Phil's 2008 Blog!



This blog will be about nothing in particular, it will be a collection of thoughts and happenings during the year of 2008.

At the request of a couple of friends, this will be an upside down blog. They want the most recent entries at the top so they don't have to scroll all the way to the bottom to see new content. Therefore, the blog is read from bottom to top but each entry is read from top to bottom. They felt this would be easier.

If anyone wishes to send an email for inclusion in the blog, just say in the email "include in your blog" and it will be done. I will keep names to formats like JeffW, CarolK, FrankL to keep things somewhat anonymous.

The animated icons came from http://www.gifs.net/ . They said if I used their icons I had better include a link to them.


The blog entries for 2011 can be found here: Phil's 2011 Blog

The blog entries for 2010 can be found here: Phil's 2010 Blog

The blog entries for 2009 can be found here: Phil's 2009 Blog

The blog entries for 2007 can be found here: Phil's 2007 Blog

The blog entries for 2006 can be found here: Phil's 2006 Blog


Sat, 27 Dec 2008 23:56:26 -0700From: Phil via EMAILSubject: two things happened today

This is just a blog entry to record two events that took place today:

1. I just turned on the heat for the first time this winter. It had gotten down to 64 in here and overnight it is supposed to get down to 30 and I didn't want to wake up frozen

2. I have switched to Gnome on my main desktop. This machine was using KDE on Feisty Fawn, Gutsy Gibbon, and Hardy Heron and rather than attempting to switch to Gnome I just formatted the hard drive and did a fresh install. Since this is Ubuntu and regardless of what company produces my applications they are all installed from one screen - I chose the 220 applications I wanted to use and everything was downloaded and installed while I took a shower.

SOOOOOOO much easier than Windows and all free.

Sat, 20 Dec 2008 18:31:19 -0700From: Phil.Persson via EMAILSubject: today is a very historic day in my life

Today marks the first time I have accomplished something that I have wanted to do since 1983. Really, back in 1983 it was completely impossible, just a pipe dream. As recently as just 5 years ago I still had it in the back of my mind as a dream but....never to the extent that I can accomplish it now.

So.....today is the day my dream was realized and I actually WITNESSED the result. I will include some screen shots here so my audience out in Cyberspace can witness this event as well. This is an application which is still very rough around the edges, it is to be considered Alpha (experimental and perhaps buggy) software, but it does work.

The most important thing to realize is this.....I developed this software in one operating system, but in theory it can run on virtually any computer on the planet....certainly any personal computer. It will run on Windows, Macintosh, Linux or Unix for certain. Now this is not just theory.....today I saw this application run on Ubuntu Linux and also on Windows 2000. I will include screen shots below of this historic event.


  

This is a little utility for super-busy technical support people who are working on helpdesk tickets and frantically sending emails out to customers so they can close tickets in a hurry. It allows the support person to quickly compose the email and send it in a flash - each paragraph of text is added to the email with one click of the mouse, and the list of all possible paragraphs is mouse wheel scrollable. When you are done with an email, you click the "clear all" button on the bottom, it wipes out all fields and snaps the data grid back to the very top so you are ready for the next customer. Oh - the data file behind the scenes that runs this is plain text so you can open it with a Word Processor and quickly drag the text around to your heart's content so it is organized in the way which best fits how you work.

I needed to get this all done and deployed to Windows this weekend because starting Monday...I will be back to being one of the super-busy technical support people who are working on helpdesk tickets and frantically sending emails out to customers so they can close tickets in a hurry.

Tue, 16 Dec 2008 16:16:01 -0700From: Phil.Persson via EMAILSubject: is Linux really safer?

Today I saw an announcement that some new flaw in IE was allowing hackers to gain access to the machines of people surfing the web. People are probably wondering, is Linux really safer? Well.....here is my answer: yes and no.

There is the theory - and there is a great deal of merit to this - that hackers will not target Linux machines because there are so few out there. This is very true. So, for the sake of argument, let's imagine that everyone on the planet is using Linux. Here are the main reasons that people claim Linux is more secure:

1. Every machine is different

Yeah....well....sort of. I find that FireFox gives me the best results on web sites. Yes, I could use Konqueror or Opera or a whole list of other browsers, but people who create web sites typically assume everyone is using FireFox. If virus writers just concentrated on that one browser, I would bet they would infect 80% of Linux users IF John and Jane Doe were using Linux.

2. Linux will not allow access to root

a. Okay.....so the hacker can only delete everything in my home directory - my documents, my pictures, my home movies, my email, my everything. So....my machine is still up and running because Linux is more secure. Big deal, my entire world is gone.....what do I care if the computer is still running?

b. If we are talking non-computer-literate John and Jane Doe the following message should do nicely: "The operating system is automatically protecting your security by re-chaining broken permission clusters, please type in the root password so the process can begin".

So.....if the entire world was running Linux would we be secure and would the hackers not be able to hurt us? I have my doubts.....

Sun, 14 Dec 2008 19:53:18 -0700From: Phil via EMAILSubject: IT WAS ALL MY FAULT!

Okay, my apologies to the creators of the Java Programming language, the Swing toolkit, and the NetBeans IDE.

It turns out it was all my fault the mouse wheel was not scrolling the contents of my table.

You see, early on I thought.....well, in classic Phil style I tried to make things WAY more difficult than they needed to be.

I created an event handler for the mouse wheel events and then I did not know how to handle them - so my event handler was intercepting them and then just throwing them in what developers refer to as the "bit bucket" which is otherwise known as Oblivion.

Once I deleted the event handler I had added (which did not know how to handle events), everything worked just fine.

There was one part in my code where I wanted to manually scroll the table all the way to the top so I executed the following code: jScrollPane.getVerticalScrollBar().setValue(0)

That worked perfectly, so please disregard EVERYTHING I said in my previous post, it has all been worked out.

Sun, 14 Dec 2008 18:52:12 -0700From: Phil via EMAILSubject: apparently expecting way too much

I don't know who in the world creates programming languages, but someone needs to use a little common sense.

I mean, I am displaying my data in a table on the screen. I want the data to scroll vertically when I move the mouse wheel. That should just be common sense.....HELLO???

So....I had to create something called a TableModel, put my data into there, and bind the table to the table model. Why? No one knows - just an extra step to make things more confusing, no doubt. Oh, I also had to set the column count, set the row count.....why I can't just give it an array and say, "Here, display this" is beyond me.

However, this is where it gets tricky - in order to allow the table to be scrollable, it needed a ScrollPane bound to it. Why? Only the engineers at Sun Microsystems really know. However, while I can manually scroll the thing vertically using the scroll bar, the mouse wheel will not work.

Oh.....I can add code to "sense" that the mouse wheel is being moved while the mouse pointer is over the table displaying my data. And.....get this.....I can have it display a message telling me that ScrollPane1.isWheelScrollingEnabled is true. So....if it is set to true, why does it not work???

Here is the real kicker and this I love - I can see the mouse wheel being moved and I can even see if it is being scrolled up or down.....but there is no way for me to manually scroll the Scroll Pane on the screen!!! Yes....you heard it right, folks....no way to scroll a scroll pane. What geniuses think up this stuff? I would think you would have something like.....oh, maybe ScrollPane.ScrollDown(NumberOfRows).....but that would be WAY too easy I guess. There are countless articles on the web on how to get your Scroll Pane to actually scroll but most of them I have to pay money to see.

This is the 21st century......can we PLEASE at least TRY to create computer software so it makes sense????

Sat, 06 Dec 2008 12:03:38 -0700From: Phil via EMAILSubject: just LOOK what I found under my Christmas tree!

I finished trimming the tree last night and when I went to take a picture of it, there was a surprise under the tree. I am not sure if he is the quality inspector or what, but I thought it would make a cute picture. You can click on it to view it full size.

When my ex and I split up, I was living in a tiny apartment and had very little income and she had a large apartment and was going to buy a house so I took the small fiber-optic Christmas tree and she took the full-sized one with all the ornaments. In 2007 however our roles had changed - I had a very good job and a house and she was living in a small apartment so we switched Christmas trees - I gave her the small one and I took the large one with all the ornaments. However, at Christmas of 2007 I opened the box and discovered that one-third of the tree was missing. That tree ended up in the trash and the tree you see in this picture I bought on 12-26-2007 for $10. It is a nice size and at that price I just could not pass it up.

Unfortunately, when I woke up this morning the tree was laying on the floor, two-thirds of the ornaments had fallen off the tree, ornaments were scattered all over the room, and two ornaments that looked like miniature red apples had somehow mysteriously gone out the door and had traveled several feet down the hallway.

Three suspects known to be in the area at the time the tree was toppled were questioned at great length, however none of them seemed to have any knowledge of the event.

Mon, 1 Dec 2008 14:33:56 -0700From: Phil.Persson via EMAILSubject: living in paradise

Today I had to attend a meeting in another building and in order to get there I had to take the road into the airport and at the last minute exit onto another expressway. As I approached the airport there was a sign for car rental returns and I was thinking that for people on vacation in this desert paradise, that was one of the last gorgeous sunny scenes they would witness before they were forced to return to the winter nightmare from which they had briefly escaped. Then I got off that road and was on my way to the meeting - for me the desert vacation did not need to end.

I have been here since May of 2001 and I am still measuring my time here by how many awful Midwest winters I am missing. This is the eighth Chicago winter I am missing. I keep thinking that I will wake up and discover this was all a dream - or that somehow I will end up back in Chicago and this was just a break from that harsh life. However, when I go to sleep at night I am still dreaming of snow and cold all the time which I find rather disturbing.

I guess that means you can take me out of the snowy weather, but you can't take the snowy weather out of me.

Oh.....I just got well after being sick for three months. I kept thinking I was going to get better but I never did. Some days I felt just awful. As it turns out, my body was keeping me from getting any sicker but it was not strong enough to make me healthy again so I just maintained the same level of sickness for three months.

Now I am getting my energy back and doing more things - like typing blog entries. The doctor said it was bronchitis and I am typing this here to see if I am sick again next year at this time.

Mon, 1 Dec 2008 11:37:25 -0700From: Phil.Persson via EMAILSubject: I am SOOOO bad

I don't know if anyone realizes this.......but I will go ahead and tell you. I am SOOOO bad when it comes to faces. I mean really, really bad. I was at another building in my company for a meeting today and I walked right by someone I was supposed to know. After we walked past each other, he yelled out my name and I said....."Oh....Hi, how are you?!?" and I went over to him and of course I am wondering, "Who in the world are you and how do I know you?"

When my mother was alive and at the point where she could not see that well and was already forgetting things we went to a banquet at a church. This woman across the table from us said, "Can you please save my seat while I go and get something?" and I said okay. So, every time someone came over I strictly told them "You cannot sit here, this place is reserved" until I said this to some woman I had never seen before in my life and my mother informed me she was the woman who had asked if I could save the spot for HER five minutes earlier.

