ImaWestie

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

Tag Archives: kids

Ubuntu and Logitech: More of a match than the forums suggest

Magpie turned 9 in December 2012.

He had one real request for a birthday present: headphones with a microphone, so he could both use the computer in the lounge room without causing disturbance, and also, so he could record voiceovers on videos he was uploading to YouTube.

Logitech H600 wireless headset with integrated microphone

 

With a bit of research… I decided on a Logitech H600 wireless headset. Because, in what I searched for… it seemed that they should work OK with Ubuntu.

I’m very unhappy with that result.

The best I could find on a wide range of Ubunut forums, was unclear information about reported problems. With very little to say “Yay! It worked!

That is the main reason for this post, really – to say that my sons Logitech H600 headset with headphones and microphone, work fine with Ubuntu 12.10 Quantal Quetzal. The only drama being, Logitech seem to have not yet done anything about a utility to allow pairing of the headset with the universal reciever.

I am considering having a bit of a fiddle with both a virtual machine which I already have on the Ubuntu PC, that runs Windows XP, and simply trying to use the pairing utility with WINE. I will have a fiddle with both of those options over the next week, and write another entry about my success or otherwise.

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.

Success in 2013

This year the 21st century becomes a teenager.

The teens are typically troubling times in most of our lives, with a lot of change and that’s how I’m feeling at this point. I’ve turned 40, and I’m looking at a year ahead with some uncertainty about how I will be able to measure my success.

I have some aspirations, but if I look closely at them they are routes to success not success in themselves. I need to look more closely at why I want these things, and identify what it is about them that marks them as signs of success. Many of the things I am striving for are intangible, which exacerbates my issue.

The whole SMART concept seems to be heading out of vogue

Maybe. Maybe my success will be achieved when I can drop the whole SMART attitude to my personal life? It seems to result in more concrete results, results that I know when I have achieved, results which I can help my family to celebrate.

I am very outcome focussed in my career. I really enjoy jobs where I have targets identified and where I can look to some kind of scorecard and confirm that “yes, I’m doing my job.” Yet, it seems I may be on a path to deviate away from that kind of work at the moment.

So what might be the outcomes rather than the indicators of success for the Westies for 2013?

  • Continued increase in the range of situations where Bob the Builder Fan can resolve the issue through verbal communication
  • Complete the assessment process for Magpie, to either confirm there is a need for a treatment program… or not?
  • Ensure that Princess P completes primary school ready for high school – both intellecutally AND emotionally. Given that she will be amongst the youngest students in Year 7 at the start of 2013.
  • Support Bec through training, work experience, volunteer work, so that at the end of 2013 she has a clearer understanding of what her future direction should be
  • Have a house that is market ready. But given what’s across the road, whatever I do to my own house might not mean I have a great circumstance to sell it in (honestly, clik that link and see on A Current Affair what I have across the road from my house).
  • For myself… be in a job which is covering my cost of living – with a better idea of what that means if it is another contract role – with a suitable buffer to allow relocating my family out of this suburb if that’s what makes sense in 10 months time.
  • And again for myself, have committed to commencing (if not completed) additional study which will help my future career. At this stage, Business Analyst or Project Manager certification, or possibly an MBA.

I think those things are still specific enough, without being so carved in stone that there is no room for an alternative solution I haven’t considered yet.

Food for future thought.

New Years 2013

Resolutions for 2013.

  • Become less unfit. This is not “become super fit.”
  • Drink less, and have more alcohol free days.
  • Work toward relocating my family to a new city in time for school year starting in 2014.

That’s it.

PS. Yes, this is last night’s blog.

Stretching

Lizzie… on one of her cleaner moments!

Today was a bit of a big one at Westie Central. For the first day since I came home from working in Canberra, Bec had to work, leaving me with all three kids all at once. Which of course is a Big Deal for a dad, even though I’m one of the first to say if they are my kids it’s parenting not babysitting.

There has been far too much electronic time happening in our place since Christmas (or even since Magpie’s birthday). Yesterday I thought that Bec’s return to work was a perfect opportunity to do something about that. So the kids were put on notice that once I returned from my own run, they would be coming with me for a run. So I ran my lap of the suburb, did a few chores and we hit the pavement.

