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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Not So PoMo

As expected, I have managed to not complete NaBloPoMo for February.

Why?  This was partly due to the drive-fail, though that was near the end of last month.  And, well, I was kinda more-or-less busy.  Reinvigorated the NCF, the NaBloPoMo Collective Feed.  Restarted the podcasts.  Got the desktop back up and running, installed a SATA card, hooked up that Thermaltake thing, and started Spinrite on the old laptop drive.  (Still running.  Still 76.10 % done.  Ask me in a month or two.)

And, as of last night, I've gotten three audiobooks up on  Granted, they were three books I'd already recorded for podcasting, ad I just edited the intros and outros and whatnot.  And created cover art, cut and paste again.

So, all in all, it was a reasonably productive month.  Just no NaBloPoMo.

And no job.  (sigh)


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Coming soon, on !!

Hey, guess what! On Friday, my reading of Ernest Thompson Seton's book, "Monarch, the Big Bear of Tallac," originally recorded for my podcast, will become available on Yay Me!

Usual disclaimers apply. I didn't write the book, I just read it. And while it's pretty good, it isn't a perfect recording. There's a bunch of technical stuff I'd change, and change, and change, so that potentially it'd never be done (especially the promo, which I just finished an hour ago, and already want to redo). And yeah, it's already available in my "Stories from the Hiber-Nation" podcast. And either way it's free, with the option of donations.

The book was originally published in 1919, and is currently in the Public Domain. I've only recorded public domain works, except one episode, because that's what I have access to. I don't have money to spend on licensing for newer works. Don't I wish, though! Maybe someday.

Still, getting the darn thing done is kind of a landmark. I started on the project back before the tragic demise of my laptop's harddrive, and this does mark the moment when I'm capable of and comfortable with doing the recordings I used to do before the Singularity. I am quite proud of most of the reading. That's why I didn't even consider re-recording the book. I like the spontanaety and the real emotion in the reading, and I suspect I might lose that with another try.

This is a nice time for it, too; with the Flash player on the E. T. Seton Institute site, there's a bit of synergy between my various projects and the sites where you can find my work. A rising tide raises all boats, and all the boats, oddly enough, raise the tide.

So, anyway, Yee-haw and what-not. Cool, huh?


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Save All The Parts

I spent all day today fiddling with my podcast website.

I decided to move as much as possible from the main webpage out to additional pages, leaving the main page a bit more "lean and mean."  The only tool I've got for creating HTML is  At least, it's the only tool I understand sufficiently.

I really don't understand HTML much.  I did get a couple books from the library a while back, but never found the time to read them -- and ended up with late fees, thinking eventually I'd get around to actually reading them.  Odd thing, I used to be pretty good at most computer stuff.  These days, though, all that seems to be well beyond me.

But, with what little I know, I managed to move a bunch of stuff off to little external pages, leaving a bit more "white space" on the main page.  It's still not perfect, but it's better.  And there's more I want to do.  One thing I wish I had is an adequate graphic for the combined podcast feed, that contains both "Grizzly's Growls" and "Stories from the Hiber-Nation" episodes.  I have IrfanView and Paint.Net, but I wasn't quite able to figure out how to even paste the two existing logos together, side-by-side.

I got my old Desktop machine working again, Windows 98SE, 30 Gig HD, 450 MHz processor.  Doesn't run fast, but it's fine for my mail server.  And I'm thinking I'll be turning it into a file server, too, and maybe a print server, and whatever else server-ish stuff that comes to mind.  When I get my SATA card, assuming it works in that machine, I'll use that to run Spinrite on the failed laptop drive, for some rediculous period of time, till it's well and truly done.  Might do all that and still get no data back.  But hey, again assuming the SATA card works, Win98SE can handle up to two Terabyte harddrives.   Fine for long-term storage and backups and whatnot.

 That's what gets forgotten about old computers.  They're not as fast as newer machines, and they're often quite slow running newer Stuff.  But they are just as fast doing the old Stuff as they ever were.  Assuming they're not broken, of course.  And not only does it cost money to throw the things out, they usually end up in a landfill somewhere, and are rarely recycled.  Leaving it in the basement isn't a productive use of either the machine or the space.  So it makes sense to use it for what it does reasonably well.

And by the way, that doesn't just work for Windows machines.  Got a fax machine?  Want to get faxes without tying down your swell new machine to a phoneline, and without paying for one of those fax-to-email services?  Look for a program called BGFax.  Receives and prints faxes just fine, thanks.  Can even be used (and I've done so) as the core of a digital document filing system.  Just figure out a way of sorting out the various graphic files that are the received faxes.