So, we can therefore determine this trait is not hereditary unless it came from the Swedish side of the family which I very much doubt. No, it is a Phil thing and there is no telling what happened to my face recognition algorithm. Perhaps it was damaged during the 1958 data corruption incident when most of my memory was wiped clean. Before that incident I recognized my mother's face and knew some language but my mother said that after that incident I no longer recognized her and had forgotten most of the language I had learned.

My brain had to completely re-wire itself and I often wonder to what degree that incident has contributed to my creativity and unique way of perceiving reality and the world around me.

Mon, 17 Nov 2008 11:20:02 -0700From: Phil.Persson via EMAILSubject: Hey, Rocky.....watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat

Does anyone remember what that line is from?

When I read the business news.....never before in my life have I seen a time such as this in the history of the world. Keep in mind......I have taken SEVERAL trips around the sun - over 50 trips......I have been around for many moons. I like to say I am as old as the hills.....here in the Phoenix area I am older than many of the hills.

Anyway, in reading stories about Barak Obama.....people all over the world are expecting him to fix all the financial problems without causing any negative side effects.

Let's see.....he needs to:

1.  End the war in Iraq
2.  Save all the banks
3.  Keep the people losing their homes
4.  Save the automakers
5.  Fix the real estate market
6.  Get us away from foreign oil
7.  Clean up the air pollution
8.  Fix the collapsing government programs such as social security
9.  Create a balanced budget
 

.....and all without raising any taxes.

I have no idea what these people are smoking, but I think their expectations are a little out of line with reality......just a little. I think they need to wake up and smell the coffee but that is just my thought on that whole matter.

Sun, 09 Nov 2008 19:33:28 -0700From: Phil via EMAILSubject: moving forward in time like water in a toilet

Many people have stopped me on the street and asked me, "Why is it that clocks move in a clockwise rotation, and not a counter-clockwise rotation?" This is a very good question and to get the answer, you need only go and flush your toilet - which way does the water rotate? If you are in the northern hemisphere on this ball in space we call our home, it will swirl in a clockwise rotation. There you go, question answered!

It seems so very strange - the water you see is actually going straight down the toilet. It only looks to you as though it is swirling in a clockwise direction because you are swirling so fast in the opposite direction. Let me take you on a little space flight. If you were in a space ship hovering over the north pole and looking down at North America and Europe, you would see the ground moving EAST to meet the sun. Therefore, from your point of view the earth would be moving in a counter-clockwise direction. When you watch the water swirling down the toilet, you are actually witnessing the rotation of the earth in action.

In the southern hemisphere, water in toilets and shadows on the ground move in a counter-clockwise direction. In the northern hemisphere, water in toilets and shadows on the ground move in a clockwise direction. Since clocks were designed in the northern hemisphere to mimic sundials and they are based on shadows moving in a clockwise direction, it all makes sense.

SO.....the next time you are at a party and there is a lull in the conversation, just say, "Did you know that time moves forward just like water being flushed down a toilet?" and I guarantee you will leave a lasting impression with the guests at the party.

By the way, no one stopped me on the street and asked me this, but it seemed like a nice way to start these random thoughts.

Sun, 09 Nov 2008 18:10:42 -0700From: Phil via EMAILSubject: contentment is the enemy

There have been many times in my life when I was miserable, but I am thinking of one particular time - the year was 2005. My wife had left me in November of 2004, I had very little money, I had a job I hated, and I was living in a tiny little apartment. The master bedroom was crammed with shelving units full of my STUFF and it felt like a warehouse instead of a bedroom. I could not sleep there so I slept on the couch in the "living room" in this little 760 square foot apartment with a huge dog barking over my head.

Because I was so unhappy, every night I would come home, take a quick nap, and then work hours each night creating software using Visual Basic.NET. Due to my relentless efforts at enhancing my life, in 2006 my income increased by 50% and I was propelled into a brave new world.

Now I am happy with my car, my job, my house, and my life and I don't have the same drive and determination I had in 2005. I am not moving forward with my goals to learn Java. I am contented with my life. I hate that word......contentment. It is my enemy. I want to never stop moving forward, learning new things, and re-inventing who I am. It feels like I am vacation with regards to this aspect of my life.

Creating the blog generation program in Java was a BLAST and I really need to return to the Java party.....one of these days.....when I get a round tuit.

Sun, 26 Oct 2008 19:06:35 -0700From: Phil via EMAILSubject: Anne Pressly

There is a story in the news today.....well, the last couple of days concerning a young woman who has touched me.

This is about Anne Pressly, a gorgeous young woman - she was 26 years old and a TV news anchor woman in Little Rock, Arkansas.

As I type this, exactly one week ago today she was at a birthday party for a friend. Had I met her there.....I admit, I would have been envious of her life. I know that is a terribly stupid thing to say. But....and I am hoping to include some pictures of her here.....she is just so beautiful. I understand she just got a part in a movie as well.


           

Young, gorgeous, beautiful, talented.....with her entire life ahead of her. One week ago this evening after the party someone beat her to a bloody pulp in her bed and two days ago she died.

They are saying it was a burglary because her purse is missing. Uh-huh.....sure.....I don't think so. I think some lunatic stalker or some crazed boyfriend decided if they could not have her, no one was going to have her.

From what I am reading, she was a wonderful human being who brought love and light into the lives of those she touched. I hope she rests in peace and I hope they find the sick mind that snuffed out her life.

I just felt compelled to immortalize her in my blog. I don't know why I should be so upset when someone so young and beautiful loses their life whereas most of the time I just gloss over these things. I know the fact I am so disturbed by this says something profound about who I am, but I just can't think right now what that might be.

Tue, 14 Oct 2008 11:08:09 -0700From: Phil.Persson via EMAILSubject: Rebecca

As many people know, I am creating a DVD collection of hundreds of movies. This all began quite innocently back in October of 2005 - there was this Alfred Hitchcock movie marathon on Turner Classic Movies where they showed......I think every single movie he had ever directed. I told my TiVo machine to grab ALL of them.

Anyway, the hobby sort of took off from there - I started collecting all these movies on my TiVo machine and as I ran out of space on TiVo I would transfer them to my computer and as I ran out of space on the computer I would burn them to backup DVDs, fitting two movies on a DVD if I could to save money.

Back then money was pretty tight - I was living in a tiny one-bedroom apartment in North Scottsdale - 760 square feet - and didn't think I would ever have money to purchase the software to convert these TiVo files to DVD format. Eventually I did purchase this special software and recently my TiVo died so I am now converting hundreds of movies to DVD format and burning them to disk so I can watch them.

Last night, nearly three years after I recorded Rebecca, I was able to view it. It was made in 1940 I think and I have never seen a movie with so many twists and turns in the plot. After the movie was over and I was getting ready for bed, I was still trying to figure out what had really happened. I am looking forward to viewing more movies created by the "Master of Suspense".

Here is an interesting bit of Star Trek trivia - one of the main actresses in this movie would 44 years later play the part of an important person on the planet Vulcan who would play a pivotal role in the life of Spock.

Oh....and on another note.....I read last night that people are killing themselves because they are losing their homes. One woman kept this from her husband as long as she could and when there was no hope in site she first shot her three beloved cats and then killed herself, leaving the insurance policy on the kitchen table with a note for her husband to use it to pay the mortgage.

You know, people......a human life is precious and holy.....a house is just a thing. PLEASE just walk away from the stupid house and don't get all hung up with things! Things are just temporary, souls are forever. I really don't understand what people are thinking.

Fri, 3 Oct 2008 09:08:56 -0700From: Phil.Persson via EMAILSubject: my poor index finger

The night before last I was trying to open a can of green beans and it opened me instead - I was very upset as the blood was flowing down the kitchen sink.

The lid of the can sliced a big hole in the index finger of my right hand - right on the knuckle - I didn't want to look at it - I quickly wrapped it up in a paper towel and got the bleeding to stop. You see, it just freaks me out when I see blood - I have fainted three times in my life so far - the first two times were when I saw blood. After a while, I carefully removed the paper towel - no blood - I was so happy! But then I bent my finger and since the wound was right on the knuckle, it opened up and all this blood started pouring out again.

I got the bleeding to stop again, then I went into the master bathroom to wash the wound and it opened up and there was blood all over the top of my sink....and in the sink.....I thought I was in an Alfred Hitchcock movie, trying to wash the evidence down the drain BUT THERE WAS ALWAYS MORE!

I wrapped my hand all up so I could not bend that finger and went to bed. Little young Nero - who is not so little anymore - started nibbling on the bandages - that is really all I needed......my little helper. It was not wrapped up very well - I kept thinking that during the night the bandages would come off, I would bleed all over the bed, and I would wake up dead - so I could not sleep.

Now when I bend my finger the wound opens up and I can see down into my finger but there is no blood so a friend of mine said that I am already dead. That's good to know - now I will be able to sleep and not worry about this any more.

Tue, 30 Sep 2008 12:34:01 -0700From: Phil.Persson via EMAILSubject: in every situation there are winners and losers

It seems strange.....but true. In every situation where tragedy strikes, it means great fortune for someone else. If there is a huge snow storm, the snow plow companies get lots of money. If the snow collapses the roofs of homes, construction workers need to rebuild them. If a hurricane destroys a town, bulldozer companies need to clear the debris.

I have heard that right now with so many people losing their homes, people with money are picking up some tremendous deals. They can snatch up almost new homes for a fraction of their market value and sell them in a few years at a huge profit.

When my mother talked about the Great Depression, she said EVERYONE was out of work and starving. Well.....that is not really true, the unemployment rate at the peak of the Great Depression was 25% in the United States. That means 75% of the people were still working - bringing home a paycheck, buying food.......I never knew about that 75% before. So even during the worst of times, life goes on for most people in society and the world does not come to an end.

Those are my cheery words for today

Mon, 29 Sep 2008 11:24:48 -0700From: Phil.Persson via EMAILSubject: history in the making

This feels like a very historic moment in the world.

Some of the largest financial firms in this country are failing, as are financial firms all over Europe. The US Government has just proposed a $700 billion bailout. Now.....here is the interesting part - they claim they are going to buy up all the bad debt out there, not do anything to pump up the home values, and then sell this bad debt at a profit after everyone has walked away from their homes which are worth less than the mortgages. This is their plan. I don't understand it, but they think......well, they actually say the whole thing stinks but it was their only choice. The financial institutions were going bankrupt over this bad debt and they had stopped lending to each other because of it.

