Joseph Zikusooka ~ Zik

A software engineer specializing in open source technologies | Very experienced in building and configuring UNIX/Linux systems and servers. Passionate about developing software applications and hardware for the smart home | Currently serving as the CEO of Jambula Labs and the project leader at JambulaTV, a smart home automation and entertainment platform - | This blog focuses on the following areas: Linux How-Tos and Tutorials ::: IT Security News ::: Free and Libre Open Source Software ::: Smart Home Software ::: Digital Innovations in East Africa |

Year: 2011

PulseAudio – How to control the volume of individual applications via CLI

Using the Gnome interface, its pretty easy to adjust the volume of running audio based applications i.e. Go to sound Preferences >> Applications Tab. When using the Command Line interface (CLI) on the other hand, Its not that straight forward.

At the command prompt, run the following command:
pactl list | grep -A16 ‘Sink Input’ | more

The above command will give you details of your running streams or in ‘pulseaudio speak’ Sink Inputs (go figure). Take note of the Index number of the Sink Input you wish to control.

To control the volume of your application:
To mute: pactl set-sink-input-mute [sink Index no.] 1
To unmute: pactl set-sink-input-mute [sink Index no.] 0
To set Volume: pactl set-sink-input-volume [sink Index no.] 65535 (0-65535)

Uganda’s transition to digital television – Where are we?

With less than 16 months left, questions are being asked as to whether Uganda will beat the December 2012 deadline of switching from analogue to Digital TV. A couple of posts of interest:
UBC Not ready … Daily Monitor
Government Stops … New Vision

My observations so far:
There seems to be a lot of misinformation about the migration from analogue to digital TV. For example, the general public perception is that this switch would necessitate households to subscribe to a TV digital provider. There’s very little information with the exception of the informational TV ads that were run by Uganda Communications Commison (UCC) a few months back.

There’s lack of any serious pilot testing taking place at the moment. The only broadcaster currently transmitting a Free to Air signal is Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC). With more broadcasters allowed to run tests, I believe most early adopters would begin to switch.

Do you live in Uganda? What do you think?

Google+, Facebook, and Ubuntu

A couple of items caught my attention this week.

1. Google plus, a facebook alternative was launched by the search company, Google. While it’s currently an invite-only service, Google+ looks very promising and may very well attract those who are not comfortable with facebook’s privacy. You can read more about Google plus at: Google+

With facebook launching an exciting product next week (some sort of Skype?), things are getting very exciting in the social networking space.

2. For Linux enthusiasts out there, many of you already know how ubuntu, the Canonical based Linux distribution, helped accelerate the adoption of the Linux desktop. Well things are no longer rosy, for the distribution, as it slipped from No.1 position to No. 2 on distrowatch’s last-3-month’s rankings. Lots of users have been turned off by the latest Ubuntu 11.04 release which uses the Unity interface that was picked in favor of the traditional Gnome desktop. For those looking at alternatives, consider Fedora, a Red-Hat Linux derivative. Fedora continues to set the trend when it comes to bleeding edge technology. An example is the recently released Fedora 15. Check it out at: Fedora Project

For the folks in the good ole US of A, Happy 4th of July!

Uganda Telecom 3G Mobile Internet Down

As UTL 3G users in Uganda have noticed, Internet access via 3G has been down since 19 May 2011. While other clients on ADSL etc lines are active, the performance is really poor. If you have called the customer care center hotline (300), the best you will hear each time is ‘Our technicians are working on the problem …. blah blah blah’ Come on guys you can do better than this!

UPDATE: As of 6pm 24 May 2011, 3G service seems to have been restored. 5 days later . Wow…

Hauppauge WinTV MiniStick on Linux – Digital TV in Uganda

As Uganda prepares to migrate to digital TV broadcasts in 2012, I have been testing some of the pilot broadcasts out there. I’m using Linux i.e. Fedora 12 – Kernel version: and an off-the shelf USB Hauppauge WinTV MiniStick.

– The first major task is to get the DVB-T USB stick to be recognized.
– Open the terminal: run the command ‘tail -f /var/log/messages’

The first time you insert the USB Stick. It will not be recognized out of the box as shown in the following errors:

firmware: requesting sms1xxx-hcw-55xxx-dvbt-02.fw[4212]: Cannot find firmware file ‘sms1xxx-hcw-55xxx-dvbt-02.fw

– Remove WinTV USB stick

– cd /lib/firmware/

– wget -c

– Plug in Stick again

– This time it is recognized and you’ll see the following in the log:

kernel: DVB: registering new adapter (Hauppauge WinTV MiniStick)
kernel: DVB: registering adapter 0 frontend 0 (Siano Mobile Digital MDTV Receiver)…

– OK, time to scan for some channels. I have whipped up a quick and dirty script that will allow you to scan for free view channels in your area.

– Download the script at: My DVB-T Scan Script
NOTE: For this script you need to first install w_scan utility i.e. In Fedora, yum -vy install w_scan

– Run the script i.e. sh (You may need to first make it executable – chmod 755

– After a successful run, the script will place your channels file to the appropriate location.

– Time to play. Open your favorite media application. I am using xine.
Run the command: xine dvb:// (You can also use the GUI – click on DVB)


Happy New Year!

A Happy New Year to All. I Spent part of the holiday with my good friends, Erik and Lynn, who were visiting from the US. Lots of catching up on old times in America, and a bit of travel.

I plan on upgrading the blog in a few days, so check back in a few days for a new site and hopefully some fresh content.

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