Rip Your CDs With Sound Juicer

For the past few days I’ve been bringing my parents’ dusty cd music collection back to life by converting them to mp3 for their computers. While its a bit of a task, GNOME’s Sound Juicer makes it a breeze.

Sound Juicer 2.28.1 in action..

Though Sound Juicer isn’t an all-in-one ripping and management tool, it is very good at the ripping! For the management and editing of IDv3 tags I would suggest you try EasyTAG which is available via the Ubuntu Software Center or here.

With Sound Juicer, you’re able to rip the contents of a cd in most cases with a single click and no editing since the details for the disc are retrieved from the internet. You can also add information such as disc number, year and genre if you wish.

If you’d like to add more details, like I do such as album art, you may consider using EasyTAG which makes this process a snap.

Sound Juicer doesn’t have a lot of preference options, but you are able to control the format that your music is copied to, being MP3, OGG or what ever your preference may be. You can also easily stripe special characters and control the hierarchy of the folders that your music is output to.

While Sound Juicer may be a tool that is only needed on rare occasions and may never be needed for a second time, it remains to be very impressive with what it does and should find a way into your accepted tools for this sort of task.

Ubuntu 10.10 Ambiance Theme Gets An Update

You may be familiar with the Ambiance theme since its debut in Ubuntu 10.04, but the Canonical Design team has just confirmed changes to the theme that are due to be released with Ubuntu 10.10.

Early screenshots of the new Ambiance theme.

Several things have been updated in this latest preview into the new Ambiance theme. Scrollbars, scrubbers, buttons, menus, window controls, title bars, GNOME panels and indicator menus…just to name a few. To read about these changes in more detail, you should head over to the article posted by Otto from the design team.

One thing that seems to not be mentioned about the screenshot is the background being used. If you look closely, you’ll notice that it resembles the background released with Ubuntu 10.04 very closely, but there are several subtle differences. Notice the two very orange flares as well as the hyper-white flare on the right. The gradients also appear to be much more refined.

I’ve been using this theme for a couple of days now since it was leaked and I’m in high approval of the changes. Especially those to the window control buttons, which now have a much more pleasant appearance and a better overall feel.

Radiance and Dark themes are also in the works, but (as noted by the design team) are not yet ready to be released. If you’d like to go ahead and test these themes in Lucid or Maverick, they’ve provided the packages at the following link:

http://people.ubuntu.com/~stefanor/light-themes/

Enjoy the new theme updates and let me know if you come across the new wallpaper anywhere!

Ubuntu 10.10 Alpha 3 Released

If you missed the news yesterday, Ubuntu 10.10 Alpha 3 was released. As of this stage, there are a significant amount of new features in 10.10 compared to 10.04. For an overview, you should look at the list that OMG! Ubuntu! has compiled.

Ubuntu 10.10 Alpha 3 Cluttered Dual Screen

If you’ve been anxiously waiting to test Ubuntu 10.10, but need a stable system then this is not the time to upgrade.

If you’re not worried about a problem here or there on occasion and what to give 10.10 a spin, I would suggest you download the Alpha 3 torrent to install rather than doing a system upgrade from 10.04 to 10.10 (at least until the final is released).

If you’re still longing to upgrade your Ubuntu 10.04 directly, you can do so by the following:

  1. Press Alt+F2 to launch the Run Application dialog.
  2. Type update-manager -d and press enter.
  3. When the Update Manager appears, it should alert you of an upgrade to 10.10. Do so at your own risk!

Also, as always, if you’re already running Ubuntu 10.10 whether its Alpha 1 or Alpha 2, applying all updates via Update Manager will give you all of the changes that are to be found in Alpha 3. Continuing this until the final is released will update you to a final version. There’s always confusion from some about this, but updating does indeed keep your system using the latest and greatest!

As of Alpha 3, we’ve still seen no signs of the Windicators that Mark has promised, but the indicator-applets for the GNOME panels are coming along very nicely and adding a great deal of ease and consistency.

How-To: Ubuntu Font Private Beta Testing

With so many people talking about the new Ubuntu Font that’s soon to be released to the public for beta testing, I thought I would take the opportunity to post a quick and easy guide to testing these fonts before everyone else does!

Preview of the new Ubuntu Font in action..

If you’d like to test these fonts, then you need to follow these instructions exactly (since the ppa is “private”). I found other site instructions a bit confusing, so if you follow my directions you should have these installed effortlessly and pain free in no time.

