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Welcome to BLOGical Thoughts

December 2017


Friday, 29 December, 2017

I hope everyon had a good Christmas. I didn't - I came down with the flu on Christmas morning. I couldn't eat any solid food for 3 days. Needless to say, that really messes up your plumbing. I'm getting over it, but it will be a while before I am back in shape.


I just can't leave well enough alone. I redesigned the de Tomaso Pantera gearshit knob. The knob on the left was done in TinkerCAD and I was not happy with how it came out. The one on the right was done with FreeCAD. I would have indented the 'T', but I was unable to get FreeCAD to do that. Even so, it came out a lot better.

Note that the sharp edges have all been relieved by using fillets. The overall dimensions are the same, but it just looks better.


I found a nifty item on Thingiverse, so I printed it out. It is a measuring cube that can measure 1, 1/2, 1/3, 1/4 and 1/8 cups, as well as 1/2 and 1 Tablespoons and 1/4, 1/2 and 1 teaspoons. It took 11 1/2 hours to print.

I measured all the cup capacities and they are exactly what they state. I am amazed by how the designer got all the measurements correct.


Quote of the day:

Good judgment comes from bad experience ... and most of that comes from bad judgment.
     Anonymous

Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Security Theater/"Intellectual Property"/Big Brother

Friday, 22 December, 2017

I have added a new email address to be used by our car club moderator for club information. Unfortunately, the server that the club web site runs on prohibits single emails sent to a large group (327, in this case). When we tried to send an email to everyone on the list, we got an error message back from the server saying it couldn't send the email as it ran out of memory.

So I guess I will have to install a list server on the web site. I have never had any luck doing that, though. I may have to enlist some aid from other local Linux users.


I hope everyone has a good Christmas and New Year. I'm not going anywhere, but I don't know how often I will post during the holidays. For the new year, I have to update every page of all five web sites that I maintain, so that may keep me too busy to blog.


Quote of the day:

If you think nobody cares whether you're alive or dead, try missing a couple of mortgage payments.
     Anonymous

Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Hobby Stuff


Security Theater/"Intellectual Property"/Big Brother

Tuesday, 19 December, 2017

I have installed the timeshift backup program on several of my computers. It has behaved itself fairly well, until yesterday on my Dell laptop. Apparently, I powered down the machine while it was in the process of doing a backup. The next time I turned on the machine, a filesystem check was forced. It reported problems and dumped me to a console.

I had to reboot and use the 'Advanced options for Linux Mint' boot option. Once booted, I used fsck to look at and fix the broken files in the timeshift home directory. There were a LOT of them. Finally, I deleted the timeshift home directory and uninstalled timeshift. Once bitten, twice shy.

I still have timeshift running on other machines. I haven't decided what to do with them.


Speaking of backups, the home directory backup script XBT has gone to version 2.0. It is much nicer to use than the original version. You can pick it up in the Bash Scripts section of EzeeLinux.com.


I have learned just enough about how to use FreeCAD to get through 90% of the project I am working on. I am having trouble with trying to completely describe the placement of all the surfaces. You need to do that before you can create an actual 3-dimensional part. Try, try again, I guess.


Quote of the day:

Do not walk behind me, for I may not lead. Do not walk ahead of me, for I may not follow. Do not walk beside me for the path is narrow. In fact, just piss off and leave me alone.
     Anonymous

Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Hobby Stuff


Security Theater/"Intellectual Property"/Big Brother

Saturday, 16 December, 2017

As you can see, I have redone the web page layout for Blogical Thoughts. The web page will now use the entire web browser for display, as well as using some spiffy new colors. I have also changed the header.

Thursday, 14 December, 2017

Our email moderator is still having problems getting Gmail to accept his Phuddy Duddy Cruisers contact list of 327 email addresses. I have figured out a way for him to get back on track, though. I have created an email address for him at the Phuddy Duddy web site. Since it's a real address (not web mail) and I am in complete charge of it, his emailings will no longer be a problem.

In the meantime, I am looking into creating a list server for the web site, so anyone can participate in discussions.


I maintain five web sites. Every one of them is fixed width and have not been redesigned in a long time. I feel it is time to do that.

It won't be a small job. This site alone has about 450 pages on it, and they would all have to be changed. Thank goodness for the Komodo text editor, which can do the job a lot faster than I can do it by hand. It will still take me a while, though.


Quote of the day:

Without question, the greatest invention in the history of mankind is beer. Oh, I grant you that the wheel was also a fine invention, but the wheel does not go nearly as well with pizza.
     Dave Barry

Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Hobby Stuff


Security Theater/"Intellectual Property"/Big Brother

Sunday, 10 December, 2017

Here is the latest brain fart from yours truly - designed and printed by me. It's a gearshift knob for a de Tomaso Pantera. The car is owned by one of the local amateur radio crowd.