BGFax runs in MS-DOS.  So, yeah, there are ways of making reasonably practical use of even an old DOS machine.  Or hey, even impractical use -- there are lots of quite fun games written for MS-DOS, (Doom, the original Tomb Raider, Stealth Fighter, F-16), and a beat-up old MS-DOS machine might be newer than the game you want to play, and thus blazingly fast for some of these games.

For that matter, talk to your local "Linux Geek."  I still haven't quite managed to get my head around Linux, after several attempts.  I've got a stack of Ubuntu CDs from a while back.  But the folks that fiddle with such things tell me there are Linux versions to run on darn near anything, including, probably, that old piece-of-junk collecting dust in your basement.

There used to be a concept called "appropriate technology."  The idea was, if you have a working system and set of hardware to do a particular job, you don't necessarily upgrade to the latest-and-greatest.  You use the technology necessary to do the job.  You could dig a hole with a backhoe, or you could just use a shovel.  You could run everything on which you depend on one computer, or you could dedicate some older hardware to some of those tasks it'll handle just fine.

The first rule of the Intelligent Tinkerer is, "Save all the Parts."

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Your Best Friend WOULD Tell You

Maybe you're wondering about the black graphic where the turkey normally has been.

I'm a blogger (you've probably noticed) and a Podcaster (ditto), and I have friends in New Zealand.  That's why I read with some dismay the Electronic Frontier Foundation article on New Zealand's planned enforcement of their poorly-written copyright law.  The DMCA was Dumb when it was introduced here in the US, and it's Dumber there.  Here the legislators mangled their rules; in New Zealand, they apparently simply glossed over the parts that were done wrong here.

Ignorance of the law is no excuse, they say.  Ignorance in writing laws is inexcuseable.  To the legislators of New Zealand, here's one more American voice, very much a Kiwiphile, but I have to say, "Et tu, Brute?"

For more info, here's a link to the Creative Freedom Internet Blackout Page.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Old, but reasonably clever

Just spent all day getting my aged desktop machine working again.  Win98SE, 256Meg of RAM, 30 Gig HD -- and most of my old tax returns, and my resume, and my archive of various programs & files I've used over the last (mumble) years. Maybe 90 % of what I lost when my old laptop drive died.  It's been collecting dust in the basement for a month or three, since it broke down and I gave up.

I ran Spinrite, reinstalled Windows twice, pulled the wireless network card, installed my old Ethernet card twice, installed the drivers maybe 15 times, tried to reinstall the floppy drive (and failed), and went through 7 or 8 CD-Rs, just to be able to move downloaded drivers around.  But now it works.

Works as what, you may ask?  Well, at the moment, a rather small fileserver, potentially a printer server, possibly a mail server and FTP server (again).  Especially the mail server.  Maybe a game machine for some of my older games.  Anything for which I don't care to leave my much faster, newer laptop tied up running.

For that matter, since it has a working "old school" gameport, I can not only use my old joysticks on it, I just might be able to use the MIDI adapter I picked up at Goodwill a while back.  Might just be fast enough for editing podcasts, too. 

Need to back up my working podcast files to that machine, too, come to think of it.  And if I can get it to work with a decent-sized drive, might make a serviceable backup server, at least for a while.    If it turns out I can get an eSATA card to work in the thing, combined with my Thermaltake BlacX, it might also become a "Spinrite server," if you will.  Nothing there I needed in a hurry, but if I can use that setup to run Spinrite on the old laptop drive till it's done, I just might get that data back, too.  And after that, I might install an older Linux on the thing.  I'm told Linux sometimes has better luck making stuff work than such an old version of Windows is likely to have.

Vista-capable?  Not a chance.  XP?  Not likely.  Win 2000 server?  Maybe.

I really hate to throw stuff out.  I now have three laptops, the desktop, all working, three working printers, a half-dozen mostly working harddrives, and a whole pile of other "useless" stuff.  Only reason I was able to get this (newer) laptop working was because of all the old junk I held onto for no discernable reason, except as a last-ditch fallback machine or two.  Sometimes, being a Baby Boomer pays off, just a little bit.

As part of my labors today, I dug out my first edition copy of "Upgrading and Repairing PCs."  I didn't remember how floppy cables worked.

