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September 2005

Friday, 30 September 2005

I copied 70 more 5 1/4 floppies to hard disk last night. That brings the total up to 140, which is about 35 mb. At this rate, 1400 will be 350 mb, so I can probably put every floppy I have onto one single CDROM.

I also made a hard copy of the QT Designer manual. I try to keep on one single project, but something else always comes up to attract my interest.


The movie Serenity opens today. I haven't gone to an opening day for a movie in about ten years, but I'm going to this one. Star Wars and Star Trek can't hold a candle to this one.


This guy says it like it is:

"The Net treats censorship as damage and routes around it."
" "
-- John Gilmore, Entrepreneur and Civil Libertarian

Oh boy, a new game:


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Thursday, 29 September 2005

I copied 70 more 5 1/4 floppy disks to my hard drive. That totals 15 mb. How did we ever survive that era?

I did notice I had some really classic software on those disks. Stuff like Turbo Pascal 1.0 and 2.0, RatBas and RatFor, Prolog, Monopoly, Mille Borne, Pacman, Turbo C++ 2.0, Turbo toolbox, and lots and lots of software from both the Silicon Valley Computing Society and the PC Special Interest Group. Some of the files have dates as old as 1983 on them.

I also ran across the source files for a commercial program I did called Catalog, which would read diskettes and catalog them in a flat file database so you could easily find where a particular file resided. I converted it over from a program that one of my friends wrote for CP/M-80. His was in assembly language, and I chose C for the DOS implementation (my first major C program).

I compiled Catalog on my Compaq Portable with two floppy disk drives, using Computer Innovations C86 compiler. (I ran across the compiler, too.) Since disks didn't have labels at that time, we used a zero-byte file on the disk as a label, e.g., -disk.023.

I should really redo that program to use a RDBMS. It would be a great way to keep track of which CD-ROM or DVD has which file.


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Wednesday, 28 September 2005

I ordered a 5 1/4 floppy disk drive from one of the last places to have them on the net: Weird Stuff. I installed it in place of the drive that doesn't work, then spent the rest of the night copying floppies onto the hard disk.

I finally stopped after 120 diskettes, then I burned them onto a CD. They only took up 216 mb.

It seems like all I ever do is make backups of one thing or another.


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Tuesday, 27 September 2005

The case for my new computer came last night. I will have to buy the wood that will wrap the case internal structure now.

The case also came with a flourescent light for the interior. I will have to figure out if that will be useful to me in my current case design.


I am still recording cassettes onto CD. I did the John Stewart California Bloodlines tape last night. I forgot how good some of that old music is.


Here is a little essay that's extremely interesting: The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity.


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Monday, 26 September 2005

The Inland Empire Dutch Oven Society participation in Rathdum Frontier Day on Saturday was a great success. We cooked a ton of food, got a ton of donations for the historical society, and had a great time. I was really pooped by the end of the day.


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Friday, 23 September 2005

I have lots to do this weekend. On Saturday I will be spending the day at Rathdrum City Park cooking in the Dutch Oven Demonstration for the local historical society. If you are out and about in North Idaho tomorrow, drop by for some free samples.

I am also shoveling out my house in preparation for winter. And I need to move the table saw from the basement to the garage so I can actually use it to build the case for my new computer.

There doesn't seem to be time to do anything about Teardrop Life or programming in Linux, but we shall see.


Price of unleaded gasoline at the start of the current administration:

Price of unleaded gasoline as of 5 September:

Isn't our president doing a bang-up job?


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Thursday, 22 September, 2005 (Autumn Equinox)

The motherboard, CPU, video card and memory for my custom wooden computer showed up last night. I have nothing to mount them in, so I must wait until Monday to receive the case. Then I have to build the wooden shell around the metal case frame. So this computer is going to take a while to build. I can hardly wait - my first 64-bit computer!


The Inland Empire Dutch Oven Society demo will be in Rathdrum on Saturday, from about 11 am to about 4 pm. I have all the supplies for the items i will be cooking, so I'm all set for it.

I picked up some name badge cards at Office Depot last night, and I will be making badges for all the IEDOS members who participate in the demo.


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Wednesday, 21 September, 2005

I am working on the page layout for the Teardrop Life e-zine. The magazine will be landscape format, with a three-column general layout. Each section will be color-coded, so readers can easily distinguish what category a particular article belongs to.

Part of this process involves learning how to use Scribus, the Linux desktop publishing tool I will be using to publish the magazine. Simple things like adding a new page using a particular style, will be a challenge for a while. I have looked around for a book on using Scribus, but no one seems to have addressed the program yet. Scribus is a powerful tool that can generate PDF files directly, so someone should be writing a book about it.


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Tuesday, 20 September, 2005

Yesterday morning on the way to work, I came within two feet of hitting a 4 point buck. This morning, I almost hit a fawn. Last week, it was a dozen wild turkeys on the road. This is the time of year when you have to be extra-careful on the road in the morning, as the wildlife population seems to be exploding. Be careful out there.


