Friday, April 25, 2014

SPAM Emails from


Many people might have been receiving funny Emails from over the past day or so..  An email with no subject and just a link to Lord knows what...

Our Gmail account got hacked yesterday and it seems they have scraped off the address book.   I have changed all passwords, and even established 2-stage log-ins.  The door is really well-locked shut now - but I suspect it is kind of like "closing the barn door after the cows get out" - they can spoof the sender using any Email system, and seem to still be doing it.  (a couple of folks have commented they received Spam Emails today)

So, if you get funny Emails from us please just erase it  and what ever you do DO NOT CLICK ON THE LINK!


Friday, April 18, 2014

Frustrated (not really boating post??)

Not from MY choice!
I am frustrated, and giving up for now.  Arg.   See, my primary laptop runs winXP - and we have all seen the Apocalypse warnings around continue to use winXP.   Many magazines, online and on-paper, are more than happy to tell you what to do.  Microsoft even has a handy self-check tool on their website, that inevitably comes to the conclusion that you need to hop on down to Best Buy and purchase a brand new computer.  (Oh, and while you are at it, also replace those nasty old 'office' applications you have with nice fresh web-based ones.  Only $100 a year!)

Well now, is that what I do?  No way.  My beloved Thinkpad T43p's work great, are cheap and are rock solid. Sure, one of the new machines would be nice, but the ones I tend to look at cost well over a boat-buck, and the ones that are close to my price range really are not much different from what I have - well, one difference:  See the 'p' series of Thinkpads have a wonderful LCD display, all 1600x1200 pixels of it combined with an ATI graphics chip...  VERY helpful when doing PCB CAD work.  (Nope, no room for a 24' monitor on a boat.)

So Linux!  Why not!  Linux even started a kind of PR campaign to 'Come out of the dark!'.  I tried Linux about 10 years ago and went back to XP - mostly because Linux lacked the ability to stream the Chinese Olympics via CBS.  But over the past several months I have been playing with Linux and it seemed like a good choice.  After days of research, I settled on Lubuntu  A 'light weight' version of the popular Ubuntu line that was built on a solid code, and seemed to offer more up-to-date apps then say Linux-Mint.  I even waited -- waited with great anticipation -- for the next LTS (Long Term Support) version 14.04 Trusty Tahr to come out this week.  Like a Nerd-I-never-have been I monitored the boards to see the hour of  release.   Well, yesterday it came out and I installed it, then worked to move over my other functions (ala, transfer Email files, all the saved data), install apps for editing, Arduino, KiCad, etc.  Even a little Wine to get the LTSpice running!  Over the past several weeks I had figured out how to cover all my bases...

Oh Joy, fast boots, two desktop screens to flip back and forth.  Customize the clock, it was great.  Thunderbird is a bit more difficult to use than Outlook, but I figured I would get used to it.  Libra of course is different, but was able to open my office files.  And as Lubuntu's apps are up to date, I even got the next Arduino IDE installed, which started to complain about me not declaring my PROGMEM variables as 'const', which I guess it right.

And then I tried KiCad.   What a disaster.  I have spent most of today researching the issue, and the problem is an argument between open-source ATI drivers and KiCad.   One saying 'you should do it THIS way', the other saying 'Nope, THIS way'.  End results: page redraws take about 1 second. Panning, 1 second.  Zooming, 1 second.  Anything, 1 second.  In a CAD tool, these are all very common actions - actions that at one time justified spending $25-35,000 on SUN workstations!  (Plus untold $'s on software).  There is a 'proprietary' ATI supplied driver which does not have this issue, but X-open decide to drop support for it a while ago...    And no one seems interested in addressing this issue here today..

So, I am disappointed.  I had hoped to 'get on  the Linux' wagon, but it still seems a bit hard.   And I will tell you, Linux guys do not do themselves any favors.  Just starting out, which Linux to use?  There are perhaps 6-7 really good choices to replace WinXP, and the Linux guys say 'Hey, this is a good thing'.  No, it is not.  Most PC users just want to USE their PC.  Having to decide between 6-7 distributions, each with different 'utilities' is never going to work.  I have other less-than-favorable thoughts re: Linux as a common replacement for winXP but will perhaps not take up too much space.  But will say a couple of them are:  GUI vs. CL, or some odd mixture.  An overwhelming attitude when someone does ask 'How do I make X work', and perhaps 98% of the answers are "Why would you use X, just use Z, or Q."   Or maybe some one saying "To get X to work is simple, just sh a .mod on the /etc/"   --  Yes, I  am sure they are right, but without the years of background no way a new guy is going to know even where to start.  (remember, my background is system programming.  I started off WRITING OSes and languages..). I am even willing to look past the poorer fonts, and some really odd delay when starting apps - like a couple of seconds for Firefox..

