» Part of Wolfey's Website

A New Modem and JResult Client Application Suggestions

June 2, 2007 at 6:08 PM

The release of the revised county website is going to be delayed a bit - I can't do much more work on my own, as I've reached the point where my supervisor will have to look at the site and see what might need fixed up before it's released. Unfortunately, he's very busy with getting the county government's network backbone upgraded, as well as work elsewhere in the buildings, and that makes it difficult to get things finalized here =/

Also, here's anything interesting I've been doing lately:

  • March 30 (possibly late March 29, after I went to bed) to April 2: My modem stopped working (like the last one, it was running 24/7) =( I originally noticed it Friday afternoon and thought there might have been a temporary outage or maintenance being done, so I waited until Saturday...and saw that it was still out. I called up support at Comcast, and found out I would have to wait until Monday before they could fix it.

    On Monday, I got a replacement modem - this time around, instead of buying one, we rented one at $3/month. Last time we rented a modem (which was when we first got a cable modem), it was $6/month. The reason we went back to renting one (aside from it costing only half as much as it did before) is that, if something goes wrong, they have to come out and fix it.

    They also replaced the cable line leading into our house - it's been there since before I was born, and it was actually the wrong grade of cable, weaker than what should have been used for underground burial. Part of its casing was worn away, and they said they were surprised it held up so well for so long. They replaced it with a new cable (the proper, stronger grade this time around), which was buried sometime in April. This fix dropped 10-15 db. on the line - I originally thought they meant "decibels", but later found out it actually meant "deadband" =P

    They also said our cable lines in the house were split up too much, which is why the signal on a few TVs was weak. Some cables were switched around, and one was removed - that cable was for the TV in the living room, since it had to be switched to a different outlet sometimes when the furniture was rearranged (all that's needed to work around this is to go into the basement and switch the outlet the cable is plugged into). Except for one TV (whose quality remained unchanged, though that might be an issue with how it plugs into the wall), the signals on them are cleaned up now =)

  • April 30: As mentioned in my previous post, I went to Red Lobster for my birthday dinner. I got coconut shrimp (which was pretty good), as well as a cake when we were all done eating =)
  • May 15: The county's 2007 Primary Election was held on this day. I worked my usual shift, and (like I did in the previous elections) a second one at night. The laptop hooked up to the projector in the main hallway was going real slow, and I used the Task Manager to keep closing out processes until it ran properly. When on the desktop used for uploading results online, the FTP account I used wouldn't work - even though I could see the files - and I couldn't figure out why. I went over to the I.T. Department and found out that the door was locked. I got someone to unlock it, logged on to my desktop, and finally realized what happened: I was supposed to be using a different account. I found out the day after that, for some reason, the old account used for uploading data no longer has write permissions (even though it still has read permissions), which is why that other account was made.

    After I figured out what was going on, I went back over to the other building, logged into the FTP program (this time with the new account), and could finally upload the results! I then went back and forth between the desktop and laptop to upload results, like I did last year...but some people in the hallway complained about having to wait for all the results to go through to see the ones they wanted, which ended up taking over 20 minutes given the number of races being shown. I mentioned that (from what I could tell) the program goes through the results alphabetically, and since the political party is listed first (but not for all races), that's why the results were showing up in that order. They told me to wait a few minutes so they could see the results, but then asked if I could speed it up - fortunately, I could, and just kept hitting the "Next" button until the results they wanted to see were there. I kept doing that until all the precincts were in and went back upstairs to do the last upload. After that, I was finished for the day (er, night =P), called home, and left.

Given how things went with showing the results, I came up with some improvements for how results could be uploaded. Currently, the results file is burned onto a CD, given to me, I head downstairs to upload the laptop's results (for those watching the projector in the hallway), then head back upstairs to upload the desktop's results (for those watching the website), and finally take the CD back to wait for the next set of results to be burned to the CD. The improvements I suggested would be to have another laptop available, this one with a wireless connection - after being handed the CD, I could upload the results to the site (by FTP), as well as wirelessly to the laptop downstairs and remotely refresh its results (by VNC), all from the same computer - no running around required =)

I also typed up some things which could be done to improve the application (the JResult Client, made by Diebold). These were basically suggestions (I also had reasons for doing so, but forgot what they were right now ^_^; ) , as I don't know about the inner workings of the program:

  • For HTML results:
    • Add links to allow the user to go to whatever race they want to see.
    • Convert all HTML code for formatting into (valid) CSS code, presented as an external stylesheet.
    • Ensure HTML output for results is actually valid HTML, preferably HTML 4.01 Strict.
    • Ensure that, with only minor changes to the code (most likely to the doctype and line breaks), the page would be valid XHTML as well.
    • Allow a choice between presenting only the code necessary for the results (to allow pasting into a template page or CMS) or creating an entire page (to be uploaded as-is). The user would also be allowed to select which doctype it should validate against, so that the page is formatted properly.
    • Allow web feeds for the results, so users with feed readers could keep up with them without having to visit (or refresh) the results page.
    • Create a background application (on the server hosting the results) that could automatically update the HTML results page when the results file is updated.
  • Create a JavaScript file that would augment the usability of the HTML results page. It could provide capabilities such as showing a few races at a time and automatically scrolling through them (like how the Java applet works), automatically refreshing the results after a set period of time (since they'd be live results), drawing graphs for the results, sorting the results by district/race/party, allowing the user to automatically go to a particular district/race/party, or filtering out only the districts/races/parties they want to see. If the user doesn't have JavaScript enabled (or if their browser doesn't support it), the HTML results page will still be usable, just without the functions described in this item.
  • Create a Flash version of the Java applet for those who don't/can't have Java installed or have issues with how it runs on their system. It could also make use of the suggestions for the JavaScript version above, for improved usability.
  • Upgrade the Java applet to make use of the suggestions for the JavaScript version above, also for improved usability.
  • Ensure the results file could be used by the JavaScript and Flash versions mentioned above, in addition to the Java applet, so that their results would always be in synchronization. Modifications to its structure may not be necessary in order for them to use the same file, but this might prevent the use of the features described above if it is not modified.
  • If the results file structure is modified, include a converter that could be used to upgrade the result file's code for use with the JavaScript and Flash versions (and the upgraded Java applet as well), as well as downgrade them - if necessary - for use with an older version of the JResult Client.

I typed up these suggestions and gave them to my previous supervisor (who I still work with for the elections, but only during the elections now), and asked her if she could somehow forward them to the company that made the application, if possible. It's worth a shot - I have a feeling I'm not the only one who wants to see improvements to that application ;)

Wolfey Has Reached Level 24

April 27, 2007 at 10:23 AM

And it only took me approximately 8,766 days worth of experience in this world ;P

(This was typed up after my birthday, but I modified the timestamp to fall on the minute of my birth...and I was at work when that occurred.)

The day itself was pretty uneventful, but still nice - I prefer not having to do a lot of stuff (or go to a lot of places) on my birthday. I wanted to go to Red Lobster today, but since Dad would be working when I could go (and would be like this for the weekend as well), Mom and I went to Pizza Hut for the lunch buffet. We will be going to Red Lobster on Monday, when all three of us can go =D

As for my presents, here's what I got:

  • From my parents (though I picked out the first two myself prior to this):
    • Samsung SyncMaster 206BW - As mentioned on my "Buying Some Computer Equipment..." page, I've wanted to replace my monitor for quite awhile. After asking on various forums as to what brand/model I should look for, I settled on this one. Like my laptop's screen, it's a widescreen model, and though it looks smaller, it's a lot bigger in terms of how much space I get - my previous monitor was set to 1,024×768 pixels (the resolution that looked best on it; it could go a bit higher, but some things were distorted due to problems with the monitor), and this one's set to 1,680×1,050 pixels (this monitor's best-looking resolution, and also its highest)! It's surprisingly bright, too - with my previous monitor, even with the brightness and contrast maxed out, I still had to alter the brightness/contrast/gamma values for certain programs just to be able to see certain details; with this monitor...heh, I have absolutely no problem with making out details - in fact, I'd say it's a little too bright at times, even with its lowest default setting. Still, I'd rather have it be too bright than too dark, given the details I pay attention to ^_~
    • Logitech RumblePad 2 - Before I had this, I had to use the keyboard for all of my emulated games...and while it has its advantages, it has one key disadvantage: I can only press three keys (including those for the control pad) simultaneously, which made some games difficult (or even impossible) to play - I also stayed away from anything requiring an analog joystick for obvious reasons. It will take some time to get used to, but it's nice to have a controller in my hands again while I'm playing these games...and I can try out the ones I couldn't play before, too!
    • Shirts (×4) and Pants (×2) - I needed more good clothes =P
  • From Granny (my grandmother on my mother's side of the family):
    • Egg Noodles (homemade)
    • Chicken Broth (×2 cartons; for noodles)
    • Cashews
    • Pistachios
    • Mountain Dew (×2 12-oz. cans)
  • From my relatives (as well as my parents and Granny), I got cards and money; from my co-workers, I got cards and a gift certificate.

I'll probably be getting some more cards and presents in the next few days as well...but I got some real nice stuff today.

Happy 24th Birthday to Me!

Systematically Managing Content

March 11, 2007 at 2:30 AM

Sorry for not posting in awhile - I've been pretty busy lately ^^;

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O-Six is O-ver!

January 1, 2007 at 12:00 AM

First off:

Happy New Year!

So far, my job's going all right - the template's pretty much done now and things have slowed down a bit as a result, but it will pick up once I get the data I need to upload to the revised version of the site, as there's a lot of it. I'm not sure exactly how long this job will last, but it'll end sometime within the next six months, as it has to be ready by then.

