A push for custom XP folder icon use

Most of you who use Windows XP are probably aware of the ability to change a folder's icon to one of your choosing. But how many of you actually use this feature to make your life easier?

Have you uninstalled programs that leave their folders behind? Giving application folders a custom icon helps these stick out like a sore thumb, when the icon they used is deleted and the folders become the default yellow ones.

It can also make it easier to identify programs you don't use much. Just look for icons you aren't used to seeing.

Or at least you can pretend you have a Mac.

27 Apr 05 | +Permalink+ | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Burning through Virgin Digital's collection (The DRM saga Part 4)

First time visitor? Catch up (don't worry they're short): Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

This time I got a little unexpected help from one of my favorite pieces of software, VMware. Because of this, the method outlined here will:
- Take up a bit more hard drive space than previous methods
- Run from any operating system that runs VMware, like Linux!

If you would like to reformat your hard drive and install a fresh copy of Windows XP, you can skip to step 3 and also skip step 8.

1. Download and install VMware

2. Inside of VMware, install a fresh copy of Windows XP. The following steps take place inside of the VMware Windows XP installation.

3. Find an old Virtuosa 5.0 on your favorite P2P network and install that.
MD5 Hash of my installer: 6D11D11A80894B56BEBF84A8AA9844C5

4. If you want to convert to MP3, download the latest version of the LAME encoder to make the files encode much faster. Put the "lame_enc.dll" in your Virtuosa\Plugins\MpgL3 folder replacing the one that is already there. When I posted this, the latest version was lame3.97, and that is what I used.

5. Download and install Virgin Digital. Sign up for the 14 day trial and stay on for only $7.99/month. Please support this great service!

6. Load downloaded Virgin Digital protected WMAs into Virtuosa

7. Select all of your files in the "Music and Movie Database" and go to "File>Convert To"

-In the "File Format Conversion" window:
a. Choose an output format (MP3/WAV)
b. Choose an output directory
c. Click the check mark

8. If you're running VMware from Windows, use VMware's drag and drop features to drag your files out of VMware and onto your normal installation. If you're running it from Linux, get the files off of your virtual machine in one of hundreds of geekilicous ways. Then set a Snapshot of your virtual machine with Virgin Digital and Virtuosa all set up for each future conversions.

9. Enjoy your MP3s anywhere or burn WAVs to a CD!

[Update: March 25th, This method no longer works.]

22 Mar 05 | +Permalink+ | Comments (585) | TrackBack (1)

Operation iTunes Cap Harvest

Instead of an application vulnerability, this little "hack" only requires some free time and residence in a large building that recycles. Now that iTunes is running their Pepsi cap promotion again, and this time with a free iPod mini per hour sweepstakes(!), lets use this time around to do better than tilting bottles to see if they are winners. How about never paying a cent!

My targets: College dorms with 1000+ people each

Extra things that you will need:

- The location of any small *open topped* recycle bins for plastics (rummaging through those big recycling cans full of bottles isn't the best idea...)

- The time that each floor/area's recycle bins are collected/emptied (you would obviously want to hit them right before this time)

- An iTunes account, duh

I suggest using this opportunity to get your hands on some of the many "iTunes Exclusive" songs. Then you could just run them through JHymn if you want them DRM free.

For those of you who think this takes too much time, let me just tell you it took me more time to write this entry than it did to find the 4 winning caps I found on my first run. ;) If you decide to take this on yourself, tell us about it in the comments.

9 Mar 05 | +Permalink+ | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

Burning through Napster's collection, free

At the request of Napster's legal department, I have taken down this page. For those of you looking for this method, please know it has not worked in over a year. If you still must see it I suggest archive.org.

4 Feb 05 | +Permalink+ | Comments (227) | TrackBack (26)

Delete folders that are *almost* empty

If you're doing some cleaning up on your computer, one of the things you might be looking to do is deleting empty folders. For this task, I have always used the method outlined in this PC Magazine article, using nothing more than built in windows batch-file technology. I get a little tickle every time I can do something useful with one of those little batchies. Unfortunately sometimes a folder can be one or two leftover files from some application that didn't fully uninstall, or files there for some other reason.

In my case, the culprits have been hidden protected operating system files like Thumbs.db and Folder.jpg from music albums that have since been relocated. I have hundreds of folders that should be empty, but because of these files, these folders end up being around 0.05MB in size.

Here is where the solutions for deleting completely empty folders choke on their own leetness, and nobody calls for help.
So now, a solution that does work. A little known application called Advanced File Manager. The specific feature that is important to us is "Search folders by size".

You might be saying "Can't the built in Windows search do that?", but to that I tell you "No". Does it claim to be able to? Yes. But I have never once in any edition of Windows been able to actually make it work. It will always search *files* even if you explicitly tell it to search for a "Folder". Hurrrrumph....

Advanced File Manager's Advanced Find feature has the exact functionality we want: the ability to search for folders below a specified file size. In fact, that's pretty much the only functionality it has, but thats all we need for this.

My search brings up all of the folders from albums I have since moved. AFM displays the folder sizes next to each folder so that I can make sure not to delete something I didn't want to (The Bruce McColloch folder actually contains a song; I noticed it was bigger that the other folders and gave it a look).

Advanced File Manager is available as a free 30 day trial, so you should have time to kill plenty of *almost* empty folders!

31 Jan 05 | +Permalink+ | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

iTunes won't play MP3s!

If your favorite music software suddenly decides to not play certain MP3s, don't panic.

Go grab the latest version of foobar2000. Then open the offending MP3s with it and right click on them one at a time, selecting "Fix MP3 Header". EDIT 3/20/2006: After version 0.9 of foobar2000, Fix MP3 Header is no longer in the right click menu. You will need to assign a keyboard shortcut to the Fix MP3 Header function from Preferences. Mine is Shift+F. In the "padding" field, type 0 and click OK.
I was having this problem with iTunes- apparently it is picky about sloppy MP3 headers where other players are not. I had certain songs refusing to play in iTunes but would play fine in Winamp or WMP. After weeks of iTunes withdrawal, this trick solved my problem, and I was (am) finally able to move back over to iTunes.

30 Nov 04 | +Permalink+ | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

How to screw yourself with Musicbrainz

Never run Musicbrainz on your entire music collection to "see if it fixes tag errors you may have missed".

Its like hiring a terrorist to attach C4 bombs to any compilation/soundtrack you have. And instead of hiring a counter-terrorist to defuse the bombs, you decide to go on vacation for a while. When you come back you wonder how the hell you got some random song that you don't recognize outside of its compilation. So you may delete it. Have fun rebuilding your CDs!

30 Nov 04 | +Permalink+ | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Firefox Image Blocking

I just stumbled onto a feature in Firefox that a lot of you probably didn't notice either. Firefox Image Blocking- right click on an ad and you can permanently block all ads from that provider the next time you load a page. Unfortunately this doesn't work for flash ads.

24 Nov 04 | +Permalink+ | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Firefox: Livemarks

Whoa! Check out nightly builds of Firefox (0.9.1+) and you'll find a new feature called Livemarks (thanks redemption in a blog).

It takes RSS feeds and gives you a clever way to view them comfortably from Firefox.


13 Jul 04 | +Permalink+ | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)