Install

  1. With your LaunchPad.net account, go to the following “Kubuntu Users” link and Join their team:
    https://launchpad.net/~kubuntu-users
  2. Now open a new tab and navigate to the following link. Once there, you should see the PPA listed as “ppa (ppa:ubuntu-font-beta-testing/ppa)” in your list and it may be the only one. There should be a link labeled “View” to the far right of it, click it.
    http://launchpad.net/people/+me/+archivesubscriptions
  3. The link that you just opened when clicking view should list software sources for this PPA that are unique to you. Open your software sources list file and copy these two source lines to the bottom, save and close (using the following command to open the sources).
    sudo gedit /etc/apt/sources.list
  4. Add the PPA key so the package is authenticated properly when you install:
    sudo apt-key adv –keyserver keyserver.ubuntu.com –recv-keys 42F834EC
  5. Update your software sources. Your new access to the private PPA may take between 5-15 minutes before its processed, so if you see errors for this software source in the terminal, be patient and try updating again in a few minutes.:
    sudo apt-get update
  6. Install the font:
    sudo apt-get install ubuntu-private-fonts
  7. Now that the fonts are install, apply them by right clicking on your Desktop -> Change Desktop Background -> Fonts (tab):
Applying the new font..

You should now have the new font installed. Good luck and enjoy!

Improved Thumbnails In Nautilus

If you’re using Ubuntu 10.04 or newer then you’ve probably seen the borders around your thumbnail pictures and movies.

This is how your images look by default.

You may like them with a thick white border, but if you’re looking for something a little sharper then give my thumbnail frame tweak a try!

This is how they look with my tweak!

The image that you’ll be downloading to use from me gives the thumbnails a drop-shadow effect and gives them a bit of a 3D stylish feel rather than a rounded clunky feel.

Open a terminal window and copy/paste the following commands to install or remove.

How to Install

  1. wget http://a.imageshack.us/img135/8666/thumbnailframe.png
  2. sudo mv thumbnailframe.png /usr/share/pixmaps/nautilus/thumbnail_frame.png
  3. killall nautilus

Restore to original

  1. wget http://a.imageshack.us/img651/5790/thumbnailframey.png
  2. sudo mv thumbnailframey.png /usr/share/pixmaps/nautilus/thumbnail_frame.png
  3. killall nautilus

Enjoy the new style thumbnails if you like them! This was brought about by a thread at UbuntuForums.org entitled “Changing the Nautilus ugly thick white border for thumbnails“. You can post either here or at the forums for help or general friendly comments!

Identify Opera With Your Linux Distro!

If you’ve ever noticed your user agent string before, then you may have noticed that Opera identifies as running on a generic Linux platform. This can be a bit bothersome or annoying if you’re a Linux enthusiast like me.

Opera for Windows and Mac both properly identify the platform they are installed on, but Linux is a little more challenging due to the overwhelming number of distributions. You can easily adjust your user agent string to accurately reflect your platform and help promote both Opera and your Linux distribution when you browse and post online.

Before and after Opera user agent string.

To change this so that it reflects your specific platform, simply:

  1. Open “opera:config#ISP|Id” in a new tab.
  2. Enter your distribution in the blank box in the format “Distribution/Version”.

  3. Click the Save button and restart your browser.

This should successfully change your user agent from something generic like..

Opera/9.80 (X11; Linux x86_64; U; en) Presto/2.6.30 Version/10.70

..to something a little more specific like..

Opera/9.80 (X11; Linux x86_64; U; Ubuntu/10.10; en) Presto/2.6.30 Version/10.70

Hope that helps! You can test your updated user agent strings in the comments below since they will appear above your comment. Or you can test it out at UserAgentString.com.

Microsoft LifeCam VX-1000 Linux GSPCA Patch

Update: See the linked comment for more details.

I’ve been in talks with the GSPCA maintainer for a week now discussing possible issues that the Microsoft LifeCam VX-1000 was having in Linux. In case you don’t know (which I didn’t at first either), GSPCA stands for “Generic Software Package for Camera Adapters.”

Microsoft LifeCam VX-1000

This software package contains drivers to a wealth of webcams and other video input devices, the Microsoft LifeCam VX-1000 included. The problem I had was that the built in microphone would stop working as soon as you turned on the camera. If you never used the camera and only opened a sound recording application then the microphone would work perfectly. In the long mailing list discussions that let me to this post, we discovered that the bug was is in setting a GPIO register that instantly breaks communication with the microphone. I’ve worked up a patch that I would like to get tested by others. Basically, the patch just includes conditionals that tell the driver not to apply this GPIO register change if the camera is using the OV7660 sensor. What I would like to test is, does disabling for this sensor affect other OV7660 devices? If not, then this patch will likely go into the main Linux kernel. If you’re using the Microsoft LifeCam VX-1000 or VX-3000 and are having trouble with your microphone, could you please do the following?

