Life Science and Technology

MP3 and ID3, Together at Last

I’ve just spend something like seven hours over the past two days adding ID3 tags to all of my old MP3’s.

In case you didn’t know, ID3 tags are little bits of information that are encoded along with your MP3’s that tell your MP3 player of choice (be it Apple, Sandisk, Zune — yeah, right, a “Zune”, HURR) what the current song’s title, artist, album, etc. are.

Neat, ain’t it? Yeah, it just doesn’t know it by magic.

Now, unfortunately, depending upon how you get your MP3’s, this information is not always included along with the files. (Say, for instance, you ripped your own MP3’s from your private CD collection.) Some CD rippers are thoughtful, and ask you to include artist and album information (though this is still a pain in the ass to fill out, since you have to do every song separately). Some programs (oddly enough, ones you usually don’t pay for) are smart enough to go online to several big open-source CD information sites, check the track lengths on the CD you’re trying to rip, and then figure out what CD it is, filling in the ID3 information for you!

Yeah, that’s if you’re lucky. However, if you’re like a lot of people, you have a massive collection of old MP3’s — most of which you have no idea where they’re from — and none of them have appropriate artist/album/track information. Most of them will have correct file names, but that doesn’t mean crap when you put them on your iPod or whatever. They’ll just show up as a bunch of “Unknown — Unknown Artist — Unknown Album” tracks.

Well, half of all my MP3’s were like this, and it was pretty pathetic.  I’ve always had the intention to fix them all, but it’s a big, big job to take on, and every time I started I put it off.

So, yesterday, I sat down, and I was all like, “I’m going to do this.”  About seven hours later I was done.

What helped me do it?  A little program called EasyTag, available free from your favorite Linux repository. Not the most beautiful program in the world (especially on my small laptop screen, as Easy Tag is obviously to be used with three columns of information), but it works!

A little word to the wise, if you’re planning on doing this yourself, to your own MP3 collection — EasyTag doesn’t edit files directly and right away. You have your big list of files there in the middle column, and you edit their ID3 tag information on the right. You can do a bunch of files like this, and then when you’re finally ready for your changes to be applied, then you click on the little “Save” icon (which will forever be a bloody floppy disk, now and until the end of time, even if no one uses them anymore). Only then are your changes applied to your MP3 files.

Linux Science and Technology

Reinstalled Ubuntu 8.04

Just reinstalled Ubuntu 8.04 on my laptop — DEAR GOD, the sheer amount of problems this has fixed is incredible.

Processor scaling doesn’t work yet, but I swear it’s a good thing. Not having my speed jump all around has made UI response a thousand times quicker.

My apps using Adobe AIR work perfectly, as far as I can tell (a lot of problems erupted when Adobe released the final version 1.5 for Linux, as you can read about here

Life Linux Science and Technology

Upgrading my Dell Inspiron 1100 from a Celeron 2.8 to a Pentium IV 2.6

Well, I did just that, however then my installation of Ubuntu 8.10 wouldn’t correctly step the processor up/down (because it had been configured with a Celeron, which doesn’t support those things).

Well, as I found out (somewhere on the Ubuntu forums), all you have to do is add “p4_clockmod” to your running modules (edit the file “/etc/modules” and place it at the end) and then restart.

Simple as pie. I’m quite surprised at the amount of speed switching this processor does — I’ve seen it step from 2.6 GHz to 2.2 GHz all the way down to 600 and 300 MHz. Amazing, and great for energy use and cooling, too.

Linux Science and Technology

Ubuntu on Laptops

If you’re using Ubuntu on your laptop, do the following:

Go to “*System > Administration > Services*” in your menubar, and then enable “*Hard disk tuning*”.

Then (and this is just a bit more complex, but not very), type “*Alt + F2*” to bring up your “*Run Application*” dialog box, and type in “*sudo gedit /etc/hdparm.conf*”.

Then, scroll all the way to the bottom, and type in:

/dev/sda {
apm = 254

Save the file and then restart your computer. That is all.

[ Source ]

Life Science and Technology

Well, I broke my cell phone. :(

Yep. A completely incongruous series of events which led to its poor little LCD screen being smashed upon my knee.

First, I was wearing a pair of pants that I had that couldn’t use the side pockets on — the pockets were too small (what the hell were they good for then, eh?), and couldn’t be used for anything more than my pair of keys.

Thankfully (or not), there was little “mid” pocket on them, about halfway down the leg that had a zipper and everything — perfect for those items that are too big to put in your side pockets, right? So, I stick my cell phone in there and forget about it. It’s sitting around banging against my knee when I walk, but at least it’s not falling out of my pocket and getting lost.

Well, later on Nina and I go to my sister’s house for supper (she was cooking Italian sausage soup that night, so at least that part of the night was good), and she’s showing us the new bed that her and my brother-in-law had recently got, and she’s all like, “Jump up and see what it feels like,” and I jump up on it, knees first like an idiot, and then Crack! it’s broke.

I knew just from the way the “crack” felt that it was broke. I pull it out of the pocket and the LDC screen looks like someone’s spilled chemicals inside it — those things look weird when they break, I’ll tell you what.

Luckily enough for me, my phone still worked — I just couldn’t see anything on the screen. Text messaging is impossible, of course, but at least it still functions as a phone.

And that’s that. What do I do? I bought it outright so that I didn’t have to get a 2-year contract with my cellphone company (almost unheard of where I live), and I don’t have the money to pay full price for a new one right now. So, I thought about repairing it myself.

I actually wanted to give Alltel a chance to make some money (why the hell not — they’re one of the better cell phone companies in America), so I took it up to them to ask if they could fix it. I was willing to pay a little bit more for “quality” service from them, if they could fix it immediately.

