You know you've moved to California when...

  • Posted on: 8 July 2014
  • By: NickLitten

the welder at the Muffler Shop gives you dietary advice on vegetables and fruits!

So, in my search for an alternative to the wallet busting quote of $1,300.00 to replace Hermans the Honda's full exhaust system I stumbled across a local muffler shop and dropped by for a free estimate.

san clemente souther california muffler weldingOne day later Herman is back on the road, wallet is only $200 lighter and the rotten sections have been cut out and replaced with fresh shiny fabricated replacement pipes, bolts and stuff. On top of that I also had a couple of other very minor items fixed, replacement rear hanger under the car plus fresh spot welds on the fuel cap door which was regularly coming off if pulled too hard.

It's not often I endorse a local business but Doug Moore’s Muffler Service in San Clemente is awesome! Doug himself is a thoroughly decent chap, definite #SOCAL surfer vibe ("dude!") and anyone that recommends that I eat should "more cleansing vegetables and fruits to purge my system of any impurities that I may have inhaled while driving the car with a broken muffler pumping fumes into the car" is just taking customer care that yard further.

Herman the Honda is more like Herman the Sherman Tank

  • Posted on: 3 July 2014
  • By: NickLitten

So, Herman has been a terrific little car over the last year. Herman the Honda ElementThe complete opposite experience from my nightmares with Boris the Landrover.

These Honda Elements are great little mini-SUV's that are economical, cheap to run, roomy inside and generally just good fun!

He's driven from South Carolina to Texas (twice), raced up and down the interstate between Charleston SC and Roanoke VA every two weeks for the last six months. In february we loaded up with stuff and drove to California. Never missed a beat. Started every time. Cruised at highway speeds merrily. Never been washed during my 14k miles of ownership. Only problems have been: one new tire (from nail on the road) and one headlamp bulb replacement. Bloody good job Honda!

Then I come out from work and the exhaust (or muffler as my American chums call it) seems to have died a terminal death.

So, its time for a little service at Pep Boys in San Clemente - Oil change, drive belt, alternator belt, filters, brake pads for $200. Huzzah!

Upgrading AS/400 green screens

  • Posted on: 27 June 2014
  • By: NickLitten

aka WEB-ENABLING AS400 and iSeries

Converting an old green screen application to run in a website is as easy as typing an email or uploading a photo to facebook. If you are an IBM i Software developer then the only change to the RPG code is addition of a single line below the WORKSTN definition in the 'F' Specs: using the HANDLER keyword. This basically tells the IBM i operating system that we are expanding the interface for the DSPF to allow conversation with a web browser. Modernizing applications really is easy!

Here is an example of an old fashioned green screen that I have just modernized (the jury is still out regarding the use of the word "modernize") using the Profound Logic Screen Designer:

(1) Green Screen AS400 Application

Here is the old 1980's style green screen... amazingly still used in this exact style throughout the business world today. It's like the users have been frozen in time for the last twenty years, while their IT Department failed to notice this modern invention *cough* called the internet. I frequently hear the same message from the green-screen programmers "if its not broke -- don't fix it". 

Moving to California

  • Posted on: 23 June 2014
  • By: NickLitten

Remember, you are in CA now.  You are expected to have and use at least one of these….surf board, sail board, skate board.  Walking is permitted only in unusual circumstances.  Generally you should be running, biking, skate boarding etc. to get from one place to another on terra firma.  That is just a portion of the preamble, there are 12 whole chapters to the “I live in CA handbook”.  You should get it soon and start studying.  There will be a test, a laid back test, but a test none the less.

I love this quote - it did make me chuckle.

So, a new job on the west coast of the yoooo-ess-ayyyy and a new house in the wonderful little town of San Clemente, CA means it's time to up-sticks and hike across the country for the next life adventure.

Nate (#1 Son) helped me load up the 26' Moving truck with all our worldy goods, strap a tow dollyon the back to tow Kate's car and then off we went... four days and 3 thousand miles later we popped up on the Pacific Coast. Now it's time to unpack, get the house prepared before the other half arrives over here - courtesy of the much more civilized airplane method of transportation  :)



An Inky Programmer

  • Posted on: 6 May 2014
  • By: NickLitten

Time for a tattoo touchup...

