BLOGical Thoughts Archive

September 2011

Friday, 30 September 2011

I went to the optometrist yesterday. I still have vision coverage on my insurance until November, so I figured I would take advantage of it. Besides that, I haven't been in 3 years, so it was time.

My doctor no longer does the eye dilation thing. She has all kinds of machines that do things that were much harder to do in the past. She has a machine now that will allow her to take pictures of the back of my eye, so no dilation is necessary. She also has machines to measure peripheral vision and whether I am prone to glaucoma.

The exam went well. I need only a minor adjustment to my prescription, but these glasses are so old I am replacing them. The cost of glasses has also changed - it's gone way up. I'm glad I have insurance for a lot of it.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Thursday, 29 September 2011

I installed a new security certificate for Citrix on this workstation last night, so I can Citrix in to work from here. Installing a new certificate is much easier and straightforward on Linux than it is on a Windows box. All you have to do is copy the certificate to the proper system directory and ensure it has the proper owner and permissions.

On Windows, the procedure is much more complex; it is ten times more complex in Windows 7 than in Windows XP. You have to use Windows utilities to install the certificate, and that utility may not be present on your O/S. I have an email explaining how to do it, with pictures. Not good for your normal user, is it?

At any rate the certificate installed fine on this workstation and I have verified I can now see my workplace desktop on this machine. I'm all set to go if I need to work from home for a while. Of course, I will only need this capability for another 4 weeks.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Wednesday, 28 September 2011

At work, I am attempting to run down a bug in our software that occurs only on a Solaris 9 O/S, and I can't help comparing the Solaris command line environment with the Linux command line. I don't know what command shell Solaris uses, but it is very inadequate when compared to Bash. There is no command line tab completion and no command line history, so if you make a mistake, you have to type the whole line over again. Shades of the typewriter! Regardless of the clunkiness of the interface, I am making progress on fixing the bug, which is the important thing.

We are getting to the delivery point with this version of our software. The rest of the development group will be at Java One next week, and I will be here, as there is no benefit to the company in me going at this late date in my career. I will be taking the week off, but I will be around to monitor things in case we have any high priority problems that pop up.


I haven't had any luck adding my email address to this web site in the way I want. The CMS is all set up to do actual links in a menu, but the way I'm doing this, it is not a link. I may have to do some modification to the file I am using to do this.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Tuesday, 27 September 2011

I received an email from my web host indicating that their servers had been attacked and some of their hosted domains had their home pages replaced. I checked all four of the web sites I have hosted with them and have seen no damage. I do believe it's time to back up all the sites, though. And I appreciate the heads-up.

While I'm about it, I will be adding my email address to this site. I have refrained from doing that in the past because there are lots of nasty people out there who can scrape my pages and obtain any email addresses for their spam lists. I am now doing the address in a way that defeats those screen scrapers. Look for the link later today.


I received this month's issue of Linux Format in the mail yesterday. This is the last year I will be subscribing to that magazine, as it costs a lot of money to do that. Since Borders is now closed, I will have to find another local book store that actually stocks it, so I can buy an issue whenever it has something of special interest. About the only book store left in Coeur d'Alene is Hastings. I hope they stock stuff like that, but I doubt it.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Monday, 26 September 2011

I went to the technical session of the North Idaho Linux Users Group on Saturday. I am still attempting to get the mail list working and I did not have any more luck there than I did at any other time.

I also helped a newbie install 2 versions of Linux on one of his old computers. First, we installed a 64-bit version of Linux Mint on the machine, then we installed the latest version of Mythbuntu (11.04). We could not completely configure MythTV, as you need all the actual hardware (like a cable tuner) to do that.


Since I had the Mythbuntu 11.04 ISO from the Saturday install, I upgraded my DVR with it. During the install, it asks if you want to do a fresh install or an upgrade. I chose upgrade and it wiped out all the stuff I had on the box anyway. Good thing I backed up the recorded videos I had on there.

