Friday, December 21, 2007

AVR and projects

I'm debating getting either this or an AVR Butterfly, but I really need to prioritize the things I'm planning on doing in my spare time so I can at least finish one before having a child. It's a big list and they're all fun work.
  1. Revamp our family website
  2. Write a very specific gui front end for mencoder
  3. Car pc/radio (with NO gps navigation) a la' Ford sync (but better)
  4. Front end or no, just make some stop motion animation using mencoder already.
Part of the lack of getting stuff done is that as soon as I get home, my wife gets home ten minutes later, so I stop whatever I'm doing. The other part is that I never feel like I'll have enough time to start in the first place. Except the second one. I've already started that. I guess it should be priority #1 then.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Holmen Meats

Holmen, Wisconsin is just above LaCrosse and is home to the Holmen Meat Market.  Their jerky is easily the best ever.  We used to get it from Leo and Leona's, but they're closed now.  So if you have any money to spare, order some and make yourself happy.  It takes a while to ship, but it's worth it. 

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Oracle Application Server and RHEL4

Since most machines now are 64 bit, there's a gotcha when setting up 32 bit software on linux. As detailed here you've got to make sure you have 64 and 32 bit libraries and dev packages for older software like everything oracle makes. You should have the 32 bit libraries, but probably not the dev packages. To get these, just run:

up2date --arch=i386 glibc-devel

rpm -qa | grep glibc

And packages that are installed as both 32 and 64 bit should be listed twice. I don't know how to get rpm to list which packages are 32 or 64 only. You can do `rpm -qi packagename` to find out what the .rpm file's name was, but if it's a source rpm, it won't show how it was compiled.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


I downloaded the Gametap client so I could play some of their free games. RealMyst (Myst in 3D) is cool, but has severe performance problems when loading audio or video during gameplay (when it shows a video of Atrus in the imager or when birds are singing in the tree level). I'm going to set the process to use only one cpu core (no luck, I forgot it was a single core computer already) and try again tonight. At least the free chapter of Sam and Max plays without problem and is super fun.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Props From Dinosaur Comics

"matt wrote in yesterday to ask if punchbot was programmed via punchcards. heck yes he is!"

I am that guy.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Quicken -- It's annoying!

I've been "using" Quicken Home & Business 2007 for about a month now.
I'm still not sure what it's providing me. I have no idea what our
household's cashflow is. I don't know how to make a useful budget. I
hate the interface mostly because I can't just look at stuff and click
a line to highlight it without editing it. It doesn't do the one
click update for a few bank accounts (it tried and repeatedly
crashed), but that's ok because the data is easy to download from
their website. I don't care about using it to make payments on my
credit cards (is that really what people want in their accounting
software?). I want to find out how much money we earn, how much we
spend on necessities, how much we invest, and how much I can waste on
stupid things. Not like I'm not computer savvy, I just can't figure
out Quicken! It's a huge pain in the neck.

Right now, what I want is to try out Microsoft Money (I briefly
attempted using TurboCash and GnuCash and didn't like them because
they used accounting terms that I didn't understand and seemed geared
towards business).

Side note, why must applications use shiny skins? I can't always tell
at a glance what I'm looking at in Quicken (for example, it's not just
them, but their program by it's nature has a whole lot of information
on the screen at any given moment). I've accidentally closed the
entire program a couple times. It's annoying!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

driving fun

So, last night it's rainy as heck all through West Virginia and we're going 55mph through half the state until we take a break to eat and switch to my turn driving. The rain stopped pouring which was nice, but it was still late, cloudy, and dark as hell. So we're doing our best to still go 55-60 so as to not miss a curve in the road or anything. When we got to Virginia, the cars I was following finally drove out of sight but it was ok because the road was covered with reflectors anyways. So I'm in a cloud going 60 mph and the road is going to stop about 50 yards ahead of me. Not just no longer visible, but it's visibly blocked by a solid gray concrete wall. My wife saw this too and went from panicked at being on cloudy mountain highways at night to a fully catatonic rigor mortis like state of terror. I had faith however that there was not a wall in front of me and slowed down but still drove straight through it. It was like stepping out of an airplane. Every inch of my being said "do not drive into that concrete wall", but my feet said "let's find out what is on the other side of this wall and why it is on the road." And we drove through the wall. Everything was gray. I was in the Doldrums. There was no sky or ground or other cars. Just me and my wife in her car in Purgatory with the only regret being that I accidentally killed us both instead of waiting for old age. On the plus side we'd probably get to heaven together too after purgatory.

