Russ’ blog archives—2009

Welcome to my web logs for 2009...

openSuSE is dead

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

openSuSE 10 is dead. This is an old friend I’ve used in excess of four years now. Novell, ever impatient, tight on server space, and more miserly still on charity for down-streamers, terminated it at the end of October. What this means is that not only aren’t they actively supporting it (which is totally okay by me), they have decisively destroyed it (shame, shame!) by removing the remote software installation points essential to Yast. There is no “back-burner” software repository. They require you to flee to openSuSE 11.x.

How did I figure this out? It is publicly known, but I wasn’t paying attention until this morning when, faced with needing to get some software out of cvs on an open source site, I realized I’d never installed a cvs client on my development host (because we only use svn at GWAVA). So I popped open Yast only to find the repositories are gooooooooooonnnnnnnnneeeeee!

This is very annoying because it’s so risky to upgrade dot releases, but moving to a new major version is just asking for massive trouble.

My development host has been running 10.3 for the last eighteen months. As I’m ending my employment at GWAVA very soon, I am loathe to go to the trouble to cycle my host development platform.

So, long fascinated with Ubuntu and convinced at this early point that they do not pull the carpet out from under their subscribers’ feet, I’m moving to that Linux on another piece of (personally owned) hardware. I may move my main development host over eventually assuming my contract with GWAVA is renewed.

Meanwhile, I’ve got my brand new flaming hot Windows 7 host, which I’ve discussed in recent blogs, plus Ubuntu Karmic running on an old piece of junk that formerly ran openSuSE 10.2. I probably won’t be able to run any development tools on this new Ubuntu box, but I will be better able to administrate my web server (sheesh, it’s running on openSuSE 10.2) from it than from any Windows box.

I think it’s time to rebuild my web server to place it on Ubuntu as well. Sayonara, Novell.

Running modern JEE development tools...

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

I made a comment last week about how Linux won’t run my development tools. In fact, I’ve been running Eclipse, my primary integrated development environment, for over a year on openSuSE 10.2. I mostly run Europa, but have tried Ganymede (very short temper for that version) and Galileo (no wonder it came out so quickly to replace Ganymede).

However, I have always found it hangs and/or crashes frequently: about once per day if I’m careful only to edit and compile Java source code; at least once per hour if I get to editing JSPs or invoking ant scripts.

I put up with this state of affairs because, compared to my Windows host, Linux launched Eclipse lightning fast. And my product test environment in which I develop is already set up on my Linux host. And I promised my colleagues that I’d be the Linux guy. And etc.

What clenched the deal for me, however, was getting into Spring. I attended Spring Core Framework training, but couldn’t get SpringSource Tool Suite (STS) on to Linux until I got my instructor involved who sent me the course materials, which had been distributed for Windows and Macintosh, for Linux.

Remember, we’re talking about my own personal development host here and not the one belonging to my employer. So, other than pride, I have no reason to flinch at any reasonable choice I make.

STS launches on Linux, but there’s nothing you can do there except hang and crash—not its behavior on Windows.

Now, I know, I could be an idiot. In fact, I am an idiot and I freely admit it. But, I have been active on Eclipse forums for nearly two years and I’ve heard and seen it all over and over again. I know about not using any but Sun JVMs. I know about mixing and matching JDKs. I know about the black art of maintaining eclipse.ini. Yeah.

Eclipse is made by mostly Windows guys for mostly Windows use. Because it’s Java-based, it tends to run on Linux and Macintosh, but those are foreign countries to Eclipse. And my colleagues at work are all Windows guys and never suffer from the crap I put up with.

Then my interest in Flex became the last straw. There’s a rumoured FlexBuilder coming for Linux, but as it’s Eclipse-based too, what’s the point?

When I was bringing up my new hardware, I first installed Ubuntu Karmic, 64-bit because my Windows 7 update didn’t come down as an ISO, and I secretely wished I could be in denial over the conclusions I drew (and have explained in earlier paragraphs here).

Karmic was zippy and a pleasure to play around with. I’ve only played a bit with Ubuntu, a few years ago, and have always just used openSuSE owing to my status as a Novell alumnus.

I loaded on Eclipse Galileo and tried it out. Very fast, but basically, there was little I could do with it. For example, I couldn’t create a Java project at all. I could create a Dynamic Web Project and add my first package, but when adding a new class, the Finish button wouldn’t materialize so I could move on. Stuff like that proves that Linux and Eclipse just isn’t worth the pain.

I’ve seen others on the forums with Linux problems and they do get help, but not as fast as just plain Eclipse problems and advice from Windows users whose problems are rarely OS-related.

I’m very sad because I love Linux with all my heart. But, I love technological progress more. I hate to concede this one (temporarily, I hope) to Microsoft, but there it is: game, set and match.

Update: Later I found this blog entry explaining that Eclipse is using GTK+ wrong in certain ways and has got caught doing it beginning in Karmic only. See Fixing Eclipse in Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala.

The sweet success of a new machine...

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

So, after months of fighting my main development host running openSuSE Linux, which I’ll soon lose, and an old Windows XP Professional computer (Pentium 4, 2.8GHz with 3+Gb RAM), I am resigned that I will never be able to run the SpringSource toolkit or FlexBuilder unless I update my home hardware.

I’m fairly loyal to Dell Computers, but I saw that they charge a premium for computers once you get beyond the range of mere consumer toys these days, so I decided to build my own from parts. "Bwahahah," laughs Dr. Frankestein.

I got some good advice from a couple of people whose opinions I respect and who have experience building machines themselves, my nephew, Richard, and a fellow who builds many of the machines at work, Ernie Riedelbach.

I bought a kit from TigerDirect with chassis, mobo, CPU, power supply, hard drive and DVD burner, extra memory and a video card. Fortunately, they didn’t have the hard drive that came with the kit, which I didn’t want in the first place, in stock. So I called and modified the order to include two chocolate shakes instead of the big Coke.

I got a card reader and some SATA cables from Directron, plus a 120mm fan from BestBuy.

My build-out looks thus:

  Item Manufacturer Cost
Case Ultra X-Blaster Black ATX Mid-Tower $50
Power Supply Ultra LSP550 550-Watt SATA-ready, SLI-ready 135mm Fan $50
Intel Mobo DP55WB Micro ATX, Intel P55 Express Chipset $97
CPU Intel Core i5 750 2.66GHz, 8Mb L3 cache, Quad-Core Lynnfield $200
DDR3 Memory Four Crucial 2GB DDR3 1066 240-pin DIMM RM25664BA1067 $184
Video Card GeForce 9500GT 1GB PCI-E 2.0 VD 01G-P3-N958-LR $60
Hard Drives Two 500GB SATA 3.5in OEM WD WD5000AADS $110
DVD+R 22x, DVD+RW 8X, DVD-RW 6x, DVD-RAM 12x, SATA
SATA Cable Two Standard 18" SATA Cables $6
Card Reader nMedia ZE-C68 Internal USB 2.0 All-in-one Card Reader $9
Muffin Fan 120mm (don’t remember brand, from BestBuy) $17

What I got out of this was a pretty screaming machine running Windows 7 Professional 64-bit. Very nice even if it is Windows. I would have preferred a Linux, but Linux won’t run my development tools very well if at all.

The build was child’s play. Since the last time I built a box, about 6 years ago, I find everything is better documented and color-coded. I had no trouble at all matching all the myriad little wires from the case lights, switches, USB ports, and peripherals to their respective pins on the mobo.

I installed Ubuntu on it first, just for grins and sighs, but as I noted, it won’t run Eclipse, my principal development environment let alone with all the Spring stuff on top. However, Ubuntu does have very nice tools to do useful things like check the hard disks and scan memory for flaws.


“ La musique n’a d’autre dessein que l’adoration de Dieu. ”

Johann Sebastian Bach

There is no God, right?

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Finding God is probably the most important thing we can spend three-quarters of a century doing here on this planet. Many, perhaps most of my colleagues, friends and acquaintences have given up. I don’t know if they’re disappointed, cynical, angry or just insincere, but my observation is that failing to find Him leads to mockery of those who do believe.

And that situation can only get worse as our society sinks deeper into the moral oblivion it’s so fervently embraced.

But, that’s not what I’m on about today.

Garbage-in, garbage-out

There’s a old saying in my industry about why computer software sometimes gives unsatisfactory when not catastrophic results. It’s “garbage-in, garbage-out.”

The analogy is meant to point out that if you have been looking for the God many may tell you about and haven’t found him, it may be because you’ve been misinformed about God.

Now, telling another he’s benighted is an exercise in intellectual arrogance that I don’t like to conduct. My days of youthful pride are, I hope, far behind me. I’m often wrong about a lot of things and I’m not the brightest crayon in the box.

But I do know this: God exists.

The 2-ton elephant in the room

If you’ve been told all your life that the elephant is a tiny grey creature with a trunk that lives in the bush of certain African and Asian countries, you could spend your whole life looking for it. You’d never find it because while it may be grey, it isn’t a tiny creature. What’s more, the mice and rats you did find fitting the other half of the description don’t have trunks. Well, okay, tiny is pretty relative. The elephant is tiny compared to a great whale. Maybe you were talking to the wrong observer?

