Phil's 2009 Blog!



This blog will be about nothing in particular, it will be a collection of thoughts and happenings during the year of 2009.

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 2008 can be found here: Phil's 2008 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


Tue, 29 Dec 2009 10:49:07 -0800 (PST)From: pbpersson via EMAILSubject: The brand new high-tech year is almost here!

The year 2010 is almost here and I can hardly believe it! That sounds so high tech - 2010......it almost makes me feel like 2020 is only ten years away!

I am sitting here at my office looking out the window at the trees here in Phoenix. Now each night it is getting down to the mid 30's and all the trees are losing their leaves. Back when I lived in Chicago I used to resist the temptation to run outside with glue and paste all the leaves back on the trees in the hopes I could keep winter from arriving. At least here I don't have to worry about ice, snow, blizzards, and seventy below wind chill. Here this is as bad as winter will ever get.

I was thinking this morning about my impression of the 1940's in America. I have often thought of that era as the "Norman Rockwell America" where families prayed before each meal, went to church every Sunday - you know, the motherhood and apple pie image? I thought it was a kinder and more wholesome time during which humanity was.....well, more human.

Back in the 1940's no one would ever attack civilians in a war, slaughtering innocent people as they sat in their offices - people who had no involvement in or concept of what their government was doing, right? At least that was my thought on September 11, 2001. However, this morning before heading out the door for work I was reading a story about the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. Around 400 school children were killed in one school alone when the bomb was dropped.

This for me provided a sharp contrast with my impressions of a "kinder, more gentle time" which I thought the 1940's in America defined.

It also amazed me that we were building these bombs and were planning to drop one on a Japanese city every week or so. Then later in 1945 when Japan was just a pile of ashes we were going to invade if they had not already surrendered. It's amazing what you can learn on the web if you are too curious about a topic.

Tue, 8 Dec 2009 15:06:46 -0800 (PST)From: pbpersson via EMAILSubject: what do you think?

I was thinking that anyone who creates hugely complicated software and then writes no documentation to help anyone to use it should be taken out and shot. I know this sounds cruel, but I hate being faced with a task where I have NO chance of succeeding and if I do succeed, it is only by trial and error. Basically I am like a rat in a maze, blindly finding one dead end after the other and knowing in my heart there is a solution somewhere.

So I am finding these random posts on these discussion forums from people who are also lost. For instance, the first task would be to use this software to remotely connect to the server and get some data. Someone posted a question asking how one would even perform this first step. Here is the reply:

Hey,

I could be wrong, but I believe that SharpSVN implemented the generic .NET Authentication 
classes, this would allow you to use the built-in network credential to create a username/password 
pair and bind it to your client, for example :-

System.Net.NetworkCredential oCred = new System.Net.NetworkCredential("mitchellj", "passwordhere");
oClient.Authentication.DefaultCredentials = oCred;

Hope this helps.
Mitch

Well Mitch, it would help if anyone on planet earth knew what in the world you were talking about. I for one have no idea. These people act like we were supposed to learn this in first grade. "You would of course call the method pathTextBox_TextChanged(object sender, EventArgs e)." Oh.....yes....of course....how foolish of me to have forgotten.

I know that two months from now this will all seem simple to me, but right now I had to blow off some steam.

Mon, 23 Nov 2009 10:03:26 -0800 (PST)From: pbpersson via EMAILSubject: I am still alive

I am SOOOOOOO sorry there have been so few blog entries as of late!

I wonder if any of you thought I had kicked the bucket? Do you know that if I prepaid for this web site for four years I could be dead and you would never know it? Yeah.....I know.....gruesome thought.... However, it is a Monday morning and an appropriate time for less than happy thoughts.

I have been so sick! Even now I just do not have the energy I used to have, this long after my sickness, whatever it was. I am doing the inhaler twice a day just to keep my lungs working better. I still can't do the things I used to - stairs are a major challenge. Also my appetite is not back 100%. I am eating, but having smaller portions.

Tomorrow is my last day in this office building. I have been here for three years. The area I am in now is SOOOO nice! It is quiet, I have a huge cubicle and I have a huge window for one wall of my cube. Next week we will be in our new office home where we will be for the next two years. Everyone will be in tiny cubes with six foot walls. Can you imagine? People are going to feel like they are sitting in closets! I will still have a window for one wall of my cube because I am so special but I think my cube will be half the size it is now.

Hopefully in two years they will get us into someplace nicer. I have 350 people in my group and they want to hire 150 more. I think they are getting us our own building. That would be nice as I imagine we would have more space. They are stressing this next two years is just a temporary home. We are being kicked out of this building because we only lease this space.

I own a copy of Windows 7 but I don't know what machine to install it on or even if I want to install it now. I still want to have a nice Linux machine, I don't want to leave Linux behind. I was thinking of having an Ubuntu Hardy Heron server and then Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Linux desktop machines. Decisions, decisions.....

I have sort of put Java on the back burner now that I have a girlfriend. Spending time with her is much more interesting than writing software.

Mon, 2 Nov 2009 13:12:20 -0700From: Phil.Persson via EMAILSubject: Swine Flu

I first got sick on September 27th and I took Monday the 28th off from work. Then I had to attend a class for work while I had a fever. The following week I also had a fever and then proclaimed that I was WELL and over the flu. However, I still do not have my appetite back and I still cannot walk up stairs without feeling like I am going to faint. I cannot remember any time when it took this long to recover!

I have read stories on the web where some people said even after three months they were not 100% recovered. I guess I should get more sleep but I cannot miss any more work. I hate just sleeping, there are so many other things I would like to accomplish in life. However, I am getting stronger every day - little by little.

The good part is that I think I have lost around 20 pounds due to eating much smaller meals.

Thu, 17 Sep 2009 15:07:37 -0700 (PDT)From: pbpersson via EMAILSubject: the storage of gloves

In order to deal with my current financial problems I am:


1.     Canceling all of my phone services at home

2.     Canceling my pest control contract

3.     Changing to different car/home insurance

4.     Selling some personal items

It occurred to me as I was driving to work today that I have never properly used my glove compartment. I have dealt with automobile glove compartments for over 45 years but never once in my life have I ever stored gloves in there.

What is that all about?

Of course, here in the desert we really don't believe in gloves when it is 115 above zero. However, back in Illinois when it was 20 below zero, just how was that supposed to work? I get into my car with my hands frozen, I turn on the car and the heat and start driving...and then once the car is warmed up and I am driving on a sheet of ice I am supposed to take off my gloves and put them in the glove compartment? That does not sound very safe.

Oh, I know...I am supposed to get off the road, pull into a parking lot, and get my car stuck in the snow while I am putting my gloves in the glove compartment. Then I would no doubt forget the gloves in there, walk into the 20 below air with the 60 below wind chill and my hands would freeze and fall off my wrists. Yeah....I don't know...I really think it is the owner's manual/insurance card/registration card compartment if you ask me.

Tue, 8 Sep 2009 13:06:22 -0700From: Phil.Persson via EMAILSubject: even more changes

A friend of mine of several years passed away suddenly, he was born a few months after I was. He was perfectly healthy, he went into the hospital because he was not feeling well - they said he had cancer and two weeks later he was gone. It just reminded me of how short life can be and the degree to which we need to enjoy the time we have.

As if to balance things out in my life, my status in Facebook has gone from "single and bored out of my mind" to "in a relationship and having fun with a special woman" so...2009 the year of change keeps moving forward.

Thu, 27 Aug 2009 23:43:40 -0700From: Phil via EMAILSubject: memorial service dress code

So I went to a memorial service this evening for a friend who passed away. I was doing research on the web on what to wear. Based on my extensive research, this is what the various web sites said would be the proper attire in the 21st century:


1.  A memorial service is like a funeral, wear a black suit to show the proper respect
2.  A memorial service is not like a funeral, the last thing you want to wear is a black suit
3.  Do not wear black but also do not wear anything with bright colors
4.  Wear something darkish with colorful bits (what the heck does that mean????)
5.  In the 21st century, anything better than blue jeans and a T-shirt is okay

So, I would be very interested in what anyone in the audience would have done in my shoes. I was very confused. The thing of it is, you don't want to overdress but you don't want to look like a total slob either.

Part of my decision was based on the fact I live in the desert where at night it gets DOWN to 95 degrees. When I get out of work it can be 115 degrees. Therefore, I did not want to wear a suit or a sport jacket. However, I wanted to look nice and I figured I would just wear my outfit to work to make people talk.

Oh, and I had some nice dress pants hanging in the closet but for some reason they all shrank while they were hanging there and none of them would fit me. I don't know what that is all about.

So here is what I went with:

A really nice long sleeved dress shirt (white with thin blue stripes) with cuff links

A dark blue tie with tiny red patterns on it

Dark blue Dockers

Dress shoes (wing tips!)

So what do you think? Over dressed? Under dressed? I know some in the audience would say nothing short of a suit would have sufficed.

Well, I think about 100 people showed up. Let us assume there were 50 guys there. Out of those 50 guys, ONE guy was wearing a suit and it was light gray. I think maybe seven guys were wearing ties. If I had gone with Dockers and a polo shirt I would have been okay but the middle of the road outfit and what most guys were wearing was Dockers, a dress shirt and no tie.

Now you know.....well, if you live in the desert where it is 115 degrees you know what to wear. I guess everyone else is still in the dark.....just so you are not in a dark suit, apparently that is no longer done.

Sun, 09 Aug 2009 22:27:40 -0700From: Phil via EMAILSubject: it never ceases to amaze me

Every year I start out the year wondering what changes that year will bring. Every January 1st I take stock of where I am and what is different in my life.

This year is over half gone but change is in the air - big time. I cannot go into details because right now so much is still in flux. However, old friends have moved away, new friends have appeared and it seems that my life on 1-1-2010 will be totally different than it was on 1-1-2009.

For me 2007 was a year of huge changes, 2008 was a year of very few changes and 2009 lots of things are changing. No doubt on 1-1-2010 I will provide another blog entry to make a note of where I was at that moment in time.

One could say that God has gotten out His paint brushes again and is painting a new masterpiece on the canvas of my soul but it is too soon to tell what the picture will become.

Thu, 30 Jul 2009 16:56:15 -0700From: Phil via EMAILSubject: vacation, computer surgery

I know it has been quite some time since I have put anything into my blog.

Last week I was on vacation. I need to use up all my vacation time before 9-1-09. I had tons of stuff planned and did not get ANY of it done at all. This means I am behind in life. I just basically chilled out and took naps with four cats laying on top of me (but not all four at once, thank goodness).

In a way that was a good thing. I had trained someone to take my place at work and some things happened during my vacation and he knew he was about to be fired. Then he called me on Friday and said he was out the door. Therefore, Monday morning I was SLAMMED with work PLUS I had two other production issues that were red hot and then I transferred the trouble tickets from this person's queue and had over 100 tickets to deal with and then I burned my hand. Yeah....don't ask how a computer guy who types on a keyboard all day can burn his hand, I don't want to go into it. It was not a good Monday!

