Firefox, ALSA, Flash, YouTube, Google Video and SOUND!

This one’s been bugging me for a while. I run Firefox on yawl and hunter pretty constantly, and occasionally would like to view some of the videos posted on YouTube or While the videos have been playing just fine, sound has never worked.
Sound is always a tricky thing on Linux machines. Although ALSA has solved many of the audio problems that have traditionally plagued Linux boxes, many applications have not ported to the new interface, and therefore won’t work on modern systems.
After finally getting frustrated enough to take the time to do some research, I found a post that described how to do it.
First, for all Debian based distributions, there’s a very handy ‘interface’ package called alsa-oss, which, according to the description:

…contains a program loader, aoss, which wraps applications written for OSS in a compatibility library, thus allowing them to work with ALSA.

Sounds good to me! First, I had to install the package:

apt-get install alsa-oss

Next, a change to Firefox’s configuration to tell it to use said interface:

cd /etc/firefox
edit ‘firefoxrc’ and change

Stop and restart Firefox.
That’s it! Enjoy videos in full sound and motion like sharks being attacked and eaten by octupi.

Cmon LJ, what’s your problem?

Folks who read PG via Livejournal may notice that the time it takes a post to show up there has gone from a tolerable 1 hour up to 6 hours. I really don’t like having to post something at 3 am so the morning reading crowd picks it up the next day.
I’ve opened a ticket with the LJ support group asking for the problem to be looked into, but so far no response.
If anyone has LJ RSS fu and wants to look at it, all the salient details are in the request.

Giving a bit back.

Back when I first started doing conventions, I wrote up a series of pages on how to convert iOpeners into X-Terminals. The idea was “this is a great way to get low cost terminals for your computer network”. I know the page gets a reasonable amount of traffic, but I rarely notice except for seeing it in the traffic reports.
This morning I got mail from a fellow in Malawi saying he was in the process of collecitng iOpeners and using them for low cost terminals in hospitals there, and had some questions about the setup. He was very appreciative of what I had published and said it was instrumental in getting them up and running. He was even using the boot image I had generated.
I happily helped him out with an install problem. Reminded me a lot of the old Usenet days “Hey, I know of a guy who did that. Drop him some mail, he’ll help ya out!”

And now for something REALLY offensive.

Welcome to Massachusetts

Originally uploaded by eidolon.

Caught sight of this particular bit of lovely political expression on the way to the supermarket this evening. It’s somewhat hard to read, but the bumper sticker says “Marriage: One Man, One Woman” with a url to A charming site, really. Probably the most amusing bit of all of the drivel on it is any occurance of ‘liberal” can easily be replaced by “conservative” and it would reflect how I personally see the current judicial makeup. Perspective is a wonderful thing, ain’t it? 🙂

Just a note – the tagline on that site proclaims: is a ministry of the American Family Association, a leading conservative, pro-family organization
committed to motivating and equipping citizens to change the culture to reflect Biblical truth in today’s culture war.

Deep thoughts from Dunkin Donuts

Overheard this morning whilst picking up supplies for the trek to connecticut. A very
large woman was in line ahead of me, putting in a rather large order. Now, granted she
could have been ordering for friends / coworkers / family / dogs / whatever. But she was
taking an inordinate interest in choosing boston creme over chocolate iced over jelly
doughnuts. With nothing else to focus on, I engaged in the age old practice of
evesdropping and listened in on the order…
2 dozen donuts
such and such boston cremes, glazed, iced – the whole litany of insulin shock inducing
But that apparently wasn’t enough cholestrol and salt, so she added on…
1 Sausage egg and cheese croissant
1 Bacon egg and cheese bagel
I guess somewhere along here she decided it would be nice to have something to drink.
But folks have to be careful of their weight remember! So she ordered…
A large french vanilla with 4 equals.
Words fail me.
[Written on Friday morning on the Treo]

Stuff Done RIght

Found purely by accident. I’ve been using x2vnc to let me share a single keyboard and mouse between yawl and the winxp box. I’ve been needing to support my Eclipse project stuff on both Windows and Linux, and being able to slide the mouse from one machine to another across a pair of monitors is just the ticket for this.
I had forgotten to turn off winxp after work, and so had moved into my normal evening relaxation of playing Eve. I casually bumped the mouse on yawl by mistake, and noted that the cursor in Eve moved.
Apparently the Eve client is written ‘smart’ enough to not override keyboard and mouse drivers, so remote mouse / keyboard controls work fine. I can now happily roll my mouse from my work on yawl over to the eve screen, do some fiddling there, and roll back. This is something that DID NOT work for a number of other games I’ve run.
Ain’t technology grand?

Is Gore an alarmist?

There’s no secret I’m one of those pinko lefty anti-bushies. No question there. I see Bush and his cronies as a wave of darkness engulfing the US political system, tainting not only our own lives, but affecting the world with their ideological ultra-conservative mores.

So I’ve been following Al Gores An Inconvenient truth with interest. It’s gotten a lot of attention and support, with not just a little haranguing from the right. A lot of the chatter has been “Why didn’t we see this Gore in the election?”, but there’s also been support for the ideas he’s presenting in the movie. Is global warming a real threat, and are CO2 levels from carbon emissions precipitating a global temperature change? Surely it must be right. Environmentalists agree, the Bushies disagree and cast doubt on it, so it must be true, right?


Maybe not. An article on Canada Free Press states that there’s a ton of misleading and flat out wrong information in Gore’s film.

I went into reading this article with a typical skeptical attitude. “This must be just a few anti-ecologists. The few ‘scientists’ drummed up by the right to counter Gore’s arguments, to cast doubt on the whole thing.” But, reading it, no, this isn’t. These are the people who really do make the climate predictions, and they’re saying… Gore is completely off the mark. Read the article all the way through, and you’ll see what I mean.

