Plump Juicy Raisins

The front of the box of Raisin Bran I have in my cupboard says “Hundreds of plump juicy Sun-Maid raisins.” But they aren’t plump and juicy. They are dried and shriveled like all raisins. If they were plump and juicy wouldn’t they be grapes? It just bugs me they would go out of their way to put something so blatantly false on the box.

It’s not much different from when they used to say that some cereal was part of a nutritious breakfast. The rest of the nutritious breakfast was the milk you’d put on the cereal, orange juice, eggs, toast, and fruit. Take the cereal out of that equation and you’d still have a nutritious breakfast, but with fewer calories. What they should have said was that the cereal was a completely unnecessary part of a nutritious breakfast.

Series I Savings Bonds

While visiting Clark Howard’s website to find out where I could recycle my computer, I saw an alert saying to hurry and buy Series I Savings Bonds and earn 6% interest. Since my PayPal and ING accounts are earning less than 3%, that sounded pretty good. Of course, there’s a catch. The big catch is that 6% is only available if you buy bonds before the end of the month, which is just a few days away. The second is the 6% rate won’t last forever and in fact it won’t even start until November. The last is that if the rate then goes down and you want to sell your bond before its 5 year maturity, then you forfeit 3 months of interest.

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Digging a Hole to China

I was reading some comments from Thursday’s episode of Lost. There is a reference to Tunisia and someone pointed out that the opposite side of the earth from Tunisia is the South Pacific off the coast of New Zealand (about where the Lost island is thought to be located). They linked to this website:

http://www.zefrank.com/sandwich/tool.html

So I spent a while playing around with that and learned that most places have ocean on the other side of the earth including all of the continental US, Europe, Africa, and Australia. What a boring planet. South America has an opposite in China (must be where the idea of digging a hole to China originated) and Indonesia.

Computer Recycling

This week I took Mom’s old “Dell” (actually a Compaq) home and erased the hard drive so that the computer could be junked. She didn’t want me to take it home because she knew it would just end up in my junk room with other obsolete stuff that I haven’t thrown away. I told her that every now and then there would be places set up where computers could be recycled. Unfortunately, they had just had one in Dekalb and I missed it. She called the next day and said she had heard on Clark Howard that you could turn in old computers at the Atlanta stadium today. I dug up my oldest Dell (bought in 1996), which was the one that Mom and Dad used for a few years. It had two hard drives in it. One was 1.6 GB and the other was 5.6 GB. As I had done with the Compaq, I took out the hard drive and connected it to my Dell so that I could format the drive, load it up with junk files (TV episodes) and then format it again. The 1.6 GB drive made a loud clicking when it spun up, so I could access it. Then I just put the hard drives back in the computers, but not connected.

Anyway, I drove down to the stadium at about noon. They were very organized with a lot of volunteers that directed me to a group of people who quickly removed everything I had and then I just drove off. It was almost like getting a pit stop. In no time they had hauled off three computers (my old Dell, the Compaq, and Susan’s old computer), two Dell CRT monitors (one 15″ and one 17″), and two old Powerbooks, the 520c and the 5300c. The 5300 was all dissembled and in a bag after my failed attempt to convert it to an electronic picture frame.

A lot of electronics like this are shipped overseas where the parts are separated as much as possible and the metal extracted (copper, steel, lead, tiny amounts of gold and other precious metals) or the glass melted down (from CRT monitors).

I still have my new laptop, my 3-year-old Dell desktop, and its precursor (from 2000) which I have set up as kind of a media center so that I can play iTunes through my stereo (though I don’t use it hardly ever).

Linux, Part 4

I haven’t been using Linux much lately. But I was still looking forward to the release of the new version, 8.04 Hardy Heron. I had been running 7.10 Gutsy Gibbon. I was wondering how they would jump from version 7.10 to 8.04, but I realized today that the version numbers are just the year and month of the release.

Last night I started doing an upgrade rather than a clean installation. My installation has gotten a little more buggy than usual lately, asking me for my password for a keyring when I boot up. I probably should have gone with a clean install, but with all the trouble I went through last time getting the wireless drivers set up, I thought I’d try the upgrade. It went fairly smoothly, but on my low-speed DSL line there were still a couple of hours of downloads. After watching fairly closely the first 15 or 20 minutes, I went to bed while it downloaded and installed stuff. In the middle of the night, as I was letting the dogs out, I checked how it was going. The computer had gone to sleep for some reason and I wound up rebooting. But the installer recovered nicely and this morning, after clicking a couple of dialog boxes, the installation was complete.

Although all of these upgrades had been downloaded wirelessly (the wireless bitrate for G is about the same as my DSL speed), when I rebooted, it no longer would connect with the network. I checked the settings and it was detecting the network, just not connecting, so the drivers seemed to still be working. Eventually I changed the security protocol from generic WPA to TKIP and re-entered my password. It hooked right up when I did that.

I also downloaded the clean installation and creating a boot disk went much smoother when using Roxio at work than it had using Sonic at home. All I had to do was double-click the ISO file and then make sure I clicked “Make bootable disk” and I had a bootable disk. Last time it took me 5 disks to get that right.

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FastStone Image Viewer

For the post on the Williamsburg trip I wanted to take the pictures that Mom and Carol had taken and shrink them down to something appropriate for a web page. I also wanted to handle all of the pictures as a batch, so I didn’t have to open each one individually, resize it, and then save again. I visited download.com and found a highly rated (5 stars by the editors, 4.5 stars by the users) free image editor called FastStone Image Viewer that can handle batch conversions like that. I believe this is the same viewer that I had loaded on Susan’s computer when I had to crop some files. With my copy of Lview Pro (shareware I paid for in the 90’s) getting pretty old, lately I’ve been using the very basic image editor that comes with Microsoft Office, but with the switch to Office 2007, they ruined the program. For instance, I don’t even know how to use it to open a picture file. The obvious menu location, File:Open, is not available.

FastStone is kind of complicated for what it does with some funky screens and previews. But after making copies of the pictures I wanted to use on the gallery web page in a single folder, FastStone made new copies in a subfolder that were resized perfectly.

Trip to Williamsburg

Mom, Carol, Andrew, and I enjoyed a great trip to Virginia. We got to spend a day at Busch Gardens Europe (Florida’s park has an African theme) and ride the terrifying Sheikra . . . I mean, Griffon. We got to see some shows, go on some 4-D rides, go to a beer tasting, and see some of the gardens. Crowds were fairly light and the lines for most of the rides were short. Thanks very much to Mom for the tickets to everything we would go to.

Gallery of Pictures

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Q1 Report

This was a pretty dismal quarter for my web page revenues. In mid-January I moved all of my web pages from SpeedFactory to the new website at iGirder. Traffic was way off (stabilizing at about 200 hits per day from 300 previously) as the search engines slowly started referring people to the new location. But even so, my page rank was down to zero from a respectable 4 previously. This meant I did not rank as high when people did searches and probably also affected the AdSense rates that Google charged to people clicking on ads at my site.

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