BLOGical Thoughts Archive

September 2003

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Verisign, the Microsoft/McAfee/RIAA/MPAA/BSA/Frito-Lay of the Internet. Under the guise of Network Solutions, they spread fear, uncertainty, doubt and incompetence throughout the Web. They have recently been attacked for their unwarranted harvesting of acount information by redirecting erroneous URLs to their own servers. They are now being sued for yet another domain transfer cock-up.

Having had way more of these crooks than I ever wanted, last night I attempted to transfer one of my domains to another registrar, GoDaddy. I easily completed the request at GoDaddy, but as part of that request, GoDaddy attempted to send an email to me using the email address in the Network Solutions database. Of course, that email address was out of date, so I had to log in to Network Solutions to fix it.

Have you ever gotten into an endless loop in Microsoft software? There are plenty of them in the Windows OS. Well, that's exactly what happened to me when I attempted to update that email address. The Network Solutions (Verisign) web site first asked me what I wanted to do and I selected Edit Account. It then asked which account I wanted to edit and I selected the Administrative Contact. It then went back and asked me asked me what I wanted to do! Instant endless loop. The only thing I could do to eliminate that bad email address was to delete the Administrative Contact account.

I then tried to add myself as the Administrative Contact. They wouldn't let me do that. So I finally just gave up, hoping that the Administrative Contact would default to the Domain registrar email address (which I was able to change).

It worked. I went to GoDaddy and restarted the pending transfer (nice functionality). This morning I got a nice email using the Network Solutions-provided email address, and I completed the domain transfer. If I never hear from those Verisign people again, it will be way too soon. And I urge everyone to not perform transactions that have anything to do with Verisign. Or MacDonalds. Or the RIAA. Or.....<BG>

LATE BREAKING NEWS: Someone obviously hasn't gotten the word. Consulting firm Accenture has selected Verisign to host the servers and information necessary to authenticate voters for the Secure Electronic and Voting Experiment. Oh, yeah - that's secure. Like Bill's OS. And what an acronym - SEAVE. Really close to sieve, which is what this little experiment will probably leak like.

The Screensavers case mod winner is the ammo case. Exactly the one I would have voted for. He wins a $10,000 laser etching machine - he can create his own one-off parts with it.


SCO Watch

"I find it rather easy to portray a businessman. Being bland, rather cruel and incompetent comes naturally to me."
-- John Cleese

Monday, September 29, 2003

I got some more web pages done over the weekend for Rimrock Software. There's a lot of pages to the site, and I am working on the second tier now. I kind of need Samba working, so I will look at it more closely than I did over the weekend.

I went to Costco on Saturday. They didn't have what I was looking for, and I still ended up spending $60. I gotta stay away from that place.

I would like to add block indent/undent and Find in Files to rsEdit. I really need the Find in Files capability at work. I've been trying to find an editor with that capability that works the way I would like it to, but have had no luck.

The way I want Find in Files to work is to open a new window to contain the results of each find request. Each line of the results would contain the full path to the file, line number and contents of the matching line. If you double click on the line, a new window will appear with the requested file in it.

The problem I am having is finding a search algorithm for this function that is fast enough to satisfy me. I already have the user interface built in to the editor, I just need to hook it up with the search algortihm.


SCO Watch

"The idea that Bill Gates has appeared like a knight in shining armor to lead all customers out of a mire of technological chaos neatly ignores the fact that it was he who, by peddling second-rate technology, led them into it in the first place."
-- Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Friday, September 26, 2003

I can't believe that local government has broken out in a spate of common sense! The Spokane city council and the mayor have all said it is no longer necessary for the Chief of Police to obtain a college degree, as the chief is doing just fine in the job.

A college degree is a requirement for the job, and when the current chief was hired in 2000, it was on condition that he obtain the degree. That condition was put forth by the city manager, who has since been replaced by the city mayor as the one who runs the city.

Someone finally got it into their heads that lack of a formal education is not necessarily an impediment to performing a job in an efficient and professional manner. Common sense has struck!

