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BLOGical Thoughts Archive

October 2007

Wednesday, 31 October 2007

I removed M$ Visual Studio Express 2005 from my development machine, but left .Net 2.0 as it will be useful. I then downloaded Turbo Delphi for .Net and tried to install it. The installer came back and told me I needed .Net 1.1. I can't win. I'm destined to not do any more software development from home for the proprietary Windows operating system. Oh, well - no great loss.


Have a happy and safe Halloween. Just stay away from me while you do it.


This Nitrozac cartoon is absolutely hilarious. Be sure to undress him before you start adding stuff.


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Tuesday, 30 October 2007

I have installed M$ Visual Studio Express 2005 on my development machine and the program wants me to register. So I clicked through on the link and found that, even though Visual Studio Express is free, it is so entangled with registration gotchas that it just isn't worth using. I will uninstall it tonight, if I remember. I will look at Borland's Turbo compilers instead. They are also free, with possibly less registration strings involved.


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Monday, 29 October 2007

That unplayable DVD that I got from NetFlix has stretched the time between DVDs to a week. I usually get about 2 DVDs per week, but this one knocks that all to hell. I always view the DVDs the day I get them and send them back the next day. The faster the turnaround, the more value I get out of my $8.99 per month. So this delay is really annoying.


I am trying to install a Linux distro onto a USB hard drive so I can boot Linux on any machine that supports USB boot. I am close, but have not yet succeeded. When I boot the disk, I get a Grub error. That's a lot more than I got the last time I tried this.


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Friday, 26 October 2007

Ubuntu 7.10 has Compiz turned on as default, but it was pointed out to me last night that isn't all you can do with the distro. I installed the Compiz manager and enabled some of the plugins. Some of them are more annoying than useful, but others are helpful. I will try to summarize my findings when I figure exactly how to use this program. I think it operates in conjunction with keypresses, but I'm not sure.


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Thursday, 25 October 2007

I've been getting NetFlix DVDs For quite a while now. Yesterday, I ran across the first DVD that I could not view. I have reported the problem and they will send me another copy of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? I just hope the next one is playable.


I am getting deep into the security of SQL Server databases. Deeper than I ever wanted to be, actually. The object is to protect an important database from being viewed by unauthorized people. I think I have succeeded, but not without learning too much about database master keys, certificates and symmetric keys.


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Wednesday, 24 October 2007

I listen to a lot of podcasts - from technical shows to shows on Harry Potter to science fiction shows. I download a new set of podcasts every morning and upload them to my iRiver. I then listen to them at work while I am programming.

The producers of the Escape Pd science fiction short story podcast have done something bad to their podcasts. Instead of picking up just the latest podcast from them, I am faced with downloading 40 or 50 podcasts that I have already listened to. I'm not very happy about that, as how do you separate the wheat from the chaff? I was lucky yesterday to recognize that one of those files was a new short story. I guess I will have to look at my podcast program and see if I can prevent the attempted download of so many files I have already listened to.


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Tuesday, 23 October 2007

I have once again installed Windows on my development machine. I got smart and copied the master boot record to a floppy disk, did the install, then copied the master boot record back. That way, I didn't have to reinstall Ubuntu 7.10, too.

This was the worst Windows install I have ever done. It sat on a screen that said 7 minutes to go for over 2 hours. When it finally finished and I booted into Windows, the screen was in 8 color mode with a resolution of 320 x 240, no sound and no ethernet. I had to reinstall the Compaq special drivers to get back to where I should be - 32-bit color in 1280 x 1024 with everything else working. But when I finished, I was able to download and install Visual Studio Express 2005, so it all came out to the good.

It's a good thing that Ubuntu now supports the NTFS filesystem, or I would have had to do some weird things to keep from losing all those special drivers when I reformatted the NTFS partition. As it was, while in Linux, I copied them into my home directory. Then, when I finished installing Windows, I booted back into Linux and copied the files back to the Windows partition.


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Monday, 22 October 2007

Well, I didn't upgrade my workstation to Ubuntu 7.10 over the weekend. Instead, I added another hard drive to my development machine and installed Windows XP Pro on one of the hard drives and Ubuntu 7.10 on the other. I then spent an extraordinary amount of time trying to get and install Windows drivers for the machine's devices, such as the ethernet connection, video and audio. Whereas, Ubuntu just worked out of the box.

However long it took, I now have a machine that I can use for software development in both operating systems.


