[x]Blackmoor Vituperative

Monday, 2016-03-28

Playing music into a Google Hangout

Filed under: Music,Podcast,Software,The Internet,Windows — bblackmoor @ 11:04

Here is how I play music (MP3 files) into a Google Hangout.

Hardware

Software

Setup

  1. Install Virtual Audio Cable. Don’t mess with the settings. Just install it.
  2. Run “Audio repeater (MME)”, which was installed by Virtual Audio Cable.
    1. Set “Wave in” to your headset microphone.
    2. Set “Wave out” to Line 1 (Virtual Audio cable).
    3. Set “Total buffer (ms)” to 100.
    4. Click “Start”.
  3. In the task icon area of the taskbar, right-click the speaker, and select “Recording Devices”.
    1. Right-click the headset microphone, and select “Set as Default Device”.
    2. Right-click the headset microphone, and select “Properties”.
    3. Under “Levels”, set to 80.
    4. Double-click Line 1. On the Listen tab, select “Listen to this device”.
    5. Also on the Listen tab, set “Playback through this device” to the headset.
  4. In the “Playback” tab of the Sound application.
    1. Right-click the headset, and select “Set as Default Device”.
  5. Run Chrome.
  6. In Chrome, go to Google Hangouts, and click “Video Call”.
  7. When the Hangouts window opens, click the gear icon in the upper right corner. On the General tab…
    1. Select the webcam for the “Video”.
    2. Select Line 1 for the “Microphone”.
    3. Select the headset for the “Speakers”.
  8. Open VLC Media Player.
    1. Add songs to the playlist.
    2. In the Audio menu, select Audio >> Audio Device >> Line 1 (Virtual Audio Cable).
  9. Invite people to join the hangout.
  10. Play songs in VLC. Other people in the Hangout will hear them. To avoid drowning myself out, I set the VLC output level to about 90%.

Recording

Here are the settings I used to record in Flashback Express.

  1. In the Tools >> Options menu, look in the Sound section.
  2. Under Sound Source, select “PC Speakers (what you hear)”.
  3. In the drop-down under “PC Speakers (what you hear)”, select the headset.
  4. Now, when recording in Flashback Express…
    1. Under “Record”, select “Window”.
    2. Check “Record Sound”.
  5. Still in Flashback Express, in the sound section, check “Record Sound”, and for the source select “Speakers (Logitech G930 Headset)”.

When done with the hangout

  1. Close the Hangout window.
  2. Click “Stop” in Audio Repeater, and close it.
  3. In the Windows “Sound” dialog, select “Recording Devices”.
    1. Double-click Line 1. On the Listen tab, un-select “Listen to this device”.
    2. Click “Okay”.
  4. Close VLC Media Player.

Friday, 2016-01-08

Expanding Ubuntu LVM in VCenter

Filed under: Linux — bblackmoor @ 16:40

These are notes for my own benefit, but I am sharing them publicly in case someone else might find them useful. The paths and volume names below are specific to my own situation, of course: yours will probably be different.

  • In VCenter, add an ISO for GParted to the data store.
  • Set the VM to boot to the bios.
  • Set the bios to boot from the CD drive.
  • Load the ISO in the CD drive of the VM.
  • In gparted, deactivate the partitions so they can be resized.
  • In gparted, expand the LVM partitions to use the additional 100 GB of file space.
  • Shut down the VM and remove the ISO from the VM.
  • Start up the VM, and in Ubuntu, run these commands:
  • sudo lvextend /dev/mapper/template-root /dev/sda5
  • sudo resize2fs /dev/mapper/template-root
  • Then reboot the VM one more time.

