During Debian upgrades over the last few months, apparently my
system's alsa and aumix scripts had a little private battle for
control of the mixer, and alsa won. The visible symptom was that my
volume was always at 0 when I started up.
I tried re-enabling the aumix script in /etc/init.d, which
had previously controlled my default volume, but it just said
"Saved ALSA mixer settings detected; aumix will not touch mixer."
The solution, in the end, was to remove
/var/lib/alsa/asound.state, set the volume, and
run alsactl store. Someone suggested that I use chattr -i
to make the asound.state file inviolable; it isn't on an ext2/3
filesystem, so that isn't a solution for me, but if my volume goes
wonky again at least I know where to look.
[ 10:40 Jun 01, 2005
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The GSA conference happened back when I was too caught in the whirl of
events to write about them. It's been a over month now, but I did want
to save a couple of impressions.
The field trips all started way too early. Sure, this is the whining
of a non-morning person: but really, when your field trip starts with
45 minutes of everybody standing around because the rental agency that
rents the vans isn't open yet, maybe that's a sign that starting a
little later might be a good idea. Even aside from the wisdom of
scheduling all your travel time for the height of rush hour.
The field trips were worthwhile, though. The most interesting
parts were often topics that hadn't sounded interesting at all
ahead of time.
The talks at the conference were terrific, total information overload,
with maybe six sessions going at once.
There are lots of people doing interesting research in geology,
often fairly junior people (grad students or postdocs),
and many of them are even able to talk enthusiastically about their
research using words that make sense to a mere student of the
subject. Dry jargon-laden talks did exist, but they were the
exception, not the rule.
Everybody was friendly, too, and very willing to talk to students
and explain their research or chat about other topics in geology.
I went to one of the "Roy J. Shlemon student mentoring lunches"
featuring a round-robin of geologists moving from one student table to
another to share insight and stories: very helpful and interesting!
The conference organizers obviously worship at the altar of Bill
Gates. There was apparently a conference-wide dictum that Thou Shalt
Use Powerpoint and Thou Shalt Display On Our Windows Boxen, Not Your
The unsurprising result was that roughly 80% of the talks had at least
some problems displaying
slides, resulting in cursing, then apologies, with the speaker
assuring the audience that it would make much more sense if only we
could see the slide the way it had been written. Perhaps half of these
followed up with a mutter about having to use Windows rather than a
Mac. Macs are clearly big with geologists (though alas there was no
sign of Linux use).
That said, the conference ran aggressively on time, each session
having an appointed watchdog to sit in front and remind the speaker
when time was running out. I've never seen a conference stick to a
schedule so well, especially when filled with short (20-minute) talks.
I had been prepared for the worst after problems getting schedule
information before the conference, but the organization on site
(except field trips) was flawless.
All in all, quite a good time.
I'm only sorry next year's conference isn't back in San Jose.
(It's in Alaska; I'd love to go, but finances will probably prevent it.)
[ 00:04 Jun 01, 2005
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