Merry Christmas!

Holiday greeting which is acceptable for dissemination to anyone, is politically correct and entirely non-offensive; yet contains no substance and is really annoying.

Please accept my non-denominational holiday wishes with no obligation, implied or implicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low-stress, non-addictive, gender-neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasion and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all. I also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2011, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great. Not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country nor the only America in the Western Hemisphere. Also, this wish is made without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of the wish.


Ubuntu 9.04 Dell Optiplex 760 Internal Speaker

Insert disclaimer here. Even if you follow these instructions exactly, it may not work for you. In fact, it may make things worse. If you proceed, you do so at your own risk. I don’t have the time to try to make it work for you so you are on your own. YMMV.

We just got some Dell Optiplex 760 PCs. They came with XP Pro but I also wanted to install Ubuntu 9.04. After installing Ubuntu most things worked, with the notable exception of the PC’s internal speaker.

If I plugged in a headphone, I could hear sounds being correctly played. But nothing was coming out of the PC’s internal speaker.

Step 1. is to open the Gnome volume control by starting the Gnome “Run Application” dialogue box via Alt+F2 (that is, hold the Alt key while also pressing and holding the F2 function key).

Gnome Run Application

Gnome Run Application

Step 2. This should open the dialogue box (shown above) into which you type:


And then click the “Run” button on the dialouge box (see image below).

Dialogue box filled in.

Dialogue box filled in.

Step 3.If you see a slider marked “Beep” (if you don’t, skip down below) make sure there isn’t a red line through a circle below the slider or that the slider isn’t at the bottom most position. If you see the red line and circle, click on it and that should un-mute that device. You may still need to move the sliders if they are at or near the bottom (I used my mouse to move the sliders to the top most position). Done.

Volume Control

Beep control showing muted, and at minimum.

Step 4.If you don’t see a slider marked “Beep”, you need to click on the “Preference” button and then scroll through the devices until to see “Beep” and check mark that device.

Volume Control Preferences

Volume Control Preferences

Step 5. You should now see a new slider marked “Beep” and you can see if it is muted (slash through red circle) and or the sliders are at the lowest setting. If either or both is true, do as above and click on the circle to un-mute the device and move the sliders to the topmost position.

Volume Control

Beep control showing muted, and at minimum.

After un-muting and moving the sliders to maximum, it should look like this image below:

Beep un-muted and sliders at maximum.

Beep un-muted and sliders at maximum.

If the above does not get your internal speaker working, you could try the Ubuntu troubleshooting guide located here:

iTunes Plus Fail

Well, that was interesting. I have an iPhone. In order to use some of its features, I have to go through iTunes.

One of these features is the iPod part of the iPhone. I like to listen to music that I enjoy and I like all kinds of music. Since most radio stations play only a very narrow range of music, having my personal selection with me in my iPhone works well for me.

Recently, Apple announced a program to upgrade its DRM low-fi tracks to no-DRM higher fidelity versions for the low, low price of 30 cents per track. Not only would I be getting better sounding music but they would no longer be locked into an Apple silo. So, this past weekend I agreed to pay Apple about $50 to upgrade the tracks that were available.

Unfortunately, for some reason two problems occurred. First, although I paid for a certain number of songs, when it came time to download, not all songs came through. That is, I paid for songs that were not upgraded.

Secondly, once I synced iTunes with my iPhone, ALL the music on the iPhone was converted to “Other” and became unplayable. Let me repeat that last part. All the music, whether purchased from Apple or ripped from my own CDs, were no longer considered to be music by my iPhone and was therefore unplayable.

Even though I tried to re-sync, iTunes refused to do so because it said there was insufficient room on my iPhone. Although this was true, it was true only because iTunes had converted all my music into whatever “Other” is.

Now, what I’m going to describe to solve this problem worked for me. However, that does not mean and I do not recommend you follow. In fact, if you run into the same problem, I recommend you contact Apple support. YMMV. Insert disclaimer here.

What I did was to use iTunes to restore my iPhone. Part of the process is that iTunes resets your iPhone back to its factory defaults. Hence, when it asked if I wanted to pack-up my iPhone I clicked yes. Once it began, it took some time while iTunes did whatever it did but when done, all the former songs identified as “Other” were gone. Hence, I was now able to re-sync my music, all of which successfully transferred from iTunes to the iPhone! In addition, all contacts and calendar events came in OK.

Now, as to the first problem, I’ll have to follow-up with Apple on that. In Googling on this problem, I found that I wasn’t the only one so you need to be careful that if Apple charges you for 50 songs, that you actually find 50 songs downloaded when you are done.


