Pandora Internet Radio + Last.fm Scrobbling

Recently I started using Pandora Internet Radio again (I hadn’t used it in ages) to stream various genres of free radio tunes online. Pandora has a wide selection of genres to choose from and comes as a free and a premium service.

pandora

The free service is all I’m looking for and I’m willing to wait for short advertisement breaks from time to time. If you aren’t patient enough for the short pauses in your tunes or just utterly hate advertisements then you can get the premium service for just $36 a year. This is actually a very affordable deal when you break it down to only $3 a month or just $0.75 per week, especially if you use it regularly.

There are plenty of other free or pay for Internet Radio services or services that just let you pick tracks specifically to listen to. If you interested in those then take a look at Slacker, Dora.fm, Deezer, Napster Web Radio, AccuRadio, iLike, Blip.fm or even streaming from the select tracks that are available at Last.fm! There are many others available as well, but for now I’ll only get into Pandora. πŸ˜‰

I’ve been using Last.fm for nearly two years now scrobbling tracks from my computer via Windows Media Player and Rhythmbox in Ubuntu. The list of audio players that now support scrobbling to Last.fm is far to long to post here, but if you find one that won’t scrobble by default then chances are someone’s written a plug-in to do just that.

One plug-in, or add-on/extension rather, that I recently came across is called LastFM Firefox Extension. This is a nifty little extension that allows you to scrobble tracks from various listed services with Pandora being one of them.

last-fm-firefox-extension

After installing the LastFM Firefox Extension you’ll notice that it ties in nicely with the other extension icons you may use frequently (pictured above is Firebug, Greasemonkey, LastFM Firefox Extension).

You can get a quick glance at the currently playing song without ever leaving your current tab or having to scroll through tabs to find it in the tab title. Right from the icons you can Favorite or Heart the tracks you like. This will favorite them automatically on Last.fm for you rather than making you manually go to Last.fm to do this. You can also tag songs with any tags that you feel fit that specific song using the Tag icon (I personally haven’t found a good reason to use this yet, but you may know of one!).

To get started with this extension, it currently comes in two flavors: Stable and Beta. I don’t typically promote Beta software, but in this case, you’re far better off using the Beta rather than testing your hit or miss luck with the current Stable.

The steps to get this extension aren’t drawn out very well without a bit of digging, but I’ll guide you through:

  • Login to your Last.fm account and join the LastFM Firefox Extension group (this is mandatory).
  • Depending on your luck you may be forced to wait up to 24 hours before you’re granted permission to install the Beta version. It’s well worth the wait (1 day isn’t that big of a deal is it?).
  • After joining the LastFM Firefox Extension group on Last.fm you will need to download the Beta version from the official extension page. It may ask you to verify that you are authorized. This just means you must be in the group on Last.fm and you probably need to of been in the group for 24 hours or more.
  • Once you get the extension installed simply go to Tools -> LastFM and enter you credentials so it can scrobble your tunes!

Depending on when you come across this post, LastFM Firefox Extension may or may not still be in Beta. Feel free to use the current stable version if you prefer to avoid Beta software. Enjoy scrobbling those tunes!

Linux: Two Scripts to Help Debug Opera

Are you an Opera user and a Linux user at the same time? If so, then you could genuinely help Opera by sending in bug reports and specifically crash reports.

I’ve put a could of tools together for you in the form of scripts. If the idea of scripts scares you, then don’t worry. I’ve explained how to use them in the INSTALL.txt file that is in the zip archives for each tool.

They are really easy to use and can make your life much easier!

If you find that these scripts could be improved and/or extended, feel free to make changes yourself and/or pass them my way so we can all benefit from them!

Opera: Kill Freeze – The first tool is a script that will stop Opera when it’s frozen and, if you are using Opera 10+, prompt you with a crash log report so you can explain how it happened.

Opera: Crash Report Details – This tool will generate a text file on your desktop with some technical specifics that you should copy and paste along with your bug report. This information can greatly help with finding a bug and reproducing it so that it can be eliminated.

