Between Linux and Anime

Kind of like Schrodinger's Cat

Author: Jason "moofang" (Page 2 of 20)

The King of Knights – A Brief Review of Fate/Zero

I finished Fate/Zero some time ago and enjoyed it immensely. It was a very dense show with a lot of rich, inter-weaving ideas – so much so that a detailed treatment is probably an impossibility for a single post. But I still want to write a little on it, in part also to hopefully build some momentum for tackling more difficult post topics later on. So I’m going to focus this post on Saber – a single thread in Fate/Zero’s yarn, but one that is I think quite wonderful and radiant. Hopefully I’ll also be able to pivot on that to say some general things about Fate/Zero itself – the kind of show it is like.

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Hana no Android Gakuen: Summer Special 1 English Translated

Here we go! Summer Special 1 (originally announced here). Translating this chapter took more effort than expected because of the bizarre references, so I ended up releasing just one instead of two chapters as I had hoped to. Not too much more to say this time, so I’ll keep it short for once :)

(Reminder here that this strip wasn’t released freely online, so if you like Hana no Android Gakuen I encourage you to support the authors by buying a volume (paper book and e-book). These are of course in Japanese, and no official English translations exist to the best of my knowledge. As long as this persists I will for my part commit to eventually translating everything in the first volume release – unless a much faster-working translation group picks it up or I get shut down by the creators for releasing non-free strips.)

Look for previously released translations in the category archives.

Hit the jump for the released strips. Like all Japanese manga, this should be read right to left, top to bottom.

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Give the Animator Dormitories Project some Love

I’ve already mentioned this in my previous post, but there’s only barely a week left, and we got 40% of the funding target left to fill. Which is kinda sorta bad, and here I am posting another nag! So in case you haven’t heard, the gist: Some veteran animators and NPO Animator Supporters are running a Indiegogo campaign to set up low-cost dormitories for budding Japanese animators drowning in a harsh industry. Yes, for the suffering guys who make our anime. So if you’re a fan (or a sympathetic bystander) do trot over and give them some love – either in the form of a monetary contribution to the campaign if you can, or at least by spreading the word. Thank you! If on the other hand you feel you need a little more convincing on why you should bother.. well, read on :)

Reason #1 is in short that life is shitty being a young animator. But I’m not going to delve very deeply into that, and I will instead refer you to this post for a vivid and somewhat passionate detailing of the problem. I’m going to focus on another reason why I think you should be donating to their cause.

A good while ago I wrote a similar post asking for support for the Time of Eve Kickstarter campaign. Several other comparable projects have sprouted ever since, which is a good trend, but we need it to continue gathering momentum. Because a great disconnect has existed for too long now between the animators and studios in Japan and the sizable foreign audience of anime content. And with the age of the open Internet upon us, it’s high time we closed that gap.

Not too long ago there was still no way for overseas fans to legitimately watch anime without waiting months for the DVD and Bluray release. Thanks to the opening of Internet-based channels by folks like Crunchyroll now, this has I am told recently been remedied for American audiences (though where I’m from nothing much has changed at all). And I think part of the reason for this development is an entering into the consciousness of the industry in Japan of the sheer volume of audience they have abroad. It is a simple argument then: the more the Japanese creators are thinking about their potential consumers abroad, the more channels we’ll have to obtain them legally and conveniently outside Japan. And one way we can help hold and expand the attention of the Japanese creators on the foreign scene is, I think, by making sure these english, international crowd-sourced campaigns sail cleanly across their finish lines. To show that they work, that the greater world is listening and responding.

Aside from hopefully making Japanese creators aware of us, another argument is we want Japanese creators to be aware of the Internet. The old norm of making shows and showing it on Japanese TV, then spending a couple of months packaging the content into pretty but prohibitively priced DVD and Bluray box-sets and hoping the sales thereof will turn a good profit is a lumbering tradition that needs to be modernized. Platforms like Indiegogo and Kickstarter can demonstrate that, in the new world of interconnected computers, reaching a foreign audience can be trivial. And if you make something people care about and sell it right, money can come flowing your way – not via the arcane and expensive pathways of shops and distribution agents, but in a single hop across the Internet. Hopefully this will give way to new ways of funding anime, new business models in which the creators and the end-consumers are the primary determinants of how things get produced and sold, and eventually, a modernized anime industry in which the Internet is not a constantly looming threat of piracy, but a powerful tool for community and communication, as well as sales and distribution.