Chance favors the prepared mind.   And the first rule of the intelligent tinkerer is, "Save all the Parts."


Monday, February 16, 2009

Spinrite -- the Continuing Saga

I figured I'd give Spinrite a serious chance to recover the data on my old harddrive.  I did finally get Spinrite to recognize the existence of the larger "F:" 250 Gig partition in the external USB SATA holder, and appeared to do it's voodoo on the thing, but with no apparent effect.  In fact, in the external thingie, Spinrite seemed convinced there's nothing wrong with the drive.

Vista recognizes F:, too, but has decided it's a "Raw" partition, rather than an NTFS partition, and can't read even a bit of it.  Vista's error checking stuff can't even access the drive, and neither can Chkdsk.

After my last podcasts, I put the old drive back into the regular drive bay, and let Spinrite run without interruption.  I let it run for about a week.  It started having problems at 76.0994 % complete.  A week later, it had managed to scan all the way to 76.0997 % complete.  You do the math. 

Just didn't seem like it was gonna happen, not without leaving the laptop tied up for another month or two.  So I put the new drive back in.  Maybe someday I can devote some workable hardware to trying to recover the drive.  Sure could use the data.

This is not to say that Spinrite couldn't recover the data, just that it'd take way too long.  I felt compelled to try a week.  I might have gone for a bit longer, but I have too many commitments for the hardware right now, and can't spare the time.  I think Spinrite might be quite worthwhile for someone with enough spare equipment to just let it run, but it isn't worthwhile for me.

Friday, February 6, 2009

"He came to me asking help and advice/And from here no one knows where he goes"

Okay, I need "help and advice," and I can't find my way back to the Three-Acre Wood.  But my question has nothing to do with a honey jar being stuck on my nose.  That, I've kinda gotten used to.  Anyway...

Failed hard drive.  2.5" SATA.  Spinrite wants to run on that drive for three weeks, estimated.

I have a Thermaltake BlacX external SATA enclosure, works with either USB or eSATA.  With USB, Spinrite doesn't have enough low-level access to be able to work on the drive.  My only current option is to put the old drive back in my good laptop (Dell Inspiron 1525) for three weeks, and be stuck using my old Toshiba 320CDT, which only runs Win98SE, and does that very slowly.

I could buy an eSATA card to put in my equally-aged desktop machine (currently collecting dust in the basement), perhaps, and plug the eSATA cable into the card.  I suspect that might give the desktop sufficient access for Spinrite to work on the drive in the BlacX, and I sure don't mind if my dusty Desktop is tied up for three weeks (or whatever) fixing the drive.  But I don't want to spend money on the eSATA card if it's not likely to work for the only purpose for which I'm liable to need it.

So, anybody know enough about SATA, eSATA, and Spinrite to be able to tell me the odds of the card-in-the-Desktop idea is liable to work?

Yes, I know, GRC has support newsgroups.  I've never had any luck posting questions to the GRC newsservers.  Something about their password setup I just ain't getting.



Thursday, February 5, 2009

Wanted to share this

More info came in on a project to which I donated.



They're here! 

Mrs. Coudron, the teacher, sent you photos of the classroom project  you supported  in Owatonna, MN: "Writing In A Flash!"

See photos of the classroom project in action at

All thanks to you  ... nicely done!

 Mrs. Coudron has other projects waiting to come to life:
"Create a Reader, Follow an Author!"


If you have any other questions for us, please first consult our Frequently Asked Questions in case the answer to your inquiry is published there:

If you cannot find an answer to your question there, please get in touch with us by using our Contact Us form:, 347 West 36th Street, Suite 503, New York, NY 10018.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Gifts that Keep Giving

Just got a note from, about a previous donation I'd made via Grizzly's Giving Page.  Tried to promote the Page via the podcast, but never inspired anybody but me to donate.  Oh well, still a cool idea.


Dear Mr. Smith, used $10.00 of your credit balance to support a classroom project!

The project is "Pete And Repeat" and will provide 25 students with 87 hours of learning. You can learn more about this classroom project at

We deeply appreciate your support of students through and we look forward to sending you a "thank you" from this classroom! In case you'd like to help another classroom, you can choose a project here:

There are a few possible reasons why account credits totaling $10.00 were issued to you:

    * You funded a project, but the project did not reach full funding or the teacher no longer required the materials.
    * You redeemed a gift certificate, but did not spend the full amount available.
    * You made a Quick Donation and requested that choose the classroom project(s).