Monday, 2015-12-21

Firefox add-ons

Filed under: Software,The Internet — bblackmoor @ 09:28

Here is what I am using now in Firefox:

Friday, 2015-07-31

Windows 10 tips

Filed under: Windows — bblackmoor @ 15:56

These are notes for my own purposes, but they might be useful to others, as well. Note that it might be helpful for you to download the Windows 10 installation media yourself, rather than waiting for Microsoft to send it to you

  1. Re-install video drivers and mouse drivers
    I had weird problems until I did this. Make sure you get the newest drivers.
  2. Enable Privacy
  3. Turn on System Protection
    1. Open a File Explorer window
    2. Right-click This PC and choose Properties
    3. Select System Protection in the left pane
    4. Select C: drive in the dialog box that opens
    5. Click the Configure button
    6. Select “Turn on system protection” option
    7. Set disk space usage to around 1.5 GB.
  4. Move the Taskbar
    Move the Taskbar to the left side of the screen. With a widescreen monitor (which any new computer will have), it makes much more sense to waste a small strip on the left than a strip that runs all the way across the bottom of the screen, making a narrow display area even narrower.
  5. Modify Start Menu
    1. Open the Start Menu, right click each pane, and select “Unpin from Start” (optionally, keep the Weather pane, but open it up and set the correct location)
    2. Unpin the Edge and Store icons from the taskbar
    3. Right-click the taskbar and hide the Search and Task View icons from the taskbar
  6. Clean Up Programs
    1. Open the Start Menu, click Settings >> System >> Apps & Features
    2. Sort by name
    3. Uninstall…
      • Get Office
      • Get Skype
      • Microsoft Solitaire Collection
  7. Install KeyTweak and remap the Caps Lock key to Left Shift
  8. Install Ditto clipboard manager
  9. Install Search Everything
  10. Customize Windows Explorer
    1. Customize Quick Access Toolbar
      This is a small drop-down arrow at the top of Windows Explorer.
      Select “Show below the Ribbon”
    2. Customize Options
      Click “View” button on the Ribbon, click the “Options” button, and select “Change folder and search options”. I am only noting changes from the default settings.

      1. General
        • Open File Explorer to: This PC
        • Show recently used files in Quick Access: unchecked
        • Show recently used folders in Quick Access: unchecked
      2. View
        • Always show menus: checked
        • Display the full path in the title bar: checked
        • Hidden files and folders: Show hidden files, folders, and drives
        • Hide empty drives: not checked
        • Hide extensions for known file types: not checked (this is the most idiotic option ever)
        • Hide folder merge conflicts: not checked
        • Hide protected operating system files: not checked
        • Restore previous folder windows at logon: checked
        • Expand to open folder: checked
        • Show libraries: checked
        • Click the “Apply To Folders” button, and click OK
    3. Show Libraries in Navigation Pane
    4. Add a Take Ownership context menu
    5. Remove Homegroup link from the Explorer navigation pane (may cause a hard-to-fix file/folder rename bug)
    6. Remove the user folder from the Explorer navigation pane. (may cause a hard-to-fix file/folder rename bug)
  11. Install AquaSnap
  12. Install Winaero Tweaker
    The settings below are only the changes from the default.

    1. Behavior
      • Disable AeroShake: Checked
      • Disable AeroSnap: Checked
      • Disable App Lookup In Store: Checked
    2. File Explorer
      • Customize This PC Folders: remove all
      • Disable “- Shortcut” Text: checked
      • Drive Letters: Drive Letters Before Labels
  13. Install Bins
    It lets you group pinned icons on the Windows 10 taskbar.
  14. If you use Photoshop, install SageThumbs
    It’s an open source Windows shell extension allowing you to see thumbnails of Photoshop files.
  15. Disable and remove OneDrive
  16. If you use DropBox, remove DropBox link from the Explorer navigation pane
  17. If you use DropBox, pin the DropBox folder to Quick Access
  18. Install Q-Dir
    Despite the changes I made above, I still found the default Windows File Explorer frustrating. I tried a number of alternate file managers, including Explorer++, FreeCommander, and XYplorer. Q-Dir met my needs better than anything else I tried.

