2016 — 20 August: Saturday

Aah, the sweet mystery that is HDCP.1 Chromecasting of my radio just would not be persuaded to resume this morning until after a good 10 minutes of faffing around. Switching the Kuro plasma screen on. Completely rebooting the dongle. Rolling up one trouser leg, etc etc.

And, at 06:40, down comes the rain despite some blue sky and scudding fluffy white clouds. Still, the Post Office depot doesn't open until 07:00 which should give me time to work out what I need for the gaps in Mother Hubbard's cupboard.

I shall be performing...

... some minor-league open heart surgery on Skylark today. But this time I shall also comment out a line of /etc/fstab beforehand to avoid the "Oops, it's not there so I shall simply stop booting" syndrome that never ends well. I'm treating it to a 1TB lump of spinning rust and I also have the now-spare 250 GB Samsung SATA SSD so I may as well park that in there, too. I spoil that PC.

"Preacher" ended well

I'd not actually read the last two or three volumes of the saga. Peter had been buying them up in York but since I'm never actually short of other stuff to read I'd missed them until he parked them back here on his wall of such stuff. My interest was re-sparked by recently watching the first episode of the new TV variant — "variant" being the operative word. "Vastly different" would be nearer the mark.

Because of Google mail's inability...

... to parse some of its punctuation in email addresses, I have long been receiving an occasional email newsletter from some church organisation across the Pond. Doesn't bother me; it's infrequent, and easily deleted. Today's offering is three reasons to join a "connect" group. Reason #2 tickled me:

You're too busy.
You go buy groceries, and then cook groceries. You take care of the 
clothes, cars, and house. You stay-up on sports and news by watching 
tv, and stay-up on political opinions by scrolling your Facebook feed.

You think? Really?? Is that actually what people do? (Reason #1 was "There are weird people". I shall defer reason #3. There are, after all, groceries to be bought... And I'm sure my political opinions are best formed by seeing what others think.) Nominative determinism rules, by the way. The email purports to be from a "Nicole Bishop".

I've picked up...

... the parcel, a Lindy 5-port HDMI 2.0, 4K switch box. Now I can start on my Cunning Plan. My 34" Dell screen is wonderful. Glorious, crisp image. Sweet spot in terms of resolution and aspect ratio. Just about enough pixels (3440x1440) to keep me happy. But — unbelievably — it has a teensy, tiny, almost-not-worth-mentioning weakness. It's not great on a DisplayPort2 input. And I have two of them. But it's fine with HDMI input, and I have two of them, too. But, until I retire BlackBeast, I have a minimum of three PCs knocking around.

I'm hoping to connect them all to the Lindy, and plumb its HDMI output into the Dell. What could possibly go wrong?

Given my (growing) stash...

... of PDF files, pdfgrep looks useful. (I generally just use Recoll, which does a pretty good job of indexing PDFs.)

Phase II...

... of my Cunning Plan has me browsing 4K display screens. I like the increased resolution — 67% more pixels than my Dell. But my 40" 4K Philips display last year proved too big. OK. What about, say, a 32" screen?

size comparisons

The Dell (green) to scale against a 32" display of 16:9 aspect ratio. I could live with a 32" screen. But can my piggy bank?

Too few people...

... read Saki these days. In my opinion! Source and snippet:

Coward and Saki do both give off-kilter advice, and they are at their most archetypal when laying down the law. Coward renders schoolboy humour urbane: 'Never trust a man with short legs; his brains are too near his bottom.' Saki is calmly outlandish: 'Never be flippantly rude to any inoffensive grey-bearded stranger that you may meet in pine forests or hotel smoking-rooms on the Continent. It always turns out to be the King of Sweden.'

Katherine Rundell in LRB

A delicious quote lifted from Reginald at the theatre last time I used/saw it.


I seem to have proved that the Lindy HDMI switch box doesn't like the Dell. Nor its own remote control. Nor the NUC's HDMI output. Or, just possibly, all three. This was all so much easier when everything was analogue.

To add further insult, I've just had to re-install Mint 18 on the i5 NUC as I had no clue (from the reported pair of Intel error messages during start-up, and the apparent intervention by this systemd malarkey) what on earth the problem was. [Pause] To teach it (or me) a lesson, the NUC is now back directly connected to the Rotel pre-amp via HDMI and is flawlessly playing digital audio "out of the box". If you recall the advice about interfaces, I have just reduced the complexity by enough, I hope, to resume some sort of stability...

Mike Cowlishaw's Dictionary of IBM Jargon refers to a definition of "interface" in Guide to the VS APL Workspace Library, SG22-9263:

A panacea. The infallible solution for all problems in system design 
— if you have two components that are supposed to mesh but don't, 
design an interface to mediate between them. 

You will then have three components that don't quite fit together 
instead of two. This is a 50% improvement.

Some good...

... has come out of today's shambolic system shenanigans:

PC system Dell screen input Workspace?
BlackBeast Mk III HDMI/MHL #1 to #6
Skylark HDMI #1 to #6


1  Bane of my digital life.
2  PCs connected via DisplayPort also have a distressing tendency to wake up lobotomised when I switch the Dell back to them after a long-enough interval. What's worse, angst-wise, is my i5 NUC simply refuses to drive the Dell at all except via HDMI. [Pause] Late-breaking news. Kernel 4.6 appears to have fixed the NUC's screen-driving problem, and restored the ability to drive the Dell while also yielding an HDMI output, too. And DisplayPort daisy-chaining is no longer broken.