But just now I have decided to put away Linux.  Primarily because of the unusability with KiCad, but the show stopper for me was:  Today I have had the machine stop responding twice. Display still worked, could move the mouse around, but it would not do anything. And keyboard combos the same, no response.  Not sure why  and perhaps not interested in researching which /bin or /apt or...   log file has some hints.  Will stay with XP for a bit and see if I another path clears its way over the summer.

Will miss that fast boot-up time!


6/1/2014 - Where I ended up:  Windows 7 is now my answer.  Laptop works fine with it, and able to reinstall the apps - even use the 2nd license of our office 2007 suite with no problems.  Will keep another machine set up as Linux (Suse or Lubuntu) to play with, but for day to day will be Win7.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Its all about Context

Wow, - we seem to be getting more traffic again.  Still not sure why, but in an attempt to keep this site somewhat interesting, we will work to put up one post a week.  And yes, will also try to to keep it boating related  (Mostly).

With that I am remembering an exchange between Kristi and I back in January.  We were on the phone and I was packing up a box of 'stuff to move' for our year stay in Minnesota.  I was down to packing some of her clothing, and the conversation went something like this:

 "K:  I want all of my jewelry;  it's on top of the dresser.
Not quite this bad. . .
  A:  OK, got it.

  K:  And my wood-handled brush, and the vented one.
  A; Wood-handled, got it.  Vented?
  K:  It has holes in it.
  A: Holes in the brush,  sure.  Think I got it.

  K: Now all my Teal shirts.
  A: Teal -- that's Green, right?
  K: It's blue.  Blue-Green.
  A: Blue ... Green.  Blue-green, ok.  (Hoping they were correct ones)

  K: And I DO want my GREEN capri's
  A: You have a  car in here?  (Only Capri I know of was made by Mercury back in the 70's)
  K: Pants.  With short legs.
  A; OK, Green cut offs.

(At this point I am feeling just like I do when ordering coffee at Starbucks - where they 'passively aggressively'  train their customs to order the 'right' way)

  K: And my Carhartts.
  A: THAT I get!"

And so it went.  Perhaps I can feel a bit more sympathetic for her when I ask for a 5/8" box wrench.  (But come on.  What's hard about that?  It's a wrench.  One for a 5/8" nut.  With the end shaped like . . er . . a . . box??)

Why is this Boating related?  At times people ask us how we can stay in such a small space for so long. "I am surprised you two have not eaten each other yet" one friend stated.  Well, it is different for everyone, I think.  We often note that with few exceptions we are hardly ever more than 50' from each other, and have been that way for several years now.  Even here in Minnesota I come up from the 'Man Cave' to sit at the table Kristi is at and type (ala, like this post).  Not sure why we are this way but we are.  And to be honest I think it is a kind of basic need if one is looking to cruise long term.

We know another couple who wanted to pull the plug and 'live the dream' like we are.  But he also commented "But I will need a bigger boat".  Later that summer they pulled in a 65' power boat.  Wonderful, tons of room.  Maybe big enough, though last I knew, he was still working to pay it off....

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Cost to Not Cruise - March 2014

And here is March:  Things are starting to settle down, still can not find places to spend our coffee money and Kristi has somehow managed to keep me from EBay / Amazon, etc... (though she DID find a mall).

3rd month of 'un-cruising' on Viking Star

In April I expect some higher medical costs as we have started seeing the Doc.  Moorage might go down some as a friend stopped by Viking Star and turned down the Block Heater.  Other than that, about it...


And now, here is the standard explanation these days: If this is your 1st time looking at costs, and want some more background on why we are reporting what it costs to not-cruise on a cruising blog - well, we are taking a break by moving back to Minnesota to help out Kristi's folks.  And we thought it would be interesting to be able to compare our costs on Land vs. on Sea., see more here:

And for reference here is a summary of what it did cost us to actually cruise:

For Reference, Costs for Cruising in 2013
Again, following the link above will give you access to more details, or you can click on the Costs label to the right.