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frugal technology, simple living and guerrilla large-appliance repair

Regular blog here, 'microblog' there

Many of my traditional blog post live on this site, but a great majority of my social-style posts can be found on my much-busier microbloging site at updates.passthejoe.net. It's busier because my BlogPoster "microblogging" script generates short, Twitter-style posts from the Linux or Windows (or anywhere you can run Ruby with too many Gems) command line, uploads them to the web server and send them out on my Twitter and Mastodon feeds.

I used to post to this blog via scripts and Unix/Linux utilities (curl and Unison) that helped me mirror the files locally and on the server. Since this site recently moved hosts, none of that is set up. I'm just using SFTP and SSH to write posts and manage the site.

Disqus comments are not live just yet because I'm not sure about what I'm going to do for the domain on this site. I'll probably restore the old domain at first just to have some continuity, but for now I like using the "free" domain from this site's new host, NearlyFreeSpeech.net.

Fri, 31 Jan 2014

Skype update for Linux fixes nothing

So I heard about an update to Skype for Linux (thanks, OMG!Ubuntu) that is supposed to fix some general noise and PulseAudio issues.

Since Skype's RPM for Fedora doesn't set up a repo, I had to download a new RPM from Skype and install it.

The new package, Version 4.2.0.13, runs as well as the old one. That means it fixed none of the audio issues I'm having, which include occasional noisy audio and intermittent lack of audio. The commonly accept fix doesn't help me, either.

Luckily I rarely use Skype, and usually only as an IM client, so I'll live.

For the freedom-lovers in the room, I did install the Ekiga softphone package in Fedora, and it kind of, sort of works. But the UI is HORRIBLE, and I doubt a non-geek could ever make it work. I need a better SIP package, and I'm open to suggestions.

Fri, 27 Dec 2013

Fix for PulseAudio trouble with Skype in Fedora 20 and other Linux distributions past and present

I'm on the fence on this Skype fix for Linux distributions that use PulseAudio:

If you are packaging Skype for your distribution, you need to change the Exec line in your Skype .desktop file as follows:

Exec=env PULSE_LATENCY_MSEC=60 skype %U

If you are a user, and your distribution doesn’t already carry this fix (as of about a week ago, Ubuntu does, and as of ~1 hour from now, Gentoo will), you need to launch Skype from the command line as follows:

$ PULSE_LATENCY_MSEC=60 skype

Using rootly privileges, I made this change in my /usr/share/applications/skype.desktop file. It worked some but not all of the time. I'm more troubled by PulseAudio's use of CPU when I'm running Skype in the background but not actively using it.

I eventually reverted this fix in my /usr/share/applications/skype.desktop file and am doing OK with the regular Exec=skype %U line that is the default in my Skype installation.