Installing Orca on Slackware 14.2

Aiyumi -

These are instructions for installing the Orca screen reader on Slackware 14.2 without the Gnome desktop environment. It's not the latest Orca version, but rather, it's the one compatible with the library versions that come in Slackware by default (to install the latest Orca, we'd need to recompile newer versions of many of the Slackware-provided programs, which would be much more difficult).

From Slackware 14.1 to 14.2, the number of dependencies reduced a lot, which is a good thing. Most of the Gnome-specific libraries are gone, there's no longer the need to recompile programs that came with Slackware, and now everything that uses Python depends on Python 3 instead of Python 2. If more of these changes keep coming and making things easier, soon it might be possible for Orca to enter, then we will no longer have to do all this juggling with my scripts. Let's hope!

For those who used my instructions and installed Orca on 14.0 or 14.1 and is upgrading to 14.2, you need to remove obsolete dependencies with the command below (those who still don't have Orca installed don't need to use this command, but just look how many dependencies are gone :D ):

# removepkg gnome-mime-data gnome-vfs gnome-python libgnome libbonobo ORBit2 pyorbit

Now, the instructions themselves. First of all, you need Sbopkg to be installed.

Actually, the process to download and install Orca remains mostly the same as it was before. You can read the previous instructions for more in depth explanations if you want, but basically:

  • Download my repository and configure Sbopkg to use my scripts:

    # git clone
    # cd slackware-scripts
    # cp -R slackbuilds /var/lib/sbopkg/aiyumisb
    # cp slackbuilds/100-aiyumi.repo /etc/sbopkg/repos.d
    # cp sbopkg-queuefiles/aiyumisb/accessibility/*.sqf /var/lib/sbopkg/queues
  • Run Sbopkg and use my repository:

    # sbopkg -V aiyumisb/local
  • If you still don't have Espeak (which Orca uses by default), go to "Queue" -> "Load," load the "espeakup" queuefile and install everything. Espeak will be installed along with Espeakup, which adds support for speech via software to Speakupp (a screen reader for the console, which is always good to have).

  • Go to "Queue" -> "Load," load the "orca" queuefile, install everything, and wait for the process to finish.

  • Edit the Speech-Dispatcher settings in "/etc/speech-dispatcher/speechd.conf." Make sure the Espeak module is set to load and to use your preferred language as default (in my case, Portuguese). The relevant lines are below:

    # ----- VOICE PARAMETERS -----
    DefaultLanguage "en"
    AddModule "espeak"       "sd_espeak"   "espeak.conf"
    DefaultModule espeak
    LanguageDefaultModule "en"  "espeak"

    To test it, use the command "spd-say something." If you hear sound, then it's working!

  • Lastly, copy the file "/usr/doc/orca-*/orca.atspi2.xinitrc" to "~/.xinitrc" (it's the file that sets the accessibility-related variables for the graphical interface), and change the last line to start your favorite window manager or desktop (for example, "startfluxbox" for Fluxbox, or "startxfce4" for XFCE).

Done! Now you can just use the "startx" command to enter the graphical interface and hear Orca "run it's mouth" :D .

A note about Firefox: In the instructions for 14.0 and 14.1, I had said that Slackware's Firefox came with disabled accessibility and needed to be recompiled, which took hours. The bad news is that Slackware's Firefox still comes with no accessibility. But the good news is that I found out that we don't need to recompile it! Thanks to this post by Frankiej, I learned that there's this script that downloads the Firefox binary provided by Mozilla (where accessibility works) and creates a ".txz" Slackware package that can be installed with installpkg as normal.

Despite the name "latest-firefox," this script isn't limited to downloading only the latest version of Firefox. You can actually use it to download any version you want. Just pass the "VERSION" variable to the command that executes the script. For example, at the time of this writing, the Java plugin doesn't work in the latest version of Firefox because they removed support for the API that the Java plugin uses. For those who need the Java plugin, while a compatible version of the plugin doesn't come out, the workaround is to use an earlier version of Firefox where the Java plugin still works. The latest version of Firefox where the obsolete API works is 51.0. In this case, the command to get the Firefox 51.0 package for Slack would be:

# VERSION=51.0 ./

Or, for Firefox 51.0 with the interface in Brazilian Portuguese:

# VERSION=51.0 FFLANG=pt-BR ./

And the program will leave the package in "/tmp." Enough of having to wait three hours to compile Firefox at each version :P .