I don’t know God exists in the way an atheist accepts. I would protest that I know empirically, but today’s non-believer has a rather narrow view about what constitutes valid observation. Non-believers seem somehow to accept that there are facts outside the realm of quadruple sensuality (eyes, ears, touch and smell) like love—and many don’t even believe that. There are still other manifestations of truth besides love that cannot be subjected to physical observation or that defy any accurate or satisfying description (like the divine taste of good chocolate). However, an atheist’s imagination isn’t much broader than that.

Ironically, an atheist’s imagination is just about good enough to get us to the Moon or to Mars which he sees as a tremendous achievement. But, it doesn’t come close to getting men to stop waging war or feeding hungry people. It takes men with real imagination to solve those problems. Look who responded in the Southeast Asian tsunami. Who sent aid to the victims of hurricane Katrina? Government showed up late to those, but atheists were pretty much missing altogether. I guess they think that government is good enough.

God is here

But God Himself is in the room. In a sense, He is so big he can’t be seen. He plays by rules man ill-understands. He has created this whole universe for our betterment and is teaching us things that we could never learn without the hard experiences we face. I mean war and hatred, family love and joy, disease and intolerance, friendship and sacrifice.

It’s not that God isn’t to be found in the room. It’s that we’re really and very literally His children. His love for us is why He created this mysterious schoolyard in which we flounder, committing the most egregious mistakes, hurting each other (especially) and paining Him by our faithless actions, but true to that love, He will not step into the mix in any way that would suspend or thwart this free agency we enjoy. That’s part and parcel of the story.

Pull the rabbit out of the hat and school’s out. That’s why.

God exists (among myriad other observations that convince me He does) because this existence, when led by those with faith and love, ultimately triumphs over the negative. It works because the hand doesn’t reveal the rabbit. Some believe there is no rabbit; others are confident that there is. It’s faith. Despite the adversity, faith finds a way to turn the negative conditions and experiences into at least learning, always growing and, for the sincere, a sense of gratitude.

Where God isn’t is in the moral depravity of our society. He isn’t in the tawdry attempts of humans redefining what tolerance and suffering are, our willingness to surround ourselves with the worst criminals while we deny life to unborn humans we irresponsibly procreate then discard, or in the entitlement attitudes of the masses who want nothing better than to suck at some comfortable teat be it government or charity.

Let’s grab our lives by the horns

As Lewis put it, “God wants us to grow up.”

He wants us to take ownership of ourselves, our families, the problems in our neighbhorhoods, cities and countries. He doesn’t want us getting free stuff by gambling or playing the stock market, but He does want us to give liberally of all that He gives us in the first place: capital to help companies grow, product products, give breadwinners a wage; our hand and excess out to misfortunates who cannot negociate the adversities of life without the help of others. God is not in getting rich and He isn’t in being poor.

If you were looking for God in wealth or in the transfer of it, you’ve been mistaken about Him. If you were looking for Him in forcing everyone to be nice to everybody else, you missed the point.

God also wants us to respect each other’s free agency just as He respects ours. But, that’s a thesis to develop another time.

Find out who God must be and what He gives you. Find out what He expects of you. Rabbi Harold Kushner remarked that there [were] five billion people on the planet and God cares what [he] has for lunch. God does care. He cares about everything. He especially cares about whether you are being totaly honest and taking responsibility. He cares about whether you are kind and loving because you’re here to grow up to become like Him, to get a doctorate in love. Though His children, a lot of us look like we’re not going to make it out of high school with a diploma let alone that advanced degree.

God isn’t so big that a bird’s feather dropping to the ground escapes Him on any of the countless planets on which He presently maintains life. He isn’t so small as to favor one people over another or to cave in and grant victory to one group over another. Why would you ask God to grant you victory in the end zone when the other team is populated by an equal number of players who are His beloved children? He is into helping both sides play their best.

God helps everyone by sustaining life during this 80-year long education we’re getting and God helps especially those whose effort and desires accord with His plan for peace and unity.

It’s not summer—yet

Now, if you thought peace and unity were coming in this world, you’re again mistaken. You missed God’s point.

Men are weak, foolish and arrogant. Men will not tolerate peace and unity. This is why peace and unity come after the educational experience. It’s not to opiate the masses, this idea, it’s just the plain truth. It’s not because God doesn’t care, that He doesn’t ache to put an end to the charade, that He’s mean and loathsome because He chooses not to end the misery.

God is waiting until the bell rings. His bell: He’s not going to spoil anything for us. As stupid and intolerable as man is, God will wait patiently until all the lessons and experiences have been lived by all the men and women. Then comes the end. And a sorry lot most of us will make by complaining that it wasn’t fair, that He didn’t love us or that He didn’t give us a sign. We just refused to listen and believe.

How to change brakes...

Friday, 2 October 2009

Today I was surprised by my daughter who came by for a brake change for her car.

Now, if you’re normal, you’re thinking I did it. You’d be wrong. All she wanted was my floor jack and a few tools. I figured she’d save about $100.

It’s true that, in the end, a couple of bolt heads were a bit worn and it required the purchase of a 12-point Craftsman socket (14mm) to ensure both that we could get them off and be able to reuse them. And it’s true that I helped in that process, but it was mostly out of concern that the bolt come off undamaged. I was just plain fussing. Otherwise, she had it under control, pneumatic impact driver, air rachet, rubber mallet, the works.

I also fussed a bit over the rear lift points for her Camry—she was using my floor jack instead of whatever junk jack Toyota includes.

She even did the standard joke about spreading the lubricant package on the abrasion surface of the brake pads to quiet them down. She was just one of the guys today.

Out of it I ended up getting all my sockets and end wrenches sorted between metric and English. I don’t know where my old 14mm socket got off to over the years, but I’ve got a crisp and shiny replacement now. My daughter’s car is good for a bunch more miles now (these were rear disc brakes) and I have the satisfaction of knowing that my little girl is a pretty dang competent mechanic. She already knew the names of all the tools and which ones were for what job.

Hehehe, some days are witness to great events!

Sound and Skype on Linux...

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

My main development host is a big piece of 64-bit iron on which I run openSuSE Linux 10.3. And I run GNOME which is alright with me, though I admit I only did it because I had used KDE once and thought it clunky. Some swear by KDE. Whatever.

Anyway, my Linux host works well enough. However, today I tried to use Skype on it and I couldn’t get the sound to work.

I have always run Skype on my Windows host; Skype for Linux is very stinky, but it would be rather more convenient for work reasons to run Skype on Linux.

Googling, I saw echos or suspicions that installing Skype on Linux and running it mutes the speaker (headphone) jack. I could not verify that this was true, but I did succeed in getting mine working (and it did not at first—just as if it had been muted).

I first went to the Control Center and ran the Sound utility. Testing the speaker produced nothing.

I googled around and whether this was the optimal or even the right solution, I was led to install (via Yast) aumix.

Run aumix from /usr/bin/aumix. I found my Line setting at 0, so I used the down-arrow to get to it, then the right-arrow to increase it to 100%. I don’t remember which other settings were 0, but in the end, except for IGain left at 50%, I left all others at 100%. I pressed S to save the settings.

(Note: aumix is entirely scriptable since it accepts command-line arugments. So, you could create settings profiles as bash scripts and just run them as needed.)

Then I returned to Control Center->Sound and tested again. I found only the left ear of my headphones working then, but jiggling the connector the right ear came on. I adjust the volume using a control on the headphones themselves. I don’t yet know if my microphone works, but I may later today after audibly Skyping someone.

Oh, yeah. A real stinky thing about Skype on Linux is that if you close the main view, it’s the same thing as quitting—except that the process remains live. If you do

	# ps -ef | grep [s]kype

you’ll see that it’s still there and if you attempt to launch Skype and log in, you’ll only get a nastygram to the effect that "Sign-in failed: Another Skype instance may exist."

The only solution seems to be to kill the process (kill -9 process), then launch again. Minimize Skype instead of closing it next time (very unlike its Windows behavior).

Skype developers: it should be better on Linux than on Windows because Linux is better. Get a clue.


“ Ye cannot dethrone an iniquitous king save it be through much contention, and the shedding of much blood. ”

King Mosiah, first century BC

Organized religion...

Sunday, 2 August 2009

The Adversary has sent a new rallying cry throughout the land these last decades. If he cannot turn us away from our God and His Christ, he will at least encourage us to keep them at arm’s length and refrain from frequenting those places and occasions to hear bonafide truth concerning Them.

Sure, attending religious services with a bunch of other people brings no guarantee of truth. Men are weak and corrupt. There is nothing fundamentally safe about gathering together in worship. A congregation may worship the very Devil himself if it chooses. This essay, however, is about God choosing organized religion by which to convey His word to the world. It examines recorded history and practice rather than a novel, convenient invention with no basis in truth.

The case for organized religion

Speaking to His apostles, Jesus said,

...take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.

...tell it unto the church: but if [an individual] neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.

