just another web log

26 Jan 2021:
more minty monitor madness
But was there more I could do with my new 23" Minty computer screen?

I installed X11vnc and openssh servers and made sure I could connect from my Gentoo machine.

It made sense to have the IP address and other information as part of the Mint desktop. It is something that Windows users have had utilities for years, but I cannot find a nice solution for Linux weird.
Then I found all the cool things you used to be able to do, like drawing to the root window and replacing the background no longer works. Well, without hacking the hell out of your system.

What I want is the reverse of
ssh -Y user@mint-display
export DISPLAY=:0

and display my local instance of Inkscape on the remote X server. Those commands run Inkscape from the remote machine on the remote machine. Missing out the DISPLAY line results in the remote server running Inkscape on the remote server but displaying it on my local machine.

but as I have VNC I can just use vncviewer and view the Mint computer directly in another window. I can also move that window to another workspace and switch between them at will.

and then ... I got a Display Port-HDMI adaptor (£6.99) from Amazon and connected it to the previous HDMI-USB dongle and ran

and my computer sees it as an external monitor. Pity the refresh rate is so bad that you would not want to do work on this new "external monitor". Also, the way Linux tries to use the monitor messes with my mind. I want the new monitor to "extend" the existing one, but instead it insists on making be part of one big desktop. Which sounds nice except all my windows went to the Mint monitor and after dragging them back, disconnecting the monitor made them all disappear off the bottom of my actual monitor. Very confusing.

Bottom line (currently) is I run vncviewer and get inkscape with all my reference images on the Mint computer. Keeping that window in a separate workspace for easy access.

Not perfect, but for recycling an old Windows computer, not at all bad!

I still want that info desktop wallpaper ... imagemagick to rescue?
24 Jan 2021:
virtualbox wacked by bad display set
Tried to run VirtualBox and got
Qt WARNING: could not connect to display
Qt FATAL: This application failed to start because no Qt platform plugin could be initialized. Reinstalling the application may fix this problem.

Available platform plugins are: minimal, offscreen, xcb.

in the mucking about I had set DISPLAY to all sorts of things. The suggested ways of setting this back to normal via unset or "" didn't work for me, but
export DISPLAY=":0.0"

Just another day in the trenches ;)
24 Jan 2021:
completed alyx and had to clap
And , I have completed Half life: Alyx !!

Totally worth it, not going to spoil it, but the ending is typical Valve and will make you feel like clapping.

There were some noteworthy events during my last play though.

While under heavy fire and crouching behind various walls I managed to get down so low on my heels I fell over backwards. Luckily I did not damage, the headset, myself or anything else in the tiny room.

In an area with no weapons, I found some frying pans (don't ask) and clung onto them throughout the entire stage, convinced I would need to defend myself. Carefully dropping them to open doors and then clutching them again as I tiptoed through some really trippy stuff.

Then there are the 62 screen shots my cat took!

Halflife:Alyx screenshots taken by my cat x62

As you can see bit dark and lots of sparking green. This was the first time I had experienced this in game and I assumed that my attempts to control the green lightning were causing Steam to take screenshots. But as I got more and more notifications that screenshots were being created I realised it was not me! Unfortunately, dislodging the cat from the surface of the keyboard caused her to hit the shutdown button. Luckily the auto-save had me just moments before then and I was able to continue.

Now I want MOAR! I haven't explored it yet, but there appear to be fan based levels and mods available on Steam... To be Continued ...
23 Jan 2021:
vr news theblu superhot and halflife alyx
And now some VR updates.

The other item I purchased from Steam was "The Blu" and that is something else. Instead of a game, it is an experience. You can just stand there in VR and look about as three different scripted scenarios take place.

One on a ship wreck, one in the corals and one in the dark. Each plays out all around you with subtle and not so subtle sound and light hints. I do not want to give away the details, but just to say there are unexpected creatures in each experience and this is well worth trying.

Got 100% on SuperHot VR, which is another thing to behold. Now I have unlocked all sorts of extra modes, like time-attack and endless. Would have like a little more actual content, but what you get is very immersive.

Then we realised that the VR experience was not ideal, turning or looking to far to the left always produced glitches and we were losing tracking on the left controller every now and then. Not sure why the interference is not more consistent, but there is a big mirror door there. Covered that up and have had a much better experience!

Finally there is more Halflife:Alyx. I say it over and over again, this is sooooo good. I can not wait for it to be available to more people and on higher resolution displays, there are even hints Valve might be making another one. I am still surprised by the content and recently unleashed and unkillable foe that I must out run and doge into cover, all the while the combine solders pin me down.
(and I still have not completed it!)
23 Jan 2021:
ring ring no chime ring chime
We got Ring! Which was not something I wanted, but someone decided to turn off our water and pour cement over the tap, so now we have a Ring doorbell.