Do you have or know of similar tools? Let me know about them and post them in the comments!

Quick Linux Copy/Paste Tip

This is just proof that you can learn something new about Linux everyday.

So, are you tired of trying to copy and paste information from one source to another by means of pressing Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V? Or better still, by right click -> copy and right click -> paste?

Well, there’s a much easier way to do this. No seriously! I just found out about it myself after trying to track down where this bug or accidental copy-n-paste was coming from.

Once you learn to use this, however, it becomes very useful and will most likely replace your keyboard shortcut method. It may even be a cool trick you can tell your friends about. πŸ˜‰

You see, normally if you want to copy text or anything else from point A to point B you will be using a copy method that stores that data into the clipboard, holding it until it is replaced by the next copy.

With this method, oddly enough, what you already have stored in the clipboard is not altered at all!

The method I’m talking about is copy-n-pasting via middle clicking (that scroll wheel on your mouse of course). Here’s how it works.

When you select any text (any text at all) in Linux, you may not know it, but it is being stored in a clipboard of it’s own. To access that clipboard to paste from it, all you have to do is middle click!

To try this out, select the text here in bold red and press Ctrl-C or right click -> copy. This stores that text in the clipboard that you’re used to.

Now, select the text here in bold blue (it doesn’t matter if you leave it selected or not, it works either way). Now, go down to the comments section of this post and middle click in that text area.

If you’re in Linux you’ll most likely see that it pastes “bold blue” into the text area (color and font weight won’t appear in that simple text area). Now press Ctrl+V or right click -> paste and you should see that it pastes “bold red” into the comment text area!

If you see both items pasted into the text area, then that means you can take advantage of both clipboards as well as a faster method of copying data!

It may take a little time to become familiar with it, however, I’ve not been using it long at all and it’s already nearly replaced the old method for me entirely!

Crash logging Opera with Inspector IIXII for Linux, Part 2

Following up with an update to my original post, I’ve brought an easier way for you to make use of Inspector every single time you open Opera.

In a nutshell, I’ve written a script that launches Opera and then attaches Inspector to the process id. There is a setup script that will make some necessary changes and create a shortcut on your Desktop for you that opens Opera and Inspector for you easily!

If you want to find out more about the Opera + Inspector Launcher or download it for yourself just head over to the info/download page.

If you have any questions and/or suggestions, just leave them in the comments here or on the Launcher page.

Install Boxee in Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty x86_64

After coming across details regarding Boxee and the extended number of sources that it can pull videos from, I just had to give it a test drive.

First of all, Boxee is a media player that is being developed for multiple platform use. It’s not restricted to videos and is able to stream music from Pandora as well as Last.fm.

One of the first things that I noticed upon registering for Boxee (which is free) was that it is currently only available for Mac and Ubuntu. A Windows version is in development, however, it’s not currently possible to get an install of the alpha/beta Windows builds.

To further disappoint me just a bit, I found that the installers for Ubuntu were for 32-bit machines only. fortunately there is that geeky thing you can do called “force-architecture” or “force-all”. πŸ˜›

boxee

After using my online best friend (Google) I was able to come across several guides for installing Boxee on Ubuntu 9.04 64-bit. Some of them were correct and some of them weren’t. Some of them were scattered and unorganized and…well…none of them were pathetically easy to follow.

That’s why you’re here. πŸ˜‰

If you want to install Boxee on Ubuntu 32-bit, just follow the installation instructions provided after registering. If you’re installing in Ubuntu 64-bit (Jaunty Jackalope I might add) then please continue.

