06 November 2021

Tripping up to Fedora 35

I installed Fedora 35 on my desktop system this past week following the release this week. I thought it would be a benign activity since I've been dnf system-upgrade in place for years now without much ado. Things changed this time,though.

The change to wireplumber for this release had some side effects regarding my HDMI sound output. I have two monitors and one TV all for my displays. I don't have a dedicated sound card in my machine, so I use audio through the output via Intel or Radeon HDMI output. This had been working perfectly in Fedora 34. The upgrade, however, seemed to bork the sound settings completely. My choice in the Setting control panel kept switching to Dummy Output. When I tried to test my speakers, there was no sound. Then when I tried to switch the device to one of the listed HDMI options, the ability to test speakers didn't include speakers to click.

Of course, I hit the IRC support channel and posed my dilemma. ledeni walked me through a few things to try to get more information about what might be missing or misconfigured. After all the effort, I still didn't have sound. One of the things suggested was this addition and a post reboot:

$ echo "options snd-hda-intel model=generic" | sudo tee -a /etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base.conf

Although it didn't work at the time, it remains in effect. And it might still be part of the solution, but what I ended up doing this morning was the following:

$ sudo dnf swap pulseaudio pipewire-media-session --allowerasing
$ sudo dnf swap pipewire-media-session wireplumber

Then rebooted to find devices discovered. I found the HDMI for the TV and tested the sound successfully.

I'm documenting this for anyone else who might have similar problems. Oh, there is a suggested default answer as the first attempt to get sound working. It is this:

$ systemctl --user enable --now wireplumber

That is also running and active as part of my working configuration.

06 October 2021

Fedora Updates Remove vim-default-editor Package

I just recently ran an overdue update on my desktop system. What I didn't expect was for a simple dnf upgrade -y to uninstall the vim-default-editor which is now an intentional choice over that trash editor nano. I consider this action a bug.

Nevertheless, these are the methods I have employed to prevent this shameful deed from happening again. I have added a vim.conf to the /etc/dnf/protected.d directory with the following contents:

       │ File: /etc/dnf/protected.d/vim.conf
   1   │ vim-common
   2   │ vim-powerline
   3   │ vim-minimal
   4   │ vim-enhanced
   5   │ vim-default-editor

This won't prevent nano or nano-default-editor from being reinstalled. So, I added this line in my /etc/dnf/dnf.conf file:


Now, dnf will totally ignore those nano packages from visibility. Safe and clean system!

06 September 2021

Netgear Wireless Routers - The Saga Ends

I have been a happy Netgear networking device consumer for a long time. Their small wired eight port hubs have been solid for years. I will even admit to being pleases with their wireless routers too.

But with a change in my home networking design, I really only use either routers as access points rather than firewalls and DHCP servers. My last device purchase was a dedicated access point (WAC-124). I have offloaded those other services to a dedicated appliance for firewall operations. Since Netgear's wireless router software has an access point mode, all should work well.

This all gets complicated by Netgear attempting to make their router management centralized...to themselves. They now require an account at netgear.com to access the admin interface of your home router. I'm sure this is under the guise of "making things easier" for support, but I see it more as a security risk. It's definitely an inconvenience.

The way it works is that I enter the router's IP address which now redirects me to accounts.netgear.com for my official Netgear account login. Once I login to their site (note: not my router), I am redirected back to the IP address of my router. Seems benign, but it turns out to be a point of failure. Recently, I was unable to gain access to my wireless router because after redirecting to accounts.netgear.com, I was blocked by HTTP code 503. I reset my router and tried a few more times. Blocked. There is ko reason to need to go to extra physical steps to directly access this device on my network.

Maybe that's the problem. Maybe Netgear considers this their network since I am using their equipment. This asinine workflow is enough for me to only buy devices reprogrammable with OpenWRT. Linksys is good for this. So is ASUS. And there are other brands not as well known which cater to this sort of configuration. That's where my money will go.

There are some workarounds to Netgear's long way home approach. Disconnecting internet access will let the router time out to direct access. I believe you can connect directly to the device with a cable (maybe disable internet connectivity too?). But you can see the problems with taking those actions. At least give me the option within the router's settings to disable this option, Netgear. It's extra hassle to do something which was once simple.

I'm done with this. Let me access my devices when I want! Give the people freedom!

06 August 2021

Video Meeting Etiquette

I can't believe this hasn't blanketed the internet (or maybe I haven't seen the blanket coverage), but here are a few items of video meeting etiquette that might be tough to hear but is what everyone wishes you knew.

Always enter meetings on mute

You might be confident about starting every meeting with your video active, but never think charging into a meeting unmuted is what people really want.

If you are regularly late to meetings, expect a lot of loathing from your colleagues. This is equivalent to entering an in-person meeting already in progress while arguing with your spouse or sibling over some personal matter. Silence is golden.

Using only laptop (computer) microphone and speakers makes you "that person"

This creates the least awesome echo tunnel evar. Everyone will hate to ask you questions because you'll need to activate the voice tunnel to answer. No one wants the tunnel! No! One!

You can spend about $12 on Amazon to buys a four-plus star rated headset with earpiece and boom mic. This will win points with your colleagues by leaps and bounds. They might even throw you a party.

Stay on mute when not actively engaged in discussion

If you never involve yourself vocally in a meeting, there is no reason to not be on mute. Your keyboarding, food chewing, slurpee slurping, dog barking activities are so much less subdued when a microphone is added to the scenario.

Please mute yourself if you know you need to cough or sneeze. At least move away from mic if you can't click a button in time. If we learned anything from Zonday, it is to move away from the mic when merely breathing.

And if you are guilty of the situation above, just stay on mute...forever. Your mic will likely try to pick up all sounds to make sure you are heard. You will be, as well as every other sound around you.

Add a profile picture to your account

This is less of an annoyance than the first three, but it can really help people quickly identify you. Most meeting platforms will switch to your account's representation when you speak. Video is cool but not always possible. A picture to represent is a nice welcome. It helps to have an actual photo of you, especially for meetings where people don't know the whole audience. Even if you choose to upload an image of your cat, it's still better than just a name.

Note: This is very beneficial for other communication mediums such as interactive chat/messaging. Just having the system-generate initial(s) for your name will help others assume you are someone else at a quick glance. I tend to quick glance at a chat when multitasking.

One of my smaller chat groups involved five other people all with the first initial "S." The chat tool defaulted to a color circle with the initial of the first name...and the colors were duplicated. To make matters worse, the colors didn't help. It would have been nice if the two green circles were the men and the two pink circles were the women or vice versa. But no. Green was one man, one woman. Pink the same. Color didn't really help. It took extra time to figure out which "S" I was answering. "Is the green 'S' Sharon or is the pink 'S' Steve? No, that green 'S' was Sharanya!"

If you know of other things which I didn't list, feel free mention in the comments. I know these are the recurring things which should have been said now that we've all experienced a year communicating in this fashion.