Solved: Windows Media Player 12 won’t recognize audio CD

Never had a problem before, but today WMP12 (on Win8.1 Enterprise) wouldn’t recognize my new copy of Music of the Spheres by Mike Oldfield (thanks to B. and N. for an early Christmas!). I could play it just fine on VLC, so I knew it wasn’t the hardware. It’s working now, thanks to this forum post and this Windows Club page.

  1. I ran the WMP troubleshooter using Start | Run with the following command line:

    msdt.exe -id WindowsMediaPlayerConfigurationDiagnostic
    
  2. I hit “Advanced” and selected “Run as Administrator.” (Not sure if that would have been required, but it’s what I did.) I also cleared “automatically apply fixes” because that’s the kind of person I am!
  3. I let it do the settings reset it suggested.
  4. I restarted WMP, and it recognized the disk right away.

I didn’t even have to reboot! How often does that happen?   ūüėČ

Working with Guides in Inkscape

A concise, readable reference to Inkscape guide operations. I also note you can set the guide coordinates exactly in the Guidelines dialog, accessed by double-clicking the guide (see item #5).

inkscape tutorials blog

Guides (or Ruler Guides) are lines that can be placed on the document, useful for lining up and snapping elements. Guides can be a little non-discoverable in inkscape, so this article gives you a few quick tips to get the most out of guides in inkscape.

1. Quickly creating a guide

A guide can be quickly created by clicking on either the vertical or horizontal ruler, and dragging onto the canvas. If you drag from close to where the corners meet, an angled guide will be created:dragging-guides

2. Converting a path to Guides

Any object or path can be converted to guides Using Objects > Objects to guides (or keyboard shortcut Shift + G)

convert-path-to-guides

3. Deleting a guide

To Delete a guide, hover the mouse cursor over the guide, and press the Delete key on the keyboard.

deleteguide

4. Rotating a guide

To rotate a guide, hover over it with…

View original post 175 more words

Fixed: Windows 7 update stuck at “Checking for Updates”

I got it unstuck by:

  1. installing the two updates listed here (by Elder Geek); and then
  2. following the procedure listed on InfoWorld.

Tedious?  Yes.  Yes, it was.  At least I had plenty of time to write my last post while the updates were downloading and installing!

Edit: When stuck at “Preparing to install,” I checked the system tray per RogerSC’s post here and it worked.

As of 2016/11/28: The short version is below.  See the linked pages for more details and any updates.

  1. Manually download the updates noted below.
  2. Set Windows Update to “Never check for updates.”
  3. Stop the Windows Update service, and set it to Manual startup.  (Use services.msc.)
  4. Reboot.
  5. Manually install, in this order, rebooting as prompted:
    1. KB3020369
    2. KB3172605
    3. KB3078601
    4. KB3109094,
    5. KB3138612
    6. KB3145739
    7. KB3164033
  6. Install the latest rollup.  As of writing, that is KB3172605.
  7. Change the Windows Update service back to Automatic (Delayed start) and start the service.  Reboot.

Tested on Win7 Pro x64.

When programmers get it right

Technology makes our lives better to the extent we don’t have to think about it. ¬†Robert Pirsig makes this point in¬†Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, and it’s still true: technology that draws attention to itself has failed (except to a very hard-core audience of which I am probably part ūüėČ ).

For the last two years, I have been using Google Chrome to view PDFs at work.  Dozens a day, usually with at least five open at a time.  For the last two years, every time I have rotated the view clockwise or counterclockwise, my page has shifted off-screen and I have had to scroll to get back to it.  Has that stopped me from doing my job?  No.  Has it drawn undue attention to the underlying technology?  Yes.  Very yes.

I cannot express my delight at finding,¬†after a recent Chrome update, that I wasn’t the only one with this problem ‚ÄĒ and that it has been fixed! ¬†I rotated my PDF and reached for the scrollbar, but then I noticed the underlying technology in a¬†good way: I was still looking at the same page I had been. ¬†Now each day is a bit smoother, and my job is a bit easier, because the fix has reduced, rather than increased, my mental workload.

My sincere thanks to everyone involved in pdfium bug 116297.  Special thanks to thestig at chromium.org for making the fix!  If you read this, thestig, please know you have succeeded.

Note to programmers: sometimes small fixes¬†are big wins. ¬†It took thestig¬†two lines of code to save me several minutes of wasted effort per work day, every work day, possibly for the rest of my career. ¬†Fix the small things ‚ÄĒ your users will thank you!

Minimizing Collateral Damage

This cool article¬†about how software engineer Thanassis Tsiodras rooted his Android tablet reminded me of some things I’ve been thinking about for a while. ¬†We have spent decades learning how to minimize collateral damage in technology. ¬†For example, on Thanassis’s tablet, getting shell access wasn’t enough because the SELinux configuration provided another line of defense. ¬†Why haven’t we applied what we have learned in the tech space to the wider world?

The US elections are tomorrow. ¬†No matter who wins, hundred of millions of people are going to be unhappy. ¬†Let’s revisit how we can apply technological structures and design patterns (not technology itself, for once!) to minimize the collateral damage our leaders do.

I write this now so you’ll know it’s not sour grapes. ¬†No matter who wins tomorrow, I will be working on this series. ¬† Continue reading

An R3G3B2 palette for GIMP, and how to use it.

Part of this answer to a Stack Overflow question by s.gang.