One thing I did discover when I was on vacation that was quite a surprise.... Over the last several months I have upgraded three computers using new motherboards. Actually.....I guess it was two new computers and one upgrade. I was shocked to discover the first computer I built had a single core processor. That was the barebones package I bought. I don't know if I blogged about that or not. So last week I ordered the $50 processor to bring this thing up to spec. It will be the fastest computer in the house. It will have an AMD X2 6-bit 5000+ processor with 4GB of RAM. This is the Vista machine that I am using to download movies from TiVo and convert them.

Tomorrow evening I will be pulling the motherboard out of that computer, stripping everything off it, and installing the new CPU. I am not looking forward to the surgery but it should be a substantially faster machine when I am done. Now that I no longer have someone to back me up at work I cannot really take any vacation time. I will be taking off 4 hours each Friday afternoon to use up the remainder of the vacation time and hoping my customers will not notice.

Wed, 08 Jul 2009 16:18:37 -0700From: Phil via EMAILSubject: desert summer

I had to be outside in Phoenix today at around 2:00 in the afternoon, I needed to run an errand. I was out in the sun talking to someone and I thought I was going to die.

It was only 103 degrees. I say "only" because on Saturday it is supposed to be ten degrees over that......if your mind can comprehend that. I have been here eight years and my mind still cannot get over 105. I think that is my limit.

I tell people I love living here. That is mostly because of the beautiful sunshine, the flowers, and the blue skies all year long. Summer is awful but the rest of the year is divine. I wish I could live farther north in a cooler climate but I need to be in a large city because of my career. Considering all the factors, Phoenix is perfect and a great deal of what makes it bearable is air conditioning everywhere. Without air conditioning, there is no way in the world I would be living here.

I don't like the heat one bit.....but I hate cold more than I dislike heat. If I have a choice between a 110-degree day with sunshine or a dreary cold ten below day in Chicago with high winds, I will take the desert any day.

Mon, 22 Jun 2009 13:02:40 -0700From: Phil via EMAILSubject: super duper deal

A once in a lifetime super duper deal. They just sent me an email on this, a 42-inch LCD HDTV with 1080P for only $700.

Now.....at this point in my life I am working on getting rid of credit card debt and thinking about retirement so this just strikes me as totally hilarious. The last time I bought a television was a 28-inch TV in 2005 and the price was $145. Now they want me to spend $700 for a television?

Also, this thing is a Vizio television. What in the world brand is that?

I heard these things are always coming down in price. I think I will wait another few years and see how things look then. Maybe in the year 2015 they will be at a price that won't give me a heart attack.

I see here they have a 42-inch LG television for $800. If they get that down to $400 I might just take the bait.

Sat, 20 Jun 2009 08:49:10 -0700From: Phil via EMAILSubject: Jaunty Jackalope Upgrade

Last night I upgraded my main desktop to Ubuntu version 9.04, Jaunty Jackalope.

Now.....that is the truth and it is also a lie.

What I REALLY did was a fresh install keeping the same home partition and then re-installed my 1,932 software packages using a "snapshot" file from my previous version. So since all the settings are in my home partition for all my applications when I re-installed all the packages with one command, everything just worked. It even saved my desktop settings so the brand new version of Ubuntu even LOOKS exactly the same.

I am really just typing this blog entry so I will know exactly when I upgraded to version 9.04. By the way, each version number is a year and month:


7.04  2007-April    Feisty Fawn
7.10  2007-October  Gutsy Gibbon
8.04  2008-April    Hardy Heron  (LTS - Long Term Support)
8.10  2008-October  Intrepid Ibex
9.04  2009-April    Jaunty Jackalope
9.10  2009-October  Karmic Koala

This version numbering is SO easy to remember! Also, if you cannot remember the number and you need help on the forum you can just tell them you are using Giggly Gopher or Leaping Lizards and everyone will immediately know the version number. I think Ubuntu is so much fun.

Sun, 14 Jun 2009 20:39:15 -0700From: Phil via EMAILSubject: ESTIS Project 20090614

Last year I think is when I spoke to Marvin Minsky via email. I didn't tell him about my ideas for the project but I was just touching base with him on some things. I forget the actual wording of the emails or how it all started.

Now.....when I think of creating an artificial mind out of a group of computers connected in parallel I believe that you give the artificial mind the capacity to learn and you LET IT LOOSE. It can read dictionaries, encyclopedias, articles on the web, and it can learn about reality.

Minsky is a man who has spent the last 58 years attempting to create an artificial mind and has yet to achieve his goal. Back in 1951 he created the first neural network capable of learning. Here we are in 2009 and there are still no intelligent computers. I have purchased two of his most thorough books on the subject to attempt to get inside the mind of this man.

He said at this point funding is the largest obstacle. It would take a team of Einstein-level geniuses years in a university research lab working around the clock to create an artificial mind using his techniques. I suggested to him that in much the same way as the Linux operating system was created, it might be possible for him to create the basic framework (as Linus Torvalds did), put it out on the Internet, and let thousands of geniuses from all over the planet build on his work and make it a reality.

He never replied to that email. Apparently he feels that I have NO concept of the enormity of the task or the complexity involved.

I still say - and this is the basis of my belief - it does not take an entire team of university geniuses years to train a baby. You start them up, let them explore the world, and they LEARN. I think the answer is to start with a self-learning machine and let it train itself at the speed of light. Then if you have it wrong, format the hard drive and try again. How difficult can it be?

In the past - and I am talking 45 years ago - I have been guilty of over-simplifying problems. This might be another instance of this however I cannot be convinced of this until I get into his research over the next 12 months. I have read many of his articles and it is all theory. I know that he has created some simple self-learning systems but if you create a system that has a basic understanding of the universe, teach it to encode concepts in thought tokens and the top layer is a self-deterministic consciousness loop that is processing interrupts in a priority order I just don't understand what is so difficult.

Fri, 12 Jun 2009 00:08:42 -0700From: Phil via EMAILSubject: the end of an era

I happened to read about it at 23:55 Phoenix time - on the web. They said that at 23:59:59 local time across the country, analog television would STOP.

I vowed long ago that I wanted to actually see this so I quickly dashed into the great room and rigged something up so I could see the last analog transmission.

It was everything I had hoped for. They were having a special program on the digital conversion, explaining to people what it was all about. They gave people web addresses, national toll free numbers, and the phone numbers of all the local television stations. They told people that over the next two days the local stations would be starting their digital over the air transmissions. Then this woman on the screen said, "This is our official analog sign off" and then suddenly there was NO SIGNAL!

I was able to view the first television show that was transmitted in HD and I also saw the last moment of analog. Good Deal!

Tue, 09 Jun 2009 15:50:12 -0700From: phil via EMAILSubject: All the joys of owning cats

I don't know how dogs are, but cats are just always ready to lend a helping hand, regardless of what the situation is.

Sometimes I cannot remember all the ways in which they want to help me out in my daily tasks.

For instance, this morning I wandered into the kitchen with my eyes still half closed. Of course, the first thing big Jack wanted to do is eat - he is following me around, yelling at me, and trying to trip me to get my attention. So I got the kitten's dish ready first - as you recall, he gets the high-octane jet fuel. Then I poured the carefully measured amount of adult food into the specially designated measuring cup. I put that bag of adult food back into the pantry, then of course had to chase the kitten out of the pantry before I closed the door.

I carried the measuring cup over to the three adult dishes and I was thinking that I need to carefully divide this between the three dishes. Well I am half asleep and I forgot that I was supposed to hold Jack back with my left hand. I was bending over and just pouring the first little bit of food into Jack's bowl when he got all excited and slammed the top of his head into my hand. Half of the dry food went flying into his dish - he thought, "Oh cool!" and started eating.....the rest of the food went flying all over the kitchen floor and Nero thought, "Oh, cool! Food everywhere on the floor!" and he started eating. Butterscotch on the other hand is such a little gentleman, he is sitting there by his dish looking up at me, patiently waiting for his food. I looked in the measuring cup.....there were only three little nuggets left. I looked at Jack and Nero having a wonderful time with all the other food. I just could not handle the whole situation, I just dumped the three nuggets in Butter's dish and quickly walked away to take care of the kitten. I figured I would let the adults figure it all out, they were much more awake that I was.

Oh my gosh!

Sun, 07 Jun 2009 16:42:00 -0700From: Phil via EMAILSubject: ancient wisdom

I was digging through some really old files looking for something and I came across this file that I typed nearly 22 years ago when I was 31 years old.

I must have thought it was important, I was typing it on a machine with a Z-80 processor running at 2.5MHz with 64K of RAM and two 180K floppy drives running the CP/M operating system - before DOS came along, or at least before I had DOS in my home. Home computers were still a brand new concept.

I had to perform some "cleanup" on this to bring it to 21st century standards. I think at the time I was using some old version of WordStar. Back then everything was encoded in 7-bit ASCII. In order to provide a word count, the high-order bit was set to ON for the last character of each word - this was before Unicode was invented. Now in the 21st century that forces the characters up into the Unicode region so I had all sorts of foreign characters in the file and could not read it. I also removed hard returns and all non-printable characters. They were most likely escape codes for bolding, italic, etc. Since I don't have a copy of WordStar from 1987 I had no idea what those things were supposed to do. It also appears that spell checkers did not exist in 1987.

The algorithms I used to clean up this file will be incorporated into my String Transformation Utility because if I needed these tools, perhaps someone else on the planet will as well. Here are the ancient words from Phil of the past:

written on 8-23-87

This document is just a little attempt to get some thoughts down on paper, or in the computer. There is a popular thought in the back of my mind which has existed since my junior high years that perhaps someday I could be a writer. This, I guess, is largely due to the encouragement that I received from my language arts teacher. She seemed to feel that I had a natural knack for writing, and that it would be a crime if I would not pursue this gift of mine, and develop it into a profession. I thought that right now I would put some general thoughts on this disc for later review - general thoughts about life, love, and the pursuit of happiness.

I think that it is a crime that so many people are living their lives in bondage to what "society" says they can or cannot posses or achieve in life. There are so many, many dreams which have died at the moment of their conception because the world says that they do not have a reasonable chance of being realized. I also think that it is a crime (perhaps a necessary one) that so many people's lives are filled with what I think of as time-wasting activities. These include mowing lawns, painting walls, weeding gardens, cleaning closets, etc. I wish that people had time or made time in their lives for more useful activities - such as looking at where they have been in life, and finding out where they are going. I am an individual who foolishly believes that if you have a dream that you really believe in, and you have enough leisure time to plot a course to achieve your goals, you can accomplish that dream!

This brings us to another common practice which I believe is a lie of "society", and a serious problem. This is the "success program" which so many have fallen into. This is the belief that if you work really hard fifty or more hours each week and fill all your remaining time with as much social activity as you can, you will get lots of money and find true happiness. I often wonder if such people are not just keeping themselves so busy to avoid having to look at what empty lives they truly lead. I to some degree have fallen into this trap, having believed some of the lies I have been told by the world in general.

