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Failures and Successes of Linux-based Development

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Review/Rant of (poorly constructed) Sony MDR-EX300 Headphones

Posted by linuxhappy on June 1, 2010

A bit of a rant instead of the normal linux talk… but bottom line. Never, ever, ever, ever purchase Sony products– unless you like to waste money.

I bought the Sony MDR-Ex300 professional line headphones in Sept 2009, and one of the ear-buds stopped outputting sound in early May 2010. I babied these headphones — I always kept them in the case when not in use, and used them SOLELY for my professional work. Sony only carries a 90 day limited warranty on these headphones (and probably the rest of their headphones). I talked to their CSR and after asking them to replace it, they were only able to offer me EITHER:
1. To cover 50% of the cost of a refurb ($25 bucks)
2. $49 dollars for a replacement for a similar model.

I didn’t think it made sense to give them more money to give me yet another defective, poorly made, super flimsy product. I passed on their offer and filed a complaint instead. It’s not the money– 25 bucks is half a tank of gas these days– It’s the principle– Sony should make things right without burdening the consumer. IMO– Sony used to be a name you could trust for reliability and quality– today.. not at all!

I explicitly pointed out the following to the CSR, but they still wouldn’t budge.

1. I did not abuse these headphones. I always used the case included with this product– and had a separate set of headphones for exercising!
2. Why is it only a 90 day limited warranty — is this because the headphones are only suppose to last for 90 days? The headphones that I (ab)use when I exercise still work fine and I got them at the same time I got the MDR-EX300’s
3. Other companies have better warranties — Bose (1 year), Klipsch (2 years).
4. Professional grade headphones should mean that it’s a professional product– Not some super cheap-o product that breaks upon normal use!

I will never purchase another Sony product ever again, and ban all of my clients from using any of their products. The Sony company has been progressively getting worst over the years. It’s one thing to sell a faulty product (sure, everyone makes mistakes), but a company like Sony should go out of their way to correct things when things aren’t right — it’s things like this that show that they’re nickle and dime-ing every place (construction, warranty, support, etc..) they can get their hands on.


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Opensourcing something.. and a bunch of other problematic stuff.

Posted by linuxhappy on December 23, 2009

Gah. What do you get for staying up to work every night from 9pm-3am working on personal open source side projects? You get a bunch of political bull shit from your employer that tells you no, you’re not allowed to open source something that you’ve developed with your own time, your own equipment, and own personal investment… Potentially it can give an advantage to our competitors… Which, in my view, is ridiculous since I believe that the community grown from these projects is far more valuable than the product/feature that is actually being produced.

Why did I decide to work for my current employer? Cause I thought they’d enable me to make a difference in this world. That didn’t pan out so well. After working there for 6 years, I’ve come to realized that all of the technology I’ve developed for them was just for “show” and that (these particular) execs don’t understand technology, and don’t know how to pull the trigger and make deals.

Why did I decide to turn to open source? I thought I’d be able to help others (as others have helped me) and contribute something back into the open source community.

So what happens now?…. This is definitely not going to stop me from innovating on the side. Code is my form of freedom of speech and well… they can’t take my voice away from me. I like coding, and I like to help people. I want the products that I make to actually mean something. I want them to be used. It gives me sense of self accomplishment. Otherwise, I might as well stay home and read comics all day.

Anyways, not being “allowed” to open source something, or even share it with a community is a huge loss in my opinion. Is it enough to quit my job?.. time will tell.

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home/end button on my macbook pro

Posted by linuxhappy on December 11, 2009

Heh. took me a while to figure this out.. maybe (MOST DEFINETLY) cause i’m super slow. but… anyways.. if you’re looking for the home or end key on on your mac book pro.. try

Control + a (home)
Control + e (end)

works inside the terminal and in carbon emacs.

(I was previously using command up and command down.. etc..etc.. ugh… no )

one good thing about this i suppose.. is since i’m having to re-map the motor skills in my brain, i can apply this newly developed motor skill to emacs on linux.. .. and now that i think about it… i think it might actually be faster to for my left hand to type Control+a (and Control+e) versus than having my right hand get lifted up to press the home (or end) button.. w00t.

.. yes. I believe that fast coding is important. i can’t stand pair programming with people who type with two fingers (no offense to my awesome co-workers who actually do this :P).