It turns out that in Virginia, they don't put the reflective markers ("Bott's Dots" or whatever you call them) on bridges. 20 feet later we came out on the other side scared fecesless, but unharmed. Death successfully averted, our hearts started beating again a few miles later and we journeyed on. It was a fun drive.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Slashdot Subscriptions for Google Ads

Here is an idea. Adblock blocks ads, but then websites don't get their ad revenue.

People pay google (or yahoo or microsoft) a fee that goes into their anti-ad account piggybank. When they visit a page that shows only google ads, they can sign into their google account and say "don't show ads for this web site". Each page costs some small amount like a cent (maybe sites can set their own rate and control with google whether it's an option or not). The money is divied between the site owner and google. If people don't subscribe, they see the ads.

Optional ad free surfing without having separate accounts for each of the websites you like.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

How to Disable Verizon's DNS Searching

First, try to use verizon's guide to disabling their annoying service.

Then give up and use my instructions (For the very specific case of a ddwrt router behind a westell dsl modem):
  1. find out your modem's ip address by checking the ddwrt status page for the WAN gateway.
  2. open the modem ip in your browser and navigate to Status->"Connection Summary"
  3. copy down the dns servers ( and for me). If they don't end in .12 these instructions are probably outdated and invalid.
  4. back on the dd-wrt interface, go to Setup->"Basic Setup" and change your connection type to "Static IP"
  5. Leave everything alone except the DNS settings that are now showing. These are the numbers from step 3 with .14 on the end instead of .12
  6. Tada!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Bacula Web on Centos5 "Error Query: 4"

Bacula Web will fail initially with "Error Query: 4" because the db is empty. Specifically, the database record of your tapes or whatever doesn't exist. You can verify this by finding the query in index.php near that error message and running it. Your results will be empty. Try running bconsole and typing "update slots" or "label" if you don't have an autochanger.

Also, mt is in mt-st (run `yum install mt-st`). You need mt for the tape testing part of the setup.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

I Ask Them To Take The Moneyclip Off First

guy: is there anything that isn't going your way right now?
me: sometimes women throw money harder than I'd like

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Vista View TV Cards Suck?

I'm judging them based solely on their linux faq. Seems clear that Vista View is run by jackasses. Not like they're the only ones who act like immature brats when asked about linux. It's much easier for these guys to let Microsoft write the drivers. I hope they go out of business quickly. I also hope PcHDTV makes a PCIe card soon and drops the NTSC tuner (NTSC is analog tv) to save money.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Ocean Crossing

A new ship "is so fuel efficient that it can travel 5,000 miles on one load of diesel fuel."

As opposed to most ships that need a break in the middle to refuel.

Perl on Windows 64 bit

Hey, Activestate, what's the point of offering it if you don't point out to people that no modules are available? That's kinda important since perl is useless to almost everybody without extensions.

I could build them myself, but I don't have the time when running the 32 bit binaries works. It's just 15 minutes down the drain spent trying to figure out the problem with ppm.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

VMWare Tape Backup

On a Windows Host with a Linux guest OS (Centos 5/RHEL 5; same difference) I can't get the guest to see the tape changer. According to Dell docs, using "scsi-add-single-device" should do the trick. That's a typo, they meant "scsi add-single-device". But it still doesn't work. Searching around turns up this problem with many tape devices that use one SCSI ID and two LUN's on vmware guests. Some people claim to be able to solve this by manually editing their .vmx file, but I'm guessing they're on linux hosts.

Solved by moving to using a physical server.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

AWStats LogFormat

I just spent 6 hours trying to figure out why AWStats wasn't parsing our OHS (Oracle's version of Apache) logs anymore.
Try to spot the difference:
Jul 31 04:49:53 cluster1-3 apache[1234]: - - [31/Jul/2007:04:53:17 -0400] "GET / HTTP/1.1" 200 269 "-" "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; Windows NT 5.1) OracleEMAgentURLTiming/3.0"
Aug  1 04:49:53 cluster1-3 apache[1234]: - - [01/Aug/2007:04:53:17 -0400] "GET / HTTP/1.1" 200 269 "-" "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; Windows NT 5.1) OracleEMAgentURLTiming/3.0"

Answer: The second one has two spaces between the month and the date in the part that syslog writes. I had to change the LogSeparator variable from " " to " +" to match one or more spaces (actually I used "\s+" to be ultra safe since \s matches tabs too). You'll only have this problem if your apache output is going through syslog, which ours is since we're piping several server logs onto one computer.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

VVT Summary

I love Road and Track. Their technical section is awesome and beats joining the SAE for price. This variable valve timing (VVT) article has great pictures of some really cool technology.