I place a very high price on my leisure time. I feel that if I do not have the time to plot where my life is going, or to enjoy my life, then I may as well take a bottle of sleeping pills right now and end my life before it progresses any farther. Life is filled with a vast variety of emotional and physical pain, and this will be experienced by all of us all throughout our lives. If we don't have enough leisure time to enjoy the gift of life - if we must "live to work, and work to live" as some suggest, then I feel that life is not worth the pain and suffering. If I live each day to go to work, and then come home to do some work on the house or the yard, and then go to work, and then spend the weekend painting the house, or cleaning the closets, then this is not what I call living. This is what I call merely existing. This serves no purpose. I think that the motto of each person should be "if I cannot enjoy life, I refuse to experience life." This in theory is not such a bad motto, and has been adopted by many people in a very successful and rewarding way. This motto has also been adopted by some people with very tragic results because they did not believe that they could enjoy life now or in the future, so they ended theirs. Sometimes this happens because people just feel so much emotional pain in their present existence that they cannot see how they can justify all the work that it would take to dig themselves out of their present situation - how could they ever experience enough happiness to make all that work pay off?

The bottom line is that each of us must realize that we DO deserve to enjoy our lives. This is true regardless of financial, educational, or geographical status. Each of us must look at our present situation in life and make some hard choices. This is a very difficult thing to do if your every waking moment is filled with silly busy work (career work, home work, school work, yard work, etc.). We must each decide what our goals are for happiness (what is our dream), what we need to do to accomplish these goals, and what we must sacrifice to get there. Then - and this is the most difficult part - we must believe in ourselves. This is why the majority of people have dreams all their lives, and this is all they ever are - they are never realized. In most cases, people never even speak of them to others. They are sure that people would merely laugh, and say that they are impossible to achieve - that all this person can be is what they currently are, whatever that may be. What a terribly sad thing to hear! (And what an outright lie!) We must all realize that deep within ourselves are abilities that we never dreamed that we had - they must be drawn out and discovered, and that will only happen if we force ourselves to call upon them. Truly successful people know that there is really no limit to what they can accomplish if they believe in themselves and try their hardest.

Sat, 06 Jun 2009 15:27:21 -0700From: Phil via EMAILSubject: these are my expectations

I expect software to be relatively free of bugs. When bugs are discovered, I expect them to be fixed in a timely fashion by the developers.

If there is some reason why the software will not run, I want to KNOW what the reason is in plain English and if possible HOW to fix it.

I do not want:

1.  Software to tell me the wrong information

2.  Software to bury all the information in a log file and then tell me nothing

For instance, today I installed FireStarter in Xubuntu. This software is supposed to be a combination Firewall/DHCP Server/NAT translation package. It will allow me to run an entire house full of computers on the Internet while only using one IP address from my cable company.

My first problem was that my first Ethernet port was my second and my second was my first. I guess that is my fault, but I assumed the one built into the motherboard was the first one. Silly me!

So anyway, I fired up the firewall package and here were the problems:

1.  It would not start up because it said eth0 was not ready.  So.....what 
do you mean, "not ready"?  It seemed ready to me.  It turns out it wanted 
me to setup the port with a static IP address of 192.168.0.1 for my internal 
network.  Why did it not TELL me that, or better yet why did it not just 
DO IT FOR ME?  Stupid.....if you are going to write software, why only do 
95% of the job and leave people hanging so they cannot use it?

2.  The software would start, but it would not hand out any IP addresses.  
No error messages, no idea of what the problem was.  I ran the shell script 
manually and then saw the error message "IP range 192.168.0.100 to 192.168.0.254 
not compatible with network 57.192.147.9" or something equally cryptic.  
It turned out I had to manually go into some DHCP configuration file and 
fix the section which said, "this configuration was set by FireStarter" 
because it apparently did half of the entries the wrong way.

3.  When I finally did get it started and working I discovered that every 
single call by every single computer on my network was being rejected.  
I had to manually add my network and the services I wanted all my computers to use.

Mind you, I was on the FireStarter web site and read their documentation and none of these little gems were mentioned. Many people on the web had posted questions about the first two issues and had never received a response.

I don't know what it is about these open source developers. It is as though they start a project and either they go off to other things and just abandon it, or maybe they get married and have children or maybe they are all dying in traffic accidents. I just seems very strange to me that people cannot be devoted to making their products the very best they can so people can use them without spending hours on something that should take a few minutes.

Thu, 04 Jun 2009 00:48:02 -0700From: Phil via EMAILSubject: let me tell you a little story

Really, it will be two stories or a theory and a story. Well, maybe two scenarios.

Scenario One: I go to the hardware store and I buy a new light fixture, doorbell, doorknob, whatever. It says on the package, "Easy installation, will only take two hours with basic tools." Yes, you guessed it, I end up spending an entire weekend or a month of Saturdays on the project and while I am working on it the electricity in half my house is dead or a bathroom is out of commission or something and it drives me totally up the wall. In these cases I say to myself, "Self, you are just incompetent at these things and you have no idea what you are doing."

Scenario Two: I have been a computer guy for years, really since 1983. I can assemble computers, configure computers, and write software in my sleep. Actually, I quite often am doing that in my dreams but I digress. A close friend recently said, "You are Mister Linux, why do you have a Windows machine that is full of security holes acting as your Internet gateway? It is hanging out there on the public network as a target for all the hackers on the planet!" Those were not his exact words, but that was the general idea. Part of it was because when I created that gateway in January of 2008 I was very ill and there were no easy applications to do Internet Connection Sharing in Linux. However, that was then and this is now. So, I put together this plan:

1.  Install Windows 2000 on a test machine and configure it like the ancient Dell desktop that I bought for $50
2.  Remove the Dell desktop as the Internet gateway and install the temporary test machine
3.  Install a larger hard drive in the Dell desktop and install Xubuntu (pronounced ZOO-boon-too)
4.  Install and configure Firestarter (a firewall, DHCP, NAT package)
5.  Remove the test machine as the Internet gateway and install the new permanent Linux machine

There are so many steps so that I always have a "working" machine to fall back on in case something goes totally wrong, as these things often do.

Last night I did step one and tonight I was going to perform step two - swap out the Dell machine, put in the test machine. It should be a five minute operation, right? Fifteen minutes at the most.

Well, after messing around for two hours I gave up. Can you imagine? I had the test machine in place, configured exactly like the Dell machine, everything looked good, but it would not provide any IP addresses to any other machines on the network. WHAT THE HECK?

So I am thinking about Scenario One above. Is it that I am incompetent or is it just Murphy's Law at work? By the way, who it this Murphy guy anyway, and why is he such a troublemaker? He was here at my place this evening and I don't think he is very nice at all.

Mon, 18 May 2009 17:09:07 -0700From: Phil.Persson via EMAILSubject: the essence of our human reality

Here is the essence of our human reality:

Each person is like a rare gem of limitless worth. Some facets are more polished than others, some people do not have as many polished surfaces but everyone when you view them in the correct light can be seen as a diamond of great worth.

People choose which facets they display to you. Therefore, you can never see ALL of what a person is - you never really see the entire person, only God can.

However - here is the really interesting part - the different facets that make up what a person is are hiding from each other!

Therefore, you might be able to see gifts and attributes or even faults that they cannot see themselves.

Some facets are so hidden they might never been seen while we are on this earth.

It all seems very complicated to me.

I commented to someone that because of these complexities....people, situations, and reality are never what they seem to be. Going through life is just like walking through a maze of distorted constantly changing mirrors where everything is stretched out of shape. How in the world can you tell what is real and what is not? How can you possibly plan what will bring you happiness? How can you plot a course in a constantly changing world of unreal shadows and reflections?

It still feels to me like a large puzzle that could somehow be defined to some degree.

Wed, 13 May 2009 18:09:47 -0700From: Phil.Persson via EMAILSubject: Air Force One

Concerning my last blog entry - about Air Force One.

My life is filled with one-time events. I saw Walt Disney World once. I saw the Statue of Liberty once. I was married once. I don't expect such events to happen twice.

So here I am sitting at my desk by the airport waiting for the president of the United States. He was supposed to arrive at the airport at 5:50 PM. I have the blinds open in front of me, looking out these huge windows that are eight feet tall.

I look at the clock on my desk and see it is 5:43, and I say to the person in the next cube, "It is almost 5:50" and she says "Yeah, where is he?". Well, I am sitting here looking out the window and I say, "There is something awfully big coming in on the horizon."

As it gradually got closer - and it was coming right at me - I took a picture but then I could not figure out how to take another picture with this stupid camera phone. My co-worker said, "OH COOL!" and I decided to forget the phone and looked up. It was as though this giant two-tone blue airplane filled half the sky before me. I tried to take it all in and then suddenly it flew over our building and was gone.

There you have it - another moment in my life which will most likely never be repeated but it was very special.

Wed, 13 May 2009 17:27:15 -0700From: Phil.Persson via EMAILSubject: contentment, ambition, decisions, and growing kittens

I don't know if I have voiced this idea before, but I think that contentment and ambition do not mix. I have my fancy job in my fancy office in my fancy building and I drive here in my fancy car from my fancy house filled with fancy computers. Where is the ambition to spend hours every night working on new projects if I am happy? Most of the time I just want to lay around and relax. I hope this does not mean I am getting old because that would be horrible.

This new Outlook 2007 is doing terrible things to the text that my blog generation program does not know how to handle. I need to be careful here.

I am watching out the window of my office. Air Force One with the president of the United States is supposed to fly over my head in a few minutes. I am hoping to get a picture with the camera in my phone but I don't know if that is a realistic goal.

Did I ever mention how I make decisions in life? There are three components that I review:


1.     What is the likelihood of success?

2.     How much work will be involved?

3.     What will the benefits be?

Then I weigh that and decide if I want to move forward. Let us take an example - suppose my shoes are falling apart and I want to buy new ones. I will most likely be successful, there is not that much work involved, and in the end I will have new shoes. It is a no-brainer. Now, let us suppose I want to start a new company and create a web site where I give away software I have created so the entire world can use it. There is a 100% chance that I can give away software for free, I enjoy creating it, and the benefits are totally unknown - so I proceed as planned. Now let us take the example of learning to play the piano so I can improvise music from my head without having the music on a sheet in front of me. The likelihood of success in this lifetime given that I have so many other goals is not that great. The volume of work involved would be tremendous, and the benefits would be nice but no extra income so I cannot justify it.

Last night I took a picture of the kitten Gizmo next to Butterscotch, I should really get it on the web site so people can tell me if he has grown.

Wed, 29 Apr 2009 10:22:41 -0700From: Phil.Persson via EMAILSubject: what is new?

What is new in Phil's world...hmm... Phil has been ill for quite some time. It was a bad cold with a fever...but people have told me a cold does not come with a fever. All I know is it went down into my lungs (of course) and I have not felt right for...well, it seems like weeks.

Right now there is a huge swine flu scare across the world, along with the global financial mess - but I am just ignoring all of that as I do most things in the belief that they will eventually just all go away.