I was talking to someone about the housing market recently and they said that back in 2006, anyone who could fog a mirror could buy a house. If your credit was not good, they could still make it happen - if you had no money, they would get you a zero down loan - if you could not afford the payments, they could get you an interest-only loan - if you did not have the required income, they could fudge some numbers to make it work for you. Everyone could realize the Great American Dream but now it has turned into a total nightmare......in a presidential election year.

I don't know who is going to win the election, but I tip my hat to both candidates. There is NO WAY I would want to become the leader of the free world at the exact moment it is all falling to pieces.

Tue, 16 Sep 2008 22:32:42 -0700From: Phil via EMAILSubject: what I bought myself for my birthday

I recently had a birthday and for my birthday I realized a dream I have had for a long time.

I bought myself a concept or perhaps a brave new world.

The present I gave myself cannot be touched, held, sniffed, or carried. It has no weight, no size and no one knows where it really exists on the planet. However, you can view it.....I bought myself a web site.

My hope is that it might change the world. However, one can never tell where this project might go.


http://www.PerssonTechnologies.com/


Mon, 15 Sep 2008 13:42:58 -0700From: Phil.Persson via EMAILSubject: those that stayed behind

There are several people who stayed behind as Hurricane Ike took aim at Galveston. Their comment was, "If it is not my time to go, then I will not die."

Now.....let me be clear on this - I believe in God and I believe He performs miracles in the 21st century and I believe that angels protect people if ordered to do so.

However, I also believe in free will. If I am stupid enough to walk in front of a bus.....I am exercising my free will and God might respect my wishes and allow me to live through the consequences of my decision. I don't know what those people in the path of Hurricane Ike were thinking. They said that 20,000 people stayed behind to brave the storm and thus far they have only found 2,000 of them. I would assume that many of the other 18,000 are dead somewhere in the rubble. I guess that means it was their time to go.

Also in the news we have the recent failure of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac - the government bailed them out - someone bailed out Merrill Lynch and saved them from bankruptcy, but Lehman Brothers went into Chapter 11. They said there are many more failures on the horizon. I heard that now mortgages require more of a down payment. The age of zero down mortgages may be gone forever. This means you at least need 5% which for a $200K house would be $10,000. How many people have that floating around?

I know several people in my area bought their homes with zero down, interest-only loans planning to refinance once the home value had gone up. Home values have instead lost 20%, these people cannot afford to refinance, and they will therefore lose their homes. I think we have only seen the beginning of this crisis - it will expand in the next few years. Also gas and food have gone sky high. There are so many vacant homes that people are stealing light fixtures, sinks, and toilets from the vacant homes and selling them so they can afford to feed their families.

Never in my life have I seen things in such a total mess.

Well.....this was certainly a cheerful blog entry.....NOT!!!

Sun, 14 Sep 2008 18:29:17 -0700From: Phil via EMAILSubject: blog generation utility in Java!

This weekend marks a very important milestone. The blog generation utility has been converted from VB.NET to the Java programming language.

This is the first application I have ever written in Java and this means that because Java is platform independent, this application will run on Windows, Macintosh, Unix, Linux and conceivably any new popular operating system which is invented in the future.

This is because applications in Java run within the Java Runtime Environment. If there is a JRE for the operating system, then my applications will run there.

You can see the source code for the application here but viewing this is not for the faint of heart. It is a simple application, but still rather overwhelming when you try to take in the whole thing at once. I am including below a screen shot of my first GUI application written in and for the Linux operating system.

Oh....stay tuned to my blog for a very exciting announcement in the next few days.


Sat, 13 Sep 2008 19:01:32 -0700From: Phil via EMAILSubject: test blog entry

This is designed to be a test blog entry to test the new blog generation program written in Java and running on Linux. This is the first paragraph and we should include a smiley face to see what happens. We are still in the first paragraph and I should include some contractions because the original VB.NET version of this program on Windows couldn't seem to process the apostrophes but I don't remember exactly what the problem was now. If I still have that problem in Linux I will be very sad. Of course, features like bold and bold italic should still work.

Here is a list of items
That should not be processed into paragraphs
This text should stay as a list
Any smiley icons in here will not be processed
:-)   :-(   ;-)

Here is the last paragraph. The blog generation utility basically reads a plain text file as input, identifies when a new email is starting and constructs a header from the email file information, separates blog entries with animated GIF file lines and chooses a new random file each time - it keeps track of which ones it has used. The utility also changes emoticon directives into actual files. If this does not work I will be very angry.

Thu, 4 Sep 2008 12:39:15 -0700From: Phil.Persson via EMAILSubject: things that pull at your soul

There are things in life that have a pull on you. It feels like they are tugging on your soul. Well....maybe I should say there are things tugging at MY soul. I don't know if everyone experiences this....but I think they do. There is a little voice inside that says "This is part of who you are, and something you should be doing."

Whether it has been rebuilding color televisions and radios, rebuilding computers, or creating computer software.....I have followed these instincts in my life.

Now I have a new pull in my life. My grandparents bought this musical instrument in 1915, before my mother was born.....and rather than give it to my mother, somehow I ended up with the thing. Yes, I know that everything my mother owned I ended up with anyway, but this gizmo skipped a generation for some reason. Anyway, I took it to show it to a friend at church, hoping that maybe I could get him to buy it....and he instead tuned it and gave it back to me. So now I feel this tugging at my soul - I should learn how to play this thing. I can be making music in my home.....I don't know. This is an instinct I have avoided for so MANY decades.

Forty years ago I hand-printed some music sheets for this gizmo - some Christmas Carols, some television theme songs.....and last night I was using these sheets from forty years ago to play these songs. Now that I am a computer software developer I could create a program to just PRINT these song sheets from songs I get off the web. The song sheets slip under the strings and you play by number - you hit 1-2-3-4-5-6 and you are playing the song. There were song sheets that came with the thing - but the songs are from 1914 and I have never heard of them.

It feels strange to be playing hand-printed song sheets from 1968 in 2008. Anyway, these are just some random ramblings from me today. It all seems very weird to me.... I was playing it last night and big Jack was sitting and watching me with great interest. The moment I started playing, Nero dashed out of the room - he must not be a music lover.

It is not just the concept that someone can look at a sheet of music, translate it into actions, and then produce music to fill a house or an auditorium that I find amazing....it is also the concept that one can spontaneously express what is in their soul and have it embodied in music.

Tue, 02 Sep 2008 22:31:17 -0700From: Phil via EMAILSubject: on the verge of a brave new world?

Well....okay.....this is it!

I hereby declare and decree that this coming weekend, Saturday being September 6th, 2008, I shall re-write my blog generation program in Java so that I will never need to go back to my Windows machine to work on blog entries.

They will be typed on Linux, converted to HTML by a blog generation program running on Linux, and will be published to the Internet all on Linux. As of Monday, September 8th, 2008 I will no longer need to be running to my Windows machine for this function.

This decree has been proclaimed, recorded and published on the Internet for the entire world to see on this day Tuesday, September 2nd in the year of our Lord 2008 AD.

Now we will see if it comes to pass....

Mon, 18 Aug 2008 11:24:10 -0700From: Phil.Persson via EMAILSubject: a huge change in my life

Last night represented a huge change in my life. Nothing will ever be the same now. I am going to explain this huge change to all of you and also discuss how this will affect my future. I know this is sort of a radical thing to undertake, but I felt the time was right. I just could not continue to live the way I have been living.

This weekend it came to my attention that I am viewing a 27-inch tube television and in my great room in my new home I am sitting 17 feet away. Actually, I WAS sitting 17 feet away - the entire great room has been redesigned with the help of the cats so now I am only sitting 8 feet away from the television set. How did the cats help? They laid on the furniture as I was moving it - I think they must have been supervising.....except for Nero, he dashed out and hid somewhere.

Now, I know you will all have several questions regarding this huge change in my life, so here are the answers for the most burning questions on your mind:

1. Phil, you have been living in that house for over a year, how did you just realize this now?

A: Well, up until now the entertainment center HAD to be on the west wall in the entertainment center alcove because that is where the cable line was. Now that my TiVo died and I am no longer using cable, I am not "tied" to that wall. Also, this weekend I watched "The Matrix Reloaded" and it was so fast-moving I could not really follow anything from 17 feet away. Then I watched a Star Trek movie I had memorized and I had to tell myself "At this point Spock closed his eyes to express his response" because I could not see his face from 17 feet away. So now instead of the television being on the west wall and the couch on the east, the television is on the east wall and the couch defines the size of the "television room".

2. Well.....wait.....there is no cable jack on the east wall? Then how are you going to watch television?

A: I am no longer watching television. When my TiVo broke I lost all interest in television. I cannot watch LIVE television because once I turn the TV on, I cannot bear to turn it off, I am mesmerized. Yes, I could connect my VCR to the cable line but that seems like such a step backwards. I don't really need to watch television, when my TiVo was alive I recorded hundreds of movies and TV shows and saved them, I am currently burning them all to DVDs so I can watch them someday. In the meantime, there is a cable line on the east wall of the dining room in the event of a full-scale emergency where I would NEED live TV. I still have cable because it is included in my HOA fee.

3. What about when you get an HDTV and a high-def TiVo? Then will you go back to having the television in the entertainment alcove as it was meant to be? Won't you be forced to, since that is where the cable jack is located?

A: If the day should ever come that I hop on the HDTV bandwagon, keeping the seating arrangement as it is will save me lots of money. Instead of getting a 100-inch television, I can just get a 42-inch and sit eight feet away. I will not be going with TiVo but instead with something called MythBuntu which is free and works on Linux. The back end machine will most likely be in the den, that will be connected to cable and will record the video. The front end machine will be on the east wall in the great room and will stream the movies over the computer network. Yes, I have high-speed network ports on the east AND west walls in the great room. When I was specifying the wiring for the house I went a little crazy with network lines.

I hope I have answered all your questions. After moving everything around last night I watched a movie and I could actually see what was happening on the screen. Imagine that.

Sun, 17 Aug 2008 09:24:51 -0700From: Phil via EMAILSubject: my poor right thumb

Last night at around 5:00 PM my right thumb was sliced open by a very sharp object it happened to encounter in its daily travels through my kitchen. You might think that since this happened in the kitchen, it was caused by some dangerous knife or other cutting implement, but such was not the case.

The entire thing with my thumb was an unfortunate accident caused by a number of factors - mostly the fact that I cannot multi-task very well.

You see. I have two arms with two hands at the ends of them - and if I am concentrating on what the left arm and hand is doing.....the right arm and hand may as well be in a different county because they are out of sight, out of mind.

I was trying to feed my three cats - Nero who is a little over a year old now must always jump up on the kitchen table and get his little face IN THE BOWLS when I am trying to put cat food in there and it just drives me crazy - so last night every time he would jump up on the table, I would grab him with my right hand and drop him on the floor....but each time, five seconds later he would be back on the table.