Also, I got quite a few presents for Christmas (before, during, and after), from both relatives and co-workers, including (in no particular order):

  • Candy
  • Clothes
  • Gift cards: Each is for a different place, but their combined total is around $100.
  • Razors
  • Lottery tickets: I got seven of them, costing $13 in total, but I made $20 off of them...and the best part is that I didn't have to pay for those tickets at all, as they were gifts =D
  • Cash
  • Motion-detecting light: It's similar to a night light, with a picture of Einstein (=P) on it - due to issues with it staying on all the time and not shutting off, though, it might have to be taken back.
  • Laptop case: It's a Samsonite Dimension Notebook Case (Model #250111190); unlike the one that came with my laptop, this one can comfortably hold everything I have for it, without having to struggle with the zipper to keep it closed =) It's a little heavier (and thicker) than the other case, but I can still carry it around without a problem. It's also got quite a bit of padding, which will help if I accidentally set down the case a little harder than I should have.
  • "The Darwin Awards: Evolution in Action": I've only read a few pages so far, but some of the stories mentioned in it are pretty good =)
  • Gloves: I haven't had a good pair of gloves in years, and these ones fit pretty well - finally, I have something to keep my hands from getting cold (other than my pockets =P) when going outside.
  • Paper Shredder: It's a Fellowes cross-cut shredder (Model DS-12Cs), and can shred more than my current one - it can do up to 12 sheets at a time (my old one can only handle five), shreds staples, and even credit cards. It also has a safety feature where if part of your body comes in contact with the metal area of the shredder (which surrounds the actual opening for it), the safety light will come on and it will not shred until your body is no longer in contact with that metal area. Finally, the bin pulls out (unlike my old one, where the shredder is a separate attachment to the top of the bin), which makes it much easier to empty it out when it gets full.
  • Laptop cable organizer: I don't have that many cables plugged into my laptop at this point in time, but when there's more plugged into it all at once, this will come in handy.
  • Headphones: These ones are the same brand as the previous set I have (Altec Lansing), but are a slightly different type. They came with a USB connector (with audio-in and microphone jacks on the opposite side), and the foam part of the headphones are encased, except for a small part in the middle which is left open. It fits much better than my previous pair, seems to provide better sound (as they cover the ears better), and I don't have to fiddle with the volume control just to get sound in both sides with this pair =)

And the big one: Two GB of RAM from Crucial for my laptop =) Once I got it installed, the system started up...really slow, which I found rather odd. I searched around for what the problem could be, but figured it out when booting into Ubuntu (still haven't fixed it yet as I've been busy) and then Windows (in Safe Mode), and noticing both loaded up quickly: the paging file's size was set way too low for the amount of RAM I now had, as the settings for it were for when I had 512 MB of RAM. Once I changed those values to take into account the amount of RAM I now had, it worked just fine =D

Also, we had more of a "green" Christmas this year - it didn't snow at all that day (but did a few days before), and it rained on Christmas day as well =P

My Dad also got a "present": One person on his work crew is being transferred to a different crew, and Dad's real happy about this because it was a person he just couldn't stand.

Finally, here's another nifty thing I've come up with while working on revising the county website: A style for use with the Stylish Firefox extension, which I'm going to call "Show URL Types" (with a demo page to test it out on). You can use this to tell if a link is relative (to the current directory, the directory above, or the root directory) or absolute, if the link has a bookmark and/or query string at the end, and even shows if the link is using a non-http protocol (such as "ftp", "javascript", "chrome", etc.). If you understand how to work with stylesheets, you can even extend this to cover other protocols as well. It can be very useful for determining whether the links on a page are relative or absolute, without having to view the source of the page first =D

Looks Like I’ve Got More Work to Do…

November 26, 2006 at 12:02 AM

I've been working on redesigning the county website (which will be switching to a CMS, rather than be updated by hand) since the 13th of this month. Unlike my previous jobs, this one's pretty much been the same work every day so far, so I'm not going to describe it here. Once I got the computer set up and added a few programs (including a local copy of the CMS they'll be using), I've just been working on modifying the template's code (adding/removing various plugins in the process) since then, until it's ready for use on the actual site =)

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From Registration to Administration

November 8, 2006 at 12:34 AM

I've been pretty busy this past month, working in Voter's Registration again. Since that's over now, I'm out of a job...

...But only for a few days - I'll be going back to work on Monday to help with some major updates to the County website =D

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Back to Work, a (Nearly) Complete Character Page, and Ragnarok…in 3D!