The newest version of Ubuntu was released on April 23 called Jaunty Jackalope. Now in my home I have three machines running three different versions of Ubuntu:


Server - Hardy Heron

Production Desktop - Intrepid Ibex

Test Desktop - Jaunty Jackalope

On the Jaunty machine I installed Gnome-Do with Docky and I liked Docky so much I installed it on my Intrepid machine. It is one of those cool-looking interfaces like Cairo or AWN. If you have no idea what I am talking about, it is not important.

My crazy little kitten Gizmo seems to have entered a growth spurt. Each day it seems like he is longer and skinnier. I keep giving him the high octane kitten food - as much as he can eat, but he is just skin and bones. All of a sudden his tail has gotten really long as well. I am so hoping he is going to be a big boy. I love large cats.

I totally need to re-do my smiley faces in my blog generation program. I am using Outlook 2007 at work now and the smiley faces no longer work from here...until just now when I remembered an ancient text format that was included in the blog generation program that I have not used in years, now at least I can do a basic smile.

My plans to create all sorts of new applications for Persson Technologies has been stalled by my health issues. I have some great ideas brewing in my head but not enough energy to convert them into working Java code. I thought...silly me...that I would not be able to come up with ideas for new software applications. I guess I should really know better by now.

My one plan that is working out well - I am spending more time on the global Ubuntu forum, learning more about the operating system and helping people all over the world. When I launch the Persson Technologies web site I will add the URL into my forum signature and people will start seeing the quality software available out there for Linux and hopefully will start sending me ideas for applications they would like to see.

Something else that came and went while I was in a daze - Nero's second birthday. I don't know when it was...maybe the first week of April? June 28th will be a huge milestone in my life but we will wait eight weeks to talk about that. Actually...it feels like June 28th will be a brand new chapter in my life, several different forces in my life are converging on that date...but perhaps it is all my imagination.

Thu, 16 Apr 2009 08:42:25 -0700From: Phil via EMAILSubject: it has happened again

This is just a little note to record the fact that I am sick again and working from home this week.

Tuesday my temperature was 101.3, yesterday it was 100.3 and today it is 99.3 so I am getting better.

It feels like a bad cold, but in reality it is so much more

We are short staffed at work because someone left and my manager said please work from home and do not bring your germs into the office.

Wed, 15 Apr 2009 14:07:26 -0700From: Phil.Persson via EMAILSubject: the changing face of priorities

In creating desktop applications for Persson Technologies my number one focus was functionality along with quality and reliability. Perhaps that is three focuses but for me they are all the same thing.

Quality to me means:


1.    The application is easy to use

2.    It does what it is supposed to do

3.    It does not crash or hang - ever

4.    If it encounters errors it provides a clear error message

5.    The documentation is outstanding

For me, those five items are a necessity. The entire issue of how the application appears - the background for the panels, the colors and shapes of the buttons - to me that was a small issue and not worth my time.

However, when I look at an application the very first thing I see is the quality of the layout - the colors and the attention to detail. If an application looks like a joke quite often I will not even try it.

"If the designers didn't even care how it appeared, that is a sign they did not put much work into it and it is most likely junk."

This sadly is the thought I have. Therefore, I will be "sprucing up" the appearance of the applications and the web site before we even go public. Putting something out there that is ugly just to beat an imaginary deadline I think is a bad idea. I want the web site and the applications to appear polished and professional.

This means that most likely the May 26th scheduled open of the web site is slipping. We will see. I know for a fact the applications will not be ready by then.

By the way, when I refer to Persson Technologies as "we" it is a reference to the fact that this company is composed of a man and four cats at this time. Also, references on the web site will refer to "our development team" and "our design team" because in the future I anticipate we will have teams and I don't want to be forced to change everything on the site when that happens.

Wed, 15 Apr 2009 13:42:06 -0700From: Phil.Persson via EMAILSubject: just a terrible idea

Some things are just a horrible idea.

From the beginning of time - down through the generations, as far as one can remember - to save a document, any document in any application, you go to File-Save As. It is second nature. The file menu contains the following items in ALL applications on the face of the earth:

OPEN

CLOSE

SAVE

SAVE AS...

EXIT

This is something on which we can rely, like death and taxes. Now...look at this picture and tell me where the "save as" function is. No, better yet, let me tell you - it is not there!

Why oh why oh why when an application works and has been the same way since before the dawn of time a company (like Microsoft for instance) feels it is necessary to totally change things so people cannot perform their work?

WHY?????


Tue, 31 Mar 2009 16:48:18 -0700From: Phil.Persson via EMAILSubject: What Ubuntu is

I want to be clear about what Ubuntu is.

It is an operating system.

Windows, DOS, Macintosh OS - those are operating systems.

When you turn on the computer, the operating system controls your screen, your hard drive, your printer, reads your keyboard and your mouse - it is what makes your computer more than a doorstop.

Ubuntu is not a type of Microsoft Windows, it is not something that runs under Windows or on top of Windows or along with Windows.

If you have only Ubuntu on your computer, Microsoft Windows is GONE, it is history. All your old Windows applications are GONE, they are history as well.

Ubuntu is a type of Linux system which is based on Unix which is a huge multi-user operating system which is very modular, very secure, and very scalable.

In Windows you have drive letters. There are no drive letters in Linux. In Windows you have viruses and security holes everywhere. These are also missing from Linux, at least for now. All of the tasks an average user performs in Windows can also be done in Ubuntu.

(An average user is herein defined as someone who wants to surf the web, use email, listen to and burn music, view and burn movie DVDs, use an office suite similar to Microsoft Office, create web sites, create software applications, edit music files, edit movie files, etc.)

Windows Vista is a modern operating system from Microsoft. Ubuntu is a modern Linux operating system designed to be very user-friendly for desktop users. A new version is released every six months.


ADVANTAGES:

1.  You can install over 60,000 different applications - all from one screen - 
     regardless of what company made them - and they are all free
2.  Viruses, worms, Trojan horses - they are not a problem today and no virus 
     protection is needed.....today (April 2009)
3.  The system automatically downloads new updates for ALL applications installed 
     using the standard Ubuntu method
4.  As mentioned before, a new version is released every six months with new 
     features and fixes
5.  Because it is modular, you do not need to reboot your machine every time 
     a new update or application is installed
6.  Because you are never logged onto the system as the admin it is 
     much safer and more secure
7.  Because the operating system is based on Unix, the memory management and 
     several other tasks are handled more efficiently
8.  Since it is not a proprietary system - where only one company (such as 
     Microsoft or Apple) knows the secrets of how it is built, thousands of 
     people all over the planet are working to make it better 24 hours a day.
9.  Since it is not a proprietary system - anyone can probe the inner secrets 
     of how it works and provide workarounds to problems.
10. There is a huge community of users on the Web (this is an advantage over 
     some other types of Linux distributions, not an advantage over Windows)
 


DISADVANTAGES:

At this time, only about five percent of people in the world are using it. Your geeky nephew or the kid down the street will not know how to troubleshoot problems. This is also why the virus writers have not yet produced malicious software for it - although it would be more difficult for them to attack Linux because of its very structure.


What is Linux? Who created Linux?

Linux was not created by a company, it was created by people like me all over the world who wanted a better solution for the masses. They believed that knowledge, learning, creativity, and the advancement of humanity should not only be for the rich who can afford thousands of dollars to purchase applications and licenses. They wanted to stop funding Microsoft and similar companies that they believe squash the little people, put companies out of business, and use questionable practices in order to make themselves rich.

Large companies such as IBM, Sun Microsystems, HP and Novell have put billions of dollars into Linux. Other companies such as Red Hat and Mozilla have also joined in. Now thousands of smaller companies all around the planet (such as Persson Technologies) are also joining in and creating tons of new applications that will work in Linux. Please note that there are dozens of different types of Linux - Ubuntu is only one but it is the one version I am adopting as my platform.


Is Linux better than Windows? Is it easier to use?

While it is my opinion that Ubuntu is improving at a faster rate than Windows is, in some isolated cases Ubuntu is more difficult to use than Windows. This is changing every day. THERE IS A LEARNING CURVE TO CONVERT TO LINUX because everything is different (although all your data files should work). When Ubuntu and Vista are working properly, they are both wonderful - although Ubuntu is much easier to customize in some ways. When things go haywire, fixing either one is a major headache. However, in the Linux world if there are geeky types that can investigate they can find the answer without waiting for some large corporation with all the secrets to get around to fixing it.

If the software is free, doesn't that mean the quality is far worse?

Some of the software is excellent and very similar to software offered by Microsoft. Anyone who has used Firefox, Netscape, Thunderbird, Eclipse, NetBeans or OpenOffice has seen open source software in action. However, to be honest some of it is truly awful. The proponents of Linux will tell you it is all about freedom of choice. For any task, there are several choices out there. However, I think some of the choices make Linux look somewhat buggy.


How can I see Ubuntu in action?

You can get a Live CD and boot your computer from the CD. You will be using Ubuntu - slowly - and it will never touch anything on your hard drive. You can use it, surf the web, and check it out. When you are done you shutdown Ubuntu, take out the CD, reboot, and you are back to good old familiar Windows.


HERE IS TUX, THE LINUX MASCOT----->    

Thu, 26 Mar 2009 17:45:47 -0700From: Phil.Persson via EMAILSubject: new exciting Ubuntu desktop!

This desktop is unlike any other Ubuntu desktop I have ever had before - I actually WORKED on this one. The other times when I gave you a screen shot it was just the standard stuff, out of the box click here and there and choose a theme. This one is different.

Right-click on the thumbnail below, tell it to open the image in a new window, and I will tell you a bit about this desktop.


Let's start with the desktop wallpaper - or lack thereof. I decided why go to all the trouble to choose some wonderful wallpaper that I will never see and will just make it more difficult to see my icons when I am on the desktop? I told it to make the top green and the bottom blue and make it a gradient. That is a simple choice from the desktop menu.

Now we will move onto the next most difficult task I tackled here. You see the menu choice there on the left called "Phil Stuff"? The icon is a little tool box with tools and these are things I have created to fix problems. The icons in the menu actually link to shell scripts I wrote. The sound on this version of Ubuntu with my sound chip has problems but I have no time to really fix it so I created the "test sound" and "fix sound" choices. Those icons are also in the quick launch panel on the very bottom of the screen to the left of the CPU load monitor.

Now.....about those metallic-looking teal panels on the bottom of the screen. Teal is my favorite color and no, that is not a theme you can just choose. I went into GIMP (Gnu Image Manipulation Program), created a square and told it to create a vertical gradient using teal, then changed the size to 2000 pixels wide by 50 pixels tall and made it the background JPG for the panels. I was going to change them, make them a little lighter, but then I decided I just love them the way they are.

Last but not least we have the large status display on the right side of the desktop. Usually I add these things to my desktop and just leave them in their default configuration. This time I modified it to show what both my CPU cores are doing, I added my hard drives, I added my local weather to the bottom (I love that) and just last night I added the temperature of both my CPU cores towards the top of the display. So I have to say that while other times I had NO idea how the information got there, this time I really do. Actually getting the weather information directly from the National Weather Service was a little challenging but fun. Well....fun for a geeky guy like me.

