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September 2006

Friday, 29 September 2006

Lots of stuff for me to do this weekend. None of it is very interesting, which is why I put it off. Two things I will be working on is the Rails tutorial and the coach program database design.


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Thursday, 28 September 2006

Everything seems to be back to normal at work. We are having a barbeque at lunch today to celebrate the end of summer, and we shipped out the latest build to QA yesterday.


I installed SuSE Linux Enterprise on my test machine last night. Novell has made some major adjustments to it, so it only resembles openSUSE in passing. I will explore it further when I get a chance.


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Wednesday, 27 September 2006

With all this furor about Microsoft zero-day exploits, I am sure most you are saying, "Oh, that will never happen to me." Well, no matter how good your intentions, nasty things can happen to you.

I have always thought that the IT staff where ever I work has always had the security thing well under control. That is, until yesterday, when our network went down from a Microsoft virus. No access to any of the servers at Hayden, ID, Bothell, WA or College Station, TX. Turns out that someone had hooked up an infected notebook to the network and it took down all the servers.

Normally, this would not be a problem. Remove the virus, get the patches to prevent it and apply them. A couple hours work. But Some of our servers are running Windows NT! For those who have been living in a hole, that O/S is no longer supported by that company we love to hate.

So the IT guys have to find the machine causing the infection, remove it from the network, then flatten and reload all the NT servers. And hope that a) it will work, and b) that it doesn't happen again. Such is life, I guess.

My only problem with this is it is affecting mission critcial work.

Update: 8:45am The servers are still down. It is going on 48 hours and we can't check in software changes or do a new program build which was supposed to be in College Station today. This is impacting our development schedule and I don't know who should shoulder most of the blame.

Update: 2:00pm The servers are back up, after about 48 hours of problems. It turns out that the virus or whatever caused a DDOS-style attack on our servers. They were all too busy to answer requests from us mere mortals.

I have checked in my source code changes and we have done a new product build. The build looks good from my perspective, so we can send it to QA down in College Station.


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Tuesday, 26 September 2006

I have to get back on track with the sports program I will be writing. That nice interlude over the weekend got me thoroughly out of the 'learn new software' mode. I will get back to it tonight.

I've been toying with the idea of having our Linux user group do its own Linux distrbution. that would be nice, as it would only have the apps on it that the members would use. The problem is, it's a LOT of work. Or maybe just not work - fun, but take up a lot of time and I don't have any extra time.


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Monday, 25 September 2006

I had a great time at the Dutch oven demo in Rathdrum on Saturday. I must have worked hard, as I slept 9 1/2 hours on Saturday night. I usually sleep 6 to 7 hours.

I cooked twenty pounds of potatoes and 2 pounds of bacon in two batches of Dutch oven potatoes. I also did two Dutch oven cakes - Cherry Simplicity and Apple Simplicity. All this in five hours. Whew!


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Friday, 22 September 2006

The final Dutch oven get together of the year is tomorrow. We will be participating in the Rathdrum Heritage Days event. We will be cooking and giving away food at Rathdrum City Park all day tomorrow. I look forward to the event and to a chance to see all the IEDOS members again.


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Thursday, 21 September 2006

I was listening to the SciFiDig podcast yesterday and Aaron happened to mention a webiste called Archive.org. This is a terrific site. They collect stuff. All kinds of stuff. One of the things they collect is Moving Images (videos). So now I have two Superman cartoons from the 40's and I will be downloading a lot of other videos they have. Check it out if you like old movies, old songs or any weird little thing.


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Wednesday, 20 September 2006

I eliminated my problem with Rails not correctly talking to mySQL. A web page on the mySQL web site explains how to do that. It turns out that it was the Rails software that is behind the times on this problem, not mySQL. It has to do with password protection algorithms.

To create automatic web pages for database tables, you use a Rails command called scaffold. This automatically generates about 4 or 5 pages that allow you to interface to the table. Very nice, but those pages will probably end up being changed as I progress with the tutorial.


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Tuesday, 19 September 2006

I am now learning how to use Ruby on Rails with a database connection. I'm having a little trouble with the configuration, but the book I am reading, Agile Web Development with Rails, seems to cover all these annoying little situations.

The book develops one particular web application - a shopping cart. It explains the thought process behind the implementation, and shows how to back up from dead ends and how to add new pieces to both the application and to the database. I'm going to enjoy reading this book and learning how to do this kind of programming.


I got an order from Woot yesterday. I bought two sets of Logitech speakers for twenty bucks. Good price, and the speakers are not bad, either. Woot is a lot of fun, but you have to really watch for the good deals.


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Monday, 18 September 2006

I've been learning Ruby on Rails over the weekend. It's an interesting approach to doing web applications. I can really see the attraction for many developers.

I also am continuing to add more tables to the database definition for the coaching program. I'm still nowhere near to finishing it, though.


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Friday, 15 September 2006

I'm still having wildlife problems. One morning this week, I had to stop for 6 turkeys and 7 deer, all in a pack. The next morning in the same place it was the six turkeys again. Last night on the way home from the Lunar Group meeting, I almost hit a deer in residential Coeur d'Alene. We need more rain, so the animals will have enough to eat and will not be forced into areas where they interact with humans.


I will be working on the coaching database again this weekend. I don't know if there is such a thing as over-normalization, but I may have done that with this database. It will have a boatload of tables, many of which are used to connect other tables in a many to many relationship.


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Thursday, 14 September 2006

I have reloaded SuSE Linux 10.0 on my main workstation, without the software updates that caused my DVD player to stop working. Everything works fine now. I used the DVD player to watch several episodes of "Monk" with no problems. I now have to test the CD and DVD writing capability, since I bought this DVD drive to replace one that had problems writing (and sometimes reading) disks.