Now that you have done all of that, there are a few essential applications you should consider installing:

  1. 7-Zip
  2. Bins (it costs $5.00, but I think it’s worth it
  3. Bulk Rename Utility
  4. Firefox You might also consider these addons:
  5. FontExpert (It costs money, but if you work with fonts a great deal, it is worth it.) When you put fonts into groups, make sure you create shortcuts, rather than copying the font files. (Note: FontExpert 2016 has removed a crucial font group feature. Stay with FontExpert 2015 until that feature is restored.)
  6. Irfanview and the Irfanview plugins (see the note below about file associations)
  7. Ninite Updater
  8. Notepad++
  9. SmartDefrag
  10. Start10 (it costs $5.00, but I think it’s worth it
  11. VLC media player (see the note below about file associations)

So about those file associations…

As of January 2018, Microsoft has made changing file associations in Windows 10 ridiculously difficult — Apple levels of difficult (“Apple: we make simple things complicated, and complicated things impossible”). This article at Tech For Luddites goes into more detail, but the short version is that you need to run a command prompt window as “administrator”, then run this command:

control /name Microsoft.DefaultPrograms /page pageFileAssoc

Then go down the list and laboriously change each individual extension one by one.

Yes, it’s fucking ridiculous.

Monday, 2015-07-20

Self awareness in machines

Filed under: Society,Technology — bblackmoor @ 09:01

How long do you think it will take for us to get from this

To this

Thursday, 2015-03-05

Asus RT-AC87R router port forwarding stops working

Filed under: Technology — bblackmoor @ 07:58

I was having a problem with my home network. I have a static IP address from my ISP, and I have that IP address mapped to a domain name through DynDNS. Yet, periodically, I would discover that the network was no longer accessible.

Initially, I thought it was due to a recent server upgrade, and that I had my firewall settings or selinux settings wrong. But those were correct. I looked at the port forwarding settings in the router (Advanced Settings >> WAN >> Virtual Server / Port Forwarding), and those seemed correct, too. On a lark, I clicked the “Apply” button on the port forward settings page in the router’s administration screen, and suddenly the network was externally accessible again.

A few hours later, it happened again. This time, I logged into the router’s port forwarding screen and clicked “Apply”. It worked. Then again, this morning, it happened again.

A great deal of searching later, I have discovered that there is a bug in the Asus RT-AC87R router port forwarding — it simply stops working from time to time. Why, I do not know. I have the most recent firmware, so there is no fix to be found there. The only way to prevent this from happening appears to be by disabling the “NAT Acceleration” (which is called “Hardware Acceleration” in some routers): go to Advanced Settings >> LAN >> Switch Control >> NAT Acceleration, and set it to “Disable”.

This also applies to the Asus RT-AC87U router (which is the same router in slightly different packaging).

Friday, 2015-01-23

Do not stretch 4:3 images to fit 16:9 screens

Filed under: Technology,Television — bblackmoor @ 09:15

I was at a restaurant once, and the widescreen TVs were set to non-widescreen stations, with the image squashed vertically (or stretched horizontally, potayto potahto) to fit. That was bad enough. But then the show itself had a person standing in front of a TV (it was some kind of “news” show or something), and THAT TV was a widescreen TV showing a squashed 4:3 image.

How can anyone not notice how wrong this is?

WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS? STOP DOING IT!

Do not stretch 4:3 images to fit 16:9 screens

Friday, 2014-10-10

What is “gamergate”?

Filed under: Gaming,Journalism,Society,The Internet — bblackmoor @ 16:36

Generally speaking, I avoid posting anything controversial here on my blog; despite the title, I prefer to focus on the positive. However, I have decided to make an exception, regarding the hate campaign terrorist group known as “gamergate”. Have you seen the term “gamergate” (or “‪#‎gamergate‬”), and wondered what it is? Here it is, in a nutshell:

A handful of unrepentant assholes who get a kick out of stirring up controversy (they may not even believe what they say — that’s not important to them, they just like “stirring the pot”) organized a harassment campaign against a number of women journalists. A larger number of socially maladjusted idiots have joined the campaign, because they are miserable, gullible creatures. The name of this harassment campaign is “gamergate” (although “gamerhate” would be a more accurate name). “Gamergate” comes from the same cretins who brought you “bikini bridge“, “ebola-chan“, and any number of other manufactured controversies that I hope you have been too smart to pay attention to.

Pretty much every argument you hear in favor of “gamergate” is either a red herring or a bald-faced lie. It’s not a real controversy: it’s simply a hate campaign a terrorist group created by malicious idiots, and anyone who sincerely thinks “gamergate” has any value is a pathetic loser who deserves to be pitied and then ignored.