Tried to install it over the existing doorbell, but it was the wrong size, wrong location, wrong angle and apparently you still need the battery in it anyway. In the end I removed the door's peep hole (which I am not sure ever worked) and screwed in the doorbell there.

At this point I had already enslaved myself with a Ring account and the doorbell was happily sending me notifications as I tried to fit it. So it was a bit strange when I could absolutely not get the indoor "Chime" device to connect.

I had followed the install instruction four times from scratch, using resets, QR codes, PIN numbers etc before I tried to ring Ring support. That in itself was interesting as the UK phone number for support via the Help/Chat route reported that that number was not accepting calls!

I did eventually find another generic contact number that did work and as per support protocols they made me do exactly what I had already done multiple times. Even they gave up and said I need to try a different phone, which was pain to setup (bloody Apple), but then did work.

So we have a Ring doorbell and every now and then we get a notification that someone has been detected, but it is most commonly pedestrians walking past.

I thought the point of a Ring doorbell was you could speak to delivery people, but I am not seeing that option.

Last thing to do now is to remove the hardwired doorbell and terminate the wires...
23 Jan 2021:
the cat and orange drinks
Random in-fill post.

We have a cat who likes to open things she really shouldn't. Most famously it was sealed mini American pancakes. She would claw and rip the packets until the contents were open, then eat half and spread the rest around the kitchen.

Today we find she has tried to open at least 5 large Capri Sun orange packets that we did not have space to put away and sat on the counter. Luckily the spills were mostly contained in the box they were sat in, but I have to wonder why she tried to open a 5th one after the mess from the previous 4!

What is extra funny is that whenever she does something like this, she understands that she has been naughty and will come and make a fuss of herself, presumably for redemption.
17 Jan 2021:
hp all in one avoids dump by becoming a monitor
I was helping out a Windows 10 user who's machine was becoming unusably slow. First step was obvious, replace spinning rust hard drive with an SSD.

Unfortunately the machine is a HP All-in-One and the upgrade process was extremely convoluted and the risk of damage high. Did watch a long and painful YouTube video describing the process.

In the end I helped them buy a new better spec'd machine with an SSD. But the story does not end there.

They considered the unit e-waste, even though it had a nice big 23" screen. I had seen some YouTubers talking about cheap HDMI - USB devices and I wondered if I could use one to convert this PC in to a monitor.

Long story short, I can!

I installed OBS Studio in Windows 10, plugged in the USB device and connected a Raspberry Pi to the HDMI. Selecting the correct source meant that OBS displayed the Pi screen as if it was a webcam. FYI: right click the grey area around the image in OBS to select true, border-less, full-screen.

Now the long story. I did not want to run Windows just to get this setup to work as a monitor, so I looked around for a well respected Linux distro that was lightweight and up to the job.

Linux Mint XFCE edition seemed to fit the bill, so I

wrote the Linux Mint ISO to a USB stick
dd if=linuxmint-20.1-xfce-64bit.iso of=/dev/sdd oflag=direct bs=1048576
(where /dev/sdd is the location of MY usb stick, double check yours or risk overwriting import stuff with no way of recovering it!)

Went into the partition manager in Windows 10 and right clicked the main drive (1TB) and choose shrink. This took a couple hours to complete because the previous owner had a lot of files. I had already backed them up, but there was no need to wipe them out.

Then booted from the Mint USB stick(*) and ran the install process, selecting dual boot with Windows.
(*) Not easy to get into the HP BIOS and change the boot order. Had to press ESC repeatedly to get the "BIOS Information" then press F10 to get into the actual BIOS settings. At no point was there any kind of prompt for either action. You had to already know the secrets.

Once Mint was installed and the machine rebooted I could install OBS Studio and re connect the Raspberry Pi OBS worked in exactly the same way as in Windows and it worked perfectly.

Now, I wanted the machine to boot to Mint, run OBS and switch to the correct source and display full screen all unattended. But OBS does not really support anything useful command line-wise.

Was there another way?

Yes! It's Linux there is always another way.

mplayer works just fine
mplayer -fs tv:// -tv driver=v4l2:device=/dev/video2:width=1920:height=1080

I got the video number from
v4l2-ctl --list-devices
HP High Definition 1MP Webcam: (usb-0000:00:10.0-2):

USB Video: USB Video (usb-0000:00:12.0-1.1):

video0 and video1 are the single built in webcam. No idea what video3 is, it didn't work.

Not specifying the width and height resulted in a full-screen image that appears to be up-scaled 640x480, Ouch!

This is going on a bit, but the base stuff all worked!

