Friday, June 27, 2008

Old west

Not currently being a gun owner, but completely for the right to bear arms, I've always wondered . . .

Let me see if I've got this right. I can legally buy a Colt 45 revolver and strap it on my hip and at the same time sling a 12-gauge shotgun in the crook of my arm and walk through town. But if I buy a 22-cal deringer and put it in my pocket so as to NOT freak people out, I have to have a "concealed handgun permit" issued by the state so they can track and monitor me?

. . . jus wonderin

Thursday, June 26, 2008

(Model Train?) Derailment in NE Portland

A news story on about a train derailment in Portland with an exciting picture of . . . a model train track? The picture's depth of field and the ballast in the track bed (the rocks) shows the image is certainly a model train track. Must of been a quick Google Image search to meet the story deadline.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Joys of Contract work.

Just wanted to remind you that DPT will basically be shut down next week, June 30 – July 4. Please do not plan to work next week. If you are currently working on LP1 testing or build-critical activities, please plan to finish them this week.

I hope you are able to enjoy a little extra time with your family or friends.


Dream Reply:
No, I don't mind the loss of a week's wages. A 2% paycut of my year's wages, no problem. Thank you very *@%$#%* much!

Since when is a single holiday (occuring on Friday) extended to a full week. No wonder american manufacturing is disapearing and the company has to use contract employees to meet their bottom line.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Windoh$ to Linux

My conversion from Windohs applications to Fedora Linux.

MS-Word = OpenOffice Write
MS-Excel = OpenOffice Calc
MS-PowerPoint = OpenOffice Impress
Internet Explorer = Mozilla FireFox
Outlook Express = Mozilla Thunderbird
DeltaCad = -same- (using 'Wine')
Palm Desktop = ?
MS-Access = ?
MS-Visio = ?
MS-Visual Basic = ?
XTrkCad = ?
FTP manager = ?
Wireless home network = ?
Photo Editing = ?
Google Desktop Gadgets = ?
MS-Paint = ?
Adobe Reader = Adobe Reader Linux
Silent Service II = ?

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Car Repair 3

Charged the battery this morning for an hour or so and got it started enough to head to Les Schwab's for a new battery. I'm thinking it was my original battery so 10 years isn't too bad.

Brought it home and fanagled a test setup to test the current of the fuse circuit that seemed to be causing the trouble. Trouble is. . . now it seems to be working fine. I hate when this happens. I know something was bad and now that it's glitched back to normal I can't find it.

Anyway I'm going to assume it was the trunk release. Even when it was draining the battery I could still use the keyless to get in the drivers door. So what was wrong with the trunk release circuit. Couldn't be a wire short or burned out, that would've blown the fuse. The current matches the current used be the release solenoid. I can only assume the Remote Access Computer glitched its output signal to keep the trunk ON all the time or the relay for it got stuck ON.

I went ahead and bought a new relay, $20 at Napa. Sticky old relays are possible and replacing something gives me some satisfaction. Put it all back together and as a double-check disconnected the battery and checked its standby current.

As a bonus, all that time with the battery disconnected finally reset the "check engine" light.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Car Repair 2

I've left that fuse out for now. Reconnected the battery and put the charger on it for a couple of hours. It started last night, now we'll see if it starts this morning.

RAC is the keyless entry system. The keyring remotes aren't working and the electric door locks won't work either. The Unlock works from the door panels, but the lock does not. Probably a safety feature.

Next step is to continue to divide the problem circuit to identify the actual culprate. I figure first step is to locate the RAC module and unplug it, then check the circuit of that fuse again. I suppose I could measure the resistance to ground or better yet just put my current meter in place of the fuse to check the 3.0 amp loss as before.

Surfed the module and the official GM parts site had it at $100. Not bad considering it's a small computer and transmitter device.

more later....

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Car Repair 1

The battery went dead on my Pontiac a few days ago. I tried charging it. It started that night but the next morning was dead again. Disconnected the battery and tested voltage ( 8 volts ), and then tested current with everything off, no key and doors closed. Got 3.0 amps of current. Something is on and draining the battery at 3.0 amps.

