Archive for December 2006

XP PVR Network

December 20, 2006

I finally got Windows XP Professional. Tested it out on a 1.5 gig Athlon and a 6gig hard drive. The objective was to get a windows based media computer with PVR capabilities but mainly be a DVD processor. Use of a more capable operating system was also an objective. I was getting tired of having to search for programs that did not depend on the capabilities of XP. Although there is lots of stuff that will run under win98, most of the really neat stuff requires XP.
XP installs as quickly as previous versions of windows but a fresh install with default security settings is not usable by people who connect to the internet. Took an additional couple of hours to secure things and get the right look and feel. I like the classic windows 98 look and feel. The default XP stuff looks childish to me.

I saw the warning about allowing sufficient disk drive space and I promptly ignored it. To make matters worse, I ended up moving a bunch of stuff to the XP drive and forgot about it. Over 2gig of space ended up being occupied by video files. So when I opted to save previous configuration before installing SP1a, I quickly ran out of disk space.

Time to find a large disk drive. I suppose I could have made the 6gig work but I did want this thing to be a media machine. By this time I had decided that XP was going to be run on everything that would run it. That included three computers in a network of seven. The Dell in the front room came with XP home and was now running win98 and using two hard drives, a 10gig and a 20 gig. I decided to clear out the data from the 20 gig and use it as the XP media machine drive.

By 2am I had everything installed and working. Things ran at a good speed indicating there were no hangups to speak of. No programs waiting on a hung serial or ethernet connection. Right after I finished installing the latest updates to Nero 6.0, the network quit working.

My network is as crufty as my software. It all limps along at 10meg and sometimes it stumbles. The next morning I did the various resetting of routers and switches and pulled on cables and such. All to no avail. Then I unplugged the network cable (still using rg58 thin net) from one of the unused desktop machines. Network came right up. That has happened before but the cable got plugged in again and forgotten. Things were fine until last night.

I have no idea what is causing this. Could be invisible gremlins. Most likely it is a bad or flakey network card.

All Band Antenna

December 17, 2006

Ha! If you believe there is such a thing as an all band antenna, you might also believe there is a pot of gold at the end of each rainbow. To build a really good all band antenna system you will need a pot of gold.

After experimenting with radios and antennas since 1959, I have come to the conclusion that most of us in suburbia living on average sized lots in averaged sized houses do not have a prayer of achieving a really good all band antenna system.

All band in this case is everything from 160 meters to 10 meters.

My solution to the antenna problem is pretty simple. A four element tri-band beam for 20, 15, and 10 meters. I use a KLM KT-34 up at 55 feet. Now there is a very good multiband antenna. For 80, 40, and 30 meters I use resonant dipoles, all three fed from a common coaxial feedline. I have given up on 160 meters entirely.

At one time I used a non-resonant dipole, open wire line, and an antenna tuner. I changed because I wanted an antenna system that did not require tuning. I wanted to be able to merely flip a switch and be ready to go on any band I wished to operate. So the open wire line and antenna tuner were retired.

Then there was a period where I did some extensive computer modeling of 80 and 40 meter antenna systems. In nearly every case the results were less than spectacular. Perhaps the best was the full wave delta loop, but all the other dipole configurations had take-off angles pointing straight up.

Since there was no way I was going to be able to flat-top a dipole at 136 feet, I decided to settle for what could be done. So far I have not been disappointed in the performance of my three resonant inverted vee dipoles on a common coax feedline, but then I have never used a flat-top dipole at 136 feet so I may not realize what I am missing.

Surprize!!, Surprize!!

December 15, 2006

Shades of Gomer Pile.

I too was surprized today. No, not pleasently. At least I was not please when I was surprized.

I just love those email clients that squelch spam.

I use Thunderbird and so far it has done a fair job in eliminating stuff I did not request.

Today I decided to check up on some free blogs I started on the WordPress site. About a month ago, I got creative and created over a dozen free blogs on the free hosting WordPress site. Sort of let my creativity pig out. Sorry, wordpress folk, I just could not resist. Since then I have come to my senses and realise that if these child blogs are to have any reasonable future, I need to invest in some more domain names and add them to the server this thing uses.

It had been about a month since I had any activity on these sites. That is far too much time for my memory cells. I had no idea what the password was and had not written it down. That is probably good because as I understand it, you are not suppose to write down passwords.

So I had to use the ‘recover password’ feature that WordPress allows. Having spent the last week with Gallery2 I figured that WordPress also would allow changing passwords on-line. No, it don’t work that way and there is nothing documented to tell you otherwise. You figure that a user flakey enough to loose his password also qualifies for special newbie treatment. No, you are just dumped into the dark to fend for yourself.

The password was recovered. Well actually, the password was changed and the change was deliver in the form of an email which my email client decided was spam, so I never got to see it.