Anyway, that is it - I am learning more all the time and loving it!

Thu, 26 Mar 2009 16:54:44 -0700From: Phil.Persson via EMAILSubject: catch the wave!!!!

Hmm....well.....there is a theory that we define and form our own destinies. When I was younger I thought, "Oh poor me, all these bad things happen to me and I can never get a break." but as I got older and looked back over the decades I can see that my path in life was determined not only by what opportunities came my way but also how I reacted to them.

There were many times in my past when I said, "Oh no, I could NEVER do that!" when people suggested I grab some opportunity that came my way. They would look at me with a half smile and they were thinking, "Oh boy, you are making a HUGE mistake, this could be your ticket!"

Along with my Persson Technologies work which I so much enjoy at home I have just volunteered for a huge project here at work. I have had experience creating applications using VB.NET and Java looks very much like C#.....this web application I will be inheriting is written in C#.NET however my dream is to re-create it in Java and make it faster, stronger, and better than ever - able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.

Anyway, I feel like a surfer about to hop on a huge wave and the rest of this year could be a wild ride for me. I just hope that by 12-31-2009 I can view this as my year of huge Java discovery.

Ok.....this is where I need one of those new smiley faces that are not here yet. Imagine a smiley face dancing and laughing here.

Thu, 26 Mar 2009 11:53:18 -0700From: Phil.Persson via EMAILSubject: when to cut off your hand

There is something that I have seen in organizations way too often and I think it is stupid. Now, it might be a necessary evil, but I still think it is stupid.

I am referring to rules that are set in stone - no exceptions, zero tolerance, you break this rule and you are out of here.

For instance, let us say that the rule is "no one can eat at their desk" and you are in a phone support center in the middle of a phone call and you unwrap an energy bar and eat it in your cubicle. Someone sees you and you are soon out in the parking lot with your personal belongings, wondering what the heck happened.

I have seen this time and time again where an organization has lost their most valued employees, people who basically ran the place because of some stupid rule they broke that no one cares about anyway. Perhaps someone told a harmless joke about the president of the country and someone says, "Oh, company policy is you cannot discuss politics!" and they are out the door.

The people who enforce the rules say, "If we make an exception in this case, we would need to make an exception in all cases" but I am thinking.....yeah, whatever. As far as I am concerned, this is just like cutting off your hand because you happened to scrape your knuckle and it is bleeding. Personally I think this does not pass the common sense test, but.....

Thu, 19 Mar 2009 14:30:13 -0700From: Phil.Persson via EMAILSubject: I really hate to complain.......

(Some would say, "Really? Then why do you do it so often??")

My mother used to say I was a very picky eater. There are certain things I just do not like. I don't like peas, I don't like asparagus, I don't like salmon, and I don't like spicy food......oh, and I am not really all that crazy about spinach unless it is in a pizza.

So Monday I went to the freezer to grab a frozen lunch and it had PEAS in it. YUCK! Then Tuesday I grabbed a lunch and when I got to work.....it had asparagus. Yesterday's lunch had peas....and it was all spicy and set my mouth on fire. Today I grabbed a frozen lunch and it has....salmon and spinach!

WHAT THE HECK?!?!?!

I told my cube mate here at work that I need to talk to the person who is doing the grocery shopping and she said, "Oh, you are going to talk to yourself?" I really don't know what it is, what is going on. However, I know that going to the grocery store is something I hate to do, it takes time away from my computer work, and regardless of where I am pushing my grocery cart, there are always people in my way. It seems like a huge waste of time and I am just not patient....and the frozen meals are always the last thing I buy before I head out the door.

My theory is that by the time I get to the frozen section I am just throwing any old thing into the shopping cart to get out of the place and get my life back on track, as it were. However, this is just a theory.

I cannot believe I bought salmon

Wed, 18 Mar 2009 14:47:15 -0700From: Phil.Persson via EMAILSubject: Palm trees don't cast large shadows

I had Gizmo the kitten into see the vet last Friday for booster shots - the last ones he will need for a year. He had gained one pound in just a few weeks. On March 13th he was 4.8 pounds. Taking him to the vet is a joy as compared with Nero. Nero is just an out-of-control bundle of nerves but Gizmo is even more laid back than Jack is.

I did something.....almost mean to Gizmo this morning - he is only four months old and is already doing some pretty wild stuff. I make sure there is NOTHING between the kitchen table and the counter because if there is, he will use it as a step to get to the counter and I don't want him on the counter. This morning I was having breakfast - it is three feet from the table to the counter....but he was going to attempt the leap....I reached out to push him off the table but it turned out I shoved him at the exact millisecond he was leaving the table He flew through the air, totally missed the counter, landed on the floor, and then turned around and gave me a shocked look as I tried so hard not to start laughing.

I am going to get some better smiley faces in here which will more accurately convey my emotions. They will not be "inline" smileys but will instead be larger ones that will be displayed between paragraphs......perhaps animated. That would be nice. Of course, I will insert them into my blog entries using plain text from dozens of miles away. The blog generation program will do all the hard work for me.

Mon, 16 Mar 2009 11:10:24 -0700From: Phil.Persson via EMAILSubject: Persson Technologies Business Plan

Here is the current business plan for Persson Technologies:

1. Create a collection of small applications. These will be offered as freeware on Download.com to get people to the Persson Technologies web site. Initial offerings will be:

a.  Email Composer Utility
b.  String Transformation Utility
c.  Measurement Conversion Utility
d.  Generic Database Browser
e.  Simple List Compare

Some of the early versions of these creations can be viewed on this page, however the new versions will be created in Java and will run on any computer on the planet that can download a version of the JRE. (The old versions were written in VB.NET and could only run on Windows.)

2. Find and create utilities that are offered by other companies for a small fee, include better features, then offer them for free to increase traffic to the web site.

3. At some future date, create some utilities that are sufficiently complex to warrant charging money.

The Persson Technologies web site is scheduled for launch on May 26, 2009 and will initially feature four utilities for free download. These will be packaged for Windows (Win2K through Vista), Linux RPM versions, and Linux DEB versions. All applications will be tested on Windows 2000, Windows Vista, Ubuntu, Mint, Fedora, OpenSUSE, and Mandriva.

It is not expected that the Generic Database Browser will be ready for release by the launch date so it is not being included in the launch plans. This application will provide a graphical representation of a database and will allow browsing and updates of any row in any table. The initial version is planned to work with Microsoft SQL, MySQL, and PostgreSQL databases.

Wed, 11 Mar 2009 11:33:54 -0700From: Phil.Persson via EMAILSubject: what is new in Phil's life?

When I don't do any blogs for quite some time, my friends say, "What is happening in your life?"

But.....really.....nothing much ever changes. There are some who said "never send me emails about computer stuff" and really that is all I have in my life. Well, cats and computer stuff. Gizmo is so cute......but this blog is supposed to be about computer stuff.

Back in 2005 after having taken two college courses on VB.NET (my first programming language of the 21st century) I starting doing software development at home and increased by income by 50%. Now I am embarking on a brave new adventure, doing all my software development in Java which will run on almost any computer on the planet.

I am starting this adventure by converting a great number of my old VB.NET creations to Java. Doing conversions is difficult for me because I hate to go backwards. I am thinking, "I already created this thing, why am I doing this all over again?". At least in the case of the String Transformation utility it will be ten times faster because I am re-designing the core.

Right now I am working on the Email Composer and there is a bug I cannot fix. It is a stupid bug, I cannot delete all the records from the jTable to re-insert them using new data. Hmm......instead of re-writing them, what if I updated them to the new text? Hey......that might work. I am glad now that I typed this blog entry.

Mon, 9 Mar 2009 16:41:39 -0700From: Phil.Persson via EMAILSubject: two blog entries in one day

Tonight....after using Vista for over two weeks.....I am hoping to build a brand new Ubuntu desktop machine.

There was a time - not that many years ago - when I hated Linux. I could not figure out how to do ANYTHING, I found it all VERY confusing, things were crashing all over the place, and I was so happy to run back to Windows where I felt at home.

Now I can't wait to get back to Ubuntu. I cannot believe how much is missing from Windows that I have become used to. Also, this last weekend alone I had to reboot Vista twice because things were acting weird. Messenger would not connect me, and pieces of windows, buttons, and controls were appearing on the screen in the wrong locations. When I rebooted, suddenly everything was working again.

Anyway, it seems strange that I once hated Linux and now I feel lost without it. We will see just how our reunion goes.

Mon, 9 Mar 2009 11:54:13 -0700From: Phil.Persson via EMAILSubject: we are who we are

There is a great evil under the sun, people beating themselves up because they are not someone else.

Why can't I speak in public like George?
Why can't I be more outgoing like Fred?
Why can't I add numbers in my head like Frank?

Well, guess what? You are not George, Fred, or Frank.....you are YOU and you have different gifts than anyone else. Your gifts are not gifts that are less important, just gifts that are different.

All through my life people have said, "You need to get out, go to parties, and after a while you will enjoy it." Well.....yeah....maybe when I was 22 years old, but if I don't enjoy them now I never will. Perhaps I was just not created to enjoy parties. Also, I don't think it is that I am "old and set in my ways" I think it is that at the age of 53 I know who I am and some things will never change.

The very worst thing a parent can say is, "Why can't you be more like your brother?" I have never heard anything so stupid in my life. The second most stupid thing is when a wife says, "Why can't you treat me the right way, like George, Fred, and Frank treat their wives?" Well....heck.....why didn't you marry George, Fred, or Frank? You married me.....it is time to wake up and smell the coffee!

Also.....and I have probably said this before......everyone is good at something - we do the things we enjoy and cultivate the gifts we have, even if we don't recognize them as gifts. None of us can be anyone else - we can only be who God created us to be. That seems like such a simple concept.....but perhaps it bears repeating every so often. We should not be upset that we fail when we climb mountains we were never created to climb in the first place.

Sat, 07 Mar 2009 17:36:43 -0700From: Phil via EMAILSubject: does beauty really matter?

Quite often I have been told, "Beauty is only skin deep" and have been given the impression that physical attractiveness should just be ignored.

However, is that really realistic? Isn't there any truth to the concept that someone who is handsome or beautiful is more likely to get the job, or the promotion, or perhaps the part in some movie?

I often think of my cats in this regard. I wonder about Butterscotch for instance - sometimes considered to be the cutest thing on four legs - when he was a kitten did his physical appearance help him survive? For those in the audience who are not aware, he had several physical problems when he was a kitten, his foster mom spent LOTS of money on him and he spent a great deal of time in the animal clinic. I keep thinking that his foster mom thought, "He is so darned cute, he deserves to live." Would she have spent all that time and money on him if he had been ugly looking?

The same is true of Gizmo, my new kitten. Gizmo is the first cat I ever got on looks alone - they wanted to show me other kittens but I told them, "No, this is exactly what I wanted." (Gizmo's pictures can now be found by going to my pet page.)

