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BLOGical Thoughts Archive

November 2012

Friday, 30 November 2012

The comments experiment for this blog is over. I will be going back to moderated comments on the web site. Since I turned off the moderation feature, I have had several dozen people register for this web site. Without fail, they all used a user name that looks like a randomly-generated password instead of a user name, and the user name is completely unrelated to the email address that they supplied. I can only think of one reason to do something like that - spam. These people will be removed from the database and I will turn moderation back on today. It only takes a few to spoil everyone else's fun.


 

While I was getting a haircut yesterday, I was talking to the barber about my 1952 Plymouth. He asked if the restoration was complete and I told him it was. Then he asked me if I had started on my next project car. I told him that wouldn't happen.

I got to thinking about that last night. I really need another project to work on for this winter - not a car. I am going to look into converting my slide show program over to Java from Pascal. If that doesn't catch my full interest, I will dig up another programming project.


 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

Thursday, 29 November 2012

I finished backing up the James Bond DVDs yesterday. I was going to do a bunch of housework, but I just got lazy and didn't do any of it. I will have to do some of that this afternoon, after my dental cleaning appointment.


 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

I have backed up 22 of my James Bond movies, leaving one to do. The final one I need to back up is License to Kill. When I finish, I may even watch each of the movies again. I have looked at the first three, so Thunderball would be the next one in line.


 

I am going to do a lot of housework today. It really needs to be done, so there won't be much computer activity on my part.


 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

I have had a LinkSys NSLU2 network attached storage device for several years now. I have a couple of external USB hard disks attached to it, and have been storing stuff on them all this time. I started having trouble talking to the NAS at least a couple of months, and now I can't talk to it at all. Luckily, I can just plug the drives into the USB ports on my workstation and access the data. I will have to rethink my backup schema, though.


 

I decided to back up my James Bond movies to an external hard disk. So far, I have done 15 of them. There are 9 more to do. This kind of project is CPU and hard drive intensive, so it takes quite a while to back the movies up. In the meantime, I am taking all the James Bond DVDs out of the regular DVD racks and am putting them in the collections rack. The collections rack has stuff like all of Nikita, Northern Exposure, Bones, Monk, etc.


 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

Monday, 26 November 2012

Here's a tip for those of you who use bit torrent clients to download files: never download a file when there are only 3 peers available for it. You could end up running completely out of peers and your download will be stalled, usually forever.

This happened to me over the weekend. I was downloading an 877 MB file and only had three peers to get the file from. By the time I got to the 842 MB mark, I was down to only one peer and that one went offline. So I was 35 MB from being finished with no way to finish. I finally ended up using a completely different torrent set to get the file. That one had about 60 peers, so there was no problem downloading.


 

I finally got tired of my Roku box buffering so many times during some programs, so I came to the (erroneous) conclusion that I needed a caching server for my Internet connection. Something to suck in the bits so they would be available to the Roku when it needed them. I posted a question about this on the NILUG list serve.

I got back an interesting answer. Joe from F1 For Help asked me what kind of router I had. I had a D-Link DIR-615, which supports 802.11 a/b/g/n. What I had forgotten was that I could never get it to go any faster than 'g' (54 Mbps). So on Black Friday, I went down to Office Depot and picked up a D-Link Cloud Router 1200. It also supports 802.11 a/b/g/n, plus it has four gigabit Ethernet ports (the DIR-615 only had 10/100 megabit ports).

After installing it, my Roku connection is now connecting at 'n' speeds, so it is running at 150 Mbps. There are many less buffering interruptions with the shows. I guess I don't need a caching server after all. Besides, Joe indicated that they don't work so well with streams instead of HTTP packets.


 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

I am cleaning up a faceting machine I got a couple of years ago, as I plan to sell it. I took some pictures of the machine and accessories and found there was a diskette that contains DOS utilities about faceting. I decided it would be more useful to whoever bought the machine that those utilities be on a CDROM instead, so I went looking for one of my machines that could read the 3 1/2 inch disk.