Ten Years ago, my forearm Koi Tattoo was drawn under the skin (to use a quote from Eddie Yeary) as a black and white stand alone piece.

Then as the years went by, more tattoo's joined and my arm kind of evolved into a tattoo sleeve with a dragon at the top, samurai dude, fisheys, flag, roses all kinds of weird things (including my kids names written in Klingon - true story). To give the sleeve some kind of continuity, Eddie glued it all together with a washed out blue water scene and added a little shallow yellow to the Black and White Koi - this was nearly five years ago. 

Time goes by and I've decided it's time to brighten the whole thing up and add a little *shine* to the forearm fishes. A few emails later and an afternoon is scheduled with Edward and this is the result.

I was a little worried about tattooing the same spot for a third time - but the tattoo colors came out excellent and the forearm piece is perfect. Color me delighted.

As always - sterling job from Virginia's Inkmaster -

Cheers Edward!!!!


Dude, how can I style Drupal CSS to make sourcode quotes look cool?

  • Posted on: 2 May 2014
  • By: NickLitten

I wrote a blog earlier to day with lots of source code and comments in it. I wanted the program code that I included to really standout and be very readable and easy to copy/paste. The current CSS layout uses <PRE> which gives me a nice way of marking blocks of code and displaying them. When I put <pre>around something</pre> it already looks reasonably nice:

quotes before

But I really wanted the the code to POP out - so delved into the world of theming Drupal. I soon, discovered that it's not as complicated as you might think.

So lets replace the <PRE> CSS tag with a new one to make code quotes automagically look like this:

source code quotes

The nice effect of changing the drupal themes CSS is that it takes effect immediately and covers everything on the site.

How to restore *SAVF from within a ZIP in IBM i - "Yep, it really is that groovy!"

  • Posted on: 1 May 2014
  • By: NickLitten
real programmers have a tattoo

So, I was trying to help out a buddy in the land of IBM i today. He was trying to install the most recent Beta of Projex4i IBM i Powertools on a clients IBM i Server. The problem he was facing was two fold (a) the connection he was using was very slow so trying to FTP 120+MB onto the machine was taking an age and (b) the FTP setup had blocked access to libraries on the box. 

After some serious head scratching, I came up with a way of copying a compressed ZIP upto the IBM i System, and placing this nice small ZIP straight into the IFS. It makes perfect sense to transfer the smallest size possible and then extract (unzip) the file on the IBM i box itself, converting it to a regular *SAVF and then restoring the library. *BOOM*

I gotta write this down before I forget it:


We actually have two problems here:

  1. I want to transfer a large library to an IBM i using minimum bandwidth.
  2. I can only use the IFS Windows shares


So, lets start out by taking the latest version of IBMi Powertool Library from

Thankyou System i Developers

  • Posted on: 28 April 2014
  • By: NickLitten

So, I'm sitting here in Starbucks mentally groaning at the weakness of the Wifi (but not my Grande, quad shot, low fat milk, 2 pump caramel latte) and I see a mailshot from the chaps (and chappette) at System i Developer announcing they have launched a new blog. Hosted by their own IBM i Power System, I can see its running Drupal 7. Nice choice for a CMS (I wonder why they didn't opt for Wordpress?) and even though the site looks vanilla at the moment I'm sure they will be mastering the intricacies of Droop over coming months.

System i Developer BLOG website running Drupal 7

In my mission to give something back - here is an open letter to the System i Developer folks:

Top of the Pops - 10 essential Drupal Modules

  • Posted on: 25 April 2014
  • By: NickLitten

So, as I'm here in Roanoke Airport for an extra hour (curse this rainy valley and US Airways little puddle jumper airplanes) I might as well make use of the free Wifi and blog something :)

Hmmm... how about something on Drupal?

Ten Essential Modules for every Drupal website

I have a big list of core modules, themes and libraries that I use on nearly every Drupal site I develop. I like to use a comprehensive content editor (CKEDITOR), a nice drop down menu to jum paround the site admin interface (ADMIN_MENU) and I obviously want the site to look after its own URL addresses and to let the search engines know whats going on (PATHAUTO, GLOBAL REDIRECT, METATAGS, XMLSITEMAP).