Wednesday, April 30, 2014

23 April 2014 City Council Meeting Resolution 14

The following is a clip from

showing the discussion of Councilor Farley's proposed resolution. The clip is from approximately time 00:59:15 through 01:14:36 of the posting above:

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Easy When You Know How: Linux password programs

QPASS is a pretty cool program, but I want to be able to sync with my 'droid and haven't found out how to do that with qpass.

Keepass is a Windows favorite and has a 'droid client KeepassDroid.

But it isn't native Linux.

Or is it?

Ensure you have mono installed.

Download the Debian package:

Use Alien (as root) to convert it to a RPM.

      # alien --to-rpm --scripts keepass2_2.25+dfsg-1_all.deb

Install the resulting RPM (as root).

Make the following link (as root):

     ln -s /usr/bin/mono /usr/bin/cli

And off you go.

Upload your .kdbx file from keepass2 to the 'droid and open it on the 'droid.

Easy when you know how.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Easy When You Know How: Install Spotify under Linux openSUSE 13.1

This is an automatic installer for the Spotify desktop client for Linux, which circumvents the redistribution restrictions on the client by:
- downloading the .deb from
- installing required dependencies
- building an rpm
- installing the rpm
The process is intended to be as user-friendly as possible.
Binary package:

This appears in the packman repository, but you have to build links:

ln -s /usr/lib64/ /usr/lib64/
ln -s /usr/lib64/ /usr/lib64/
ln -s /usr/lib64/ /usr/lib64/
ln -s /usr/lib64/ /usr/lib64/
ln -s /usr/lib64/ /usr/lib64/
ln -s /usr/lib64/ /usr/lib64/
ln -s /usr/lib64/ /usr/lib64/

Now it works.

The process is one of:

1. installing the RPM

2. Running the above link creation commands as root

3. Repetively running as user:


(NO closing Ampersand, or you won't see the error messages!!)

to which you may receive a number of replies such as:

     andy@tm2t> spotify
     spotify: error while loading shared libraries: cannot open shared      object file: No such file or directory

which simply means you've gotten the link wrong. 

You can do ls to confirm that the required /usr/lib64/ exists, it just needs to be represented as
 where yyy is some other arcane suffix than you can derive from the complaint above, e.g., 0.9.8

In this case exists quite happily, but spotify is looking for

So making the links makes it happy quite handily and in very short order.

Easy when you know how.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Easy When You Know How: USB Port Speeds for Wireless Headsets


I want to be able to use Skype and other audio applications without feedback, but also without tangled wires.

So I got a new Logitech H800 Wireless Headset. Awesome. Works with the Android and a straightstick Windows 7 platform.

But when it came to Linux: nada.

Several days of working through troubleshooting guides. Got to learn a lot about ALSA and PulseAudio. I learned about sample rates, and a zillion parameters for the various ALSA and PulseAudio configuration files.

But no matter what, I could get sound, but only as in static.

And then: tadaa!

suggests there is a difference between USB 1.1 and USB 2.0.

Now, how to test that? 

Well, the machine is the Hewlett Packard HP Touchsmart tm2t. It has three USB ports: two on the right side, one on the left. I had been using the one on the left.

The H800 connects through a tiny USB dongle that is a WIFI transceiver. I changed the dongle to the port on the right side and now it works!

Neither the user nor maintenance manuals for the tm2t describe the USB protocol for the ports and I've not found any Google information. But it clearly works on either of the two ports on the right, and not on the one on the left.


Easy when you know how.


Once past all that, the Logitech H800 is a nice piece of gear. As I said, no wires, I can listen to music while walking around or taking a nap. It seems to be good for a radius of about 15 feet of the dongle. Which is good enough to load up a long playlist and then go to bed upstairs. :-)

We've installed Skype, Ekiga, Spotify, and a host of other audio programs under Linux. All now play very happily with the H800.

There remains a motorboating problem in the VirtualBox instance of Windows 7. But since I've migrated everything I care about audio-wise to Linux, who needs Windows?

