It’s the big night.
A huge thank you to Stacia, Christopher, and Zack all their help. We had good weather, good weather is usually both a blessing ad a curse. When there is good weather, more people tend to travel other places it seems. When we have bad weather, or a threat of bad weather, we get a larger turn out. It’s weird.
The new talking skull, and monster in a bush were hits. The giant skeleton puppet is always a huge success, and had many return visitors. I had to pose for tons of pictures and had conversation with a number of kids. I still cant get over all the kids that stare up to theskulls head, and hold up their candy buckets to show the skeleton their haul. 🙂

Humanoid Trick or Treaters: 348
Canine Trick or Treaters: 5

Yes we do give out dog treats to the dogs that come too. We even had one show up that remembered it from last year, last year he was very skittish about approaching the house, this year he happily took the treat and guarded it. The owner laughed heartily, and said “Oh he remembers you from last year when he got a treat so we had to come back”

I also got growled at by a wiener dog named Odie who was protecting his family from the big giant skeleton. 🙂 After a minor correction he was content to let me continue talking to them.

Tomorrow: Pack things back up and put them away for another year.


Ubuntu and Mustek ScanExpress 1200 UB Plus flatbed scanner

Today, I got my Mustek ScanExpress 1200 UB Plus flatbed scanner working under Ubuntu. It’s funny, I honestly think it works better under linux than it ever did on windows.

As I feared, it was not a simple task, but also not as daunting as the kernel recompile to get wifi working. I used the following steps.

Step 1: Install XSane, and the sane tools and the extra backends. This was simple using the package manager.
Step 2: Download the firmware for this scanner from: http://www.meier-geinitz.de/sane/gt68xx-backend/firmware/sbfw.usb
Step 3: Open a terminal window, and su to root or use sudo. Copy the firmware to: /usr/share/sane/gt68xx
Step 4: Open the file /etc/sane.d/gt68xx.conf in a text editor, I used gedit
Step 5: Find the line “# Mustek ScanExpress 1200 UB Plus:” and uncomment the override statement, and add a line for the firmware ‘firmware “sbfw.usb”‘ The resulting section of the file should look like I have below.

# Autodetect Mustek BearPaw 1200 CU, 2400 CU, Mustek ScanExpress 1200 UB Plus,
# Artec Ultima 2000, and several other GT-6801-based scanners
usb 0x05d8 0x4002

# Mustek BearPaw 1200 CU doesn't need any manual override

# Mustek ScanExpress 1200 UB Plus:
override "mustek-scanexpress-1200-ub-plus"
firmware "sbfw.usb"

Step 6: From the command line type “scanimage -L” it should report back that you have a “Mustek ScanExpress 1200 UB Plus flatbed scanner”, if so you should now be able to scan.

john@Medion-Laptop:~$ scanimage -L
device `gt68xx:libusb:001:010' is a Mustek ScanExpress 1200 UB Plus flatbed scanner

Much of this information was taken from:

More on the Medion MD 96340 Laptop

As requested, here is a little more detail on the laptop:
First off, for anyone confused by the last post, the laptop works beautifully out of the box running windows. I personally hate windows Vista, and wanted to try a different operating system. I chose Ubuntu Linux. That had some problems working with its basic install, problems I believe I have fully solved.

The wireless card is fully functional (as far as i can tell, I’m using it right now to post this). To get it to work I needed to use the latest kernel and make sure the new drivers for the rtl8187 wireless driver were installed. This is the driver for the wireless network adapter on this system. Medion used a USB ethernet adapter in the laptop design, rather than the standard pci type cards. This is why the card does not show in lspci.

For more detailed instructions on compiling the new kernel follow the instructions here:

One thing they left out in those directions, that I am not sure is really all that important with this laptop, was to copy the firmware files to to new directory for this kernel. You name may vary, depending on how you compiled the kernel, mine is 2.6.23-custom As root:

mkdir /lib/firmware/2.6.23-custom
cp -R /lib/firmware/2.6.22-14-generic/* /lib/firmware/2.6.23-custom/

You must use at least kernel 2.6.23 to get the correct drivers. And you must make sure to go in and select the driver to get it to compile. Once the new kernel is complied and installed, download the new version of ALSA (1.0.15) and compile and install it.

After rebooting you should have wireless, and sound. So far I have not noticed anything else that doesn’t work that I can’t live with. Graphics performance is pretty slow,but it is using generic graphics drivers, I suppose I could download the nvidia drivers and install them if I was really interested.

Aldi’s Medion Laptop, and Linux

Today I purchased a laptop from Aldi. The laptop is the Medion model MD96340. It comes with Windows Vista, this is really my first hands on experience with Vista, and frankly, I’m not impressed. In fact, I was so unimpressed that I downloaded Ubuntu Linux 7.10, and installed it. As expected, wireless networking did not work out of the box. Linux is notorious for having lagging wireless support. he wired network card did indeed work though. I did some searching, and found that the latest linux kernel does support my wireless chipset. I downloaded the new kernel and followed the instructions for building a new kernel package. Once I managed to get everything installed I rebooted, and did indeed have wireless access. One problem, I now had no sound support. After some researching, I found that I had of course forgotten to re-compile the ALSA modules against the new kernel. I installed the alsa sources, and ran the command to build the new package, and it failed. At this point I grew weary of the package mindset, and decided to just compile it normally. This also failed. A quick check of the ALSA project website revealed that there was a new version that addresses the error I was getting. I then downloaded the new version and built it. Once it was built and installed, I rebooted and when things came back up sound worked.