If you make death or rape threats against someone for expressing an opinion that’s different from yours, or if you concoct ludicrous conspiracy theories about in an attempt to discredit them (instead of saying, you know, “I don’t agree with you. Here’s why…”, or — and here’s a novel idea — simply ignoring them), there is something seriously wrong with you. Seek help.

2014-10-19:: Personally, I think it’s gotten to the point where we need to start treating “gamergate” like any other terrorist group: don’t engage them (it only encourages them), deny them a soapbox for their toxic views, and report their crimes to the police.

2014-10-21: Chris Kluwe doesn’t mince words.

Saturday, 2014-05-24

Campaign Cartographer Tutorials by Joe Sweeney

Filed under: Gaming,Software — bblackmoor @ 12:33

Campaign CartographerI purchased Campaign Cartographer years ago, and have purchased many of the Annuals and add-ons from ProFantasy, yet I have never made the time to actually learn to use the program. I intend to change that. This is a list of tutorials by Joe Sweeney. Unfortunately, YouTube makes it difficult to view these tutorials in order, so I have compiled this list for my own reference. This list is based on a blog post by Mike Summers.

Setting Up Your Mapping Environment

Note 1: When you install Campaign Cartographer, right click on CC3Setup.exe and choose Run as administrator (don’t just use an Admin account).

Note 2: Do not install Campaign cartographer under “Program Files” or “Program Files (x86)”. Doing so will make it more difficult to add or modify symbol libraries later. I suggest that you install CC3 under “C:\Profantasy\CC3\”.

Part 1: Installation of CC3 and patches [2009-09-22]
Part 2: Installing DD3 [2009-09-22]
Part 3a: Installing Legacy CC2 add-ons to CC3 [2009-09-24] (superseded by Cosmographer 3)
Part 3b: Installing the CSUAC files [2009-12-17] (superseded by these instructions)

Overland Mapping with Campaign Cartographer

Part A: Introduction [2008-09-15]
Part B: New Maps and Creating Land [2008-11-02]
Part C: Contours [2008-11-02]
Part D: Automate Artistic Talents with Sheets [2008-11-02]
Part E: Adding Mountains with the Symbols Function [2008-11-02]
Part F: Adding Rivers [2008-11-02]
Part G: Vegetation [2008-11-02]
Part H: Rivers using Sheets and Effects [2008-11-02]
Part I: Structures using Symbols [2008-11-02]
Part J1: Text [2008-11-04]
Part J2: Text [2008-11-04]
Part K: Borders and Political Symbols [2008-11-04]
Part L: Handout Maps [2008-11-04]
Part M: Handout Maps, part 2 [2008-11-04]
Part N: Finishing Up [2008-11-04]

Mapping an Entire Fantasy World with Fractal Terrains and Campaign Cartographer

Part 1: The Basics [2010-04-05]
Part 2: Outputting Multiple Maps at Different Levels of Scale [2010-07-26]
Part 3: Customizing Exported Maps [2010-08-02]

Dungeon Mapping with Dungeon Designer

Tutorial 1a: Basics [2008-11-04]
Tutorial 1b: Basics [2008-11-04]
Tutorial 1c: Basics [2008-11-04]
Tutorial 2a: Making a Battlemap [2008-12-02]
Tutorial 2b: Making a Battlemap [2008-12-02]
Tutorial 3a: Advanced Techniques [2009-01-12]
Tutorial 3b: Advanced Techniques [2009-01-13]
Tutorial 3c: Advanced Techniques [2009-01-13]
Tutorial 3d: Advanced Techniques [2010-01-31]
Mapping Dungeons, Part 1 [2013-08-18]
Mapping Dungeons, Part 2: Traps and Secret Rooms [2013-08-19]
Mapping Dungeons, Part 3: Grids [2013-08-20]

Battle Tiles

Essentials Part 1 (The New Templates) [2009-12-07]
Essentials Part 2 (Finishing Your First Room) [2009-12-07]
Essentials Part 3 (Printing) [2009-12-07]
The Crypt – Part 1 (The Entrance & Multipoly Tool) [2009-12-09]
The Crypt – Part 2 (Inner Walls & Adding Symbols) [2009-12-09]
The Crypt – Part 3 (Complex Room with Curved Alcoves) [2009-12-09]
The Crypt – Part 4 (Manually Drawing Walls) [2009-12-10]
The Crypt – Part 5 (Creating Secret Layers) [2009-12-10]
The Crypt – Part 6 (Last Two Rooms & Putting it All Together) [2009-12-10]
Raised Floors [2009-12-13]