So aside from being about the dreams and livelihood of our suffering animators in Japan, this is also, I think, about change. About modernization and a stronger industry, as well as a more connected community and a more useful Internet. Of course, it’s only a small step, but it’s a small step you get to be a part of, and that you can help make happen :) So how about it? If you can, please do trot over and give them some love

They would be grateful for your help!

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Hana no Android Gakuen: Apple’s Chapter, English Translated!

Oh Mein Gott it’s been five months! I’ve been very preoccupied for much of this year (hence the long hiatus). Still, I’m glad I managed to get this out this month as I told myself I would. I owe this in part to my brother who has volunteered to do the cleaning – and he has done a fantastic job, putting my previous amateurish work to shame :)

This strip is Apple’s chapter, about the iPhone 5. In the manga volume I was sent, this came immediately after the previously released Summer Expansion Edition, although from the weekly ascii site it looks like it was chronologically released much later.

After this will come the four two-paged Summer Specials. Now that my life has regained some semblance of order (and with my brother blazing through the cleaning work), I’m optimistic that I’ll be able to make the next release happen much sooner than it took for this one to get out. I apologize as always for being so insufferably slow.

Reminder here that this strip wasn’t released freely online, so if you like Hana no Android Gakuen I encourage you to support the authors by buying a volume (paper book and e-book). These are of course in Japanese, and no official English translations exist to the best of my knowledge. As long as this persists I will for my part commit to eventually translating everything in the first volume release – unless a much faster-working translation group picks it up or I get shut down by the creators for releasing non-free strips.

And finally while we’re on the topic of supporting authors, if you haven’t already, please go over to the Animator Dormitories for Start-ups indiegogo page and consider making a donation, or at least help spread the word. Not only would it be cool to cultivate budding animators and help them live a difficult dream – I’m convinced it’ll also be good for us (foreign fans) in the long run if our Japanese content creators are more aware of us and think more about engaging us directly.

That’s it for the rambling! Look for previously released translations in the category archives.

Hit the jump for the released strips. Like all Japanese manga, this should be read right to left, top to bottom.

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Binding the “Windows Button” to Right-Click – KDE Plasma on Tablet

Or to most anything else really. So this is what I hope will become the first of a series of blogs documenting my adventures getting a regular KDE Plasma (desktop) installation to tango with an x86 touch device – common nowadays in the form of Windows 8 tablets.

On my Machine and OS:
My specific machine is a Lenovo Yoga 11s (Haswell version), so not fully a tablet, but convertible into one by flexing the lower half all the way to the back. I had initially attempted with fair success to set up a Plasma Active-based system (by using experimental OpenSUSE Plasma Active packages), and with the right amount of tinkering that actually worked very well. However I eventually bumped into a few insurmountable hurdles: for example, the inability to set up Chinese and Japanese input since Maliit (the virtual keyboard) was an input method and, to the best of my knowledge, not dynamically switchable with a foreign language input method like ibus. So when inevitable circumstance eventually forced me to set up everything from scratch again, I decided this time to start with a regular KDE Plasma Desktop (on top of OpenSUSE 13.1), and see if I can harness the inherent malleability of Plasma and of Linux itself to achieve an acceptably touch-friendly setup.

Anyway on to the topic at hand. One of the distinguishing features of most x86 tablet computers today is that they, being originally sold as windows machines, sport a physical “windows button” near the screen:

This button on Linux would be bound to “super”, which on most DEs makes it basically useless since “super” by itself doesn’t usually do anything. On the other hand, touch screens on Linux generally simply behave like mice do, where taps are clicks and swipes are click-drags. The right click context menu is invaluable when using a traditional Linux desktop without a keyboard, and yet there is no direct way to right click with a touch screen. So a very useful customization I was able to put on my system is to bind the useless “windows button” to right-click.

This is less trivial than it might initially appear. A major pitfall is that while “super” on Linux by itself generally doesn’t do anything, it is heavily used as a modifier key for many keyboard shortcuts in most setups. So we need to bind “super” to a custom trigger, while at the same time preserving its use as a modifier key so that we don’t affect the keyboard shortcuts. Fortunately, someone has already worked this out for us. KSuperKey was originally written to allow KDE Plasma users to open the Kickoff menu (or the KDE Desktop’s “start menu”) by hitting just the super key a’la windows, but the program is also powerful enough that it could be used to bind the super key to any key combination – while preserving its status as a modifier key.