September 28, 2006 at 11:23 PM

Thanks to a call I received earlier in the week, I'll be working in the Courthouse again, in Voter's Registration, starting Monday =)

Also, the character page for Wolfey is practically done - all that's left is having it looked over a bit to find and fix any issues I didn't notice beforehand (see the page titled "Review of Wolfey's Character Page" for details). Once that's done, I'll consider this an official character page =)

Also, I've recently been messing around with a 3D modeling program called Blender and, like I mentioned in a similar post regarding Inkscape (see the bottom section), there's some interesting stuff you can make with it: One thing in particular that I've made with it is a 3D model of Ragnarok's Esper form - rendered images (in PNG format) can be found here, and the actual 3D model can be found here (you'll need Blender to see it, though). The proportions aren't exact, and I haven't figured out a way to make the spiral "engraving" on the top of the hilt, but I'd say it's pretty good anyway - I've only been using the program for a few days, after all =)

Vector Image File Conversion (SVG <-> WMF)

September 20, 2006 at 5:38 PM

Thanks to three programs (Inkscape, OpenOffice Draw, and SVG Factory), I can convert images between the SVG and WMF formats, which means I finally have something that I can make WMF images with for use in Microsoft Office applications (or anything else that can use WMF images but not SVG images), and I can edit the images as well (as SVGs, followed by converting them to WMFs)! =D

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A Sick Cousin, Church Issues, A Character Update, and Unemployment

September 19, 2006 at 6:12 PM

One of my cousins on my mother's side of the family (he's the youngest of five grandchildren; I'm the eldest of the five) nearly died last week, only a few days after his 12th birthday, when he was just fine. He was taken to Children's Hospital on September 14 (I was at work at the time) when he became gravely ill due to diabetic ketoacidosis. Aside from an increased appetite earlier in the year (which was overlooked, as his parents thought this was due to adolescence), he showed no signs of diabetes prior to this, and now he will have to live with this for the rest of his life =(

...

Issues at the church have become worse, and quite a few people (including some that went to the two churches - back when they were still separate, and long before the new church was built - for their entire lives) have left, though they said they may come back if these issues are resolved. Plus, I have to put up with my parents arguing with others constantly over these issues. Hopefully they'll be able to resolve them before it gets worse...

...

Trying to be a little upbeat now: some more work on the character page for Wolfey has been done (minor template revisions, a revised watch design, and some description changes). At this point in time, it's pretty much finished, and I'm going to work on getting his backstory ready =)

Also, once again, I'm unemployed (at least until the elections), and read on to see what I did for the last few weeks of work:

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Let There be Light…Houses!

September 18, 2006 at 1:10 AM

Heh...First we went north, and this time we went south =P

We stayed at a beachfront home with another family for the week of September 2-9, in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina. Here's what we did (assume it was just me and my parents going to these places, apart from the other family, unless otherwise noted):

  • Everyone went to beach a few times (only two of the days were any good, due to the weather), and I got sunburned.
  • A game of miniature golf was played...which took awhile with the group I was in (my Dad and I were in the same group, the rest were in another) because we unintentionally selected the longest (and most difficult) of three courses - it was funny when some of us just couldn't get the ball in the hole, though.
  • We went to an aquarium and saw quite a few interesting fish, otters, horseshoe crabs (one was on its back for a moment, and I got a picture of it just before it righted itself), and even touched the top of a stingray (it feels like velvet), though I accidentally poked it fairly hard the first time due to some bad depth perception (the open tank was fairly shallow and low to the ground, but I could only reach into it while standing). We also saw a few more sea creatures...and one thing I took notice of at one point was a monitor displaying a "no style information is associated with this XML file..." error message...and I'm guessing it was running a Mozilla-based application ;)
  • Four lighthouses were visited: Currituck (the only one that we went up), Bodie, Hatteras (was under maintenance at the time, so we unfortunately couldn't go up it), and Okracoke (which we had to travel by ferry to see).
  • We went to the sand dunes, and I saw a big pond with a lot of tadpoles in it - it's interesting (and a bit funny) seeing them come to the surface and watching their mouths open =) We also flew a kite (it's one I had as a child during our earliest vacations here), and I ended up breaking the dowel rod after pulling on the reel too hard (the rods were as old as the kite, and my parents said it was a surprise that they held together for as long as they did) - the wooden rods may be replaced with fiberglass ones next time around to avoid this problem. After that, and just out of curiosity, I bet Dad that I could go up an adjacent hill on the dunes (just the first part, the second would be too much) backwards. He bet I couldn't, but I did...and my legs were tired as a result. They ran down the hill, but I didn't, as my legs were still sore. Instead, I rolled down - since I was at an angle, I eventually went into something like a corkscrew motion at the end - my parents got a kick out of seeing it! I then walked up that hill a second time (forward, as I couldn't take going up backwards again), and rolled down one more time, this time going backwards (heels over head) near the end.
  • Dad and I went crabbing. We caught a few of them (everything captured was released shortly after), and right before we left, we had caught one when another family (not the one we were with) came by. I suggested holding the chicken neck (Dad brought quite a few, to be used as bait) in front of it so it would let go of the net (Dad got pinched hard enough to draw blood from one of the earlier catches, when he tried prying its claw off the net himself), and it worked - it let go of the net and started eating the neck! The other family thought the structure of its mouth - and how it was eating - to be interesting, and took a few pictures of it. It eventually freed itself enough to fall to the ground, then walked (sideways, of course =P) towards the water, and then just fell in!
  • The last thing we did on our trip: Riding Segways! These actually worked pretty well, considering everyone who tried them out never rode them before. It takes a moment to get your balance, but is a rather interesting ride once you get used to it. Not only were we taught how to ride Segways, but we were taught a little about the history of the local area (Corolla) while riding them. At the end, all of us got certificates that show we have learned how to properly operate a Segway - these are necessary to be able to ride them without having to go through training on how to use them again, and should we decide to buy any, we can get them with discounts =D

Given that we haven't been down to North Carolina for a few years, I'd say it was a very nice trip!

