The Onkyo C-707

I think I may have found the world’s cutest CD changer: the Onkyo C-707. I’d snap one up for our little home hi-fi if it came in black. I adore the light gold case, but I want all our stuff to match.

suwa-koubou.jp has some photos of the unit with its larger tray door and LCD.

Photo of the front of an Onkyo C-707

This is not to be confused with the B-707, which is an aircraft and significantly larger.


A happy birthday jiggly pancake

This was one of the more surreal birthdays I’ve had. Getting a cake delivered because you’ve been advised not to go outside is a new one. In past years we just did Earth Hour and turned the lights off. Still, as my sister messaged me, there’s no pressure to do anything when the situation is like this, amirite?

We figured the situation could only get worse, so earlier in the month Clara and I went to the Japanese Gram pancake place that just opened in Chatswood for an early birthday breakfast. We tried going to one of their branches in Osaka a couple of years ago but they were all out of their signature jiggly pancakes.

They were so, so good!


FreeBSD 12.1 on a new (to me) ThinkPad T550

I picked up a second-hand ThinkPad T550 for my birthday this week, to replace my aging FreeBSD tower I don’t have space for in this studio apartment. Between this and hopefully a new MacBook Pro without an awful keyboard this year, I’ll have the two “desktop” machines I need to do my daily work and personal tinkering.

Unlike my gorgeous little Panasonic Let’s Note which took a lot of work, ThinkPads are well supported out-of-the-box with FreeBSD, owing to the predilicion of the developers for them.

Press shot of the ThinkPad T550

BIOS prep work

I’ve never had to enter a BIOS with ENTER before. I do miss the blue ThinkCentre button on that extra row of keys.

  • Under Config → Total Graphics Memory, set from 256 to 512 MB. This model doesn’t have the discrete GPU option, so this is important.

  • Under Security → Virtualisation, enable Intel (R) Virtualization Technology and Intel (R) VT-d Feature. You won’t have a healthy bhyve without it.

I read there’s no point disabling the TouchPad in the BIOS anymore because it now just sends a signal to the Windows driver. I don’t find myself brushing against it while using the superior TrackPoint we all know and love, but I presume this would be easy enough to disable in FreeBSD.

Graphics

This machine has an Intel HD Graphics 5500:

# pciconf -lv | grep -B2 Graphics
==> vendor = 'Intel Corporation'
==> device = 'HD Graphics 5500'

This is supported with drm-kmod. Note the kld_list not kld_load; thanks to everyone on the FreeBSD mailing lists for helping me out with that:

# pkg install drm-kmod
# sysrc kld_list="/boot/modules/i915kms.ko"
# shutdown -r now

I did see slight screen tearing when scrolling in Xfce, but this was resolved by adding these to /boot/loader.conf as Terpentijn suggested on the forums:

drm.i915.enable_rc6=7
drm.i915.semaphores="1"
drm.i915.enable_fbc="1"

FreeBSD 12.1-RELEASE had an open issue in errata about drm-kmod being built on 12.0, which had an incompatible kernel. The newest packages are now built with 12.1, so you can use packages to install.

Wi-Fi

This will mostly sit on my desk with wired Ethernet, but Wi-Fi would still be useful. It has an Intel Wireless 7265 card which is supported by iwm(4). It’s sufficient now just having the following in /etc/rc.conf:

sysrc wlans_iwm0="wlan0"
sysrc ifconfig_wlan0="WPA DHCP powersave"

If you need to load the drivers manually, make sure you use the 7265D driver as per the manpage, wiki, and wireless mailing list:

echo if_iwm_load="YES" >> /boot/loader.conf
echo iwm7265Dfw_load="YES" >> /boot/loader.conf

I’d say this 90% works. On one boot since I got it the card complained it couldn’t scan for networks. I left it an hour, and it worked again. Not sure if it’s a flaky card or driver yet.

Sound

Checking hardware, we’ve got internal speakers and the ability to play through HDMI:

# cat /dev/sndstat
Installed devices:
pcm0: <Intel Broadwell (HDMI/DP 8ch)> (play)
pcm1: <Realtek ALC292 (Analog 2.0+HP/2.0)> (play/rec) default
pcm2: <Realtek ALC292 (Internal Analog Mic)> (rec)

It should use the internal speaker by default, but in case you need to set:

# sysctl hw.snd.default_unit=1
# echo hw.snd.default_unit=1

I haven’t tested HDMI, but audio just works with:

echo snd_hda_load="YES" >> /boot/loader.conf

Conclusion

This is more a proof of concept; if I end up liking this setup my plan is to get a newer model with a discrete GPU and a HiDPI screen. ThinkPads have the industry’s best keyboards, but their non-HiDPI screens have low contrast, uneven backlighting, and the resolution isn’t great. It’s fine for writing and code, but I’ll still do all my photo editing and such on Macs.

Next steps are to get the brightness and volume controls working, and suspend/resume. The wiki and manpages suggest this shouldn’t be too difficult.