So as a first step, grab and install KSuperKey, then use it to bind super to a currently unused key-combination. For example, to bind super to Alt + F10, run the following:

ksuperkey -e 'Super_L=Alt_L|F10'

You can add this to a script in ~/.kde4/Autostart/ so that it is run automatically on session startup. Now hitting the windows button should be the same as hitting Alt + F10, so the next step is to map Alt + F10 to right click. But how do we emulate right click in the first place? Turns out it isn’t half hard. Just install xdotool, and create a script called fake-right-click (or anything you want) with the following contents:

xdotool click 3

Give it execute permissions and run it and you should immediately see the right click context menu open next to your mouse pointer! So now all we need to do is bind Alt + F10 to our new script.

You may think this easily achievable using the built in KDE custom shortcuts control module, and indeed this was what I tried first, but it turned out that for some reason or another this wasn’t reliable, and hitting the windows button would sometimes bring up the context menu and sometimes not. A more reliable means by experiment is to use xbindkeys. Using it for our purposes is quite easy: get it installed, then create the file ~/.xbindkeysrc with the following content:

alt + F10

Then simply run xbindkeys. (Again, you can add xbindkeys to a script in ~/.kde4/Autostart/ to have it run on session startup). That’s the last step! Hitting the windows button now should behave exactly like right click, letting you do all kinds of things previously not possible without a keyboard and mouse:

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Get PCSX2 Working On 64bit OpenSUSE/Linux

It’s surprisingly hard to get the Playstation 2 emulator PCSX2 working if you’re running a 64-bit linux system, even though they’re cross platform and release linux binaries/sources first hand. The primary roadblock seems to be that the thing assumes a 32bit environment, and will refuse to start if it doesn’t find some 32-bit libs. Anyway, I got this working twice, both times quite bumpily, and decided it was high time this got written into a post for archival.

Credits by the way to this video which put me on the right track.

First, we gotta get PCSX2. This can either be downloaded from the site linked above, or, on OpenSUSE, can be obtained in packaged form from Pacman’s Games repo (mirror for 13.1 here).

Then we gotta grab the 32-bit libs that are needed. If you installed it with dependencies off the Pacman repo this may be taken care of for you (I’m not 100% sure), but in any case what you need to do is to pull out the Yast software installation interface and do a search for ‘wx’. This should get you a list like the following:

Now make sure each of those installed items are installed as 32-bit versions. Basically, click each of them, then click the ‘Versions’ tab, and make sure the ‘i586’ version is selected. Else select it, and apply at the end. For other distros, the gist I guess is to make sure you have 32bit/i586 versions of libwx and wxWidgets packages installed.

That should net you the required 32-bit libs, and you can give the pcsx2 executable a whirl at this point and hope for the best. In my case, I had one more hurdle before PCSX2 would run – the thing seems to be looking for the libwx libs in the wrong path. Fortunately it’s possible to tell it manually where to load the libs from by setting the LD_LIBRARY_PATH environment variable. This can be set right before running PCSX2 like so:

LD_LIBRARY_PATH=/usr/lib/wx-2.8-stl/ pcsx2

/usr/lib/wx-2.8-stl‘ is where the 32-bit libwx .so’s are on my system. This may vary for different distros, but it shouldn’t be overly hard to locate. Setting LD_LIBRARY_PATH appropriately allowed me to actually launch the PCSX2 UI, where configuring plugins, BIOS, etc may then proceed.

Running on integrated Intel graphics (I’m on a Lenovo Yoga 11s, Haswell version), the GS plugin that let me run games quite performantly is GSdx, configured to use “OpenGL (Hardware)”. Note that in Linuxland, open source drivers for higher-grade graphic cards (think Nvidia, ATI) don’t tend to perform well for graphic-heavy applications, so you’ll want to either switch to the proprietary drivers for those cards (if they exist and can be obtained), or to fall back to using the integrated Intel graphics chip, which tends to have good open source drivers.

I also had trouble with sound initially, which I was able to get around by first disabling Pulseaudio. Then, using the Spu2-X SPU plugin, configured to

Module: PortAudio
PortAudio API: ALSA
Synchronization mode: TimeStretch
Latency: 50

I was able to get pretty good sound for my games. Note that with ALSA it’s possible to get into a funny situation where ALSA selects a non-working sound card as default sound card – causing you to have no sound since the SPU plugin appears to be hardwired to use ALSA’s default card. This can in turn be remedied using the solution documented in my previous blog post.