The Screensavers presented the last case mod last night. It was the ammo box, and it was most impressive. The guy replaced all the standard connectors with DIN connectors, so the thing looked like a portable radio from the 40's or 50's. It had an LCD that looked like an old oscilloscope, and everything had green backlighting, even the keyboard. Really cool.

I'm going to try working on some of my projects this weekend, but you never know what will interfere. We'll see if I can get Samba working on the server and maybe some web pages finished.


SCO Watch

"There's no trick to being a humorist when you have the whole government working for you."

-- Will Rogers

Thursday, September 25, 2003

The Screensavers show didn't have the ammo box case mod on yesterday. They had the Matrix case mod instead. They aren't saying what the final case mod will be on today's show.

I spend way too much time at work trying to get our test servers into shape so I can reproduce our customer's production problems. We have a boatload of servers, but we need a couple of them to be dedicated to this kind of thing. I'm so frustated when I get home, I don't feel like working on anything. I did update one web page on this site, but that was all.

I spent most of yesterday updating one of our servers with a new database, data dictionary and financial comm package. Just so I can spend 15 minutes reproducing a nasty little production problem.

I have looked into local wireless broadband access through a company called Spokane SkyNet. They claim 11mb throughput with no latency. I called them and got more information. Their network is a series of repeaters using 802.11b to cover the entire Spokane and Coeur d'Alene area. One of these is on a mountain about 5 miles east of my house. The problem is you need line of sight to the repeater, because WiFi runs at 2.4 gHz. I'm not sure I have that.

The pricing isn't a small thing, either. Installation is $699.95 and service is $69.95 per month. That's a big chunk of change. I'm not sure I'm up for that.


SCO Watch

"Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job."

-- Douglas Adams

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

The Screensavers show on Tech TV is running a case mod contest. They have picked four semi-finalists and are displaying the cases on the show through tomorrow. They will then have their viewers pick the best modded case.

So far, they have shown a computer built into the Millennium Falcon, and a Sony Playstation made into a portable Playstation. Up tonight: a case made out of an ammo box.

I didn't feel much like working on computer stuff last night, so I goofed off. If I can get some tough problems solved at work, I might feel more inclined to work on some of the things I need to do outside of work. Oh well.


SCO Watch

"Programming today is a race between software engineers striving to build bigger and better idiot-proof programs, and the Universe trying to produce bigger and better idiots. So far, the Universe is winning."

-- Rich Cook

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

I have created a new sub-domain for this web site called cooking. I have moved my recipes to that sub-domain. I have also added the recipe for Strawberry-Banana Jello Surprise.

I will add more recipes soon. Some will be for dutch oven cooking, but most will not be. I will add the recipes for Gazpacho and Green Goop in the next few days.


SCO Watch

"There are people who strictly deprive themselves of each and every eatable, drinkable, and smokable which has in any way acquired a shady reputation. They pay this price for health. And health is all they get for it. How strange it is. It is like paying out your whole fortune for a cow that has gone dry."

-- Mark Twain

Monday, September 22, 2003

Quiet weekend. I did some updating of my Linux workstation and did some video stuff. I also looked into moving my VHS tapes over to DVD. I can record VHS programs with the software I currently have, but I'm not sure if the file format can be converted to something you could put on a DVD and play with a DVD player. I need to do this, so I will continue to look into it.

I also put up a new recipe for Dutch Oven Chicken Enchiladas Verdes. Another quick and easy recipe, especially if you prepare everything at home before going camping.

For sheer stupidity and blind panic, the RIAA tops SCO by a large margin. So here goes a new daily feature:


SCO Watch

"The two most common elements in the universe are Hydrogen and stupidity."

-- Harlan Ellison

Friday, September 19, 2003

I have put up a recipe for Dutch Oven Beef Stroganoff. I have plans for more recipes, but I'm not sure when I'll get a chance to post them.

