Sunday, 23 November, 2014

We had our last full mineral club meeting of the year on Thursday. The next full meeting will be in January, as the meeting in December is a Christmas dinner meeting.

I ordered a very nice P.A. system for the club from Amazon and got it on Tuesday. I did that because every year at the mineral show, we have problems with the public address system. So now we have one of our own instead of renting one every year.


 

I went to the Linux Technical Session yesterday at F1 for Help in Rathdrum, only to discover there was no one there. I can’t imagine why, as there was no email stating that they wouldn’t be open. I am starting to suffer withdrawal pains, as I haven’t been to a Linux meeting in two months.

My purpose for going to the meeting was to play with my new cassette to MP3 player, and to show it off. I guess I will end up backing up those 48 cassettes without anyone knowing how I did it. 8-)


 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 


 

Security Theater/”Intellectual Property”

 

Tuesday, 18 November, 2014

The Aiwa tape deck I have had for many years is a real gem. It has analog VU meters and selections for different kinds of audio tape. It has controls for line out volume and recording volume. It’s a really nifty piece of hardware that would have made my cassette tape back ups a piece of cake.

Unfortunately, everything on the Aiwa works fine except the transport mechanism. Since that was my last hope for using a machine I already had for the task, I decided to purchase an audio player to finish backing up the final 48 tapes I have. I got one from Amazon for $25 (including shipping) called the Handy tape player. It plugs into and is powered by a USB port. So when I play a tape, I can use Audacity to record directly from that USB port. And since Linux does not require a special driver (ala Windows) for this, it will plug in and just work. Very shiny. It should be here by Friday.

My dad also has a boatload of cassettes that were my mom’s. I will take the Handy along with me when I visit him and will back his tapes up, too. So I will get planty of use out of the machine before I put it away.


 

Some time in the last six months, I made an online purchase that I should not have made. That vendor (whoever they were) sold my email address to a spam network. As of Sunday, I was getting 25 spam messages every time I looked for email. Something had to be done.

With that in mind, I sat down in front of my email client and came up with a list of email addresses I would accept mail from. I then went into cpanel and enabled BoxTrapper, which protects my inbox from spam. It does this by using a white list of acceptable email addresses. I put my list in and, lo and behold, no more spam. All I have to do is to closely monitor the BoxTrapper log so no one for whom I wish email ends up being rejected. It is a huge relief to not have all that garbage in my email client.


 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 


 

Security Theater/”Intellectual Property”

 

Friday, 14 November, 2014

Years ago, I bought a Crosley antique-style radio which has a phonograph turntable, cassette player and CDROM burner built into. After using it for a while, I came to the conclusion that the firmware that controls the device was just crap. And it was single-tasking code, so once you started doing something, it was almost impossible to get it to stop.

I have been using that device to play the cassettes that I am backing up to hard drive. The Crosley has a start up sequence it goes through to check its various devices, and two days ago, it started hanging up in that start up sequence. And, of course, I can’t get out of the sequence. The only alternative I have is to turn the device completely off, since that is an actual mechanical switch that is not hooked up to the internal processor. So I can no longer use the Crosley to back up cassettes.

Luckily, I tend to hoard stuff, so I have an old Aiwa cassette tape deck I can use. I found it this morning, under a pile of other stuff I should get rid of. I will hook that up and continue with the tape back ups.


 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 


 

Security Theater/”Intellectual Property”

 

Tuesday, 11 November, 2014

I am slowly backing up my audio cassettes to hard disk. I have been doing at least 2 per day and have now backed up 38 cassettes. I still have at least 40 or 50 to do, though. It will take a while.


 

Night before last, we got our first hint of winter. We got a dusting of snow and, since it warmed up into the 40’s, it all melted off. It doesn’t look like we will be so lucky in the future, though. Today it will get up to 27° F today – the average for this day is 43° F. There is no snow in the forecast, but it’s only a matter of time. Tonight the temp will dip down to 12° F.

I have all my pre-winter chores done. The plow is on the truck, the hose is put up, the tractor is put away and anything that will freeze in the garage is taken care of. The only thing I am doing that is affected by the cold is tumbling some agates, and I am doing that in the house. At the rate they are being polished, it will take me at least another week or two to finish them.


 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 


 

Security Theater/”Intellectual Property”

 

Tuesday, 4 November, 2014

I should really learn to stay out of the Big Lots store. I went in there yesterday because I knew they had great deals on bed sheets ($18 instead of $40). I picked up a set of sheets, then went over to look at their DVDs. Mostly they were not very interesting until I got to the section with TV shows. I ended up getting 4 of the 5 seasons of Fringe for $8 a season. To top things off, when I got home, I went to Amazon and got the missing season for $16. Like I said, I really have to stay out of the Big Lots store. 8-)


 

I ran across an article on Wired the other day entitled The Geekiest License Plates of All Time. Sorry, guys, not even close. Now, here’s a geeky license. Obviously, if you have to explain to most people that the plate means “ones and zeroes”, it’s geeky.