Oh, Canada? Is That Where You Went?

August 19, 2006 at 5:32 PM

For as short as it was, the trip to Niagara Falls (on the Canadian side) from August 10-11 was pretty nice =) We needed our IDs and birth certificates to get in, and mention anything that we were taking with us (that we didn't have before) when we left.

After checking in to our hotel, dropping off what we didn't need for the moment, and taking what we did, we went to the Falls, and were taking pictures throughout the trip. We got on the "Maid of the Mist", swaying around a bit as we're not used to being on boats - there were times that the disposable raincoats they give you come in very handy. After getting off the boat, one of the first things I did was see a snail on a wall, and took a picture of it =P Later, we went on a tour behind the Falls, which was also interesting; late at night, the Falls were illuminated, and it looked real neat - if you ever see it, take a few pictures.

On Sunday, I went into a casino and played a few games there - it's the first time I could actually gamble in a casino! I would've tried playing the card games, roulette, craps, or any of the other non-slot-machine games there, but the lowest bet that can be made on any of them is $5...and the slot machines to the entrance took nickels and quarters, so you can guess what I spent the money on - unfortunately, I rarely won, and quickly used up most the money I had alloted for this. I still had some when my parents got back, though, so it it lasted longer we expected - though if I was at an arcade instead of a casino, I could've made that money last a lot longer ;)

After that, we went to a wax museum (Louis Tussaud's Waxworks) and got a few interesting pictures of the figures there, including certain ones for certain relatives. Afterwards, we took a ride on a cable car, and before we left, we all went on a helicopter ride - it's amazing how small everything looks from one when you're that high up in the air =D

After that, we came home, got ready for bed, and I got ready for the last two days of my job in the Commissioners' office before heading down to the Treasurer's office starting mid-week.

Also, in other news, I've been doing more work on my character Wolfey, namely fleshing out his background (which in turn will do the same for one other character who doesn't have much of a background himself...), as that's one of the last few things to get ready before I make his character-hood official. His "History" section will be greatly reduced, as a multiple-chapter story that I've been working on will take its place. The story's already complete in its raw state, but will need to be revised to follow the setup I use for my other stories before I'll upload it. Unlike the previous ones I've written, some of the restrictions I usually follow when writing them have been loosened, so it's a bit more...mature than what I usually write. If you've seen what I write, though, you have nothing to worry about - I just wanted to let you know of this ahead of time ;P

As always, click on the link below to see what else I did recently:

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More [Work], More [RAM], More [Drawings]…

August 6, 2006 at 8:16 PM

I've been really busy lately...I spent practically every moment after work during the last full week of July to help my Mom get her 30th Class Reunion book ready in time for her reunion. This week was spent helping make signs (at the last minute, no less) for the Folk Festival around here.

Speaking of things having a number (or numbers) followed by two letters in superscript...My parents are going to Niagara Falls this upcoming weekend for their 25th wedding anniversary! Their actual anniversary is this Tuesday. Not only that, but they're letting me come, too! =D

Also, last Wednesday, I got some RAM (a 512 MB module, to be exact) I had ordered earlier in the week after coming home from work. Combined with the 512 MB module it already had, I've noticed quite an improvement in performance from certain programs (namely those that ran slowly or wouldn't run at all beforehand), as well as the fact that the system didn't slow down a bit at times like it did before (which, if I understand correctly, is due to using the full capacity of the physical RAM and needing to switch to the page file on the hard drive when more memory is needed). I had originally placed the order on Crucial's site before and wondered why it never came - turns out it was voided due to something with the credit card (this has happened with other products from other companies as well), and I ended up having to order it from a reseller they mentioned instead - but either way, I got what I wanted, and it works just fine =)

For more information on what I did the past two weeks, read on:

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Vacation, Computer Issues, and Some Interesting Things

July 23, 2006 at 8:52 PM

My family's going on vacation to Kitty Hawk, North Carolina in September - it's been seven years since we last went there!

But there's bad news...

My future temporary doe-license-processing job starts before and ends after my vacation, so there's a schedule conflict.

But there's good news...

I later found out that the days for that job are flexible, so my family and I can take their vacation after all! =D

As for what else I've been up to, read on:

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And Speaking of Work…

July 22, 2006 at 6:14 PM

Two weeks ago, I got a call to work at the Courthouse...but instead of getting stuff ready for the elections, this time around I'll be working with processing doe licenses - it starts on August 9 and will last for six weeks.

But wait, there's more!

