentally, I will go through the entire program and test it in a logical and thorough manner. Any problems I find will be fixed as I find them. I guess that means I should probably write a test document.


I am not a big fan of VMWare. They keep changing their software, and we have to export from the old software and import into the new. I had to do that at work yesterday, and it took me about three hours to do the exporting. I had to consolidate the VMs first, which means that all the snapshots of a particular VM had to be combined into a single snapshot. That had to happen before I exported, as the new version of VMWare doesn't understand about snapshots! Never underestimate the stupidity of a marketing organization.


Silly sign of the day:


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Tuesday, 1 November 2011

I sometimes wonder if any person in the legal field who works with patent matters has the intelligence of cold spaghetti. By allowing the patenting of ideas (including software and even music), they have choked many ideas to death, simply because a portion of the idea is something that some troll has patented. The patent system is not supposed to be about punitive action; it's supposed to promote the development of new ideas. How can that happen when anything you do is claimed to be patented by someone?

There is a saying about standing on the shoulders of giants. Steve Jobs even quoted that, then later in his life his attitude became "you're not standing on my shoulders". Even worse, the way the patent system is now, we will eventually run out of new music, as most music is even now based on older tunes.

The fact that patent examiners are so obviously bad at their jobs doesn't help any, either. Ignoring prior art makes the entire patent system a huge joke, just like the TSA's "security theater" makes security a huge joke.

End of rant.


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