 

Today is Election Day. Don’t forget to vote. I will be going in a few minutes to vote out the county commissioners who moved the trash transfer station 5 1/2 miles in the wrong direction (I now have an 18-20 mile round trip just to get rid of trash).


 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 


 

Security Theater/”Intellectual Property”

 

Thursday, 30 October, 2014

Back in the 80’s and 90’s, the recording industry was shoving out albums on cassette tape like it was the end-all recording medium. For the most part, the physical cassettes they sold work okay. Some of them, however, are total crap. They bind up, slow down, start producing chirps and buzzes and are generally no longer useable.

I have a few of these crap cassettes. Two that I was trying to back up to hard disk are the 5th Dimension’s Live and Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk albums. I took some time yesterday to try to fix those tapes so I could back them up. I was unsuccessful.

Since I had decided that these tapes were mainly having a problem because of the glued-together cassette case they were in, I used an Xacto knife to open up those cases. I then took the recorded media out of the case and put them into 3M blank tape cases (which screw together). It turns out that did not improve the way the tapes play.

I came to the conclusion that the tapes that were giving me trouble were those that were more than about 40 minutes in length. The single cassette of Tusk contains the songs from the 2 LP records and is over an hour in length. The 5th Dimension album is the same. So I will probably just lose that music, as I will no longer buy music from any manufacturer who is a member of the RIAA.


 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 


 

Security Theater/”Intellectual Property”

 

Tuesday, 28 October, 2014

Once I got the pound of garnets I mentioned last entry, I put them in my tumbler and tumbled them for a day. That removed all the dirt and matrix from the outside. It also split up a couple of the garnets – the ones that would split from cracks, anyway. I now have a mess of garnets I can explore for stars, but I probably won’t do that until next spring. It’s getting colder rapidly and I won’t be confortable working in the garage right now.


 

I have been spending a lot of time playing audio cassettes and backing them up as MP3 files on my multimedia computer. I have backed up fourteen albums so far, and I have literally dozens to go. I am backing up stuff by Judy Collins, Electric Light Orchestra, Neil Diamond and Emerson, Lake and Palmer. As well as others. Some of the cassettes I have tried to back up have not survived the test of time, so I have lost albums by The Carpenters and Curly and Kate. Oh, well.


 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 


 

Security Theater/”Intellectual Property”

 

Tuesday, 21 October, 2014

I was unable to get to Emerald Creek this year to dig for star garnets, but I am going to pick up a pound of garnets for the bargain price of $25. They are a lot larger than the ones you can get from the official government dig site, anyway. I should have some fun seeing if any of them are star garnets, and will have fun polishing those that are.

I went to the Lewiston Gem show on Saturday and, speaking of star garnets, here is one of their displays. The necklace consists of all six-ray star garnets and it is worth a fortune.


 

Have you noticed how stores are now taking advantage of the fact that most people don’t do basic arithmetic when they go shopping? Here’s what I’m talking about. I went into a store and saw single packages of paper towels for 50 cents. The store had six packs of the very same towels for $3.67. By using a little math, most people can see they are paying 67 cents more for the six pack than for 6 individual paper towels. That kind of reverses the economy of scale paradigm and it is an indictment of retail stores in general. The lesson here is to always do the math, especially when you buy soft drinks and paper products.


 

We actually had another drive-in cruise on Monday. The weather was wonderful, so those who haven’t put their cars up for the fall and winter showed up. I took my Plymouth, but that will be the last time until next year.


 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 


 

Security Theater/”Intellectual Property”

 

Tuesday, 14 October, 2014

Last night may have been the last drive-in cruise of the season for us. It’s getting colder and we are starting to have more rain, so we took advantage of the weather to get together one last time. Note that the pictures I take at the cruises are of those cars that I haven’t seen at other cruises, so there are only a few of them.

Since the weather is turning, I will start doing some winterizing around here. I will put the plow on the truck, put up the tractor, put a car cover on the teardrop trailer and put together some items that I will give to charity.


 

You can see the results of the silversmithing class below. The smallest pendant is the one I created. It’s blue tigereye and the lighting prevents you from seeing that.


 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 


 

Security Theater/”Intellectual Property”

 

Wednesday, 8 October, 2014

The silversmithing class I went to on Sunday was fun and instructive. There were four students and each of us created a pendant. The class was 6 hours in length. Most of that time was spent filing down silver pieces and polishing the silver. I learned quite a bit to add to the knowledge I already had from doing silversmithing in the 70’s.

Speaking of the mineral club, we lost another member. Tommie Erst passed away on October 3rd. She was 79, but she looked years younger than that. She was a very good faceter, knowledgeable and interesting to talk to. She will be missed.


 

John Quincy Adams on American Policy:

“Whenever the standard of freedom and Independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own.”

“She well knows that by once enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself beyond the power of extrication, in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy, and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standard of freedom.”

Fourth of July, 1821

Those who ignore the lessons of history are condemmed to repeat them.

Insanity is repeating the same actions over and over and expecting different results.


 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 


 

Security Theater/”Intellectual Property”