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My thoughts on iWork

Posted by linuxhappy on October 7, 2009

Update: 12/14/09
Okay. I figured out that Keynote is actually semi-okay… only because.. AND ONLY because I can put on presentations controlled by my iPhone. What’s even better is that I can create an ad-hoc wifi network from my laptop, and then connect to it with my iphone and then put on my presentation.. pretty slick!

Yes. I bought a Mac. It’s always good to explore things beyond your comfort zone, unless that thing is iWork. It was sold to me as “what you need to do word processing and stuff like that”. Well. Okay, you could use iWork, but wouldn’t it be easier to smash your hand with a hammer? Okay… all kidding aside, I’m sorry, the product doesn’t do it for me. Don’t waste your money– Open Office is way better, and.. it’s free. Microsoft Office would be nice on my Mac, but I’m not willing to shell out the cash for that.

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Reflecting on my CS degree

Posted by linuxhappy on October 2, 2009

I was told during my college days (2001-05/06) that “coding isn’t everything there’s more to computer science than just code”. I’d like to say.. well… yes.. this is true, for people who can’t code very well. Perhaps my professors were saying it to students who couldn’t code very well to make them not feel so bad.

Maybe it’s just me, but I’m feeling that this whole software industry somehow got turned into a whole creamy mess with people saying things like “oh. you.. can get away with not coding and make a living out of it”, or “coding isn’t everything”. Why do we allow employees (of software companies) to be so divorced from code and allow them to do something like… go to meetings all day, or write papers all day, or.. something to that effect. With the rate of change in the software field, being divorced code for more than a couple of weeks just isn’t an option! People get out of practice, and somehow they get promoted along the years and somehow manage to reach a title as silly as “senior software engineers”, or as I would like to put “so far out of reach of developing software, you need to take a entry level position because you need to completely retrain yourself”. How do these people successfully design systems in the absence of code? (Unless they’re developing/designing the same thing over and over again– which in today’s technological saavy world seems not innovative..and.. well.. retarded.. perhaps a short-term profitable market?) The sad part is, they can’t.

By the time they design the system, they’re long gone trying to design something new, and when who do they call in when the design doesn’t work? The people who got the requirements? The awesome senior guys who forgot how to develop code? How about the Managers? No. It’s the freakin developers. CODE IS EVERYTHING. gah. Perhaps this is where Agile came from.. Designing the system with the presence of code — doing short iterations — getting frequent customer feedback– ahh.. yes… yes..

So, to all you current self-educating, self-motivated, constant-improving software coders– don’t let the requirements/design people (if your company/group has a separate group of people dedicated for that) tell you what to do– you’re the closest to the software, and you probably know it the best. You’ve been trained to write scalable, testable, robust, fault tolerant, secure, software — so do it.. don’t let guys 10 or 20 years out of college tell you what to do ( unless they’re guru’s in their field ) cause 99/100 times, they’re retarded.

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emacs on MacOS (10.6) using Carbon Emacs

Posted by linuxhappy on September 19, 2009

Ok, I’ve recently bought a mac book pro. To say the least, I’m not super excited about it.. In my opinion, it’s got a lot of the nice things Linux has, but a lot of features that I haven’t figured out yet, or that the Mac just doesn’t have. Then again, my mac is sexy as hell and lasts about 7 hours on a plane, so I can’t complain.

Anyways, not having an emacs where I could quickly “M-x query-replace (Alt-x query replace)” really pissed me off.. Having to Ctrl-Escape-x was just a road block in my retarded little brain, and to make things worst, Apple (like Lenovo) switched the stupid control button with the fn key. One month later, I said to myself, okay. I spent 2000 bucks on this machine, i should be able to figure out how to get a decent emacs on this thing.. I found aquaemacs.. but it was a little bit different from Gnu emacs, and to be honest.. nice try, but I since I work on Linux all day, coming home to something slightly different was just a bit of a pain. So here it is.. I stumbled up on Carbon emacs.. beautifully (so far) the same as what I use on Ubuntu 9.04.. First.. I found a comment posted on this posting:

The comment suggested to use Carbon Emacs, and then went on to say to make a softlink to /Applications/ so you can quickly call emacs from a terminal.. Well. that didn’t work for me. Carbon Emacs, for some reason, didn’t like being called from an absolute path. E.g. The following command failed:


.. and softlinking

/usr/bin/emacs to /Application/

Also failed miserably.