Edit: it looks like one does not actually need to disable Pulse. If you can’t get sound on Pulse, try making the updated ~/.asoundrc file documented in my previous blog post. Using that I am able to get PCSX2 on PortAudio to coexist with all my other sound applications.

Whew! And that should cover everything. At least, that’s everything I know :) Perhaps it might help someone struggling with it as I was, but for now, I’m just happy to be able to play Persona 4 on Linux ^^

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Selecting Alsa’s Default Sound Card

So yeah I’m still alive. Just on hiatus thanks to loads of irl stuff, as usual. I suppose the saving grace of this blog’s livelihood is that I’ll always have practical motivations to come here and drop a fixit I discover – since it works as my own personal documentation as well. I still want to write anime of course, I just need to find the time.

Anyway, shoutout to Idyllictux for his help with this one.

So OpenSUSE comes built with Pulseaudio nowadays, and for the most part it’s well set up and “just works”. There are obscure cases where it doesn’t quite perform though, for me anyway, cases like recording sound via the mic input, and playing games on PCSX2. Wonderfully enough, it’s fairly trivial on OpenSUSE to kill Pulse and fall back on Alsa. Having done that though, I found myself in a peculiar pickle where Alsa appeared to have found 2 sound cards and picked the non-working one for default. This, too, is not normally a big problem, since for KDE stuff you could just configure phonon in one place, and for stuff like smplayer you could just direct it manually to use the right sound card. Sometimes though, like in PCSX2’s case, things appear to be hardcoded to use the default soundcard, leaving you with non-working sound.

I tried Googling briefly for how I could tell Alsa to disable/forget a sound card, or to switch its default sound card, and found that there, apparently, used to be a tool called ‘asoundconf’ that lets you deal with such things. However, I wasn’t able to find nor install this on my system. Fortunately, Mr Idyllictux demonstrated there was another way:

First, list your sound cards with:

aplay -l

You should get an output that looks like:

**** List of PLAYBACK Hardware Devices ****
card 0: MID [HDA Intel MID], device 3: HDMI 0 [HDMI 0]
Subdevices: 1/1
Subdevice #0: subdevice #0
card 0: MID [HDA Intel MID], device 7: HDMI 1 [HDMI 1]
Subdevices: 1/1
Subdevice #0: subdevice #0
card 0: MID [HDA Intel MID], device 8: HDMI 2 [HDMI 2]
Subdevices: 1/1
Subdevice #0: subdevice #0
card 1: PCH [HDA Intel PCH], device 0: CX20756 Analog [CX20756 Analog]
Subdevices: 1/1
Subdevice #0: subdevice #0

Look for the number of the sound card you want to make default. Then, create (or edit) the file ~/.asoundrc with the following:

pcm.!default {
type hw
card 1

Replacing the ‘1’ in ‘card 1’ with the number of the sound card you want to be default. Save it and restart your session, and Alsa should now use the card as default.

Edit: The above will work, but will also create the iffy (and sickeningly familiar) problem of every sound application hogging the sound card (so you can’t have two applications playing sound at the same time). Copying and trial-and-error-ing blobs of config from Idyllictux‘s setup, I was able to discover an optimal .asoundrc as follows:

pcm.!default {
type hw
card 1

pcm.!default {
type plug
slave.pcm "dmixer"

pcm.dmixer {
type dmix
ipc_key 1024
slave {
pcm "hw:1,0"
period_time 0
buffer_time 0
period_size 2048
buffer_size 32768
rate 44100
bindings {
0 0
1 1

Replace ‘Card 1’ with your card as per above. This config (which also works with pulse enabled) actually lets everything I have co-exist sound-wise (including PCSX2 on PortAudio, and smplayer using ‘alsa’ for audio). The only minor downside is that if you run this with pulse, you’ll lose the per-app volume control feature, presumably because we’re bypassing pulse’s software mixer.

This was the last link I needed to get PCSX2 fully working on my 64-bit Linux system. I’ll try and find time to document that one too, hopefully in the near future.

