In Japan!

Posted in Japan, Life at 4:53 pm by Acorns

I arrived in Japan safely last night. It is 7:55 AM here as I type. I’ll write a longer blog post this evening!


ALSA + Microphone + E1505 + Ubuntu Feisty

Posted in Linux, Tech at 5:41 pm by Acorns

Since I’m not taking any type of phone I needed to get Skype working in order to have easy conversations with people back home. Skype is amazingly easy; a quick, no-extra questions signup through the client (for which a .deb exists) and it is ready to go. Didn’t even really have to tweak it. Getting the microphone to work was quite another story.

The first thing i tried was using the built in volume control gui. I enabled the microphone, enabled “recording” and turned the capture volume up a bit. Of course, nothing can be that simple in Linux; every sound app would simply freeze the moment it was told to record audio. After a little googling I found that most users solved this problem by enabling the microphone boost, which supposedly can be done through any alsa control app (like Ubuntu’s volume control). My control didn’t have a mic boost. /sigh. A little more googling found alsamixer, a terminal app to control sound. Mic boost was present here, but could not be enabled. It still seemed a little weird that boost -had- to be enabled or else apps would freeze.

After fiddling for several hours with config files, restarting the alsa service, upgrading the alsa service and trying most of the recording apps known to man I stumbled across the site at http://geekybits.blogspot.com/2007/06/microphones-skype-on-ubuntu.html . The lucky google search involved Skype, I tried this because I figured others would have had the same problem and been wanting recording soley for Skype (although I would have thought my first few searchs involving the E1505 would meet with more success).

The alsa package listed at the bottom compiled and installed fine. Immediately after installing recording worked; didn’t even have to reboot. Mic boost can be enabled, or not. During the course of my researching I found that the Sigmatel audio device my laptop uses doesn’t support stereo muxing by default, a “hack” had to be used in the windows driver to get recording/playing at the same time to work. I’m guessing that the alsa package I downloaded included something of this type, although I don’t know this for sure. For now, I’m just glad it works.

Will be heading to bed in about an hour, then getting on the plane to Japan; not very much time for troubleshooting!


Welcome to Acorn’s Blog!

Posted in Japan, Life at 1:27 pm by Acorns

Since it is now only 2 days before I will leave for Japan I thought I should probably get this blog up and running. Hard to believe I’ll be flying there so soon! I’ll be posting here about my Study Abroad trip in Japan as well as misc technical things anime reviews, etc. I’m not sure if WordPress is here to stay or not; it seems to do everything I need done for the moment though. I’ll try and post lots of images, starting right after I arrive in Japan (I should have internet immediately after I get to the dorm I’m staying in).

My flights over will take almost 20 hours all said and done (including layover times). I’m leaving from Waterloo, IA on a CRJ and flying to Minneapolis; we were very lucky in being able to find a flight out so close to where I live at a good price! From Minny I leave on a 320 and fly to Detroit, where my longest layover is. For the overseas flight I will be taking a 744; I hope it is a comfortable plane as I will be on it for 13 and a half hours! Fortunately I am in an aisle seat on all three planes.

The pages describing what you are allowed to carry on and bring with you are starting to resemble law books. Very soon the airports will probably have to hire lawyers dedicated just to explaining to everyone what they are allowed to bring! I’ll be taking a carry on bag containing some clothes and chargers as well as a laptop in a smaller laptop bag. Hopefully no problems will arise! I’m not expecting any problems with my “checked” luggage at least (it’s just clothes).

I’ll be taking several of the electronics I regularly use on the flights, including a laptop (E1505/6400 Core 2 Duo @ 2.0Ghz, 2GB ram, 160GB HDD, ATI X1400), three PDAs (X51V, Jornada 720 and iQue 3600), and my just-arrived-two-days-ago camera (a Kokak Z612). All said and done with the batteries I have I could have two devices turned on for the entire duration of the trip. Now if only they had in-flight internet! I’ve installed apache/php/perl/mysql/curl/gd on Ubuntu so I can spend the flight time working on one of my websites; I’m not sure if I will be able to concentrate enough to get much done, but developing sounds like more fun than sitting there watching movies!

Overall, packing for a four month trip has been much less time-consuming and difficult than I thought it would be. By far the most time was spent on “electronic packing”; getting everything I might want to watch, listen to, or use put on my laptop. I also spent a bit of time looking for maps of Japan for my iQue, the best I found were from http://www011.upp.so-net.ne.jp/mametaro/index-e.html. They don’t show as much detail as I am used to, or have routing capabilities but they are far better than nothing! For the X51V I found a Japanese<->English translator; might come in handy, or might not be worth using. It does have an easily search able list of common phrases.

I was initially worried a bit about using my electronics in Japan as they use different standards than us (100V, 50-60Hz) however it seems that everything I will be taking will work with this just fine. The only thing I won’t be able to use is my cell phone; I’m counting on skype and phone cards for talking with everyone! My apartment will have a phone but it can only take incoming calls, not make outgoing ones.

I might make another post before leaving. If I don’t, then I will try to post by Wednesday (which might still be Tuesday in the states!)

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