It was not until I brought up a new Debian-Etch machine, installed an mail client on it, and tried, once again to get onto my ‘free’ wordpress accounts that I realized what was happening.

Okay, okay, I know, it is all my fault for being stupid. I still think there are things that could be done externally to keep us from being so stupid.

Like making the ‘turn on cookies’ request on the login screen go away after cookies are turned on. Or informing the user that there will be two emails. One to validate and the other containing the new password.

More Gallery2

December 13, 2006

One of these days I am going to leave well enough alone. Today I am going to bed early. For the past four evenings I got into the biggest mess yet with the Gallery installations.

I have three Gallery2 ver 2.1.2 installations. Two on the LAN and one on this server. All three of them got screwed up before I figured out how to fix them.

It all started when I decided I wanted bigger thumbnails spaced closer together than what the default would allow. Seemed easy enough to do but somewhere along the line the WPG2 widget quit displaying thubnails.

The next few nights were spent recreating thumbnails for nearly 1000 pictures over, and over and over……I think you get the idea.

I never did figuire out what I did wrong or didnt do right. I could not figure out how to get back to where I started by fiddling with configurations. Guess, maybe it would have been a good idea to save the working configuration before tweaking it. I ended up deleting everything and starting over.

I still dont know what caused the problem. Most likely playing with stuff I did not fully understand. The fix was to re-install and not mess with the default setup.

All three WordPress/Gallery2 installations are now working. I am not looking forward to any ugrading anytime soon.

Trying to upgrade this combination on the production server was the pits. I finally just uploaded a new, virgin copy of Gallery2 into a seperate Gallery2 folder and started from there.

Afraid to do any tweaking now for fear of loosing the thumbnails again. WPG2 without thumbnails is the pits. Although I know you can run it that way. I can’t imagine why anyone would run it without thumbnails.

Now I need to see about backing up the Gallery2 database containing the photos. I can see how loosing that would be a big deal.

Grayson Engler

December 13, 2006

Grayson age 2 days


December 11, 2006

This has got to be as neat as WordPress. Gallery is a picture or photo gallery equivalent of blog software. At least that is what it appears to be to me. Uses php and mysql.

I just recently got it running on a LAN using my favorite ‘sandbox’ machine on the local network. I also have an earlier version of Gallery installed on this host. If you are curious, you can access it at . There are some baby pictures there right now. Soon there will be some ham radio related files. Scans of past magazine articles that I have permission to post. Manuals for some of the more popular boatanchors. None of this stuff is in competition with other sources. I am doing this mainly as a convenience for myself. If others find it convenient as well, so much the better.

I need to update the gallery software on the server to gallery2 so that I can use the WordPress plugin that allows selection and inclusion of pictures from gallery2 into posts (like this) and pages under WordPress.

Spending time on the sandbox with new software is very helpful in determining how to use new stuff and helps prevent messing up the on-line site.

So far here is what a newcomer (me) to gallery has surmized (learned), and experienced.

It probably is a good idea to password protect the main gallery.

It is a good idea to have more than one user registered. Maybe even have more than one user with admin priviledges.

Forget using the network (samba shares) to upload and download. I have several win98 machines and several debian machines on the network here. Samba shares works, sometimes. Other times I get into permission and password problems. Then, the fact that my host is not on an LAN samba share pretty much indicates I should be using ftp.

So that is what I did. Use ftp and make sure you can log onto the target computer or computers. (I have two ‘sandbox’ gallery installations on two debian machines.)

Also use ftp to upload photos. You don’t have to do it that way. You can also upload photos via browser by browsing for file names on your computer, but that is a very slow and tedious way of uploading because you have to select each and every file individually. You can zip all those files and upload one zip. That is a little faster but you still have to zip the files.

The best way I have found is to process the photo files and put them in an upload directory on the local machine. Here you can view them. Make sure they are what you want. Edit where needed. Massage everything to look like what you need the new album to be. Then upload the entire directory via ftp to a specially defined directory on the gallery server. That specially defined directory can be specified on the admin general setup page. The directory and path must first exist on the server.

Once that has been accomplished, merely select ‘from local server’ when you get to the point where you are adding items to an album. That term ‘local server’ is a little misleading. It has to do with references. In this case ‘Local’ refers to the locale and machine that is running the gallery software as a server. It does NOT refer to your locale. So, you see, the ‘local server’ could be in a galaxy far, far, away as long as you can communicate with it and ftp to it.

So, you have selected the ‘from local server’ option. Now select ‘find files’. It will list all the files in the directory that you have defined. This is your last chance to make sure these are the files you want. Scroll down to the bottom of the list and you can select all the files in the list by checking one box. Then select ‘add files’ and wait. Or come back later.

If you do mess it up, you can always erase any individual files that got uploaded by mistake. You can also erase (delete for good) complete albums, sub-albums, or the entire gallery. So be careful.