Now I am back to where I was with Mythbuntu last year. I can talk to the Internet, but I can't seem to connect to a local computer, like the MyBookWorld NAS. I really need to do that, since that is where I backed up the recordings from the DVR.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Friday, 23 September 2011

I finished up the changes to the North Idaho Mineral Club web site last night. I added a Home button to all pages and also added a link that can be used to email to if someone finds broken links. I also changed the NFMS logo image to one where you can actually read the text. Their logo was just not well-designed. Of course, our logo isn't that good either.


I had the trunk lock on the Plymouth re-keyed, so now I have a key that works in the lock. The problem is, the lock doesn't really seem to work. Can't have everything, I suppose. I'm going to drive it to work today, just for the exercise.


With all the changes at work, there is yet another change. The certificate that allows us to Citrix in to our computers at work has expired. We will have to install a new cert in order to get the Citrix connection working. I liked that connection, as I could see my entire desktop (both screens) with it. With VPN, I could only see a small piece.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Thursday, 22 September 2011

I worked on the North Idaho Mineral Club web site last night. Unfortunately, most of the changes I made cannot be seen. Stuff like setting external links to open in their own browser tab. You will only see that if you actually click on one of those links. I also added a keywords meta tag to the web site. This is something that the contest judges said should be there, but no search engine I know of actually uses it anymore, so I initially ignored it. But if they want it, they've got it.

The one thing you will see on the front page is the NFMS and AFMS logos. I have them on the site, but the NFMS judges took points off for us not advertising them on the front page. They act like all other entrenched organizations with too much control - "It's our way of the highway."

They also want an email address on the pages so users can report broken links. All that really does is increase the likelihood that the site will get spam email, but I will try to do that in a way that that won't happen.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Wednesday, 21 September 2011

When I got my new printer back in May, I installed both printer and scanner drivers for Linux. I tried to scan something yesterday and could not do it, as the program did not find a scanner. I will have to look into this when I get a chance.

In the meantime, I needed to scan the document. So I created a new virtual machine and installed Windows XP in it. I then installed the printer's fancy Windows software in it and I also installed the Gimp in it. I then scanned the document and copied it from the VM to my workstation.

I couldn't have done that with my existing Windows VM, as it is for Windows 2000, which does not support USB or USB printers. What a pain. Anyway, I now have a slightly newer test bed for testing the soccer program when I finish it.

The document in question is a certificate indicating that the web site I maintain for the North Idaho Mineral Club has won an award from the Northwest Federation of Mineralogical Societies - third place in their web site competition. I will be putting that up on the web site soon.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Tuesday, 20 September 2011

I was mentioned in a podcast: I posted a comment about something they said a couple of weeks ago, and they talk about the comment at exactly 1:00:00 into the podcast. My fifteen seconds of fame.


The writer David Gerrold wrote an episode of the original Star Trek TV series called "The Trouble with Tribbles". It first aired in the mid-60's. Tribbles were these harmless little critters that purred when you picked them up and stroked them. Very inoffensive creatures, except they did not like Klingons and the Klingons hated them. Their other problem was that if they ate too much, they multiplied like mad.

The apparent inspiration for this episode was a Sci-Fi youth novel written by Robert Heinlein in 1952: "The Rolling Stones". The Stone family was tripping around the Solar System when they picked up an animal on Mars called a flat cat. Flat cats were these harmless little critters that purred when you picked them up and stroked them. Very inoffensive creatures whose only problem was that if they ate too much, they multiplied like mad.

The Stones unloaded all their spare flat cats on all the lonely asteroid miners. On the other hand, Scotty solved the Tribble problem by beaming them on to a Klingon warship, where "they'll be no tribble at all." I kind of favor Scotty's solution.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Monday, 19 September 2011

I cleaned up the teardrop trailer and put it up for the winter. I have plans to work on it when before spring, but that will come as the weather allows. I also put up the Plymouth. I need to take the trunk latch off and get it re-keyed so I can actually lock it, but other than that and installing an electric fuel pump, there's nothing to do on the car.