Free at Last, Almost

This past weekend, I deleted the last Windows desktop partition at home. Now I have desktops running only Linux (Ubuntu desktop, Ubuntu server, and Mint, respectively), but no Windows. On the other hand, both laptops still have Windows (one has XP and the other has Vista). I have to keep Windows on the laptops because of problems with Linux drivers (either non-existent, alpha-level, or just don’t work). Some day, I hope to be Windows free, but that may not be for awhile.

In deleting the partitions on the last Windows desktop, I had an interesting experience. Prior to removing Windows, I was dual booting Xandros and Windows. But in addition to Xandros, I had at one time tried installing an earlier version of Ubuntu. Unfortunately, the install failed and no matter what I tried, within reason since I did not want to loose my Windows partition, I could not delete Ubuntu. But at this point, since I would be reformatting the drive anyway, I decided to experiment and see what I could do. To make a long story short, after using PartionMagic I ended-up with a non-bootable disk. Sigh. Fortunately, I had Mint on a disk and was able to boot using the disk and then access the Windows partition and copy off my data. I then nuked the disk and started with a fresh install. Oh well, that was interesting. Not.


Seasons Greetings

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Only in Hawaii, Part 21

Thanksgiving lunch was Mexican from Senor Frogs. I had the chicken tacos, which look like spring rolls, but longer. While there, bells started ringing and four waiters emerged from a backroom dressed in costumes. One of them started pouring a blue looking concoction down the throat of a comely young woman and kept going until she gave up. They then went around the tables and did likewise to all there.

While at the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center, we also tried Wally Amos’ Chip and Cookies. We bought the regular chocolate chip, regular with macadamia nuts, and the oatmeal. Not bad. SWMBO is thinking of using the cookies in Christmas goodie (sp?) bags.

Dinner was a buffet from Hee Hing (Chinese). They also had prime rib and other entrees. The food was good but they were very busy (well, duh. -ed).

Lunch on Saturday was from PF Changs (they have a lunch menu that includes complete meals, rather than family style dining-is that new?). To start we had the spring rolls and then I had the Mongolian beef plate and SWMBO tried the lamb and a noodle dish.

Breakfast the next day was back to Tango (next to PF Changs). I tried the French toast, which was OK but if you are hungry, three small pieces of bread is not filling. I think next time I will go back to the hash and eggs. SWMBO had the eggs benedict and banana pancakes.


A Matter of Style

Honolulu Advertiser columnist/blogger/opinion-maker David Shapiro Twittered recently about a change in the AP Stylebook.

We don’t use the AP Stylebook as our main resource (we use The Chicago Manual of Style, The Red Book, The Bluebook, and Strunk & White’s The Elements of Style) but we have a copy for use when providing comments for our Public Affairs Office.

The AP book is interesting to me because it covers so many different parts of life. Whether how to spell barbecue, or that there are Baptist churches, but no Baptist church unless you are referring to a local church, and it’s Kriss Kringle, not Kris, the book covers all kinds of words and phrases.

On the other hand, I’m not sure I understand or agree with all of its choices. For example, using the word “none” with singular verbs and pronouns: None of the seats was in its right place. Perhaps this is grammatically correct, but it sure doesn’t sound right to my old ears.

In any case, if you are writing about the Americas Cup or America’s Cup (golf and yachting, respectively), the AP Stylebook can help clear away the confusion.

By the way, for those living in Hawaii, you might want to also take a look at columnist Catherine E. Toth.


Twitter Topples Due to Over Capacity?

I’ve been using Twitter for only a few days and have already found that things are not all light and joy in Twitterland.

Before I say more, I should note we are evaluating Twitter as one of many ways of getting employee notifications out during an emergency. The idea came from an article in Government Technology.

This morning, however, I got the display below saying that “Twitter is over capacity. Too many tweets! Please wait a moment and try again.” The problem is the longer I waited the slower the system became until as of earlier this morning (HST), it simply doesn’t respond, at all.

Although Twitter wouldn’t be the only way we would be getting our messages out, this lack of capacity is a concern and something we will need to monitor.


Twitter over capacity error page.

Twitter over capacity error page.

Afternoon Update from Twitter

Site outage 4 hours ago

We’re experiencing a site outage and are working to recover.

Update (1:32p): And we’re back – this was a DNS configuration error that impacted the entire site.

We apologize for the unscheduled downtime. We’ve not had an outage of this length since mid-July and will be carefully reviewing what went wrong.

Alert 1! Alert 1! Action Message Follows

This article from PCWorld reports that the WPA encryption standard used by advanced WiFi users has been cracked. In fact, not only has it been cracked but it can be done in no more than 12 to 15 minutes. If true, and the article says at least some of the hack is already in the wild, you should immediately switch to WPA2.

Some older routers (and PCs) can be updated to run WPA2 but if yours can’t, I would recommend buying one that can. YMMV. Insert disclaimer here.