For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
(St. Matthew xvii.16-20)

You see, it’s always about multiple people—never about one. Obviously, Jesus does not approve the Adversary’s whispered advice to shun organized religion.

Do you believe Christ? If not, this is not the essay for you. The "essays" you should read first are found in the New Testament and the Book of Mormon. This essay uses those, and the Old Testament, in support of organized religion.

If you consider yourself a Christian, but don’t "believe" in organized religion, ask yourself why Jesus went to the trouble of establishing His church when He was here? Ask yourself how you can follow His teachings including being baptized and taking communion without gathering together with others?

Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
(St. John iii.5)

It takes at least one other person in order to be baptized (actually three others because of the need for witnesses), an act essential to salvation according to this statement by Jesus. The person performing this ordinance should also be a legitimate representative of the Lord. Such a calling can only come through the Church which provides an organized structure of legitimacy (by definition).

The example the Lord set in breaking bread with His disciples on the eve of His death strongly suggests "community" and "organization" of believers. Can one break bread and pass it to oneself in memory of the Crucified? Where does one obtain the sacerdotal authority to do so? Why only these twelve men and not all His other followers too? This suggests hierarchy and an organization.

Organized religion in history

All through the history of God and His dealings with the earth, we observe God generally speaking to one man, His representative—a prophet of ancient or modern Israel, but it is always on behalf of all His other children.

Moses was sent as an emissary to Pharoah demanding the release of Israel. These were led as a body through the wilderness and then established as a nation in Palestine. Moses organized Israel with "captains over thousands, over hundreds, over fifties, over tens, and officers among [the] tribes." (Deuteronomy i.15)

Service to others has consistantly been demonstrated and praised throughout holy scripture. Service to oneself was never listed by the Lord in His sermon on the mount as a good thing. Instead, service to others in the community was instructed. Thus, did Rebekah at the well refresh the servant of Abraham and his son Isaac sent back to a branch of the family to obtain a wife of the covenant people. God’s covenant people are His church. In Isaac’s day, a different branch was to be had at Haran. (Genesis xxiv)

Samuel annointed Saul, then David kings of Israel. Samuel had been taken as a little boy to Israel’s chief priest, Eli, because he was chosen to become God’s next mouthpiece. Again, organization. (Samuel ix and xvi)

God chose descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as the covenant people to be a sort of leaven in the world to safeguard and carry His gospel to all the world in ways that are suggested by the metaphor of the vineyard in the Book of Jacob, chapter 5. This was people in an organization. Today, God chooses "Gentiles" to build His kingdom and eventually to return the favor to Israel. This is organization. If none gathered together in worship, how would God "gather" His chosen people? God ever speaks of individual salvation, but in the context of the salvation of His saints who are gathered together, linked to one another in community and sealed to one another in families stretching back across millennia. Nothing of this can be done without organization and God chooses His church for this.

It always involves multiple people. It always involves revealed gospel—from the Lord to His prophet to the people.

Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret* unto his servants the prophets.
(Amos iii.7)

(Hebrew: counsel)

It always involves authority. It always involves gathering. Therefore, it always involves organization, sometimes multiple ones in far-flung geography and low-technological conditions (Alma 29:8), sometimes one single organzation when conditions permit (Doctrine and Covenants, preface).

Yes, the Spirit will guide a person in his life, giving him peace and aid in the journey through mortality on an individual basis. However, this Comforter spoken of by Jesus was given to His disciples who were organized into a church, whose baptisms were incidental to that church, whose Pentecost and the bestowal of that Spirit came as a result of and demonstrated spectacularly in congregational worship:

And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.

And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.

And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.

And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews [and] devout men, out of every nation under heaven.
(Acts of the Apostles ii.1-5)

Reason stares

You do not read in scripture or hear from the mouth of the Lord’s prophets,

Yea, and I, the LORD, sent my servant to Timmy with these words:

Study Vishnu, smoke marijuana, hug trees and, on the Sabbath, worship the Lord thy God at the water park in the south of the valley. Take no care for the soul of others. In these actions doest thou honour thy Maker and provide for thy soul.
(Book of Satan)

One smears mud on her face in a grotto, another suffocates himself in a smoke-filled tent, still others dance with snakes or sacrifice black cats. This is not worship of God; this is chaos and disorder.

Behold, mine house is a house of order, saith the Lord God, and not a house of confusion.
(Doctrine and Covenants 132:8)

No, the Lord makes of the people of the earth His sheep. Who utters the word sheep implies gathering, for flock is necessarily more than one individual. Such are the Lord’s metaphors, such is His intention. The number of recorded instances of the Lord’s voice or inspiration are staggering small in which it can be asserted that instruction was given to His interlocutor for His interlocutor and not for the benefit of others than His interlocutor. (In fact, no example comes to mind as I write this.)

So my reasoning leads me away from seeing the shunning of organized religion as anything but just another lie of the Adversary. It’s a lie calculated to turn a person away from his God and Heavenly Father. If the Devil cannot get us to hate God, at least he insists that we carefully avoid the greatest opportunities to hear what God has to say because then, Satan can begin to substitute his own words in our heart for the Lord’s.

In defence of his new, false faith, full of belief in things the Lord has not said and ignorant of the things He has said, a person will begin to say, "You know, I believe in God and Jesus, but I have a real problem with organized religion."

This ruse of the Adversary’s has long been known, so it isn’t as recent as we think. That it would prevail in the last days just before Lord Jesus’ triumphant return was known by prophets thousands of years ago:

For behold, at that day shall he rage in the hearts of the children of men, and stir them up to anger against that which is good.

And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well... —and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell.

And behold, others he flattereth away, and telleth them there is no hell; and he saith unto them: I am no devil, for there is none—and thus he whispereth in their ears, until he grasps them with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance.
(II Nephi 28:20-23)

At times, God has been explicit about organized religion: He desires us to gather together as a church to hear his word.

And thus they began to establish the order of the church in the city of Zarahemla.

Now I would that ye should understand that the word of God was liberal unto all, that none were deprived of the privilege of assembling themselves together to hear the word of God.

Nevertheless the children of God were commanded that they should gather themselves together oft, and join in fasting and mighty prayer in behalf of the welfare of the souls of those who knew not God.
(Alma 6:4-6)

Why would our Saviour, as Jehovah dealing with Israel, then as Jesus Christ dealing with the church He sent His apostles to establish among the Gentile nations, not have been serious about the very church He organized?

Satan benefits from human missteps in his bid to dissuade men from organized religion. He works very hard to corrupt men from the truth, from light and good practice. And he is very successful at it in spectacular ways.

He will remind men of the Inquisition and encourage men to gasp at this abomination perpetrated by organized religion upon the consciences and bodies of men. The very horror of it shocks the unthinking who is quick to claim the epiphany of associating it with organized religion.

But it was not organized religion that effectuated the Inquisition upon the earth; it was evil men hiding behind the cloak of organized religion. At worst men might begin to suspect that the Roman church was corrupt and abusive, that it did not hold the truth and was not God’s true church upon the earth. But, men cannot hold that church responsible even though the corruption and abuse that were the Inquisition went high up in its heirarchy.

Think instead upon the countless sincere believers and their acts of piety that led to outward signs such as sacrifice to build the glorious churches and cathedrals of Europe, the composition and performance of glorious music dedicated to celebrating the Lord’s birth, life, death and resurrection, or the quiet charity many believers visited upon each other in serving as God intended them to. That these people did this comes from the grace of missionary organization: people fanning out over the earth to educate their fellows in Jesus, bring their souls to Jesus.

True, the pot is scorched. Men are ignorant, greedy and in all other ways imperfect. This is a given. This is understood by God even as He allows men their agency and tolerates their mistakes. He sees the end from the beginning; men will not, cannot, destroy His work, even though His church is made up of these imperfect men.

A parenthesis: moral agency and stupidity

Lucifer is no idiot in capitalizing on the rather ho-hum and obvious fact that men are imperfect. He leads them from injustice to war as many times as he can accomplish it. One of man’s greatest follies is that collectively he is utterly unable to learn from history. So he is led to throw off one tyrant only to subjugate himself to another. So he is led to murder millions of God’s children through war. And he will frequently do these things in the name of whatever deity the Devil can induce him to invoke—be it Allah, Jehovah or Jesus—it’s all the same to him.

Through these horrifying acts, the Devil reaps the souls of men unprepared to die, men made vicious by war on the one hand and their victims in a state of carefree non preparation on the other, and he sets up resentment against the true God whom ignorant men will then hold responsible for "if God exists and is all powerful, why wouldn’t He step in and put an end to suffering and cruelty?" At most, a scant couple of generations later, man is back at it warring in the name of some god be it greed or even God Himself.

Ever the moron, man refuses to see through the Adversary’s ruse, to accept that God in His omniscience has given man use of free agency and expects him to use it just as a father teaches his child to pay attention, learn and make the choices of a grown up ere long he mature into one.

God is our Father and we learn the lessons of this creation less well than our children learn not to cross the street without looking. And yet it is we who grow impatient with what we see as our children’s lack of attention!

