ImaWestie

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

Tag Archives: magpie

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.

The Rules

One benefit of Autism that I have come to lean on a fair bit is “rules.”
Generally, once our son knows what The Rules are for a given situation, he actually is quite good at following them. I see this as a consequence of “rigid application of routines.”
This has allowed me to give my son a fairly “long leash” in situations he is familiar with – when we are at the football with his brother and sister, or even, at the local pool.
Today, this fell down a little. And shock, horror, I was called on to actually supervise a seven year old boy.
The problem wasn’t so much the failing to follow the rules – in this instance a quite reasonable and significant saftety type rule – but due to his condition, the inability of the supervising staff to engage him to actually follow the rules. This coincided with me not really being motivated to sit around and supervise him having fun at a time when I was trying to actually achieve something for myself.

So what gave?

There was a consequence for both of us. Actually, all four – because his brother and sister were there – our time at the pool came to an abrupt end, even though I hadn’t done everything I wanted to do. Along with his ability to generally comply with rules, my son really does understand that not following “the rules” usually has consequences. So, with very little discussion, we left.

*sigh* as complaints about children with autism go, that’s a pretty lame effort. He really is coming ahead in leaps and bounds, and these Christmas holidays have been fantastic for him.

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.

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.

Christmas 2012

Taken from my profile on Instagram, tagged with #Christmas2012.

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Madness or mayhem? Time may tell.

Well it seems we are still here so unless that was a spiritual or emotional end of the world, they were wrong.
As has been stated, the Mayans seem to have successfully predicted the end of employment for a bunch of people I have been working with. I’m too tired to get over that quickly I think, but I should be fine by the time 2013 rolls around.

Today is the 22nd of December. A Saturday. Three days before Christmas. and I am taking one child diagnosed with Autism and his two siblings – one under assessment for Autism – to the shops.

Why?

Great question. There are a few answers.
Autism should not rule you put of experiences. It should not be an excuse to opt out of every experience you are not 100% equipped to deal with right now. But parents should be right there to support monitor and intervene.

On top of that. I’m time poor this side of Christmas. That is not my preference but comparing the certain money available last week with the uncertain money available next year it was not s difficult choice.

I will take some pics. There will be more to follow. I will celebrate my kids success. I may also mourn if it becomes too much.

Day in the Sun

Yesterday, my family went out to dinner to both celebrate Magpie’s birthday, and because after being away for so long I just wanted to.
We came home to a message that my nephew is in town and would like to catch up with his cousins. So today for the first time in a long time I went to a Sydney beach – at Coogee – in fact it was the first time I have been to a Sydney beach with my wife or kids!

We had a great day. Well, I did, and BTB Fan seemed to.

My nephew is having the type of career I was worried I may have when I was very young – driving agricultural equipment – but unlike me he is enjoying it and earning a pretty ok living (I drive plenty on my fathers farm).

It was really great to spend the day with him, and his girlfriend. I hope he left knowing how much his offer to spend his time with my family meant to me.

/Westie kicks the dirt…

Excuses?

Me? Yep, I got ’em.

This week, I will pull out the old, battered, “life got in the way” card. I’m not going to brag, but I will say I have just worked 13 days straight and some of them involved working more than 13 hours in a row. Several days, I finished work, drove home, went to bed, woke up and returned to work.

Today, I managed to buy my son his birthday present. This involved lining up at a very popular (because it’s cheap!) store in Sydney, and buying him a headset for the computer. He is hoping to make Minecraft themed videos, featuring his character doing whatever it is you do in Minecraft, commentated by him. Not bad, for a bloke who has just turned nine years old.

Tonight, we celebrated both me being in the same city as my family, and my sons birthday, by hitting a regular haunt. It was great, but I’m exhausted.

I’m sorry, that I have dropped the ball on my blog-a-day. I’m also going to say up front that it’s going to have a few more missed days between today and 31/12/12. I hope your own count-down to Christmas is going well – assuming of course that the Mayans were wrong, and we all get to celebrate Christmas 2012!

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