Found a auto mechanic source online and got advice. The normal current should be less than 0.2 amps.

Started pulling fuses a few at a time and then checking current. Went through all the fuses on the drivers side fuse box, then started on the passenger side fuse/relay box. Didn't get around to the primary fuse boxes under the hood. Found the problem in the passenger side box. With the "Trunk Release, RAC" fuse pulled the current is 0.35 amps for a few seconds and then goes to 0.01 amps.

Ran out of time so that's where I'm at now. Trunk release is self explanatory. The latch in back and maybe the button on the driver's door. Probably the wires going to the driver's door. Where they flex in the hinge area maybe. You can't flex a wire continuously without eventually breaking it. Don't know exactly what the RAC stands for, maybe Remote Access Control. That would be the system for the keyring button to unlock/lock the car.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Standing behind your product

Bought a computer adapter cable from Radio Shack today.

The salesman tried to sell me a one year replacement warranty. I declined. Then after the sale and he's handing me the package, he says 'oh, on this type of product we don't accept returns once it's opened.'

So let me get this straight. They won't gaurantee their product brand new straight out of the package, but for MONEY they'll replace it for a year??

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Career Choices

I've always said "There's two types of jobs in this world, ones where you wash your hands after using the bathroom and ones where you wash BEFORE using the bathroom.

It's nice to be doing the former again.

Dropping the Bell

I'd love to drop our land-line telephone service (Qwest aka our local Ma-Bell).

We've both have had cell phones for the past 2 years and have yet to use 45 minutes a month. They provide us with free long distance, free voice mail, etc.

So what's the snag. . .

1) the wife won't let go her security phobia of having a traditional conventional hook-to-wall telephone. OK,. . . when lightning blows out the power throughout the city, the battery backup of traditional phone companies keeps the lines up. Do cell phone towers have generators / batteries??

2) Our current Internet service is DSL, our own ISP choice, but service by Qwest landline. The Problem? No real alternatives yet. Our only choice is telephone wires or cable tv wires. Both are a monopoly because there's only one set going down the street. It's like the old falicy that you have a choice of who you buy your electricity from. There's not twelve sets of lines running down each street. Solution: Waiting for Clearwire to come to Portland and do internet by cell tower. Just hope Clearwire isn't being swallowed up by the big boys who'll raise prices.

3) Lastly, for the last 2 years the T-Mobile reception in our house has been lousy, maybe one bar. We have a stucco house with two layers of stucco. That's nearly 2 inches of concrete and two layers of wire mesh covering the house. A fairly effective signal block. Two weeks ago a power pole on Glisan street was replaced with a combo power pole cell antenna. Who owns it and whether it's a true cell tower or just some sort of signal booster (the antennas are very close together, not like a traditional tower) I don't know. Anyway, suddenly my cell phone shows 6 bars inside the house! Excellent. . .

REF: package management

Package-Management-Week, an article on Linux software installing., Linux versions News and Listing of what's included in each Version. Good to check out, 'cause. . . just because it's on the installation disc doesn't mean it got installed.

Bumps in the curve

Just trying to install Google Desktop with Gadgets into Fedora Linux.

Ain't easy.

Fed9 default installer (add/remove software) is GPK package manager for gnome. It seems to only handle packages from fedora's repositories. Can't point it to other repositories and don't know how to make it handle things downloaded off the 'net.

Google's gadgets are not in .rpm packages ready to be installed.

Guess I have to figure out command line crap for yum and find where rpm is, and didn't I hear that "pirut" was the yum gui? where's it? COME ON PROGRAMMERS!, when you make a piece of software it needs to be ready to install with a double-click of a single file. I should be able to download a single file ( zip, tar, rpm, exe ) and then start it going and have it install. Under windohs the most I've ever had to do is unzip something and find the setup/install file inside and then manually start it.