In order to ensure that every dollar donated to is put to work in the classroom quickly, account credits expire after 30 days. If any expired credits remain, they too will be applied to a classroom project in your name.

For Quick Donations, account credits are applied to classroom projects as soon as possible.

The Team is a 501(c)(3) charity incorporated in the State of New York. EIN Number: 13-4129457.


If you have any other questions for us, please first consult our Frequently Asked Questions in case the answer to your inquiry is published there:

If you cannot find an answer to your question there, please get in touch with us by using our Contact Us form:, 347 West 36th Street, Suite 503, New York, NY 10018.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

All the Mod Cons

Recently, I managed to misplace my scruffy, old, Nokia Tracfone.  Forced to get a new one, I carefully researched the ones on sale at Tracfone.  Picked the second-worst, since I'd heard bad stuff about the worst ones.  Got one that includes double minutes for the life of the phone, a Motorola 376G, something like that.

So much for the life of the phone.

Spent all day wandering around my recently partly remodeled bedroom, trying to figure out where the heck I left my cellphone.  Still stuff to install, so it's still chaos.  That's why I put off moving anything in here for the past few years. 

Dug through the boxes I'd put stuff in so it'd be out of the way while I was moving furniture and whatnot.  No luck.  Even grabbed the cordless from the livingroom, dialed my cell, just to see if it'd ring and I could find it that way.  No ring.

And then I thought about the fact I'd gotten motivated today ... and did laundry.  Left jeans pocket.  It had finished the spin-dry cycle.  I gather machine washing a cellphone is a Bad Thing.

So I just got to do another websearch.  Apparently, if I let it dry out for a few days, it might start working again.  And it might not.

I hate these tiny, new phones you crazy young people have these days.  My next phone will be cheaper, and bigger.  (sigh)


Monday, February 2, 2009

What the ... ?

Just wanted to share this with you. 

Oh, and the show's worth listening to.  I particularly liked the non-fiction part.  Fascinating stuff.

There's one part where Jim Campanella mentions a study partly funded by a manufacturer of Bluetooth hardware.  The study found that "regular users" of cellphones are 50 % more likely to get cancer.  What's a regular user?  "Once a week."

Not as dire as it sounds.  Think about it.  What sort of people are "regular users" of cellphones?  People in First-world countries, like the US, like Japan, and so on.  Is being a "regular user" the only characteristic they have in common?

The cover story is very edgy, but worth a listen.



Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Collective Feed is Back?

I've had the NaBloPoMo Collective Feed up and running since December, when I last did the National Blog Posting Month thing.  Actually completed the whole 31 days, which is pretty cool.  And that after completing NaPodPoMo (the podcasting version) in November.  I type 60 wpm on a good day, so compared to podcasting, blogging is easy.  Of course, other folks work harder at it, with pictures and real stuff to talk about.  Me, I'm more of a technical guy.  Like starting the Collective Feed.  Anyway....

Since December, the Collective Feed has kind of lain fallow, with posts from the original December NaBloPoMo participants still being aggregated, but probably not that many folks paying attention.

Well, LeftCoastCowgirl asked me the other day to fix the feed.  Turned out it was a technical problem between Google, which now owns and operates Feedburner, and Yahoo Pipes, the mechanism I use to do the aggregation.  I couldn't fix it, but I think Google & Yahoo got their acts together.  So far so good, anyway.

Since today is the first day of February, there's a whole new group of folks hoping to complete a whole month of posts -- 28 posts in 28 days, in this case.  Made sense, I thought, to clear the list of all the folks that aren't currently doing NaBloPoMo, and add any of the new folks that wanted to participate.

I do hope any of you folks from the original group who aren't doing it this month won't be offended.  And hey, this might just motivate you to join in once again.  Hey, if you did 31 days, 28 days oughta be a piece of cake, huh?

The Feed, found at, only shows the latest post from each participant, making it easy to keep up with all the different blogs, even if there end up being lots of folks participating.  And I started a group on the NaBloPoMo site,, which explains how easy it is to join the list.  I manage all the technical stuff myself, but hey, that's what I do for fun.

Hey, wait, it's 02/01/2009 -- I just did my first NaBloPoMo post!  See how easy it is?  Only 27 more days to go!


Episode Zero -- A Minor Local Celebrity

With "Meditation Impromptu" by Kevin MacLeod Originally posted to Libsyn under my original setup around 02/2007.  When I ran out ...