Cars and Adventures

This post moved to my Automotive pages.

In 2003 I re-started the Toy project. I write about that on another page.

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Learning RoboHelp

Ok, it is long overdue. I won Adobe’s TCS (version 1) a while back. I’ve played with Frame a bit, writing about the project car. But, I hadn’t touched RoboHelp.
So, I took a small document from a recent project, and pulled it into RoboHelp 7 for Word. I’m learning the interface and the lingo, and have output the doc as Web Help and as Windows Help 4. Looks promising.
I’ll post links for the most helpful sites I find.

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Lessons Re-Learned

Thou Shalt Back Up prior to making admin changes to site.
After happily updating some posts, I thought to revise the site so that WordPress shows up as home page.
Upon saving that setting, I got a 404 and the site vanished. Ugh.
Couldn’t login to WordPress to reverse the change. Went to Lunarpages login > CpanelX >
MySQL > PHP Admin to examine DB and look for a fix. Found and fixed (?) one item, which may have helped.
Got Techcomm displaying as HTML, but not as proper WordPress with theme.
Restored the MySQL DB from a fairly recent backup, and the site was up and running.
Yay. Re-updated a few posts, did backups.
Internal links stopped working somewhere in there, had to reset Permalinks in WordPress. As of this writing, they work.

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comments- spam or not?

WordPress tags comments as spam based on whatever parameters- junky usernames is surely one criterion. In cleaning out the spambox, I may have killed a valid comment or two, because I didn’t look at them very closely. If you have real comments, please try again- I will look a bit closer before deleting ‘all spam’.

But please consider a username that looks like something.


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External voltage regulator for Delco alternator

I overhauled an alternator for my project car, and it didn’t work. I may have damaged the regulator by installing it wrong? In the spirit of saving some money (and not destroying another expensive solid state unit), I decided to try an external regulator.  I soldered a wire to the leg of the regulator that fed the field. I ran it out the enclosure, and re-installed the alternator. With the engine running, I energized the field by touching the wire to the alternator post. The alternator immediately started charging, proving that everything was ok except the regulator.

I wired up a Ford voltage regulator (diagram post later) and it seems to work.

Here's where to energize the field

Here's where to energize the field

Just need to clean the regulator up and give it a permanent mount.

Posted in homebrew, Vehicles | 3 Comments

Adventures with Inkscape

I needed to create and edit some graphics on a machine without my favorite graphic editor (CorelDraw!) recently. I’d used Inkscape before, so I downloaded the current beta (0.47 pre3) and gave it a spin.

Now, Inkscape is Open Source, and doesn’t seem to be sponsored by anyone with deep pockets like OpenOffice and Mozilla are. So, we can expect some limitations or shortcomings due to the nature of the development process.

To my Corel-centric view, it has a lot of good features and logical keyboard shortcuts. The interface looks good, and  I like the zoom-pan features.

Inkscape’s native file format is Scalable Vector Graphics. SVG is a standard backed by the W3C, published in 2003. It is XML-based, and it seems to be pretty capable.  Not only is the file format open and standard, it is text based. That means that any XML editor (or even Wordpad) can be used to examine or tweak a file.

It happily opens  PDFs and lets you save them in SVG or any of its other formats. The beta version I tested didn’t seem to save as PDF, but version 0.47 does.

It claims to open CDR (CorelDraw!) files, but that seems to be broken in this installation. Time to get a newer release.

Anyway, this was to generate some illustrations for a manual.  The manual is written in Word, because that what the customer wants. Therefore, I need output files for Word. Word doesn’t like SVG. The best vector compromise (for documents that may be printed from Word to non-PS printers) is EMF or WMF. Unfortunately, this version seems to leave embedded bitmaps out of EMFs and barfs when trying to output WMFs.

Well, if I can’t have a good vector file, what about Raster? It turns out that Inkscape can output a pretty good PNG with all data present. It certainly takes care of any potential font issues!

For now, the summary is: Works well, limited in output formats. Tune in again for updates.
Testing 0.47 release version, PDf works and the rest is the same. Lots of good, but still some major shortcomings for Word users.

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Multiple sigs?

Please don’t be bothered if I happen to sign one comment as ‘jay’ and another as ‘jmaechtlen’. As admin and owner, I have more than one login available to me. I’ll try to remember which one to use from now on.

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XP Mounted partitions

Subtitle: Stuff that Microsoft officially says you can do, but you probably shouldn’t.

If you use Win XP or newer, you may use the NTFS file system rather than the older FAT or FAT32. (Of course, NT and Win 2000 also made it available).

NTFS  works ok. In fact, it offers some nifty capabilities that the FAT and FAT32 systems did not.

NTFS gives you some real flexibility in how you set up partitions and drives. Rather than re-sizing a partition, you can add another partition and make it look like a folder in the drive that was getting too full.  Sounds cool, right? Here’s a way to add capacity without having a zillion drive letters!  Well, there are some gotchas.

Trouble is, if you want to move stuff in or out of that folder, it might as well be on another hard drive. Even if the partition you mount to the folder is on the same physical drive, it is treated as if it’s on a different platter. You can tell Windows to MOVE, but it will copy and delete.

So, the original partition can fill up, even though you may have a huge amount of available space in that mounted drive/partition.

Also, Defrag doesn’t seem to even see the files in there. All in all, it is a cool idea but of very limited usefulness. Of course, the real Windows and IT guys already knew that…

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Fixing an older Astro van

A friend’s 1997  Chevy Astro had some understandable problems after 197,000 miles and over ten years of service. It also had some not-so-understandable problems.

In the course of repairing some wiring, I noticed that the coolant in the reservoir looked very different from the coolant in the radiator. The reservoir looked great, the radiator was filthy.

Hmm. There must be an obstruction or problem somewhere.

Check the connecting hose? It was unobstructed. Will compressed air clear the obstruction in the reservoir? Nope.

OK – I removed the reservoir for inspection, with particular attention to the squarish section between the small hose spigot and the bottom of the tank. When I tilted the tank, the orange coolant would move most of the way up that passage, but not all the way. The passage that should have gone all the way through – didn’t.

Can’t get air through passage, can’t identify any contamination or debris in the passage. What ???!!!!

Try drilling through the passageway? I got plastic shavings, but couldn’t make it through due to the way it’s configured. The passage is blocked by original plastic. As far as I can tell, it was made wrong at the factory, and never could have worked.

How many dealer visits and repair shop visits must have occurred in ten years and 190,000 miles? Quite a few. Did anybody notice? NONE of them caught it.

For now, the hose just goes into the fill opening, and that works.

pristine coolant in reservoir

pristine coolant in reservoir

ugly radiator coolant

ugly radiator coolant

reservoir side passage

reservoir side passage

Posted in service-repair, Vehicles | Tagged | 3 Comments

OpenOffice vs MS Word

When saving to Word format, a documents using advanced features may break because Word doesn’t directly support those exact features.

Some features Word doesn’t support:

  • Xref to contents of text box.
  • Xrefs/bookmarks with spaces in names. Tries to fix by using %20 in lieu.

Stuff that Word supports but OOo doesn’t translate perfectly:

  • Equations: spaces may be dropped from text in an equation


The converted doc will look OK at first, but any changes or updates will expose problems.

The Table of Contents may not update properly.  Cross-references and links won’t work. Other fields that Word updates will have error messages or incomplete/bad info.

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