Testing the Patch

  1. Download my patched GSPCA: gspca-2.9.51-vx1000-patch-20100712.zip
    Download the latest version of GSPCA which now includes my patch: http://moinejf.free.fr/
  2. Extract the zip file on your Desktop (so you have the folder “gspca-2.9.51-vx1000-patch-20100712”).
  3. Open a terminal window and enter the following commands:
    cd Desktop/gspca-2.9.51-vx1000-patch-20100712/
    make
    sudo make install
  4. Reboot your computer and test your webcam in an application such as Cheese (which can easily be found in the Ubuntu Software Center).

Make sure that when you start your webcam in Cheese that the microphone continues to work. You can verify this in the Sound Preferences window if you click on the Input tab (make sure you have selected “LifeCam VX-1000”  as your input device). Let me know in the comments below or in the Ubuntu thread regarding this issue how it works for you! In case anyone is interested, here is the “diff -uNr” for the original sonixj.c against my modified version:

--- sonixj-original.c	2010-07-10 05:03:02.000000000 -0400
+++ sonixj-patch.c	2010-07-12 17:52:20.000000000 -0400
@@ -1749,7 +1749,8 @@
 		reg_w1(gspca_dev, 0x01, 0x62);
 		reg_w1(gspca_dev, 0x01, 0x42);
 		msleep(100);
-		reg_w1(gspca_dev, 0x02, 0x62);
+		if (sd->sensor != SENSOR_OV7660)
+			reg_w1(gspca_dev, 0x02, 0x62);
 		break;
 	default:
 /*	case SENSOR_HV7131R: */
@@ -2317,8 +2318,10 @@
 		reg2 = 0x40;
 		break;
 	}
-	reg_w1(gspca_dev, 0x02, reg2);
-	reg_w1(gspca_dev, 0x02, reg2);
+	if (sd->sensor != SENSOR_OV7660) {
+		reg_w1(gspca_dev, 0x02, reg2);
+		reg_w1(gspca_dev, 0x02, reg2);
+	}

 	reg_w1(gspca_dev, 0x15, sn9c1xx[0x15]);
 	reg_w1(gspca_dev, 0x16, sn9c1xx[0x16]);

UPDATE 2010-07-13: As of today this patch is included in GSPCA v2.9.52+! It looks like my hard work paid off after all and now all Linux users, not just Ubuntu users, will be able to enjoy the fruit of my labor since GSPCA is merged into the official Linux Kernel. 😉

How-To: Fix Your Ubuntu Boot Screen

If you’re using Ubuntu 10.04 or newer and have installed the proprietary Nvidia or ATI video drivers then you likely know what I’m talking about.

The nice Ubuntu boot screen that you saw during the installation is now a low quality image and the resolution is wrong. Fortunately for you and I, there is a fix for this written by Marius Nestor at Softpedia.

I’ve taken the liberty to implement his steps in a single script that makes the work on your end a much easier task. Only use this script if you have not already attempted to follow Marius Nestor’s tutorial.

Warning: Use this script at your own risk.

Steps

  1. Download the zipped script and extract it: plymouth-resolution-fix.sh.zip
  2. Open a terminal window and navigate to the directory containing the script.
  3. Enter the following command to make the script executable:
    chmod +x plymouth-resolution-fix.sh
  4. Enter the following command to run the script (followed by your password):
    sudo ./plymouth-resolution-fix.sh

Be patient for this script to complete, it will let you know when it is. After its complete, simply reboot your computer to verify the results.

To Revert these Changes

If you’d like to undo these changes, you can download the following script and run it the same as you ran the first one. This will undo the changes made.

Get Your Last.fm Wallpaper From Wallpaperfm

If you have an active Last.fm account and like to switch up your wallpaper from time to time then you’ll love Wallpaperfm!

Example from my Last.fm account in Collage mode.

This python script, by Koant, has been around since at least 2008, but I’ve only recently stumbled across it. It’s easy to start using and is available for Windows, Mac and Linux users!

I’ll help you get started in Linux since that’s what I’ve set it up on. If you need more help or want more configuration options you should look to the information that Koant has posted on his website.

Install

  1. cd
  2. mkdir wallpaperfm
  3. cd wallpaperfm
  4. wget http://ledazibao.free.fr/wallpaperfm/wallpaperfm.py
  5. chmod a+x wallpaperfm.py

Create Your Wallpaper

  1. ./wallpaperfm.py -u YOURLASTFMUSERNAME

That’s the most basic set of options you can use to create your wallpaper (which you will find after running the script in the “wallpaperfm” folder that was created).

