Archive for April, 2008

Yamaha FJ Road Ready

April 25th, 2008 2 comments

I went over to Simon’s after work as I have been having a bit of a problem shifting gears. It was not happening all the time, so it made it difficult to diagnose. Occasionally, the bike would refuse to shift into 3rd gear. It would “hit the ceiling” as it does in 5th and give my foot the signal that there are no more upshifts here. I left a phone message for Simon, then rode around a bit. I can easily ride to work in 2nd gear as the Fj is so powerful, but the high revs are not good in the long run. It was only happening from time to time and I started to think that, in Simon’s parlance, “It’s the nut behind the wheel”, particularly when the nut has new boots on ….

It started getting worse, so when Simon called, I was happy to go over and poke around on the bike. It always astonishes me when I see how easily he moves these big machines around. I try not to react when he casually holds the bike up with one hand before putting it up on the centre stand with a quick practiced motion. I mentally coach myself that Simon can do this and I don’t have to rush over to steady the bike or “help” him.

He quickly diagnosed the problem as a need for lubrication in the joints and then he rode the bike around the back to do the work. I tried to help, but I think I mostly got in the way. Despite my assistance, Simon managed to lube the significant parts, tighten and oil the chain and put the right amount of air in the tires. Only Simon could have made my throttle work better by putting the counterweight in the lathe and shaving it down a hair.

I always enjoy Simon’s company as he shows me all of his projects and the bikes he is working on. I rode off and started feeling the difference his changes had made. The work he did on the clutch last year and this work means the Fj shifts like a new bike. The extra air in the front tire made me feel the bumps on the road and I almost lost it going into a gas station. I am not used to that much of a direct road feel as I went over the driveway bump. I will get used to it, I am sure and the extra air made it corner so much better!

Simon says: make sure your chain is lubed and adjusted properly and keep checking your tire pressure as every bike looses some air.

Thanks Simon!

Categories: 1990 Yamaha FJ 1200

Ubuntu+Notebook IV

April 25th, 2008 1 comment

Yesterday I took my notebook to work because I had to repair the internet and I wanted one computer I could rely on. I maintain 3 old macintosh computers on a LAN at work. The problem turned out to be that a recent ADSL outage had changed some settings and I had to reset the router. At first the ADSL provider admin wanted to use Vista, so I tried to log in with the second Vista (longhorn) boot and the boot sequence turned into a circle of returns to the Grub menu. I decided to use Ubuntu as the tech was somewhat familiar with linux.

It was easy to set up a static IP in Ubuntu and the testing was completed quickly and efficiently. I was then able to set up my employer’s ibook on the crosscable from the modem after setting up the static IP on that machine. I reset the router, plugged it into the crosscable and then there was internet.

I was puzzled about the Vista boot until I remembered the happy downloading of updates. Did one of those updates affect the boot loader? Recalling the sequence of events that led to Vista working in the first place: the first Vista boot choice had transferred all of the files and booted in a strange way, then the second one worked. I started the Asus notebook again and chose the first Vista option. After the microsoft loading screen, several files were processed, then I got the giant error screen.

Vista Error

Back to unclipping the battery just enough …

Now I rebooted, choosing the second Vista boot and voila Vista.

I really don’t know what is happening here, but now I know what to do. If I have a problem booting after downloading updates, then try the first boot choice and see if it loads the software.

Today, I am trying something new. I wanted to clean up the failed install of Ubuntustudio, so I opened Synaptic and searched for linux-image. I received this info here. Thanks to aysiu, I was confident I could remove the install, then the partition would not be locked. However, when I opened the linux-image all the software that is pre-installed in Ubuntustudio is there! The software installed correctly, but maybe not the desktop? Now I will copy the software I want before deleting the kernel and reorganizing the partitions.

I went on the #ubuntu IRC channel to get some help as I am having mouse problems with my desktop. I will switch mice with XP and see what happens, but I wanted to find a list of key-commands for Ubuntu — just in case the other mouse exhibits the same problems. I did install a lot of music software and multi-media editing tools, so maybe one of them doesn’t like my mouse.

I had not been on IRC (Internet Relay chat) since the BBS days on Mindlink, from 1989-95. I am hoping that Ubuntu will show me the internet I used to know in those times, before GUI browsers, when the internet filtered all the early technology adapters into one place where they could talk. I wonder if there are still moderated Usenet groups? If I want to read sometime, I will try to find them.


Ubuntu and Vista Dual boot Notebook III

April 24th, 2008 No comments

Vista is now booting from the grub bootloader and is working perfectly while completely ignoring all Ubuntu on the partitioned drive.  It has enough space, and I will be able to practice on it as I know I will get some Vista support calls.

Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbon 7.10 works wonderfully on my notebook as the default OS.  I still have a few issues to solve but the forum support has been very helpful. I was worried that my Nvidia card would be tricky to install, but it seems to be working fine and I set up Alsa for audio now.

I have to clean up the failed install and reclaim my home partition. There is also some space that is not being used by either OS.


I installed a home partition because I read that all your personal data, including application preferences would be saved there and then I could upgrade without loosing my personal computer. My problem now is that the partitions were made during the failed install, so now I have to reclaim of remove them.

The hard drive listing before I removed the swap drive [matches above gparted screenshot]:


Here is a screenshot of the present drive situation with the end swap drive deleted.


Note the new 570.9 MB volume that was formerly the swap drive. With this configuration both OS run, but my Ubuntu drive is fragmented and I can’t use most of it. I will try to fix it, but I will be cautious so I don’t loose the set-up I have — I hope.

I am researching Firewire audio for this notebook and I am trying to get my M-Audio Delta 44 card to work on my desktop. This all seems like so much work when I have to try to meet the publishing deadline for my book. I know it will be worth it to have a mobile Ubuntu recording system. I am trying not to buy another mac. I loved my mac, but I couldn’t afford it. It was so expensive to buy that I couldn’t afford software. The studio I work for bought the software for me to use, but I ended up realizing that the best option was to sell them the hardware too. I need to have a notebook that I can take on my tour and that one was purposely configured for the studio environment.

I know that I can pirate anything I need — but I won’t. I am an advanced user and I should not have to steal the tools of my trade. Ubuntu is giving me those tools and I hope to use them to the complete every aspect of my project except the music notation. I am doing that on the aforementioned mac in the studio using Finale. All of the book design is planned using The Gimp and Scribus and I hope to be able to do some of the audio too. I am exploring starting with the desktop until I get firewire. I have not yet found a Final Cut Pro for Ubuntu, but maybe somewhere in a repository far, far away …


Dual Boot – Truth is Stranger than Fiction

April 20th, 2008 No comments

After a spectacularly unsuccessful day of trying to get my (working perfectly before this process started) notebook to dual boot Vista and Ubuntu, I went to look at the Ubuntu forums to see if anyone else had replied to my post. There was no new information since last night, so I decided to keep trying.

This morning I went into Ubuntu and deleted the swap drive at the end of the list of partitions using gparted. I also found out that the Home folder that Ubuntu sees belongs to the previous Ubuntu studio install as I did not have permission to save anything.

I wanted to take a photo of the giant ERROR message that I get when starting Vista so everyone on the Ubuntu forum could see that this is a really different problem. I had some helpful feedback, but some of it was relating to a different type of problem. One poster had asked for more details and I feel that I need all the help I can get.

I rebooted into Windows Vista (longhorn) but now it is installing.

There is a small window called “Windows Setup”

Windows Setup
Windows is now installing the following items:
Install the application


Behind this small window is a listing of programs example:

C:\preload\touchpad>start /w C:\preload\patch\sleep.exe

Now Vista is starting up.

This is so odd.

I didn’t do anything except remove one swap drive.

I will now see how functional Vista is — and if I can still boot into a working Ubuntu.


Truth is stranger than fiction.


I still have the problem with the hard drive fragmentation and the Ubuntu studio kernal being on the drive and owning the home directory.

This is progress though – now where is my WEP key?.


After this post, I went back to see how Vista was installing and saw this screen.

Ubuntu works

Ubuntu booted?

Possible explanation: Vista restarted to install and the bootloader defaults to Ubuntu.

Check it out – it seems to still be working despite all of the Vista activity.

Back to a reboot and I chose the first listing of Vista – that is where all the installing was happening before.

Vista Error

The giant ERROR screen

Possible explanation: This is some type of back-up archive and something happened before that is not happening now.

How technical can you get? I mean that some event was triggered to initiate the recovery when I deleted the one swap partition (maybe) and once the recovery was completed — I am back to the error screen. But will this happen on the second listing because if this theory is correct, then the restore would have been installed to the second Vista partition.

Reboot – I am getting really good at loosening the battery just enough ….

The second listing of Vista (longhorn) booted into the Vista Welcome screen.

Vita works

Is Vista really working?

This is not the same boot-up that happened before. This one asks to set my language and password and makes me check the license agreement. (there is nothing on there against dual boot)

Now it seems that Vista will work.

I will be checking out the functionality now.


Strange but true, the computer repaired itself — so that now the grub loader will boot ubuntu (default) after a few seconds of wait to allow me to select the second choice of Vista (longhorn) Home Edition. The kernal 7.10 selection is the failed install of ubuntu studio that boots into kernal mode with no GUI.