Saints worship in community

But the community of saints marches on receiving greater and greater light in preparation for the Lord’s return. Outside that community, truth is bestowed at best as so many crumbs falling from the Lord’s table—the table at which are seated His saints, by definition, the members of His church. And, in the last days, the Saviour has carefully organized His church and placed the fullness of the gospel within it. Yes, in the hands of men as imperfect as those He chose two millennia ago to lead the primitive Christian saints.

The theme is simple.

If God sent His word to prophets over the course of this earth’s history, what did He mean by it if it mattered not to Him that His word be followed? Why preach to us when nothing that we do in this life matters and we’ll all be preserved in the next?

Our Lord descended to the earth to live as a peasant in relative squalor, to endure poor food, degrading bathroom and sanitary conditions along with uncomfortable, searing heat. He wandered far and wide under these conditions. That’s right: the Master of the Universe, Creator of Heaven and Earth, the Lord God Omnipotent permitted Himself to be abused by ignorant and vain men, ultimately to suffer death at their hands. How then can we conclude that He wasn’t serious about what He said in His teachings? How can we preach to ourselves that it makes no difference if we

Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die; and it shall be well with us.

And there shall also be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry; nevertheless, fear God—he will justify in committing a little sin; yea, lie a little, take the advantage of one because of his words, dig a pit for thy neighbor; there is no harm in this; and do all these things, for tomorrow we die; and if it so be that we are guilty, God will beat us with a few stripes, [but] at last we shall be saved in the kingdom of God.

Yea, and there shall be many which shall teach after this manner, false and vain and foolish doctrines...
(II Nephi 28:7-9)

Does this sound like something the very Creator of an immense universe with countless galaxies, stars and planets, whose imagination is unlimited, would do "just to see what it would be like to live a degraded life and die at the hands of His creatures?" A life with no real purpose led in jest?

Or could the Great Jehovah be serious when He speaks to His people and teaches them? Could He actually care what His people do? Did He really care what His ancient covenant people ate for breakfast? Could He in fact know something about the outcome of this mortal existence that will be dramatically different for those who follow Him through His organized religion as compared to those who live in a natural, "eat, drink and be merry" state?

For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.
(Mosiah 3:19)

God reveals Himself to the whole world

When God reveals Himself to a prophet, it it always for the benefit of the whole world more than for the individual He has chosen. For this reason, we must be careful when we hear of revelation to individuals. God does not sow disorder and confusion. If He revealed Himself independently to every person in the world, nothing of the chaos and destruction of this world would be solved. And so He does not nor has He ever done so.

Our spirits are literally the sons and daughters of the One True God. And so He does not raise us, no more than we raise our own families—these children of God for whom we provide physical bodies, in isolation, teaching each of us something different.

Organized religion is the usual means by which God reveals His full intent to His people.

Computers can be used to disseminate pornography or cheat someone out of his or her savings. A computer is not inherently evil just because it so effectively plunges the masses into pornography; it can also be used to educate, teach and convert to Christ.

Gas turbines can be used to propel aircraft that drop death and destruction upon nations. Or they can be used to transport a critically injured person to a hospital where help can be obtained or to reunite family members across vast continents. Gas turbines and internal combustion engines can be used to ferry the Lord’s servants across the globe to teach others God’s word.

Like anything else, organized religion can be used as a tool of the devil, but this does not mean it’s wrong or bad, it just means that care must be exercised to avoid deception.

Christ has given men the light by which to commence the journey to truth and understanding. Once the baptism by fire is obtained, His Spirit is given as a permanent gift to enable those who’ve entered by the gate of baptism to remain upon the path that leads to slavation and eternal life and avoid the side paths that lead to destruction. It helps to walk any path in the company of others.

Life’s path...

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

By definition, as an adult, I walk life’s path ahead of my children.

Yesterday afternoon, they trod the soft, warm sand of the beach.

I had been walking across a field of sharp stones, then through a long patch of brush encumbered by thorns. Later I found myself wading knee-deep to ford a creek.

I called back to warn them; they heard me say, "Put on shoes with good soles!" or "...high boots!", later "...waders that will keep you dry!"

What do they do with this advice? They don’t see me in the distance. They cannot. Indeed, where I’ve been, where I’m walking now and where I’m going they vow not to pass anyway.

The day was warm and pleasant: the soft sand felt good between the toes. Funny how the path left the beach, though, to lead up into the hill country. Unsettling how the path now becomes less well defined and thorny bushes suddenly begin to crowd it. Why has no one cleared them? Why has the path left the beach to come this way of all possible routes?

Then there appears the creek across the path...

Whether they will put on good shoes, hiking boots or waders depends on their trust in me.

Of course, some of my children have been taught espressly not to trust me; others don’t listen because they’re sure I took the wrong path.

I sit atop the next ridge watching them trace my steps, amused as well as marvelling that they follow behind me as if compelled to do so despite their loud pledges to do otherwise. They shred their uncalloused feet on the sharp rocks, tear the flesh of their ankles on the thorns and the creek ruins new socks and shoes lately (and begrudgingly) acquired.

I wonder why I say anything.

Then I remember I’m just shaking their blood from my hands. Or I love them. It’s so hard to say which.

And yes, I do hear you snearing.

Allons enfants...

le 14 juillet 2009 la Patrie, le jour de gloire est arrivée.
Contre nous de la tyrannie l’étendard sanglant est levé
Entendez-vous dans les campagnes mugir ces féroces soldats ?
Ils viennent jusque dans nos bras égorger nos fils, nos compagnes !

Aux armes, citoyens !
Formez vos bataillons !
Marchons, marchons, qu’un sang impure abreuve nos sillons.

Amour sacré de la Patrie conduis, soutiens nos bras vengeurs.
Liberté, liberté chérie, combats avec tes défenseurs,
  Combats avec tes défenseurs,
Sous nos drapeaux,
Que la victoire accoure à tes mâles accents.
Que tes ennemis expirants soient ton triomphe et notre gloire !

Nous entrerons dans la carrière quand nos aînés n’y serront plus.
Nous y trouverons leur poussière et la trace de leurs vertus,
Et la trace de leurs vertus.
Bien moins jaloux de leur survivre que de partager leur cerceuil,
Nous aurons le suprême orgueil de les venger ou de les suivre !

Je serais au MTC ce soir. Peut-être en rentrant ferais-je des crêpres que je mangerais tout seul.

Tilting at windmills: the savior Obama

Friday, 10 July 2009

Voices are now crying out for a second (or third) stimulus package—one that, they say, must be considerably bigger than the one Bush spent and the one Obama is presently spending.

Roosevelt took this same “spend, spend, spend” approach only in ways that were a bit more direct and meaningful if I’m any judge. Unemployment reached as much as 25%. Government undertook projects that it didn’t have money for like the WPA and CCC out of which came buildings, bridges, roads and other infrastructure improvements that are still with us today. FDR was bailed out of the nightmare by World War II.

Liberal progressives who’ve been sharpening their teeth for decades in addition to making opportunistic inroads like Johnson’s Great Society when possible, have seized an opportunity to accelerate socialization and tyranny while the public is wringing its hands over the 9/11 debacle, over other hobgoblins created out of thin air (global warming) or by misrepresenting events (9/11 itself), over the wars abroad in Iraq and Afghanistan, over dissatisfaction with the Bush administration’s performance, over prepared financial disasters like those hitting us “unawares” the last couple of years, and, to some degree, over the continued lack of economic confidence since the popping of the dot com bubble at the end of the Clinton years.

Obama, who is little more than a puppet of these progressives is doing a fine job of representing their cause.

In my mind, he can’t make up for the fact that present spending programs are more about social experimentation: “Let’s spend money on the worst liberal causes and see if it ever makes a difference.” Trillions of dollars of additional debt on the backs of a nation that was already predicted to enter bankruptcy in the next 20 years.

In the meantime, policies and institutions are created that enslave us and, like Social Security, become ineffective monsters we will never be able to undo.

While the main features of FDR spending were more concrete and visible (no pun intended), Obama’s are mostly bullshit. Like fixing the public’s attention on the paltry number of jobs to be created in solar and wind energy, not to mention the virtual stock exchange of ecological funny money otherwise called carbon credits, by reacting to the false spectre of amok global climate change while ignoring the millions of real jobs that will be lost precisely because of our nation’s new preoccupation with a hobgoblin that’s nothing more than smoke and mirrors but will sink a great deal of the brick and mortar around us and slam shut the door to entrepreneurship until the world gets over this idiotic fantasy.

Spectacularly, Obama was elected to preside over a banquet of gluttony at whose table are seated the worst greedy “capitalists.” These are not content only with mismanaging monies taken from millions of hard-working Americans, but demand to be bailed out of that mismanagement by forcing Congress to tax those same poor schmucks—taxes which will become an intolerable burden on us for generations.

I reel from Obama’s public statements about how he will force General Motors to do this or another company in trouble to do that. Yes, he’ll set up a regular Politburo to manage the direction of all his new acquisitions in the name of government bailouts and then we’ll really see what collective profitability can be in the hands of American communists! (I predict the experiment will not last as long as Soviet communism.)

