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Monday, November 07 2016

Experience with my Mediatek MTK8382

I recently purchased a Mediatek MTK8382 tablet to keep around the office for ancillary functions related to my work, things like scheduling, time tracking, messaging, and so on. It seemed a reasonable enough risk to take, those functions being also available to my workstation and Android phone...

"SD card suddenly removed...", "Unfortunately, <app> has stopped..." came with increasing frequency and eventually left the thing useless. I tried all of the usual fixes, from factory reset to uninstall/reinstall of every balky app, and finally found The One True Solution: I pulverized the piece of garbage with a sledgehammer, rendering it completely crash-proof.

→ committed: 11/7/2016 16:28:20

[ / technology / miscellany] permanent link

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Saturday, October 03 2015

AnyMote/Nakamichi NK5 Soundbar Remote

If you've got both the AnyMote Smart IR Remote app and a Nakamichi NK5 sound bar, here's a Nakamichi NK5 AnyMote remote for you, all ready to go.

I created it using AnyMote's "Learn Remote" feature and the factory original remote, then set up the button layout to match that of the factory plastic piece. I changed a few of the buttons to show icons rather than text, but that's easily enough changed if you want to have just text on the button labels.


→ committed: 10/2/2015 18:11:21

[ / technology / miscellany] permanent link

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Friday, August 21 2015

Restoring Hulu Video On Debian Jessie

If you're running Debian 8.1 "Jessie" and are a Hulu subscriber, you've probably just received a nasty surprise — the new Hulu DRM will hit you with an error that starts with "One time loading experience to make the rest of your life better" and then an error code. No movie. No joy. If that's what a better life looks like, I'll be quite content to stick to the not-better life I've already got, thank you very much.

I was just about to tell Hulu to take a flying... and go back to Netflix, but I haven't yet found the secret sauce that will enable HTML5 video to make sound on my system. I decided to defuckerize Hulu instead, and though it's a purely evil hack it seems so far to be working just fine. Here's what I did on my AMD64 workstation:

DISCLAIMER: Following the instructions that follow might cause all manner of horrible things to happen to your computer. Proceed at your own risk.

First, make sure that your system backups are current, safe, and within easy reach just in case things go very badly. Then:

You may need some development libraries in order to successfully make and install hal-info — being a developer I've got scads of -dev stuff already and didn't run into any problems. If you run into a glitch, you'll probably have to STFW for the solution. Please don't ask me for help unless you've got a credit card and will be happy to pay my exorbitant hourly rate.

First things first: Extract the hal-info archive, configure, make, and install it. It'll complain that you don't have a great enough version of HAL installed, but you can safely ignore that warning because at the moment you don't have any HAL at all installed.

If you don't have the equivs package installed, install it now:

apt-get install equivs

Then create a fake hal-info package to make apt happy:

equivs-control hal-info

Make the resulting hal-info file look something like this:

Section: admin
Priority: optional
Standards-Version: 3.9.2

Package: hal-info
Version: 20091130-1
Maintainer: Art Sackett 
Architecture: all
Description: Dummy package to make APT happy with source-compiled hal-info
 HAL info dummy package.
 Created using equivs to get apt-happy.


    equivs-build hal-info
    dpkg -i hal-info_20091130-1_all.deb

That'll keep APT from crying about the missing dependency on hal-info when you install the downloaded hal.

Then, as root, and in the directory into which you've stored all of those heinous Ubuntu .deb files:

  1. dpkg -i libhal1_0.5.14-8ubuntu2ppa5_amd64.deb
  2. dpkg -i libhal-dev_0.5.14-8ubuntu2ppa5_amd64.deb
  3. dpkg -i libhal-storage1_0.5.14-8ubuntu2ppa5_amd64.deb
  4. dpkg -i libhal-storage-dev_0.5.14-8ubuntu2ppa5_amd64.deb
  5. dpkg -i hal_0.5.14-8ubuntu2ppa5_amd64.deb

Assuming nothing caught fire, exploded, or leaked out of your computer, you can reinit or reboot your machine and try viewing a Hulu video. It might work. It did for me.

For The Record: I always advise very strongly against installing Ubuntu packages on Debian systems, but in this case I ignored my own advice and got lucky. There's no way I'd install a full, real HAL from source because it would very likely hose up a modern Debian system — HAL has always sucked almost as badly as Flash, which I suppose is why Adobe chose to make DRM in Flash depend upon HAL in the first place.

If you give this a shot, please leave a comment below with a few pertinent details about your system and whether or not it worked.

→ committed: 8/21/2015 00:46:00

[ / technology] permanent link

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Thursday, May 14 2015

Client Security Quickie

As you may be aware, and certainly are if you have reason to be, I am somewhat fanatical about information security. It's a habit that's been with me for just about 35 years now, so it has become second nature. I was thinking just a few minutes ago about a hole in my security practices that requires an unconventional approach to remediation, and the result is here.

If you have reason to be concerned about the security of data that you own that I store for you, you might wish to periodically look in on that file and verify its cryptographic signature. If you don't have my public key, it's here. It would be a good idea to grab it long before you need it, and to rely upon it only if you've independently verified its validity — perhaps by talking about it on the telephone with me.