Well, the last time we did this, somehow as I was holding him, this large plastic bag of cat food decided to take a dive off the kitchen table. I was grabbing it with my left hand while I was holding Nero in my right hand - I had not yet dropped him and THIS was the exact moment when my right hand and arm traveled off to that distant county I mentioned earlier.

The bag of cat food made all sorts of noises, I tensed up, and I suppose Nero thought it was an alien from another world that was attacking us - I have no idea what goes on in his little cat brain.

When I had the bag of cat food back on the table and under control, I looked at my right hand - Nero was gone but there was an inch long gash in my thumb from ONE back claw as he left. I was standing there wondering why my thumb looked so strange and then the blood started flowing.

I still had to feed them, get the bowls on the floor, and put the cat food away without dripping blood everywhere. Some of the cat food landed on the floor - but I assumed they would figure it all out as I dashed into the master bathroom to take care of my wound.

The thing of it is.....he tore my thumb open with just ONE claw on ONE paw. Just imagine the damage he could cause if he really put his mind to it. This reminds me of the time that Butterscotch bit my hand without knowing it was my hand - his teeth went through my skin like a hot knife through butter. I have therefore now concluded that if these cats wanted me dead, I would have no hope in sight

Sat, 02 Aug 2008 19:58:51 -0700From: Phil via EmailSubject: a long, long time ago in a land far, far away.....

It has been quite some time since I have typed here. Life has been very busy. That is just an excuse, really I have just been lazy but the excuse sounded much better than the truth.

At home I do everything on three Linux machines and it irks me that when I want to create a blog entry I still need to use a program created in VB.NET which means it can only be run on silly Microsoft Windows. However, that will change in August of 2008. My entire life will change in this month. Well.......I will be able to create software applications in Java so they will run on any computer system in the world. That to me is "my entire life changing" since I am first and foremost a computer geek.

My TiVo hard drive bit the dust! Now my TiVo will not even boot up. When it crashed, it took a bunch of TV shows and movies with it. This greatly disturbs me. I wanted to download those videos, but I always thought I had more time. I had no idea he was going to die on me.....I did not even know he was sick. So, since I hate watching live TV and my one-year special on cable TV was about to expire, I attempted to cancel it.

You see, for one year as an "introductory offer" I was getting high speed Internet, extended basic cable, digital cable, and some movie channels for $45 a month. As far as I am concerned, you just can't beat that. But TiVo had died, I hate watching live TV, and I am trying to save money any way I can right now (also refinanced my car). So I called and told them to cancel everything except for high speed Internet. The woman wanted to downgrade my Internet speed, it turns out I have the crazy fast service but I said no, let's leave that alone - if anything I will be using it more with my new jobs I am undertaking.

So, the guy comes out to get the cable box and......canceling the cable did not work out as planned. He said because I live in this area he cannot turn off the cable because through my HOA I am paying for basic cable which is 22 channels. However, because I have the really fast Internet he did not want to install a filter to give me only 22 channels so I end up with 75 channels.....weird. This works well since I am advertising for a roommate and I put in there that cable TV was included. Anyway, now I will be getting high speed Internet and extended basic cable for $50 a month - still not a bad deal!

With all the Linux machines I have right now I have an abundance of hard drive space - they are so cheap right now! Today because of the TiVo machine going down and taking all my videos with it.....I decided to backup my XP machine across the network - copy all the movies to a Linux hard drive. I copied over 200GB of data so I thought to myself, "Now the old hard drives on the XP machine can give out anytime and it would be okay.".

That reminded me of a scary night nearly 30 years ago. Here is a peek at how memories are linked in my mind. I worked second shift at Motorola in Schaumburg and lived on the south side of the city, about 40 miles away. Each night I would leave Motorola around midnight and drive the 40 miles to my home with almost no traffic on the roads. Everyone said I was a little nutty for living so far from work, but I was living with my parents at the time which provided certain financial advantages.

Anyway, I was driving home on the Tri-State Tollway and the gas gauge was below "E" for enough. I was very concerned I would not make it to the gas station. Then I passed a sign that said the Hinsdale Oasis was one mile away. I breathed a sigh of relief and said to myself, "Well, now I can run out of gas at any time and I could coast into the station." At that moment, the car went dead. You know what? You really cannot coast that far....much to my disappointment. I tried to start the car but there was no hope. So I started the long one-mile trek up to the gas station. I was on my way back walking on the shoulder of the road, carrying a plastic gas can with precious liquid fuel - by this time it was probably 1:00 in the morning - and a car pulled off the road onto the shoulder in front of me, purposely blocking my access to my car. All I could see were these blinding headlights - I could not tell if it was the police or some madman with a crowbar. I was twenty miles from work, twenty miles from home, in the middle of a highway in the middle of the night. Then a voice called out, "WHAT ARE YOU DOING THERE?!?!?!"

Well......you have heard the expression "deer in the headlights" and let me tell you - I was frozen. I didn't know what to do! Then there was a laugh and the voice said, "It is Ted" and I recognized it as one of my friends who also worked second shift at Motorola in Schaumburg and was nutty enough to live on the south side. We did not carpool, although there was a night when he drove me home when the same car I owned went out of control and smashed into a telephone pole, causing a power failure in a shopping center. However, that is another story entirely.

I did mention briefly about new jobs I am pursuing. Along with working full time I want to start my own software development firm, I am helping some friends who are forming a software development company, and an Internet hosting company wants to hire me part time. Hey, I can certainly use the help during these trying economic times and I love writing software.

Wed, 16 Jul 2008 10:15:24 -0700From: Phil via EmailSubject: Creating a blog entry in a jet airplane

July 15, 2008 - Early evening in a jet airplane over the United States.

Can I create a blog entry in a jet airplane? Probably not. I will not attempt to write this well and we will see how it turns out. Yes, I am taking pen to paper and doing this the old-fashioned way. I do not know if I will be able to read this later but I can rest assured that the person next to me will have no idea what I am scribbling.

It has recently come to my attention that I still have some instances of envy in my life. Many years ago I stopped looking at the homes and cars that other people have and wanting them for my own. However I recently realized the futility of thinking:

      I wish I looked like them
      I wish I had their gifts
      I wish I had their life

I am where I am and who I am for a reason, I love and accept myself and I need to concentrate on being everything I was created to be. I don't need to think about being someone else or having a different life.

I don't know how these ideas get into my mind but they are not helping me to achieve my goals in life. It has been my experience that when your goal is to introduce something new into your life - whether it is a new car, house, television, or whatever - you suddenly become unhappy with the old even when there is nothing wrong with it.

Therefore, never wish that you could be someone else. Instead, concentrate on becoming the person that God created you to be.

Mon, 2 Jun 2008 13:41:02 -0700From: Phil.Persson via EmailSubject: gasoline prices soaring!

The experts are saying that the price of gas will continue to head upwards and there is nothing to stop it. We could easily see gasoline at $5 a gallon if there is a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico this summer.

As China and India are starting to use way more fuel, Saudi Arabia and Russia are both saying they cannot increase production - what you see is what you get, and it will not change.

Europe has been doing a great job of conserving fuel for years - they drive small cars and as I watch the morning rush hour in large European cities through web cams I can see lots of people going to work on bicycles. In this country we have people driving alone to work in huge Hummers and four wheel drive monster trucks.

Lawmakers here are saying they can have a "gas tax holiday" to temporarily reduce prices for the summer - but I wonder how the government would survive without that income?

Other people are saying that the "gas tax holiday" is just a temporary fix and cannot make a huge difference - sort of like a drop of water in the ocean. As demand increases in China and India, prices will continue to rise with no end in sight as oil becomes more difficult to find. These people are saying that America needs to "feel the pain" in order to really start conserving.

That is sort of refreshing to hear in this country. It is true - regardless of what the government does, the price will continue to go up as the world changes and the supply of oil starts to dwindle. I think the ride is over - we have finally reached the end of the line. It is time to find ways to travel without using gasoline.

It's a darn shame that General Motors crushed all those perfectly good electric cars they manufactured. Those things would be worth their weight in gold right about now. They probably contained trade secrets they did not want anyone to have. Ah.....I was just looking at Chevy's web site, reading about their current electric and hybrid concept vehicles. They have a page called, "Aren't You The Guys Who Killed The Electric Car?" Their answer was basically "Yes.....we did because the timing for the EV1 was terrible and not that many people were interested - however, all the lessons we learned from the EV1 are being applied to our new electric and hybrid cars".

I have wanted an electric car since the 1970's, but all the extended-range vehicles I am seeing cost around $30K. I am hoping that once mass production kicks in and more people buy them, they can get the prices lower. If they can create a two-seater with a top speed of 60mph and a range of 100 miles for $20,000 then I will buy one. I say that I need a range of 100 miles because it is 40 miles to work AND I will be using the AC and recharging the car at work. I am certain that somehow running the AC will cut my range in half.....and when it is 115 degrees outside, I do need my AC.

If they cannot get the prices lower and gasoline continues to rise in price, I might be forced to move into the city at some point. However, that would be a last resort because I really do like my house out in the desert.

Fri, 23 May 2008 20:15:24 -0700From: Phil via EmailSubject: Linux vs. Windows

Here is a little comparison of Windows to Linux. Well, first of all:

1. Windows comes out with a new version every six years, whereas you can get a new version of Linux every six months.

Notice I said you CAN get a new version every six months if you wish - the LTS versions of Ubuntu are supported for three years so you can go that long and still get updates if you wish while you stay on the same version.

2. Linux always knows about the latest hardware

Well....at least in theory......hardware support has always been difficult for Linux as the details of the hardware are proprietary and drivers are only released for Windows. Let's say manufacturer XYZ produces a gizmo for your computer - they are only going to spend time producing drivers for Windows, it makes no sense to spend money developing drivers for Linux because the Linux community is small. There are a few manufacturers who are jumping on the Linux bandwagon and as they do, the Linux community publishes this information on the web.

3. Linux is not attacked by viruses, trojans, and adware

I don't have any virus protection installed, and I don't need it. I can surf the web with confidence knowing that nothing can harm me. This is partially because Linux is such a small target. The virus writers want to use their time to hit the largest number of computers on the planet - those using Windows.

4. Linux is totally open to the world

If something breaks in Windows, you must report a bug to Microsoft and it will get fixed.....sometime in the future. If something breaks in Linux you report the problem and it is fixed in days. Or.....since it is all open, if you are a genius you can fix it yourself and post the fix for the entire planet to use.