Installation

  1. Install “getlibs-all” by downloading it from here and double clicking to install or by copy/pasting the following terminal commands. (More details about getlibs here).
    wget http://frozenfox.freehostia.com/cappy/getlibs-all.deb
    sudo dpkg -i getlibs-all.deb
  2. wget http://apt.boxee.tv/dists/jaunty/main/binary-i386/Packages.gz
  3. zcat Packages.gz | grep Filename
  4. Make sure that the bold part in the following command matches the file name from the above command (ignoring the jaunty and intrepid folder differences).
    wget http://apt.boxee.tv/dists/intrepid/test/binary-i386/boxee-0.9.11.5777.deb
  5. sudo dpkg -i –force-all boxee-0.9.11.5777.deb
    sudo dpkg -i –force-architecture boxee-0.9.11.5777.deb
  6. The following command may take some time to complete, however, be patient and wait for getlibs to prompt you whether or not to install additional libraries to make Boxee work on your machine. Be sure to answer yes or y. πŸ˜‰
    getlibs /opt/boxee/Boxee
  7. sudo apt-get install lib32nss-mdns

After being patient and completing these (honestly) few steps, you should be able to launch Boxee from the application menu and start enjoying some Internet videos!

For further reading or more detailed/technical instructions please see the source thread of this process.

Also, for the record, Netflix Watch Instantly does not work in Boxee for Ubuntu as far as I can tell (due to the lack of DRM support).

I hope I’ve been able to help in some way. Best of luck with Boxee!

Call Forwarding to Google Voice Mail

After having a Grand Central account for a long time that I never really used, which has now become Google Voice, I’ve finally found it to be some what useful.

Thanks to my brother tipping me off to this trick, I’ve got a faster voice mail service that can email the messages to me, transcribe them to text, text message them to me, etc.

You can also create groups and setup each group of contacts to reach a different voice mail greeting.

To do this yourself, all you have to do is:

  1. Create a Google Voice account for yourself and select a phone number.
  2. Go to your Google Voice account and open Settings -> Phones and uncheck any phones listed.
  3. Go to Settings -> General and under Notifications you can set it to email you or text the message to yourself.
  4. Dial *71 + 10 digit Google Voice number

Basically, what this does is forward the caller to your Google Voice number if you fail to answer the call. From that point Google Voice just intercepts the call with the Voice Mail greeting message.

If you ever want to undo this little trick, all you have to do is dial *710 on your mobile device and your original voice mail service will be restored (since the phone no longer forwards to the Google Voice number).

These numbers (*71 and *710) are as far as I know generic, however, if they don’t seem to work for your phone service, just do a quick google search for “busy number call forwarding” + your service provider.

Good luck and enjoy! πŸ˜‰

How-To: Opera Repository for Debian-based Linux

If you’ve ever used Opera in Linux, then you most likely installed it by manually downloading the install file.

Now I’m going to show you how to add the Opera repository so that it automatically updates when you check for normal updates in Linux.

There are some directions listed at deb.opera.com, but they don’t make it very clear in my opinion for Ubuntu.

  1. Open: System -> Β Administration -> Software Sources -> Third-Party Software
    software-sources-third-party-software

  2. Click Add, copy and paste the following
    deb http://deb.opera.com/opera/ sid non-free

    This can be confusing if you’re using Ubuntu, however, I’m using Ubuntu Jaunty and the above source worked great for me.

    *If you want to use the latest stable version of Opera, then the above line will be just fine. However, if you prefer to use Betas or Snapshots then you can replace the “/opera/” with “/opera-beta/” and “/opera-snapshot/” respectively.

    *If you’re using Debian or maybe even an older version of Ubuntu then you may need to use a different release name than “sid” in the source above, so you can use any of the following: potato, woody, sarge, etch, lenny, sid

  3. After adding the correct repository, you will need to add the repository key. You can do that by running the following line in a terminal window:

    Debian users:
    wget -O – http://deb.opera.com/archive.key | apt-key add –

    Ubuntu users:
    sudo wget -O – http://deb.opera.com/archive.key | sudo apt-key add –

  4. Now, if you have any version(s) of Opera already installed, you will likely need to remove it:
    sudo apt-get remove opera

  5. Now you need to update apt before Opera will be available via the newly added repository:
    sudo apt-get update

  6. All that is left is to install Opera again:
    sudo apt-get install opera

You may be wondering why you need to remove Opera only to install it again. This is because, the first time that it was installed, it was installed as a “local or obsolete” package and is not “maintained” by any package manager or update application. After you update apt and install Opera, it is maintained with the rest of the applications that you install and update directly through a package manager.