While I was working on web pages, I was also updating my Linux box from SuSE. I haven't seen the security patches for OpenSSH and sendmail yet, but I am doing this updating on a regular basis, so they will show up.

I also attempted to copy the movies I ripped onto my notebook. The problem is, Lindows Linux on the notebook only talks to networks using the Samba client. So I have 2 choices: either get Samba working on the server (must be done anyway), or boot my workstation into Windows and let Lindows talk to it peer-to-peer. It's gonna be a busy weekend.

I updated the teardrop trailer links. I have added a Construction topic. First up in the topic is how to do the electrical wiring. The page is written for RVs, but applies directly to teardrop trailers.

SCO Watch

"Hard work never killed anybody, but why take a chance?"

-- Edgar Bergen

Thursday, September 18, 2003

It takes a long time to copy a 3 gigayte file from one computer to another over a 100mb LAN. I managed to get two of them copied, though. After straightening out directory ownership problems.

I no longer have any distractions, so I should be able to get back to the work I have been putting off - web pages for this site and for Rimrock Software. It would probably help a lot if there were no games on my main development machine. Funny, the one at work doesn't have any games on it. I wonder why? <BG>

Science fiction writer Orson Scott Card has written a very good article on the RIAA lawsuits and copyright called "MP3s Are Not the Devil". This is from someone who depends on copyright for his livelyhood.

If 13 and 14-year old kids get it, why don't all the RIAA grown-ups? It's a conondrum, all right.

SCO Watch

"When a whole nation is roaring Patriotism at the top of its voice, I am fain to explore the cleanness of its hands and purity of its heart."

-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

I finished Picoverse last night. Very disappointing and confusing. Not recommended.

Verisign, who has a government-given monopoly on a critical piece of the Internet, has broken the Internet by redirecting all unregistered .COM and .NET addresses to a page on their site where they run a search-engine. This also had a side effect of breaking many anti-spam tools. These bozos are doing this so they can harvest addresses. We should protest by bouncing spam to one of their email addresses.

The Business Software Alliance (BSA), established by Apple, Macromedia, Microsoft, Symantec and others to be the software police, are as clueless as the RIAA. They are complaining that too many college students don't pay for the software they download. Never mind that students can't afford the outrageous prices demanded by software companies, and that letting them use pirated software in school usually results in them buying the software when they enter the workforce. No, these dim bulbs are concerned that a student hasn't paid $700 for the latest Photoshop. (Use Paint Shop Pro instead - it's reasonably priced).

SCO Watch

"Ninety-eight percent of the adults in this country are decent, hard-working, honest Americans. It's the other lousy two percent that get all the publicity. But then--we elected them."

-- Lily Tomlin

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

I read Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire over the weekend. It's a very good book - better written than the first three. Harry actually gets to show his magical stuff, too. And what a setup to the next book! I recommend all of them. I'm not much for reading fantasy, but the J.K. Rowling books are just plain enjoyable.

I had thought it would have been nice to go on the Linux Lunacy '03 Geek Cruise. But considering the weather (picture is a swimming pool inside the ship), I'm glad it was only a passing thought.

Microsoft as the anti-christ? What a concept. I'm not sure if I would characterize Microsofts actions in Digital Rights Management (DRM, also known as Digital Restriction Management) as evil, just merely self-serving like every single one of their other actions.

I would think Microsoft should be worrying more about losing users than trying to control their documents.

SCO Watch

"There are three kinds of death in this world. There's heart death, there's brain death, and there's being off the network."

-- Guy Almes

Monday, September 15, 2003

I was unsuccessful at installing SuSE Linux on a machine that can't boot from CDROM. It turns out there is something wrong with the floppy disk drive, so you can't boot from there, either.

I went over to CompUSA to get some CDROM sleeves. I picked up 100 of those, and also picked up a $9.99 program called DVD Ripper. It is actually a program called DVDMagic, which can rip a DVD into a DIVX, MPEG1 or MPEG2 file. Using DVDMagic to convert a DVD, I can now play movies on my Linux notebook.