I have officially announced the start of Teardrop Life, a magazine about all aspects of teardrop trailers. It will be a lot of work, but publishing an online magazine should be an interesting experience.


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Monday, 19 September, 2005

I am looking for another dutch oven. I don't want to spend the outrageous sum they are asking in the stores, so I went to a mess of garage sales on Saturday to see if I could find a used one.

Now I know what the other half of Hayden does on Saturdays. They are all at garage sales. I saw clothes scanners, printers, monitors, trinkets, books, etc., but never saw a single piece of cast iron cookware. I will just have to keep trying, I guess.


I have ordered parts for another computer. This one will be an Athlon 64 machine with the following:

That last item is the whole reason why I'm building this system. I intend to construct a wooden case for the computer, using dovetail joints and inlay work (marquetry) for the exterior. I have only seen one wooden computer case, and it looked like an old phonograph case instead of a computer case. Mine will look like a computer case, but will be done in exotic woods.


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Friday, 16 September, 2005

I got the MySQL server running on my workstation, and verified that I can actually write programs that can talk to that database. I can now continue with my reading of the Professional Linux Programming book, while testing the examples on my workstation.


I still have several hundred cassettes that need to be converted to CD. I did another Paul Simon tape last night, but at one tape per night, it's going to take forever to do these.

And I keep running out of jewel cases. I am using full size cases for my audio CDs, and am scavenging them from my software and replacing those with the slimline cases. But I'm running out, so I will have to break down and buy some jewel cases soon.


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Thursday, 15 September, 2005

I have re-seasoned all of my cast iron cooking devices. That includes four dutch ovens and three frying pans. Ah, the smell of baking vegetable oil in the evening...

I'm doing this so I can be ready for the dutch oven demo we will be doing in Rathdrum on the 24th. I will be doing Cherry Chocolate Surprise cake and Tamale Pie. I hope everyone who shows up will be hungry.


I am into the database section of the Professional Linux Programming book. This stuff never changes - some of the details, maybe, but none of the substance. To use a database, you open it, select records, read records, use them, then close the database. Always has been that way, even when I was using dBase II back in the 70's.

I think I will set up my workstation so I can work some of the examples in the book. Doing always has more impact than just reading.


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Wednesday, 14 September, 2005

I haven't paid much attention to the development tools included with SuSE Linux 9.3 Professional, until now. It turns out there are quite a few, and they look pretty good.

For IDEs, Gambas, Anjuta, Erik and Eclipse have been included. These are Integrated Development Environments designed to be used with various languages. Languages for these include Basic, C, C++, Python and Java. Of these, the only language I haven't used is Python, so I couldn't really do anything with Erik. As for the others, they all have examples built in so you can evaluate the environment.

Eclipse, the IBM Java development environment has the most extensive examples, but they are not included with the IDE. If you want to use them, the IDE allows you to download them from the Internet.

Anjuta has templates from which you can generate a program. The templates are fairly primitive, but you can easily add your program-specific components.

I will look at the others as I get the time.


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Tuesday, 13 September, 2005

I need more of the silly signs. I only have 49 of them - 20 left to display. If any of you know where I can pick up more of them, please let me know.


I have started reading a book I have had for quite a while. It is called Professional Linux Programming. It kind of put me off when I first got it, because the first chapter or two is a retreading of classical software planning and design. I got past that and am now into the meat of the book.

Unfortunately, the design example that is used throughout the book is programmed primarily in C. Most KDE programs are now done in C++, so it will take some study to correlate the two approachs.

As you can tell, I have temporarily given up on Lazarus and free pascal. Its bugs were the primary cause for my re-installation of Linux on my server over the weekend, so I decided to not mess with it for a while.


Our dutch oven demonstration will be a week from next Saturday (the 24th). If you like good food and are interested in dutch oven cooking, come to Rathdrum City Park and check us out. We will be cooking from about 10 am to about 4 pm.


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Monday, 12 September, 2005

The North Idaho Linux User Group meeting was held last Saturday. We had an enjoyable time watching Frank Ten Thy take apart an e-Machines notebook computer, so he could rescue the CD writer out of it. Once the CD writer was removed it was trivial to use it to replace a CD drive in an IBM Thinkpad. Cool stuff.


I am starting to spread around resumés. I am looking for a job that will allow me to program in an object-oriented language instead a a leftover from the 80's. I am also hoping that I can make my commute much shorter, but that's just a hope at this point. We'll see how things go.


I reinstalled SuSE 9.3 Professional on my server again. This time, I completely wiped everything out. It was starting to do strange things and I didn't want to spend the time to troubleshoot it to see who was eating up all the CPU cycles.


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Friday, 9 September, 2005

I am working on converting a very complex Delphi program over to Lazarus and free pascal. I haven't had much luck so far. Maybe I better start with a simpler project, like my Daily Quote program.


