Journal For Week of October 16, 2000

Last Update: Saturday, October 21, 2000 01:21 PM

 

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Monday October 16, 2000

Post from Work: I was just nicely out of the driveway when I realized my PDA was sitting on the kitchen counter and not in my jacket pocket. Oh well! I will have to live without it for a day.

Looks like even after my Samba tuning last week that there is still a problem with my Samba configuration. So I went through the smb.conf file manually and found a few things which the web tools did not change. I think after looking at things using both Webadmin and Swat today that if I had used Swat I would have caught the additional problems. I haven't spent the time to confirm things but it appears to me that Webadmin does not do a good job of administering Samba, in that changes do not always update all the relevant settings. While Swat shows more detail so you can see what has and has not been changed.

Spent much of the day trying to help resolve a problem on the wood sash production line. In the end it turned out that the controller backup battery died, thus it lost it's programming. So we found a battery in a dead PC to donate to thecontroller, and then after some leg work and good guessing I managed to reprogram the controller and get the machine up a running again. As interesting as I find some of this stuff I have bigger fish to fry and would rather not have to get this involved with the production line equipment! Now that I have fixed thispiece of equipment for them, I know I will get called upon every time they have a problem.

Well enough time spent working on this page in Notepad, trying to do HTML programming by hand. Nice way to take a break from work, but looks like I have spent enough time at this and better get back to work. TTFN

Evening post: Never got out of the office till 8:30 this evening. Seems too many cooks spoil the soup, applies to Oracle databases as well. Everyone has stuff to do and reasons why doing this or that will allow them to get their work done. In the end no one is working cause they brought the database down and corrupted one of the indexes. When I left they had just got a handle on how to proceed towards getting the indexes rebuilt. Needless to say a few people are now pulling all nighters to get things operational again.

Well I've managed to keep my eyes open long enough to put some supper together and update this post. Now I'm off to get some rest.


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Tuesday October 17, 2000

Lunch hour post: I am finding that switching between using FrontPage 2000 at home and Notepad at work to edit this page is not entirely easy. Yesterday I edited the HTML code to make it easier to read in Notepad and find where I am on the page. Then last night I edited using FrontPage which undid most of my editing, leaving me with a big block of text and characters to wade through to find the entry point for this post. A little hunting and testing got me going again, but I would not want to make this a daily routine. I like using a text editor as it gives me the chance to learn HTML, and the only major draw back is a lack of a spell checker. I may have to look for a better text editor to use at home and work for HTML editing.

Leave it to the help desk at an ISP to walk a user through breaking their networking setup. Case in point is one of our sales managers tried to use the supplied CD for his account with Telus ( my former employer ) and had some difficulties getting connected. So he called the support line who had him remove the NIC drivers and half of the other stuff he needs to connect to the network at the office. After all of these things they went through he still could not dial-up the ISP. Half baked technical support strikes again.

Got a call from the lady who does our payroll this morning. Seems her PC had died. At first I thought it was a dead power supply which it was, but also every other major component in the case was dead. I have never seen a PC die on mass like this before, but have heard stories about them. I check around and it seems that this is not the first time for this particular user to have a PC die on her. I am going to have to see about arranging for some better electrical spike protection for her PC.

Well I had better run. I have some batch files to write, test and schedule to run on a daily basis to help provide us with a better backup of some of Oracle files. Seems that while it was good that I excluded some files from the daily backup to stop Oracle from crashing when Backup Exec locks the file during backup, at no time are the files backed up. I spent some time with one of the Oracle people and he showed me ocopy73.exe which is an Oracle utility I can use to copy files even while Oracle is using them. So now I can make copies of select files and backup the copies without crashing the database. These files I have to copy you generally can do without unless you have a catastrophic crash of an Oracle database. TTFN

Evening post: Testing out NoteTab Light for HTML editing. A few extras which make it nicer to use than Notepad. Still no spell check though.

Learned something interesting the other day. Under Windows NT there is cut and paste ability at the command line. Right clicking on the title bar of a Dos Windows and select Edit > Mark. Then you can use your mouse to highlight some text. Next right click on the title bar again and select Edit > copy. Now you can paste the text into a document for documentation, or into a test editor to create a batch file.

The following is a sample of some text I cut and pasted into this document using the above mentioned method.