This part just points out to me how primitive TinkerCAD is when it comes to some designs. Notice the facets around knob. For many curved pieces, TinkerCAD has an adjustment you can do that will add more facets to make the part have more of a smooth curve. I used two cones for this part, and cones don't have any adjustments like that.

I think I will have to switch to a more capable (and complex) CAD program. FreeCAD fills the bill, but I will have to learn how to use it. That will take a while. Don't expect any new parts from me for a while.


Quote of the day:

I feel sorry for people who don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day.
     Winston Churchill

Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Hobby Stuff


Security Theater/"Intellectual Property"/Big Brother

Wednesday, 6 December, 2017

The PC I used for a PVR is now not being used at all, so I decided to get it working again as a regular computer. So the first thing I did was to open up the box and blow all the dust out of it. I then worked on the CPU and power supply fans, as they were making a huge noise.

I got the fans working fairly well, so I installed Linux Mint 18.2 on the machine. I deliberately stayed away from 18.3 so I could later choose their upgrade path to ensure it worked.

After I installed and updated all the packages, I installed a new application for Linux Mint called timeshift. That application allows you to do periodic backups of the entire operating system. What it does NOT do (unless you tell it) is backup your data. You have to do that with another application.

After the backup, I followed the LM upgrade path by opening the Update Manager and choosing 'Upgrade to Linux Mint 18.3' from the Edit menu. After you go through their app, that is just a normal update. And that took care of the software for the machine.

The hardware was another matter. I had moved the machine's monitor to another machine that had a broken monitor, so I had no monitor for it. No problem. Earlier this year, I tore down a broken Dell laptop and removed two items: the hard drive and the LCD. I got on eBay and found the controller kit hardware for the LCD that would allow me to use it as a normal LCD monitor. I mounted the LCD and controller on some plywood and presto: instant LCD monitor for $30. That is the monitor the computer is now using.


And now the Reason web site, reason.com, has a paywall up. It turns out that if you reload the page with the paywall notice, the notice goes away. The Coeur d'Alene Press paywall does not go away when you refresh, though.


Quote of the day:

Zounds! I was never so bethumped with words since I first called my brother's father dad.
     William Shakespeare
     King John

Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Hobby Stuff


Security Theater/"Intellectual Property"/Big Brother

Friday, 1 December, 2017

I thought I already talked about this, but it appears I haven't. When I received my Creality CR-10 3D printer back in April, I started looking around for support forums for the printer. The only forum I could find was one on Facebook, so I very reluctantly signed up for a Facebook account.

As a former security software programmer, I have a very, very low opinion of online services that are supposedly secure. Until I signed up to Facebook, I have never had an account with any 'social' web site, because of my concerns (And because of my security problems with CompuServe back in the day).

Anyway, I visited the CR-10 forum on an infrequent basis until a few weeks ago. At that time, Facebook was unsatisfied with my user name and password as a login. They began demanding I give them my cell phone number so they could send me a text message to 'verify' I was really me. There was no alternative to this demand. None. No email address request or anything.

There are two things wrong with Facebook's request. The first is that there are still people in the world who don't even have a cell phone, or who have one where they can't receive text messages. The second is their demand of the number: I only give out my cell phone number to people who will not inadvertantly give it to the entire spammer/hacker world. That does not include 'social' networks like Facebook.

The bottom line is that I can no longer access the CR-10 forum, as I will no longer access Facebook. Also, this far along in the CR-10's life, there are now plenty of other forums I can access, so no great loss.


Back in April of 2010, I built a Personal Video Recorder (PVR), consisting of a small PC running Mythbuntu with 500GB storage, an HDHomerun LAN TV tuner and a Winegard omni-directional antenna. I ran this setup for years, until the TV connection started acting strangely. I shut down the PC for this a year ago, but I was still using the LAN TV tuner to watch shows on my desktop computer.

On the 17th of November, I bought a new 43" TV with built-in Roku. I installed it in the living room, but in a different location from the old Vizio TV. I hooked up the old TV's antenna and was not able to get more than about 6 reliable broadcast stations, instead of the 22 I was getting using the old TV.

I decided to try hooking up the Winegard antenna to the new TV. If the antenna was the problem with my LAN TV connection, then I would have to figure out some new approach. If not, then I was okay to go.

After the hookup, I rescanned for channels and it found 33! The antenna works great; it was the HDHomerun tuner I had been having problems with. So I now have good local TV broadcast stations on my Roku TV. I still don't view many programs on it, but that's because of station contents. I mostly look at YouTube videos on the the TV.


Quote of the day:

You know that feeling when you're leaning back on a stool and it starts to tip over? Well, that's how I feel all the time.
     Steven Wright

Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Hobby Stuff


Security Theater/"Intellectual Property"/Big Brother