Gizmo came from the same adoption place Butterscotch came from - Arizona's largest and oldest no-kill shelter. http://www.aawl.org/ I looked them up on the web and discovered they are only 3.5 miles from where I work. So I called them on the phone and I asked if they had any little brown tabby kittens - I said I want to adopt a brown tabby kitten. They said no, we only have gray tabby kittens so you had better not come here and look at them. That seemed very strange......I told them I don't really want to get hung up on color so I drove over there after work one night.

I walked in and I said I understand you have some little gray tabby kittens, I would like to see them......so they show me brown tabby kittens.....what the heck???

I was looking at these kittens and I asked what do you know about their personalities. They said oh, they are too young to have personalities, we don't know anything. So I picked Gizmo (who was called Edgar back then) and they gave him to me to play with, hold, etc. So I had been holding him for a while and one of the women said, "The one you are holding is the most affectionate one of the whole bunch" and I am thinking.....I thought you said you didn't know anything about them????? The entire experience was very confusing.

Wed, 4 Mar 2009 07:34:26 -0700From: Phil.Persson via EMAILSubject: new computer is on the way

I said that I would wait a while before building a new computer and it has been a while.....at least how I measure time. This coming weekend I will have been on Microsoft Vista for two whole weeks and I am anxious to get back to Linux. I have ordered the core components for the new computer and the entire machine with taxes, dealer prep, destination charges and everything will be under $350.

It will be an AMD Athlon dual core 64-bit 4200+ system with 4GB of RAM, 750GB of disk space and of course a DVD writer.

Tonight I will be buying the last of the parts and I will post a parts list with the prices. Building an entire fast machine for under $350 is awesome and certainly in line with the times (we are in the midst of the worst recession since 1932). The motherboard has video, sound, and the network interface built in.

I am also planning to produce a picture gallery on the web showing the transformation of the old broken machine to the brand new machine.

The year is 2009 and YES, quad core processors are available but they are still bleeding edge. Someone was posting that they had to underclock one of the cores because the machine kept crashing and that was when I lost interest in that topic. I could have gotten a quad core AMD processor for under $100.

Once the new computer is built, the Microsoft Vista machine will be doing video conversions 24 hours a day which is what my old XP machine was doing.

ATX case                   - from old computer
DVD burner                 - from old computer
SATA 750GB HD              - from another computer
500W Power Supply          - $60
Chassis cooling fans (4)   - $60
ASUS motherboard           - $60
AMD Athlon 64 X2 4200+ CPU - $40
CPU cooler                 - $50
4GB RAM                    - $45
------------------------------------------------
Grand total with taxes and shipping - $320.29 
VIEW UPGRADE PICTURES HERE

Tue, 24 Feb 2009 18:45:58 -0700From: Phil via EMAILSubject: could not get Windows Live Messenger working

Windows Live Messenger did work on Vista and then it suddenly stopped last night.

It said it could not connect to the service, although going through all the troubleshooting steps it said it was connecting just fine.....but then it would say it could not connect - error code 8e5e0408.

Now the funny thing is....when I attempted to login using my Vista machine and it would tell me it could not connect....a message would appear on my corporate laptop in the next room saying "You have been logged off because you logged on from another location"......hmmm.....????

So, I did a complete uninstall and reinstall on Messenger......same problem

Then I did a Google search and discovered tons of people having the same problem.

So first I deleted a directory on my hard drive......same problem

Then I went into the registry and deleted a key and all the sub keys in there......same problem.

Then I went out to my hard drive and changed a bunch of permissions on a whole bunch of folders.

At one point it asked me something like, "Do you want to propagate the inheritable properties from the parents down to the children, or do you want to retain the attributes that your children inherited from the current object?"......HUH?

After I got past that step, it all started working.

Now.....I have two comments.....well, the first one is a question - why didn't Messenger give me a decent error message telling me what the problem was instead of error code 8e5e0408???

My second comment is that all the time I see people trying to use Linux and they say, "Stuff like this never, ever happens in Windows, it just always works!"

OH, REALLY???

I think people need to wake up and face the fact that software is software and there are always problems.

Sun, 22 Feb 2009 20:18:20 -0700From: Phil via EMAILSubject: the latest in the Persson household

So many, many changes......

On February 5th I got a brand new kitten. Well, he was not really brand new, he was 10 weeks old - but he was almost new and certainly new for me. When I got him he was nothing but skin and bones.....so skinny and about the size of a bedroom slipper. I took him to the vet for some shots on February 13th. He was 3.8 pounds at that time. I have been feeding him this high-octane kitten food and it appeared he was not growing at all - he was still just skin and bones. However, in one week he gained a half pound. He might look the same to me, but the numbers do not lie.

He is very handsome and SO spoiled. When I got him he was already spoiled rotten and.....I am not helping matters at all.

On February 13th Jack had a dental procedure which I thought had killed him because I could not get him to eat. I finally got him to eat dry food which was against the doctor's recommendations but he said it is better than letting Jack die. The animal clinic called me later and wanted to be sure Jack was eating enough - I checked his weight and it was dropping fast. I was able to get him to eat some dry kitten food and I'm keeping his weight steady now. Also, he is back to his regular happy, loving, running-and-playing self.

This weekend I decided to do something about my main desktop machine which has been very problematic. It kept freezing up all the time when I was working and at one point I lost hours of work. I was running Linux Ubuntu Hardy Heron and it was supposed to be 100% rock solid but.....that was not my experience. I got a special deal on Microsoft Windows Vista and decided to give it a try on my MAIN super-duper desktop machine.

Well......Vista had the SAME EXACT problem! It turns out the motherboard BIOS was buggy and I had to update it. At the same time (what is it with these disaster weekends lately?) my Windows XP machine went totally dead - the motherboard is fried. So I got my main desktop up and running with Vista and my policy is I need to always have a modern version of Windows running in my house so I am now a Vista user.

I am not really a happy camper, I had been using Ubuntu for 18 months and I was used to it. There are tons of features I miss from Ubuntu and in some ways it is not as easy to use as Ubuntu but at least now that I got the BIOS fixed it seems as stable as Ubuntu so we will see. I am stuck here for now until I can afford to build a new desktop and get Linux installed on it but right now having just spent $600 on Jack's teeth, building a new machine is not really a priority. I have my email and all other utilities setup so I can move to any operating system at any time so I'm flexible. Oh, and for those who might be wondering, Vista is pretty fast on this desktop. I started up about 25 applications and it still seemed very responsive. It is a dual core 64-bit AMD 3500 processor with 4 gigabytes of RAM.

That is all the news for right now, as I type with a very spoiled kitten laying in my lap. His name is Gizmo and he and Nero will be the best of friends for the next decade and beyond.


Thu, 19 Feb 2009 09:47:07 -0700From: Phil.Persson via EMAILSubject: the death of something unique

I see that in a cost-cutting move, the PT Cruiser is being officially killed.

That makes me very sad.

In 2009 when you see a car on the road, they all look alike. It seems that the Mercedes, Lexus, Honda, Toyota, and Chevy models are all designed using the same pattern. Cookie-cutter cars......how boring!

The PT Cruiser was something new and different, something creative and unique.

I will really miss it.

Wed, 18 Feb 2009 22:56:21 -0700From: Phil via EMAILSubject: miracle pet food of the 21st century

Actually, I learned about this stuff in the 20th century but it is still with us today. It can be used for dogs or cats.

It has happened many times that a pet has had terrible awful problems and the doctor said, "If all else fails, give them Hill's Prescription Diet A/D"

Now.....let us say your vet is only open on Saturday for a few hours and closes at 1:00. You remember they sell this stuff at PetsMART so you figure if you need it you will just buy it there later.

WRONG

Later on in the day you go to PetsMART and you discover it is only there because they have an animal hospital in the back of the store and you need a prescription card from one of THEIR vets.

Go ahead....ask me how I know this.

I told them, "But my vet told me I needed to buy this to save my pet's life" and they said, "Gee, that's too bad."

I just thought I would share this little story with all my readers.

Oh.....and then I jumped through all sorts of hoops to GET the stuff and then he wouldn't eat it anyway.

Anyone want to buy some miracle pet food from me?

Mon, 16 Feb 2009 10:01:15 -0700From: Phil via EMAILSubject: update on big Jack

I locked him in the bathroom for 20 hours - the doctor said that would allow Jack to relax and would reduce his stress level.

However, he does not know Jack.

Jack spent 20 hours in the bathroom crying and trying to pull the door off its hinges

This morning I let him out of the bathroom and he gave me head butts, purred, and ate a regular-sized meal of dry nuggets.

He allowed me to give him an antibiotic pill

I had made an appointment for him to see the doctor later thinking that he still was not feeling well, but then I saw him playing with the kitten

So......should I get my hopes up and think that he is all better????

Yesterday my neck was stiff, I had a splitting headache, and I was dizzy because of all the stress.

I really wondered who was in worse shape, Jack or me because I was so worried about him.

Sun, 15 Feb 2009 15:11:44 -0700From: Phil via EMAILSubject: update on big Jack

I was going to take him in and have him put to sleep this morning but I just talked to the doctor and he said let's not be too hasty.

I just had a friend who spent thousands of dollars saving his cat and I do not have any money

On Friday they pulled some teeth - it was $600 - and now he is in so much pain he cannot eat or drink and he will not let me give him any medication. They told me that having the teeth pulled would allow him to live longer but it certainly has not worked out that way.

The doctor said lock him in a bathroom by himself for 24 hours with food and water and see what happens.

I will be taking him to the hospital tomorrow

I told the doctor that someone should adopt him who has some money because I am killing him by having him with me.

He deserves to live, he is a great cat

Well, that is what is happening here

OH......and Nero and Gizmo are running all over the house playing.....they will not even notice that Jack is gone

Perhaps the doctor had me lock Jack in the bathroom for my own sake as well. I have been stressing myself to death. Although, holding Jack in my arms and crying all over the top of his head probably does not help his stress level either.

Sun, 15 Feb 2009 00:31:08 -0700From: Phil via EMAILSubject: farewell to big Jack

When cats eat too much, it is stored on their bodies as fat. You would think that a fat cat could go without food for long periods. However, this is not true. As a matter of fact, if a cat is severely overweight, it is even more dangerous for them to go without food. If they do not eat for a couple of days, they are as good as dead.

Jack went in for a teeth cleaning on Friday and he had to have some teeth pulled. He has not eaten anything since Thursday evening and it is now Saturday evening. That is 48 hours, so let us all say "good-bye" to handsome big Jack. I have tried several kinds of cat food, I have tried cat food mixed with human food, I even tried giving him straight chicken breast warmed up in the microwave. I tried to force feed him and now he is so afraid of me I cannot even give him the pain medication.

I gave him the most wonderful life I could for 6.5 years but I think we have reached the end of our journey. He would have been eleven years old this year, it seems like too short of a life for a cat. Part of this of course all boils down to the awful economy. If I had thousands of dollars to spend on him, I am sure they could save his life. However, I just cannot afford that sort of extravagance right now. If I lose my house, Jack will not be the only cat I am putting to sleep.