5. Linux is totally modular, Windows is monolithic

When you get Windows....it is like getting a car with the hood welded shut. No one is supposed to know what is under the hood and there are no user serviceable parts inside. You can install things in the passenger compartment (applications) but you have NO BUSINESS under the hood! If something breaks under the hood, you just re-install Windows and lose all your applications in the process (starting over).

In the Linux world the hood is wide open, there are no secrets, and the engine is not in one piece, it is hundreds of pieces that anyone can swap out in minutes if you know what you are doing.

6, Every Linux machine is different

This is another reason why virus writers love Windows. Everyone uses Windows with Outlook or Outlook Express and Internet Explorer. What an easy target! In the Linux world, there are dozens of Web browsers, dozens of email packages, and dozens of versions of Linux so a virus writer is faced with a huge world of variety - who do they target?

WHICH ONE IS BETTER?

It is really like comparing apples and oranges. The technology behind each OS is so completely different. I happen to believe that once you get used to Linux it is much easier to fix things however it also seems that things break more often. You need to be your own mechanic and not be afraid to get under the hood and fix things when they go haywire. Just today I tried to shut down my Kubuntu Gutsy Gibbon machine when it was doing some disk writes - I just hit the power button - I said, "I don't know what the heck you are doing, but I don't have all day!" When Linux came back up.....my entire graphics environment was gone. It said it tried to load my NVidia driver but it was missing At that point on a Windows machine, faced with only a command prompt I would have been lost. In Linux I was only half lost. It took me about 30 minutes to be back up and running. Next time it will only take 10 minutes because I learn more each time.

I believe that the Linux OS is improving at a rate significantly faster than Microsoft Windows is. Windows Vista is a huge disappointment from what I have heard. It demands heavy-duty hardware but really does not have features all that much better than Windows XP - and will not run some software that runs fine in XP. The next version of Windows is supposed to be here in 2011. However, we know that date will slip. In the meantime, we will see a new version of Ubuntu every six months - and each version will have new high-tech features and more problems will be fixed.

Regardless of who wins the contest for the desktop computers of the planet, competition is a very good thing. The computer users always win in the end.

Fri, 23 May 2008 18:57:25 -0700From: Phil via EmailSubject: long desert journey

I took today (Friday) off so I would have a 4-day weekend. It's a great feeling, having the freedom to do that. So.....Best Buy had this special weekend-only super-duper sales event. They said in the mailing, "Oh, you will be so happy!" so I grabbed this handful of coupons and headed off into the desert.

When I arrived there I dashed through the store, filled my little basket with the supplies I wanted and handed my coupons to the checkout guy. Well, all I got was arguments! It is the wrong date (it was not the wrong date - it was the first day of the sale) and then he gave me this big argument about the coupons. No, you cannot use this one, no, you cannot use that one. The entire experience was very stressful. In the end, I got 12% off on ONE item amounting to a savings of $6. Okay.....so my closest Best Buy is 17 miles away and I drove 34 miles to save only $6 with gas at almost $4 a gallon?!?!?!?! I will tell you what.....I am just forgetting about these weekend Best Buy sales, they are not worth the trouble. During this recession they should be glad that anyone even comes into their stupid store. It isn't like I NEED blank DVDs in order to live - I thought I was doing them a favor!

I know that some of you might be curious about Linux and open source and what it all means. It means you can get Linux for free, you can install 23,000 different software packages in an instant with a few clicks of a mouse and they are all free. There are several more packages available out on the Web. Now the entire philosophy behind open source in my mind is that for 20% of the effort you can get 80% of the benefits.

Open source package xxxxx will do 80% of what the commercial package can do and it costs nothing instead of $400. This is what it boils down to. Whether you can live in the open source world depends upon your standards - do you want perfection and do you have $5000 to spend? If so, you can stay in the commercial software world and forget about Linux - or be a software pirate and steal everything you need - I know some people like that.

TiVoDecode is a good example. Some time ago I BOUGHT a package on Windows that will decode TiVo movie files and allow me to burn them to DVD. Now that I am in the Linux world I discovered TiVoDecode that I can get for free for Linux - so I gave it a try. Does it work? Yes, it most certainly does - and it is really FAST. The Windows version takes 12 hours to decode a movie. Is it perfect? No......I have tried it on two machines so far and it did a decent job on the AMD X2 64-bit dual core 3800.....but still not perfect. If there was fast motion, objects that were moving fast did not get completely painted on all frames. If I had not already purchased the commercial package and I was not building a library of hundreds of my favorite movies I might use it, but I'm going to be a demanding user.

So although I wanted to replace the old aging Windows XP server with a new modern high-tech Linux machine, I think the Windows XP machine will be around for several months converting these hundreds of movies - and taking 12 hours on each one.

One of my goals for the weekend is not only to get my blog up to date and install the new Open SUSE 11 Beta 3 to check it out, I also want to post new pictures of the cats on my web site. I have some really cute pictures of them that no has seen. As usual, it is just a matter of getting a round tuit. Gee......I wish I could just order a truckload of those things.

Wed, 14 May 2008 10:55:19 -0700From: Phil.Persson via EmailSubject: new home server

I am sorry there have been so few entries in my blog as of late.

Actually, I have typed some but they are stuck in limbo again. I just have not been very motivated to get them posted I guess.

I am thinking of creating a new page on my web site devoted to computer desktop upgrades. Seeing computers torn apart is something I enjoy. I know it sounds strange, but whatever floats your boat, right?

Because of the rules of Microsoft - that you cannot move Windows XP from an old machine to a newer machine - I will be retiring the Windows XP machine. Actually, I will keep the machine up and running but will pull all the hard drives out of there and make the home server a Linux machine. The Linux machine will also handle printing and scanning for the entire house. The Windows XP machine will sit off in the corner and never be used. I guess if you try to move your Windows installation to a newer desktop you must call Microsoft, beg them to activate the new machine, and then they will give you some sort of lecture about their license agreement. No thanks...Linux is light years ahead of Windows anyway.

This will be a gradual process because there is SO MUCH data on that XP machine right now:

0.  Buy a new spindle of DVDs when Best Buy has a sale
1.  Backup critical data
2.  Backup music
3.  Move all movies over to Linux for conversion
4.  Wipe out data drives
5.  Move data drives to new Linux machine
6.  Restore all data

I don't know when all of this will happen, but I hope it is soon - that XP machine is really old and I don't want it to fail and take all of my data with it.

I know I will enjoy not having to worry about viruses, trojans, and spyware any longer. I can have a totally worry-free computing environment.

Sat, 03 May 2008 11:04:05 -0700From: Phil via EmailSubject: absent minded me

It just drives me crazy when I lose something - it was just here, and now it is gone. After I moved into my new home I used some epoxy glue to put some things together and everything worked great. Now I went back to my setup - which is on a closet shelf where the cats cannot get to it - and the glue is gone!!! Where did the stupid glue go? Of course......it didn't go somewhere......I probably put it somewhere safe.

My mother used to irk me in these situations. I would ask her where such-and-such was and she would reply, "Well, Phil, I am sure it is still right where you left it". Yeah.....that is a big help.....thanks. I guess I grew up thinking that mothers were always supposed to know everything.

So I'm digging through stuff here......trying to find the glue.....and I get into this corner of the laundry room where I stashed a bag from Office Max. Apparently this is a bag of moving supplies I never used. In the bag I found EIGHT rolls of packing tape and ELEVEN wide-tipped huge markers. WHAT IN THE WORLD WAS I THINKING??? Boy......I could move like five more times now with all those supplies!!

This is part of the reason I don't ever like to go shopping. I just get carried away......I mean, it is really sad. I go to the store to just get a few supplies and walk out with a carload of stuff. Last night I went to Best Buy and I walked out of the store a very happy man - when I emerged from the store into the sunny desert I had a huge smile on my face. It seemed incongruous to me because most people walking out of Best Buy would be thrilled if they bought a big screen TV or a new computer system. I was thrilled because with tax I only spent $3.77 on my purchase. That has to be some sort of record for me and a Best Buy visit.

Update on that computer that was in six pieces - I am very sorry to report that it died on the operating table. Each time you upgrade memory or install a new CPU cooling fan you put a great deal of physical stress on the motherboard and I think it was just too much. I tried different memory and a different power supply but over the course of two days could not revive the computer. Therefore, I have ordered a new motherboard/CPU combo for $100 to fix that little problem.

That computer will be for testing only - installing and reviewing new versions of Linux, compiling custom kernels, those sorts of things.

Sun, 27 Apr 2008 01:56:14 -0700From: Phil via EmailSubject: bad news, good news, and bad news

I have bad news, good news, and bad news

1. Bad news - when I got up this morning, my primary computer here (Kubuntu Gutsy Gibbon) was making a squealing noise. Since I built all my own computers this gives me an excuse to pop the cover and stick my head in there - although this time Nero was sticking his head in there as well to help me. It turns out it was the CPU fan making all the noise - probably a bearing going bad? Rather than having the fan go out and fry my CPU, I decided to immediately suck all my data off that machine and remove it from service.

2. Good news - I had been thinking that the FAST machine in the house should be my primary and this was the excuse I needed. I blew away my Fedora installation and installed Kubuntu Gutsy Gibbon on that machine. In just a few hours I had the operating system installed with about 1500 applications and all my personal data back on there. I am including two screen shots showing the new machine in action.

3. Bad news - I did not have another CPU cooling fan laying around for this type of processor - this is an AMD Athlon XP 3200 and I need a special heat sink for that much heat. So....my old "primary" computer is now in six pieces, hidden in various closets around the house so the resident "elves" don't take all the computer parts and hide them under the furniture when I'm not looking. The fan is on order and.....as long as I have the computer all torn apart I decided to order more RAM for it.

So far this new Kubuntu computer is WONDERFUL


New Kubuntu Machine - Plain Desktop
New Kubuntu - Desktop with menu

Thu, 17 Apr 2008 17:41:58 -0700From: phil via EmailSubject: BLOG - please encode

There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission. We will control the horizontal. We will control the vertical. We can roll the image; make it flutter. We can change the focus to a soft blur or sharpen it to crystal clarity.

The following message is purposely encoded.....

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Mon, 14 Apr 2008 17:09:31 -0700From: Phil.Persson via EmailSubject: note to self, the final solution

This is a note to myself - on this day I implemented the final solution, fired the last magic bullet to solve the seemingly endless problem forever.

Actually, I began the solution today, I cannot complete it until tomorrow evening.

Fri, 4 Apr 2008 14:26:47 -0700From: Phil.Persson via EmailSubject: one year ago tomorrow.....

Well.....tomorrow Nero is a year old. I cannot believe the time has gone so quickly. It seems like only yesterday that a software developer appeared at my desk at work and said, "I hear that you are looking to adopt a kitten".