Givin’ It Up for Love, Al Jarreau and George Benson

Update: This post was supposed to be published on Monday the 23rd of March. I have no idea why it didn’t. Se a vida é.

This is going to be a somewhat more serious Music Monday than normal, on account of hearing a few lyrics and arriving at some thoughts. That was a longwinded way of saying music made me think of something.

Play Givin'It Up For Love George Benson & Al Jarreau HQ

Al Jarreau and George Benson’s 2006 album Giving it Up is one of my all-time favourites, and probably my favourite of the 2000s. I was playing it through again on the weekend, and got to “Givin’ It Up for Love” by Jarrau and Freddie Ravel:

I could have been an architect
I could have been a doctor
Been a good police detective
Looking for a robber

I could have been an astronaut
Or a high-priced lawyer
Or an archeologist
Find Pharaoh’s daughter

It’s funky as, as we’d say in Australia. But it also got me thinking about the message. I’d like to think people can have a career and a family, or at least balance the two. But the mere fact the expression is ordered work/life balance lays bare where the priorities really are in the modern economy. We’re not people contributing to the well-being of a society, we’re resources to be tapped.

There’s no question you have to pour energy and effort into any job you have to do. Really, every job; let’s get over the fallacy that so-called unskilled workers are in any way less intelligent or have it easier. But in an ideal world we wouldn’t have this fetish for always needing to look busy, or taking the hit to your career because you want to spend time with family.


My favourite words and place names

With all the dire news around the world, we all need a little levity. These are some of my favorite things based solely on the name:

  • Food additive: Riboflaven (glaven)
  • Place: Saskatchewan
  • Department store: Takashimaya
  • Sauce: Worcestershire
  • Insult: Corpulent

are some of my favourite words and place names:

    • Sascachewan

Anecdotal Ethernet interference

My colleague David posted this in our internal chat system, because we’re all working from home:

I fixed my Internet problems on my desktop the other day, my Ethernet cable was wrapped around a power lead. Apparently 230V mains causes enough EMR to disturb Ethernet.

I remember “fixing” a network issue years ago at my first IT job when I re-routed a cat-3 [sic] cable away from a powerboard cable on an office floor. The interference was so severe, it was timing out and dropping specific connections which I refuse to mention because it would age me. But it shows that even shielding and twisted pairs can be impacted.


Techmoan’s puppets on The Italian Job

Mat’s Techmoan vintage hi-fi channel is fascinating, but it’s an especially delightful treat when he puppets appear at the end.

Well, have you ever seen The Italian Job with Michael Caine?
No, I haven’t even watched it on my own.


Erashkigal art from Megami, March 2020 issue

Clara and I were at Kinokuniya today, to make ourselves feel better over having to cancel our 2020 Japan trip. The world has far bigger problems than us losing our annual leave to our favourite place in the world, but it still made us sad.

Anyway, we came this close to getting the March 2020 issue of the Megami art magazine just for this picture of Ereshkigal from the Fate/Grand Order Babylonia TV adaptation. If she looks familiar, it’s who Clara cosplayed last weekend! Maybe we still should. Uh oh.


Gigolo failed to mount Windows share

Gigolo is a unfortunately-named graphical frontend for accessing remote file servers on *nix desktops. It’s usually included with the Xfce desktop’s goodies package bundles, such as in FreeBSD ports, but it doesn’t have any Xfce-specific dependencies.

I kept encountering the same authentication error this afternoon while creating some new connection bookmarks. I confirmed connectivity to the remote server with smbclient(1) and within the Thunar file manager on the same FreeBSD 12.1-R desktop, so why couldn’t this do it?

Connecting to $SERVER failed. Failed to mount Windows share: Connection refused.

It wasn’t until I saw the connection in the Bookmarks window that I saw the issue: the server was configured with FTP port 21 for some reason. And the problem is, you can’t define a port once you select Windows Share in the Create Bookmark screen.

Theo Linkspfeifer explained a workaround in Xfce bug report #16275:

If you change the port to ‘0’ before switching the connection type to “Windows Share”, no port number will be added to the address.

This works. Here you can see an earlier connection I tried with the incorrect port, and another where I changed the port to 0 first before selecting Windows Share.

Screenshot showing no port in Edit Bookmarks


Rubenerd Show 407: The overengineered everything episode

Rubenerd Show 407

Podcast: Play in new window | Download

25:32 – What started as a discussion regarding an ugly new concept car turned into pontifications about design, and anti-patterns in cars and websites. If overenginering is to make something intentionally more complicated for no benefit other than to ship product, why are we so compelled to do it? Or did I just answer my own question?

Recorded in Sydney, Australia. Licence for this track: Creative Commons Attribution 3.0. Attribution: Ruben Schade.

Released March 2020 on The Overnightscape Underground, an Internet talk radio channel focusing on a freeform monologue style, with diverse and fascinating hosts; this one notwithstanding.

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