Vista is happily installing updates from the internet.  It only sees it’s own harddrive partition used for the install and not any part of the Ubuntu partitions. Strangely enough, it doesn’t recognize the Fat32 partition that I think is used to back up and restore the system. Vista has enough space to operate and install programs and I plan to use an external drive for most data.

Ubuntu operates the Wifi card and seems happy on the system. I just have to figure out a way of removing the failed Ubuntu studio install (kernal 7.10) and assign the home drive to the Ubuntu that is working.  Then I can test out the built in camera and microphone and try to get some music and graphics programs installed.

Once I get this notebook running, it will be my primary mobile computer so I will need a firewire audio interface. Is there one that supports Vista, Ubuntu 7.10 and mac? I will find out soon.


Yamaha FJ – On the Road

April 20th, 2008 No comments

Two sunny days in a row happened last weekend, so on Monday I bought insurance for the big bike — my Yamaha FJ1200. By Friday, I was riding confidently, under a partly cloudy sky, to Yaletown. I was scheduled to meet with a documentary film maker who wanted to interview me about one of my teachers and the benefits of her program.

After the interview, which was quite short, I thought I would join my daughter for dinner, so I phoned her as it started to rain. We made plans, but as I talked to her the rain turned to small beads of hail. I decided to have a coffee and wait this one out. The closest Starbucks was the only organic coffee in the area. Starbucks will go organic if you insist, they will make you a bodum press of organic coffee if they don’t have any on tap. As the hail was quite fierce, I lingered over the brew, but then it started to clear up a bit. I quickly saw my chance to head out, returned to my bike and shook the hail off the bike cover. The FJ started easily, even in the cold, but I knew the remnants of the hail was still on the street, so I was careful not to start or stop too quickly.

I started to head over to my daughter’s house, but decided to go home instead as it was really cold and I was worried about the weather. I had seen a couple of lightning strikes and the big, dark clouds now covered the sky. I was quite close to home when the hail started coming down again. My hands freezing as I drove very carefully on the slippery stuff, I managed to park outside my house and cover the bike quickly. The hail was coming down very thickly by then and I felt lucky to have made it home.

Later, I looked out the window and confirmed I had made the right choice.


In Vancouver, it usually snows enough to cover the ground a couple of times a year. This was taken Friday, April 18th, 2008. The spring flowers are out, the daffodils and tulips are blooming and the early cherry trees are already finished. It is so unusual that I know this unseasonable cold is a symptom of climate change. This cold and hail must be affecting the local farmers and gardeners. There are some people who think that the global warming can cause an ice age as the pendulum swings back to self-correct the climate. I am worried about the future, but I will do what I can in the present.


Categories: 1990 Yamaha FJ 1200

Ubuntu and Notebook II

April 20th, 2008 No comments

The attempt to configure my Asus notebook to dual boot did not go as well as I hoped. Click here for details. However, I haven’t given up yet and I do have Ubuntu 7.10 working but my Vista boots to a huge ERROR screen. I am going to try to re-install Vista from the Asus restore disks, but I am afraid that it will wipe out the Grub boot loader that allows me to choose which system to boot. This is a photo of my desktop Ubuntu computer that is giving me all the help from the internet as I try to get everything to work.


I think I had more trouble because I tried to install Ubuntu Studio. After a lot of different error messages, I got this screen, but no matter what user name and password I entered, I could get no further. Now my Vista refused to boot and I saw the giant error for the first time.


I tried the Ubuntu studio install again, but the next time it would only boot to the kernel and that it where it sits now. I couldn’t get Vista to run, so I reinstalled from my Asus restore disks. Now Vista was working again, but all my files are lost – nothing to be too sad about as I was trying not to use the computer until this process is complete …

Next I tried to install the regular distro that I have on the desktop. This is a photo of the Ubuntu install of the regular Gutsy Gibbon distro. It worked completely and is now on my notebook.

ubuntu inprogress

Now, I have some real problems as I have a working Ubuntu 7.10 with the following partitions and subdivisions The Vista partition is there and seems to have all the files in there that it needs to operate. The really bad thing is all the fragmentation due to two linux kernels being installed, two swap partitions and some unallocated space. When I looked at it in gparted I did not know what to do!
gparted screenshot

Here is the same HD from the working Ubuntu Places>computer.

Vista is marked as installed, but somehow the Grub boot loader is not initiating the Vista boot sequence. I looked in the files and they all seem to be there. Now I have to find out how to fix these problems.

At least now I know I can use Ubuntu on this notebook, even the WiFi works. It seems to be a choice of one or the other right now as if I reinstall Vista, then I can’t boot to Linux and with the working Ubuntu, Vista is not working.

Off to Ubuntu forums to see if I can get some help.