I also updated the HP toaster from Ubuntu 7.04 to 7.10, but I did that by selecting upgrade in the update packages dialog. The machine downloaded about 930 MB of new and upgraded packages, updated the system and deleted a few old packages that were no longer supported. It took at least 5 or 6 hours, but at the end, it looks like I have a machine with Ubuntu 7.10 installed on it.


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Friday, 19 October 2007

The program I am now writing at work is an in-house program that has its own database. I have modified the database once, but that was without any outside input. We had a meeting last night about the program, and the result is another modification of the database. The inputs from last night were things I could not have known, so I feel fairly good about that. And I got complements on the program itself and on the corresponding maintenance program.

I started to write the maintenance program in C#, but Microsoft makes it so hard to hook up database tables with one to many relationships, I gave up and switched to Delphi.


Over the weekend, I may attempt to upgrade my workstation with the latest Ubuntu. I'm not sure that's a great idea, but from what I've seen of Gutsy Gibbon (7.10) so far, I'm willing to give it a go.


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Thursday, 18 October 2007

I am trying to catch up on my video viewing, after getting well behind by viewing all the original Star Trek episodes. I now have only two movies I haven't viewed, so I hope to be caught up on the weekend. No video tonight, as I will be at a mineral club meeting.


I can't seem to find database support under the latest Monodevelop IDE. I really need that to allow me to reprogram several projects in C# for Linux. In the meantime, I need to download Visual Studio Express and SQLite for Windows, so I can continue with some of the projects.


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Wednesday, 17 October 2007

I deleted gnome configuration information from the /home directory on my development machine, then reinstalled Ubuntu 7.10 RC1. The result was a working version of the Linux distro on that machine. I also updated the machine with 93 modified packages, then added Monodevelop, mySQL, Ruby and Rails to the mix. It's beginning to look like the Ubuntu distro will be adequate for my development needs. If I can get Monodevelop to allow me to compile database programs.

I just realized what I said in the above paragraph about deleting then reinstalling sounds a bit silly, so let me explain. When I install Linux on a system, I use three partitions:

When I do a reinstall, I reformat the root and swap partitions and leave the home partition alone. That way I can try all different kinds of distros, or upgrade all I want, without losing anything I've created or saved.

The hidden gnome configuration files in that directory were placed there by my installation of openSUSE 10.3, and the settings were probably not compatible with what Ubuntu had in mind. So I erased them.


We had an unoffical product delivery lunch at work yesterday. It's a good feeling knowing that the software you've sweated over is ready to be delivered to a customer.


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Tuesday, 16 October 2007

I have downloaded Ubuntu 7.10 Release Candidate 1 and have attempted to install it on my development machine. It installed fine, except when I restarted the machine, I got an error saying that something had not started. That something was the main menu, so that kind of limits what I can do with the O/S.

It also told me that it needed to upgrade 93 packages, so I did that, figuring that maybe that would fix my problem. No luck. I guess I will just have to wait two more days to download the real release.


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Monday, 15 October 2007

We had a very good NILUG meeting on Saturday. With the change of meeting location and the urging of a new member, there were at least a dozen new faces at the meeting. Most of them were amateur radio folks who wanted to install Linux on their machines to take advantage of the available programs.

They kept me hopping, as one of three so-called experts there. One of the crowd wanted to install Linux on a USB drive, which is something I haven't done before. We tried it with Ubuntu, and the installer ended up wiping out the boot loader on his machine. Luckily, I had a copy of FreeDOS available, so I could do the old 'fdisk /mbr' trick to restore it.

From the responses at the meeting, it looks like many of these folks will continue to participate. That would mean we have outgrown out current meeting place and would have to find another one.


Have you ever taken a close look at Steve Ballmer's eyes? That's the kind of look that dangerously insane mental patients have. Does that mean anything?


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Friday, 12 October 2007

At work, we deliver our product upgrade on Monday. That means that it all has to be working and completely tested by then. There are only three days in which to ensure the whole thing works correctly, and there are a lot of big pieces to it that haven't been tested completely. I'm glad my piece is a small part and it has already been completely tested.


I now have Sunday off, but I still have a full day on Saturday. Servicing my car will take 4 hours, and the North Idaho Linux Users Group will take another 2 or 3. I guess I won't be able to work on configuring openSUSE 10.3 this weekend, as my Saturday errands will slop over to Sunday and I have a lot of cleanup to do around here.


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Thursday, 11 October 2007

I attempted to install the Smart Package Manager from the web site, but was only partially successful. The command line version runs fine, but the GUI version doesn't run at all. I guess I will have to learn some command line flags for the program.

