Raising little Westies, and life as parent of a special needs son

Tag Archives: computers

Quantal Quetzal Queerness

For the uninitiated: Quantal Quetzal is the version name of Ubuntu 12.10

My journey with Ubuntu has been pretty good all told. I have run a netbook (which suffered a fault in the charging port), a laptop (which suffered a fault in the graphics ribbon from the motherboard to the lid/display), a media centre/server (which suffered a hard disk failure, from running a “Green” disk in a torrent server 24/7/365), and a desktop.

The desktop is in daily use by my wife and three kids, as well as frequent use by myself when I am home. I mentioned the other day the troubles I had upgrading Ubuntu to Quantal Quetzal. Unfortunately my troubles are not quite over…

My googling tells me there is a bit of a long standing problem with Ubunut users losing sound. And the problem has been around for quite some time with very poor clear concise pointers to how to actually fix it.

My elder son suffered from the issue shortly after my update. But it only effected his profile. To be a bit clearer about the sequence of events:

  1. I installed Quantal Quetzal.
  2. I configured all users with a user ID and a Gnome desktop profile, which worked fully as expected.
  3. At some time, my eldest son’s profile suffered a problem where sound would work from everything except Firefox.
    That is, sound worked from VNC, it worked from Banshee… but not from Youtube or any other online media. Videos would playback fine, but there is no sound.
  4. All other users had no problem.

To solve this, initially, I created a new user profile for my son. This restored him to having a fully working profile and computing experience (including having Minecraft working, and being able to record screen captures with voiceovers, and play them back).

Then a couple of days later… the same symptom occurred to my daughter.

This time my solution was a lot less drastic: I logged off all users, rebooted the PC, and everything worked fine.

Hmm, I thought, I wonder if that fixed Magpie’s problem?

As it turned out, nope it did not. His original profile was still displaying the same problem.


Anyone who knows anything about Ubuntu knows that a lot of per-user settings reside within hidden files, and that hidden files in Ubuntu (and other *nix systems) are simply a file (or folder) where the file (or folder) name starts with a . character. So I figured… seeing as this issue is restricted to a single user profile (at a time) then it’s quite possibly situated in one (or more) of these “hidden” files.

So… I logged into the computer with a different user ID, dropped into a terminal, and used the following commands:

sudo su
cd /home/Magpie
rm -r .*

I then logged back in as Magpie.

Lo and behold! His desktop had reverted to that of a newly created user, but with the files from his /home/Magpie/Desktop folder sitting on it. I fired up Firefox, went to Youtube, and opened a random One Direction music clip (because that’s what’s on my kids shared Youtube account recent files list – YUCK!) – and it worked fine!

So: I have narrowed my response from the generic (reboot) or the outright avoidance (create a new user profile) to a slightly smaller sledge-hammer (delete all configuration files and let them all be recreated). I’m sure that the actual files which I needed to delete were only a small subset of what I deleted. I hope that if this problem comes back again, I will take a bit more time to study and narrow down exactly which hidden file or folder I need to delete, to solve this problem of “no sound in YouTube on Mozilla FireFox on Ubuntu version 12.10 Quantal Quetzal.


In the moment

Our lives are made up of moments.

Most of them are joined by some fairly trivial ways to fill in time. But it is the moments that define our lives.

In a class you’ve been taking for two years, and not the teacher, but some random student says something when they ask a question or interject – and it all goes “click.”

Meeting the person you are destined to be with.

Marrying that person.

Having kids with that person.

Landing THE job.

There are many more. And some of us manage to have very special moments more often than others. Why is that?

I have a theory, that some of us have moments because we are better equipped to identify what a moment is, and that they are important so we should strive for them and capture them when they occur. Our moments give us a sense of our lives, they are what we are able to tell people about where we went to school, the reasons it was special, what was great about any one of our jobs.

I have one very fantastic moment from a course on my first job. The rest of those two years are somewhat of a blur, and as time goes by I remember less and less about 1993 to 1995. But the moment is strong in my mind.

Last night, I worked. I was helping people all over Australia change the way the computers in a dozen or so offices are configured to work. There was certainly a moment in there, but I was so wrapped up in that moment that I did not step back and look at everything at once (which in fact is no small part of what I was there to do). So what could have been stopped as a stumbling point became the focus of a snowball, and that moment has become a much larger event.

I’m off to do much the same thing today. I hope I have learned from yesterday: when the moment arrives, don’t be put off from taking a step back to take it all in.


Sad Songs

It has been pointed out to me before that I am drawn to war protest songs.

This one particularly strikes a chord with me.

Like I Was Only 19, it is a song I often listen to on the way between home and work. I hope you enjoy it.

Short, hectic, none-too-pleasant week

Some weeks, it’s really lucky they are as short as they are, so we can hit the timer and start afresh.

This week has been very full of activity. I drove up the coast and back last weekend. Had a weekday at home, quite unusual for me. Became embroiled in some online shenanigans, which I will go into no further detail. Work has been action packed.

At least it’s almost Friday.

Tonight, that’s it, I’m done. I truly hope to have more meaningful dialogue tomorrow!

I am however very much looking forward to a “regular” weekend, which I feel like I have not had for about six weeks now.

More success!

Here I am at post number 140. Quite a few of those were directly copied from a now closed community.

