Sound problems on Ubuntu Hardy Heron

Well, I wanted to describe some of the relatively minor sound problems I’ve encountered after upgrading to Hardy, while giving some kind of an overview of how things are with audio and Linux and why are we seeing problems with this release, but this article does a much better job at it then I could.

Very briefly, the solution for my audio problems was to set all the options to “PulseAudio Sound Server” in the “Sound Preferences” administration applet, and install the “libflashsupport” package.

Update: Another class of applications that is affected by the switch to PulseAudio is those appications that use the SDL library. Thos can be configured to use PulseAudio exclusively by installing the “libsdl1.2debian-pulseaudio” package and making sure no other “libsdl1.2debian-*” package is installed.

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Tatja Grimm’s World, not up my alley

Tatja Grimm's World paperback front coverI’ve finished reading Tatja Grimms World an acclaimed novel by Vernor Vinge, a much acclaimed writer a couple of days ago. I’m afraid to admit that, while entertaining, this book didn’t quite cut it for me.

Spoiler warning: I am going to discuss features of the story in depth.

As far as world building goes, the book is pretty good, wondering about how a technologically advanced world with little to no metal resources would look like is quite an interesting experience.

Where this book falls flat is in the department of character development, I just couldn’t overlook the heavy use of mary sue elements.

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Ubuntu 8.04 “Hardy Heron” upgrade notes

As experienced computer users know, the fresh-released versions of products are typically not very stable and reliable. It takes a few months (Typically until the x.1 version is released) for the product to really stabilize and become production-ready. This also seems to be true for Free and Open-Source software, though the maturing rate seems to be faster.

Knowing that, I typically wait a couple of months after an Ubuntu release before I take the time to upgrade. When it comes to Hardy Heron, the latest version of Ubuntu, a further reason not to upgrade was provided by the fact that up until now it didn’t include a stable version of Firefox.

I finally decided to take the time and upgrade the Ubuntu version on my personal home computer yesterday. The upgrade didn’t went as smoothly as I hoped it would. Most of the issues can be blamed on the manual tweaks I’ve made to my system. Not all, however.

Below is a list of the issues I’ve encountered during and after the upgrade, and the solutions I came up with (when applicable).

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I got a letter from Amazon/Audible

Having heard them being promoted aggressively on almost all the Podcasts I frequent, and having recognized the practical comfort of audiobooks, I’ve been wondering about purchasing some audiobooks from Audible. However, I’ve heard that Audible uses DRM, even worse, they mandate the use of DRM even when the book author wishes otherwise. I find this to be unacceptable.

Therefore I was happy to take the opportunity offered by this page to make my voice heard.

I’ve followed the instructions on the page and and send a message to Amazon stating that while I’ll be happy to purchase audiobooks from Audible, I will not spend my money on such books if they are encumbered by DRM technology that by its very nature will limit my choice of audio players and operating systems (on the very least it will most probably not support the cheap mp3-only players on the market).

Today I got a reply from Amazon, I’ve posted the full text below.

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Howl’s Moving Castle, a charming book

Being an avid Anime watcher, I obviously took note of Miyazaki’s Howl no Ugoku Shirow, and watched it as soon as I could get my hands on it. It is, as all Miyazaki’s movies are, a charming and entertaining movie, however I found it to be slightly inferior to other Miyazaki hits such as Kaze no Tani no Nausicaa and Tenkuu no Shiro Laputa.

I did have vague notion that the movie was based on a book, but I’ve never really paid much attention to it until I heard it being recommended by Gili Bar-Hillel, the Hebrew translator of young-adult fantasy hits such as Harry Potter at the Haifa University’s Fantasy and Reality convention. While I’m much less then a Harry Potter fan, she gave such an excited recommendation that I thought, “what the heck”, and ordered the book from Amazon.

Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones delivers a charming, compelling story, which is much more intricate then anything a two hour Anime could deliver, with interesting, complex characters and breathtaking scenery that even Miyazaki somewhat fails to convey.

This book is a gem, I recommend it wholeheartedly.