Ubuntu 17.04 with Gnome

I spent the day Saturday upgrading from Ubuntu 14.04.02 to 17.04. I always know that there will be hours spent tweaking things, reinstalling programs, cussing a lot, and wondering WHY DID THEY DO THAT?!  Once I had it installed, I installed the gnome-session-fallback to get out of the restrictive Unity shell. I just don’t like it.

Gnome has been a nice environment for me for years. Except this time they have moved some of the button locations. I don’t mean the Minimize, Maximize, Close buttons for which everyone and their uncle have fixes. I mean buttons like the final SAVE button when saving a picture from a browser. It used to be on the bottom right, now it is on the top right and the bottom right has a dropdown list of image types that used to be in the lower left. Grumble, murmur, @#$*%&!

When users become used to using windows a particular way, it becomes a royal pain in the ass when developers move things around because THEY think it is better and fuck you users for thinking differently. At least give us a straightforward way to move things around where we want them so our productivity doesn’t suffer for your whims of design fancy.

Another thing is that any time I copy a file from one disk to another, BOTH disks have a popup telling me the progress of the transfer instead of the old “progress” window that was an unconnected popup. And get this – the popups both STAY ON THE SCREEN UNTIL I MANUALLY CLOSE THEM!!!

I tried the gnome tweak tool, gsettings many keys and values, and haven’t yet found a way. I figured if there is a setting for those three buttons in the upper right, then perhaps there are settings for the rest of the window layout. Not so much, it seems. I even installed Gnome 3.24 and no change.

Oh, and you can’t just resize windows by dragging the edge like we’ve been doing for the past 27 years. Now you have to press a key combination to enable that first. Alt+F8 for me. Who thought that was a good idea?! Stupid shit like that… I did find that I can do Alt Middle-click and drag.

So, if any of you knows how to tweak this, please let me know.

Other gripes:
Themes that look decent are apparently hard to find. The default icon theme Adwaita makes folders and documents look the same in this shell. The default orange icons used in Humanity are gross. Orange? I am settling for “Tango” icons now that are blue, which is at least tolerable.

Atomic Tanks 6.5 sucks shit compared to the previous versions. The fun has been sucked out of it and there is little chance of winning when they kill you with 1 or 2 perfectly accurate shots every time. I uninstalled it. I tried installing older versions from the Ubuntu software repository, but they choked on 17.04 and the lack of dependencies. I tried installing the dependencies, but no go. Boo hoo!

UPDATE: I installed XFCE4 as an alternate shell at login, and I love it so far. The save button is back on the bottom right, the appearance is nice, and things are mostly running smoothly. The thing that prompted me to install it was when a 1994 graphics program I was running under Wine locked up the Xwindow so that the mouse clicks and keyboard inputs were ignored. But this also happened in XFCE, so it looks like Wine 1.8.7 may have an issue with Ubuntu 17.04. (I know, I should get with the times, but PSP 4.12 works so damn well and has no bells or whistles.) I’m installing Wine 2.0.1 tonight, so I’ll see if that fixes things.


Audio hiss/noise on PC

Once again I’m having horrible sound quality on my PC and spent hours on forums searching for possible resolutions. I checked several software solutions and am convinced now that it is a motherboard or electrical issue. I tried a different outlet across the room, but heard the same noise. I tested the outlets wiring and they seem to be wired correctly.

The noise started very suddenly today after being quiet for a month or so. Even during the boot process, before any drivers can load, there is an odd hissing back and forth in the headphones with odd bloops and beeps now and then. This gets worse after the OS loads (Linux or Windows). Even when sound is muted on the OS, I still hear the hissing and blooping. I did test the headphones on a different device (battery powered) and they work fine. I also tried a much older PC on the same outlet and it only had a very faint rustling sound in the background, leading me to think it is a motherboard issue.

I may try the EB Tech HumX device, but it is around $70, so is an expensive experiment. Even a ground-loop isolator doesn’t change anything (I didn’t really expect it to on headphones).

I also want to get a UPS for the PC to further isolate the power source, but when I went to Amazon to get the one I wanted, the reviews for the last month say that the latest batch of CyberPower units have a terrible strong odor that doesn’t go away. So looks like I get to wait until CyberPower takes charge, forces some quality control on their China factories, and purges these bad units from the market.

In the meantime, I have to record onto a handheld digital recorder and listen to files the same way.

UPDATE: It did turn out to be the motherboard having a problem. I bought an inexpensive PCI-e audio card (ASUS Xonar DSX) and the sound is perfectly clear now. It took a bit of looking at settings to make it work in Linux, but it was recognized right away and was mostly a matter of adjusting settings in alsamixer and pulse-audio. Mobo is a 10yr-old “ASUS P6X58D Premium”. Still works fine for what I need, but probably time to look at building a new box. I disabled audio in BIOS so that nothing would interfere with the add-in card.

However, in Windows 7 64-bit, the card installed fine but has no sound at all. The only other sound device is the video card which has HDMI audio available, but which I’m not usning. Tried reinstalling the driver and enabling the HSMGR.EXE file and another similar 64-bit one that kept popping up asking for permission. Still nothing. I’ll have to work with it another day.

UPDATE: For whatever reason, after removing the drivers again and reinstalling, rebooting, the ASUS Xonar DSX now works in Windows 7 64-bit. This time it didn’t prompt me to allow any exe files. (I did notice how damn slow Windows boots. Maybe that’s a sign of the age of the motherboard. Linux boots fine.)

Uber – We don’t want to hear from you

A couple of days ago, I began receiving Uber (the private taxi service) emails for a guy named “Troy” to my gmail account that clearly has my own name, not his. I tried to find some kind of link in the email for “Hey, if this isn’t the right email, please let us know”, but there was no such link. If I reply to the email, Uber replies “Hi there. We’re sorry. You’ve contacted an address that does not accept incoming email.” Then they direct me to their FAQ. Oh, and I can sign up if I want to contact their tech support.

Hey Uber, since you didn’t bother to use email verification when people sign up, I could put anyone’s name in and have them receive annoying useless emails from you. Whee.

Same goes for Lyft. I started getting emails from them also, with no verification that they had the right address.

Then I got an email for a Jon White who purchased an Uber gift card, and he has an email address that bears no resemblance to mine at all. Yet I received it.

Uber, your technical abilities suck publicly. Start using email verification when people sign up like everyone else has been doing for 20 years. And make it easier for people to contact your tech support with issues without signing up for your service. I’m not only not a customer, now I never want to be one.

So for now, I will just block them and their gift card service.

Update: I stopped receiving Uber and Lyft messages, but someone named Ron White (probably not the comedian) is still trying to use my email to sign up for things. Or he’s stupid and isn’t checking his auto-correct.