Archive for August, 2009

Netflix Customer Service Thumbs Up

It’s Saturday night and I go to put in Pirate of the Carribean: At the World’s End so we can put an end to this trilogy once and for all. The disc won’t load and I notice it has a crack in it. Darn! Well, I pop on the Netflix website today and let them know the disc is damaged. They promise to send out another copy the next business day and ask I return the damaged disc as soon as possible. I then receive an email apologizing for the inconvience and promising to send another copy out right away.

Now that is nice. No hassles about the damaged disc, no blame, nothing; no questions asks. Another disc is on the way, please return the damaged one and have a great day. I like that. Thumbs up to Netflix.

Jaunty, Arch and Alsa

So the main workstation has been a bit fritzy again. I blew out the dust, resat the cpu fan and such and fired it up. Worked like a charm for a day or so until my youngest, Avery, called attention to the fact that sound was not working. Sure enough, she was correct. Everything looked fine, sound appeared to be working but there was no audio. I messed with the connections, the mixer, everything, but no sound. It was very odd. Then I fired up audacity, pulled in an audio file and it played just fine. That is when I noticed the device in audacity was set to hw:0,1 for playback. HW:0,0 would not play back any sound and that is what most devices will go to by default. So why was subdevice 1 working and not 0 for audio playback?

This was at midnight last night and I did not want to invest too much time. So I plugged in the old sblive usb sound card and let her have at it. No problem there.

To my surprise at work today my friend Aja had finally brough in her laptop with a request to install Ubuntu on it. She had been complaining about having to use Vista Home edition and wanted me to hook her up. I set to it and the install was pretty painless. I resized her Vista partition using the vista tools and then install Juanty. Painless as it was I did have some issue to content with.

First, this is a pretty new laptop and the wireless card was not supported by the stock kernel supplied with Jaunty. I had to do the update to get the latest kernel and use the Jaunty module back ports. Easy as this is to do normally that means I have to connect to our internal network through the cisco clean access client. I needed java. So I used aptitude to pull down sun’s java 6 and the few dependencies and threw them onto a flash card. Did a dpkg install of the packages (have to make sure you have the dependencies for sun-java6-common and then have sun-java6-common, sun-java6-bin and sun-java6-jre all in one spot or you end of in this circular dependency if you try to install them individually). Never-the-less, once done I was able to hook up to the guest network, do an update and on to the wireless it was, easy peasy!

But, I hit another snag, no audio. Everything seemed fine, seemed to play, but no audio. I tried everything I could think of and saw note that it was going to require an updated version of alsa. Jaunty has 1.18, I needed at least 1.20. I was loath to install alsa by source on another person’s machine, I’d rather a package but I was not finding any. I thought I might just upgrade to Koala as that is about a month away.

So using the comman line way noted to me by Popey: do-release-upgrade. That went smooth as butter but then I had issue with it starting X afterwards. Not wanting to waste too much of the work day on this I went back to Jaunty and did an install of alsa by source.

That did not fix the problem. So I dug some more and found out that while the driver works someone had mentioned they had success using hda_analyzer to turn on EAPD on device 0×1c. I found out hda_analyzer is a tool from alsa (not in the repositories) and once I had that and set EAPD on dev 0×1c to on audio played perfectly. Now how was I going to make the permanent? It did not survive a reboot and I was not going to have her fire up this tool and enable that checkbox each time she wanted to use her system.

Someone had posted a script that could be run out of rc.local and another post indicated an unstable release of alsa fixed the problem. I went with the unstable release of alsa driver and bam, perfect audio.

I installed some more software for her and handed over the laptop. She was ecstatic. The thrill was all over her face and she dug right into it. It’s cool to see someone excited over a Linux system.

Back home I set to fixing my own alsa problems. I pulled out the sb live usb card and did a system restart to get things back to clean. Fiddle with aplay and noticed that audio seemed to be working fine. For some reason all was in working order. I think maybe I had something screwed up in the alsamixer. That was nice revelation. I tweaked settings on both the internal and the new external sound card, test some recording then stored the mixer settings. I hope all is even better for Wednesday night.