Fri, 13 Feb 2009 16:53:45 -0700From: Phil via EMAILSubject: today was a vacation day

I accidentally got up at 4:30 this morning, got a bunch of stuff done, took Jack to the vet to drop him off for a day-long procedure, then did some shopping.

Oh.....what is it with Wal-Mart and these $4.00 movies?

I got Titanic, The Mask, Terminator 2, Spaceballs, and Deep Impact

Anyway, I came home, had a big breakfast, and took a long nap

I dreamed I was living with this really rich family on a flying saucer

They owned several large corporations and because they loved me, they were going to give me this super-duper laptop that one of their companies produced

However, the grandfather in the family wanted us all dead and he had connections in the military and arranged to have this low earth orbiting satellite detonate right over our flying saucer

Well, the dad knew about it and had the altitude of the flying saucer drop just before the detonation so we all survived. The remnants of the satellite all landed in this apartment complex parking lot and he went out there - well, I went with him and he could tell it was all engineered by his father.

Well, the father wanted to cover this all up - but the FBI came after us, they discovered the top of the saucer was scorched by the explosion so they knew something strange was going on. I think I was supposed to dispose of all the satellite remnants in the parking lot but I did not - the FBI found all that evidence so the family was really upset with me.

The FBI came to them with an offer - if they paid the government millions of dollars, the entire incident would be forgotten.

They lost a bunch of their companies and they didn't like me any more and so I was not going to get that super-duper laptop.

Then I woke up and said, "What the HECK was that?!?!??!"

No, I did not have any spicy food, just a big omelet.

Tue, 10 Feb 2009 16:14:44 -0700From: Phil.Persson via EMAILSubject: Don't want to be negative here....

One of the thoughts I have always had.....and I am not trying to be terribly awful in thinking this.....

They talk about a young couple who had their entire lives ahead of them, they got married, and the husband got killed while they were on their honeymoon. So everyone cries and says how awful it was and how terrible. However, they experienced the unspeakable joy of being together and were filled with anticipation of the future. Isn't there something wonderful in that? Is that not more than many people on this planet ever have?

That is what I think about when they say that someone was killed as they were entering a new phase of life and they were filled with anticipation. The joy of anticipation is.....well, I think it is a good thing. To die after being filled with overwhelming joy does not sound all bad.

I was thinking of this just the other day - or maybe it was last night as I was laying on the floor watching a tiny creature eat his food. I am so glad he is in my life and I thought, "It just does not get any better than this - if I do not survive until the next weekend, this one moment was wonderful." Now....Lord, please don't take me before the weekend as I want to spend many long years with Gizmo, but that is what I was thinking. Random thoughts for a Tuesday.....

Gizmo is not general public knowledge, but you might keep an eye out for a Gizmo page that might appear on my web site at some point. Word of his existence is gradually leaking out, it is sort of difficult to keep a new life form a secret.

Thu, 5 Feb 2009 14:48:35 -0700From: Phil.Persson via EMAILSubject: creativity just amazes me

There is just something about creating things that I think makes the spirits of people soar. It is as though there are pieces of their souls in the music or the painting. As I listen to music through my headphones.....and ponder the artistic blend of all the musical instruments.....it reminds me so much of a painting.

"Let's add a little color here, perhaps a shadow there".....how can they ever know when the creation is really done? At what point can they step back and say, "There, it is now perfect."

Maybe that is part of why I like software development - every time I want to add another feature I just change the version number to a higher value. As long as I don't run out of numbers, I can always keep making it more perfect. "Let's add a little color here, perhaps a shadow there".....and increment the version number

Thu, 5 Feb 2009 13:59:37 -0700From: Phil.Persson via EMAILSubject: I am so graduated!

Between the years of 1967 and 1983 I always had dogs. When people ask me if I have dogs or cats, I tell them that years ago I used to have dogs, but then I graduated up to cats. My dogs were always purebred poodles. I have heard that purebred dogs are not as smart? Compared with some cats, my dogs were not the sharpest knives in the drawer.

My first exposure to cats was many long years ago. A stray cat was on our front porch so (not knowing anything about cats) we gave it a small bowl of milk. It finished that and my mother gave it a large chunk of frozen fish (this was in the dark ages before microwave ovens). The cat started licking the chunk of frozen fish but it was moving on the porch - so it picked up the chuck of fish and placed it in the bowl but then the entire bowl moved and it was much worse so the cat took it back out of the bowl and put it on the cement. I was just amazed!!

The dogs I owned never displayed that level of intelligence.....well, except for Becky. She was a mutt we got from the humane society and she was SO smart. But because she did not behave and had an actual brain my dad said we had to get rid of her. I thought that was very mean of him. Then my dad died. Down through the decades of my life I have noticed a pattern, anyone who was ever mean to animals eventually died. I think there is a lesson to be learned there, though I am not quite sure what it is.

The very first cat I ever had was Timothy in 1984 - after my dad died. I knew NOTHING about cats but I wanted Timothy to play with me. I was told he liked to play with plastic cable ties. I brought him into my room and tried to get him to play with the cable tie but he did not seem interested. So I threw the cable tie into a pile of newspapers with a certain degree of disgust and held him for quite a while and talked to him. Then I finally let him go. He jumped out of my arms and was going to dash out of the room but when he got to the door he turned around, ran back to the pile of newspapers, found the cable tie, grabbed it, and then went running out of the room! It was as though he was saying, "I want nothing to do with you, but this thing you showed me looked like it might be fun!"

Again.....I was just amazed that he could keep that thought in his mind and then go back to it. I think that cats are just so amazing. I am not going to say they are "smarter" than dogs, but I think they are easier to care for and just more fun. Perhaps part of it is that they act so proud and so aloof and when they do something stupid it just makes it that much more hilarious.

I will not mention why at this time I am remembering my first encounters with cats. There is a reason why I am typing this on February 5, 2009 but the reason will remain a mystery.

Sat, 31 Jan 2009 11:33:50 -0700From: Phil via EMAILSubject: The death of Persson Business Advisor?

I had a dream last night. Well, it was actually a real life happening but I will tell you how the dream was different from real life.

In real life, my mother was dying and I was faced with the task of cleaning out the home where I grew up and selling the house because she could no longer live there. I was in the basement where I had my old electronics workshop and the place was filled with old stereos, shelves of parts, and color televisions in various states of repair. This was where I spent my teenage and early adult years, learning to design, build, and repair electronic devices. So....this paragraph I just typed was real life.

In my dream, as I was pulling the vacuum tubes out of all these televisions and stereos and preparing to discard the remainder of the "guts" of these things I wondered just what I was trying to accomplish in that basement workshop. Was I trying to impress my friends? Was I trying to impress myself? Was I pretending that because I could do all these great things I had somehow arrived and had made something of myself? It all seemed to be such a wasted effort as I surveyed this collection of electronic gizmos that I was about to discard as trash.

I awoke from my dream and wondered what I was trying to tell myself. My thoughts turned to the Persson Business Advisor, that wonderful creation which a few years ago was going to change my life. Now I am having second thoughts. Consider these points:

1.  Creating this software and making it better, stronger, and faster than 
    anything on the market would take years.
2.  This is business critical software, so if the software crashes for any 
    reason, I will have business owners screaming at me on the phone and 
    threatening to sue me.
3.  With my luck, I would only have 20 people buy the package - enough people 
    to make my life miserable, but not enough so I could quit my day job.
4.  I discovered there are already packages out there that do 90% of this, 
    and some are free.

I am now thinking that tackling this project might not be such a wise course of action. Creating the software back in 2005 taught me tons of new things and allowed me to increase my income by 50% but I don't know if devoting my life to this really makes sense at this time.

It might be better to continue creating software packages that are fun to design and build. Once I have a few utilities created that will work on Linux, Unix, Windows, and Macintosh I will put them on the Persson Technologies web site, offer them as freeware on my web site and download.com, and ask people what else they would like to see. Let the world decide what software they want and maybe I will create something that someone will want to buy.

These are the software packages that are scheduled for the opening date of Persson Technologies on May 26, 2009:

1. Email Composer - This is an Email Composing Utility for busy helpdesk support people, the most common email responses will be displayed in a scrollable table and each paragraph can be added to an email with one mouse click. You start the email, click perhaps 6 times, hit send, and then move to the next helpdesk ticket.

2. String Transformation Utility - This utility allows a variety of string functions. For instance, if you had one long file and you wanted to split it into individual lines - perhaps insert line breaks every time there is a semicolon, then strip out all non-numeric data (to perhaps get employee IDs only and delete names) then prepend some text onto the beginning of a line and append other text to convert each line into a database query to run in SQL.....the possibilities are endless. There are several features that can be programmed and each profile can be saved in a configuration file. String files and configuration files can be dragged and dropped onto the form for speedy processing, and there will also be a command-line version so this utility can be used in batch files and shell scripts.

3. Measurement Conversion Utility - This utility will allow the conversion of anything to anything - cups to gallons, ounces to liters, miles to inches, inches to kilometers - whatever you desire to convert, this will do it.

4. Simple List Compare - This utility will allow you to open two lists or spreadsheets, specify which column you wish to compare, and will answer questions such as which items appear in list one but not list two, which items appear in list two but not list one, and which items are duplicated in each list.

5. Generic Database Browser - This utility will allow the user to browse various types of databases, such as MySQL, PostgreSQL, Microsoft SQL, Oracle, etc. and will display the contents graphically and will allow the user to update the data.

This would seem to me to be a good start and might grab the attention of the Information Technology world....maybe. I am not saying the Business Advisor project is dead.....but I see no reason to pursue it right now.

Thu, 29 Jan 2009 09:43:00 -0700From: Phil via EMAILSubject: one quarter of the time gone

It just occurred to me that my web site is now almost ten years old. I was just telling some people it was "clunky" because I created it ten years ago and really have not touched it since then. That would mean my mother has been gone for ten years. My gosh.....where does the time go?

After she was gone - when I was alone with her corpse in her room - thinking that her soul might still be there, I said, "I will see you in about forty years" and now that time is one quarter gone.

Have I made any progress in that time? Am I moving ahead with life? Would she be proud of who I have become? How do I measure where I am in life, how do I know I am moving forward? Should I measure this by how much I know, how much money I make, the size of my house, or the fact that I am now a successful thistle sifter (that is from an old tongue-twister )?

When I was on vacation, I watched a great deal of movies. One of them was "Star Trek the Motion Picture" which has always been a disappointment for me. It seems that movie could have been so much more than it was. However, something that Spock said struck me as profound just now. He said that all people want to ask their Creator questions such as the following:

1.  Is this all there is to life?
2.  Why was I created?
3.  Am I doing everything that I was originally created to accomplish?

It seems to me that whether or not I am moving forward in life can be determined by whether I am diligently seeking the answers to those questions and how close I am to finding my place in this world.