Slackware 14.2, Screen Readers and PulseAudio

Aiyumi -

After a very long while, I'm finally on Slackware 14.2. It's been almost one year since 14.2 came out, but I wasn't brave enough to upgrade, mainly because when I had tried to upgrade the installation on my netbook (which served as my test subject as usual), it hadn't worked (it's the first time I have problems trying to update Slackware). The system became mute in the middle of the upgrade and I lost access to my screen reader programs that I depend on to do anything on the computer (good thing it was on the netbook and not on my main machine!). I was unable to fix the problem, lost the patience to investigate, and ended up leaving it aside for a long time. Now that I'm on vacation from work and have a little more time, I finally gathered the patience and the courage to try again.


Bach/Gounod Ave Maria on Violin (F Major)

Aiyumi -

The "Ave Maria" by Charles Gounod, based on Bach's "Prelude in C Major." This is one of the songs I've been wanting to play since even before I started learning the violin. To my pleasant surprise, it is in Shinozaki Violin Method book 2, although it's in F major instead of C major like the original (the C version is on a more advanced level, and is on book 3 if I'm not mistaken).

When I recorded the violin, I still didn't have the accompaniment ready, so I had to use a metronome click track to try to record at the right tempo. Sadly, I recorded the violin countless times and the result wasn't as good as I'd have liked, but it's the best I could do at the current level. When I arrive at the C major version in the next book, hopefully I can finally make it the way I've always wanted...

The accompaniment MIDI file was created on Linux using a command line program called MMA (Musical Midi Accompaniment). It was typed in C major and transposed to F major (yes, I admit, I cheated:P . At least I'll already have the accompaniment ready when I get to the C major version). Then the audio was rendered with the harp sound from my Motif XF keyboard.

Edit: I only realized this much later... it looks like I mixed up the audio files and ended up not using the audio generated by the Motif XF. This harp sound is actually from the Fluid R3 Soundfont... whoops.

Download/listen to the audio: bg-ave-maria_f01.ogg (OpenDrive) | bg-ave-maria_f01.mp3 (4shared)

Download the accompaniment: MIDI (C major) | MIDI (transposed to F major) | MMA source file (which is actually just a text file)

I got a New PS4 Slim! A Few Impressions and Quick Tips

Aiyumi -

The main reason why I had never been interested in the PS3, and why it took me so long to get interested in the PS4 was because they had no games that appealed to me. The PS3 and the PS4's main strengths seem to be games for hardcore gamers, action-packed games with stunning graphics. Mainly shooting, war, and football games, which aren't my cup of tea (I prefer quieter games like turn-based RPGs). However, some JRPGs (Japanese RPGs) of my interest are coming to the PS4, especially Persona 5, RED ASH, and Final Fantasy VII Remake. So, I finally decided that I'd buy a PS4.

After many months of waiting and comparing prices, and then learning that the PS4 Slim would be released, thus having to wait even longer, I finally got my PS4! (as the saying goes, good things come to those who wait :P ) Actually, I was going to wait a bit more, but the US elections results made the US Dollar rates against the Brazilian Real rise like crazy, and because games are mostly imported here in Brazil, prices only tend to go up. So, I decided it was now or... well, I wouldn't say, "never," but who knows when prices would return to acceptable values ​​if I were to wait more.

I opted for the PS4 Slim because, according to my researches, it is quieter and consumes less power, and the battery of the (wireless) controller's new revision that comes with it also lasts longer.

Here are some tips and observations that I gathered during my researches and tests, as well as my impressions on the console.


Watch the Persona 5 Special Anime Episode Online

Aiyumi -

In my previous post, I talked about the Persona series, and how I'm excited about Persona 5's release.

On September 3rd, 2016, a special Persona 5 anime episode aired in Japan to promote the game. It is titled, "Persona 5 the Animation - the Day Breakers," and is about the main gang doing a random sidequest (it's an optional mission that doesn't interfere with the main plot of the game. So, no worries about spoilers).

Crunchyroll is a site that licenses and legally streams anime with English subtitles. It shares the money earned from its subscribers with the anime creators, and has also a selection of anime available to watch for free (although with ads interrupting the video from time to time :P ). The site made the Persona 5 special episode available for its subscribers on September 3rd, simultaneously as the anime's airing in Japan. One week later (on September 10th), the episode also became available for non-subscribers, and can be watched for free here (no account or anything needed. Just enter the page and watch!).