Getting mic to work with NVidia VT1708S

Ever since I installed opensuse 11.3, I hadn’t used my mic/headset. Today I decided to fool a bit around in Ardour, but somehow my mic didn’t work. And alas, I made a classic beginner’s mistake: “the solution has to be difficult because it does not work out of the box”.

I tried the standard stuff like trying out all input sources, adding hidden channels, etc. but when that didn’t help I was quickly diving into custom .asoundrc configuration, arecord/aplay sysinfo scripts, probing kernel modules, looking into alsa upgrade scripts and the like.. 🙂

Until I had an epiphany while reading random forum post words. I had been adding the “hidden” channels to my mixer which indeed included “mic” and “front mic” with accompanying boost controls. I noticed a few others which I threw in as well for good measure. I neglected them though, as I didn’t feel interested in enabling “smart” 5.1 or IEC958 2, whatever that was. But then I suddenly remembered: motherboards come with configurable audio backpanels, so this wasn’t really about enabling a fancy audioprocessing feature but rather switching between the 5.1 and standard audio panel, duh!

Apparently, the 5.1 was enabled by default, so “muting” it solved my problem!

Btw, in case you wonder: the HDA NVidia VT1708S chipset is actually a HDA Intel chipset with VIA codec, hence the VTxxxx name. To keep things intesting. 😉

Configuring numlock indicator in KDE4

My brother has this really neat wireless keyboard with built-in trackball for his mediacenter. There is only one downside: it doesn’t have a numerical keypad and you never really know if the numlock is on or off. I think it is off at boot, but after turning it on and logging on, it is off again, unless you did a reboot.. or something like that.. Anyway, since it can be quite a challenge to enter passwords correctly, I started looking for a numlock plasmoidish solution.

First thing that turned up in the searches was the Keyboard Status applet. However, in the comments someone rightfully asks why it doesn’t use the keystate DataEngine. Great idea, because this is already packaged with vanilla kde. So I started searching for a general LED plasmoid which I could connect any datasource to using some mapping. No such luck. But then I wondered: why would someone write a plasma DataEngine and then not use it? 🙂 There must be some existing plasmoid! It turned out to be the Key State plasmoid which is currently hosted at gitorious.

Since it is a javascript plasmoid, you can install it as follows:

git clone git://
plasmapkg -i keystate

Done! It should now be in the list when adding plasmoids under the name “Key State”. You can configure a custom color for each special key. There are some advanced options as well which I didn’t try out. Here is what it looks like:

Key State plasmoid

A simple rectangle shows my numlock is active. I know, nothing fancy but it’s all we need and it does the job! Thank you Martin Blumenstingl. 🙂

Tip of the day: boot your computer using keyboard

About a year ago, I assembled a new main rig. I put (almost) all hard drives I had into it with the idea to make a “global backup”. This meant I had to leave my super-silencing case open until the backup was done. However, a year later, I’m still “in the process”. 😉


Since I also removed my front panel for some eSata modding, I have to turn my computer on using a pointy device aka “nail” (on the corner of the white table above). After doing that for a year, every day, knowing that my motherboard supports booting by key stroke, I decided to turn that feature on yesterday. Pressing spacebar boots my computer now. You should try it too, you’ll be surprised how much satisfaction it gives. 🙂

Flushing the dns cache

As we all know, under windows we can flush the DNS cache with

ipconfig /flushdns

But what is the linux equivalent command? It is so obvious, yet I somehow keep forgetting it. 🙂
Under linux, the standard way to have a daemon reload its configuration, is sending a SIGHUP signal. In case of the name service cache daemon (nscd), this implies flushing its cache!
So you could use the following command to flush the DNS cache if you’re using nscd:

pkill -1 nscd

Extract audio from AV container service menu for KDE4

Nowadays, we live in a KDE4 world for real, so it’s time to update my “dump audio from video file” service menu 😉 It should work both in Konqueror and Dolphin.

Create a file with the following contents and put it in one of your service directories (which you can find out by running “kde4-config –path services” , typically you will have something like $HOME/.kde4/share/kde4/services )

[Desktop Entry]

[Desktop Action extractaudio]
Name=Extract audio
Name[en-GB]=Extract audio
Exec=mplayer -dumpaudio %u -dumpfile %u.dump

Best. Plugin. Ever.

I was trying to watch a vid on a website which was quicktime only. Since I’ve had some trouble a few days ago to play a wmv file on a windows media only site, I decided to give the firefox mplayer plugin a try. I had heard of it before but never found a compelling reason to install it. Until now. It just plays _everything_! I can’t believe how I could live so long without it. 🙂 Or maybe because 99% of the web’s vids are flash? 😉 (which works, of course)

Here is the supported formats list:
Window Media: wmv, avi, asf, wav and asx
QuickTime: mov and smil
MPEG Video and Audio: mpeg and mp3
Ogg Vorbis: ogg
AutoDesk FLI: fli and flc
Vivo: vivo
Real Player: ram and rm

Opera 10 send mail problem

I just discovered I had a mail in my outbox I sent last week. It turned out one of my email accounts was not properly migrated from Opera 9.
I ran Wireshark and it seemed Opera was sending a wrong parameter with the EHLO command (which queries an ESMTP server for its capabilities). It sent EHLO smtpserver instead of EHLO myhostname. Of course the server replied this could not be the case since he was that host himself. =)
So I grepped the accounts.ini file to see where that information could come from. It turned out there was a fqdn property present containing the smtp server name which was not present anymore in a newly created account (yet it seemed to attach some value to it, apparently). So I simply deleted the fqdn property and all was solved. 🙂
Keep in mind, I am upgrading the same opera profile since Opera 7 so I guess my particular upgrade scenario has received less attention. 😉

git through proxy

You’re at work and want to access your git repo who’s residing in the free external world?

create the following config file in your .ssh folder:

ProxyCommand connect -S <proxy host>:<proxy port> %h %p

replace the hosts and port as appropriate.

You can find the connect executable for windows here (contains a lot of other useful socks info as well).
Hat tip to pieter.

DIY old timer: Le Patron

Last weekend, I ran into an old pal from high school (Kenny Butstraen) and guess what: he’s building cars! Up until recently, he was mainly focussed on building Le Patron: a kit car based on a Citroen 2CV chassis. Last year, with this car, he was the youngest distributor at the largest car expo in Belgium. For Dutch reading people, there’s an interesting article by HLN.

Le Patron Le Patron

But his real passion is in building authentic replica’s or models of special vehicles, for example, for use in war movies. At least, that’s what I understood from the very short talk I had (we met in a DIY shop just before closing hour ;)) and what I find on the website 🙂

sdkfz1.jpg sdkfz2.jpg

Very interesting stuff! I’ll try to meet up with him and hope to get back to you with more pics from his work place! 🙂