Fix Popping with Pulseaudio when Playing Audio After a Period of Silence

When I got all fancy and moved to the 5.x kernel and Pulseaudio 12.2, I had one big new problem: My sound card would make an ugly popping noise every time it started playing sound again. Very, very 90s.

Fortunately, this can be fixed. Thanks to hateball for this solution. Stick this in your ~/.config/pulse/default.pa:

.include /etc/pulse/default.pa
unload-module module-suspend-on-idle

And kill/restart pulseaudio with pulseaudio -k.

Stolen from the Arch wiki.

A Quick Look at openSUSE For Gaming

I’ve been trying SUSE as my main distribution and that’s something that hasn’t happened in my life since 1996. Even worse, this distro impressed me, a hardcore Debian nerd, quite a lot.

But why go distro hopping at all? Because Canonical very boldly decided to drop support for using 32-bit executables (and libraries) in Ubuntu starting as early as October 2019. That means that potentially thousands of games will no longer work, and it prompted Valve to drop support for Ubuntu in Steam. Valve is arguably the most important contributor to Linux gaming, so this is a big deal and a good enough reason to look at distros other than Ubuntu.

I had only switched to Ubuntu four months ago, so now it might be time to switch again.

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Recipe: Filled zucchini au gratin

I used to cook this a lot with someone and I’ve recently remembered it again because it’s a little time-intensive but very good. I never measure my things, so take the measurements with a grain of (haha) salt.

Note the lakes of juice and cheese fat. For you fatophobics: That’s the grease you won’t be eating, so all’s good.

Preparation time: 30 minutes. Cooking time: 30 – 40 minutes. Oven required

What you’ll need:

  • 2 – 3 medium-sized zucchini
  • 200 – 300 grams of cherry tomatoes
  • 20 – 30 grams of parmesan cheese, roughly grated (or vegan alternative, Daiya shreds, etc.)
  • 4 – 6 slices of goat cheese (or vegan alternative)
  • 4 cloves of fresh garlic, finely sliced. Not dried, those taste like arse. Alternatively, freeze-dried fresh garlic
  • 2 – 3 medium-sized onions, finely chopped
  • 2 – 3 peperoncini (hot chilli peppers), to taste
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano (flakes or powder)
  • 1 tbsp dried basil (flakes or powder)
  • 1 tbsp mild paprika powder (or 1 tsp hot paprika powder)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • A little pepper

Cut the zucchini lengthwise and hollow them out as best you can by scraping out the flesh using a sharp spoon. Make the zucchini walls as thin as possible without breaking them, so baking won’t take forever later. Keep the zucchini flesh and chop it into small pieces. Cut the cherry tomatoes in half. Chop the garlic finely. Grate the cheese(s).

Chop the onions into small bits. Heat olive oil to slightly less than medium heat. Add the onions, fry very slowly for 5 – 10 minutes without letting them get too brown or black.

Add the garlic, paprika powder, peperoncini, salt, pepper, oregano and basil. Mix with the onions for 30 seconds to make the flavors come out. Then add the zucchini flesh and cherry tomato halves. Raise heat to medium-high. Cook while stirring occasionaly until the tomatoes have broken down and the mixture has a thick, jammy texture.

Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Put the zucchini halves on a baking tray, on top of baking paper. Fill each halved zucchino roughly to the brim with the cooked mixture and sprinkle parmesan and goat cheese on top. Bake at 180ºC in the middle of the oven for 30 – 40 minutes. Keep an eye on the cheese, don’t let it get too dark.

Serve with dry white rice, rösti, pan-cooked potatoes, hash browns, that kind of stuff. Enjoy!

(License: CC-By-SA 3.0; Creative Commons share-alike 3.0. It’s not rocket science but I don’t want recipe crawling sites copying it without attribution.)

Final Fantasy XV: A charming catastrophe

None of the systems that Final Fantasy XV throws at you really work on their own. The fast travel system is not fast at all. The combat can be anything from confusing to floaty, from frustrating to disappointingly easy. The world that’s presented, a melange of present-day hyperrealism, sci-fi and fantasy, shouldn’t work at all. Leveling up can only be done while resting, magic spells need to be constructed from scratch before use and the controls and camera are sometimes terrible, sometimes passable. You’d think this game would be a huge disappointment, but strangely, it develops a rough charm that’s impossible to pin on any one thing.

TLDR: 7/10. Problematic but weirdly enthralling. Read on for the details. Minimal spoilers (character names and backstory) ahead.

Continue reading “Final Fantasy XV: A charming catastrophe”

Do you have a minute to talk about our lord and savior, Zen buddhism?

I’m (re)reading a lot of Brad Warner’s books during these holidays. If you ever feel like learning about no-bullshit hardcore Zen buddhism from a punk bass player and ordained Zen master (who hates that term), I can recommend: Sit Down and Shut Up, Don’t Be a Jerk and It Came From Beyond Zen, in that order. You can also try Hardcore Zen, the original work

Brad explains Zen itself and Eihei Dōgen’s Shōbōgenzō in plain English so you don’t have to spend 30 years studying classical Japanese. Dōgen was about 800 years ahead of his time, so reading him now is excellent timing

The books are short and if they pique your interest, you can always follow up with the very compact, unrelenting and and intense Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha by Daniel M. Ingram.

Brad’s stuff is at http://hardcorezen.info/store, Daniel’s book is free at http://integrateddaniel.info/book/ and I’m just a fan and not affiliated with either person.