17 Jan 2021:
super hot vr workout
One of the on sale VR games we got was Super Hot VR. You may remember that name from super hot x3 ++.

First thing to say about Super Hot VR is "What a work out!". You really have to twist around in 3D space to dodge bullets and all manner of objects. I really need a cold drink after just 30mins of that game.

You are represented in the game by your VR hands and an invisible body that is very vulnerable. The enemies are all stylised red polygon people, who are equally breakable. Various situations play out and in each time flows very slowly, unless you move. Moving your head/ VR headset increase the time slightly but moving your hands can get it up to real time. And you really do not want time to flow at full speed because there are usually multiple adversaries shooting at you!

Dodging and timing your attacks are the name of the game with the red people have an annoying habit of doing something slightly different from the last time. Like going left instead of right or shooting up instead of down.

A great experience to describe doesn't even involve guns. You are standing in the middle or small bridge. To your left is a polygon person wielding a knife with an unarmed person behind him. To your right is the same two people and as you start the level to large ninja throwing stars are falling in-front of you.

Ideally you grab a star in each hand, throw in both directions, kill both knife enemies, grab said knifes and stab the unarmed(but punchy) people behind them. Unfortunately more often than not, your throws will miss, because you are doing it blind, but that one time where it goes perfectly is sooooo satisfying.
17 Jan 2021:
more than half of halflife alyx
More Halflife:Alyx and I am afraid I am going to continue to go on about it at least until I complete it :D

More thrills and spills, more gun fights, exploration and puzzle solving. I say all that with the point that the gun fights are different, the exploring is different and the puzzles are different. This is why this game is so so good. It does not get old, does not repeat itself and always has something new and interesting around the corner.

Although ... it is not perfect. Sometimes you come to a new area and see things that were the same height as items you had previously climbed upon and ... you cannot get on top of them. Or there are just random invisible barriers blocking your way because you wondered off course. These certainly are the exception and not the rule, but it can be very disconcerting.

I cannot talk about the story, but it is very well weaved into the experience and seems to clearly exist in the world without you, even though you are progressing and directly affecting it.

I do find a session in Alyx draining, both physically and mentally, which is why I have not completed it yet. Wanting to complete Alyx has also stopped me trying out a number of new games/experiences we bought on sale...
05 Jan 2021:
flog off 2020 it review time
Yearly update time.

Flog the year of 2020

Updated Archive

Total number of posts 73(down on 2019 by 33)

total tags in the system: 1772
of which 553 were used in 2020

Top tags
     Raspberry Pi with 14 posts.
     11 VR with 11 posts.
     11 Blender with 11 posts.
     10 Game with 10 posts.
     8 Flog with 8 posts.

04 Jan 2021:
skull a2 takes the biscuit
I tried again with the modelling a Skull in Blender and if I keep it up one day I will create a good one ;)

Looking at last months attempt, that at the time I thought was not bad for a first go, it was not good! But it was all experience.

Sculpting in Blender is all about playing with the brushes and tools. I even got quite good at masking areas so only parts were affected.

The result is not bad, it is recognisable as a skull

Skull sculpted in blender A2

and anything is better than last time :)

Skull sculpted in blender A1
03 Jan 2021:
half at it with alyx again
I have been playing Halflife:Alyx again and oh my God! this is such and amazing game.

One moment I am exploring, looking for hidden treasures that will allow me to upgrade my gun and the next I am throwing vodka bottles to lead "Jeff" away from my avatar, who has their hand over their mouth to stop coughing. Then, after navigating dark tunnels I am in a zoo and giant ant-lions are running me down, then I am completing a taxing wire puzzle...

but there is so much more and the attention to detail is insane! From tiny plastic tigers and t-shirt sporting mannequins in the gift shop store room to fully fitted kitchens and surgical theatres. You never get bored, but I can say it does get overwhelming and I was happy to stop, but will be equally happy to pick it up again next time I can set up the Vive.

Not to mention the combat. The VR experience against the humanoid combatants is something else. These soldiers use the cover and the their companions to flush you out of differing landscapes and areas. From dark corridors to large outside construction sites and many more. You have limited ammo, range and accuracy, but can duck quickly in and out of cover. With my physical size I can sometimes shoot over the top of obstacles and sit on the floor to make the most of what cover there is.

I am only 2/3rds of the way through the game and I feel I have seen and experienced so much. I look forward to finally completing this masterpiece.
loading results, please wait loading animateloading animateloading animate
[More tags]
rss feed



flog archives

Disclaimer: This page is by me for me, if you are not me then please be aware of the following
I am not responsible for anything that works or does not work including files and pages made available at www.jumpstation.co.uk I am also not responsible for any information(or what you or others do with it) available at www.jumpstation.co.uk In fact I'm not responsible for anything ever, so there!