This makes what banks and the financial ruling elite did to us 80 years ago appear little more than a child’s summer birthday party in the park with weiners, apple-spice sheet cake and KoolAid in paper cups.

Wasn’t the 70-year long experiment in Soviet communism enough of a lesson to send us all screaming into the night rather than let this man and all he represents bring the same doom upon America?

Whether or not there is a World War in the future to pull Obama’s onions out of the fire, the legacy to our children and children’s children will not be gleaming administration buildings, wide bridges and National Park lodges, but a pile of debt that will likely lead to future economic collapse, civil war and the death of more millions than any foreign war could exact no matter how protracted.


“ Let us not rail about justice as long as we have arms and the freedom to use them. ”

Duke Leto Atreides, in Dune, by Frank Herbert

Cap and trade or how America was reduced to slavery in one generation

Friday, 26 June 2009

Check out the short video, an awkward but well intentioned attempt to answer questions on cap and trade by the Heritage Foundation.

I’m sort of looking forward to cap and trade.

Adding a $3,000 per year burden on the backs of every family of 4 persons is fitting retribution to the low-income citizens who blindly voted for Barak Obama thinking him their savior.

Where is someone making $15,000 per year going to get a one-fifth increase of his income to pay his family gas and electric bill?

My guess is that today he believes steadfastly that the savior Obama will protect him. When those bills rise from this tax faster than a pop bottle rocket on the 4th of July, the look on his face should be priceless.

Even more priceless although now bordering on the sadistic will be his grimace as he learns from his employer that the company is closing its doors because it’s unable to remain profitable in the face of doubled or quadrupled energy prices.

And if he can scratch two grey cells together between his ears, he’ll realize that it’s his Democratic Congress that artificially inflated energy prices in order to kowtow to a fake liberal elite and to pay off Goldman Sachs & Friends and other creditors, the interest on whose credit will overtake the national budget during the next decade unless the government reaches down into our pockets for the $3,000 per year to postpone the eventual, total bankruptcy of the United States for another decade.

Unfortunately, it will also throw the Democrats into high gear because as soon as they wake up to the fact that suffering is eroding their electoral base, they will begin attacking middle-class America (again) in search of funding winter heating and summer electricity bills for their constituents (Robin Hood replaces savior motif).

So, for the crowd that actually earns a good living, and for the remainder of the years they can continue to finagle that living, they’ll be asked to multiply their $3,000 by several times to cover the have-nots. Of course by then, it will be raining middle-class people into the herds of poor like sheets of water during a Sumatran monsoon. In the end, the country’s demographics will consist of a few thousand rich tyrants and 300 million low-income slaves.

What will make up for the frustration a little bit is again watching the realization on the faces of everyone as it become obvious that this heavy taxation is grinding us into the dirt without accomplishing thing one for the planet’s ecology. And where did the money go? To making the planet greener? Nope, it goes to pay the interest on the national debt with none left over to pay for roads, bridges or moon shots.

Green, you say?

Cap and trade has nothing whatsoever to do with ecology. Whether a real phenomenon or not, global warming is not about saving the earth. It’s about fleecing the flocks. We have been in real trouble for the last generation in terms of where irresponsible government spending has been going, but last fall the nail was driven into the coffin so deep it cannot be pulled out and it happened right in front of our eyes.

Goldman, Sachs & Friends hoodwinked the United States into lending them billions of dollars only so they could continue to collect interest on the loans we took out to pay them those billions. Mind-blowing conspiracy, you say? Only civil war will extricate us from this one.

Of course, by then, America’s public schools will have turned out so many mouth-breathing morons that it might not make much difference. We’ll all be slaves (and I’ll have died from complications arising from diabetes or, hopefully, during an afternoon raid by the local SWAT coming for my weapons).

If I sound like Cassandra, you’re wrong to think that: it’s already the middle of the night, the gates are barred and most of the Greeks have already crawled down out of the body of the horse, sword in hand. Cassandra lies on the cobblestones, her throat already cut and the sacking has begun. There’s nothing that can fend off what’s about to happen. Sit back and enjoy it—like reading Will Durant.

The ultimate irony I’ll miss is when, after my departure from this planet, Americans will be living like the Chinese of the 1950s while the majority of the Chinese and Indians live like the Chinese and Indians have always lived—in abject poverty and servitude—only without corn from the United States of America. Laughing demoniacally, I say I’m looking forward to seeing that too.

Only, ... children and grandchildren will be living that apocalypse.

God help us all.

Is it boring to be good?

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Popularly it is believed that stories cannot be written and movies cannot be filmed that involve positive, productive people who don’t have fatal flaws in their character on the verge of pushing them into total depravity.

I’m not about to say that it’s wrong to write about the struggle between good and evil.

I like a lot of authors, but on balance, my favorite literature in English has been the works of Chaim Potok. No Potok protagonists are hedonists or criminals abandoning themselves to depravity or filth. They are occasionally extraordinary people struggling to find themselves, serve others and become one with family, their culture and society. Their journeys are real, significant and marvelous to follow. The characters are genuine and, though they may struggle with weaknesses, their documented progression is always positive. If they start in any state of unhappiness, their goal is to overcome it. They are human beings and not animals of the sort that populate so much of our common literary and cinematographic culture today.

Because the Judaism of Potok’s characters is a lifestyle more than mere theology, Mormon readers are easily drawn into the stories. They grip one from the very onset.

My Name Is Asher Lev and The Gift of Asher Lev are masterpiece tellings of the life of an artist at odds with his community, his family relations and his religion. There is nothing negative other than the difficulty of the decisions he makes. There is no perversion, no rebellion, no gratuitous or invented conflict. The character of the man that the artist Asher becomes as an adult is touching and wonderful. These two novels are only the tip of the iceberg (although they are also the pinnacle of Potok literature in my opinion).

Equaled perhaps by a few others (I’ll leave open the possibility), there is no better writer or story teller than Chaim Potok—of blessed memory.

Hot Chocolate: My Beginners’ Java Corner...

15 June 2009

For the last while I’ve begun putting snippets of Java code on a page I call Hot Chocolate, an oblique reference to my own dietary practices which do not include the ingestion of coffee, but do concede to chocolate being the food of supreme human enjoyment.

On Hot Chocolate you find stuff I’ve been doing recently some of which shows off more of my Java developer débutant status than any actual genius. However, the miracle of this medium is that, finding embarrassment down the road in something I’ve done, I can delete or fix it.

Ça y est...

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Et puis zut. On m’a assez cogné sur la tête depuis partout (famille, gosses, amis, etc.) : je suis maintenant sur facebook. J’expère que vous êtes tous contents. Je vous signale que j’entretenais déjà mon propre site ouaibe depuis plus d’une décennie.

Great weather...

Saturday, 13 June 2009

...for ducks as the French would say.

Many have been complaining for the last couple of weeks during which Utah has taken on the climate of the Puget Sound. While I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, I love this weather and could endure summer around here quite well if it lasted until September. And I’m a motorcyclist.

Last December I was forced to spend a couple of days in the Seattle area. I had planned never to go there based on the Seattle climate’s reputation. But, I couldn’t get out of it. The stay did its damage: I know now that, in my heart, I’m a Seattle native. Well, I’m really a native of Normandy, but if I had to choose a climate other than that one...


“ Premature optimization is the root of all evil in programming. ”

Donald Knuth, “Structured Programming with go to Statements” in ACM Journal Computing Surveys, Volume 6, Number 4, December 1975, page 268.

Recap of my last blog...

Friday, 6 June 2009

So, last Saturday’s adventure was more or less successful. Here’s a report on how it’s been going since then.

I have an Hauppauge HVR1250. I have a basic cable subscription (not digital cable), but via QAM I can get a good dozen or more digital feeds.

Windows Media Center doesn’t mix analog and digital, so I watch analog feeds on WMC. This player works very well. It’s principally the music interfaces I don’t care for.

Hauppauge provides a player, WinTV, that was able to discover the 30-some analog feeds and another 30 or so digital feeds coming down my cable. However, it programmed the digital feeds with 4-digit channel numbers. Not all digital feeds received this treament. For instance, I have a digital feed for KBYU-TV, which is 83-11 on my Insignia-brand LCD television in my bedroom, but doesn’t appear in WinTV. WinTV appears to have dropped some 20 digital channels it reported finding leaving me access only to 10-12.

WinTV’s display has problems. It can’t go truly full screen (unlike my Chinese off-brand QuickTV tuner card and software on my old computer). So, the display is ugly. Also, you have to use the mouse to resize the display (to get it as big as it can be). Thereafter, however, the WMC remote works fine for channel-changing, muting and volume control. Good news: the image quality of the displayed digital channel is digital-quality.

WinTV has a "click" to it. Every few seconds, it drops the sound for a few hundredths of a second. This is annoying.

I threw some Dell software off the computer. It kept bugging me to set up some archive thing and do updates. I tolerate the occasional Windoz update, but I’m not going to do any more. Since I don’t plan on using Dell’s thing, I removed it and no more bother now.

The world of digital television on your computer...

