Monthly Archives: May 2008

Audio with Ubuntu 8.04 and Toshiba M9

After fixing a billion of other things on my M9 upgraded to hardy, my daughter wanted me to double click on the musical notes icon of an mp3 I had on my desktop. And lo and behold: Audio did not work. Didn’t find anything M9 specific. Having read about people complaining about the switch to pulseaudio in hardy, that was my first suspicion, and the M9 doesn’t seem to be too common. It didn’t prove to be the culprit. It was the Intel HDA chip and alsa, rather. Turns out alsa nowadays needs to be told what specific chipset you want for selecting a codec.

This lead the way:

That page is in German, but the most valuable hint is to verify you have the HDA sound card by looking at /proc/asound/cards. Then find a suitable codec by doing:

head -n 1 /proc/asound/card0/codec*

Finally read /usr/share/doc/alsa-base/driver/ALSA-Configuration.txt.gz and select a suitable option to append to /etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base. For the M9 that is:

options snd-hda-intel model=fujitsu
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A visit to the Senckenberg Museum and Evolution

Been to the famous Senckenberg Museum on Sunday and though neither my wife nor my five-year-old daughter had quite enough patience to do it full justice it was very impressive. And even outside the special guided tours for children it was much more suitable for a girl of five than I had feared.

I also learned that the Senckenberg Institute behind the Natural History Museum is not only leading research in its areas but also cares about the reception of science in society at large. Among other things it is involved in the Morphisto initiative. That in turn offers a broad range of publications and services with the ones most fit to be named here being the ones revolving around creationism and intelligent design. Morphisto offers seminars for the education of teachers about strategies of ID and how to deal with them in class. More generally, it offers reading material on the theory of science and epistemology, because it sees the lack of those subjects being taught to young scientiest at university as one cause of their inability to defend science against pseudo-scientific criticism. (Funny to think that I may have done more epistemology as a litererary critic than some scientists, because literary critics have always been accused of unscientific methods.) Most of that meterial is in German, like this enlightening interview but there is also reading material in English, as for example issue #3 of the “Querschnitte” magazine.

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Printing DHL Postage Stamps on gutsy

Been pulling my hair again …

Why do I need to use strace just to print a postage stamp? “Ah yes,” I virtually hear a colleague say, “that is because you use such a tinker OS.” Hrmpf …

WARNING: Don’t hit the real print button before having done a successful test print!

Just in case you want to keep your hair: If you try to print a PDF document from a JavaScript button inside a form you might get a message “lp: The printer or class was not found”, or in German (as DHL uses this in its online postage service) “lp: Drucker oder Klasse wurde nicht gefunden.” Your first attempt should prolly be to check whether you actually do have a printer called lp. This is already a brain-dead assumption, but oh well. So, try this:

sudo lpadmin -p <name-of-your-printer-queue> -c lp
sudo lpadmin -E -d lp

Try your test-print again. If it still doesn’t work, you may be in the same situation as I was, i. e. acroread complains about not finding printer “lp” but doesn’t actually try to print to “lp” (and the “lp” in the error message may only be referring to the command line tool) but to “undefined”. I haven’t yet had the nerve to find out why that is, but this fixes printing, then:

sudo lpadmin -p <name-of-your-printer-queue> -c undefined
sudo lpadmin -E -d undefined