WordPress Upgrade

April 13th, 2008 No comments

Bluehost has a new system of WordPress install called Simple Scripts. I have heard this makes it easier to upgrade the install and it is simpler to manage than the current Fantastico install. So now, I have to back up my blog, delete it from the server, reinstall Word Press with Simple Scripts and restore my data.

This is a bit of work, but the new release of WordPress is supposed to be better at handling widgets and plug-ins. The second reason I am reinstalling is to move the blog off the root directory. I originally installed Word Press on the root directory to make sure it would work. I now want to have a more organized site with permanent pages and a link to the blog.

I am finding that people who are not familiar with blogs do not go to my static pages, which contain the background and general information about the project. I moved them to the top left in the hope they would be more appealing, but often they are ignored. Instead readers become confused by reading the posts only and sometimes are not getting the idea of the entire project at all.

I will have to whip something up to act as a repository for the static pages and link to the blog to avoid this problem. Those of you who have looked at my pages know I like colour and design and I have tried in a limited way to colour code WP pages. A new site splash page and static information pages will take some time to design, but I think the result will be worth it.

So far, my efforts have not inspired any funding, so I am having to work at my day job for more hours than I originally planned. Maybe an improved web presence will help me with funding, as I think the scope of the project is not clearly laid out in the blog, especially if the static pages are not viewed.


Ubuntu and Notebook Computer

April 10th, 2008 No comments

The tour is getting closer and the book is taking up a lot of time. I have to post an update because I realize I have been slow to enter information. When I am streaming real time it will be immediate, but the webcam I bought will not work in Ubuntu so far.

To take on the tour I bought an ASUS notebook and I am downloading the Ubuntustudio Gutsy distro to load on to it. It will be a dual-boot with the absolutely legit copy of Vista that came installed on it. I managed to crash Vista three times installing firefox, anti-virus and a firewall. Thank you Microsoft. I now own legitimate copies of Microsoft software stretching back from DOS (1998), Windows, Windows 95, Windows 2000, two copies of XP and now vista. I also owned Apple Basic, OS9 and OSX 3.9. No wonder I am getting into Open Source. I am tired of continually having to buy new operating systems!

ASUS photo 3

The ASUSTek A8M_A8T Series Notebook came with a built in webcam and mic so streaming should be easy — if I can get Ubuntu to recognize the hardware. It is a dual-core AMD Turion 64×2 TL-52 803 MHz mobile technology chip (AMD K8 Processor), 32 bit operating system, ACPI mother board, NVIDIA GeForce Go 6100, 120 gig HD, bluetooth, SD card reader and DVD burner. It is not the most blazing fast computer, but with the fan it runs really cool and it has connectivity with 4 USB, mini firewire (will need a special converter jack), S-video out and a jack I don’t know what it is for yet. Although I believe I can run the 32 bit distro, I read some forums and found that some people have more problems with it. I haven’t decided yet if I am going to go that route. More research is needed, maybe I will post on the Ubuntu forum.

ASUS notebook1

The notebook is originally from Korea and so has all the characters still on the keyboard. My friend Allen is Korean, so even though the drive was wiped, I will probably be able to get him to type something in Korean for me. Even though this notebook is two years old there is still one year left on the warrantee — I did my research ASUS makes good computers. I have owned several of their mother boards and my current XP and retiring Win 2000 computers both run very well with Intel chips. The AMD 1.5 GHz desktop I used for a few months before passing on to my oldest son, is standing up well under his neglect, although I do still service it.

The thoughtful Korean fellow motorcyclist I purchased it from had already partitioned the drive, so I plan to put Ubuntu on the 2nd partition. The Vista partition uses 21.6 GB for the operating system and 3 internet utilities. No documents, no programs just a very large OS. I have a copy of DOS OS for the very first IBM notebook I [still] own — it is on a single-sided low density floppy disk. I think they can do better, so I will compare how much space the Ubuntu distro takes. The shot below is trying to show the HD space used, but I had to use a flash to get a reasonable photo and it is hard to see.

Showing VISTA memory useI had to do some work on my Gutsy desktop today because I wanted to take some screen shots. It is not that easy in Ubuntu, no Grab in utilities (Mac) no shift-prtscrn key (Win). I am downloading a Gnome plug-in called “Go” .

I hope this will allow me to capture some of the song score from the .pdf file I am working on. I may just use the mac at the studio to Grab the score right from Finale, the notation program I am using to produce the score. I am trying to do this whole blog in Ubuntu, but it is a challenge. I am learning a lot though and hope that I will be able to do all of the graphic and book design in Unbuntu using The Gimp and Scribus. The multi-media part will involve the Mac G4 Powerbook as Finale and the audio tools I use are Mac OS. However, I hope this Ubuntustudio version is more supportive of my needs and by the time I am on tour I can erase the Vista from my drive.