I got another call later in the week, stating that I've also been hired to start working at the filing job I mentioned earlier. I thought I didn't get that job, but it turns out that it had been deferred for awhile, and I actually did get it (but was never told about it till now). I started on Monday (my schedule is an hour shorter than usual, starting at 9:00 AM instead of 8:00 AM), and will be working on it until my license-processing job starts. Both of these may lead into one more job: working for the 2006 General Election =)

I've only been working at this job for a week so far, but it's quite a bit of work...and the heat from summer isn't helping - more or less, I'm helping out with filing.

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[Club] Work, [Website] Work, [and Character] Work…

June 15, 2006 at 11:44 PM

The Lions Club Awards Ceremony was held on the first of June, and it went pretty well: Mom won a "Lion of the Year" award, and we were both told that the brochure we worked on looked great - depending on the case, we might be doing another one for someone else, and this time get paid for it =D

Also, I've been working on a website for another one of my uncles - I got the Smarty template system working both locally on my computer and remotely on his site's server, which saved me a lot of time when working on that site =)

Speaking of the template system: Since it worked so well for that particular project, it might give me a reason to try working on the prototype template again, and finally get around to giving my site a much-needed makeover. First thing's first, though - I'll have to work with it a little while longer, not only to learn a bit more about it, but also to make sure I don't run into any roadblocks this time around.

Finally, the Characters section of my site has someone new, at the very bottom of it. He doesn't have an official listing there (yet - certain details need worked out first), but you'll see he does have his own page...if you look hard enough, that is ;)

2006 Municipal Primary Rundown

May 22, 2006 at 12:11 AM

The 2006 Municipal Primary is over, and the voting units worked great - given this is the first time the county's used them (prior to this, we had a punch-card voting system), there were only minor problems with them...But still, the election went pretty good in my opinion =)

Also, once again, I'm unemployed, at least until the next election* - at least I'll have some free time for awhile.

(* - But maybe not - last week, I was told I could be hired for a job regarding filing, which would be from the middle of June to the first week of August - it's only four hours a day instead of seven-and-a-half, and I'm not sure how many days it would be, although that probably won't be known unless/until I get the job...But at least it would give me some work to do until the next election =) )

Speaking of the election, here's what I've been doing:

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Happy (23rd) Birthday to Me!

April 27, 2006 at 10:23 AM

As of today, April 27, 2006, at 10:23 AM EST (GMT-5), I'm officially 23! =D

(I changed the timestamp for this post so that it will show up at the exact minute of my birth, since I'll be at work when it actually happens =P)

One Job Less, One Job More

March 26, 2006 at 6:42 PM

Later this year, I (and my parents) will hopefully be feeling a lot better. Why, you ask? Well, there's two reasons why, both related to the work my Mom got involved in:

  • In June, the current King Lion will be taking over the position of the Secretary at the Kittanning Lions Club in June - my Mom held this position for five years when the Secretary at that time broke her arm (and, some time later, left the club). All I'll have to do is give him the files necessary to take the notes, and show him the formats that Mom and I followed when doing the notes.
  • Mom's trying to find someone to help as a Sunday School teacher, so she won't have to teach a class every week - she's been doing this for eleven years (!), is burnt out from doing this so much, and has trouble trying to find new lesson material every week (which tends to involve me looking up a lot of stuff for her at the last minute).

That's the "one job less" part - the "one job more" part is that I'm working at the Courthouse again! With the new touch-screen voting units, I've had a lot less work to do so far...And I won't have to do any more mask punching! =D

Also, my maternal grandparents got a dog recently - his name is Ben, is a Black Labrador mix, pretty big, and only a pup. He tends to run around quite a bit, and will gnaw on your hand if you aren't careful =P I still find it funny when he turns his head to the side after making some "unusual" noises (to him).

I'm not really fond of going with a parent or relative somewhere if I was told about it at the last minute, but I can deal with it - my problem is when they promise to try and get me home at a certain time, yet we all stay there far past what was originally promised, and it's happened a lot.

Also, I found out about this last year, but, well...Remember when I mentioned swearing in front of my Dad at the age of five? It turns out that I heard that word about a year before that incident, from one of my aunts - what's worse is that she actually encouraged me to say it (I found out about this from the other aunt, who was also there at that time), just for fun. I respect them, but what happened after saying that to my Dad was not funny >=(

And now, here's what I did since the last entry:

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New Glasses and New Equipment

March 4, 2006 at 6:41 PM

Due to a screwup when updating the stylesheet (the amount of data in the stylesheet was more than what the multi-line text area for it could hold), I've had to revert to the previous color scheme for the blog =(

Here's the interesting things that have happened in the past two months:

January 23: I got my new glasses (half-rimmed, unlike my previous pair)! It's going to take awhile to get used to them, though...Also, I replaced the mouse I got for my laptop sometime during the weekend due to the left button not working right for unknown reasons - I replaced it with a different model, this one being a Logitech MX610. I don't need the E-Mail or IM buttons (although the volume up/down/mute buttons on it have come in useful at times), but it was the closest match I could find to my current mouse.