So I created a script, to replace the original /usr/bin/emacs binary. So..
1. cd /usr/bin
2. sudo mv emacs emacs.old.leopard
3. Assuming you installed emacs into the Applications folder, copy and paste the script below into a file called “emacs”
4. sudo chmod 755 emacs
5. You should be able to use emacs from the MacOS terminal, just like on Linux 🙂

while [ $# -ne 0 ]; do
echo "$1" |grep "^/"
if [ $? -eq 0 ]; then
cd ${EMACSHOME} && ./Emacs ${ARGLIST}

I had to append the $PWD variable to files that did not have an absolute path (those files listed on the command line that don't start with /) to allow opening of files, since we are having to 'cd' into the /Applications/ folder


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Audacious stopped playing mp3s :(… but.. (fixed!)

Posted by linuxhappy on April 14, 2009

Yesterday audacious stopped playing mp3’s for me…

I fired it up in debug mode from a shell and I seemed to have had the same problem as this:

Unfortunately nobody seemed to have a solution.  So I downloaded beep media player and songbird.. I don’t really like either of them.. I’m (still) used to the old winamp 2.x days when :D.

Anyways.. I found the audacious folder under .config and moved it aside (while audacious is closed).. Seems like i can play mp3’s now.. 😀

mv ~/.config/audacious  ~/.config/audacious.old

So comparing the two directories… The only thing that looked fishy was that the log file grew to about 385kb… Other differences.. two files that were in the old directory: accels and playlist.xspf.. and the “config” file had a bunch of custom config stuff i messed with.

So trying to make it fail… i copied the log file from the “old” directory into the “new” directory… a-ok. rebooted audacious.. no prob.

Next, I copied the config file from the “old” to the “new” dir. KABOOM! i’ve re-created the problem.. what’s in that file you might ask? about 167 lines of “config” stuff… maybe i’ll get to the root of it.. i’m kind of tired. i need to get to work by 7:30 and it’s 1:20am.

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Phillips DVP 5992 + Western Digital Elite 320 GB

Posted by linuxhappy on February 28, 2009

I recently went to Costco and bought a DVP 5992 dvd player.. It’s got a USB 2.0 plug on there, so i was thinking.. awesome! I can hook up my external harddrive to the port and play all of my pictures/videos/mp3’s! right?! .. wrong..

I plugged in my Western Digital Elite 320 Gb drive.. and  the dvd player didn’t do anything but freeze.  Hmm i thought.. try it again!! . Hmm didn’t work!

So what went wrong.. after  searching the net.. Everyone says.. YOU NEED TO FORMAT IT WITH A FAT32 PArtition!!.. okay.. i know fdisk.. no prob.. I destroyed the fat32 partition that was already on there.. created a new one.. used mkdosfs to put another filesystem on there.. Same issue.. OKay so lets make a fat32 partition with only 4 gigs.. and put another filesystem on there.. NOPE!.. so that means it’s not a filesystem/size issue..

I did some more searching and I found out that the western digital drive requires about 650 mA, while the phillips dvd player only puts out 500 mA.  Shoot.. Okay.  Probably a power thing.. Even though i hear the drive spin up when attaching the drive to the dvd player..
Solution 1.. (Failed) So I thought I’d hook up a USB 2.0 Powered hub to the dvd player and then the harddrive to the usb hub.. Nope.. the dvd player says.. something like “USB hub not supported”

Solution2.. (going to try it tomorrow).  Buy a USB Y cable (one that allows you to give “Extra” power to the device.  Stick the data side into the dvd player, and stick the other cable into  a usb powered hub!  I hope this works, or that dvd player is going straight back to costco.. and you know how costco LOVES returns :D.

Solution3 : (Avoiding like the plague) the last resort.. buy one of those “not so portable” external 3.5 inch drives with an AC power plug.. this is most unattractive since i’d like to use this drive “on the go” and plug and un plug it wherever i go.


Solution2 failed… I don’t think the WD 320 is compatible… I tried the Y cable.. and it continues to lock up the DVD player..