Saturday, 30 May 2009

I had the experience of replacing a media center computer that I built a few years ago. We’ve used it mostly to view television programs in the kitchen and living room (two LCD monitors each pointing into a room). The CPU heated up and smoked, but I was already wondering what I would do now that the digital age has arrived.

So, I purchased a Dell Inspiron 530 with an ATI Radeon 256Mb and an Hauppauge HVR1250 hybrid TV tuner.

It arrived with Vista and Windows Media Center, what else? Windows Media Center (WMC) is a white elephant. In fact, it’s a whitened sepulchre. It’s got smooth, nice-looking graphics surrounding a very unintuitive interface that’s made worse with a WMC remote control. For example, if you press the Power On/Off button, it cuts the computer’s signal to the monitor(s) and you have to awaken the computer, already locked, and then type a password in. Another remote button to tape over. Wouldn’t it be nice, given the now-long history of browser technology that the metaphors just work that way (whether or not the thing looks like a browser—I don’t really care).

So anyway, I set it up, connected it to my cable and launched Windows Media Center. It discovered no channels and gave me a "no signal" after everything I tried. (Fortunately, everything else on the computer worked fine.)

So, I got on the web for some research where I found plenty of plaintifs to commiserate with.

However, always suspicious of Microsoft software, I thought to myself that if WMC couldn’t find any channels on a cable that, days before, had been merrily providing television to my old computer and tuner card, that really didn’t mean anything.

I dinged around looking for suggestions and finally just went to Hauppauge thinking to upgrade the driver. What I thought would naturally have been shipped to me with the pre-installed Hauppauge card was waiting at the driver download site. And also a quick-start guide with all sorts of suggestions on it. And if that weren’t enough, actual working software.

I didn’t upgrade my driver. The one installed dates to last January and the newest one is only a couple of months newer. I’ll upgrade if I have any trouble.

What I did do, however, is install all of Hauppauge’s cool software after reading about it. In particular, this (I cleaned up the English) from an on-line FAQ:

Please note: you will only be able to configure WinTV HVR1250 as either a digital tuner or an analog tuner. You will not be able to switch between digital and analog channels.

From the quick-start guide I read,

After installing the driver, browser the WinTV HVR Installation CD and run Setup.exe. Then click on Install WinTV.

This will install SoftMCE. SoftMCE is Hauppauge’s analog cable TV recorder for Windows Media Center. It is required if you want WMC to be able to receive analog cable TV channels.

Which is exactly what I want (since I have basic cable).

This gives me an idea as to why WMC won’t work: it wanted to set up digital channels. As it couldn’t find any (I don’t have digital cable), it said "no signal." I needed Hauppauge’s software, in particular, SoftMCE, in order for WMC to succeed.

I redid WMC’s TV set-up. It said it found a new tuner card—the one that was in there all along, but probably thought it was a new one because SoftMCE interposed itself between the Hauppauge card and WMC as if a new tuner.

After the new set up, WMC had all the analog channels memorized with the nice program guide. Very cool. However, Hauppauge will also give you digital signals that often accompany analog ones these days. My two Insignia LCD TVs in my bedroom and hanging over my elliptical trainer do this: you can watch digital content if there is any available. This happens thanks to a technology called quadrature amplitude modulation or QAM.

This magic is ignored by WMC, no surprise there. So, I went to my newly installed Hauppauge application, WinTV, which Dell left out of my new computer packaging, and launched. It’s not a great looking interface, but it’s a reasonably intuitive one and it first scanned for all my analog channels, then proceded to scan for all the digital ones—just like my Insignia TVs.

I end up with all the analog channels expected plus a bunch of digital ones with weird channel numbers, but that’s how my Insignia TVs work too (KBYU-DT is 83-11 on my Insignias).

Tonight, everything is working and I find I can change channels on WinTV using the Dell WMC remote control.


“ If you think of yourselves as helpless and ineffectual, it is certain that you will create a despotic government to be your master. The wise despot, therefore, maintains among his subjects a popular sense that they are helpless and ineffectual. ”

Frank Herbert, The Dosadi Experiment

Paella for Cinco de Mayo?

Monday, 4 May 2009

I’ve been learning Italian, Spanish and Portuguese slowly over the last few years, mostly by means of a daily vocabulary e-mail service.

I say this because a fellow Romance linguist friend of mine wrote me in response to a question I had about a grammatical point arising from one of the daily, sample sentences. He said people that said things the way I was saying them sound “Frenchy.” Okay. I made my grammar mistake plenty of times yesterday while my house was filled with Spaniards. My friend only wrote me with the correction this morning.

I confess I’ve been sounding Frenchy that way in Spanish for years, but will correct this oversight and wonder what waiters and waitresses in Mexican restaurants have been thinking of me given their level of education. They probably thought I was a mentally retarded gringo and didn’t realize I was just being Frenchy albeit in the most humble and honest way possible: I am after all, monsieur, just a little naturally Frenchy, non ? Uh, alright, I concede mentally retarded isn’t far off the mark and then there’s the gringo thing.

Last night we did a paella with Julene’s niece’s parents-in-law from Madrid. Sarah and Alvaro both just graduated from BYU.

Now, in case I lose you in the culinary vocabulary from this point on, paella is a traditional rice dish from Valencia, Spain. Some Valencianos claims that the only real paella is one made from (well, besides the rice) chicken, rabbit and snails. Everything else is just paella con cosas they say (paella “with things in it”). However, it’s universally popular to top it with seafood. And you can’t get away with putting snails on it even in most of Spain according to my informants who marked their disdain for them a little like Americans saying, “Yuck.” Last, culinary rabbit is difficult to obtain here in Utah surrounded with wild ones as we are.

Paellera is the pan you cook paella in. Got it?

I bought a couple of paelleras a few weeks ago and failed miserably trying to do a paella myself. This was not unexpected: paella is much harder to do than Brazilian feijoada and I needed the services of the United States’ best feijoadeira (Portuguese word I made up for a woman who cooks feijoada) to get over the final hump and learn to cook it well. Which I do—by all accounts.

I will say this, however: despite the joy of gathering everyone around the table amid the hubub of too many cooks in the kitchen to enjoy a proper paella with chicken, shrimp and mussels, the flavor of feijaoda beats it hands-down. But, I digress and it’s certainly not my intention to ignite any transatlantic culture wars.

Click on the photo above (not mine—I always forget to take pictures of my food).

What’s cool about paella—and you see it on tables outside south-coast restaurants in France—is the presentation of a 16" diameter paellera piled high with chicken, shrimp, mussels and clams being worked over by the tables’ eager diners. Unfortunately, this was a family serving yesterday with heaps of the chaos accompanying the learning experience and only the contents and not the paellerasq ever made it to my table—a mistake I will not make again.

To continue the culinary tale...

Hoping to learn from Alvaro’s mother, I found her very tentative in my kitchen. We did all the preparation in the morning before church, but she was very concerned about the rice under the prevailing conditions. Ultimately, she came through because she knew a Spanish expatriate in Salt Lake to whom she placed a quick call yesterday morning just before noon and he was there at my house by 16h30. I turned my kitchen over to him and joined her as abject kitchen help keeping my eyes open.

Indeed, the rice is super hard to get cooked and soft enough to eat before everything else is ruined. Usually, we cook rice under perfect circumstances: in a pot with a lid. The paelleras work badly on kitchen cook tops and have no lid obviously. What can you do? It took us a really long time and we probably added 3-to-1 water or even more in order to keep pace with evaporation. This was a problem I recognized the first time I had tried this dish on my own.

In the end, however, it was pretty good and everyone had a super time.

This amateur chef who does finish construction work during the week and Alvaro’s father are both from Chile, which pleased Julene’s Amy very much (having spent most of her life the last 3 years in Chile), and Alvaro’s mother was born in Rio, her parents returning to Spain when she was about 11.

So, I guess this just goes to show that culture is the seasoning in life. And the highest expression of culture is food. If you look to the right and left of you and see only grains of salt, maybe it’s time you got to know some pepper!

It’s going to take a lot of work to get a recipe and method for paella up at You’ll have to check back.

A spring morning...

Thursday, 16 April 2009

It’s nice that, after a day of such nasty events as filing (and paying) taxes and learning that my dental insurance, having hidden information from me until after a deadline of their own making, is sticking me with $2000 to pay out of pocket to my dentist, the sun begins to rise on so sublime a setting as what I saw outside my door at 6 this morning. Above the layer of clouds, the sun was already lighting the snow-draped peaks in the mountain vale that rises from my street.

Unlike the rest of you who, seeing no clouds in the sky say “It’s a nice day out,” I happen to love cloudy, rainy, foggy, cold and/or snowy weather. At very least, it’s the stuff of which splendid springs and lush summers to come are made.

And, in a sudden reversal of Pavlov, I’ve decided against going out and cleaning it up: the promised afternoon sun, already showing signs of good intent as I write this, will be left to do its best.


“ Reason, tradition and religious convictions all lead us to accept the divine origin of man’s rights, for if we reject this and accept the premise that human rights are granted by government, then we must be willing to accept the corollary: that they can be denied by government. ”

Ezra Taft Benson, former United States Secretary of Agriculture

Desktop icon clean-up...