February 6: I wanted a Table Mate II after getting my laptop, and I got it today! Now I can be in any room of the house and have a place to set my laptop on, so I can comfortably work with it.

I also found out how to successfully add new users in Ubuntu: All I had to do was use the "adduser" command (with the proper parameters), and I could finally add new users that can log in this time! It seems the problem I had was related to the "Users and Groups" application it has for this - I have no idea why I couldn't properly add users with it, though =/

Later in that week, I went to CompUSA and got a retractable modem/Ethernet combination cable (they had to look in the back to find it, though), so that I wouldn't have to deal with the mess of carrying around a long modem and Ethernet cable with me when I need them. I also got a compact laptop desk - now I have something to set it on (and angle it for best use) wherever I go, if I don't have the Table Mate with me (and I can also use the two together =) ). The laptop desk is a bit shaky if I have the laptop centered perfectly on it, but if it's moved off to the right a bit, it'll stay balanced and holds perfectly still (probably since most of the heavier parts are on the left side of it, in my case).

February 16: I worked on getting one of my Mom's friend's computer fixed - it was running Windows ME and wouldn't boot up past a blue-screen message (which stated the problem was with the IFSHLP.SYS file). I brought my laptop and retractable cable with me, and they both came in handy here, as they allowed me to get online at their house and do some research on the problem. I tried everything I could think of that I found during my search, but when I finally figured out what to do before I had to leave (copying the IFSHLP.SYS file from another location on the drive to the location specified in the error message), followed by restarting the computer, it would just shut down when booting it up, leaving it worse off than before. I was there long enough for one day, and had to leave and come back tomorrow, this time with a Windows 2000 SP4 (Slipstreamed) CD.

I went back tomorrow with the disk, and proceeded to install Windows 2000 in place of ME. I wouldn't have done this originally, but they said it was OK, as there wasn't anything on that computer that was important. I spent all day getting the necessary updates in place (which takes awhile when using dial-up), and spent the last hour or so getting the EarthLink programs they wanted (the toolbar and E-Mail client) set up properly. I also showed him how to access his E-Mail with just their client instead of a combination of it and Outlook Express.

March 1: I finally got the leg on my glasses fixed! It doesn't seem to be bothering me anymore now, which is a good thing =)

The stuff that Mom ordered from Autism Gear came in today, too. It took us awhile to get it ordered: At first, it kept getting put off, and when she finally went to order it, no one was on the line - it turns out we were calling the wrong number...Although that was the number they had up at the time, and they must have changed it since then.

March 3: I got a call from the Courthouse today - the county is switching over to new voting machines, and I was asked if I wanted to come in to learn how to use it. I would work just a few days a week at first, and eventually be working at the usual schedule I had during the elections. I said yes, and was told that by next week, they'd have the remaining issues taken care of so that I can come in to work at the Courthouse again =)

End of 2005 Recap

January 14, 2006 at 6:11 PM

As promised, here's what's been going on so far:

In 2005:

November 29: I did some work on two computers for my uncle - I put anti-virus software on one (from Norton to AVG), put in a new modem to the other (due to original being a few years old and unable to find drivers for it), and made sure that the applications on those computers were updated to the most recent version.

I also got my laptop, and so far, it works great! The only negative things I've noticed are that it feels a bit heavy (though I haven't lifted that many laptops, and I'm sure the more I carry it around, the lighter it'll feel =P), and the battery life seems to be used up quickly, lasting a bit more than an hour when constantly run...But that's still pretty good for me, given that I can run it for quite a bit without having anything plugged in =)

I also found there were some startup issues with Ubuntu Linux the first time I booted into it, but they appeared to be related to the lack of a network connection (it was tested out in the upstairs living room, away from the Ethernet connection) - Aside from that, I didn't notice any problems, and will continue to test it out tomorrow, to make sure everything works OK before putting it away till Christmas.

December 3: It's a good thing I decided to send it back (and not validate my copy of Windows XP at this time - I made sure to return the XP Home Edition CD it was sent with), as I found three issues with the laptop: (1) My GigaBank 4.0 USB drive was recognized as a USB 1.1 device, although it was really 2.0, and I thought the system didn't have any USB 2.0 ports, (2) Even with the Ethernet cable plugged in, I still couldn't connect to the Internet in Linux, and (3) I checked XP and noticed that they installed Home Edition, rather than Professional (I clearly stated I wanted Professional, and it was also marked as such on the order form I got from them). Other than that, I don't see any problems with it.

Also, my parents found another kitty in the barn, and I filled out a few more job leads.

December 22: I went for two job interviews today. When I came home, I found that the laptop has arrived...This time with XP Professional installed on it (and also boots to it by default - it booted by default into Ubuntu last time). I reinstalled my programs, tried it out again, and it seems to be working great now.

