The Ghost of Student Counseling

Dye-based printer ink, potentially with a little water, makes for a surprisingly good fountain pen ink. Never stick pigments in your fountain pen. Heck, perhaps you shouldn’t put printer ink in any fountain pen over €5 or so. Anyhow, here’s a little doodle drawn in printer ink, with some quick Inkscape post-processing.

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Skype on Android x86

A new Skype update was installed! Now “rebuilt from the ground up […] the best Skype we’ve ever built” (release announcement). Okay, cool. Let’s give it a go.

What’s that, a crash? And it won’t be fixed because I have the wrong kind of CPU? You can tell Google Play not to update the app by unchecking auto-update. Tap the three vertical dots in the top-right corner to bring up the option.

Uncheck auto-update.

Then download the old Skype Android app from AndroidDrawer.com (“Because Newer is Not Always Better”) or any similar site. Version 7.46.0.596 seems to be the most recent version which still works on x86.

Enjoy your Skyping. Or maybe just switch to Discord. It offers video chat now. Skype and I have had a decent run since ’04, but let’s face it, these past few years nothing good has happened. Take, for instance, the announcement last year that Skype for Linux was being updated again.

For example, you’ll be using the latest, fast and responsive Skype UI, you can share files, photos and videos and send a whole new range of new emoticons.

I have no idea what they intended by talking about “responsive UI”. The supposedly retired version 4.3[1] scales along just fine with DPI thanks to it being Qt-based. I guess they hope that by just tossing out random terms I won’t notice the old version already does all the things they’re boasting about. Well, except for those emoticons. Big whoop.

What’s my ICQ number again?

[1] “Important notice: All Skype for Linux clients version 4.3 and older will be retired on July 1, 2017. To keep chatting, please install the latest version of Skype for Linux.”

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Changing the Android Default Alarm on Zenfone 2

I don’t like the default alarm sound on my phone much and apparently changing it to something a little bit gentler can only be done on a per-alarm basis. Luckily I found this:

Today I was looking for a way to change the sound that is applied by default to new alarms you create in the Alarms app. After quite a bit of effort I came upon the following procedure:

  1. Install ES File Explorer
  2. Open it and select / from the Favorites
  3. Browse to /system/media/audio/alarms
  4. Click on the file you want and in the "Open with" prompt select "ES Media Player"
  5. Click on the bell beside the file name, pick "Set alarm" and click OK

Should you choose to change again the default, you may notice that the defaults you pick will appear in the music library. Also, they will be listed twice in the tone selection list which appears when you manually change the tone of an individual alarm.

You can fix that with the following steps:

  1. Open Settings
  2. Go to Applications > Manage Applications > All
  3. Click on Media Storage and then Clear data
  4. Reboot your phone
  5. You will now have to set your new default sound

(I've noticed that sometimes, when you view a music album which doesn't have a cover art image and add an album.jpg file to it later, Music Player will not use that file for the cover art. The above steps, as a side effect, will make Music Player look for images for all albums, thus having the cover art of all your albums updated.)

Hope this helps 🙂

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Meditations While Dishwashing

There are two main competing principles at work while washing the dishes: most annoying first and dirtiest last. Luckily these two principles are less contradictory than they might seem at first glance. Utensils, with all of their finicky little nooks and crannies, tend to be fairly clean. The same applies to those annoying glasses, that have to go early. The dirtier, yet also infinitely more relaxing plates come next, and at the end follow the dirty pots and pans.


Jotted down on 2016-08-06.


One-word sonnet added on 2017-01-25.

Dishwashing

Annoying
utensils
with
nooks
and
crannies
precede
dirty
relaxing
plates,
sticky
pots
and
pans.

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You Can Just Concatenate MPEG-2

To deal with the inferior FAT file system, it would seem that consumer-level Sony video cameras write video files of a maximum of about 2.1 GB. A sensible approach, but annoying to work with. Luckily they can be concatenated without any concerns or side effects for easier viewing and editing.

cat 00006.MTS 00007.MTS 00008.MTS > output.mts

For other video formats, see the ffmpeg FAQ.

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Not a Trashcan

A dialog for two actors.

The Bucket?

A bucket is set on the middle of the stage. Science and Poetry stand next to it.

Science
That’s a bucket!
Poetry
No, it’s clearly a trashcan.
Science
The difference should be obvious. A bucket has a handle. A trashcan does not.
Poetry
What about a portable trashcan?
Science
What the fuck is a portable trashcan?
Poetry
You know, for cleaners.
Science
Those are on wheels!
Poetry
They don’t need to be…
Science
Fine, use your bucket as a trashcan. I don’t care.

Jotted down on Tuesday 01 September 2015.

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Steam Error: “invalid depot configuration”

I just had to share this mysterious error message.

A screenshot of a Steam error dialog that says invalid depot configuration.

Simply retrying made it go away.

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Launcher with parameters in Xfce

Back in November I decided to try Aard 2 on my laptop. I followed the instructions and it worked. Then I created a launcher with the following command and suddenly it did not.

java -Dslobber.browse=true -jar ~/programs/aard2/aard2-web-0.7.jar ~/programs/aard2/slobs/*.slob

A different strategy, passing a command to Bash, did the trick.

bash -c "java -Dslobber.browse=true -jar ~/programs/aard2/aard2-web-0.7.jar ~/programs/aard2/slobs/*.slob"

Enjoy your fully functional launcher! 😉

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Qalculate!, My New Favorite Calculator

Over the past few years I acquired a bad habit of using search engines for basic calculations and conversions. I’m not talking about the stuff you should just do in your head — not quite that bad, but about the fact that several Linux distros, including my favorite of Debian Xfce, don’t seem to ship with a calculator by default. So I finally got around to testing some programs and Qalculate! does all I want. You can install it on Debian using sudo apt install qalculate-gtk. There’s a list of features on the website. Enjoy a few screenshots.

qalculate-conversion-celsius-fs8
Celsius to Fahrenheit.
qalculate-conversion-km-fs8
Kilometer to mile.
qalculate-conversion-money-fs8
Euro to Dollar.

I hope you’ll like it too!

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Broken Sword 5 Update with Full Keyboard Support

The fact that the Broken Sword 5 2.2 20th anniversary update added controller support (also in Linux) is pretty good news. It works ever so slightly better than the antimicro setup I was using to play. But one of the primary reasons it works better is that they’ve also fixed up keyboard support. You can now press up and down arrows like you always should’ve been able to. Meaning my previous antimicro setup works better as well, in spite of it having been made obsolete.

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