SCO Watch

Friday, September 12, 2003

When you are creating web pages and you want to use other than default colors for the background or text, you can use #xxxxxx to define the color. Alternatively, the HTML standard supports a set of named colors. I have done a web page for the benefit of those who want to use those named colors. Feel free to save off the page and use it where ever you want.

I'm going to attempt to install SuSE Linux for my beta-tester tomorrow, on the computer that can't boot from a CDROM. I am hoping that I will be successful. After the install, I may go north for an overnight in my teardrop trailer. We'll see how things go.

At the rate we are going, by the end of the year we will have no celebrities left. This should be called The Year That They Died. Bob Hope, June Carter Cash, Warren Zevon, Kathryn Hepburn, Buddy Hackett, Charles Bronson, Gregory Hines, Buddy Ebsen, Barry White, Leon Uris, Gregory Peck, Robert Stack, Nina Simone, Edwin Starr, Richard Crenna, Maurice Gibb, et. al. Now Johnny Cash and John Ritter.


SCO Watch

"Death does not concern us, because as long as we exist, death is not here. And when it does come, we no longer exist."

-- Epicurus

Thursday, September 11, 2003

Today is the second anniversary of the second "Day That Shall Live in Infamy". Why do I feel less secure and less free today than I did on that day?


Two years ago today, the U.S. joined an exclusive club of nations who have been viciously attacked by one of the organized groups of psychotic serial-killers whose personal philosophy seems to be "kill everyone who doesn't believe as we do". Thousands of innocent people died as a result.

True to form, our government reacted by putting an ambulance at the bottom of the cliff. Generals with medals, little old ladies with G.I. Joes dolls for their grandchildren, and people named David Nelson are no longer allowed on airplanes without an incredible amount of personal discomfort and hassle. You can't check a book out of a library or surf the net on a library computer without worrying about the feds learning what you did, as libraries are not allowed to tell you someone has asked for the information.

How did this happen? Certain members of our government took advantage of the public mood at the time to ram an act through Congress that removed many of our rights. Now John Ashcroft's Patriot Act is on the road weekly, showing at a convenient venue in your local area.

What can we do about it? Complain to your elected representatives. Don't re-elect the power-hungry mob who rammed the changes through. Take more responsibility for your own life, instead of letting the government take care of you. But always honor those who died.

Bob Cringely's current Pulpit is a very good essay on 'Sharp Business' and 'Innovation'. He is right on the mark when it comes to Microsoft.

There is a really great article by Joe Barr on the Dweebspeak Primer, about civil intellectual property rights. Less should certainly be more...

SCO Watch

"It is far better to put a fence at the top of a cliff than an ambulance at the bottom"

-- Keith Grateful

"Those who give up essential liberty for a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

-- Ben Franklin

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

The Linux User Group Meeting is tonite. It is a planning meeting, so I suspect few people will show up. We have to look for a new meeting place, and I would like to do a big installfest, like the one they did up in Sandpoint.

I haven't done any web pages. Haven't felt like it. Now that it is cooling down, maybe I can get back into it.

We had a power failure last night at around 2am. I wouldn't have even known about it, except the UPS'es were both beeping. Hard to keep sleeping through that. And of course, as I was phoning in the power failure, the electricity came back on.

Quote of the Week: There is still a chance that the publicity generated from the RIAA suing a 12-year-old is leading to more backlash from Congress. A Senator was quoted asking the RIAA's Cary Sherman: "Are you headed to junior high schools to round up the usual suspects?"

I have added another link to my list of free eBook links: Blackmask Online. Check it out.

SCO Watch

"Strange as it seems, no amount of learning can cure stupidity, and formal education positively fortifies it."

-- Stephen Vizinczey

Tuesday, September 9, 2003

I replaced the modem in my main computer with the same model from an older machine, so I now have Internet access. It's too bad my access is still only 28.8k, but fringe population areas rarely see the benefits of civilization until years after everyone else.