Friday, 27 March 2009

Tired as I am of wading through the annoying offer Windows makes to clean up your desktop icons? I like almost no icons on my desktop anyway, having been a Macintosh religionay from 1984 until MacOS 8 sent me packing to Windows. So, if I’ve got any icons on my desktop, it’s because I want them there, thank you very much. Here’s how to stop this:

Right click on your desktop, choose Properties, then click on the Desktop tab. Near the bottom of the dialog, click on Customize Desktop, then near the bottom of that dialog on Run Desktop Cleanup Wizard every 60 days to make the check go away as shown by the red arrow here (click on the image to see full size).

openSuSE 10.3: IPv6 gets in the way...

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

I was grousing about the bad Internet performance on my work host (as opposed to my personal host machines that show no slowness) to my friends at lunch. I had done some inconsequential sniffing with Wireshark back in mid-December after it started, but I couldn’t see anything awry.

One of them told me he vaguely remembered reading something about how on Ubuntu settings can change, perhaps unbeknown to the user, in such a way as IPv6 begins to be used first and has to time out before down-grading to IP and then success.

Now, I installed this particular openSuSE 10.3 Linux host last August and it was lightning-fast until maybe early December when it became suddenly too slow to use. Ever unwilling to sharpen the saw to the exclusion of getting real work done until my head’s over a barrel, I still used it for svn because I had no other choice and I also browsed local files in Firefox with no speed penalty. For general browsing, I just used one of my other hosts as in my office. (I happen to have two Linux and one Windoz host, but I don’t have updates on the other Linux machine which I use for crap.)

This would totally explain what I was seeing since whether for Firefox or svn, I was seeing about a 30-second wait, then suddenly a total flash of successful activity.

So, I launched Yast and performed the following steps to try it out:

  1. Click on Network Devices in Yast.
  2. Launch the Network Card wizard.
  3. Go to the Global Options tab.
  4. Under the heading, IPv6 Protocol Settings, uncheck the Enable IPv6 checkbox; you will be told that this requires a reboot.
  5. Drop all your apps that need to come down safely and reboot.

The result is that browsing is much faster. I don’t know that it’s as fast as it was before the slow-down, but it’s not the 30-second grab a bagel and orange juice wait anymore.

If you know something beyond this, please drop me a note. I’m pretty certain this setting had not changed since installation. I know that I never changed it because I’m not presently concerned by IPv6. I assume at this moment that it was set during installation, but did not happen to affect my system in this way until December. I must have gotten an openSuSE update that changed something.

There is some noise about this if you Google “ipv6 slowness linux”, but I’m giving you a concrete solution for openSuSE 10.3.

ClassNotLoadedException in Eclipse debugger...

Friday, 27 February 2009

One of the places I found a reference to this problem via Google was in an Eclipse forum, however, the circumstances were not the same and the poster found a work-around; so far, I have not.

I’ve Googled this and found 9 results—several people have seen this, some in exactly my same circumstances. Only 2 of them are interesting in that they have answers and neither shows any real explanation or an encouraging solution. One answer is by someone who completely gives up. The other one waffles. I’ve also asked around a bit here, but none of my acquaintances have ever seen it.

I have more information here, but ultimately no good news for the Eclipse debugger.

This only happens when I attempt to run my JUnit test in the debugger. It does not happen when I run my JUnit test without debugger nor does it happen in a production run of my greater product. In fact, there is no problem with the GQUser class even in the debugger except that the debugger simply doesn’t think it’s loaded.

What I see:

	org.eclipse.debug.core.DebugException: com.sun.jdi.ClassNotLoadedException:
	 Type has not been loaded occurred while retrieving component type of array.

As the first line of my test (not in setUp(), but in the first line of "real" code), I have:

	  public void TestQuickUser()
	     GQUser[]  smacko = new GQUser[ 0 ];  <---- look at smacko
	     System.println( "smacko = " + smacko);
	     ProgGlobals.setJUnitTest( true );

GQUser is a class in another of the five smallish projects that make up my application. In the project of which my JUnit test is a part, I get it via a JAR. Once I step past that statement, however, and I click on smacko in the (debugger) Variables pane to see its value, the value appears as (the exception noted) above.

This happens regardless of whether I put this code in my test method or in setUp().

It would appear that the catastrophe in this is limited to wanting ever to examine GQUser in the debugger. If I put in a print statement, it appears that things are working; it’s just a disaster that I cannot look at this in the debugger, that’s all, but this class is used all over.

	   smacko = [Lcom.mything.GQUser;@c05d3b 

Sometimes, it is as yet unclear, this problem clears itself so that I can look at GQUser instances later stepping through my program, so it’s not a permanent mindset on the part of the debugger.

So, in the end, I can step through in the debugger, I just can’t examine the contents of any instance of GQUser, however, those instances are there and working. I will probably be putting a bug in against the Eclipse debugger.


“ Any fool can write code that a computer can understand. Good programmers write code that humans can understand. ”

Martin Fowler in Refactoring: Improving the Design of Existing Code

Windows Update can be so annoying...

Wednesday, 25 February 2009
	Updating your computer is almost complete. You must restart your computer for
	the updates to take effect. Do you want to restart your computer now?

	Restart Now     Restart Later

If you’re running Windows XP, you’ve seen this message that will never leave you alone for longer than 10 minutes, bugging you about restarting Windows as if you had nothing better to do.

Here’s how to get rid of it. Go to the Start menu, choose Run..., then type in gpedit.msc. This is a configuration program you launch.

Once you’ve launched this utility, click on Local Computer Policy-> Computer Configuration-> Administrative Templates-> Windows Components-> Windows Update, then finally on Re-prompt for restart with scheduled installations.

You can double-click on this and disable it altogether or enable it and tell it how many minutes to wait before bugging you again. Unfortunately, this will not work immediately: you have to reboot before it will work. Some out there have said that you can use Start->Run... then type gpupdate.exe /force to overcome this, but it doesn’t work for me. I had to reboot.

The Empty Nest II, an essay

Saturday, 15 February 2009

Julene and I are empty nesters once again starting tonight. Now almost a year home from Chile, Amy’s just moved out to her own place.

She was lightly bemoaning the fact that now that she’s got to pay rent, there will be a lot fewer clothes from J. Crew arriving for her. This was in response earlier this week to my praising a beautiful orange pullover she was wearing as being very Halloweeny. Oopsie! She winced and said she recognized she needed to Spring-ify her wardrobe. Well, to hear this is a good sign that she’s in contact with reality. A parent has to be gratified when a child learns to spell d e n i a l and s a c r i f i c e. They are such awfully long words.

You know, it’s our fault these kids have a hard time getting up the courage to deny themselves. I mean, we started out as poor students and, almost in backlash, have struggled all our adult lives to earn more and more (and more and more and more). Here we all are sitting on top of a pile of loot, big screen TVs, boats, nice houses, what have you, and they’re just coming of age and starting to think about that. They just don’t know.

Of course, she could have stayed here a bit longer. It was allowed—even encouraged. But, there’s actually a moderately dark side to her leaving. (And, mildly entertaining or I wouldn’t share it with you.)

It appears that her singles ward bishop thinks I have evil designs or something and advised her to get out on her own as soon as possible. I am grateful to this man: he’s probably received inspiration that, unknown to me and after 15+ years more or less of living in the same house with her, I was about to snap and turn into Jack the Ripper, or a molester of 24-year old children, or something. Who can say where stuff like that comes from?

Actually, based on what little I’ve been able to get out of Amy, I’m wondering if it came from a discussion of moral agency between me and some older guy, a stake missionary or something, who used to come around to try to give missionary lessons to Sam here last Fall. On one of his fruitless visits to see a boy who was (surprise!) not home that Sunday, he and I had a polite falling out over whether the boy, who was never in the singles ward in the first place (so what’s up with that?), would succumb to my moral superiority and return to the Church. I just needed to put my will into it. Or my faith. Or some spiritual je ne sais quoi.

Always a victim of my quick tongue and rapier wit, I promptly suggested to the old dottard that if I had that sort of power, I’d have used it to force my first wife to remain in our marriage and to keep all my children in the Church. I mean, if you’ve got power to suspend someone else’s agency, hey, use it, I say! Anyway, the gentleman may have inferred something he esteemed a bit off from his brief introduction to my long-resigned attitude toward others’ free agency and reported to the bishop? ("Brother Bateman is decidedly lackluster in his commitment to the gospel and has created an environment that tends to drive children away from the Church and generally spawn apostasy in others.") Perhaps the fact that my family isn’t going to show up at the great banquet in the sky (no empty seats!), at least not as a together-forever family, is proof that there is something wrong with me. (Uh, hmmmm..., I surely haven’t ever asked myself that one.)