Right now I am typing this from my new laptop, using ubuntu linux.

Prop Timer

I recently bought a new prop from Menards. It’s marketed as a “Haunted Hedge”. It consists of a set of light up eyes, and a separate box that contains a motor with a wobble weight on it. When the prop is triggered it shakes the bush you place it in, moans, and lights the eyes. Out of the box the prop is supposed to be triggered by sound. Frankly I find the sound triggers unreliable, and in addition, there is never a re-trigger delay built in. This means, as soon as the prop is done making noise, it can be re-triggered by more noise. This makes it really easy for kids to stay in one spot triggering, and re-triggering the prop. The “Haunted Hedge” like so many halloween props out there, comes with a “Try Me” button. Hold the button down and the prop runs. This makes for an interesting way to interface to the prop with my own controls. Read on for my solution.
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Home from Stronghold

Holy cats am I exhausted. I’m home from Stronghold and I feel like I’ve just done a 3 day weekend at bristol. Guess I’m not really fully recovered. Which I guess I knew but still. Plus the hives keep returning. I’m now quiet certain its the prednisone doing it, as I had no hives until I took the prednisone today then I started breaking out in about 15 minutes from the time I took it. So I dosed myself on benedryl pretty heavily all day to keep them at bay, I finally got them all gone by about 1:00. I’m not going to take the prednisone tomorrow right when I get up and see what happens. I have an appointment with my Doctor in the afternoon, so hopefully I’ll have this all sorted out SOON!

I wouldn’t have suspected the prednisone really until yesterday I came down with the hiccups, and they were uncontrollable. Normally I can suppress them in seconds, but the moment I’d stop focusing on suppressing them, they would return full force. I looked up side effects from prednisone, and found hiccups to be a rare side effect, along with hives… Which really that tracks with the time the hives first appeared… the day I took the 1st prednisone. Oh well, bed time, work tomorrow, ugh…

Give me a break!

Ok, so I went back to the E.R. because the hives were returning.
I HATE, no let me rephrase, I DESPISE cocky doctors. Seriously! Just because you have a medical degree YOU ARE NOT GOD! You still need to listen to your PATIENTS!!! Drop the cocky attitude, drop the eletisim, and LISTEN TO US!!!!

Read on for my morning insanity…
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Well, I started to get ready for faire this morning… And after I finished that last post… I started noticing itching again. So I checked the area, and sure enough theres a hive there. I examined myself and found 2 others. I decided to wait I circled them to see if they got bigger, and while waiting, more appeared. Looks like I’m not going to Stronghold today, and will probably be going back to the E.R.

THIS SUCKS!!! The only thing I’ve taken this morning was a shower,and the benedryl… What the heck is going on here…

Hives are for bees…

Last night while sitting here at the computer I noticed a “mosquito bite” on my arm. It was a pretty nasty looking one but as I do, I ignored it. When I went to get ready for bed, I discovered my legs were covered in them, and they were appearing on my chest without mosquitoes. I panicked. Fortunately Kilted was still online, and I asked him about them. He sent me a link to a picture of a hive. Sure enough thats what it they looked like. We decided I better go to the E.R.

So I found some loose fitting shorts and a t-shit and headed off to the E.R. in Sandwich. I walked in, rang the bell to be treated, and the paramedic that answered asked me who I was there to see. I calmly responded, I’m here for myself. “Oh, sorry man, you look fine, best looking patient person I’ve seen all day” I then explained to the E.R. Doc who was siting next to the paramedic what was going on. He moved me to a triage room, and left me with a Tech to do my vitals. By this point I was itching horribly (I resisted the urge to scratch, boy does that take willpower) and so I sat and waited. The Dr. came in and took a look “Wow this is a textbook case of hives if I ever have seen one, do you mind if I show some of the Nusing Tecs this?” I told him I didn’t mind, and off he went to look after others. Right then Kilted and showed up, they drove all the way down to look after me. I have the best friends in the world BTW. Right after they arrived the Billing person came in and got the paperwork took care of. Then after a long ass wait, where I watched and felt move hives appear all over my body, a nurse came in and shot me up with a mega dose of benadryl and told me to go home, and handed me my walking papers. “Thats it?” “Yup, just take these every four hours” “So, I can go?” “Yep, have a nice night” So we left, and went to Wal-Mart to get some calamine lotion, and also picked up some sort of oatmeal bath that I intended to take this morning. (I didn’t take it because when I woke up, there wasn’t a trace of the hives left on me. woot.

So now I have developed an allergic reaction to something the Doctor has me on… The ER doc thinks its the Z-Pac. Frankly I find that odd, as I’ve taken Z-Pacs tons of times. He also discontinued the new inhailer, which I tend to think was the likely cause. I remember itching yesterday morning after taking it, but I often itch from dry skin so it didn’t occur to me that might be a reaction.

In summary, Friends Rock, Hives suck.