I recently scooped Nero into my arms and explained to him what this meant. I told him that now that he is an adult, we will be expecting more of him around the house. He will be expected to take on more responsibility, and to pitch in and help out whenever possible. When I was done with my very serious speech I had the distinct impression the entire lecture had fallen on deaf ears. I guess all I can do is try. As the old saying goes, you can lead a cat to the household chores but you can't make him do them.

I wish I could do something special for him tomorrow but it would only be special for me, it would not be for him. He is so easily pleased that I could smash some tin foil into a ball, roll it across the floor telling him it is a new toy I created for him, and he would be thrilled. I just need to make it big enough that he can't lose it under the refrigerator.

I know there is this big controversy over whether cats or dogs are better pets. I will tell you this much - when you watch these videos of cats falling off things and flying through the air - there is almost no chance they can get hurt so it is all in good fun. I can just sit and laugh without being all concerned about them. A friend of mine at Christmas bought me a huge squeezey rubber ball with weird fingers or spines on the surface going in all directions - I don't know how else to describe it. I was sitting at the dining room table and Nero decided he wanted to grab it in his mouth and drag it off the table even though it is about half his size. He had it in his mouth and with all those spiny finger things he could not see - he walked backwards right off the table.......just precious.

Thu, 3 Apr 2008 16:11:30 -0700From: Phil.Persson via EmailSubject: South Beach Diet, Phase Two

Well.....as much as I enjoyed Phase One of the diet, I need to transition to Phase Two starting this evening.

In the book....and on the web they say you do not want to stay on Phase One too long. Although Phase One is where you lose lots of weight, they say "your body will not be happy" and it will "limit the success of the entire diet" and neither of those are reasons.

Let it be hereby known and proclaimed throughout the land that I need reasons - REAL reasons - not vague stuff like "your body will not be happy" because that is worthless - that just gets tossed in the trash along with the high-carb carrots I found in my salad last night.

As it turns out.....if you stay in Phase One too long where you are not taking in ANY energy and forcing your body to burn fat, it will adapt. Your metabolism will slow down and then if you even LOOK at a piece of fruit or a slice of bread you will gain weight. I discovered this last night by consulting Google (the Oracle of all knowledge on the planet in the 21st century) and it lead me to forums filled with people on this diet.

Oh.....I think I lost around 8 pounds in phase one - which is not really bad - if I can lose ten more pounds in phase two which is an unlimited time limit then I will be happy. Then when I get down to 200 or a little less I can have that very occasional dessert or bagel without feeling guilty about it.

Thu, 3 Apr 2008 10:23:14 -0700From: Phil.Persson via EmailSubject: look out for the sales pitch

You know.....I hate sales pitches. Someone comes into your house, they give you a demonstration of this new high-tech gizmo and they tell you, "It shines, it polishes, it even toasts your bread in the morning!" Then once you sign the contract or pay the bill you discover the hidden agenda. By that time you are committed, you have this gizmo in your home and you must make the best of it. All the things they did not reveal during the sales pitch and demonstration are now part of your life.

Is dating and courtship like this? Do people attempt to only show their good sides and hide all their faults?

This is a thought I had just this morning, that it is like a sales pitch where you are showing off all the good features and skimming over the fine print.

Most likely everyone else in the world already knew this. Sometimes it takes me a little longer to catch on.

Tue, 1 Apr 2008 11:50:07 -0700From: Phil.Persson via EmailSubject: our perceptions define reality

We create our own reality by how we perceive the world. Our assumptions determine what is true. Some people look at nature and they see God and intelligent design, some people see evolution without God.

Every weekend I go out and spray the weeds in the front and back of the house with Roundup. It is supposed to kill the weeds in just a few hours. I was amazed every weekend when I went out there because there were so many of them and in one week they had grown to be three inches tall!!

I was telling everyone I knew about my weeds, how many I have each week, and how fast they grow. They were all as amazed as I was.

This last weekend I did my usual routine - sprayed all the weeds - and a day later I was looking out the patio door.....and the same weeds were still there. So I went out there and drenched them and checked a day later - they were as green and happy as ever. I need to check the expiration date on that bottle of Roundup - I am probably just spraying them with water every weekend.

However, this proves my point - it is not the evidence that determines our reality but how we perceive it. I only checked once a week and had concluded I had the fastest growing weeds in the world. The fact was, each weekend I was going out and spraying the very same weeds I had sprayed the week before....and the week before that. Hey, at least I am getting some sunshine and exercise.

Mon, 31 Mar 2008 14:57:59 -0700From: Phil.Persson via EmailSubject: burst went the bubble!

Three years ago I knew there was a real estate bubble and I knew it was going to burst.

I guess I never imagined the disaster we are seeing now. House prices are in a free fall, dozens of financial companies are being wiped out, and people in the meantime are losing everything.

This is similar to the tech bubble burst of 2001 - people are saying they were expecting a short period of correction and have maintained their lifestyle, burning through savings and retirement accounts waiting for things to improve. No one thought this would be a financial bloodbath and some claim the worst is yet to come.

What is really sad is these people who have huge new homes - they cannot refinance, they cannot sell.....they just need to keep paying the mortgage each month and hang on, hoping for better times.

At the same time we have the credit card crisis which is tied into this - then coincidentally we have oil prices going through the roof, forcing price increases of everything. People who are struggling to just get by are finding they cannot afford to buy food.

Now......I guess I should say something positive to balance this out. Well.....the cats and I are doing just fine.

Wed, 26 Mar 2008 11:39:46 -0700From: Phil.Persson via EmailSubject: RE: The grand experiment

When I was in high school my weight was 183 - on my first driver's license. I don't know why I typed that, but it seemed a good way to start this story.

Before I was married.....my all-time high weight was 225 and I was miserable - how did I let myself go like that????

So.....fast-forward a number of years......I was married and weighed 244!!!!

When I moved to Arizona I kept my driver's license weight at 215 - I was determined to get back down there.....someday, somehow....although dropping thirty pounds sounded crazy at the time.

In July of 2006 I started wearing kilts when I was not at work - part of that was to have more fun going for long walks at night. I was able to get my weight down to 220 which was a reduction of 24 pounds but I was still not happy. The web sites I consulted all said my idea weight is 190 and we all know that computers would never lie.

I told my doctor I wanted to take off another twenty pounds and she recommended the South Beach Diet. It is written by a doctor and he knows what he is talking about.

My goal is to get down to 200 and stay there - right now (drum roll, please) I am down to around 212. I never thought I would see the day.

What I am REALLY, REALLY trying to do is get rid of this Cherry Turnover belly I have. I look TONS better than I did two years ago.....but......

If I could get down to 200 pounds I think I would weigh what I did in 1978. It sounds crazy, but we will see what happens.

Fri, 07 Mar 2008 23:17:17 -0700From: Phil via EmailSubject: I have a full house now

Right now in my home I have three Linux machines, two Windows machines, and two Unix machines. Why do I need so many machines? Well, when I start writing software in Java I would like to test it on all these machines to make sure it works everywhere.

I will take you on a short tour of my Linux machines here and for each one I will give you a "plain" screen shot and a screen shot with a Firefox window and the menu open so you can compare how they look.

FedoraCore (64-bit) - this is the least friendly of the three. It is created by Red Hat and is more of a "corporate" release. I wanted to have some RPM-based system since that represents half of what is out there. Linux systems are quite often RPM (Red Hat Package Manager) or Debian based so this was important to have in the mix. It looks nice......but it is difficult to get the packages and options installed and configured how you want them. Of the three machines, this is the fastest one and has the most disk space (AMD 64-bit Athlon XP 3500+, 2GB RAM, 750GB hard drive). Its mission in life will be audio conversions, video conversions, and database conversions - mostly heavy-duty machine-intensive tasks. While this one is busy doing all these conversions, my main desktop will still be available for everyday tasks and the development platform will still be responsive for creating new software. Right now I have 40 hours of music to edit and convert and about 200 movies to convert. This will also be the DVD/CD burning platform.

Plain Fedora Desktop
Fedora Desktop with menu

Kubuntu - this is Ubuntu with the KDE window management system. It is my "do everything" machine where I actually live. This is where I do email, surf the web, pay my bills, etc. It has been a pleasure to use and has been rock solid. Since it is based on KDE you can do ANYTHING with regards to changing the appearance. I am still tweaking it to make it look how I want. The real beauty of the Ubuntu world is that so much of the planet is using this version. If you have problems, the answers are already on the web.

Plain Kubuntu Desktop
Kubuntu Desktop with menu

Linux Mint - this is Ubuntu with different graphics and they have added some extra tools to make it even easier to use. Of the three, this would be the most friendly version. When you first install the OS it includes support for MP3, Flash, Real Video, and other proprietary formats not included in many versions of Linux. I am planning to use this machine as my development platform for Java and C#.NET in Linux. At the core this is really Ubuntu and uses all the same software repositories as Ubuntu.

Plain Mint Desktop
Mint Desktop with menu

Windows XP - and of course......none of this would be possible without my Windows XP machine. It is the main data server for the entire house with nearly a Terabyte of storage and the DVD writer on that machine will be used for data backups.....one of these days......when I get a round tuit. It is still the machine I am using to suck movies off my TiVo system (which Fedora should do in the future). It is also the print server and scanner platform.

Windows 2000 - UGH - had to mention this one just to be thorough - otherwise everyone will say "you forgot one of the Windows machines in your list". It is running on really, really old hardware and is just an Internet gateway. For all machines (including TiVo) on the home network it hands out IP addresses and routes traffic to/from the Internet. I should have used Linux for this.....but I was really sick when I set this up and was not quite that ambitious at the time.

Fri, 25 Feb 2008 21:57:14 -0700From: Phil.Persson via EmailSubject: My Red-headed Stepchild

Yes, I have a red-headed stepchild in my home. It is sad, but true. One individual that stands out from the crowd as a problem child which I THINK I have finally tamed. In this case, the problem child is a computer.

I have here in my hands a whole stack of disks. It is a collection of CDs and DVDs. Here is the list of what I am holding here:

Kubuntu 7.10 Gusty Gibbon DVD for AMD 64-bit processors
Knoppix 5.1.1 live DVD
Fedora 8 DVD 64-bit
Freespire Linux 2.0.8 install & live CD
PCLinuxOS 2007 Final CD
Open SUSE 103 DVD

Now.......I cannot tell you how honored I have felt to try ALL these different OS versions on this stupid computer.

I started with Ubuntu and Kubuntu long ago and discovered there were ALL sorts of problems with the video card - the machine would hang and sometimes reboot.

So, I installed Kubuntu on another machine and installed SUSE on the problem machine which worked great.

However, SUSE is slow and clunky and I quickly grew tired of it so I installed Fedora there.

