No sound from flash players, totem, amarok, xine. but the rest of the system sounds work fine. To make this even more strange I decided to test a youtube link in vlc and it worked fine, in fact vlc is the only media player that works at all. Two systems effected laptop and now a desktop. Both sport the integrated ATI 200xpress GPU and are made by hp.
Short term fixes that have work for this issue
rcalsasound restart and alsaconf
both fix the sound issue on a single time basis, but this is no longer good enough.
This issue started with the kernel update to 188.8.131.52-0.1-pae that comes as part of online update for 11.1.
00:14.5 Multimedia audio controller: ATI Technologies Inc IXP SB400 AC'97 Audio Controller (rev 02) Subsystem: Hewlett-Packard Company Device 2a27 Flags: bus master, 66MHz, slow devsel, latency 64, IRQ 17 Memory at fe02a000 (32-bit, non-prefetchable) [size=256] Capabilities:  Message Signalled Interrupts: Mask- 64bit- Count=1/1 Enable- Kernel driver in use: ATI IXP AC97 controller Kernel modules: snd-atiixp
dmesg info that related to the sound card
ATI IXP AC97 controller 0000:00:14.5: PCI INT B -> GSI 17 (level, low) -> IRQ 17
I also received a message form the kde warning that sound driver had stopped functioning and it was falling back to another. And when I did alsaconf the first time and every time there after it gave a message saying that it wanted to turn off 1 input channel and 1 output channel in a message box, if you said no which I did it started kcontrol.
Both systems fail to load kdm after the kernel update, I had to login using init 3 and run sax2 before things worked.[/size]