Ok, Ok, OK. . . I'll go get a book on Linux command line crap. I guess years ago I did learn msdos and read books on windohs. I just thought in this age they would have made most things intuitive and gui. You know. . . for us old farts that have become to lazy to change the oil in our cars ourselves.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

EMail to EMail

Transferring your email from Microsoft Outlook Express to Linux Mozilla Thunderbird in a dual boot system.

Windows and Linux are on seperate hard drives in my case. Windows cannot see the ext3 linux drive or files but Linux can read the fat32 drive and files.

Some Web Page I was browsing showed Thunderbird easily importing Outlook emails very easily. However this depends on which version of Thunderbird you have. A basic Linux version does not do it. So here's how I did it.

Boot Windohs. Download and Install a windohs version of Thunderbird. Start it up and follow the importing email from Outlook that automatically starts. This will create all your folders and emails and address book within Thunderbird's file formats. These are stored within your user's Application Data directory.

Boot Linux. Open two file manager windows. Set the first one to the windohs hard drive and locate the Thunderbird Mail directory. ( C:\documents and settings\YourNameHere\Aplication Data\Thunderbird\Profiles\xxxxx.default\Mail\ ) Here you'll find two folders, "Local Folders" and one that is your email login info.

Now open the second file manager window and find the linux location of these same folders ( home folder\thunderbird\xxxxx.default\mail\ ). In your home folder you may have to set the "show hidden files" under the "view" menu. Assuming you haven't downloaded messages into your linux thunderbird already, delete or rename the two folders located there and then drag and drop the windohs folders into the linux directory.

That's all there is to it. Your linux Thunderbird will now have all your Outlook messages.

For the address book, I'll work on that one.

(later) Ok, I'm back.

When windows thunderbird imports the outlook address book it puts it in a seperate address book and this can't simply be copied by file. The trick is to put all the addresses into thunderbirds primary address book and then do it. Open windohs thunderbird and then the address book. Your imported addresses are in a listing that is not the "personal address book". Go to them and then do a select-all and then drag and drop them into the "personal address book". Now boot Linux and open the file managers as before but one folder up from the mail folder as before ( home folder\thunderbird\xxxxx.default\ ) and then copy over the "abook.mab" file. That'll do it.

Honesty Doesn't Pay

I recently started work as a contract worker at a major electronics corp. My wife is leaving her corporate job to pursue a home business. This means neither of us has access to any Benefits at all. No 401k, no Retirement, no Health Insurance.

I applied for a basic low cost health insurance with ODS-Companies. This is a high deductible coverage where we would pay our own cash for nearly everything except a major incident like getting "hit by a truck". We would have to pay out of our own pockets up to 10,000 dollars before ODS would pay a single lousy DIME! OK. . . that's what insurance means, insuring against a major accident.

The wife and I are reasonably healthy middle aged (40's) normal adults. I feel we have a typical medical record. Flu's, allergies, broken arm, some back pain, etc. Nothing major, just the standard getting older in life sort of things.

Well, ODS turned us down! Why. . . BECAUSE WE WERE HONEST on the application and actually told them about our medical history.

A couple years ago I worked a job which included driving all day. The lousy seat, rough roads, and traffic stress caused me to develop some pretty painful back spasms. I went to my doc and ended up doing some physical therapy at an out clinic for a few weeks and also a pain reliever prescription. No big deal, nothing expensive, not what you'd call a chronic condition. ODS turned me down because I checked the box "back injury for which you were treated".

A few years back the wife was going through a rough emotional time and her doc suggested some counseling and gave her a prescription for Prozac. She saw a therapist a half dozen times and occassionaly continues to use the anti-depressant prescription. No big deal, probably half the women in the country are on prozac. With the policy we applied for, we would be paying our own cash for the prescription and I doubt the wife would ever use enough counseling to meet our $10,000 deductible. But guess what, ODS turned her down because she checked the box "depression for which you were treated".