I was going to go into Big Lots on Saturday, but it was closed until Sunday for some reason. I found out the reason. It was robbed on Friday night and they were still investigating the robbery. The robbers seem to have been arrested yesterday.


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Wednesday, 13 September 2006

The Dutch oven demo scheduled for this weekend has been canceled, so I won't be camping at Bumblebee campground and won't be showing newcomers how to cook Dutch oven style. I am disappointed, but there is another Dutch oven demo I will be participating in. On Saturday, September 23rd, the annual Dutch oven demo will be held in Rathdrum City Park as part of the Rathdrum Fall Festival. Come out, sample the food, check out the mountain men, enjoy the bluegrass music and tour historic Rathdrum.


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Tuesday, 12 September 2006

I had the Kaffeine video player working with commercial DVDs, and now it doesn't. I think I may have wiped out the changes when I updated all the packages for SuSE Linux 10.0. I may have to start over again. Good thing it isn't that big a deal (unlike another operating system that shall remain nameless).


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Monday, 11 September 2006

On the weekend, I installed a new DVD drive on my main workstation and could not get it to work correctly. I ended up reinstalling SuSE Linux 10.0 on the workstation so that it would properly recognize the drive.

Reinstalling if you have partitioned your hard drive correctly is no big deal. When installing Linux, I always create at least three partitions: one for a swap drive, one for the root (/) and one for home (/home). That way, I can completely blow away the root and reinstall the operating system without losing any personal data on the /home partition.

After the installation, I only had to do a couple of things to get me back to where I was before the reinstall. I also reinstalled the Smart Package Manager and the Parallels virtualization program. I then removed and reinstalled Kaffeine, setting it up so I could look at commercial DVDs. Finally, I used Smart to uninstall the upgrade the Tellico collection manager so it could read my video database, which was created with a newer version of Tellico than the one that ships with SuSE Linux 10.0.

This leaves me right back where I was before the weekend started, except I now have a completely working DVD drive. I probably could have gotten it working without a reinstall, but reinstalling is so easy, it's a viable alternative to futzing around with hardware configurations.


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Friday, 8 September 2006

I saw a video yesterday that demonstrated a new feature in the latest version of KDE, the Linux desktop manager that I use. They mentioned that the new KDE would be in openSUSE 10.2, so I downloaded it last night.

If it was a good download, I will be installing it on my test machine and will show it at the North Idaho Linux User Group tomorrow.


One of the Dutch oven demos that I will be participating in is a week from tomorrow. Since it involves camping, I need to get my trailer and gear ready this weekend, so I don't rush around Friday morning getting it all together.

This will be an unusual demo, as I will not be cooking anything I've ever cooked in a Dutch oven before. Should be interesting.


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Thursday, 7 September 2006

The dry weather has caused a wild animal explosion in populated areas. I have had to stop on the way to work to honk at 2 dozen turkeys in the middle of the road, and have had to slow down to avoid hitting numerous deer, including one 8 point buck who thought he owned the road.

The animal incursion has also struck me at home. I had 2 does and 2 fawns in my front yard night before last. Several times I have interrupted deer in the yard when I come out the front door.

If it rains on Saturday as predicted, it's possible that the wildlife will fade back into the forest as usual. But I'm not pinning my hopes on it.


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Wednesday, 6 September 2006

I suppose I should have explained that the laser printer I recycled was a really old 300 dpi Panasonic. I replaced it with an HP LaserJet 6L a long time ago and could never find a way to get rid of it. Recycle Techs is the perfect way to dispose of antiquated hardware.

Now I need a place that recycles old tech books.


I have been trying to use Skype for quite a while now, but have been unable to get adequate microphone levels to allow it to be used. I finally bought a USB VOIP phone and I now have a useful Skype device. I fine-tuned it last night by calling my home phone with the Skype phone. The volume levels are pretty good, so I will try it out on my parents when I get a chance.


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Tuesday, 5 September 2006

I got quite a bit done over the three day weekend. Some cleanup, lots of DVDs made from VHS and I installed PCLinuxOS on my test machine.

The major accomplishment was the work I did on the coach database. I have about half of the database designed. There are a couple of problems, but I hope to solve them this week. I am documenting the database in a text file and giving it a visual representation using Umbrello, which is a UML modeling program available with SuSE Linux.


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Monday, 4 September 2006

I made a run over to the electronics recycle center over the weekend. got rid of a monitor, a laser printer and a boatload of other electronic trash (hard disks, CDROM drives, power supplies, etc.). And I didn't buy a thing while I was there.

I also stopped by Harbor Freight and looked at thier router table, but didn't buy that, either. Maybe I'm learning something in my old age.


I've been re-reading Robert Heinlein's "Revolt in 2100" and came across a section that seems to apply quite well to today's world:

When any government, or any church for that matter, undertakes to say to its subjects, "This you may not read, this you must not see, this you are forbidden to know," the end result is tyranny and oppression, no matter how holy the motives.

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Friday, 1 September 2006

At work, I have fixed the problem I was working on that I could not reproduce. I tried all kinds of things to reproduce the problem, including a shotgun approach to fixing it. I was finally able to duplicate the problem by running the program under an external debugger. This changed all the timing in the program and allowed me to reproduce the problem.

I tracked the problem down to a routine that was supposed to hand out the next record ID. The table was being sorted wrong and the routine ended up giving out an ID it had already given out. This resulted in a duplicate record exception in the program. I fixed the problem by telling the routine to use the primary key to sort the table before using it.

I told QA I had fixed the problem and they just about had a cow. Funny how much the small things affect people.


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