richardf8: (Default)
I'm calling the bodywork done, basically - just a final bit of sealing. I'm not totally happy with it, but its as good as its getting on the budget I have to give it. I paid Gregg of Gregg's autobody to do $400.00 worth of metalwork. Told him what my priorities were, and he met them. I was very impressed with his work. After he was done, I threw a pound or two of Bondo on a dent, ground it down, and primed and painted. It doesn't look great, but its a damn sight better than before. It looks like something bad happened to it, ans someone did what they could to fix it. Which is true. Making in look new would cost twice what the car's worth. I'm really happy to be able to write that off and move on
to more normal tasks, like the check list I posted way back when.

I replaced the radio with a vr3 VRCD500SDU gathered from Targe for 80 bucks. It's a fun little unit with Tuner, CD player, and the ability to mount a USB drive or SD card and play MP3s/WMAs off of it. It can also play them off a CD. So here's a quick review of it

Sound Quality - Quite good, really. It drives the four built-in speakers quite nicely.

User interface - too damn fussy There are lots of buttons with lots of shift states and context dependencies. But simple user interfaces are hard to come by. I've learned what I need to know of it.

USB/SD playback - the feature I bought it for. The file handler is a brute - it does recursive navigation of each folder, playing the contents of that folder in the order it was written to the flash memory. Or it can randomize. You can skip to the next song, or you can skip the next 10 songs, but you cannot just skip from one directory to the next. It cannot cope with DRM, and if the filesystem on the device is to badly fragmented, it acts . . . strange. All that said, I'm thrilled to be able to load stuff on my USB drive and listen to it in my car. The next toy I want is one of those USB turntables that [livejournal.com profile] debg clued me into so that I can start listening to my vinyl in the car.

Another quirk - the "Automatic Antenna" line on the stereo just goes hot whenever the stereo is on. I wish it would only go hot when the Tuner is in use - no need to have the antenna up if I'm not listening to the radio (dang antenna needs work - or replaced - anyway.)

Finally, refitted my old Thule Gutter Feet to fit the hank nuts the Saab harbors for the factory rack. It can now carry canoes.

Next up, I think I might actually do some work in the - gasp! - engine compartment. It needs a new serpentine belt, the present one is a bit worn.
richardf8: (Default)
Fedora Core 4 has proved unsuitable for my needs on the laptop. The choice then was between retrograding to RH9 or throwing Win2K on to the laptop. Ultimately, I decided to wimp out and throw on Win2K. Spent all of one night patching it. Here's what it's got right now:

Win2K, fully patched.
OpenOffice 2.0
Paint Shop Pro
Alleycode
Firefox/Thunderbird
PDFCreator
Acrobat Reader

I'm using open source where I can. OpenOffice on Windows is quite competent. Haven't pushed it real hard yet, but it appears robust so far. For Hebrew layout, I think I'm going to spring for Davka Writer. This is the chief reason I went for Win2K - It allows me to use a shrink-wrap solution. I've thought about using open office, but the chief problem there is Windows. I'm not happy with Windows' Hebrew Keymap, and it cannot be tweaked as easily as xkb. I have found a tolerable keyboard map, but it's not something I would want to do extensive work with. Davka has native keyboard handling with a mapping that is almost exactly what I want (some of the Nikud are arranged a bit differently from the ISO standard, but the differences are minor). I can also sync my palm with my laptop once more, something I had missed being able to do.

At this point, only my staging server is running linux (up for 152 days). This makes sense as it is chiefly a web server and testbed. And yes, I am enjoying the new build, despite it looking like Win2K.
richardf8: (Default)
Politics these days has become utterly devoid of statesmanship, and so poisoned with partisan bickering that nothing good ever gets done. Instead of working together, Democrats and Republicans have taken a position of propose and oppose. When the party in power proposes something, the other party responds not with "that's a good idea, but we have the following concerns," but rather with shrill prophecies of gloom and doom. It should be noted that I've observed this phenomenon with both parties in power.

I'm going to use as an example a state issue here in Minnesota. Governor Tim Pawlenty is pushing to increase ethanol in gasoline from 10% to 20%. He says this will help wean us from fossil fuels. The opposition says it won't, and opposes it.

Now Minnesota's a corn growing state - big ag loves this idea, because it creates new markets for corn. Big oil loves this plan, as it stands, because the energy for everything from growing to distilling to delivery speaks well to their bottom line. Because of these inefficiencies, the goal of reducing dependence on fossil fuels is not likely to be met by the Pawlenty plan.

But.

If our goal is reducing dependence on fossil fuel, then efficiency doesn't matter, so long as the energy input is not from fossil sources. Use biodiesel in the farm equipment, get solar power and wind farms to provide btu's for the stills and you are now converting non-fossil energy into stuff the cars can use. This would be a great step in the right direction. Producing fuels on the surface, from fuels on the surface would set us well on the road to energy independence.

But the opposition does not propose these modifications to the Pawlenty plan, they just say we ain't goin' for it. And mostly that's political. Pawlenty has designed a plan that Democrats are likely to shoot down so he can call them obstructive. Democrats are likely to shoot it down to make him look weak. The result is that instead of crafting policy, our political system has about as much value to our society as the WWF Wrestling.

August 2017

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