Wednesday, May 9, 2012

DVD drive unable to read discs

We hadn't used the DVD drive on our computer for a while (likely since an Ubuntu upgrade) and discovered recently that it was unable to read discs. I was able to find this discussion, which pointed out that Ubuntu 11.10 has a problem reading discs if the DVD drive is configured as master. I opened up the computer and found that there was no way to change the master/slave setting of the drive, since it is a SATA drive. Booting back into the BIOS settings, though, I found that the DVD drive was before the hard drive in the list of SATA devices. I opened the case back up and plugged the hard drive into the SATA 1 connector on the motherboard. Booted back up and the DVD was instantly recognized. Success!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Re-recognizing an internal SD card reader

Last week I accidentally hit the "Safely Remove Drive" option instead of the "Eject Disk" option for my internal SD card reader in Ubuntu. After doing this, I could not get the computer to show the card reader, even after following forum advice to unload and reload modules and at last resorting to a reboot.
I recently picked up a cheap used usb video-in device, and when trying to get it to work in Ubuntu I tried running lsusb to find out if the device was recognized. lsusb took a long time to run, and when I checked dmesg I saw a number of errors of the form
device descriptor read/64, error -110
Searching on Google turned up this page, where users reported that shutting down and unplugging the system fixed their problem. I gave it a try, and sure enough it worked. I'm posting this because I didn't see anyone suggest this fix for the problem caused by using "Safely Remove Drive". Hopefully someone else with the same problem can find the solution here.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Segfault write-up

I finally got around to documenting some info about my homemade balancing scooter. See here.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Watching LDS General Conference on the Nintendo Wii (and other devices)

This weekend is one of the biannual General Conferences of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the LDS or Mormon Church). It's a chance for us to hear timely counsel from the inspired leaders of our Church, including men we believe to be God's prophets.

We have an Nintendo Wii hooked up to our TV, so I wanted to find a way to watch General Conference through it. The Church's website has a streaming video player, as well as a link to a low-resolution mms stream. I have WiiMC installed on our Wii, and the low-res stream works in it, but has a bit of lag and is low-res (not that it matters that much when you're just listening to people talk). After some poking, though, I found the source of the video in the streaming player. The current stream (Saturday morning session, October 2011) is at I'll update this today and tomorrow if it changes.

I expect that this url will work with other devices, e.g. XBMC on the Xbox, the PS3, and possibly various set-top boxes.

Update: Someone emailed me to ask how to actually use these urls with WiiMC. Here' s the answer.
Guess I kind of left out the most important part, huh? Sorry about that. Assuming you installed WiiMC onto your Wii's SD card, just pop out the card and put it in your computer. Open the file apps/wiimc/onlinemedia.xml in a text editor. Put in a line like
<link name="Saturday AM" addr="" />

where the addr field is the url.

Update: I was having problems with WiiMC, so I switched to Mplayer CE. Open menu.conf and put the line
<e name="LDS General Conference" ok="loadfile mms://"/>

<cmdlist name="userdef" title="User-defined" ptr="<>" >
<e name="../" ok="menu cancel"/>

Update: Saturday afternoon (October 2011) -

Update (29 Mar 2012): I've noticed that this post has had a lot of traffic over the past few days. I'll get new stream urls up ASAP on Saturday.
Update: Saturday morning (March/April 2012) - mms://
It looks like this will work for the whole weekend, but I'll update here if there are any changes.

Update: October 2012 - It looks like the media link is now posted on the Church website.  Go to and copy the link for Windows Media in your language of choice.   

Monday, September 12, 2011

Indic script convertor

I found this a while back and it has taken me a while to find it again the few times I've wanted to use it, so I'm going to post about it here. It's an online tool that converts between a number of Indic scripts, including Thai and Khmer.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Map of LDS Missions

I couldn't find a good map of the missions of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (also known as the LDS or Mormon Church), so I made one. A .kmz file (for use in Google Earth, etc.) is here, and you can view it in Google Maps here. The data was generated from an unofficial list on the LDS Mission Network website. The markers are in the city for which the mission is named, not at the location of the mission office.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Stuff white people like

Just in case you haven't seen this already, I thought I'd share. Michelle and I watched it four times yesterday, and the kiddo thought it was awesome.