While I was at all this, I accidentally disturbed a huge hornet nest. They always nest in very inconvenient places, like in garage doors which haven't been opened all summer. I got rid of it with some high pressure water and had no personal problems with the inhabitants.


I worked on the soccer program over the weekend. I am now re-writing the help pages, as the dialogs are now finalized. I still need to fix a bunch of bugs in the program and add a couple of printed reports.


Happy Speak like a Pirate Day. Shiver me timbers, matey! Arrrr!


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Friday, 16 September 2011

Yesterday morning I left the house later than normal, as I had to run an errand. I ended up behind a yellow sports car with a license plate that said "KW4PWR". At first, I thought the guy was a ham radio operator, but when I got closer to the car, I figured the plate out. The car was a Tesla Electric and the plate was "Kilowatts For Power". Very clever.

I kept following and the car kept making the same turns I did. It ended up in the parking lot of where I was going, so I parked my Honda Hybrid right next to it. When I came out from doing my business, another car had pulled in on the other side of the Tesla - a Toyota Prius Hybrid. I guess you have to consider that a window on the future; two hybrids and an electric car all parked in a row.


I was at the North Idaho Mineral Club meeting last night, so I didn't get any work done on my various projects. The meeting was interesting - we saw a video of how they mine geodes in Mexico. That was a bit scary, actually.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Thursday, 15 September 2011

The physical changes at work have screwed up our work. Normally, I would have no trouble creating a virtual machine with Debian and our security manager on it. I actually did get one created and updated, but I am having trouble looking at the results with a Console on my workstation. It's completely frustrating. It may be a result of the ESX server meltdown and its re-establishment in a different physical location, but I don't know that for sure. I was also having trouble last week trying to talk to my own workstation from a VM. It kept locking out my account. I cannot tell you how much I hate Windows.

At any rate, I will have to get the server/workstation combination working so I can do some testing. The testing involves running different versions of the Console against different versions of the server, so it is not exactly straightforward.


The temperature finally dipped below 90° F yesterday. We are now heading towards 70 degree weather, which is more in keeping with Fall. What we need now is some rain to go along with the temperature dip.

This also means I have to finish up a bunch of outdoor chores. I just need some motivation to do them, and evenings that aren't nearly as hot as they were.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Wednesday, 14 September 2011

I picked up an aluminum case last week at the company old hardware giveaway. The case is the right size to hold my ZaReason Chimera laptop. The problem is, it is exactly the right size. That means I can't get my fingers around the laptop to get it out of the case.

I am going to fix that by cutting hand cutouts out of the foam on each side of the case. Then the only problem is how to protect the computer from the power supply brick, which also must go in the case.

I also picked up two other items at the giveaway: two Ethernet over power line boxes and a cell phone signal booster. So far, I've been unable to make either of these work. I really need the cell phone booster, as here at home, I only have about a half bar of signal. It just doesn't appear to work with Verizon, though. I guess that's no great surprise.

The Ethernet boxes have their limitations, too. I guess that they have to be on the same circuit, or the power lines must have the proper orientation or something. I don't know about the, so I will find out.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Tuesday, 13 September 2011

I did chores last night instead of doing interesting stuff. I think having clean clothes is more important than getting more done on the soccer program, although there are others who may not think that way.


I was pointed at a contract job by a NILUG member. If they were offering it in November, I would definitely be interested. As it is, there would be too much to work on and I already have things I need to finish.

I have been thinking about what I will do after I retire, and I have at least 3 Android applications I would like to implement and maybe sell. I'm sure more ideas will come along, so I will not be bored.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Monday, 12 September 2011

I spent the weekend at Priest Lake, just north of Coolin, ID. I took my teardrop trailer up there and slept in it, but did everything else in a cabin owned by a friend. There were 7 of us there and we hung out went kayaking, went in the lake and did Linuxy stuff.

