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

Tag Archives: ubuntu

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.

Scammers:0, Westie:1

Something weird about Westie Central has been attracting apparently Indian or Pakistani telemareketting scammers like we’re the last target left before Rapture takes hold.
On a whim, I had the following conversation a few weeks ago:
(phone rings and I answer it)
Westie: Hello?
Scammer: Oh, hello. I’m ringing about your Windows computer.
Westie: Which windows computer would that be?
Scammer: Our system shows you have a Windows XP computer which is infected with a trojan virus.
Westie: I don’t have a Windows computer, I have a Linux computer.
Scammer: (sounding like a child whose toy has been taken away) Oh. Sorry for the interruption….

When I get these phone calls, I know they are scammers (who want to install a trojan horse program onto your computer so they can eg illegally obtain your banking details) and it doesn’t really bother me. I know they have probably just got a sequence of phone numbers they ring and a script to read from.
I know that if my computer is infected with a trojan horse, I’d know about it before some random call-centre operator on the other side of the world (unless of course they are the ones who put it there).

Mrs Westie is a different matter and there have been a few anxious conversations about this issue, and while the spammers annoy me… I don’t let it last much past the phone call.

However, they have pushed me to squeeze Windows XP to one side. It’s old, it’s almost out of maintenance, it’s scammer heaven on a stick. We’re almost to a point where by running it, you’re inviting scammers to steal your personal details – either from your web traffic or directly from your PC!

So I downloaded Ubuntu Natty Narwhal, and while Bec was at a friends place… it somehow got itself installed on the PC.

I will make one main comment: I don’t like the “Unity” interface. And my google-fu tells me, I’m not alone (“how do I remove it” being the first result for googling “natty narwhal unity interface”).

Once I’d put it back to what I was already used to from my net-book though, it’s fantastic.

So: if you have a Windows XP PC that is in need of an overhaul, and a memory stick… download Ubuntu. Give it a go (straight off the memory stick on most PC’s). And if you really like it, install it!

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