→ committed: 5/14/2015 00:26:37

[ / technology] permanent link

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Saturday, July 26 2014

Todoist, GTD, and Inbox Zero

I'm big on keeping my world in order. I want my email inbox to be empty every time I finish processing my mail, and I want all of my upcoming tasks to be committed to some trustworthy application that will keep track of them so I don't have to. That's one of the principles of David Allen's Getting Things Done, but it's something I started doing long before he wrote the book.

I developed my own version of GTD in the 1980's when I inherited the highly dysfunctional service department of an electronics manufacturer. It was explained to me by my employer's production manager thusly: "Service is an evil, a necessary evil". I was shocked to hear that, but soon came to understand why it was seen as a necessary evil within the company. The department was chaotic in just about every way, left behind a trail of dissatisfied customers, and had never in the company's history operated at a profit. I brainstormed a system to bring order to the chaos and transparency to the opacity, implemented as a handful of manila folders and a magnetic whiteboard. There were, of course, many other changes required, but the core of the system consisted of the folders and whiteboard. Proving out my perception that we had good people on staff, within a few months we had nothing past due in our repair queue, our efficiency was greatly increased, and our turnaround time greatly decreased. The technicians were happier, too, because our system was predictable, easy to live with, and drove away the unreasonable time pressures that had been a constant. At the close of the fiscal year the CEO dropped by to congratulate me for being the first one in the company's 20 year history to manage the service department profitably.

Tangentially, turning the service department around proved to be the key to making customer win-backs, too.

There's more ...

→ committed: 7/25/2014 23:00:00

[ / technology / miscellany] permanent link

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Monday, May 19 2014

Logitech M705 Mouse Button Fix

My Logitech mouse was giving me fits with click-and-drag operations, as when selecting ("highlighting") text to copy, as if it was releasing the button despite my having ample and consistent pressure on the actuator. Apparently the most common Logitech mouse button problem is erroneous double-clicks, but I was only rarely experiencing those. The fix for that can be found here, and is the reference for the rest of this brief article.

The requisite caveats: If your mouse is under warranty, give the problem to Logitech. If you proceed with this fix, you risk breaking your mouse, and the fix might not work anyway. There may be other failures that mimic the one described here. You may be bitten by a radioactive spider but not be transformed into Spiderman. Or you might win a lottery jackpot. Such is life.

If your Logitech mouse button is foiling your attempts to copy text because it's apparently releasing the button, but is not suffering the double-click failure, this fix is easier than is the one for the well known double-click failure. Disassemble the mouse as far as opening the switch as in the article above, but do not remove the copper reed. Instead, cut a couple of strips of printer paper a few inches in length and about ¼" in width. Insert the first small strip of paper between the contacts, which are at the front end of the reed, the end furthest from the battery. Gently close the switch (depress the reed) with a small screwdriver, a pen, pencil, or even a fingertip, and drag the paper through the contacts. Repeat this closing/dragging operation several times, then repeat with the other, clean strip of paper. Then, partially reassemble the mouse with two or three screws, install the batteries, and test. If it proves to be working nicely again as mine is, finish buttoning it up and be happy — you've just saved yourself right around fifty bucks. If instead it's still a bit twitchy, try another clean strip of paper and a bit more cleaning. If that doesn't work, be happy but try some other fix, or replacing the recalcitrant rodent.

A side note: The switch enclosure I encountered was slightly different from the one in the referenced article, in that the locking tabs were on the sides rather than the ends. It's not a big thing, but you should look at the one you encounter carefully, and proceed more carefully. If you apply the correct pressure in the correct place, the cover should come away easily. You don't want to hear the wrong snapping noise!

I recommend a contact cleaning if you're in there to fix the infamous double-click failure, too.

I think I'm going to spend the next few minutes just randomly highlighting text to see it working properly.

→ committed: 5/19/2014 17:16:09

[ / technology / miscellany] permanent link

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Thursday, June 20 2013

Gnome3 Sucks

Hoping you'll pardon me for going off on a bit of a rant here...

I was recently compelled to upgrade my workstation from Debian GNU/Linux 6 to 7 ("Wheezy"). I'd gone along happily for years with Gnome2 and Compiz. Compiz was removed from Debian Wheezy for what may or may not be perfectly valid reasons, and Gnome3 replaces Gnome2. I was unhappy about both of these things, but I've got Gnome3 on my netbook and haven't yet thrown it out the window so it seemed worthy of an open minded trial.

The trial lasted all of one evening. Gnome3 sucks. I could not get past the feeling that Gnome3 is just about what Windows For Workgroups 3.11 would have become if the interface paradigm were not abandoned. Please allow me to explain:

There's more ...

→ committed: 6/20/2013 17:54:56

[ / technology / miscellany] permanent link

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Friday, May 24 2013

AVX for Android

I'm really not a phone nerd, but the ability to carry a client for my server monitoring system in my pocket wherever I go makes the phone an essential device for my business.

That said: If you need or want a Siri-like application for your Android phone, just get AVX. Really. It's the best there is and just getting better.

There's more ...

UPDATE 2015/02/10:
I really hate to say it, but AVX falls flat on its face in Android 5.n Lollipop and it appears that the developer has lost interest in the project. It's a real shame, as AVX still would do far more than Google Now and I hate being without it, but whatcha gonna do?

I'll update again if the developer gets AVX debusticated.

→ committed: 5/24/2013 14:59:00

[ / technology / miscellany] permanent link

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