Here’s a GIMP palette file for R3G3B2 pixel packing of RGB images into one byte per pixel.

  1. Copy the below block into a file called “r3g3b2.gpl” somewhere convenient on your disk.
  2. In the GIMP Palettes panel, right-click and select “Import Palette.” ¬†Choose the “Palette File” option and navigate to r3g3b2.gpl:¬†GIMP "Import Palette" example
  3. Open your image as Indexed.
  4. Select the Colors menu | Map | Set Colormap…
  5. Click the palette-name button and then choose “r3g3b2”:Set the colormap of a GIMP indexed image from a palette
  6. Hit Close, then OK, and you should have color!

Note: R3G3B2 is a very low-color-resolution format, so the image will probably look terrible.

r3g3b2.gpl

GIMP Palette
Name: R3G3B2
#
 0 0 0
 0 0 85
 0 0 170
 0 0 255
 0 36 0
 0 36 85
 0 36 170
 0 36 255
 0 72 0
 0 72 85
 0 72 170
 0 72 255
 0 109 0
 0 109 85
 0 109 170
 0 109 255
 0 145 0
 0 145 85
 0 145 170
 0 145 255
 0 182 0
 0 182 85
 0 182 170
 0 182 255
 0 218 0
 0 218 85
 0 218 170
 0 218 255
 0 255 0
 0 255 85
 0 255 170
 0 255 255
 36 0 0
 36 0 85
 36 0 170
 36 0 255
 36 36 0
 36 36 85
 36 36 170
 36 36 255
 36 72 0
 36 72 85
 36 72 170
 36 72 255
 36 109 0
 36 109 85
 36 109 170
 36 109 255
 36 145 0
 36 145 85
 36 145 170
 36 145 255
 36 182 0
 36 182 85
 36 182 170
 36 182 255
 36 218 0
 36 218 85
 36 218 170
 36 218 255
 36 255 0
 36 255 85
 36 255 170
 36 255 255
 72 0 0
 72 0 85
 72 0 170
 72 0 255
 72 36 0
 72 36 85
 72 36 170
 72 36 255
 72 72 0
 72 72 85
 72 72 170
 72 72 255
 72 109 0
 72 109 85
 72 109 170
 72 109 255
 72 145 0
 72 145 85
 72 145 170
 72 145 255
 72 182 0
 72 182 85
 72 182 170
 72 182 255
 72 218 0
 72 218 85
 72 218 170
 72 218 255
 72 255 0
 72 255 85
 72 255 170
 72 255 255
109 0 0
109 0 85
109 0 170
109 0 255
109 36 0
109 36 85
109 36 170
109 36 255
109 72 0
109 72 85
109 72 170
109 72 255
109 109 0
109 109 85
109 109 170
109 109 255
109 145 0
109 145 85
109 145 170
109 145 255
109 182 0
109 182 85
109 182 170
109 182 255
109 218 0
109 218 85
109 218 170
109 218 255
109 255 0
109 255 85
109 255 170
109 255 255
145 0 0
145 0 85
145 0 170
145 0 255
145 36 0
145 36 85
145 36 170
145 36 255
145 72 0
145 72 85
145 72 170
145 72 255
145 109 0
145 109 85
145 109 170
145 109 255
145 145 0
145 145 85
145 145 170
145 145 255
145 182 0
145 182 85
145 182 170
145 182 255
145 218 0
145 218 85
145 218 170
145 218 255
145 255 0
145 255 85
145 255 170
145 255 255
182 0 0
182 0 85
182 0 170
182 0 255
182 36 0
182 36 85
182 36 170
182 36 255
182 72 0
182 72 85
182 72 170
182 72 255
182 109 0
182 109 85
182 109 170
182 109 255
182 145 0
182 145 85
182 145 170
182 145 255
182 182 0
182 182 85
182 182 170
182 182 255
182 218 0
182 218 85
182 218 170
182 218 255
182 255 0
182 255 85
182 255 170
182 255 255
218 0 0
218 0 85
218 0 170
218 0 255
218 36 0
218 36 85
218 36 170
218 36 255
218 72 0
218 72 85
218 72 170
218 72 255
218 109 0
218 109 85
218 109 170
218 109 255
218 145 0
218 145 85
218 145 170
218 145 255
218 182 0
218 182 85
218 182 170
218 182 255
218 218 0
218 218 85
218 218 170
218 218 255
218 255 0
218 255 85
218 255 170
218 255 255
255 0 0
255 0 85
255 0 170
255 0 255
255 36 0
255 36 85
255 36 170
255 36 255
255 72 0
255 72 85
255 72 170
255 72 255
255 109 0
255 109 85
255 109 170
255 109 255
255 145 0
255 145 85
255 145 170
255 145 255
255 182 0
255 182 85
255 182 170
255 182 255
255 218 0
255 218 85
255 218 170
255 218 255
255 255 0
255 255 85
255 255 170
255 255 255

makepal.py

This is the Python script I used to generate r3g3b2.gpl.

#!/usr/bin/python3
# makepal.py: Copyright (c) 2016 cxw. CC-BY.

print("""\
GIMP Palette
Name: R3G3B2
#""")

# Print an R3G3B2 palette
for red in [int(x*255.0/7) for x in range(8)]:
    for green in [int(x*255.0/7) for x in range(8)]:
        for blue in [int(x*255.0/3) for x in range(4)]:
            print("%3d %3d %3d"%(red, green, blue))

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