My final solution was to purchase another brand of a USB portable harddrive (SimpleTech 250Gb drive).. To get it working, I had to use fdisk/mkfs.msdos.   Unfortunately the phillips player can’t power the drive.. and the use of the USB Y connector is needed.. sooo I got my unused Asus WL-500 router.. plugged the “USB” power cable into the router, and the other into the USB port of the DVD player… not that sexy.. but. hey.. it works and i can watch movies… hooray.

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Starbucks Gold card and….. some thoughts.

Posted by linuxhappy on December 2, 2008

Well. okay. One “perk” i found out about the card today.. is that you can use your gold card and pay with cash..(you’re not forced to load the card with money) meaning. if you and your buddies go to starbucks.. they can all borrow the card to get 10% off.. (assuming the barista allows you two).  But wouldn’t this mean.. that by sliding the card.. shouldn’t the card automatically take 10% off qualitifed items off the bill?.. whatever.


This post has nothing to do with linux, other than the coffee that fuels me to do work (on or off linux), and a rant on how starbucks should get on the ball.  Ok, so I bought a starbucks gold card today.  For those of you who haven’t heard of a starbucks gold card, it’s basically a 25 dollar annual membership, and you get 10% off most starbucks purchases.  They gives you this black card, they tell you to register it online, and you can use it like cash at any of their stores.  Great.. From a software developers point of view (or any sane person) you’d think. ok… you use this “special” card at their stores, you’ve registered it on their website, and you’d think that the 10% discount should automatically apply to your purchases.  Wrong. Based on current state of affairs, starbucks employees have to notice you have the card, press a button on their screen, and then you get the 10% discount.

Case in point, I go out for coffee tonight to use my card for the first time, I get my receipt expecting a 10% discount.. nada.  I’m thinking.. hmm maybe the card hasn’t been activated yet.. but no.. I ask the barista.. and she’s like.. “ohh maybe I rang it up wrong.. ”  (like there’s a way to charge someone the wrong way?)  Another barista comes along, voids the first transaction, and then gets me my discount..

So what’s wrong here?  Starbucks doesn’t have a way to detect whether or not it’s a gold card or not?  I mean.. when I registered online, I punched in the starbucks unique identifier for my card, and it immediately detected as a gold card.  Ok… so that’s not the problem, Starbucks DOES have a list of cards that ARE indeed gold cards..  So then.. maybe it’s a matter of updating their Point-of-sale (POS) devices and they have no way of pushing updates to their POS devices.  It’s interesting because alot of desktop machines have automatic ways of recieveing updates (application layer, kernel layer, etc), but less prominent in embedded devices.  Some high end routers have this capability, but tv’s, cars, etc, .. not so much.  Why is this?

Anyways, what does this all mean?  I’ll go out on a limb here, I think that with the advent of agile software development and continuous integration, I believe that we’re going to see some generic frameworks come out for resource limited embedded devices to recieve/apply updates, run unit tests and return results, etc..  wouldn’t that be slick.

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Quick thoughts on Ubuntu 8.10

Posted by linuxhappy on October 31, 2008

Comming from Ubuntu 7.10, I installed Ubuntu 8.10 today.  (you can safely ignore that last post I made).  A couple things that I’m happy to see inside of Ubuntu 8.10:

Installation. Probably one of the things that most people take for granted.. but.. wow. what a breeze (as always).

Nvidia binary drivers that are actually up to date-  In Ubuntu 7.10, I used Alberto Milone’s to get the latests and greatest binary-only nvidia drivers.  It seems that Alberto is now a maintainer for Ubuntu’s Nvidia’s driver packages.. So i’m hoping that all the latest and greatest drivers will just be integrated into Ubuntu.  This is really cool since using Envy gave me some issues with turning on/off compiz.

DKMS – Dynamic Kernel module support – this is going to be cool to see what happens when nvidia, and the virutal box guys start releasing updates to their kernel modules.. hopefully things will go smoother than before.

Firefox-3… Wow. this version of firefox3 makes the firefox 3 beta version that came with 8.04 look like internet explorer 4.0.

The only thing that still doesn’t work is suspend… I think it has to do something with my laptop as I guess others have gotten suspend to work on a toshiba tecra A9. too bad for me.. i guess it’s time to upgrade the laptop.

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