Magical Mystery Tool!

Photo by Sander Sammy on Unsplash

Whether you live in the boonies (like me), just can’t wait until Friday night (’80s factory worker me), or can’t get your friends to play anything but [insert their favorite game system here], GM-less role-play is a godsend.

For my money, the best options for GM-less are:

As you know, I use GMA regularly & Cut-Up Solo frequently. I also back Peter’s Patreon because of invaluable titles from PPM like the one below. (I’m currently re-reading his Easier RPG Publishing.)

Peter now has a Kickstarter running for Easier Solo Mystery Play, with a few straightforward tiers, in keeping with Peter’s straightforward practice, including an option to get all 10 Easier titles for about a buck fifty each. Click that link or check the widget in the sidebar on this page.

There’s even a free 20-page sample PDF available on that KS page! Well worth reading. Give it a look-see.

P.S. Comment below if the post title made you smile.

“Tell me when you make it work”

This’ll probably be my last Linux post for awhile. My last Chromebook rescue post for the foreseeable future. Everything’s working as should be on all three machines. Maybe a quick comment on this post if the Windows 11 one works well for recording and editing video demos.

It’s been about a month and a half since I first got this old Acer C710 from a friend clearing out his office, and installed Bodhi Linux on it. And in all that time, I’ve been searching for a way to make the SD card work. As a background project, while researching a dozen or so Linux distributions, trying out a half dozen (three on this C710 alone), settling on OpenSUSE for the Acer CB3, learning how to remap the upper row of a Chromebook keyboard, installing Windows 11 on the HP x360, and getting its audio hardware to work.

Six-plus weeks of gaining some measure of familiarity with command-line operation in a terminal window. Familiarity with the open-source community and its groups devoted to different distros. Finding myself waaaay over my head reading pages of code beyond my comfort zone, and backing away. Of digging through search results day after day for “SD card not working in Linux” or “Linux MMC card drivers” or “Broadwell SD Linux drivers” (once I discovered that detail about my machine) and Google’s AI ignorantly, repeatedly returning “How to install Linux from an SD card.”

And a decade’s worth of posts on message board after message board saying, “Give up and use a USB adapter.”

Jennifer said, “Tell me when you make it work.”

We’ve been married a long time.

A few things have kept me going. (1) Sheer cussedness. (2) The knowledge that no matter how badly I might screw things up, I could probably start from scratch by reinstalling an OS, and the worst that could happen would be bricking a machine that had been headed to a landfill anyway. (3) Rumors that Gallium OS (no longer supported) did it on some machines. And (4) a couple of mentions of workarounds, too esoteric for me to understand at first.

Eventually, however, I learned how to open and edit config files in a terminal window, and that despite there being no “sdhci.conf” file in my “etc/modprobe.d” folder, it was worth a try to create one and include the line “options sdhci debug_quirks2=4”.

I have no idea what that means, but it works. As you can see from the screenshot, there’s an SD card showing in the file manager. Removing it makes it disappear, and inserting it makes it reappear. I can read from it and save to it. That screenshot itself was in fact saved to and uploaded from the SD card.

With that final conundrum solved, and all three Chromebooks operating as intended, I can get back to my usual work of writing and publishing games.

And anti-fascism. In fact, come to think of it, there’s a Linux distro I want to try out on the Acer CB3, specifically because of the OS’s anti-fascist community, and the fact that it’s a somewhat deeper part of the code pool for me to wade in. Hmmm.

Nipper Gives a Listen to My Win11 Chromebook!

Happy (thrilled? relieved?) to announce that the HP x360 Chromebook running Windows 11 now has speaker drivers. With this step, the transition to Win11 on a newish Chromebook is complete!

(In related news, I’ve now officially canceled my MS 365 subscription, which seems contradictory. But it’s all part of the masterplan. Nyahaha!)

I spent $10 buying the audio drivers (which is paltry, considering the amount of programming work that went into them, and the fact that the rest of the process is free; heck, on the previous Chromebook it was completely free). And then spent 5 days wandering the labyrinth of the process for installing it — only because it was as unintuitive as a pre-GUI 1980s-style experience:

  1. Buy the driver by putting money in your Patreon account, which is already sort of backward to Patreon usage.
  2. Then subscribe to the programmer’s Patreon project with that balance.
  3. Follow a link back to the programmer’s Website to download the installation program. (Be sure to get the correct 1 of 3!) Then unsubscribe from the Patreon. (Hang on. I forgot to do that! Back in a sec.)
  4. Extract the zipped folder. Go into its GUI folder. Run the GenLicense program, which involves:
    • Click a button to generate an unsigned license binary file;
    • Click a button to open the online portal to upload the unsigned file;
    • Click to have them to generate a new, signed binary; download it;
    • Run the GUI again to select the signed license binary file;
    • Run the now signed driver installer.
  5. Next up, open Windows Device Manager to see if the driver took effect. Often with any new driver, you have to restart the PC for it to happen. Sometimes in the old days, I’ve even had to delete a device from the Device Manager, then restart to force the machine to rerecognize it and look for a driver. In this case, I just had to use the Device Manager’s option to browse to a new driver so the PC could recognize it.

Voila!

Sounds pretty easy, right? Not so fast. Complicate it with 5 days of sending emails with screenshots of error messages along the way, and 24+ hours each time waiting to receive a cryptic one-sentence response.

Tonight, while taking screenshots to demonstrate that I had, indeed, bought the license, I came across the Read Me file again, scoured it for clues, launched the license GUI again, and thought, “Wait, can they really mean to generate an unsigned license, upload it to verify, download the signed binary, and relaunch the GUI to recognize it? What the hell, let’s give it a try.”

Maybe it would’ve made perfect sense to you. To me it was like putting a locked box of cake mix into the oven and photographing it; then taking the photograph to the store for them to unlock the cake box; before going home again to actually mix, stir, and bake the cake.

Pretty tasty cake, though! And this is a pretty sweet little touchscreen, foldback, Windows 11 laptop.

I got nothing for a title

Our youngest daughter, Karalyn, the Seattleite with a career in video, was taken by ambulance to the ER this morning, after a weeklong bout with COVID. The trouble was revealed to be bloodclots in her lungs and left leg. She’s now recovering from emergency surgery, apparently well. But Jenny’s crying because this is the first surgery Karly has gone through without her mom there.

Change of topic: Since childhood, I’ve looked past every bully to the toadies empowering him. Take away those chickenshits, and the bully deflates, unwilling to fight you alone.

Confluence of topics: As a father I’m pissed, because COVID would be less of a problem if not for the ignorant, asshole antivaxxers. Especially the MAGA toadies standing behind Donald Trump. A bully whose political power has cowed the Republican party for a dozen years. I hate a bully, but I utterly loathe their toadies.

(Yeah, this just got political. But we’re in an earthquake of political shakeups this decade, and it’s stupid to pretend we’re not.)

Every bully and mob of toadies also has a crowd of onlookers. People either too afraid to get involved or too entertained. In this case the mass of genuine conservatives who have either caved to the mob for the sake of expediency or back it for financial gain.

An aside: Admittedly, I’ve always had philosophical differences with the Republican party. I don’t think the human race has achieved this level of civilization through a “That’s mine, hands off” attitude. Competition is fine for sports, but I believe that at heart we’re a collaborative species that excels while working together over Nature’s challenges. That’s philosophy. I’ve never despised anyone for a different point of view there.

Well, except for Conservative Evangelical Christians. The tribe from which I come. The “Why does my tax money have to go to food stamps for deadbeats?” gang. The ones who never really noticed that Jesus didn’t tell the rich man, “Donate all your money to a church or a museum,” he said “Give all your money to the poor.” The Christians who sort of gloss over the parable about everyone getting an equal wage. The Christians who oppose collective social support, but never really realized that we all share the same roads.

Again, those social issues are merely philosophical differences I have with conservatives. But don’t tell me you’re Christian and also espouse them.

Back on topic: The whole Republican party has twice now had an opportunity to choose differently in their primaries. And again, they’ve overwhelmingly chosen the bully, because … see my point about toadies and bystanders, above.

I used to admire the caution and discipline of conservatism. But their repeated choice of Donald Trump has left me with little respect for the Republican party. We’ve now walked well past philosophy into ethics, with life and death more pointedly on the line than ever.

So let me pointed to Trump supporters. You’ve chosen not just a team with a different point of view, you’ve joined the ranks of my enemy. (And if you’re in those ranks as a Christian, it’s your inatentiveness to your own instruction manual that pushes me and others toward atheism.)

If this post offends, measure that against a father’s offense at how Trumpism has contributed to his youngest daughter’s health hazard. You’ll understand how little I care about a few bruised egos.

To everyone else: Vote. And speak up in solidarity. The only way to break up a gang of toadies is to push your way through the bystanders and stand behind the bully’s victims.

Quod scripsi, scripsi