Monthly Archives: February 2012

paranoia part 2

The software isn’t out to get me, it got me already.

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It’s not the “Sound” app, it’s alsamixer

Finally got the sound working on my laptop, running Mint 12 and Cinnamon.

The fix was to go to the Gnome Alsa Mixer and uncheck “External amplifier”. The “Sound” app on the system bar seemed to allow the same change, but it didn’t seem to stick.

I first tried adding more gStreamer plugins. No effect. There were already some gStream plugins installed, but there are lots and lots of others to distract you!

Federal layoff-ment

In the last couple of weeks, I have heard from three people facing layoffs in the federal government. Two are employees. One is in a department that is going to lay off about 8 of 25 workers in the new fiscal year, because their budget went down that much. The second is in a smaller department with fewer layoffs. Apparently there are people calling from other departments because they are in the same boat, looking for a new department. None have official notice yet, as far as I know, but I expect that will arrive at the end of March.

Granted, the larger department might have lost some positions even if the new budget was not cutting jobs, but the message is clear: lots of departments are losing payroll next year.

My other caller was a contractor with a contract renewal at the end of February, expecting to renew until June or July, but the contract is “slow” coming back. Given the employee news, are the contractors likely to be renewed? Some would say yes, but I am not optimistic. I think the contractors will be hitting the streets real soon now, looking for private sector work.

The employees apparently have contracts that allow them some period of months looking for a job in another department before their pay ends. Some of these people will not look to the private sector for some time, so the flood of former government employees may not hit for months, may in fact be a trickle over a year or more. Yeah, that would be great!

Good luck to all those affected, including you and me.

delete .gconfd to fix missing panels

I have had to fix missing panels before in previous versions of Ubuntu and Xubuntu.

Previously, you deleted .gconf from your home directory.

Now you have to delete .gconfd.

“Now” means Xubuntu 10.10.
🙂
I am a little out of date on the family computer in the kitchen.

jackd out, sound came back

I have had a real problem with sound on Xubuntu for the last week.

The system says  “Welcome to Xubuntu 9.10” in the web page reached with “Applications > Help”, and “Update Manager” says “11.04” is available, so I think this is the system that was originally installed a s 9.10, and upgraded to 10.04 and 10.10.

There was no way for me to get sound out of this system. Many tweaks and such did not help. Windows runs sound fine.

I looked to see if I installed anything recently, and “Synaptic” said I had installed jackd – way back in October. I uninstalled jackd, and now I can output sound. I am able to record from a USB webcam, but Pinyinpro.com won’t use it.

One thing at a time.

Your daily tools: Tortoise and ls

Gui is cute, and sometimes productive, but GNU command line saved my sanity today.

Tortoise is a good GUI for using Subversion on Windows. It nicely flags all the files with status symbols on their icons.

Usually.

Sometimes it gets confused when a change is made 2 or more folders deeper, below the one on display. I don’t know whose cache is causing this – Microsoft’s or Tortoise’s, but it’s a minor issue.

It’s been worse since I upgraded to Tortoise 1.7.5. I jumped from 1.6.x to 1.7.5 the other day while writing docs for some tech writers, including how to install Tortoise.

I have several checkouts (OK, working copies) from the same corporate repository, all checked out in C:\svn. (OK, creativity didn’t seem necessary in this case, OK?)

Today the checkout I am most interested in was mostly not displaying its status icons. Yesterday I wasn’t as worried about it. Usually the entire tree was unaccented. Sometimes a folder would light up until I changed something. Then I noticed that all the “.svn” folders were missing, except in the top folder of the tree. Weird. I checked settings on a couple of things to make sure hidden folders were visible. For a while I had a grain of doubt that maybe the .svn folders were really gone.

So I went to the command line. “dir” didn’t see any .svn folders at all. That was because they were “hidden” by a Microsoft flag on them. “dir /ah” showed them, but not any of the other files/folders. Two dir commands required. Painful.

I have GNU Win32 tools installed, which is a port of the regular GNU tools to Windows.

So the answer was “ls -Al”, or “ls -A” for that economical look.

Thanks to all the GNU developers and those who ported and packaged it for Windows. You help me stay sane on the MS platform.

The site to download for Windows is getgnuwin32.sourceforge.net.

Numeric-only date output? Fail!

Yesterday, I donated blood again.

They have been asking you questions on the computer for the last year or so.
Example: “Have you eaten any pogo sticks in the last 30 days (since 09/01/2012)?”
The accompanying voice asks without telling you what the date was a month ago, fortunately. It was enough of a distraction that they used a different reader or a different room when they added new questions; a computer generated voice would have been actually irritating.

So there was the date, to me it meant Sept 1, and my fast read of it ignored the year which would have made that a future date. The fact that I can’t read is hardly relevant here. 🙂 The real point is that they used numeric dates, which are always ambiguous.

Take this home and tell your friends:
Complain when computers don’t display or print dates with a 4 digit year and a text month that is at least 3 letters long. Maybe we can get a culture going that actually communicates clearly.

And please take any managers you know from Canadian Blood Services to CapCHI meetings on the third Tuesday of the month at The Code Factory. then buy them a beer afterwards at whatever pub we go to.

Have you ever filled out a date field  in DYM or MYD order? Shame on you! 🙂