It’s not news to me, however, that I’m a grossly evil person devoutly to be avoided: even I’ve tried to avoid myself for most of my life. It just hasn’t been altogether successful yet what with the Rocky Mountains too heavy to pick up and drop on top of me. And it goes to show you that you must be careful in picking the friends you run with. You can imagine my young sense of perplexity at watching Mary Martin’s Peter Pan insist on getting his shadow sewn inseparably back onto him. I mean, what an opportunity to let pass? Just walk away, Peter! ;-)

Oh well, there Amy is: launched this night upon the high, and in these days, storm-tossed seas of youthful independence, once again and probably for good this time, Great Depression 2.0 be damned!

I dug around in My Music and came up with my Sgt. Pepper’s album this morning. I put Winamp looping on She’s Leaving Home for most of the day just to be annoying although neither Amy nor I was around my den much to hear it: a single trip through a Beatles album is usually plenty to assuage any momentary itch to hear the former fab four again. When I got back from the grown-ups meeting of stake conference this evening (which was pretty good, by the way), I loaded Morten Lauridsen into Winamp and have been listening to his Lux Aeterna for the last couple of hours. Ah, sweet, angelic motets are ever the stuff of my solace.

Hope you’re all enjoying this festive Presidential weekend!

Microsoft spreading security FUD...

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Of late, Microsoft has been spreading fear, uncertainty and doubt concerning the use of open software like Linux, Open Office, Firefox, Thunderbird, etc. which everyone can download and use for free. Their argument seems to center around the accusation that if software source is open and available for reading by the badies, these will be more easily able to introduce viruses, worms, trojan horses, etc.

I think this is a preemptive strike by Microsoft against the inevitability of the recession economy: companies are going to resort to open-source software because of the savings; they’ve wanted to do it in the past, now they have a terribly good reason to do so.

On the surface the idea of open-source software being more vulnerable seems compelling, but as soon as you think about it logically and also examine the history of software, it falls so completely apart that it becomes an embarrassing indictment against developing sofware the Microsoft does it.

Now, this isn’t to say that commercial software developers should run right out and publish their source code for the public and their competitors to see. It’s just wise to get a sense for what benefit open software can be, especially in the case of common operating systems. It’s also useful to reach an accounting of the decade-plus that open software has become common and compare it to what’s going on in the world Microsoft would have you buy into as the only viable one.

Before going any further, understand that open-source software does not specifically imply the Linux operating system. I use mostly open-source software on my Windows computers (and, exclusively open-source software on my Linux computers).

Now, I’d like to make the following observations:

Why the logic behind Microsoft’s argument is false...

  1. Visibility in source code doesn’t make software any more vulnerable to attack by others just as the inner workings of residential door locking mechanisms are well known to locksmiths, burglers and many members of the public: a residential door lock generally accomplishes its task with competence despite that its workings are common knowledge. If this were not so, the public would demand a new generation of locks.
  2. Open-source does not mean openly modifiable without scrutiny and gate-keeping: virus writers do not have access to official open-source software releases as source-code modification is confined to an elite few who control what goes in. Also, the public is warned against down-loading software from random or untrusted sources.
  3. Open-source software is verifiable; closed-source is not. Open-source software is visible to all and many developers make a point of scrutinizing it for the least flaws which they discuss in public. Ultimately, fixes are held to incredibly high standards. There is a great deal at stake for the professional reputation of contributors who haven’t a company’s anonymity to hide behind.
  4. Famous vulnerabilities in Windows have gone unresolved for long periods of time. The open-source software community is naturally inclined to solve such problems immediately because of how it operates since it’s made up of independent developers who do not work under sore release timeframes, revenue-linked schedules, corporate feature mandates, etc.
  5. In exchange for allowing Windows into the country, the Chinese government insists on having access to its source code. Could it be that China wants to be able to inspect for vulnerability herself—not to mention give her software developers a superior edge over Western commercial software developers who do not have such access?

Why it’s safe to use open-source software...

  1. More people use Firefox, an open-source browser, than any other including Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE). If it were especially vulnerable to attack, this would not be the case sense there is no shortage of alternatives (including IE).
  2. Sun, Novell, IBM and many other big-iron shops use open-source software in place of Microsoft Office, Outlook, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.
  3. Companies like Sun and Apple open their source code for inspection by any and all. These companies have a much better security reputation than Microsoft: if opening the source to outside inspection created security holes, how could they maintain their reputation?

Why it’s safe to use Linux as your operating environment...

  1. When is the last time you heard anything on the evening news about Linux system vulnerability? How long would MSNBC keep quiet about Linux operating system security vulnerability? How long’s it been since the evening news reported a disconcerting security problem with Windows computers?
  2. There are millions of Linux users in the United States and all over the world. I am one of them (or four of them since I use four Linux computers at home everyday against one Windows computer).
  3. Linux patch management is flexible. (Think of periodic updates, i.e.: "Windows Update.") It allows automated patching of software on a chosen schedule known to the user. It is not a mysterious activity you entrust to Microsoft that another party could imitate.
  4. Linux patches are made available immediately which means that "zero-day" patches for egregious vulnerabilities are instantly available rather than await a monthly, global download.
  5. Linux has the iptables utility and other, second-tier defense systems that make controlling vulnerability possible—even when it occurs.
  6. Linux is certified at around EAL5, one of the highest government ratings for commercial software security. Windows has had an on-again, off-again relationship to security ratings. (I confess I don’t know its present rating.) It was originally and for a long time said of Windows NT that it was perfectly secure as long as it wasn’t connected to a network and the keyboard, mouse and any removable media devices were kept locked up.
  7. Here is a partial list of government agencies with obvious, deep-seated security concerns that use Linux:
    • the National Security Agency (NSA)
    • the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
    • the United States Department of Homeland Security
    • the United States Navy
    • the United States Air Force
    • the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
    • the United States Transportation Security Administration (TSA)
    • the United States Department of Energy

    Why would these government entities spend money on resources, operating systems and software they couldn’t then use?
  8. Google uses Linux and not Windows. How many times has it been hacked in its 11-year history? None. How many times have businesses that run Windows been hacked since the appearance of this operating system? Too many to count: there are at least 100,000 worms, viruses, trojan horses, etc. for Microsoft Windows.


“ Any fool can write code that a computer can understand. Good programmers write code that humans can understand. ”

Martin Fowler in Refactoring: Improving the Design of Existing Code


“ A pizza without cheese is like a kiss without a squeeze! ”

Plato (surely, or, some other great philosopher)

openSuSE 10.3 installation past its prime?

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Are the openSuSE 10.3 software repositories hobbled because Novell has moved all the bandwidth to favor openSuSE 11?

This morning I’m installing a second piece of hardware for my home office. The openSuSE 11.1 kernel was built with gcc 4.3.2 and openSuSE repositories only make gcc 4.3 available. I could screw around with getting gcc 4.3.2 set up, but I wasn’t all that excited about experimenting with 11 anyway after bad experiences last August.

I’m installing VMware Server in order to run a GroupWise server with eDirectory and some other things, I have to have the same version of gcc installed as was used to link the kernel. Hence, it’s easier just to install 10.3.

The installation of the main OSS repository times out repeatedly.

The solution appears to be to wait for the time-out error to manifest itself, then click OK and, finally, Retry.

You’ll see the package that timed-out fly by and perhaps a few others before the download bogs down on a subsequent package. Repeat the process. Here’s the error alert:

	Download failed:
	Curl error for
	Error code: Timeout reached
	Error messages: Callback aborted

(* ...or the name of some other tarball part.)

It’s only a guess that this is happening because Novell has throttled back the 10.3 repositories. What do I know? This didn’t happen to me last August when I last installed 10.3 and my network certainly seems zippy this morning as usual.

If you count to about 5 or 10 as the progress indicator appears to freeze, then click on Abort, you might get its attention and cause the abort yourself. Then click Retry. This will move the process along faster as waiting for it to time out is lengthy. I probably timed out on fewer than a dozen package downloads before reaching the end of the process.

Of course, this will not help you speed up the the actual installation itself especially if, like me, you take advantage of the openSuSE 10 installer’s ability to let you specify a grundle of great stuff to install immediately rather than wait to do it from Yast->Software.

So, you’re stuck performing this work-around myriad times during the proper installation without being able to use the abort trick I discussed. Just figure a good day of low-priority babysitting of the installation.

Don’t install openSuSE 11.0

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

There is a bug that you might get when the installation instructs you to reboot removing the installation CD or DVD. In my case, and in the case of many others, the reboot from the newly installed hard drive won’t happen. I Googled for a work-around.

A work-around for some is to leave the CD/DVD in the drive and then when the splash screen offers it, choose to boot from the hard drive (at first under CD/DVD control). This did not work for me and I was not willing to go poking around under the control of some super-geek tool to implement some of the other solutions. I have real work to do.

I didn’t have this trouble last August on a different piece of hardware with openSuSE 11.0 x86_64. However, burning an 11.1 CD and installing that solved the problem for me.

The one, true fruitcake...

Monday, 5 January 2009

In reference to the subject of my blog of 22 December, one family I gave a fruitcake to complimented my creation calling it the “one, true fruitcake.”

The success of my fruitcake does not undermine my determination to advance it the next time I have occasion to make it by slightly decreasing the fruit in favor of the quantity of nuts.