Useful Consumer Review

I need a wireless USB HID button (to take movie snapshots, of course), so I bought this Logitech Cube “presenter”. I need a range of about five meters, so all wireless input devices are kinda chancy.

Epic unboxing sequence:

So… does it work in Linux? Yes, but no.

It generates a Prior event if you push the button while it’s oriented one way, and a Next event the other way. That’s fine. However, the range is less than two meters. Further away than that, it gets unreliable, and at four meters, there’s no signal what-so-ever. So it’s unusable for me.

I was curious about how well it worked as a wireless mouse if you had it close enough to the receiver. I’d rate it “meh”.

But it’s a nice form factor.  For something that doesn’t really work very well.

Useful Consumer Review

My old tv machine worked ok, but it was too slow to play the files MakeMKV ripped from BluRay disks.

So I bought a new one from QuietPC. I’ve bought a couple from them before, and they seem to make reliable, fanless machines.

So here are the notes on problems getting the video working under Debian Linux. Sigh.

The motherboard is Gigabyte H87N-WIFI, the VGA is “Intel Corporation Xeon E3-1200 v3/4th Gen Core Processor Integrated Graphics Controller”, which is a Haswell HD Graphics thing.

First of all, if you have xserver-xorg-video-modesetting installed, get rid of it. For some reason or other, X -configure prefers this generic driver over the Intel driver, which is pretty nonsensical. It’s not accelerated, so you can’t really use it for much of anything.

After getting rid of it, you’ll get the Intel (i915) driver instead, which works OK. Except if you want to watch video. Then you get lots of tearing. There’s a newer “tear free” version of the Intel xorg driver that fixes this problem, but it’s not included in Debian testing, even.

So go to the Intel page and download the “xf86-video-intel – 2.99.906” package. It compiles easily enough (just need to install some -dev packages). Install it by moving the file after compiling over the one supplied by Debian. It should work fine. (Unless you’re reading this some time after March 2014.)

Hey! Now you can watch video. Except when the i915 driver loads, the HDMI screen turns all grey. For some reason or other, i915 jacks the backlights on the monitor up to max, leaving me with a very, very pale and bright TV.

After googling for hours, I finally found this. So you have to say

xrandr --output HDMI3 --set "Broadcast RGB" "Full"

to get black to be black. “Yay.”

I got an integrated BluRay slot player in the machine, because I thought that would look tidier than the external USB drive. However, MakeMKV says the following when I try to use it: “Drive BD-RE MATSHITA BD-MLT UJ265 1.00 has RPC protection that can not be bypassed. Change drive region or update drive firmware from Errors likely to follow.” Indeed. And there is no region free firmware for this drive, so I’ll just continue to use my external BluRay drive.

Anybody know of a region-free slot-in slimline BluRay drive?

The Tellstick control unit didn’t work any more, because they’ve removed the “vendor” and “product” options from ftdi_sio. So this doesn’t work any more:

options ftdi_sio vendor=0x1781 product=0x0c31

Instead you have to say

modprobe ftdi_sio
 echo 1781 0c31 > /sys/bus/usb-serial/drivers/ftdi_sio/new_id

Yeah, that makes sense…

Finally, the machine has tons of USB3 ports, and just two USB2 ports. I thought that would be a plus, but it seems like my tiny USB monitor doesn’t like being plugged in to the USB3 ports. The kernel says “Cannot enable port 3. Maybe the USB cable is bad?” and the monitor drops connection.

Well, maybe the cable really is bad? It’s always the cable’s fault!

(This is where I go to look for a new cable. And I find one, and switches the cable, and everything works perfectly! It’s always the cable!)


See? It almost works out of the box. I mean, finding out all this only took me eleven hours…

It’s the year of Linux on the Desktop any… decade… now.

One! Hundred! Movies!

I used to be a major movie nerd. Watched a couple a day. Went to the Cinemateque regularly. And then I stopped.

It was probably a combination of things. First of all, starting a movie meant turning the music that’s playing off, and I hate doing that. And I feel that you have to pay a certain amount of attention to movies that you don’t have to with TV series.

I can do the dishes while watching True Blood, but it would be odd to do that while watching Alphaville.

One further disincentive was that I was starting to feel a bit fed up with movies in general. “Here’s a new set of people that I have to concern myself with and care about for the next 90 minutes. Whyyyy!” I kinda think that’s a somewhat normal reaction, and explains some of the popularity of movie serials and TV series. You don’t have to care about a new set of characters.

So: Fuck movies.

On the other hand, TV sucks, and there’s quite a number of really excellent movies out there. So I’ve been trying to get back into the swing of things, but not quite succeeding.

So now I’m going to make a concerted effort to see a bunch of movies. 100 of them. Before summer.

And to up the stakes (not difficult, considering the project), I’m going to learn how to mix cocktails, too. I’ve never been into making cocktails, so I’m going to learn how do to at least one per movie.

I may have over-purchased ingredients.