Saturday, October 31, 2009

No audio? Is skype running?

I was looking at newly uploaded (from camera) videos of Timmy and John and I was confused because the videos were weird:

      Totem said they where *playing*, but the progress bar wasn't moving and there was neither sound nor video.

      The time counter (shows how many seconds/minutes into the video/song you're in) wasn't moving.

      I thought it was something wrong with the newly mangled videos (made smaller via ffmpeg) so I tried some MP3s. Same symptoms as for the videos.

So I looked around at the modules, and at dmesg. Everything looked good. Until I moved my mouse to the bottom of the screen and the hidden status panel popped up. Skype was running. Apparently, on this machine, it takes over the sound card.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Slow vim startup -- solved

I've had some frustration due to slow vim startup.

time vim -c 'q'

real 0m6.138s
user 0m0.096s
sys 0m0.024s

Found the solution though. a blog post at says to use -X.

So now I have two new aliases in ~/.bashrc

alias vi="/usr/bin/vi -X"
alias vim="/usr/bin/vim -X"

I was a little confused because the slowness was there in screen, but when I opened a new terminal, there was no slowness (even without the aliases). I think it's because I've restarted X since I started screen. So $DISPLAY in the screen sessions is :0.0, but possibly there's some other X authentication cookies that refer to the old X session. Ok, I just looked, there's an XDG_SESSION_COOKIE, maybe that's it, or if not, something similar. So the X authentication still succeeds, but only after a timeout.

The poster at samdorr had a different problem. His server probably didn't have X at all, or maybe vim is trying to connect via ssh X forwarding, back to his graphical terminal :-). But the solution he gives is an axe that solves my problem too since I don't need vim to talk to X at all.

Hmmm, someday I'll just need to catch up to the modern world and use gvim, and probably syntax highlighting even :-).

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Vodafone "Vodem" -- very easy

A friend of mine has a vodem (that's a USB HSDPA modem that works with the Vodafone NZ network). I borrowed it and tried it out on my Jaunty (Ubuntu 9.04) laptop at home.

I was confused initially since I had no manual or anything else. My friend said that on windows there's a CD, it installs a bunch of things and then just works. I didn't think to ask if authentication via login/password was required.

After some messing around, I found a hint on ubuntuforums that pointed me in the right direction. NetworkManager in Jaunty automatically detects the modem. It even automatically detects the network. It then presents a dialog asking which country (NZ is already default selected) and which Network to use. There are three networks ("Vodafone", "Vodafone (restricted)", and "Vodafone (unrestricted)"). My confusion was that I chose the first and the modem immediately disconnected.

I should have chosen the third. Upon choosing "Vodafone (unrestricted)", the vodem connects immediately to the Vodafone network and then just works. No further management needed. This is pretty cool. Too bad vodafone data charges are still so high. When the data charges drop by a factor of 10, this will be a real player. For now, it's a nice toy that I'm soon going to return to its rightful owner.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

On recruiting software developers

John Fuex has a great article, 19 Tips for Recruiting Great Developers

Now, not all companies are going to be needing the superstars this article focuses on, but the points made there should be relevant to, say, the top 85-90-95 percent of developers.

Perhaps the tips can be relaxed according to the quality of the developer needed by the company (although the company, HR division or recruiter who is conscious of the actual target percentiles [instead of being hypnotized by some mantra about hiring "only the best"], is likely very rare on the ground).