Software and Programming

The recurring [K]ubuntu TV-out video saga

Upgrading my OS to Jaunty broke TV output, because the proprietary driver doesn’t work anymore. However, I eventually found how to get output to my TV. I set up the following script:

xrandr -s 800x600 # resize so that cloning goes smoothly
xrandr --output S-video --set load_detection 1
xrandr --addmode S-video 800x600
xrandr --output S-video --mode 800x600
# xvattr -a XV_CRTC -v 1
vlc -f $*
echo Done playing $*
xrandr -s 1024x768

xrandr is a program that modifies your display dynamically. I guess this is all doable with configuration, but the infamous X conf file appears to be deprecated, so whatever. I use xrandr anyway to change resolution, because the output of the screen is duplicated onto the TV, and I want it to fit without being cropped.

So, first the script sets the resolution to the TV-compatible 800 width by 600 height; next the S-video commands tell the OS to look for the TV and set it up – and then my script passes its arguments (my movies) to the vlc media player. Once vlc quits, the resolution is restored.

There’s a commented out command that uses an utility called xvattr to change whether the X-Video extension (XV) should apply to the default output (the computer screen) or the TV – with when you see video on one, you just get a blank window on the other. Thankfully, I can tell vlc to show video using regular X server video instead of the XV extension, so nevermind that. I don’t see any noticable difference in the display behavior, which is pretty bad in either case – whenever windows appear in a shot, I see blocky video boxes on the TV. I think the proprietary driver didn’t have this problem.

And because my LCD screen burnt out this Saturday (a year beyond its warranty), I’m using a huge and scratchy-screened old CRT, which makes old-school oomph noises whenever it switches resolution.

Resources Software and Programming

Nokia, Linux – talk amongst yourselves

I got a new phone a month ago, a Nokia 6120 or something like that, with internet and shit. This involved finally crossing the line between having an electronic device and having a portable, under-powered computer. An UI that’s fancier but less ergonomic, a power-hungry screen and a laptop’s male-sterility-inducing level of heating-up (one of the first links I found about my specific model was a petition to have it recalled because of overheating issues). Also, this whole “internet” connectivity thing, while pretty impressive and fast (yo! I’m on the street, looking at my blog! Hey! I’m sitting in Dixie, browsing Google reader!), is actually a money-grubbing scheme to charge you exhorbitantly for bandwidth. The phone feels like a platform for Orange to spam me with pointless ads and downloads.

Also, there’s the issue of transfering stuff between the phone and my computer. There’s a USB cable, but the phone doesn’t simply mount as another drive, like any USB drive should. There’s actually some ornate synchronization protocol and some remarkably user-unfriendly tools for using it, which I haven’t managed to get to work. Also, many tools expect you to use a Bluetooth-enabled computer.

I found a good step-by-step tutorial on setting something up here: Nokia PC Suite for Linux with ObexTool on Ubuntu Gutsy. It’s actually not equivalent to the PC Suite thing, because it doesn’t synchronize calenders and contacts, which are hidden away on the phone in some arcane corner. But it works for transfering files (MP3s, photos). So, whatever.