Speaking of cool tech, I'm still looking forward to trying Reaper for my audio recording, I just have been busy. Also, I still have to install three prong outlets and that involves at least a full day of work.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Reaper is worth a shot

Reaper can't possibly be worse than the crappy fakewalk crippled software that came w/ my Lexicon Omega.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Bands Deserve to Practice

Bands finding alternatives to garages and basements

Neighbors shouldn't have a right to complain from 9AM to 9PM unless the noise lasts more than 2 hours at a time. Lack of practice space is why I've never been part of a real band. If you have the ability, you should build a soundproof room in your house, because eventually there will be a kid living there who wants to be in a band. And without that, he's probably screwed. It's like being on a baseball team where the only way to pitch is to be the coach's son. The only way to be in a band for sure is to have your own space for the band to play.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

VA Road Use Fees

Marc Fisher sums up the Virginia reverse lotto road use fees situation well:

Basically, the cheapest ticket a Virginian in Virginia will get just went from about 50 bucks to about 950 bucks.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Screw Busch Gardens

To Busch Gardens:
Not disclosing that fingerprints are required of patrons when we buy the tickets is deceptive. I would have gone to Kings Dominion instead had I known, but since we already drove 3 hours I was pressured into giving my fingerprint. I certainly wouldn't have bought a multi-day pass and I won't be going back while there are still mandatory fingerprint readers. If it were only to prevent sharing of season passes, a photograph would suffice. I'm not a criminal and don't appreciate being treated like one.
From Busch Gardens:
Thank you for taking the time to email us regarding your recent visit to Busch Gardens Europe. You can be sure that your comments have been shared with the appropriate leadership team members.

Busch Gardens Europe has introduced Touch N Go, the newest in guest entry technology, to improve our Season Passport members' and our multi-day pass quest arrival process. You as a multi-day holder will be able to enter the park more quickly and will no longer be required to have a photo taken. In addition, Touch N Go guards against identity theft. If you ever loose your multi-day pass, you never have to worry about it being used by someone else.

Thank you again for your inquiry. We look forward to hosting you and your family this season at Busch Gardens Europe.

To King's Dominion:
Yesterday I went to Busch Gardens and was required to submit to a fingerprint scan as a condition of entry. I won't be going back. Does Kings Dominion use or have plans to use fingerprint scanners on guests?
From King's Dominion:
Thank you for your email. We do not require a fingerprint in order to enter our park. You will walk through metal detectors and have your bags checked but that is the extent. We hope to see you soon!

Seems obvious which park is better even though they didn't address their future plans.

Monday, February 05, 2007

VMWare Hard Disk Resizing Without ESX

I had to make a dev windows vm image on a linux host bigger, but couldn't use the fancy esx command line tool that everyone else recommends. So, here's my inefficient method using only preallocated virtual drives:

The vm disks here are called olddisk and newdisk-0
  1. Install the Windows Recovery Console on the virtual machine.
  2. Boot into the recovery console, then run chkdsk /R
  3. Turn off the vm.
  4. Make a new virtual disk image for a 50gb drive.
  5. Look at the old vmdk file sizes.
  6. Copy the vmdk files that were 2gb over top of the new vmdk files
    That is, olddisk-f001.vmdk overwrites newdisk-0-f001.vmdk and so on and so forth.
  7. For the last old vmdk (not the descriptor file that is in plain text), check the contents of the file
    'hd olddisk-f005.vmdk'
  8. If it's all zeros, you're good to go.
    If it's not all zeros, copy olddisk-f005.vmdk over newdisk-0-f005.vmdk then pad the rest of the file with nulls so it matches the size of the other files exactly. (I didn't have to figure out how to do that step)
  9. In the vmware console, remove both virtual hard disks and then re-add the new one.
  10. Boot your new system.
  11. Run chkdsk again
  12. Use diskpart.exe or a gparted iso or ubcd to expand the ntfs partition. (gparted actually showed the disk as already expanded, so I set it to 50GB less two bytes so it would let me apply the new size. This appears to have worked wonderfully)
I used recovery console for chkdsk, becuase just running chkdsk at boot didn't work.