Monday, April 21, 2014

Grantwriting 101

Out of cash? How about going after a grant? ONE TRILLION DOLLARS of free money out there...

This outlines my recent research into the world of Grant makers and seekers. I'll add more as I get smarter about the subject...
Grant Management
1. Grants.Gov

This site is rather comprehensive.
It outlines (rather simplistically) the four steps required to apply for and manage grants:
STEP 1: Download a Grant Application Package
STEP 2: Complete the Grant Application Package
STEP 3: Submit the Completed Grant Application Package
STEP 4: Track the Status of a Submitted Grant Application Package
The site offers links and tools for each of the four steps.
I would offer the following step as perhaps more fundamental:
STEP 0: Find a grant for which you wish to apply.
This is accomplished by examining, internalizing, and systematizing the following comprehensive link:
There are a number of filters that can be applied, appearing in the left panel, for which I suggest:
  • Funding Instrument                                             All
  • Eligibility                                                              City or Township Governments
  • Category                                                                All
  • Agency                                                                   All
This still gives 36 pages of possible grants. So as I said: time consuming.

2. Wikipedia
gives a good overview of the grants management process. The following is a synopsis of its key points:
  • Grant management software is a program or application that assists fund-seeking organizations such as non-profits and universities in administering and automating the grant process. Functions can include grant discovery, budget planning, peer collaboration, regulatory compliance, proposal submission, administrative reporting and project tracking. Available as self-hosted programs that are installed on the organization's servers, or as web-based cloud applications that are hosted on the provider's servers, grant management software helps grant managers, principal investigators, researchers and other individuals ease grant-related administrative burdens.
  • Grant management software market
Many nonprofits, schools and universities rely on grant funding. Each year, all U.S. grant sources give an estimated $1 trillion in grant money.[7] The federal government alone spent $489 billion in grant funding in fiscal 2006.[8]
  • Grant discovery
Grant management software can help customers find grants by automatically searching known funding sources and alerting users when applicable grant opportunities are available.
  • Grant collaboration
Preparing for award submissions, finding funding opportunities, and managing grant projects takes considerable collaboration.[11] Some grant management software offer collaboration solutions to make this process easier. Collaboration solutions can help users review grant opportunities, vote on opportunities to apply for, and communicate with other project peers.
  • Grant tracking and reporting
Organizations that receive funding often have to track grant-related activity and report results to grantors.[13] These tasks can include creating and maintaining award documentation, preparing budgets, and ensuring fund use is within grantor compliance. Grant management software can offer solutions for these tasks. It can record who participates and manage grant-related documents such as letter templates as well as export data to programs such as Excel for easier reporting.
3. Grants Manager Network
Grants Managers Network is a national association with a mission to improve grantmaking by advancing the knowledge, skills and abilities of grants management professionals and leading grantmakers to adopt and incorporate effective practices that benefit the philanthropic community.
It seems to be oriented more toward the grantmaker than towards the grantseeker.
4. Software
There are a number of options for grants management software:
This link describes many options. Most are online or require payment.
by eCivis. eCivis is the leading online provider of federal, state, and foundation grant information and grants management tools for local governments and nonprofits.
This is an open systems (free) GPMS.
The Grant Proposal Management System (GPMS) is a web-based workflow tool that streamlines the submission and review of grant proposals for non-profit and government organizations. At its core, GPMS is designed to allow people to import applications, score them, and then create a docket to present to a board. Behind the scenes, algorithms are built to support rules-based work assignments across the user base. These configurable, intelligent business rules allow for the deployment, routing, and tracking of approval processes that align with the organization's unique daily operational needs.
Sounds great, but the website has been hijacked by a DNS vendor and it is admittedly in ALPHA
This product will get you started crafting a formal project proposal or creating a contract for your organization and you'll find that Proposal Kit makes the process fast and easy. 
Proposal Kit Professional is a suite of business proposal and contract management products that help all kinds of organizations focus on the business end of what they do. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Stupidity writ LARGE: Newport City Council Waste Management Decision