I could get broadband access to the Internet through satellite (Direcway). Only one gotcha - they require that my machine run a proprietary operating system that is as stable Mt. St. Helens. I forget what the name is - something like Microsloth Windblows.

Why should I trade the stability of Linux for an O/S that is susceptible to crashes, viruses, worms and all other kinds of computing nastiness? Plus they want to charge you to upgrade the O/S to be as stable as it should have been in the first place, and they want to lock you in to those upgrades so they can milk you until you bleed. Doesn't make a bit of sense to me. So I won't get broadband access.

Having just completed a redesign of most of our currency, the Treasury department is set to introduce yet another update to our currency. They have re-re-designed the $20 bill and will be introducing it into circulation on October 9. Part of its new security measures include new colors - peach, blue and yellow. Oh yeah, color is definitely the bleeding edge of security in currency. I used multi-colored rupee bills when I was in the Seyschelles in 1975. Plus the rupees had a security thread in them, which Treasury introduced into our bills about 10 years later.

Shear Stupidity Department - The RIAA is suing 261 of its own customers. I guess they don't want anyone to buy CDs anymore, as they intend to close down the biggest and best advertising media for their product. Congrats, guys - I hope you go belly-up.

Echoes of Shear Stupidity - The MPAA is attempting to have the sale of DVD-copying software banned in both the U.S. and the U.K. Jack Valenti, the dinosaur MPAA president and CEO, stated "No one should be under any illusions about the damage that this dangerous software would do to consumer choice and film-making." Which is exactly what he said about the VCR when it first came out. The same VCR that saved the film industry's ass instead of fatally damaging it.

SCO Watch

"Sorry if I sound cynical today, but the world deserves lots of cynicism."

-- Michael Burton

Monday, September 8, 2003

I had no connection to the Internet over the weekend. My modem has decided to return 'ERROR' to all modem commands (except one), so I can't connect to anything. It looks like I will have to replace the modem.

The one exception is the 'AT' command, for which I get back a 'boot>' prompt. I might be able to get the thing working again if I knew what to do from there...

Warren Zevon (January 24, 1947 - September 7, 2003). Rest in Peace, buddy. You gave the world some great music, and we'll miss ya.

Jerry Pournelle has some interesting things to say in an interview on He's much more entertaining in an extemporaneous interview than on his own web site.

SCO Watch

"Music is your own experience, your own thoughts, your wisdom. If you don't live it, it won't come out of your horn. They teach you there's a boundary line to music. But, man, there's no boundary line to art."

-- Charlie Parker

Friday, September 5, 2003

I am downloading Debian Linux v3.0r1. Only because I am curious to see what it is that everyone likes about it - many very popular distros are based on Debian. The only small problem is, there are 7 disks, so that's a lot of download time, even for a broadband connection. (I am obviously not doing this at home, since I have a 28.8k modem connection, even with a 56k modem).

I am using my Lindows notebook to do the downloading, and will then use it to burn the CDs. It works very well for that kind of thing.

I will be finishing up the new Rimrock Software web site design this weekend. First update on the site will be rsEdit 2.4.1, my free Windows Notepad replacement editor. After that, I will probably reorganize the free graphics pages.

I cannot believe that Emperor President Bush told CNBC in an interview that the current deficit is "nobody's fault". He's real good at not accepting responsibilty for anything, isn't he? I think his philosophy is "The buck doesn't stop anywhere near me, no sirree. I mean, if it did, how would I get re-elected?"

I haven't seen a single Democratic hopeful that's worth spit, either. I will stick to other political parties, thank you. At least you know they will probably do what they promise.

SCO Watch

Microsloth Windows: /mi:´kroh·sloth` win´dohz/, n.
(Variants combine {Microshift, Macroshaft, Microsuck} with {Windoze, WinDOS}. Hackerism(s) for ‘Microsoft Windows’. A thirty-two bit extension and graphical shell to a sixteen-bit patch to an eight-bit operating system originally coded for a four-bit microprocessor which was written by a two-bit company that can't stand one bit of competition. Also just called Windoze, with the implication that you can fall asleep waiting for it to do anything; the latter term is extremely common on Usenet. See Black Screen of Death and Blue Screen of Death; compare X, sun-stools.