C:\>ipconfig /?

Windows NT IP Configuration

usage: ipconfig [/? | /all | /release [adapter] | /renew [adapter]]

/? Display this help message.
/all Display full configuration information.
/release Release the IP address for the specified adapter.
/renew Renew the IP address for the specified adapter.

The default is to display only the IP address, subnet mask and default gateway for each adapter bound to TCP/IP.

For Release and Renew, if no adapter name is specified, then the IP address leases for all adapters bound to TCP/IP will be released or renewed.

You know the neat thing about doing something as simple as editing HTML by hand is it is a simple quick thing you can do from which you can see the results of your work immediately.

Played with converting documents to MS Reader again tonight. What seems to work for me is to start with a very basic text document and convert it to HTML. Make sure that the HTML version is formatted so that if viewed with a browser that if you resize the browser the text will adjust to fit the width of the browser. Then use ReaderWorks to convert the HTML document to a Reader document. My initial testing looks very favorable.

Tried an interesting experiment tonight. I took some HTML Linux documentation which consists of multiple files and copied the folder holding them onto my Casio PDA. Pocket Internet Explorer is kind of pokey scrolling through a 28K HTML file. While a 259K, 250+ page Reader file scrolls nicely through the pages. Looks like Pocket IE is not much use for anything beyond very small pages, for larger files it is not much of an option. Plus reading text in Reader is much nicer on the eyes.

Way Too Late For An Update: I just checked and my 250 page word document which I am using to test conversions to Reader turns into 1285 pages in Reader format. To test speed I took Reader out of memory, reopened it and my 1285 test document. I then did a Go To page 500 which took about 15 seconds as Reader processed the pages. Next I did a Go To last page which took about 30 seconds. Once all pages are processed a Go To any page number happens immediately. Quite impressive!


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Wednesday October 18, 2000

O Dark Thirty: I was late to bed which made me a bit tired, and now only a hour later I am at the keyboard again! Add to that, that lying down seems to aggravate my cough, which seems to aggravate my stomach, which all adds up to a Maalox moment. Ok I must also admit to having slipped on watching my diet a little lately, which doesn't help. What all this means is that I am experiencing a hint of the stomach trouble I had just before last Christmas, which saw me spending a night in the emergency ward and taking a week off work. Time to buckle down again and make sure I watch my meal portions and make sure I have more veggies.

Shit the Maalox doesn't seem to be working! I can still feel the fires in my belly. I am sure my cough is the major factor in causing the old stomach acid to churn. I have broken out the Fisherman's Friend to try and combat the cough so I can try and go back to bed for some much needed rest.

While waiting for the Maalox to kick in I tried using Word to open this page and I can certainly do without the garbage Word puts into a HTML document. I would like to use Word because of the spelling checker, but so far the only way that works for me is to cut and paste my work out of NoteTab and into a new word document. Run spelling checker and when I am done with corrections cut and paste the new version into NoteTab. It maybe time to check out StarOffice, or some other Word processor. I think I still have a copy of AmiPro somewhere.

Added a reminder to the task list on the Casio to pickup a refill of Maalox and some dried fruit tomorrow, or rather later on today. Time now to try and get a few more hours shut eye before the alarm clock goes off. TTFN

Lunch time post: Feeling quite chipper this morning for a guy operating on 3 hours of very poor quality sleep. Though I am sure it will catch up with me before the day is done.

I am not happy with the consistency of my Oracle backups. Somedays it works fine, other days not so fine. So first thing this morning I started going through any log files I could find. So far it looks like a backup file which Oracle created maybe my problem. It appears that the Oracle backup agent now wants to handle the backup of this file, which until now has been handled by a straight file backup by Backup Exec. So far everyone I have checked with has no info to shed on the situation, leaving me to make an educated guess which has me excluding the apparently offending file from the backup and let the Oracle Agent deal with the file. This is the second time a system change or some such thing has broken the Oracle backup configuration.

The nice thing about working in an open office environment is that I get to find out about stuff before anyone decides that I should or need to be informed, just by keeping my ears open. This is how I found out about the Dell 8450 rack mount server that is coming in about a week’s time. I over heard the VP of my department talking to someone on the phone about the server. So afterwards I casually commented that I heard a new server is coming in, and if I need to make any resources available in the server room.