I went up there on Friday after work. We all had dinner that night at Ardy's Cafe in Coolin. I had a truly fantastic hamburger and good onion rings. I wish that restaurant was in Hayden.

On Saturday, I did my Dutch oven beef stroganoff for the rest of the people that were there. It was a hit, like it mostly is. None of it was left, which is always a good sign.

While I was there, I completely wiped out my installation of the NILUG list server and re-installed it. I'm still having no luck in getting to actually send messages. I don't know what to do next.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Friday, 9 September 2011

I was too busy this morning to post a regular entry here. I apologize for that. No silly sign today.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

I delivered the pre-alpha version of the soccer program to the other principals yesterday. Last night, I went ahead and added the extra field to the player database table. Now I need to actually use the field when I generate the records for the game schedules.

There are a lot of little things to do to the program, like ensuring all the fields are filled out before appending them to the database. And, of course, I still have to do a couple of printed reports.


I've been without my homemade hot sauce for a few days now - I kept forgetting to make some, even though I had the peppers. I finally broke down this morning and made some more while my breakfast was cooking. It's nice to have that red pepper bite back in my breakfast burrito instead of the Tapatío bite.


Ten years ago on the 11th of September, some very bad things happened. Nothing good can come of bringing it back up every day and picking at it. Get over it. Move on. Fight to get our Constitutional Rights back instead.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Wednesday, 7 September 2011

I figured out which dialog needed to populate the database table in the soccer program. I implemented that and have also finished the final dialog of the program. All the major work that is left to do is a couple of printed reports.

While I was finishing the game results dialog, I realized I need to add another column to the player table. Since the program now truly supports multiple team information, I need to have an indication of which team a particular player plays for. This will be fairly easy to add, but it will have an impact in several places.

Today is my deadline for finishing the major portions of the program. I will be having lunch with the other principals in the project, and will give them a setup program for what I have so far.


My company is getting ready to rid itself of a whole mess of surplus equipment. I'm not sure if they will be selling it, or giving it away, but there are a couple of things I would like to snag. I will find out what the deal is today.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Tuesday, 6 September 2011

I spent most of Sunday at Spirit Lake, participating in their Labor Day Car Show. I didn't win anything, and I got baked in the hot sun, but I enjoyed the experience anyway. I have posted some pictures of the show.


I am still trying to finish up the final soccer program dialog. I have obviously missed something, as one of the tables I am attempting to use is unpopulated and it should contain data. I will have to go back to the other dialogs and figure out which one of them should be generating data for that table.


I have posted this a bit late, as my home Internet connection is down. I hope it isn't my equipment that is causing the problem. It worked fine last night when I turned off the computer.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Friday, 2 September 2011

I fixed the dialogs in the soccer program that I had difficulty with, then went back to finishing up the game results dialog. After re-reading the old manual, I came to the conclusion that the dialog was not just a display dialog; it was meant to be used to enter the results of a game into the database.

So I had to tear apart some of what I had already added to the dialog and replace it with some other pieces. I am not done with that yet, but will finish it up over the long weekend.


Since this is Labor Day holiday weekend, I have Monday off. I probably won't be blogging on that day, but you can expect some new input on Tuesday. Happy Labor Day.


Silly sign of the day:

Why should I bad-mouth Microsoft software, when they do such a good job of it themselves?


Free/Open Source Software


Thursday, 1 September 2011

I worked on the soccer program last night. I was finishing hooking up the last few fields on the last dialog when I discovered that one of the database table fields was messed up. So, using the database management program, I dropped all the tables from the database, fixed the field definition and recreated the tables.

I then used the soccer program to re-enter test data for the database. It's good that I did this, as I uncovered a couple of errors that popped into the program back when I went to a centralized team selection. I hadn't made any changes to the test data since before that time, so the errors didn't show up until now.

I will have to fix a couple of dialogs so I can enter new data properly. I will then be able to finish up the final dialog. After that, it's only the printed reports that need doing. I hope to be finished by my deadline of September 7th.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software