There are three options for the type of wallpaper created:

1. Tile

Albums are packed in side by side.

2. Glass

A few albums are highlighted on a glassy surface.

3. Collage

Albums are meshed together in a dreamy design.

To specify one of these modes, simply run the wallpaper script with the mode flag set to your choice.

  • ./wallpaperfm.py -u YOURLASTFMUSERNAME -m collage

There are plenty of other settings you can specify such as size, canvas size, filename, profile period, final opacity, cache, excluded albums, local copy, etc.

Suggestions and Ideas

User Interface and Packaging

I’m sure that this script could be simplified further for Linux users (and more specifically, Debian/Ubuntu users) if a user interface were created. It actually seems like a rather simple task since the parameters for the script are well bounded.

Adding this interface to an installer package would also be a very simple task and would most likely get more attention to such a neat tool!

Cron Jobs, Regularly Updating Your Wallpaper

Another thing, if your music preferences are constantly changing like mine, you may be interested in updating your wallpaper in regular intervals. To do this you can setup a Cron job that runs in the background.

While this may sound difficult and confusing, its really not at all and this helps explain a lot. I can even walk you through the steps.

  1. sudo apt-get install gnome-schedule
  2. Open the application (in Ubuntu) through the Applications menu -> System Tools -> Scheduled tasks.
  3. Click the New button and select the Recurrent task type.
  4. Give the task a description.
  5. Enter the command that runs your script. If you followed the steps above then it should be something similar to:

    /home/YOURUBUNTUNAME/wallpaperfm/wallpaperfm.py -u YOURLASTFMUSERNAME -m collage -f /home/YOURUBUNTUNAME/wallpaperfm/wallpaper

  6. Set the Time & Date option to hourly, daily, weekly, or monthly.
  7. Click the “Add” button to add it to your list of Scheduled Tasks and you’re done!

Have any other suggestions or tips? Leave ’em in the comments!

“Share via microblog”

I just came across this in Ubuntu 10.10 while browsing the Software Center.

"Share via microblog"

I’m not sure how long this little feature has been available, but it sure does make promoting your favorite applications a breeze for Ubuntu users!

Clicking the linked text, as you can see, brings up a box to post to your “Broadcast” accounts (as Ubuntu calls them, otherwise known as your social networks). Here is an example of what it posts.

You’re free to edit the message how you see fit, with the important part being the “apturl:rhythmbox” token. For the record, there appears to be a bug at the moment that resets your edited message back to the default, but this will most likely be fixed.

I’m a little confused as to how this will work, since Firefox supports apt:application by default and not apturl:application. Also, Firefox requires the text to be a hyperlink, like the following examples apt:application and/or apturl:application.

If you find your browser unable to handle such links, you can find information here that should help you get them working.

I suppose this is yet another way that Ubuntu is becoming “social from the start!”

Paint Your Mouse Movements with IOGraph!

I recently stumbled upon this neat little application that lets you track your mouse movements in a visual way and save the image that is created!

My IOGraph in a Dual Screen (2.5 hours).

As you can see, most of my activity is in my second monitor (right) where my web browser rests, between the tabs and content towards the top. My coding habits and text editor occupy the first monitor (left) and show noticeably less mouse movement and more periods of pausing to work with the keyboard or read.

This application is Java based and runs in Windows, Mac and Linux! I’ll give you a quick run down on how to use this application in Ubuntu..

  1. Make sure that you have Java 6 Runtime installed on your computer. If you don’t, open the Ubuntu Software Center and search for Java. You should find “OpenJDK Java 6 Runtime” near the top of the results. Install that before continuing.
  2. Download IOGraph for Linux and save it where ever you like (I saved mine to the desktop).
  3. Before you can open the Java application (a .Jar file), you will need to set proper executable permissions for it. To do this, simply right click on the file and select Properties. In the Permissions tab, check to enable the option labeled “Allow executing file as program” and click close.

    Allow executing file as program
  4. Now to run the application, right click on the file again and select “Opera with OpenJDK Java 6 Runtime”.

    Open with OpenJDK Java 6 Runtime

Now that you’ve got the application running, you can minimize it and let it track your every move! If you’re having trouble, you may be able to find more help with .Jar files here.

The circles represent points where the mouse was left motionless for a period of time. The larger the circle, the longer it was left motionless.

Enjoy making art while you work and please share your results!