I have discovered that I don't have a machine where the floppy drive is working. Two of the three machines are going to the recycler this weekend (they have other problems), and the third won't turn on. I will have to look into that machine to see why it isn't working.


 

Normally when I run out of bacon, I go down to Costco and buy 4 pounds of the stuff. I was doing a price compare the other day, and I noticed that the bacon was $3.22 a pound and the Tarantino breakfast sausage links that Costco sells was $2.31 a pound. So I switched to links. I have to say that I don't think I have had breakfast sausage that was any better than that, too. Normally, I purchase breakfast sausage at my local supermarket. They make their own and it's pretty good, but it doesn't taste as good as the Costco links and they now want $3.29 a pound for it. I'll stick with the links.


 

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and the day after is Black Friday, so I am going to take those days off. I will post again on Monday.


 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

A couple of weeks ago, I posted a message on the Slice of SciFi forums, asking if anyone knew of the Roku channel that airs the Slice of SciFi webcast. I finally got an answer, and verified that the show does air on Roku.

The channel in question is Blip.TV. It has an eclectic assortment of content, including the Wood Whisperer. I was collecting Wood Whisperer episodes several years ago. I'm glad to see he is still doing them. They are very well done.

The Slice of SciFi webcasts are very professionally done. They are exactly like their podcasts (of course), except there is video along with the audio. It was interesting to see the actual people I have been listening to for a couple of years.


 

The backup of my home directory to network attached storage (NAS) was within one hour of finishing yesterday evening when the power went out here. The power was down for about an hour. When it came back on, I went out to the NAS and deleted those 190,000 files that had been copied so I could do it again. That action took an hour and forty minutes. While it was being done, I installed a backup program called Deja-Dup. Once I had an empty directory on the NAS, I used Deja-Dup to back up the home directory, instead of simply copying the files over.

The Deja-Dup program packs files up into gzip archives, so instead of saving off the 236GB of files, it saved off 68GB of gzip files. Much, much easier and faster than the way I was doing it before. My home directory is now completely backed up.


 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

Monday, 19 November 2012

I've been doing some computer chores. I backed up some more DVDs, then I decided to back up the home directory on this workstation. I was rather surprised to see that I had 238,000 files in this home directory, and that it would take 31 hours to back them up. That task has been in progress since yesterday and has 6 more hours to run.

It's pretty obvious that I have to clean up my home directory, and I plan to do that today. It's amazing how fast you can accumulate junk.


 

I'm also going to thin out my technical book pile. I no longer have a need for all those books on Delphi, Perl, Java and Ruby. I will keep the best of the books and get rid of the others. I may be able to see the whole bookcase after I finish.


 

Now that I have a smart phone, I finally got around to adding an app to it. It is an app that I have on my tablet. It is a Reverse Polish Notation calculator called RPN. I much prefer calculators that do rpn to ones that use algebraic notation. No more parentheses for me!


 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

Friday, 16 November 2012

A couple of weeks ago, I purchased the Humble Book Bundle from the Humble Bundle web site. It was great for several reasons: I don't do games, which is their main bundle; the books were all SciFi or Fantasy; and there were several graphic novels included if you exceeded the average purchase price.

From the book bundle, I have finished reading Old Mans War by John Scalsi. That is a truly excellent story about how people who are 75 can join the military, where they can leave Earth, get a new body and fight aliens for the benefit of mankind. I am now reading Cory Doctorow's Pirate Cinema, which is one of his young adult novels. So far, it's good, but I don't know if it will be as good as his Little Brother novel. I think I have just gotten into the part where the kid gets his wonderful idea of how to fight the entrenched big-corporation-sponsored government. It's been a good read so far.


 

The chile verde came out pretty well. It has more chile heat than I anticipated, but it is not too hot for my tastes. Maybe it was the Pasilla peppers I used. Or the three Serrano peppers I put in the salsa verde I used.