Well, I found out that not only do they not repair cell phones at the local Alltel shop where I live, but that they couldn’t even send off for the phone to be fixed — they said that it wouldn’t be “cost effective.”

Read that as: “We’re selling these phones to you at a 1000% markup — you’re paying $300 for something that cost us like $30. Why the hell do we want to repair it? Just buy a new one.”

Sorry, Alltel — no can do.

So, I go on Ebay and find a new LCD screen for $20. Hell, it’s worth it — even if it doesn’t work and I have to get a new cell phone in the end, I’m only out $20.

Linux Science and Technology

Managing Partitions with Linux

Well, this morning I decided to move around my partition tables on our main gaming computer — yeah, I know, silly idea, right?

“Why do you keep fucking around with stuff if it’s working fine?”

Because if I didn’t, I’d never learn anything new, would I? :P

Anyway… I moved around the partition tables (I wanted to make one partition bigger), and all of a sudden Ubuntu wouldn’t boot correctly anymore.

I mean, it worked, but it would hang during boot and give me a terminal screen. At this point, I could safely press Ctrl-D to continue the boot process, and everything would be fine. Annoying, but workable, I guess… but I want to know how to fix it.

So, I notice it’s hanging on something called “fsck” during the boot process (some kind of disk management utility for Linux), so I google it along with the word “Ubuntu,” and it leads me to this page:

fsck.ext3: Unable to resolve

Turns out that in your “/etc/fstab” file in your Linux installation are a collection of entries regarding which boot partitions will be loaded at boot time, and there was an old entry for the drive that I had resized (I had actually deleted it and created a bigger one, now that I think about it).

I just commented out the line (with a “#” character) that referred to the old drive that I had deleted, and whatta-you-know… it works. No more dumping to the terminal screen during boot.

Now, the partition manager I used is called Parted Magic/ — it’s a great little application that comes in the form of a bootable CD (by way of .ISO file). It’s got an amazing GUI-based interface (looks like it’s based a bit on KDE), and is easy as crap to use, trust me. It runs amazingly fast and has booted fine on every computer I’ve tried. Try it!

Science and Technology

Home Keys on a Mac

God, the default behavior drives me nuts! In case you’re not “in the know,” pressing the “Home” key on your keyboard if you’re using a Mac will scroll whatever window you’re in to the top — on a Windows computer, if just sends the cursor to whatever line you’re currently typing on.

Well, “to each technology its own and all,” but I’m used to Windows’ behavior, so I’m going to have to change that if I’m going to type on a Mac.

So, I set out to look for a way to change it, and found this site on the web — pretty straight forward, if you ask me!

Just add the following lines to your “~/Library/KeyBindings/DefaultKeyBinding.dict.” file (if it doesn’t exist, create it):

/* Remap Home / End to be correct :-) /
“UF729” = “moveToBeginningOfLine:”; /
Home /
“UF72B” = “moveToEndOfLine:”; /
End /
“$UF729” = “moveToBeginningOfLineAndModifySelection:”; /
Shift + Home /
“$UF72B” = “moveToEndOfLineAndModifySelection:”; /
Shift + End */

And that’s it! Just restart any application that you want to reflect this behavior and you’re good to go!

Gaming Science and Technology

Perpendicular Recording of Your Mind

Well, I’m helping out a friend of mine by setting up a new hard drive in his computer (a Seagate Barracuda 250-GB), and I just got it in today. I do jobs like this for friends and family, free of charge — it’s kind of a hobby. I also help fix cars and provide free legal advice. :P

Well, my friend’s motherboard is an oldie but a goodie — the venerable ASUS A7V8X-X for the AMD Socket A chipset. The chip I helped him pick out (nearly five years ago now!) was an Athlon XP 2600 — it’s still fast as hell today, and plays just about any game you can think of.

That knowledge in hand, I know it’s a good motherboard. So, I hook up the new drive (and a new power supply — his old ones keep burning out), and the board recognizes it immediately. Even sees that it’s a 250GB drive; that’s pretty neat, because I’m pretty sure even the technology involved for this didn’t exist five years ago.

However, when I put in his Windows XP install CD (and old one without SP2), the damn thing only recognizes it as being about 137GB or so.

Well, at first I’m like, “Oh Shit — the hardware’s not compatible.” (I usually think of the worst things first — a small character flaw.) I go to the Seagate site on this drive, thinking that this must be a pretty common problem (incorrect initial hard drive sizes usually are). Of course, it is, and I find a handy dandy little help topic page about it.

It says that your motherboard needs to support “48 bit LBA addressing,” and of course I’m thinking, OH NOES, we’re not even going to be able to use this new drive to its full potentional.

But then I remember that the motherboard’s BIOS was able to see the 250GB limit, and the answer was clear — it wasn’t the board, it was just a limitation in this version of Windows XP (the first of many, as you know). I downloaded Seagate’s DiskWizard’s starter ISO, burned a CD of it, and formatted the drive.

The good point of using the special burning software from the company like this — it actually lets you format your partitions in FAT32, instead of just NTSF!

(By the way, as I’m writing this, it’s just completed a full installation of Windows XP in only 7 minutes — damn, this drive is fast as well as big!)

Unfortunately, the added case fans I got for my friend can’t go in his case (he’s been having a bit of heat problem in his case) — there’s only one extra fan connector on the ASUS A7V8X-X, and I’ve already got an additional exhaust fan at the back of the case taking it up. Luckily, the CPU fan upgrade I got did fit, however the old screws aren’t big enough and it didn’t come with any new ones! Arghh!

Either way, it’s now got a super big drive, and it’s running cooler. Plus, the new parts are able to be carried over to his new system whenever he upgrades. I say it’s been a success.