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WEEK 43 2010

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First Post, 17 March 2002
Eight Years Ago, This Week, 2002 Seven Years Ago, This Week, 2003 Six Years Ago, this week, 2004 Five Years Ago, this week, 2005 Four Years Ago, This Week, 2006
Three Years Ago, This Week, 2007
Two Years Ago, This Week, 2008
One Year Ago, This Week, 2009

Saturday 30 October 2010
Saturday - As it's the end of October the lawn watering can be cut back to once every two days. At the end of Novembers I'll probable set it to every third day. The water bill was ridiculous last time: there were clearly leaks in the swamp cooler and its feeder line, that probably contributed.

I am still trying to make progress on cleaning up the house. There is stuff everywhere, cluttering the rooms and halls, and even someone as un-house-proud as myself can get irritated by it all. Then there is the garage. And of course the yard, now overgrown because all three mowers are broken.

Book #69 was Imager's Challenge: The Second Book of the Imager Portfolio, L.E. Modesitt. Portfolio - cute. Not much to say here, it's a bit like reading Louis L'Amour or Georgette Heyer, one knows what one is getting: good escapist fiction. Kindle Book.

Another task this weekend was to fix a friends PC. It was old, running WinMe, and would no longer connect to the Internet. First thing was to upgrade the RAM, it had 128MB so I added a 256MB stick, bringing it up to 384MB. This left plenty of free RAM and it was a bit spiffier. Then I tried hooking it up to an Ethernet cable - no luck. Running from an Xubuntu LiveCD also showed the ethernet port to be dead.

OK, time for Plan B. I tried using a wireless USB card and that sort of worked, sometimes, (Dlink WUA-1340). I downloaded and installed about a gazillion megabytes of updates and patches from Microsoft, rebooting often. It didn't really help much. Connectivity was spotty and it still has a tendency to hang. I removed several old anti-spyware programs, long out of date, rebooted. No particular improvement. Next is to download and run a modern anti-spyware package, assuming one can be found that runs on WinMe, and see if that helps.

But I suspect not. My father had a saying about trying to pour perfume on a pig....

Well, the Giants lost their first game to Texas, away in Arlington. Not too big a surprise, the Rangers aren't all that bad a team. And I'm happy that George Bush's old team won one for him. But one is sufficient, no need to go overboard!

Friday 29 October 2010
Friday - No trip down to Ventura. The new client bowed out of the little job, so that's a couple grand lost. Oh well, so it's goes. I had other stuff to work on, so it wasn't a complete loss of a day.

In fact, as usual, the debugging is taking as much time as writing the s/w. It's hard to write good code in VbScript, and I'm still learning the in's-n-out's of the Excel tools in it.

For example, there were problems in the effort to automate the Pivot Table script, to force a "SUM" rather than a "COUNT". The data set "Mileage_Total" had blanks in it, where certain clients didn't get a mileage charge. By default a Pivot Table sets the function on the column to be COUNT if there is a blank in any row, so this is a problem where the report you are generating is supposed to show the total of mileage charges for all clients. Interactively this isn't a problem, one simply clicks on the header and changes it to SUM. Trying to automate this from Vbscript I used:

        pvtTable.pivotFields("Mileage_Total").function = xlSum

but it returned a runtime error. By starting a macro, interactively performing the function whilst recording it, then looking at the macro I discovered that I needed to use:

        pvtTable.pivotFields("Count of Mileage_Total").function = xlSum

After which there came another problem. If, by some rare chance, there were no blanks, then this command would give a run time error, as the field argument would already be "Sum of Mileage_Total" and not "Count of Mileage_Total". So, one has to check first to make sure it isn't already a SUM before applying the function to change it.

And, you are probably wondering, just what is xlSum? xlSum is -4157. Isn't it intuitively obvious?

It isn't rocket science, it's just a grind.

Anyway, there are a lot of little issues like this to be fixed - probably including some that I haven't thought of yet. That's OK (putting on my Microsoft hat), I'm sure the client will find them for me...

The Giants beat the Rangers yesterday, so this is an off night, and they will play again tomorrow in Texas, at Arlington I suppose. I actually saw a game there once, probably fifteen or twenty years ago - I can't recall who they played or who won though. It was before the big strike, when I had thoughts about visiting every stadium. But the strike took that urge away - the betrayal by the players and owners of the fans means I've never quite regained my youthful enthusiasm. I still enjoy watching games, but in the back of my mind I know that it's just big business now.

Update: According to Wikipedia the Big MLB Strike was 1994-1995, so my estimate was pretty good.

Thursday 28 October 2010

Thursday - working away on this and that.

I didn't got down to Ventura, just barely left the house. I am cleaning up little details in the s/w, minor bugs, fixing some of the clients data entry errors as well. Tedious, but it pays.

I checked. This is only the third non-travel week since June. Sheesh. Though maybe I need to head down and work on some stuff this weekend :-(

Wednesday 27 October 2010

Wednesday - working away on stuff.

I watched the Giants/Rangers game in the evening. It's supposed to be a close World Series, but the Giants blew the Rangers right out of the water, with an 11:7 score. It really wasn't even that close - the Rangers scored three at the end of the game, when the Giants closer choked a bit.

Still, a win is a win.

Tuesday 26 October 2010
Tuesday - I finished the biography of Robert Hooke (Kindle Edition). Very interesting.

Book #68 was, therefore, The Forgotten Genius, by Stephen Inwood. He isn't that forgotten, there are a number of books and articles about him - the biography is extensive. But it seems likely that he would have been more famous if not overshadowed by Newton.

I should mention, you can find photostats of his books online.

Here, for example, is a nice photostat copy of Micrographia online, published in 1667, with some of the wonderful illustrations by Hooke. Hooke was apprenticed to a painter at one point, his drawing (and observing) is superb.

Robert Hooke, Micrographia Image

Observ. XLIV. Of the tufted or brush-horn'd gnat

Monday 25 October 2010

Monday - working away on this and that. My back is starting to feel better, but it's still painful to stoop or twist in any way.

My brother emailed me. Apparently the fires that came close to his house this summer denuded the slopes behind his house; and the recent storm with it's large amount of rain, mud, and debris clogged the culvert drain back there. His yard and pool are overflowed with mud - several inches all the way across. Now he's trying to find out who is responsible for keeping that culvert clear. It could be the city, the county, the state, or even a private thing. Bummer.

Sunday 24 October_2010

Sunday - the day was cold, but dry and windy. I'm still pretty tired, and the back still hurts, but it's getting better. I did bills, and cleaned up a bit. I tried to mow the lawn, but the mower would not start. I have three mowers now, none of which works.

Inspired by the Newton biography I downloaded a biography of Robert Hooke onto the Kindle and started reading it. Hooke was a contemporary of Newton, and they got into a pretty ferocious fight about the motion of celestial bodies and the inverse square law of attraction. Mostly, because of Newton's fame and because Hooke died first, he has been forgotten, and maligned. He wasn't a particularly nice man, but wasn't as bad as portrayed, and he was an extraordinarily creative and brilliant experimentalist, and only slowly has history recognized him.

Hooke wasn't Newton's equal - nobody except perhaps Leibniz was (because the Calculus was really needed to explain motion) - but he had prefigured, in writing, much of Newton's Laws, and correctly deduced that the motion of comets was a combination of centripetal attraction and linear motion and that they orbited about the sun. He claimed precedence in determining the inverse square law, but that's harder to prove.

Picture of the Week

Starfish on side of slip finger
Photo Notes: Starfish on side of slip finger, about 16" across.

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