And I now have 50 followers here on my blog on WordPress.
Thanks to each of you for following me! I’d love to see you drop along to my Facebook page or my Twitter feed if you aren’t already “liking” of “following” me on each of those. I’d also love to hear from more of you about what you think I could post about. I know some of you invite guest bloggers, or ask your followers to pose questions to be answered on a blog post, I’d be happy to hear any of your questions, or requests for a guest blog post – particularly if you would like to blog about your definition of “success”.

Ten day challenge day five

Today is all about six songs that I’m addicted to. I have a few so here we go:

1. I was only 19, Redgum.
A classic Australian post-Vietnam war protest song.

2. And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda, Slim Dusty.
An anti war song.
Hmm, see a theme here? I listen to these songs on the way from Sydney to Canberra every Monday, and back again every Friday.
3. Bat Out of Hell, Meatloaf.
4. The Marching Song of the Covert Battalion, Billy Bragg.
5. Epic, Faith No More. Poor fish.
6. Wake Me Up When September Ends, Greenday.

Gee, notice a theme here?

There’s more than Wordpress

So here I am with a hundred posts under my belt. Gee that feels great!

I notice now, that I have attracted a range of followers across a range of websites.  And fair enough, quite a few of you follow me from one location to another…

Over at, there’s about a hundred following me there. Which seems to be where I spend most of my time, raising a wide range of subjects but generally coming back time and again to my core themes of autism, parenting, and being active in my community – especially through sport.

Only a small portion have jumped the divide and chosen to “like” me on Facebook at my ImaWestie page.

Yet here, I have almost double that number following my blog posts. A lot of you have joined since I started my blog a day challenge, thanks greatly to Alan over at Think Wisely.

I truly am trying to reach out to all of you, and to build a community. I would love to hear more feedback from you, and hope to turn that into the inspiration to come up with another hundred or so blog posts – about technology, being a geek, raising sons, daughters, living in a family with Autism, raising pets. Hopefully, moving to Canberra.

So please, pop over to Facebook and check out my page there if you haven’t already. Join me on Twitter, drop me a line and let me know you’re there… I’ll certainly check in and participate in whatever conversation you have going on.

100 Club

Finishing the puzzle… 100th post
Image thanks to Techpedia

Crack the champaign, I’ve hit the Hundred Club of blogging.

Back a long time ago, ImaWestie posted his first comment on Sacha Molitorisz’ blog Whose Your Daddy at the Sydney Morning Herald. In those comments I record my earliest concern:

¶ on a totally seperate note, my wife and I are at a point where we would be delighted to hear our youngest swearing, if only he would talk.

At what age should we be how worried about our son pretty much being non-vocal?

SM, if anyone sensibly wants to contact me on this please pass along my details to them.

Posted by: ImaWestie on April 26, 2008 9:36 PM

So as early as April of 2008 – four years ago, just before his third birthday – I was already concerned about my son’s development.

I think my fully bogan alter-ego appeared as I had already had about enough of being concerned about who I was, where I worked, and who my kids are, when I was looking to talk about a range of topics online.

Since that first appearance, I’ve sprouted up on News Limiteds comments section, the Whirlpool technology forum, on a range of games websites, and continued to appear on the Sydney Morning Herald website from time to time.

I also wandered along to the Autism United community, where I learned so much, and was inspired to record my thoughts, experience and emotions onto blog format. Some of what I wanted to write didn’t fit in amost such a well defined community, so here I came to WordPress.

That puzzle there remains extremely relevant. Tonight, with our dinner, my wife and I celebrated as we used bribery to tempt our youngest son with yoghurt, to get him to eat one (!) pea and one tiny carrot stick. Absolutely smothered in red, tangy, sugery, terrible…. tomato sauce.

But it was a win.

Four and a quarter years down the track, Westie and Mrs Westy are continuing our adventure, hoping we continue to challenge all three of our children, learn more than just what we have to, and expand not just our own horizons but the horizons of our children, too.

Hope to hear more from all of you who like to drop in and “like” my posts without leaving more to let me know what you think. If you have something to add to my writing, to what I know about Autism, being a father or husband, a coach to a junior AFL team, a cyclist or an IT Professional. I’d love to hear it. Because while I might be at my 100th post, that puzzle is far from complete.


With Sauce On That

My good mate Alan has launched a new food-focussed blog over at With Sauce On That?

With his knowledge of the Canberra food scene, and his fervent enjoyment of 4-square and other social media fueling his interest to go further – I really look forward to reading what he actually has to say in a meaningful way rather than the very wonderfully presented photos with one-liners I’ve been seeing from him on his Instagram feed.

One of Alans fantastic food-porn pictures

One of Alans fantastic food-porn pictures


Here’s to the …. friggen’ weekend

Oh My God.

So, it’s the weekend. Should be happy, right?

Happy to not be at work. But, life has it’s way of all the little details piling up when we could most do with some sort of break – this weekend being yet another example. It hasn’t taken much, just that it’s the kids first week back at school. I’m thinking that’s what has pushed Bec over the brink to coming down with some sort of lurgy and being crook as a dog.

Add to that our nine dogs, and three kids, and football…. and weight watchers… and a hubby (me) who is drive-in drive-out from work… well it’s probably incredible that she functions as well as she does.

Somewhere between last night, and right now, motivation has evaporated somewhat. I know there are things I’d love to discuss, butthey have left the premises for right now. So I’ll leave you with this final input from my youngest Westie.

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