Old School D&D Mapping

Part 1 [2013-02-15]
Part 2: Control Points [2013-02-20]
Part 3: Varicolor [2013-02-26]
Part 4: Exporting a Symbol Catalog [2013-02-27]
Part 5: Using Your New Symbols [2013-03-04]
Part 6: Creating Mapping Tools [2013-03-19]
Part 7: Create a Tool That Creates Floors and Walls [2013-03-20]
Part 8: Automating Grids [2013-04-04]

Starship Design and Mapping using Campaign Cartographer and Cosmographer

Part 1 [2010-12-26]
Part 2 [2010-12-26]

Star System Maps using Campaign Cartographer and Cosmographer

Part 1 [2011-01-15]
Part 2 [2011-01-15]
Part 3 [2011-01-16]
High-Space System Mapping Tutorial [2013-08-06]

High Space Battlemaps

Part 1: Creating A Guide Map [2012-06-19]
Part 2: Mapping the Command Deck [2012-06-19]
Part 3: Mapping The Bridge [2012-06-19]
Part 4: Printing and Outputting Maps for Play [2012-06-19]

Symbol Management

Changing the Size of Symbols [2010-03-31]
Creating custom symbol catalogs from PNG files [2012-06-01]
Attaching custom symbol catalogs to mapping buttons in Campaign Cartographer [2012-06-01]
Importing PNG files [2013-07-10]

Techniques

Aligning side view and floor plans [2013-01-26]
Understanding Layers and Sheets in Campaign Cartographer [2013-03-07]

Mapping Master Class for Campaign Cartographer

Sheets and Effects, Part 1 [2010-12-31]
Sheets and Effects, Part 2 [2011-01-01]
Sheets and Effects, Part 3 [2011-01-12]
Sheets and Effects, Part 4 [2011-01-12]
Sheets and Effects, Part 5 [2011-01-13]
Sheets and Effects, Part 6 [2011-01-13]

Speed Mapping

Creating an Sino-Block Orbital [2013-03-06]
Treasure Map [2014-01-22]
Into the Remnant [2014-01-26]
Creating a draft Dieselpunk Star Map [2014-01-27]
Creating a Space Station Construction Symbol Library [2014-01-31]

Monday, 2014-03-03

Ruminations on web design and system administration

Filed under: Programming,Work — bblackmoor @ 10:18

Now that the Kickstarter is over, I can go back to talking about other things. For example, how happy I am that I am no longer working in web design. The work I would like to do, in decreasing order of preference, is:

  • system administration
  • database administration
  • back-end programming (i.e., not Javascript)
  • project management
  • front end programming (i.e., Javascript)
  • web design

There are reasons why web design is at the bottom of the list. The biggest one is that the people who pay to have that done are too often operating under the false assumption that they know how to do it, and that they just need someone else to do the grunt work of actually using the software. Oatmeal has a pretty funny cartoon on what that’s like for a web designer.

That’s an exaggeration, of course. I am lucky that back when I did web design as my primary profession, I very rarely had clients quite that clueless. A more frequent occurrence was the “we need to Do Something” problem. Smashing Magazine has a pretty decent article on that, but if you have been a user of YahooGroups or FaceBook for any length of time, you have seen that phenomenon in action.

System administration is at the top of the list for even better reasons. For one thing, I simply enjoy it. I like making things work. It’s like working on a car and getting it to run smoothly, but you don’t bang your knuckles or get your hands dirty. Also, success is generally objective: if the system works, that’s success. None of the “that color is too aggressive” type feedback you get when doing web design (I actually had a client say that phrase to me). Of course, there are some subjective measurements of success, even in system administration. For example, you can continue throwing time and money at a database server to increase performance, and the point at which the performance is good enough is a subjective call. Even so, generally speaking, the line between “working” and “not working” is pretty clear. I like that.

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