Thursday, September 4, 2003

I spent a couple of hours at work yesterday downloading files from one of our customer's production machines to one of our test servers, so I could update the server today. I put the files out of the way in the /tmp directory, but I forgot that all the servers run a cron job every night to empty the /tmp directory. So now I am downloading the same files again.

The file download is not straightforward, as the customer's machines are protected by a firewall. I have to login to an access server, telnet from that machine to the production machine, ftp from the production machine to the access server, then ftp from the access server to our server. I then have to inform everyone that our server is going down for update, update the machine, then inform everyone it is back online. I then erase all the files from the access server. No wonder we don't do this as often as we should.

DirecTV, the company that provides me with all that entertainment, has taken a leaf out of the RIAA/MPAA play book and is sueing everyone who purchases a smart card writer. Never mind that most people that buy the smart card writers use them for legitimate purposes, DirecTV thinks they were all purchased to counterfeit their smart card.

Now some of the people they have harassed are striking back. They have instituted a class action lawsuit against DirecTV for racketeering. Go get 'em, guys. Maybe the RIAA/MPAA and SCO should take note of this. They're doing the same kinds of things.

SCO Watch

"Animals have these advantages over man: they never hear the clock strike, they die without any idea of death, they have no theologians to instruct them, their last moments are not disturbed by unwelcome and unpleasant ceremonies, their funerals cost them nothing, and no one starts lawsuits over their wills."

-- Voltaire

Wednesday, September 3, 2003

I spent part of Saturday trying to load SuSE Linux 8.2 onto a machine that could not boot from a CDROM drive. I tried to create a boot floppy to do the loading, but was unable to find the boot floppy images on the CDROM.

It turns out that SuSE does their boot floppy images differently than other major Linux distributors. Their images are in the /boot directory, but they have no .img extension. The other distributions have an image for each installation configuration; one for installing from a CDROM, one for installing from a network, etc. This is not the case for SuSE. They have a single boot image, and 4 other images that contain modules required for the installation type. Therefore, you have to create 5 floppy boot disks for a SuSE installation.

I did that and am now ready to install SuSE onto that computer, when I get access to it again.

I was reading an article yesterday that presented the case for classifying our country as an empire instead of a republic. He presents a compelling case, based on the fact that republics have citizens and empires have subjects.

What he doesn't state in his article is that since empires don't allow their subjects any rights, it is necessary for the empire to establish a bureau of internal security, to ensure that their subjects do not attempt to exercise rights they no longer have, and to ensure that their subjects don't attempt to forcibly take back rights they used to have.

As far as I'm concerned, the 'Department of Homeland Security' is just another market-speak name for the Bureau of Internal Security. All hail the Imperial States of America - you will never see your republic again. But don't say anything that's anti-empire, because they will lock you up and never let you out. Dissent is not patriotic, you see.

Rant mode off.

SCO Watch

"When making public policy decisions about new technologies for the Government, I think one should ask oneself which technologies would best strengthen the hand of a police state. Then, do not allow the Government to deploy those technologies."

-- Philip Zimmermann

Tuesday, September 2, 2003

It was nice to have a three day weekend. I got quite a bit done, but I haven't yet finished the Rimrock Software web site. I may just put up the pages I have completed. I don't really like to do that, as I hate sites with 'Under Construction' all over the place.

I have finally put my recipe for dutch oven Sweet and Sour meatballs on a web page. I have also submitted it for inclusion in a teardrop trailer newsletter. If the public demands it, I may even put up my Chile Verde recipe.

SCO Watch

"When they call the roll in the Senate, the Senators do not know whether to answer 'Present' or 'Not guilty.'"

-- Theodore Roosevelt