Although some big things are causing me problems at the moment — my back hurting again (needing the osteopath), the ever-present risk of further brain issues (and the possibility of my anti-epilepsy medication being Shkrelised after Brexit), and, of course, E.ON still causing my household billing problems — it’s the little things in life that can cheer me up now and again.
For one thing, I’m using my big, expensive TV that I bought and brought home (with “best mate’s” help) in 2017! Ironically, it’s partly due to me switching from Windows to Linux, and partly due to the recent severe winds damaging or destroying the satellite dish that’s brought me Freesat since moving in here (installed by a previous Sky Digital-subscribing tenant). The first means I (probably) can’t play Blu-rays on this machine any more, but since I brought up an old 2008 Blu-ray player from Worthing (one which mysteriously started playing discs again, without needing a 2011 firmware update installed via esoteric CD-R format), I can now watch movies on a big screen.
And although I can’t get a live broadcast signal any more, I can use apps in the Freesat box itself — including the one made by the Horror Channel, which means I can watch the evening episodes of Star Trek: Voyager any time, instead of having to make dinner ready for 7pm (or 8pm on the +1 channel), or catching the Sunday reruns! They’ve even fixed the damn app so it shows the episode with one- or two-advert breaks, instead of being just a recording of the evening broadcast, with the ads made unskippable (it was easier to record and skip through!).
I can also watch Family Guy and American Dad! any time on ITV’s app, instead of scheduling my showers around them, as well as BBC stuff like Doctor Who (which I can do live, though not tonight thanks to the time I was making dinner) and, if and when it comes back, Watchdog. All things considered, I’m not sure I miss live broadcasts after all — but don’t worry, I haven’t demanded a refund on this household’s TV licence! All things considered, it’s an impetus to turn away from my computer desk and face the TV itself, instead of using it like a radio in the background.
(If I want to listen to stuff, I can always play CDs in this thing — and Linux ripping to .ogg instead of .wma format means I can finally play albums properly gapless on my phone! And I just found Eminem’s newest album in Tesco…)
But back to the first thing: I’m still on Linux, and have figured out a number of things regarding getting it to look right for me — though it sucks that LibreOffice Writer (which has assumed the role of being used to write my diary) can’t do some simple things like search for words with apostrophes in them unless you use the exact same one in the search term (straight vs. curly), something even Micro$haft got right years ago!
It also sucks that I can’t get Fitbit (which I went back to recently) to sync via its own USB dongle (sadly, the independent software Galileo doesn’t seem to be up to the task), but hey, it’s having trouble syncing through my phone as well — what’s wrong with the app lately? I mean, it’s nice to know I’m walking over 10,000 steps every working day, and just possibly sleeping close to 7 hours each night (more at the weekend), but still, maybe I should give it up once and for all…
However, there are far more important things than mere trifles like word processing and physical health: yes, video games. I’ve managed to get an Xbox One joypad working with the OS (despite Micro$haft not wanting it available to non-Win10 users), and can thus enjoy games like the classic Postal, and (when I’m ready) the later Assassin’s Creed games, which can be run under Linux by special means thanks to a fan-made system called Lutris.
(Good job I completed Assassin’s Creed IV and Watch_Dogs while I was still using Windows 7, though!)
I’ve had trouble with my current (released in 2019) game, Rage 2 (the original of which I played around the time I was taken on in my current job) — fun and glorious-looking as it may be, I almost gave up as unplayable, due to the entire game freezing up completely whenever I tried to use the in-game menus (for things like inventory, map, upgrades for weapons and abilities… you know, the usual). I researched it and tried various things — such as changing which version of Proton it used, migrating all my game files from NTFS (Windows) to EXT4 (Linux) partitions, disabling the Steam overlay, and adding some esoteric code to limit the framerate to 55fps — but nothing seemed to work…
Finally, when all seemed lost (and I was starting to replay the more cartoony Borderlands games instead), I found a resolution… the screen resolution, that is, because although I can play the game in 3840×2160 (I’ve got a good graphics card), by chance I found that running the game in 1920×1080 stops the crashes, and so now I can actually make useful objects and set destination markers! Maybe it was down to Linux Mint itself needing the desktop double-sized so I can actually see things on my hi-res 4K monitor (which itself works much better than Windows 7 could ever hope to achieve), but whatever, it works now.
(Why am I going on about this? So that someone out there in TV land finds their way to this blog and uses my solution, why else?! Pity there’s still no way to stop the game crashing if it loses focus for even a split second when adjusting the volume via keyboard…)
So anyway, now I can do what I want, and relax in the evenings… well, yeah, it is a matter of coming home from staring at computer screens all day, and staring at two screens here instead (and my phone’s screen in both places). My mother was once worried, in late 1992, that I was spending all my time in front of “one screen or the other”, but I was happy doing so back then (not wanting a social life in dismal Worthing), and I’m happy doing so now… as long as I can still go outside when I want to, obviously!
But thanks to the necessity of dealing face-to-face with “worst housemate” and her billing, not to mention our landlady being expected to come over and talk about how E.ON are now billing her late husband for his old account (they’re threatening to send the debt collectors here, but won’t tell me why because I’m not him), I wonder if I’ll be able to go out in the evenings… though as long as my back doesn’t play up, maybe it’s high time I climbed the walls again?
Or, perchance, one day I’ll get a date with a woman who turns out to be an introverted gamer as well? Here’s hoping…