Monster Quest No More

I have finally come to the decision that I will no longer watch Monster Quest. While I love crypto-zoology I cannot abide watching what is the same epidose over and over again, just insert different, mysterious creature. They all start the same with eye-witness reports then an expidition to the location. The more remote the location the more filler they seem to add. They set up cameras that never seem to catch anything, recording devices that never catch anything, troll through waters that are full of sediment and thus provide no images, etc. Each episode seems to end the same way with no evidence, but hope for the future.

I used to watch In Search Of back in the day and while that show did not focus on “living creature” it seems when they did, the same steps were taken and the same results reached.

What’s more is that Monster Quest likes to drop in shows that are not “monsters!” Giant rats, giant squid, packs of killer dogs, sharks in Illinois. These are not monsters. I have seen rats the size of small dogs down at the shore and the wife in New York and Boston, no mystery there. I know packs of killer dogs roam suburbia. Hell, there were even packs of chihuahua’s running around outside Hollywood. Sharks in brackish water is not a Monster Quest show, that is something for shark week. Giant snakes are not a mystery unless they are breathing fire and lurking the ocean depths between ship attacks.

I want so much to believe that there is a big foot, sasquatch, yeti, etc. But face it, that is just not possible. In order for there to be a sustainable population of such large creatures there would have had been hard evidence by now. Now you can point to the giant squid as an example of a large creature that was not proven until recently but that is because its habitat was way beyond human reach until recently. Not so with the big foot, jersey devil, Nessy, or the skunk ape.

So, alas, I have come to the conclusion that there are better shows to grab my attention. Deadly Catch, Histories Mysteries, Modern Marvel, Good Eats, what ever. Monster Quest, while intriguing is just to repetitive and the payoff never comes. Let’s face it, if they did find a big foot they sure as hell are not going to air that on Monster Quest. Nope, that will warrant a full week of investigations and a two-hour show.

Karmic to Banshee oh and SID

Time to put on my freedom hating hat. Yesterday I decided to jump on Karmic Koala at work. I did my usual style of upgrade by changing my sources.list to point to karmic instead of juanty. The upgrade went off with little hitch but the fun started when I rebooted.

My workstation at work uses dual monitors and I have an nvidia card in there. So I wanted the nvidia drivers. But, I could not get those unless I jump through a ton of hoops. Or so that was the case from reading some posts on forums and such. Aparently the nvidia drivers are not ready for Ubuntu due to karmic being a moving target until closer to release. Needless to say I did not have time to mess around so I re-installed Jaunty. Things seemed fine until this morning.

I set about my work day only to find out I was getting no audio in Amarok. Why was this? I don’t know. I chalked it up to pulse and not wanting to muck around too much I figured hey, why not see what everyone is saying about Banshee. Well I installed that fired it up and lo and behold still no audio. Try as I might it just was not happening. So, at wits end and wanting to get down to some real work I tried a quick reboot. Audio was back and I still decided to give Banshee a try.

At first glance Banshee is really nice. It is fast, does podcasts very well and seems to be pretty featurful. But one thing was missing, no lyrics plugin. I figured that cannot be right, so I did a quick search and managed to find one. Getting it compiled under Jaunty was daunting until I found that the guy who write it created a less popular entry because he forgot his password over at for the new release.

I compiled this after getting the necessary mono development tools and kind of balked at the fact the the file I was installing had an extension of .dll. That did not sit well with me. The plug-in, though, worked though. I will admit, though, the formatting of the lyrics was pretty rank as it was one block of text and did not seem to respect line breaks like Amarok’s lyric plugin does.

I let Banshee work it’s magic today but I am not sure I will stick with it. While Amarok 2 is not as pretty, it has been a lot more rock solid than banshee was and the lyrics plugin is fantastic. I shall see as time goes on.

On another note, the same time I was upgrading to Karmic, I was upgrading my Meso to SID. The SID upgrade was flawless. Did the usualy switch squeeze to sid in my sources.list and then an aptitude safe-upgrade. Smooth as butter and damn nice. I am really digging SID as it has midori and arora in the repositories. Great stuff. I love webkit based browsers.

Happy day!