With a $10,000 high deductible "emergency only" type policy, neither of these problems would ever cause ODS to have to shell out a SINGLE DAMN PENNY, and yet they turned us down.

Turn us down??? . . . GO TO HELL ODS!

Fedora 9 continued

Ok, got the Dual-Boot thing figured out. Actually was simply to do, just hard to understand for a non-linux newbie.

Boot using the Fedora install CD-1 and go with rescue mode. This unfortunately puts you into a linux geek programmers "shell". (Think msdos c: prompt where you don't know any commands.) Create a mount point ("mkdir /mnt/floppy"), then mount the floppy disk ("mount -t msdos /dev/fd0 /mnt/floppy"). Next find where you installed the linux boot loader, which I did not install in the boot sector Master Boor Record but rather in the /boot directory ("df"), this shows /boot is at hard drive location "/dev/sdb1". Next make a file out of the raw bytes of the linux hard drive boot sector, or rather where you installed the linux boot loader ("dd if=/dev/sdb1 of=/mnt/floppy/linux.bin bs=512 count=1"). That's it for the linux part. The file is now on your dos floppy. (This assumes the floppy was formatted by windohs already).

Now I reboot into windows and copy the linux.bin file into the C:\ directory. Then right-click on my computer and open Properties. On the Advanced tab, click Settings under Startup and Recovery. Under System Startup, click Edit. This opens the Windohs Boot.ini file in Notepad ready for editing. Add a new line at the bottom ( C:\linux.bin="Fedora-9 Linux" ). Save and close and your all set.


If so many people are linux newbies wanting to dual boot, WHY doesn't the Fedora install include at least helping you make the "linux.bin" file onto a floppy???? We newbies don't know about Mount-Points and Mounting and "dd" Raw Data copying.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Trying on the Red Hat

Strictly speaking not Red Hat but Fedora.

I'm installing Fedora-9 Linux operating system onto my home pc. I've added a second hard-drive and installed it there. I'm attempting a dual boot system with the existing Windohs eXPee left un-altered on the primary hard drive.

I'm a complete newbie to Linux so the learning curve is more like straight up.

I've managed the download of 6 CD iso files (6 hours of download time) and burned them to discs after downloading a windows add-on that can read iso files. It's a Windows Power-Toys add-on. Funny with all the size and things XP can do it can't read and write iso files or resize a jpg image or various other simple things. You have to go and find extra software like Power Toys. But hey isn't the price of XP worth it. . .

The first thing that Fedora's install program wants to do is check the media to make sure you have good CD discs to install from. This sounds great. Doesn't work though. . . not at all. Google it, you'll find all sorts of complaints about how half-ass the media-check works. Do your own Checksum verification on the iso images and skip Fed's media-check.

Dual-boot. Fed's install is no help in setting this up, even though most of the world is like me with a Windohs system. We're not sure of linux and so don't want to toss XP into the trash yet. We want to dual boot for a while until the dust settles and we get everything transfered and working on Linux. Dual boot sounds simple enough. Install the linux boot file in the /boot directory (of the 2nd hard drive) not in the Master Boot Record (which is on the first hard drive and which windows is using to boot itself), then make it into a file that you then put on the windows C: drive, then write a line in Windows boot.ini file to let you choose Linux rather than defaulting into windows.

The first step (not over-writing your MBR) can be done as part of Fed's install process. The next step of making a file of linux's boot file sounds easy but is being a bitch. First off to do it you need to have Fedora booted up. Ok. . . how do you do that if you haven't completed the dual boot process? If you've not put the Linux boot file into MBR (on either hard drive) you can't boot linux. You have to find another way. With windows you make a boot disk (CD or floppy with msdos) and you can boot. Fed's website and google show shit for "Linux boot disk".

This is where I'm currently stuck.

Newbie-doo Linux Linkz

Duel Boot Win2K/WP with Grub

Linux Command directory

Fedora 9 Install (unofficial)

Fedora 9 Install Guide

Really. . . It's Linux