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Christmas Release: Hana no Android Gakuen Summer Expansion Edition

Wow how far have I had to trim my ambitions for a Christmas release. I originally wanted to release two chapters PLUS an anime editorial blog in time for Christmas, but difficult circumstances as well as the decidedly higher difficulty of translating this chapter forced me to trim it down to just releasing this chapter. Believe it or not, even getting just this chapter out on time cost me some sleep. I think the result is a quality release, though, and hopefully that makes up for things a little bit.

There is quite a lot to say about this chapter. Firstly: Chronology and chapter names, which got pretty confusing after Weekly Ascii released a bunch of “specials”-type strips to disrupt their original, incrementally numbered 4-koma “episodes”. Only some of those specials are actually freely available online, so I was myself a little confused for awhile. Using the non-free manga volume given to me by friendly neighbourhood reader Elaine Nguygen though, the chronological order appears to be as follows:

  1. The first 12 “episodes”
  2. 4 “Specials” (Which I briefly mislabeled “Summer Specials” for awhile)
  3. 1 “Summer Expansion Edition” strip
  4. 1 “Apple’s chapter” strip
  5. 4 “Summer Special” strips
  6. “Episode 13”
  7. New, apparently manga-volume-exclusive material

Edit: Apparently there is only one summer expansion and the second is called “Apple’s chapter” and is about the iPhone 5. Very confusing -_-

Of these, the first 12 episodes, episode 13, and the 4 “Specials” are all freely available online and have all been previously translated and released.

This release is for the what was originally branded as “Summer Expansion Edition”, and is also the first release of a strip that is not freely available online. This strip was originally published in a printed copy of Weekly Ascii, and is now also part of the on-sale manga volume (which contains all previously published material as well as new original ones).

With that out of the way, the next thing is character names. People have pointed out to me that the names I used disagreed with other online sources. For my part I have always tried to maintain a close transliteration of the names in the raw, but this will hopefully be settled once and for all now: apparently they eventually confirmed and settled on an official set of names, AND also published an English article which contains all of those names romanized, so from this strip forth I will start adopting these new “official” names in accordance with the raws.

Also, with the released strips starting to go up on manga aggregation sites, I will henceforth burn TL notes and credits into the images themselves so they also get transmitted when uploaded to these external aggregation sites.

Whew! That was quite the mouthful. Lastly I would like to remind you again that this is the first release of a strip that is not freely available online, so if you like Hana no Android Gakuen I encourage you to support the authors by buying a volume (paper book and e-book). These are of course in Japanese, and no official English translations exist to the best of my knowledge. As long as this persists I will for my part commit to eventually translating everything in the first volume release – unless a much faster-working translation group picks it up or I get shut down by the creators for releasing non-free strips.

I think that’s all I have to say. Hit the jump for the translated strips, and remember that like all Japanese manga, this should be read right to left, top to bottom. Look for translations of previous chapters in the category archives.

Pic mostly unrelated, but AIURA was great.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from Between Linux and Anime!

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The Realm of the Fox’s Glare

One step into the fox’s glare
Then several more, as far as I dare
I leave the sunlit way behind
In silence in shifting shadows twine
Through winding path and jagged stair
Till deep in their enchanted lair
Pulsed my musing hesitation
My fearful, breathless, trepidation
From all sides the slitted stare
My melancholy, my soul laid bare

What is it that you desire?

To be of aid to fellow man
To seek, to know, to understand
A thousand more I daren’t demand

Silent words, like smoke, like foxfire

I held on to all I’d known
The conviction to which I am heir
With chill and wonder in my bone
I sought to sense the magic there
In freshness of the mountain air
Amidst the orange, faded stone
The enigma of a foreign throne
Filled me like a whispered prayer
As far as I dare, as far as I dare
Into the realm of the fox’s glare

PS: if you ever go to Kyoto, give the Fushimi Inari Shrine a visit.

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Kyoukai no Kanata: Balance and Bite

Episodes seen at time of writing: 4

It’s been a while since I’ve watched a show that made me want to keep on watching. The standard twenty plus minutes has always felt like a very comfortable quantum of anime to me, and I’m normally content to watch episodes of the same show one at a time – lighthearted shows so that I can take them in thrifty bite-sized chunks, and heavier content so that I can afford myself some time in musing digestion. Kyoukai no Kanata seems to strike a balance somewhere between both these worlds – serious enough to be exciting, but not quite at the density that makes it straining to keep on watching.

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