There is a very convenient landmark which is almost exactly 1km from our front gate, which is right on the path of a running track. So all of us headed for that landmark (it’s a bridge), me leading he way with BTB Fan and the dogs. Given the dogs had already finished about 8km, Howie was still eager to go while Lizzie was a bit over it. Yet in only a small fraction longer a time than my standard time, there I was at that bridge with BTB Fan and two dogs.

About a minute later up came Princess P.

Several minutes later again… Magpie finally staggered up. Grumbling about not being at home.
My understanding is the run home was quicker by all parties – except me, who at this point was pushing 10km for the day, and had mown the lawn as well…

Hitting the pool

Later we headed off to the pool. Both Magpie and Princess P had been told point blank that they would be requried to swim a lap of the full size outdoor pool, because with all the pool time they have had they have spent none of it improving their swimming. I take responsibility for that, but I will reqiure them to put some effort into improving the situation in my own way, if they don’t fix it themselves.

This was accomodated quite readily by Princess P. But somewhere it seems the message had not filtered all the way into Magpie’s head.

As a result… he was less prepared than I had thought he was.

So I had my first in-pool meltdown. In front of some of his school friends, as well as a lifeguard…. Which ended with him swimming his first ever lap of the Olympic pool, back-stroke. Well done mate! At which point I told him that he needed to do it “freestyle” (meaing “front crawl“), and we had another meltdown. In the pool. But again, I perservered, and he swum the lap in the stroke I expected him to use, albeit freaking out and grabbing the lane rope every three to ten strokes.

At the end of it all, he was glad he’d done it, though.

Later, I went through much the same with my littlest Westie, “swimming” (with me supporting his hips) two lengths of the outdoor childrens pool.

Not the best trip to the pool for us. We had been going so well before Christmas, too, but with our routine broken… it was as good an opportunity to establish the routine I need these kids to follow, if they want me to take them to the pool every day while it’s hot and I’m not working.

Stretching our boundaries will bring some growth. One way or another.

Now on YouTube – BestieBest3000

BestieBest3000Everyone who follows my blog.

I would absolutely LOVE it… as would my son… if you could pop over to youtube and check out BestieBest3000. This is the work of my son Magpie, who turned nine years old only a few days ago.

Working on quite a low spec PC running Ubuntu, he has been working out how to do a wide range of tasks. How to find out what version of Java he has, so he can work out how to install Minecraft in user space.

What software he needs, to record screen movies.

How to then record what he does on the screen, so once he works something out he has his own video tutorial to watch until he can remember how to do it more easily.

How to upload his own tutorials to youtube, so he can share them!

I’m really proud of what he has done. So far it’s pretty simple videos… but I have real thoughts that with the way he is going with the latest, he is going to come up with some real surprises sometime soon.

Success: It’s academic

Tonights post is dedicated to Magpie, who today was presented with an Academic Achievement award. While his classmates recieved awards dedicated to single disciplines such as reading and maths, Magpie’s award was for more generic “Academic Achievement.”

This is indicative of his broadly rounded abilities, and his ability to pick up and run with any topic – even the ones that may not be so interesting to him. It’s great that he is being recognised and rewarded for his efforts.

So, well done to Magpie! Great work.

You want a WHOLE WEEK?

Oops. I have missed a day, it seems, so I am playing catch-up.

My week… for my own sanity, I will start on a Sunday afternoon. Which seems to me about the time my new week commences!

Sunday PM

Gather all my clean laundry, pack my bag, pack the car, have dinner, say goodnight to the kids, have a bath and a shave, say goodnight to my wife and go to bed. That generally fills in about four hours quite thoroughly!

Monday

Wake at 4 am. Eat without waking anyone if I can manage it. Tuck all the kids back into bed, and give them a last cuddle and kiss before I hit the road for the week. Go back upstairs, brush teeth, get dressed, kiss my wife and jump in the car.

Drive half way or so to Canberra, stop for a coffee, then drive the rest of the way to be at work before 8:30.

Have lunch with Alan, then return to work till 5 or 6pm.

Go to my “home away from home” and unload the car for the week, before having dinner and spending some time online. Generally, be in bed… just before midnight, for usually a 20-hour Monday. Life’s grand!