Well, Fedora has this really annoying habit of doing "non" package management. You tell it to install something and it gives you a list of 10 other packages you need or some such nonsense. If it knows what I want, why doesn't it just DO it???

Well, then I went off the deep end and got Linux distribution crazy - started burning CDs and DVDs left and right after doing some research on the Web.

PCLinuxOS sounded really promising....but when I booted from CD on that one, all I got was a blank screen - so I said forget that one. Freespire I loved......but after installing it I could not find any of the software I wanted, regardless of what package manager I used - CNR, Adept, or Synaptic.

The Knoppix DVD was just fascinating.....but the installation instructions sounded a little frightening.

So.....to make a long story short I am back on Kubuntu 7.10 on the problem child - I am typing this blog entry on that machine in OpenOffice. For those of you looking for a friendly Linux, I highly recommend Kubuntu. It is not only simple, simple, simple - but there are tons of people using it.

OH.....silly me......this machine has an ATI Radeon 9550 card. I thought it had a 9600 but as it turns out the 9600 card is in the other Kubuntu machine that has been working perfectly. No wonder I was confused.

How did I fix this machine? Quite by accident. I mean.....I am not sure it really is fixed, only time will tell. There are tons of people on the Internet having the same problem - I followed someone's instructions for the Radeon 9600 and REALLY messed this machine up so it would not work at all.

Then I was able to boot into text-only recovery mode and using instructions from the web re-installed the Xserver completely. The command for doing this is "dpkg-reconfigure xserver-org" and that will do it - completely blows away and re-installs the piece that sits between KDE and your graphics card.

It was asking me all these questions - TOLD ME that the video card was a Radeon 9550 - then it said "Do you want to enable the frame buffer? Usually this is safe, but if you think it will cause problems, leave it turned off" and I thought OH YES, I have been having problems, let us leave that feature turned off. Since I made that choice, everything has been perfect.

So.....that is the story of my red-headed stepchild which will be my Java development platform, and I'm sticking to it.

Fri, 22 Feb 2008 10:57:14 -0700From: Phil.Persson via EmailSubject: BLOG * 2 - Where computers have gone

I remember back in the late 1970's when home computers first appeared on the scene. People said they were just worthless toys - they said what do you do with them, keep track of family recipes?

Naturally, they can be used for Word Processing, online bill paying and financial tracking, email, chat, news, weather, and sports.....

I am using mine to record music from digital cable - I am doctoring the recordings to make them sound better, then I will magically split the songs into 1000 individual tracks, pick out my favorite ones, and burn them to CDs for my car stereo (this is all being done in Linux).

I am recording movies off cable using TiVo and burning them to DVDs and building a movie collection

I have seen people create pictures of non-reality using Photoshop. They took five pictures of a famous huge fountain in the middle of the day - by splicing the five pictures together, they were able to remove all the people who walked between the photographer and the fountain......amazing!

The things you can do with a computer are only limited by the scope of human imagination - there are really no limits.

Of course, I want Linux to take over the world - many people say the reason why they cannot go to Linux is because something like Photoshop is not available on Linux. I know that GIMP exists but several people hate it and how it works. So as a Java project later this year I'm hoping to create a replacement for GIMP that looks and acts just like Photoshop. I have a couple of friends who will design it and Alpha test it, I just need to code it.

This is the sort of exciting project I need to get me motivated in my Java studies.

Fri, 15 Feb 2008 13:54:57 -0700From: Phil.Persson via EmailSubject: BLOG - have been sick for so long

This has been a terrible winter for me health wise - it seems every few weeks I have gotten some new bug!

Now I feel like I am finally over with all this stuff. My body feels strong and I feel like I can get back on track with the goals in my life.

So....here is a goal......what if I knew C#.NET and Java.....and Oracle, Microsoft SQL, and PostgreSQL.....and how to write software that would run on Windows, Linux, Unix, and Macintosh? Furthermore......what if there was tons of free source code on the web so whatever I wanted to learn I could just grab and learn?

Even more exciting.....what if in my mind all the databases, languages, and operating systems became one so that I could dynamically re-configure any of my creations to run on any platform?

What if my hobby in my old age was to create this miraculous software and then GIVE IT AWAY so all the people of the world could have unlimited power at their fingertips, regardless of whether they could pay for it?

I guess I don't understand people who are over 50 who figure now is the time to relax and never learn anything new. Why would anyone make that decision when there is an entire world of unlimited joy and power out there, a vast uncharted sea of new adventures?

I always hope that someday I can be like Dr. Morbius in that timeless classic "Forbidden Planet" who when asked about Robby said, "Oh, he was just something I tinkered together as a result of my new found knowledge."

Wed, 13 Feb 2008 16:19:48 -0700From: Phil.Persson via EmailSubject: love is like a box of chocolates - revised

I am going to paraphrase Forrest Gump and say that "love is like a box of chocolates".

Sometime in life someone will no doubt present you with a box of chocolates and ask with a smile, "Would you like one?"

From the outside, they all look wonderful. There are round ones and square ones, some with swirls and some with ripples. Oh.....there might be a weird-looking green one sitting there. I always avoid them because they just look too wild - it is better to stick with the "safe" ones because they all must be okay.

Well...invariably after I bite into one I think to myself....this is not at all what I expected! I can't of course put it back and everyone is watching so I smile and pretend that everything is just fine. In the meantime, I am wondering how I could have made such an interesting choice! What was I expecting to find, and were all the other ones in the box "normal"?

Now.....some people after trying the candy exclaim out loud, "Oh I don't like that", quickly throw the candy in the trash and try another, throw that one in the trash and try another, and so on. My parents taught me that sort of behavior is rude and just sinful - you finish what you started. I mean, you picked out that candy and you need to stick with it until the bitter end - and you only get one chance. In some cases if I gave myself time to get used to the candy it actually turned out to be pretty good.....but still quite strange.

Personally, I have learned my lesson - when someone brings one of those boxes of chocolates to me I just politely say "no thank you" because I know you can never tell what you are getting. That would almost be my advice to anyone - "just say no" as there are many more things to enjoy in life where you have a greater chance of achieving success. However, I realize that some people enjoy the adventure of trying new things and like to live on the edge and I certainly would not want to discourage them from their interesting journey.

Mon, 11 Feb 2008 10:20:20 -0700From: Phil.Persson via EmailSubject: emotional punching bags

Hey, I was able to build that third Linux machine this weekend! So.....now I have three different Linux distros running in my master bedroom and I'm ready to delve into a brave new world this year. However......that is not what this blog entry is about.

This will be a dual blog entry - it will appear in both the MySpace blog and my personal blog.....so it will have quite an audience I would imagine.

In observation of St. Valentine's Day I thought I would type a little about love and marriage. There is something I just don't understand. When people are dating you get to see the "good and kind side" of them......and then when they become lovers the other side comes out. Suddenly they bring out all the anger, bitterness, and hatred and throw it in your face, telling you they are being "real" and showing you their true selves.

My goodness.....is there any way we can stuff the genie back in the bottle and go back to how things used to be? When you tell your lover to stop being mean they say they will not stuff their feelings - if they cannot be real with you, who can they be real with?

I was thinking this morning that maybe 100 years ago people used to stuff their feelings and were not "real" and that is why marriages survived. So I thought back into the past.....as only I can because I store everything in my flypaper mind......and I remembered when my German grandmother died people in her church said, "If anyone could ever get to heaven it was her because she was SUCH a nice person." and YET my mother said that when her parents used to have one of their huge arguments, my grandmother would KICK her husband in the stomach! Now.....where is that in the Bible under how to love your spouse or what chapter does that appear in the "how to have a loving marriage" handbook?

No.....here is my thought.....the reason why so many marriages end in divorce in the 21st century and the reason why so many people are single is because in our "enlightened" age people realize they don't have to be treated like dirt. I remember when William Shatner back in the 1960's left his one wife.....in the newspaper article it quoted him as saying "I deserve to be happy" and it seems that is the prevailing wisdom in our modern age.

The thought I have is this - if the "real you" is some ugly monster, then change! The other thought is that we ALL have ugliness within us.....but I don't know if that means you should throw it in the face of your spouse and say, "Now because you love me I will be real with you....look out, here it comes!" It seems to me that too many people think that because their lover has made a commitment to be with them they can tear the other person to pieces emotionally until their love grows cold.

This is not a problem with just men or just women, everyone does it. I don't have any answers, this is just an observation - some thoughts I had this morning when I was driving to work. This just all seems so WRONG to me.

I guess one thought I can share is that marriage will not bring happiness into your life. People sometimes think that marriage will bring sanity, balance, or strength. I think the opposite is true - whatever problems you have or your lover has will be amplified in a marriage. I am a strange and eccentric person - I have come to accept that about myself......but if I was married, the strange things I do could become a real issue. I guess in the end I must admit I don't know what God was thinking when He invented love and marriage.....but I must have faith that He knew what He was doing, even if I don't understand.

Sun, 20 Jan 2008 19:29:37 -0700From: Phil via EmailSubject: all natural Sucralose

Recently I bought a bunch of canned fruit and some of the cans were much lower in calories so those were the ones I bought. Lower calories are good, right? I got them home and read the labels - they basically said, we packed your fruit in Sucralose, it is good and so good for you. It sounded sort of.....artificial to me so I thought I would do some research into this funny-sounding name.

Well, it turns out that Sucralose is the magic ingredient behind Splenda. When they put it in a packet like sugar, the Sucralose is 1/600th of the contents in the packet because it is 600 times sweeter than sugar. However, it is made from sugar so it is all natural and could not possibly harm you.

Now......I guess I wonder just what "all natural" means in the 21st century. Remember Dr. Frankenstein who created a monster out of body parts he stole from graves? He used all natural components......does that mean his creation was all natural?

Sucralose is "all natural" in the same sort of sense that Frankenstein's monster was. The scientists discovered......you remember the scientists, they are the ones who brought us central air conditioning that built the city of Phoenix and then later said, "OOPS, the freon is depleting the ozone layer, leading to global warming, and the entire planet is being destroyed.....sorry about that." Anyway, the scientists discovered that if you go inside a sugar molecule, pull out three hydrogen-oxygen groups and replace them with chlorine atoms you have something like sugar that is 600 times more potent.

Now.....does that sound all natural to you? Someone artificially changing my food at the sub-molecular level makes me very uncomfortable. Some studies have suggested that because of how the chlorine atoms are bound inside the Sucralose, a small portion of it is absorbed by the body and builds up over time. Chlorine is a known poison - although the scientists who created Sucralose say that could never happen. The problem with new "wonder chemicals" is that we don't know what will happen after 40 years of digesting this stuff. The good news is, it cannot cross the blood-brain barrier and cause you to lose your memory like Aspartame does. This sweetener will just kill you.