"...Now FEMA moves in and the first thing they demand is MANDATORY EVACUATION, because "the blood of those we don't force to move out is on our heads."

--Jerry Pournelle

Microsoft's New O/S: VISTA

A memorable name, isn't it?


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Thursday, 8 September, 2005

Major News Update:

Now we know why the Katrina support has been bungled so badly: Halliburton's KBR awarded half billion dollar repair contract for Gulf Coast Navy facilities

Let's just call corruption, corruption. Ok?


I have mounted the free-to-air dish on its mount on the post I set up over the weekend.

I spent a lot of time last night searching for a satellite with the system, and never got even a whisper of a signal. I don't have a clue what to do next. So what else is new?


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Wednesday, 7 September, 2005

The great DVD ripper DVD-Shrink is no longer being maintained by its author. He ended up someplace with a real job. So a replacement is probably a good idea.

I have found a replacement. It is called ShrinkTo5. The two really good things about it is that it is open source, and there will be a Linux version.

ShrinkTo5 works pretty well. It has a radically different interface from DVD-Shrink, and it doesn't display as much information. They've gone for the glitz instead of the substance.

The important missing information is the amount the movie will be (or has been) compressed. How can anyone use a compressor if you don't know how much the movie will be compressed?

I used ShrinkTo5 on the movie Chain Reaction. It performed admirably, but when I burned a DVD with the generated information, I got no movie, just ancillary files. I will have to look into that.


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Tuesday, 6 September, 2005

I didn't do any camping over the long holiday weekend, but I did get quite a bit done. I backed more cassettes onto CD. There are still many more to go, but it's a slow job, as each one has to be played at playback speed.

I dug a hole and planted a post for my free-to-air satellite dish. I am waiting for the concrete to completely cure before I mount the dish. That was a lot of fun, as I had to dig through gravel and clay. I put water in the hole to loosen up the soil, and let it sit overnight. There was still water in the hole the next morning. Clay is terrible stuff.

I also disassembled the workbench from my basement and reassembled it in the garage. I now have a reasonable place to work on home construction projects. the last thing I need to do is get the table saw out of the basement and into the garage.

I hope everyone had a nice holiday.


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Friday, 2 September, 2005

There is a quite amazing difference between a USB 1.1 port and a USB 2.0 port. What took me about an hour to copy onto my portable hard drive at work on a USB 2.0 port, took 5 hours to copy onto my computer at home using a USB 1.1 port. Maybe it's time for me to get another motherboard...


Does Microsoft conform to any ISO 900x standards? As the largest manufacturer of operating systems in the world, why not? Maybe because it would cost them many hundreds of millions to conform to those standards?


On January 21, 2001, when George W. Bush came into office, the average price of a gallon of unleaded gas was 1.66. As of August 29, 2005, the average price of a gallon of gas was 2.80. Probably has nothing to do with the mess he's made in the middle east, does it?

George is doing SUCH a good job, isn't he? FOR THE OIL COMPANIES, MAYBE.


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Thursday, 1 September, 2005

There is now an open source version of DVD-Shrink. This is good, since the author of DVD-Shrink got a real job and the program is now declared to be unmaintained.

The open source version is called ShrinkTo5. It is not a clone, but is a rethinking of the interface. It looks like it will be pretty good.

The really great thing is they are looking for Linux and Mac developers to port it over to those O/Ses. Wow!


I received a Fedex package last night. It was the external USB case I ordered for the extra 20 gb hard drive I have. So I decided to install the drive.

I started to read the pigeon-english instructions and the steps were so easy that I went ahead and installed the drive. The only thing the instructions didn't mention was the drive's drive select option. So I assumed that selecting Master would be alright. I was right.

After I mounted the drive, slid the assembly back into the enclosure and put the screws back, I took one last look at the instructions. After all those steps, at the very end of the instructions, there was a sentence that essentially said "be sure to partition and format the hard drive the way you want it before you install it into the case". Wonderful. The drive was formatted as one Windows fat32 partition, one Linux ext3 partition and one Linux swap partition.

Well, I figured I might be able to do something about that without removing the drive, hooking it up internally to a computer and re-partitioning, so I went ahead and connected it to the USB port on my dad's machine.

I booted up Windows 2000, and the drive was detected, the driver loaded and then... Windows asked to reboot! I guess I shouldn't be surprised that such a lame operating system needs to do that so much. So I rebooted and the drive was running ok in Windows. Problem was, I had no way to re-partition it. Windows comes with practically no tools, and absolutely no partitioner that preserves partition contents.

So I booted into Mepis Linux instead of Windows (yes, Virginia, dual-boot is useful). Linux recognized the drive with no problems at all. I loaded up QTParted and used it to remove the Linux partitions and to resize the fat32 partition to take up the whole disk.

I now have a 20gb portable storage solution. I will be using it to back up all the personal stuff I have on my computer at work, so I can take it home and archive it.


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