Banshee Crash when Playing Video or Audio Files

For some reason, the Banshee media player on my Ubuntu installation stopped responding and, as a result, its database was damaged. The result? Whenever I tried to play a video podcast, Banshee would attempt to start playing and then crash.

Rebuilding Banshee’s database to fix the corruption is pretty easy.

  1. If you don’t already have sqlite3 installed, get it via the following command:
    sudo apt-get install sqlite3
  2. Go to Bashee’s config directory:
    cd ~/.config/banshee-1
  3. Dump out the database:
    sqlite3 banshee.db ".dump" > dump
  4. Make a backup of the original database file, in case the repair doesn’t work properly:
    mv banshee.db banshee.db.backup
  5. Reload the dumped data into a new database file:
    cat dump | sqlite3 banshee.db

Worked great for me. Thanks to boombox1387 for posting the info. I ended up putting these commands into a shell script called, so it’ll be even easier to take care of next time.

Is your Banshee crashing for a different reason? Got a fix for it? Post it in the comments.

PuTTY Displays Box Characters Instead of Hyphens in Man Pages

A couple of posts ago, I wrote about fixing the incorrect characters that appear in man pages when using PuTTY. If, however, you see a box or rectangle where a character should be, then here’s the solution for that.

Although PuTTY and Cygwin support UTF-8, some fonts have more character coverage than others. In the case of PuTTY on Windows, most of the fixed-width fonts are missing some of the characters that are used in manual pages. As a result, a hollow box will appear in their place.

DejaVu Sans Mono is one fixed-width font that includes the required characters. Switch to it and your man pages will look good once more.

What other fixed-width fonts have good UTF-8 coverage? Share your findings in the comments.

Ubuntu Popping Sound from Speakers

Are you experiencing an intermittent popping sound from your speakers when nothing is playing? I encountered it after upgrading a PC with an HDA Intel audio controller to Xubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala. It occurs 10 seconds after a sound stops playing because that’s when the audio chip is turned off to save power.

To prevent the popping noise, you just have to disable the power saving mode.

  1. With your favorite editor, open /etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base.conf as root (Important: Run the editor using sudo or gksudo to give it root permission. You can’t save the file otherwise.)
  2. Locate the line that reads, “# Power down HDA controllers after 10 idle seconds”
  3. Immediately following that comment is the offending option:
    options snd-hda-intel power_save=10 power_save_controller=N
  4. Insert a hash # character at the very beginning of the option line to turn it into a comment. It should look like the following:
    #options snd-hda-intel power_save=10 power_save_controller=N
  5. Save the file and restart Ubuntu

If you have a different sound controller and are experiencing this noise, look in the file for a similar-looking option (e.g., options snd-hda-something power_save…) and comment it out. Share your experience in the comments.

Cygwin 1.7 Has Funny Characters on Man Pages in PuTTY

Do you see strange characters on man pages in your Cygwin? After upgrading to Cygwin 1.7, I noticed that the soft hyphens in man pages were replaced with the “รข” character. Somehow, the character set wasn’t right. I remember having to deal with this problem several years ago, but couldn’t recall how I solved it. I found some old messages floating around the web going back at least a decade about setting environment variables, locales and whatnot to cure this. Fortunately, the solution turned out to be easy with the latest Cygwin and PuTTY.

As it turns out, Cygwin 1.7 now defaults to using the UTF-8 character set. PuTTY, at least on my system in the US, defaults to ISO-8859-1, a.k.a Latin-1. So, the fix is as follows:

  1. Open the PuTTY Configuration dialog
  2. Under the Window category, click on Translation
  3. In the “Character set translation on received data” section, select UTF-8 in the drop down list box
  4. Save the configuration

Now man pages look normal again. Of course, if you’ve changed the locale and/or character set in your Cygwin to something other than UTF-8, be sure to set PuTTY’s character set to match.

Are you using a different terminal/ssh program with Cygwin than PuTTY and encountering this? Share the corresponding steps to apply the cure for your terminal emulator in the comments.

Pidgin Received Unexpected Response from AIM and ICQ

Today, my Pidgin IM client started giving the error, “Received unexpected response from”, when connecting to the AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) server. Apparently, it can also happen when connecting to ICQ. Fortuantely, the fix/workaround on Windows and Linux is really easy.

  1. Go to Accounts
  2. Modify the AIM or ICQ account
  3. On the Advanced tab, clear the checkbox labeled Use clientLogin
  4. Save

Are you using Adium? It may also have this issue on the Mac. If you’ve solved it, post the steps in a reply.

Update: Alternatively, in step 3, you can clear the checkbox labeled Use SSL