Trying a new tack on HTML editing this lunch hour. I opened Word and am typing and adding the HTML formatting information. This gives me access to the spelling checker, which I need! When I am done I can cut and paste my text into Notepad, save the updated file and test it in Netscape. If everything tests OK I can FTP it to the web server or make corrections if needed.

Evening post: Hard commute home as my lack of sleep started to creep upon me. More than once while waiting for an overly long red light I could have easily closed my eyes and gone off to la la land.

If it weren't for the calendar telling me other wise I would swear that this was Thursday. Pity it is not, as I am all too prepared for tomorrow to be Friday.

Ok call me stupid. After spending the better part of last night suffering from tummy problems due to food abuse, what do I do tonight? Well instead of passing on the left over pizza and having a nice salad with a side of deer sausage, I dig into the pizza. Maybe I should just down a cup of bleach and destroy my stomach with one quick death stoke. But nooo! My mental process says to indulge and get the bad stuff out of the way so they will no longer be around to poison me. Thankfully the pizza is gone which leaves salad for on the menu for tomorrow< insert deep sarcasm here>. I wonder if I have the fixings for Taco salad? Maybe eating an apple will balance out things!


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Thursday October 19, 2000

Evening post: A single Baan user license is about $5000 Canadian. So when users don't exit from Baan when they are done it can cause more than a few problems. I have been looking for ways to resolve this problem. I don't know of any way to automate the exiting of an application when it is not in use, but I know that there are ways to automate logging off Windows which will in the process close any open applications. I have found many utilities for doing this but licensing issues or other problems arise with them. Then I found what appears to be a command line command I can run from a batch file which may do the job and not cost me a thing, or subject me to someone's poor programming. I'll have to give it a try at work tomorrow.

I like to drive but this morning I wouldn't have minded doing like some people I know and have a nice morning commute from the breakfast table to the home office. There are just too many idiots on the road in the morning who think they are in a smash up derby.


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Friday October 20, 2000

Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me. Oops! did I type that? The song in my head is coming off my finger tips and onto this page. Oh yes if you haven't caught on yet, I am one year older today. No pomp and circumstance, just me, myself and I sharing a little ice cream, and maybe rent a movie.

The past year in review shows the career developing nicely, life is good, and plans in the works to make things even better.


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Saturday October 21, 2000

I hate taking medicine if I can help it, but this cold I have has dragged me down too long. So yesterday I started taking some cold medicine which seemed to work at first, but things have regressed this morning. So I headed off to the drug store first thing this morning to get a bigger stick to beat off this cold.

Thanks to Glenn Rice for pointing out 1st Page as a text editor I might like. I am working in 1st Page right now and so far I like it. It is a free product, has a spell checker, plus a "LiveSpell" feature which checks spelling as you type just like in MS Word.

Yesterday I worked on my new project, which is to find a way to automate the shut down of the Baan client when the shop floor workers are not using it. The goal of this is to keep user licenses available for when they are really needed. I figure the easiest way is to log the user off the network on a regular basis which will close the Baan client. The following command which is run at the command line accomplishes this.

rundll32.exe shell32.dll,SHExitWindowsEx [4]

Now working out a way to schedule the running of the above command is the next step. The scheduler which is a part of the NetWare client for Windows works but has one problem. The problem is that the scheduler runs as a service, which means that it runs as long as Windows is running. So my log off command runs as per the schedule even when no one is logged on. Not a big problem other than this makes the screen go all blue with the logon screen apparently gone. But a quick punch of the escape key makes the logon screen appear.

I have tried to find a way to shut down the service which runs the scheduler but so far I have failed. I know under Windows NT the net stop {service name} command stops a service. I tried this under Windows 98 but it seems that the service is not a true service. I can manually stop the service by right clicking on the service icon in the system tray and selecting the stop service option. I am hoping I can find a way to unload the service, or I'll be hunting for another method.


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Sunday October 22, 2000

Spent most of yesterday relaxing and working on some minor changes on this page. The changes would be a one minute job using FrontPage. But making changes to how the tables are setup by hand editing the raw HTML code took my several hours of testing and looking at examples to get things working.

I am somewhat puzzled by how the preview page in 1st Page would process and display my broken HTML code, while neither Netscape or IE would.


Copyright © 1999, 2000 John Doucette. All Rights Reserved

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