I have often said that when you find the place that God has for you, all your gifts will be utilized and your soul will resonate with the truth of your existence. You will feel in every fiber of your being that THIS is why you are here. That might sound sort of mystical and it is not something I have experienced, it is just a theory I have.

All my life I have felt that I could spread my wings and fly, but when I was younger I was so shy and afraid people might think I was different so I hid my wings and attempted to look like everyone around me. When I entered the second half-century of my life I decided the HECK with what everyone else thinks, I don't care if people think I am different, I need to be the person that God created me to be.

Now.....I need to find where I hid those wings.

Mon, 26 Jan 2009 10:24:03 -0700From: Phil.Persson via EMAILSubject: really weird Java Swing problem

The problem in Java Swing - the really weird one - happened in NetBeans 6.0.1 and yesterday I upgraded to 6.5 so this might never happen again....

I had created a jTabbedPane and had added jDesktopPanes to it thinking that was the thing to do but that was wrong (jDesktopPanes are supposed to be used for MDI interfaces, there is a status bar on the bottom for this purpose that limits how much space you can use for objects) - so I added jPanels to the jTabbedPane one by one and removed all the jDesktopPanes but when I was done, none of the tabs would display titles in run mode although they were fine in the IDE. I could not find this problem listed on any web page as a known issue.

After fooling around some I created a BRAND NEW jTabbedPane on the form and added a new panel to it - and that one also would not work in run mode - so I said what the heck - I pulled out the panel, added a jDesktopPane to the new jTabbedPane and it fixed BOTH jTabbedPanes - the one with the panels and the one with the jDesktopPanes - so I deleted the new jTabbedPane from the form and the first one was still OK - just fricking strange - I am going to put all this text into a blog entry so I remember

Sun, 25 Jan 2009 05:53:14 -0700From: Phil via EMAILSubject: Anne Pressly update

Last year I blogged about Anne Pressly, a young woman who was brutally murdered while she slept. They caught the monster who did it. He would sneak into women's homes, tell them not to turn around and look at him, he would rape them, rob them, and then leave. He gained entrance to Anne's house through a dog door. Apparently she fought him - he broke her left hand and beat her into a coma before raping her.

I had thought that her severe beating was from a deranged boyfriend or a psycho stalker but perhaps she said something to this monster that made him furious? One can never tell - at least the animal is in a cage now where he will not hurt anyone else. It always seems a shame to me that we cannot just send all our deranged murderers over to the Arab countries to murder all the deranged terrorists over there. It would be such a neat solution to the world's problems if they all killed each other off.

Sat, 24 Jan 2009 13:44:16 -0800 (PST)From: pbpersson via EMAILSubject: Another death of a beautiful young woman

About a month ago she was a vitally alive 20-year-old model in Brazil, enjoying life with her entire future ahead of her. I will try to include some clickable thumbnails of her here, right now her web site is totally overloaded and I'm hoping it will settle down by the time I get around to working on this blog entry - hopefully it will still be up and I can grab some photos.

Mariana Bridi da Costa:

        

It just makes me wonder, it really does. Just as in the case of Anne Pressley who I blogged about recently, had I met this woman six weeks ago I would have thought she had EVERYTHING going for her and now she is dead.

Now.....this was not a murder, no one shot her and she was not in a traffic accident. NO, she suddenly had some strange illness that the doctors originally misdiagnosed and within a little over a month she was dead.

My gosh!

Sat, 24 Jan 2009 10:53:32 -0800 (PST)From: pbpersson via EMAILSubject: Last Java Day

Today is the last day of my vacation during which I want to work on Java. My goal this morning was to create and install the main engine in the String Transformation Utility and get it running, at least in first gear - I did not expect to have the time to create and install the transmission.

So I got up early and began coding. I was on my main Ubuntu desktop machine, I was sending code fragments to the Ubuntu Server to transfer it over to the Windows machine and was using the 1.2.4 version of the String Manipulation Utility over there to automate some code generation.

I had created new enumeration types, I had created all the procedures and functions that would constitute the "main engine" of the program, I had designed how all these things would inter-relate and pass data back and forth. My creation was taking shape on the screen before my eyes as I was using these three computers to help me create this brave new world.

The cats were all here helping, wanting to be involved in the action, and at that moment big Jack went behind the computers and hit the main power switch. All three computers suddenly became silent, the screen went black, and I was sitting here in silence wondering where all my hours of creative energy had just gone. That is right, I had not saved anything.

So, I got some supplies together, got on my hands and knees behind the computers, and made sure the cats could not get to the power switch again. I tried to power up the computers but at that moment, Butterscotch got sick in the closet. After I cleaned that up I tried to power up the computers but the keyboard was acting funny. After I fixed that I got all three computers up and running but the Ubuntu Desktop kept hanging up every time I wanted to do anything.

So....since I am using Java it means I can develop on any machine. I was on a roll and wanted to get back to my project so I attempted to download and install a super-duper version of the Integrated Development Environment (IDE) on the Windows 2000 machine. However, the IDE said it needed the Java Development Kit (JDK). So I downloaded this super-duper JDK that said it did NOT have the IDE and tried to install it. It would not install because it said it was trying to install the IDE and did not have a JDK. So then I downloaded a basic JDK, installed that, then the super-duper JDK with the IDE and then the super-duper version of the IDE.

After all that, I am ready for a nap. I don't know, it almost seems like someone does not want me to install the main engine of my project and get it working today.

Yes, I am typing this on the Windows 2000 machine. I have given up on the Ubuntu Desktop if it is going to be silly, I have no time for silliness today.

Fri, 23 Jan 2009 08:06:51 -0700From: Phil via EMAILSubject: Why Does It Have To Be So Difficult, Everything?

Things tend to stick in my flypaper mind and that sentence was once spoken by my dad and my mother thought it was pretty funny.

Earlier this week I used the 1.2.4 version of the String Transformation Utility on Windows to help me create the String Transformation Utility on Linux. I had huge amounts of code generation that I wanted to automate.

I am building this thing little by little - the body is built, the switches are on the dashboard, the ENGINE is not yet installed - I am just trying to get the headlights to work and the horn to honk and nothing will work. Once....just ONCE.....I would like to write some software and have it JUST WORK. I am converting this from VB.NET to Java - it should all just work. This is not rocket science. GEEZ

As I create applications I like to get things working - I am trying to get the screen scrolling thing working - where you can go forward and backward through edit screens to see all the work you have done. I don't know what the HECK this thing is doing, but it certainly is not doing what I designed it to do.

I thought it was because I did not know how to use the ArrayList feature in Java.....but I took the help button in the toolbar and hooked it up to a little test where I added some items to the ArrayList, then displayed the size of the ArrayList, and then displayed one of the elements of the ArrayList and that all works just fine.

I feel like Henry Ford building a car in his shed and I can't even get the headlights to turn on. Geez Louise.

Thu, 8 Jan 2009 15:04:38 -0700From: Phil.Persson via EMAILSubject: Am I totally off base here?

I could probably get thrown out of my house for saying this......

But.....it seems to me that all cat faces look almost identical. I mean.....if I look at a picture of a black cat, his or her face looks just like every black cat I have ever seen. The shape of the face is identical to every other cat face, the eyes are the same exact distance apart, the ears are always in the same place, the nose always looks the same.

When it comes to human beings, every face is a little different. When it comes to dogs, they all have their unique characteristics. However, when it comes to cats I just DO NOT see any variation at all. Is it just me?

Please don't tell my cats about this blog entry. I would be in SO much trouble!!

Mon, 5 Jan 2009 12:24:03 -0700From: Phil.Persson via EMAILSubject: I worked for it, I deserve it!

There is a great evil under the sun, people work hard all their lives and then feel they should be able to enjoy the fruits of their labor.

When I was much younger and wanted to spend money, my dad always had an issue with it. He thought that money should always be SAVED and not spent. However, my mother would say, "He does not smoke or drink, he isn't into drugs, he works hard for his money and should be able to spend some of it on things he enjoys!"

I don't think I am in the autumn of my years - but maybe late summer? At this point in my life there is something wrong with thinking I should be able to enjoy my money. There is also something wrong with using credit cards and these magic checks they send in the mail...."Take that vacation you have always wanted, remodel your home, buy a big screen television - you deserve it!"

I hate to say it, I really do.....but I think my frugal dad had it right all along. You do NOT go out to the movies, you do NOT go out to eat, you do NOT go on vacations, and you do NOT buy that new car you always wanted. No, you stay at home and do not travel anywhere and you drive that old car until it falls apart around you. It is the only way one can ever seemingly get ahead in this world.

Anyone who wants a nice house, a nice car, the newest gadgets, fancy vacations to exotic locations - it is my opinion they will be buried in a mountain of debt from which they cannot escape. This is just my opinion based upon what I have seen and experienced myself. There is something wrong with the fact that people must work their fingers to the bone just to afford to buy clothes and keep a roof over their heads.

In the meantime they are saying that thousands of stores will go out of business this year and we are certainly heading into the worst recession we have seen since the Great Depression of 1930. This of course will have a ripple effect - more people will lose their jobs, more homes will go into foreclosure, more people will cut back on spending.....

Anyone out there who has money laying around - please buy some gadgets to help the economy. "Take that vacation you have always wanted, remodel your home, buy a big screen television - you deserve it!"

Thu, 01 Jan 2009 18:46:41 -0700From: Phil via EMAILSubject: HAPPY NEW YEAR!

You know, it just occurred to me that a new year means a new blog page and links to other pages, changes to my web site, etc..... That had not dawned on me until just this moment. I guess I should get on that. I figured the very first step should be a new entry for January 1st.

The newly installed version of Ubuntu Hardy Heron is going quite well. I installed something similar to Firefox called Swiftweasel which I will be using as my web browser now. Some developer got the source code from Mozilla for Firefox, stripped out the buggy parts, and then optimized it for each combination of Ubuntu version and CPU hardware. I will be using the version for Hardy Heron (Ubuntu 8.04) and AMD 64. Thus far I am very happy.

I am still importing data into this machine from the Ubuntu server, little by little - there is no hurry. I have found I can open all the Netbeans projects I created on the old machine so that is way cool - it also means I can update Java projects on the laptop when I am away from home and then import the changes into this desktop.

My goal with Ubuntu is to get on each LTS version after it has been out for a few months and then ride that version for two years and transition to another LTS version (where LTS is "Long Term Support"). Each LTS version is good for three years and they release a new one every two years. This way I can get my Ubuntu machines stable and then not have to "fool" with them for years since I have better things to occupy my time - such as Java development. I do have one machine here designated as a "test machine" which I can use to test new things.

Whereas last year I celebrated New Years on my patio all by myself, this year I was at a party/potluck/worship gathering in someone's home in the area. That was way cool - being with people and worshiping God to welcome the new year.

On Saturday the 3rd I am volunteering to help build a house for Habitat for Humanity. I don't know how that will turn out, but it should be interesting. I was "encouraged" by a co-worker to volunteer but I am all thumbs with power tools and I cannot lift due to my bad back.

That is all the news worth printing. This was basically a new entry to start the new year.