 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

Thursday, 15 November 2012

The North Idaho Mineral Club meeting is tonight. We will be taking dues for 2013, electing officers and will also run our regular program. The newsletter always shows what is coming up.

Considering the current weather (right now it's 34° F), I have shut down my lapidary activities. Whatever I have done so far is probably all that will be done until the snow melts.


 

I have found another interesting recipe for chile verde. I will be making it tonight. If it tastes like I think it will, I will post a picture and the recipe here. It looks like the recipe was all set up to be cooked in a Dutch oven in the first place, so there won't be any adjustments to be made.


 

I am going to loosen the commenting restrictions I have placed on this blog. I hope to keep a better rein on the spammers input than when I put the restrictions on in the first place. If that works, it will be easier to comment on my blog entries.

I mention this because I was asked about it at the memorial service last weekend.


 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

I spent last weekend in Lake Havasu City, AZ. I drove down there on Thursday and Friday. I spent Saturday installing Linux on three computers. I spent Sunday at my mother's memorial service. I drove back to North Idaho on Monday and Tuesday.

The trip down was fairly good, except for my driving through the beginning of a blizzard from Missoula, MT to Butte. After that, the only thing I had to contend with was high winds, rain and a bit of hail. The road was actually clear and dry at Spencer, Idaho, which was very refreshing.

Until last weekend, I had never been to a memorial service, and I have never been to a funeral. So I did not know what to expect or what was expected of me. Now I know.

On my way home, the first day was great. Everything was clear and dry and there weren't even any clouds in the sky until I got to Salt Lake City. I decided to come back via Boise, so I headed in that direction and spent the night in Burley, ID.

The next day, I set my GPS to shortest trip. As a consequence of that, I was on I-84, at La Grande, OR, when I went past a sign saying the freeway was closed. How can they close a freeway? It was closed due to the idiocy of the drivers. There were so many accidents on the pass that they closed the road.

I found a road headed towards Enterprise, OR, so I went that way. I got to Wallowa using the GPS and stopped for gas. When I got back in the car, the GPS had changed its mind about which way I was to go and I followed the directions, ending up on a muddy logging road. I went back the couple of miles to Wallowa, turned off the GPS and headed to Enterprise. Luckily, a sign in Enterprise pointed me towards Lewiston, ID, so I went that way. Once I got out of Oregon, the GPS started behaving itself again and I had no trouble getting home.

This is the second time my TomTom GPS has gone wonky in Oregon. I'm beginning to think it has gremlins just like the prior unit, which would hang up when I went through Ellensburg, WA. I will be taking a backup map with me from now on.

By the way, unless you love switchback roads going up and down several very big mountains, don't drive from La Grande, OR to Lewiston, ID through Enterprise.


 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

Thursday, 8 November 2012

I was having a problem with my teardrop trailer lights. The brake and turn signal lights on the trailer work fine when it is hooked up to the '52 Plymouth, but don't work when I hook the trailer up to my '91 Dodge. I took the Dodge down to the local hitch place and they checked the electrical. No problems there. I finally broke down and removed the LED lights that were in the trailer and put the incandescent bulbs back in. That solved my problem. Although why a car that is 40 years younger than the Plymouth doesn't drive the bulbs well is beyond me.


 

There will be no postings here for Friday, Monday or Tuesday. Your regularly scheduled programs will return on Wednesday next week.


 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

I have completed the winterizing of my vehicles. Yesterday I put the snow plow on my pickup truck, so when it starts snowing (I estimate this Friday), I will be ready for it.


 

When I updated the Roku box with new channels, I was actually looking for the channel that contains the Slice of SciFi podcast. I did not find that, but I found an interesting site called catastrophegirl's roku channel list. That is where I found the three channels I recently added to the Roku box. She has a much better search function than the box itself does.


 

The latest episode of Castle has them investigating a murder at a SciFi convention. Which gave Nathan Fillion multiple opportunities to make references to Firefly. He used the word 'shiny', 'cancelled after 12 episodes' and referred to 'that Joss Whedon' SciFi show as being one of the greats.