The Zürich spirit of christmas

I went on a long walk in Zürich today, and by avoiding the busy streets of Bahnhofstrasse and Löwenstrasse, I accidentally passed through a lot of back alleys. Many of these contained windows into the rec rooms or staff cafés of the big hotel chains and the expensive stores that have their more glittery faces towards the shopping mile.

In those rooms I saw the people that make sure that everyone else gets into this wonderfully commercial christmas spirit: Cleaning staff, cooks, assistants, receptionists, salespeople. They looked completely exhausted and miserable. Not a smile to be seen far and wide. I’m sure they’re doing extra shifts to accomodate the madness that’s going on on the other side, and that’s where their last few smiles of the year go.

Every year I wonder when we will learn that this is a pointless exercise, a stress amplifier that serves no one except some retailers, some hotel chains, some restaurants. And even those are doing humanity a questionable service. Yes, you get to have your christmas dinner or your shopping “experience”, but the companies are grinding their staff to the bone during these weeks. Is it worth that just for a few bucks more?

I know it’s not as simple as that. Maybe some people are happy to get an extra christmas shift because they need the money. Maybe some restaurants couldn’t survive if it weren’t for some fat christmas dinners every year. But that is just arguing after the fact — if christmas had never reached this level of commercialization in the first place, no one would be losing as much from making it less commercial.

Christians are supposed to celebrate the birth of their prophet at this time. Pagans the winter solstice. Everyone else is supposed to not celebrate anything. Guess that didn’t work out so well, did it?

Takeaways from Eindhoven Metal Meeting 2018

The festival was great in theory, but also way too cramped, more so than usual. That’s why there aren’t many takeaways:

  • Necrophobic. I saw them live a few years ago but somehow didn’t realize they’re this interesting. Bought Mark of the Necrogram, but they have a sizeable backlog I now have to work on. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to be on Bandcamp so I had to buy from one of the evil empires (Google in this case).
  • Slægt. A sort of blackened heavy metal from Denmark. I don’t like all the songs but the style mixture is compelling. Slægt on Bandcamp.
  • Desaster. A thrash and black thing? Maybe. It’s a bit straightforward for the most part so I haven’t bought any albums just yet, but they had a very energetic stage presence so the show felt great. If they’re at some other festival or on a solo tour I’d definitely consider going.
  • Wiegedood. Can’t decide if it’s plain black metal or if they’ve mixed a harsher type of shoegaze into it. Think of a heavier Alcest song played on a slightly broken amp that you run too loudly.

Usually I find more bands at EMM, but this time it was almost impossible to watch any acts on the small stage because everything was so packed with people. This is a shame, as it’s the small stage that has the more underground stuff and I’ve discovered at least 10 groups there in the last two years.

Of course you can always watch some of the more interesting-sounding parts of the lineup on YouTube, but that’s so not the same. Oh, well.


Making Steam’s magic work when using a Dual Shock 4 controller

A few kernel versions (or Steam versions) ago, my Dual Shock 4 controller spontaneously stopped working in Steam. Big Picture mode said “no controller detected” and only games that had their own native DS4 support managed to still use it.

Looks like you need some udev rules to make sure all things are good. For my wired DS4v2 I stuck this:

SUBSYSTEM=="usb", ATTRS{idVendor}=="28de", MODE="0666"
KERNEL=="uinput", MODE="0660", GROUP="myusername", OPTIONS+="static_node=uinput"
KERNEL=="hidraw*", ATTRS{idVendor}=="054c", ATTRS{idProduct}=="09cc", MODE="0666"

into /etc/udev/rules.d/99-ds4.rules. And reloaded udev. Thanks Xard and others from Freenode’s #gamingonlinux for the pointers.

Getting rtl8814au USB sticks like the ASUS USB-AC88 to actually connect

If you’re forced to use newer and more bizarre USB wifi sticks that rely on the rtl8812au/rtl8814au chipset, you need to do two things:

  1. Compile the driver yourself, since most distros don’t include one
  2. Tell NetworkManager to stop randomizing MAC addresses for that device

You can get the updated source from diederikdehaas’ project on GitHub. The build instructions there are great and the driver integrates with DKMS. However, you won’t be able to connect because NetworkManager is scrambling your MAC address. To make it stop, add this to /etc/NetworkManager/NetworkManager.conf:

[device]
wifi.scan-rand-mac-address=no

And restart NetworkManager (systemctl restart NetworkManager on e.g. Debian 9). With MAC scrambling enabled, the interface came up for me but failed to authenticate.

The solution is from this issue on GitHub.

Something for the weekend, Week 31 2018

Haven’t done any of these in a while, but here goes:

  1. In NPR’s Hidden Brain podcast “Creating God“, social psychologist Azim Shariff explains how religious rituals and psychological manipulation by religions throughout the ages have an evolutionary origin and helped groups become more cohesive and thrive more than competing groups. What’s new here is that religious spread can be viewed like that of an organism under Darwinian rules, explaining much of what was previously unclear about how religions operate, what rituals accomplish, etc. The true functions of many of these rituals aren’t even obvious to the religious practitioners themselves (the researchers call this functional opacity).
  2. In Germany, utterly clueless police raided the offices of Zwiebelfreunde (onion friends), an association that supports Tor among other things, as well as the maker lab OpenLab in Augsburg. Just because they had a donation button supporting independent e-mail provider riseup.net. Press and experts are widely condemning the police operation, in which a 3D printed toy model of an atomic bomb (article in German) was confiscated for “causing of explosions”.

That was that. A very hot week 31 of a very hot year.