The City Council voted last week to approve a new waste disposal contract with Waste Management (apparently the only company to have submitted a bid) whereby brand new 64 gallon trash/recycling containers will be provided and required for residents throughout the city (a limit of 100 smaller containers will be provided for elderly residents or individuals with disabilities that cannot easily handle the new larger containers).  Based upon my conversation with Kate Leonard (the only Council Member to vote against the proposed contract…Councilor Farley recused himself), each residence (i.e., home, apartment unit, condo unit, etc.) will be provided with two of the 64 gallon containers, one for garbage and one for recycling, at a cost of nearly $1,000,000 to the taxpayers.  Additionally, residents will now have to pay extra for disposal of "bulk" items that do not fit into the new containers.  Waste Management hopes to start phasing-in collection trucks that are equipped with mechanical arms that are able to lift the new containers off of the sidewalk and dump them into the trucks (thereby saving on labor costs by cutting down on crew sizes).  A few questions and concerns:
1.  Costs:  Why was there only one bid received for this contract and how much negotiating was done with Waste Management before it was approved by the Council?  Moreover, why does this new deal require that the taxpayers cover the $1,000,000 costs of the new containers?  In speaking with Councilor Leonard, it appears that in most cases it is the waste disposal company (not the taxpayers) that pays for any new containers that are required for its disposal programs.  Why, then, are we accepting the one and only bid that does just the opposite by requiring taxpayers to pay nearly $1,000,000 for new containers that many of us do not want or need (while also charging extra for "bulk" items that were previously picked up at no additional cost)?  Moreover, Councilor Leonard confirmed that many similar programs implemented by other municipalities give residents the option to choose from a range of various container sizes…rather than mandating that the largest and most expensive containers be purchased and used city-wide.  Why is Newport opting for this very expensive "one size fits all" approach?  
2.  Feasibility:  In speaking with various neighbors and residents throughout town, there are many significant and reasonable questions and concerns (in addition to the cost-related questions set forth above) that should be addressed and answered before a new contract is signed.  (I found out over the weekend that there was an online survey that solicited feedback on various options for the new collection program.  Neither I nor the neighbors that I spoke to were aware of any such survey).  In no particular order, here are the top questions/concerns so far:
(i) Typically, these large garbage containers need to be placed directly at curbside (on the right-hand side of the street in the case of a one-way street) due to the positioning of the automated lift-arm on the right-hand side of the collection trucks.  On collection days, the containers cannot be left at the side of a house or set back in a side yard or driveway, etc.  Rather, the containers must be left ON THE SIDEWALK very close to the street.  Will this be true for Newport and, if so, how can this possibly work in areas such as Historic Hill, the Yachting Village, portions of the Point, etc., that have narrow one-way streets where the houses are built right up to the street/sidewalk (many without driveways) and where parked cars will block easy-access to the new 64 gallon containers?  Are the narrow sidewalks in these areas going to be clogged each week with hundreds of these large garbage bins? [Remember, there are 2 bins required per residence so even a modest 4 unit building will now have up to 8 of these large bins out on the sidewalk on collection day.]  
(ii) In areas where the automated lift arms are not practicable, won't there be a need for standard work crews?  Are the costs of those crews covered by this new contract or will that be an "extra" cost to be paid by Newport once WM figures out that the automated "lift arm" trucks won't work in many areas of town?
(iii) Are the elderly or disabled residents (most of whom produce nowhere near 64 gallons of garbage and another 64 gallons of recyclables each week) who are not lucky enough to get one of the 100 smaller containers going to be forced to use these larger containers?  
(iv) Can residents choose a smaller sized container?
(v) Are the residents who are living on the right hand side of a one-way street going to be forced to live with their cross-street neighbors' garbage bins being lined-up in front of their homes each week so that a truck's mechanical arm can reach the bins?  
(vi)  On many narrow streets in the downtown area, larger vehicles have to drive up onto the sidewalk on a daily basis in order to make it through.  How will they do this on days when the sidewalk is blocked with the new larger collection bins that must be left on the curb for pick-up? 
(vii) What happens on collection days when snow/ice is piled high on the curbs and sidewalks?  
(viii) Where are residents to store the larger containers if they don't have room for them?  [With respect to this question, my relatively new heavy-duty 30 gallon garbage cans (that barely fit in the enclosed space that I created under our front steps) are doing a fine job of holding our garbage.  What am I to do with those containers now (will the City or WM buy them from me???) and where am I to store the 2 new much larger containers that will not fit beneath our front stairs?   We live on Historic Hill and the 64 gallon containers are simply too large and cumbersome to fit through the narrow gate and walkway that leads to our postage-stamp backyard (we have no driveway or side yards) so it appears that the new containers will have to be permanently parked next to our front steps.  Many residents in town will have the same problem.  How nice that will look (and smell)…]
(ix) Are flower boxes and flagpoles going to have to be removed on narrow streets so as to give the trucks room to lift, dump and replace the new large garbage bins?  
(x) Are WM workers going to be responsible, under the terms of the contract, for making sure that these heavy containers are left upright and in an orderly fashion rather than simply strewn on sidewalks, side yards, flower beds, against fences, houses, cars, etc. (an ongoing problem throughout town that has often resulted in property damage)?  
(xi) Can residents opt-out of this program and continue to use their current garbage and recycling bins?
(xii) How much extra will it cost for "bulk" items to be picked up (i.e., items that don't fit into the 64 gallon bin)?
If anyone has answers to these questions or information regarding plans to alleviate these concerns, please post it here (unfortunately, I have been told that the 64 gallon container plan will be implemented on a uniform basis throughout Newport…no exceptions or exemptions have been considered other than the 100 smaller containers described above).  More importantly, please contact any City Councilors who voted in favor of this new program and ask them to reconsider this matter at the next Council meeting and suspend the execution of any new contract until such time as other bids have been received and considered and until public concerns have been heard and addressed.  
R. Buzard
Newport, RI