I also made three copies of the openSUSE 10.3 DVD that I will hand out on Saturday at the North Idaho Linux Users Group meeting. It's going to be a busy weekend, as I have my car serviced that morning, and am doing some maintenance work on a bunch of PCs on Sunday.


I have one more Star Trek video tape to go through, but it will have to wait until tomorrow Tonight, I am having dinner out with other members of the Lunar Group.


I've been writing on a database maintenance program at work. I was doing it in C#, but after I discovered how many hoops they make you go through to do just about anything with a database, I switched over to Delphi. The entire database is now hooked up for maintenance, whereas I was struggling with parent-child relationships with C#. I am working on the user interface now, and I still have to hook up the security.


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Wednesday, 10 October 2007

The program I am writing at work has been frozen for its October 15 release, unless the testers find any high priority bugs. In the meantime, I will be working on a couple of minor bugs for it, as well as an internal company program.


As usual, openSUSE 10.3 may have everything including the kitchen sink on the DVD, but that doesn't mean all those programs actually get installed. There were several I had to install after the main installation, and one of them (Smart Package Manager) will only run in terminal mode. Since I really want to use that program, I will uninstall it and install it using instructions on the Smart Package Manager web site.

Another program I'm having trouble with is Jedit. This is a very useful editor that supports Ruby and Rails context-sensitive pop-up help, if I can get that to run. Last night I tried to run the program and all I got was the Jedit splash screen.


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Tuesday, 9 October 2007

I'm still working hard on the program I wrote at work. Thanks to a megacorporation's crummy 64-bit implementation of a 2-bit operating system, the program doesn't work the same on a 64-bit system as it does on a 32-bit system. This tends to keep me repairing things at the most inconvenient times, like 5 minutes before I was supposed to leave work.

I will get all these problems sorted out, but we only have four more days to do it in.


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Monday, 8 October 2007

I published a link to a web page on Wednesday about creating a transparent terminal on your desktop in Ubuntu. After a bit of debugging, I got it to work, and it is great. It's very nice having a command line right there available all the time. I liked it so much, I put it on both my workstation and notebook computer.


I have downloaded openSUSE 10.3 and have installed it on my development machine. I haven't had a chance to play with it yet, but I think it may be what I'm looking for in a development environment. It listed many of the items I wanted, including Ruby and Rails, in the package selection when I installed it.


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Friday, 5 October 2007

I attempted to download SUSE Linux 10.3 last night. Got 2.3GB of it (out of 4.1GB) before the connection decided it had finished. So I am now using a bit torrent to download the disk image. It should be finished by the time I get home from work tonight (I hope).

This is my final attempt to find a good developer's distro, so I hope it has lots of developer's tools. And I hope I can get around Novell's very, very lame start menu interface again. They seem to think that if the interface looks like Microsoft's that's a good thing. Never mind that it is much harder to use and requires more mouse clicks than the old interface. User friendliness means nothing when compared to shiny new toys.


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Thursday, 4 October 2007

I can't seem to find a good Linux distro that will allow me to concentrate on programming, using the latest tools. At this point, I am thinking about such items as the Monodevelop IDE for Mono, but would also like to run Lazarus (Pascal), Eclipse and NetBeans (Java). If I can't find one, I guess it will be time to investigate creating a new Linux distro - one for Software development.

If I was to do that, it would be a big project and I would definitely need help doing it. It might be a lot of fun, though. Just off the top of my head, here is some of the things it should contain:

This list is completely off the top of my head - I would have to sit down and plan exactly what I would want.


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Wednesday, 3 October 2007

I have finished my project at work. If the QA team uncovers any problems with the programs, I will fix them. Otherwise, I am moving on to 64-bit ODBC drivers for PostgreSQL.


I attempted to use Mono to build a database application last night, but was blocked because Ubuntu uses an old version of Mono and Monodevelop. I will look around for a more bleeding edge Linux distro to see if I can get around that little problem. If not, I will attempt to update Ubuntu.


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Tuesday, 2 October 2007

My Internet problem was not an ISP equipment problem. My wireless modem got confused and locked up. I now know how to take care of it in case the problem reoccurs.


We have a meeting place for the NILUG meeting in two weekends. See the NILUG web site for details. It looks like there may be enough room to do a bunch of installs, so if anyone wants to upgrade to Linux, they should show up with their computer.


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Monday, 1 October 2007

No Internet connection means no blog post. See you tomorrow, I hope.