Tuesday

Be up, showered, eat, and on my way to work… sometime before 8:00 am, but often before 6:40am.

Get to the office, have a coffee, and start work. Work consists of hassling people about what software does, or does not, work with Windows 7, and why they should be using software that is easier to make work. It’s quite repetitive, and my colleagues and I seem to keep having groundhog day moments every week or so.

Knock off work sometime before 6:30 pm, before heading “home” for dinner. Hopefully, catch up with Bec online and be in bed before 11 pm.

Wednesday and Thursday: Often, much like Tuesday. It’s normal for me to eat out at least one of these nights, often with Alan, sometimes with the Aunty I live with while I’m in Canberra.

Friday

Get up before 6:30 am, have breakfast, pack my bags and car, head to work hoping to be there by 7:00 am.

Work on Friday inevitably ends up being “chase up some absolutely critical things that won’t actually change the world if they aren’t done before Monday, but it’s essential you get it done TODAY.”

Hopefully, I’ve already worked 40 hours by the time I arrive at work on Friday. So by lunch-time, I can jump in the car, grab some lunch and hit the road for Sydney. I often have to work till 3 or 4 pm, though.

On the way home, I almost always check in at a roadhouse for a coffee and to break the trip. Hopefully I am home by 8pm, in time for dinner with the kids, and in bed by 10pm.

Saturday

The least structured day of my week. Hopefully I get to sleep in, while Bec goes to a regular meeting – assuming the kids stay quiet. I will catch up with some of the things I can’t do around the home while I’m away, and hopefully get the kids involved. Ideally we will get out of the house on bikes, for a walk, to some organised sport, or for a swim.Β  Bec will usually cook something pretty wonderful on Saturday night, and Magpie will often cook sausages for lunch. It’s just “his thing“!

Sunday

Sunday morning I will again attempt to sleep in. Something will need to be caught up on that wasn’t finished the day before. Before I know it, it will be lunch time, and I’m back on the whirlwind for another week.

The Angry Birds Are Angry!

Things have taken a bit of a turnaround at Westie Central (it was what I’d called our house for years before Bec stole the name).

The Angry Birds have leaped from the computer and tablet screen into the Real World. They have bought with them a whole bunch of events, behaviors and activities:

  • seeking to engage other members of the family into the game
  • being less upset to be told that the computer needs to be turned off
  • demonstration of solving problems and actually building things with real world objects – that are ad-hoc and not part of a Thomas the Tank Engine set
  • speech as a part of play. This includes both echolalic phrases like “the angry birds are angry” and spouting out bits and bobs in an unprompted manner like “get the green pig

The most exciting part of all this, is that it has involved interactive play with both his brother and sister, and even mum or dad if we are able to get involved. It is quite an exciting development, and that we are excited about this development in a seven year old boy is a story in itself. His Autism has been persuasive throughout his entire social, communication and emotional development, although thankfully it has (so far) had only limited impact on his physicality and even his intellectual growth – although his ability to demonstrate his intellectual capability seems to be very poorly identified or harnessed.

Forget about all that though. Let’s just celebrate his interaction with his brother and sister!

Parallel play when it’s BTBFan and Magpie gives way to interactive play with Princess P, Westie or Bec

My wonderful weekend

I haven’t talked about it much here, but I’m a pretty keen gardener. I enjoy knowing that I can start something, work toward improving it over a long time, see it grow and enjoy it.
Generally my form of gardening is quite inexpensive. I propagate my own plants, or grow from seed. My main cost is “time” and generally it is the time I spend relaxing possibly with one or more of the kids, or the dogs.

Over the weekend, while gardening, I was approached and asked if I wished to be rid of some palm trees which really dominated my front garden. As it so happened, the answer was yes – and having sold my ute recently I also had the money hanging around to go toward the expense.

Here are the photos of the progress.

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I am hoping that without these trees absorbing every drop of moisture from my garden, the plants I have been attempting to establish will be free to really get established.

After a hard day “supervising” this work (they really needed me to keep an eye on them, right? πŸ˜‰ ), I came inside to see Bob the Builder Fan and Princess P building Angry Birds structures.

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