 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

I have added three more channels to my Roku box. They are Retrovision.tv, Nowhere TV and Inmoo.com. The first one is okay - it has a few videos and they are fairly good. Nowhere TV has a bunch of stuff, including links to the Internet archive stuff. It has archive movies that are not in PubDHub. The last channel has absolutely no content on it currently, but may have interesting stuff later.

One of the podcasts I listen to is Slice of SciFi. They advertise the fact that they can be accessed from a Roku box, but I am unable to find the proper channel. I have posted a request on their forum for the appropriate information about that.


 

The Linux Mint install problem I had on the old computer is a known problem. Apparently not well-known enough to be out there where everyone can easily find information about it. They recommend that the slideshow package for the installer be removed before you attempt to install Linux Mint 13. I would prefer that the people who maintain the installer (Canonical) fix the damn installer.


 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

Monday, 5 November 2012

I noticed that there were some updates waiting to be installed for Mythbuntu on my personal video recorder. I attempted to install them, but the repository channels were disconnected. It turns out that version 10.04 of Xubuntu (the base for Mythbuntu) is no longer being supported by Canonical. So I picked the Upgrade option in the upgrade manager. It took a couple of hours, but I downloaded over 1,000 packages for upgrading, then installed them. Imagine my lack of surprise when the PVR would no longer boot.

So I did what I should have done in the first place - I downloaded the latest long term support version of Mythbuntu, 12.04, and installed it. It works fine now, even though I wiped out the recording of Undercover Blues I had recorded.

As a matter of fact, they have done a lot of work on MythTV and it now works better than it did with Mythbuntu 10.04, which is what I was using before.


 

On Friday, I got to thinking about the versions of Linux Mint and Ubuntu that I attempted to install on the computer I put together with spare parts. I realized that all the versions I tried are all the latest and greatest of each distro. I reasoned that maybe someone had changed the install script to make it fail on that box, so I attempted to install Linux Mint 11 on it. I was successful in that endeavor.

After installing the distro, I updated it, then loaded a bunch of extra software on it that I thought my sister would be interested in. I had no problems at all with any of that. I guess I will have to put in a bug report for the installer.


 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

Friday, 2 November 2012

I emptied the fire agate barrel from the rock tumbler yesterday. I am putting that equipment away until next year. However, I definitely need to grind on some of the tumbled agates with my cabbing machine, so I will do that this weekend.


 

I spent most of yesterday putting a computer together for one of my sisters. She has a laptop, but expressed an interest in a desktop computer, too.

I moved parts around in two older computers to create the new computer. The one that is now just spare parts was faster than what I put together, but it had problems that could only be solved with a new motherboard. So I used the slower machine. It now has 1.8GB of memory, a DVD drive, a CD drive and 200GB of IDE hard drive. It's a reasonable machine, but still a bit slow.

What I did not anticipate was the fact that I cannot install Linux Mint or Ubuntu on the machine. Both those distros use the same installer, and every single time I have tried with every distro I could think of, that installer crashed in the middle of the installation. I finally installed Manjaro Linux (XFCE desktop), which is based on Arch Linux and uses a text-mode installer. That worked fine, but Manjaro may be a bit hard to get used to for my sister.


 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

Thursday, 1 November 2012

I changed the tires over to snow tires on both the Honda and the Dodge. The Honda was easy, as I do that every year. The Dodge hasn't had snow tires on it for at least four years, and that's also how long the regular tires have been on the car. The way the rims are set up, that makes it very hard to get the tires cinched down to where they should be. I'm going to run them a couple of days and then check to see they are actually as tight as they should be.


 

I found a video on Archive.org that is really good. It's a student film called "To Know a Jedi". The acting is a bit cheesy, but the premise is very good. There is a lot of cussing in the video, though. If it was rated, it would be an "R" for language. It's a great shame that the writer/producer/director of the film was killed in an auto accident not long after it was filmed.


 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software