I think from now on when I am looking at the cans of fruit, I will pick the one that is labeled "in unsweetened fruit juice" instead of "packed in Sucralose" because I will sleep a little easier at night.

Oh.....in related news, remember Cyclamates that used to be the latest high-tech sweetener? It is 45 times sweeter than sugar. They used to put that in everything but then they said "OOPS, it causes cancer, we made a mistake" and the US government banned it. Now they are saying, "OOPS, we were wrong, it does not really cause cancer" and they are trying to get it back on the market. Oh my gosh....

Wed, 16 Jan 2008 10:47:29 -0700From: Phil.Persson via EmailSubject: missing winter again

It occurred to me today on the way to work.....on this warm bright sunny beautiful day......that I am missing yet another Chicago winter. It seems amazing to me, since I lived through 45 winters there. I just always thought I would spend my entire life there.

Many mornings when it had snowed overnight we had to get up before sunrise to shovel out the driveway to get the cars out of the garage. Then after spending some time doing that in the freezing cold it was time to fight our way to work. Because of the drifting snow reducing visibility there were many traffic accidents and the icy streets meant that some vehicles would slide off the road and land in the ditch. In remote areas this sometimes meant that people froze to death in their cars if no one found them. Now that we have cell phones it is not as likely.

Assuming you actually made it to work in one piece you were no doubt late and had to work late to make up for it. Then after work in the dark with a wind chill most likely 50 below zero you would have to brush off the snow and chisel off the ice as the car was warming up. A snow shovel was standard equipment in the trunk so you could shovel the car out of your parking space. Then it was time for the trip home - another icy, blinding blizzard ride which some people never lived to remember because they would become traffic fatalities, just another statistic instead of a person. In some cases the snow would fall too fast for the snow plows to keep up and cars would get stuck at intersections.

Upon arriving home at 10:00 at night you would park your car on the street and spend an hour or more shoveling out the driveway. After the car was safely in the garage the snow plow would come along and push all the snow from the street into your driveway. After a quick dinner it was time to go to sleep to get up early the next morning and repeat the entire nightmare.

These dark, dreary, cold, nightmarish months were spent bundled up in clothes resembling a space suit with only our eyes peering forth from the clothing - I used to wear special shoes and two pairs of pants and my legs and feet still went numb while I was out there in the 50 below wind chill shoveling snow. When I would need to replace a headlight in the car or pump gas I would remove my gloves. After putting my gloves back on, my hands would throb with pain for 30 minutes - such pain it almost brought tears to my eyes.

Oh.....and during the winters when we had record snowfalls the roofs would start collapsing on houses, garages, and stores - sometimes killing people who were inside.

So.....this is the seventh Chicago winter I am missing and I can't believe I am so blessed to live in this desert paradise where all year long we have warmth, sunshine, flowers, trees, and green grass. It is truly a dream come true and I hope I can spend the rest of my life here.

Sat, 12 Jan 2008 17:39:58 -0700From: Phil via EmailSubject: my evil couch and the tennis lady

My couch is very evil. Today is Saturday and I had so much I wanted to do. One of the major goals of the day was to get the kitten web page updated with baby pictures. The day did not start out well because I slept really late - until 11:00. OOPS! So....I got up, had some coffee, IMed with a friend, then around noon decided I had better get my day going. I put on a pot of coffee and laid down on the couch for a few minutes. Soon there were two cats laying on top of me, I closed my eyes and was transported to another world.

A huge corporate helicopter arrived to fly me to a seminar on how to create exciting HTML pages. I had my laptop with me for the seminar and perhaps I was supposed to be going through HTML exercises while the speaker was covering the topics but they had wireless Internet and I was working on production problems for my company so I did not get much out of the seminar.

The helicopter ride on the way back was awesome. This was a huge copter with wood paneled hallways and an observation deck. I was sitting with the pilot and asked him how the observation deck was - he said it was excellent and told me how to get there, he suggested I hurry to check it out before he got me home. When I arrived on the observation deck I discovered we were flying down an expressway. Then he started flying through tunnels with the cars which I thought was really strange. When he stopped at traffic lights with the cars I decided my pilot was a fruitcake. Anyway, by the time I awoke from my dream on the couch, another four hours of my Saturday was gone - it was 4:00 in the afternoon.

Going back to parental wisdom.....when this happened years ago my mother used to say "Well, your body must have needed the sleep" which I guess makes sense. I have had a very stressful week. However, what about what I need? I have several goals in life. This year I need to get Java certified and learn about struts, springs, and ants. I cannot do any of that if I am unconscious. My body is very important to me, I never leave home without it, but sometimes it upsets me.

Speaking of dreams, it seems I am dating a woman in my dreams that I have never met. I have not seen her in years, I don't know what she is doing in my dreams now. She was in a dream a few weeks ago and I dreamt about her last night. She and I were playing tennis. She didn't want to compete, she just wanted to hit the ball back and forth because I really needed the practice.....I mean REALLY. I was trying to serve the ball so it would zip right past her and she told me don't try to make this about winning because she could make me sorry I had taken that path. I don't know what in the world this woman is doing in my dreams, I awoke and said, "What, you again?!?!?!"

Sat, 5 Jan 2008 08:23:15 -0800 (PST)From: pbpersson via EmailSubject: Linux is always perfect

Friends will quite often hear me say that "Linux is wonderful and I never have to reboot, it always works". I fear this might be because my memory of events is not that clear, not because the OS is perfect.

I have been running Kubuntu for some months now - I started on version 7.04 and now I am on version 7.10. I have been so happy I thought I would try to install some background applications to display information on my desktop - showing me the current system status (CPU, Memory, disk, network) and perhaps news and most importantly the current weather conditions.

The documentation said I needed to install SuperKaramba and then install themes for whatever I want. For instance, LiquidWeather would give me the weather information. They also have a system status theme that looks like a console from Star Trek The Next Generation.

So.....I told my system to install SuperKaramba and that part went just fine. But....this is where things went south on me. There was no icon anywhere for this thing. How do I start it? Where do I start it? I found an executable in the /usr/bin directory.....or was it /usr/share/bin?.....or /usr/local/bin?.....the hard drive structure in Linux still confuses me. Anyway, I fired up SuperKaramba and everything looked great, the icon appeared in my system tray.

Then I told it to show me all the themes I had loaded. It asked me where they are on my hard drive. Now.....how would I know where they are? Maybe I don't have any....so I told it to show me available themes. Well, there were tons of themes but no LiquidWeather. So....I went to the LiquidWeather web site and downloaded the theme. I put it in a special directory I created called /usr/lib/SuperKarambaThemes......that seemed like a nice name.

Then I told SuperKaramba to go out there and load it and display it on the desktop. That all seemed to work.....but I didn't see anything on the desktop. Hmm......so I thought maybe I needed to logoff and logon again? Maybe?

So I did and.....no SuperKaramba in my system tray. Why didn't it start automatically? Then I went to start FireFox to read more articles on this and a message appeared "FireFox is already running but is not responding, you might need to restart your machine". Then I started up KDE System Guard (like the Windows Task Manager) to see what was going on - it half loaded and then hung up. It eventually loaded.....sort of....but now other things are hanging. FireFox is working now, which is how I am typing this. I went into Thunderbird and told it to get my new mail and it ignored me.

So......I am rebooting my Kubuntu machine. Mark this date on the calendar, Saturday January 5, 2008 in case I ever say I never reboot Linux.

Fri, 04 Jan 2008 18:02:09 -0700From: Phil via EmailSubject: too many choices in life

Maybe it's just me......but it seems that in the 21st century we just have too many choices to make. Sometimes it is just overwhelming.

When I was a kid, Ritz Crackers were Ritz Crackers. If you went to the store to get Ritz Crackers it was a no brainer. Recently I went to the store to get a box of Ritz Crackers.....and there must have been like a dozen different kinds. It was just too much - I was standing there in the store experiencing a Ritz Cracker sensory input overload. I was transfixed, like a deer in the headlights. My question is, if you get low-calorie salt-free Ritz Crackers....is there really anything in the box at all?

Some decisions we have to make I just don't understand. You go to get your car washed and they ask, "Do you want the regular wax, or the super wax?" My thought is, if I am going to get this done, don't I want to get it done right? Of course, it will cost more money.....but my mother always said, "A job worth doing is worth doing well." It seems like that was her motto in life.

Some questions seem silly. When I go to print something on my computer it says, "Do you want the good quality?" No, I want all my documents to look awful so no one can read them.....why are you asking me this?

Then there are other questions that are just plain confusing. As some of you know, I just bought a house and I upgraded all the appliances - they are all these computer things with a dozen buttons on them. Each time I try to get anything done, I need to make a dozen decisions. The dishwasher asks me, "Do you want Sani-Clean?" Well.....what, the regular clean isn't good enough? What do you have, a Sani-Clean and then a germ-filled clean for people who make the wrong choice? Of course I want the Sani-Clean.....who in the world designs these things??

The washer always asks if I want the EXTRA rinse.....apparently sometimes the regular rinse isn't good enough? How would I know beforehand if the regular rinse would not get the job done? These are the sorts of questions that keep me up at night. Of course I want the EXTRA rinse - otherwise my clothes will smell funny. Heaven forbid that I should go to work and have people tell me, "Hey, your clothes smell funny.....don't you use the EXTRA rinse???"

Tue, 01 Jan 2008 21:28:25 -0700From: pbpersson via EmailSubject: First Blog Entry of a New Year

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Here we are in 2008. It seems like only yesterday it was still 2007....oh wait, it was! So much has changed over the last 12 months in my life. A year ago if someone would have told me that by January 1st, 2008 I would be living in my own new home I would have said they were crazy. Yet, here I am in my own new home....with a brand new kitten as well.

I am certain that 2008 will also bring many changes. From my point of view, I want to learn more about Unix, Oracle, and Java and hopefully get some Java certifications this year. As I sit here pondering the future, I have no idea what other changes might come to pass. I was thinking that life is sort of like a winding path through the woods. You never can tell what new adventure might greet you just around that bend in the path up ahead.

I guess my goals will be to watch my expenses, learn more about computers, and enjoy life with my three cats in our new home in the middle of the desert.

Oh...I went for a long walk tonight for the first time in quite some weeks and it's just amazing how many homes they are building here. In the middle of this mortgage/credit crisis, I guess they are pricing them so they are still selling. I was checking the prices and in my area I think they have dropped another $10,000 but closer into the city the prices are still enormously high for a house the size of mine.

Since I live so far from the city, it drops below freezing here at night. My plants are not looking so good. Was I supposed to cover them somehow? It's too late now - some people threw hand towels over their plants. That seems weird......that is to keep in their body heat, or what? If they all die then I will have to learn for next year.....