As for the three issues? Well:

  1. Thanks to USBInfo, it turns out that not only are all three of the laptop's USB ports 2.0 (High)-compatible, but it is the USB drive itself with the problem - I tried both it, and a card reader (with a "Certified USB (Hi-Speed)" logo on it, something the USB drive didn't have), and though the USB drive reports to be using USB 1.1, the card reader uses USB 2.0 (High). I'll have to contact I/OMagic (the manufacturer of the GigaBank 4.0 USB drive) about this and see what can be done about it.
  2. In Ubuntu, all I had to do was set the Ethernet connection to use DHCP, and it worked just fine. I should've thought to check this out first before complaining about it, right? =P
  3. I paid for Professional, but got Home...Although I think that this was an honest mistake, as I'll bet it's not requested that often. I got it sent back with the XP Professional CD, with a replacement ID tag on the bottom of the laptop, and have confirmed that it is running XP, so this issue has been taken care of =)

December 23: I updated some parts of Ubuntu via Synaptic, and it worked OK except for one update which wouldn't install. Also, I have had issues with creating new users as, although I can create them, I can't log in with them for some unknown reason. Logging in as root (thankfully) still works , though...But the next time I went to start up the computer, the entries in GRUB were all messed up, and I couldn't boot into Windows or Ubuntu.

I was really worried about it, but then decided to search around for info on this problem, and tried out my Knoppix CD (which I had made a long time ago, but didn't use much) on it. Thanks to that, I managed to find out what was installed where, and found both the current menu.lst bootfile (which somehow got screwed up) and a backup of it with a tilde at the end, named menu.lst~ (the original, clean copy).

I tried to allow writing to this file (so I could switch the data in the bad one with the data in the good one), but I couldn't get it to work, so I copied those files to my USB drive, and from there to my desktop, for safekeeping. I then restarted the system, and when GRUB came up, I manually edited the first boot option so that it would work like the one for Ubuntu in the clean bootfile. When I tried it out, it worked! I could boot into Linux, and after I did that, I made backups of the bad and good bootfiles (renaming those so they wouldn't be overwritten by accident), and replaced the bad menu.lst's data with that of the good copy's data.

Once I did that, I restarted the system one more time, and I can now boot into both Ubuntu and Windows as if nothing ever happened.

December 24: I went to the Christmas Eve service at church, and then to Granny's for supper and gifts. After that, we went home, and I opened my Christmas gifts tonight since Dad wouldn't be here on Sunday, due to how the shifts were set up (if I heard right, he won't be off Christmas until 2010!).

After opening up my gifts, I went ahead with getting one of them set up - it was a LinkSys WRT54G router, which I got since it allows for wireless connections, and also has a four-port switch built in (I decided it would be better to replace my current [wired-only] router and switch with this instead of getting a wireless access point, especially given the small difference in cost between them and the fact I could reduce some cord complication this way). I used the automatic setup utility to set everything up, and it worked just like my old router once that was done. I tried getting my laptop to connect, but it wouldn't for unknown reasons - it could see the network, but not connect to it.

December 25: I went to church for the Christmas service, and then came home to change my clothes. After messing around with the router a bit more, I finally managed to get the wireless connection working this time around - now I can use the laptop in my bedroom, or pretty much any room on this house, and be online without the need of an Ethernet cable =)

Later in the day, I got my laptop and gifts for my relatives, and went to my aunt's house to visit Grandma's side of the family (as Grandma's house was too small for everyone to be in). We had supper, and I messed around with the laptop afterwards, showing it to my relatives, who thought it was interesting. When running on the battery, it lasted quite a bit (I didn't keep track of how long, though) before the system started beeping due to the battery being almost completely drained, at which point I shut it down and put it away until I left. When we had to leave, I wished my relatives a Merry Christmas, and then left for home. When I got home, I plugged in the laptop so that I could recharge the battery for the next time the laptop would be used.

In 2006:

Between Christmas 2005 and January 10, 2006: I have been working on getting my laptop set up, and am slowly moving my program installers and personal stuff over to it. I also got two new mice, both made by Logitech (my previous mice were made by Microsoft). For the old computer, I got an MX310, to replace the mouse with the messed-up left button. There were some difficulties getting back and forward navigation to work in addition to autoscroll without the use of the program it came with, but I managed to solve this issue by substituting its own mouse driver with that of a Microsoft IntelliMouse one. For the laptop, I got an LX7, and for a cordless mouse, it works great! Much better than the first cordless mouse I got years ago, and when the program for it isn't used, it works just like the mouse I have on the new computer (no driver substitution required, unlike the old computer).

Also, in regards to the password issue brought this up on the Ubuntu forums and was told to upgrade to Breezy (from the pre-installed Hoary), but something went wrong, and I do not have a GUI when booting into Linux anymore - if anyone can help (or can find someone to help me), please do - I'd greatly appreciate it.

January 10: I went to the optometrist to see about getting new glasses - I've had my current ones for over two years. It went good, although it seems my right eye got (negligibly) worse since I last went there, and the next pair of glasses I have will be bronze-colored half-rims (and my first half-rimmed pair).

That should be everything =)

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