Friday, April 11, 2014

Real Estate Sales

Well, I'm trying to sell my house:

The realtor remarked surprise at the slow spring market.

Well, that's what you get when 58% work for a living while 41% vote for a living...

In Rhode Island, ranked eighth out of fifty-one jurisdictions (50 states plus DC), being on welfare is equivalent to a salary of $26,100 ($12.55 an hour):

Not bad ...

That fact discourages people in the know from purchasing property:

I finished my taxes recently: despite being unemployed (and actively seeking employment) my tax rate (including federal, state, and property) was 32%. 

I'm selling because I can't afford it. And my income is well up at the 81st percentile of the nation:

This house is at around the 71th percentile (70.6) for Newport County:

But Newport prices are over TWICE the national average (same link: 215% to be exact). 

So this is the math:

    $480K = 70th percentile ==> 100th percentile  = 480K ÷ 0.70 = $685.71K
    National 100th percentile = 685.71 ÷ 2.15 = $319K

So our price is 'way beyond the reach of most people in the nation.

Now, TBTG there still are people living beyond the national 99th percentile, so there is indeed hope.

But no immediate expectation.

We've seen this curve before, taking huge dips in 2008 and 2012:

Gosh. Any correlation with national elections?

So we know where to lay the blame.

Enjoy... (or not... :-(

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

NSA targeting sysadmins

In case you've missed it:

kgpg does not start

kgpg refuses to start after having reinstalled the panel in openSUSE 13.1.

You must do the following to correct this:
  1. Call kgpg in the kicker, right-click the icon and select Add to Panel
  2. Right-click the icon that appears in the panel and select Icon Settings
  3. Select the Application tab and enter the following in the Command text box:

             kgpg -k &

Otherwise, clicking the icon shows a cursor jumping up and down, a process will be spawned, but the application will not appear.

Experimentally, the following succeeds if you do not follow these steps:

As user, not root:
  • Run
         rm ~/.kde4/share/config/kgpgrc
                   to remove the kgpg configuration file
  • Run killall kgpg to kill any existing processes
  • Run kgpg & to start it. It will bring up the configuration dialog and spawn a new kgpgrc file. But it will fail to restart after you close the process unless you take the steps 1-3 above.