So, who to believe? I don’t know now. I don’t believe Gore’s ‘imminent death of the world’ scenario. I believe our activities on the planet are having an impact, but we’re not about to turn stretches of the US into desert, nor are we looking at a 30ft change in ocean levels. But, I do believe what we do changes the environment around us, and we need to make sure our ecological footprint is as small as possible.

What’s your ecological footprint?

Here’s how I fared:

FOOD 		4.7

Thanks to Slashdot for the initial link.

Update 13:30pmKai has pointed out that the Canadian Free Press hardly an objective, balanced journal. Their front page articles are filled with judgemental and biased commentary. While the article linked is well written, the rest of the content of the site seriously calls into question any of the ‘facts’ stated. Regardless, the ecological footprint information IS valid and interesting.

Maybe I shouldn’t have stopped for lunch.

Damp Dave

Originally uploaded by eidolon.

In my ongoing “bike a little further each day” track this week, I decided to run some errands while I was out riding. Today’s trek took me about 9.5 miles down to the Natick DPW and back.

Wunderground showed no storm clouds in the area, though the report said there may be some, so I decided to give it a whirl. I don’t mind getting wet, but I would have liked to avoid it.

Wellll, I didn’t. I stopped for lunch on the way back (really the main reason I was going out), at a less than exciting pizza place (Pizza Plus in Natick. Okay food, not exactly a charming venue) for about 20 minutes. As I was leaving, I noticed it was a lot darker, and a light rain was beginning to fall. Oh well, I’ll just suck it up and deal. I only had about 2.5 miles to go to get home.

As I was making my way up Rt 27, the rain got steadily harder, and I was hearing thunder. I stopped for a bit under a tree to move my Treo from my front pocket to my backpack, and to take my glasses off. I thought maybe the rain would subside quickly, but after 10 minutes of waiting, it was obvious it wasn’t going to, so I pushed on.

I’ve never really ridden in a downpour before. At first I was a little irked by the steady strip of wetness up the back of my pants (I had a backpack on, so that keps my back from getting splattered), but after 5 minutes or so, I was soaked through and through anyway, and just laughed and started enjoying it.

I was chilled initially, but warmed up quickly, and started cranking along at a good pace. Initially avoiding puddles, I gave up and plowed right through (some a few inches deep). I took great pleasure in noting I was moving quite a good clip -faster- than the folks on Rt 27 (where traffic has steadily gotten worse over the last year or two), and realized about 15 minutes in that I was in my stride. Average speed was about 13-14mph, I was moving smoothly, and was in my groove. I was completely soaked, but I was laughing the whole time.

Passed a jogger on the way “Another beautiful day, eh?” I called out. She gave a ‘Yeah!’ and continued on.

All too soon I was back at the house. I wanted to snap a quick picture – it doesn’t convey the total drenchedness of the experience, but I there I was.

A few things I’m thankful for out of this experience.

  • I didn’t need to be anywhere where I had to be DRY. Was able to come home and strip down.
  • I can see ‘okay’ without my glasses. In that rain, if I had to keep them on, it would have been bad news.
  • I brought my backpack. I was able to transfer my Treo into it to keep it dry, and my book stayed dry as well. Yay my O’Gio backpack.

Tomorrow? Hopefully we can crack 10 miles. We’ll see! For now, it’s time for towels and warm clothing.

Google Browser Sync

I found this one while doing my daily browse through Digg. It’s a tool from Google that lets you sync multiple Firefox installations in realtime. I personally have 3 different machines… nowait, 4… that I run Firefox on, and being able to seemlessly keep my bookmarks, cookies, form elements and tab/button bar layouts synchronized is a total win, not to mention having an off-site backup of all these goodies.
I recommend starting this on the machine you have your most complex and involved bookmark mechanism on, as when you add a new machine to the mix, it appears to import your saved bookmark collection from Google Sync, and then synchronize. So the first one in should be your largest. I probably have 400 bookmarks in my setup, organized into dozens of categories.
Give it a try!
As found via

Socialism! In online gaming?

Group Mining in Eve

Originally uploaded by eidolon.

As in most MMPORGS, Eve Online has a way of organizing into groups with other players. In World of Warcraft, this are called ClansGuilds. In Eve, they’re called Corporations. Recently I joined a corporation that has taken a completely socialist tack.

Our ‘Collective’ pools all resources. Cash, ships, equipment, eveyrthing are all owned by the corporation. Members of the corporation can take any of the ships or equipment or weapons anytime, long as you put it back or replenish when done. All money from operations, missions, and bounties go into the collective wallet.

Recently, we needed to pick up minerals for manufacturing. A half dozen players got together and went on a mining op. This screenshot shows the op in progress. Several small mining ships re mining (me in the middle). The mining ships have almost no armor, and very small cargo holds. So the ships jettison mined ore into holding containers, or ‘cans’. The cans are ‘gang’ owned – meaning anyone in the mining group can open them. Another pilot has a ‘hauler’. His job is to run around to all the cans emptying them of ore, and shipping the ore back to the corporation’s hangar. A round trip of about 10 minutes, but the hauler can hold 50x what a mining frigate can hold.

Also in the gang are escorts. Their job is to keep rats (NPC pirates) and normal pirates (player characters) off our backs while we mine. We’re in ‘low security’ space, so there’s no police (in Eve, they’re called the Concord) around to help keep law and order. We’re on our own.

This is a community of players working together toward a common goal – the strength and prosperity of the corporation, which we’re all a part of.

This is a great game.