How-To: Upgrade to Ubuntu 9.04 and ext4

Getting started

If you’re the kind of person who likes to give software and platforms a test drive early on then I’m sure you’ve been keeping a close eye on Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty Jackalope and its fresh support for the ext4 file system.

If you’re interested in upgrading to Ubuntu 9.04 then it’s pretty painless and requires one command. Before you get started, please note that the current stage of the Ubuntu 9.04 release is still alpha.

This means that this release is not yet deemed stable and you should not be surprised if you encounter a nasty bug. That being said, I have been using Ubuntu 9.04 for a couple of alpha releases with no major problems and fast updates and fixes on a daily basis.

If you would like to wait until the final version is released then you can mark your calendars for April 23, 2009 and upgrade then. If you’re curious and ready for some exciting changes then please continue reading. πŸ˜‰

Please take a look at the know issues for the latest release of Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunt Jackalope to make sure you still want to continue with the upgrade. You can find links to release news for each alpha and on up to the final release here.

Upgrade to Ubuntu 9.04

  1. Press Alt+F2 to open the run dialog.
  2. Copy and paste update-manager -d into the dialog and press enter.
  3. When the Update Manager appears, it should prompt you of the availability of an upgrade. Press the upgrade button and follow the few instructions.

After upgrading, you may need to enable hardware drivers for your video card. If you’re using nVidia, then you’ll be happy to see that driver version 180 is now recommended for Jaunty!

You may not notice, but updating your version of Ubuntu does not automatically convert your file system from ext3 to ext4. This is something you will need to manually change with a few commands.

Also note that after converting your file system to ext4, only files created after the conversion will be created in extends mode. This means that files that already exist will still be in ext3 format, but will work flawlessly with the ext4 file system. If you wish to have a complete ext4 file system then you will most likely be required to perform a fresh install of Ubuntu 9.04.

Follow updates from kernel.org on how to convert from ext3 to ext4, or refer to this page in the case that the below information becomes outdated.

Converting ext3 to ext4

To convert an existing ext3 filesystem to use ext4, use the command

$ tune2fs -O extents,uninit_bg,dir_index /dev/DEV

WARNING: Once you run this command, the filesystem will no longer be mountable using the ext3 filesystem!

After running this command, you MUST run fsck:

$ fsck -pf /dev/DEV

NOTE: by doing so, new files will be created in extents format, but this will not convert existing files. However, they can be transparently read by Ext4.

WARNING: It is NOT recommended to resize the inodes using resize2fs, as this is known to corrupt some filesystems.

Conclusion

If you’ve successfully upgraded to Ubuntu 9.04 then it’s time for you to sit back and relax!

You’ll continue to see updates to Ubuntu 9.04 that will update your system all the way up to the stable release of Ubuntu 9.04 by April 23, 2009. You will see fewer and fewer updates after this point with most of the updates being security based.

Enjoy!

Opera 10: Remove ‘Click to activate’ on flash in Linux!

I’ve been working with d.i.z. as he’s found a way to hex edit Opera binaries to disable the “Click to activate” feature that Opera has implemented on flash items. I won’t get into the details of why they implemented this myself, but I’ll just quote from the post that d.i.z. made about this topic.

Some background:
Eolas (E) is a company that patented a certain way of interacting with embedded objects on web pages. This is why in Opera, you sometimes have to click (for example) a flash player to “activate” it before it can actually be controlled. That sucks.

Opera is the only browser that I know of, that currently have this annoying system in place. IE had it, but it reached to a pocket full of money to buy a license from E.

Other (open source) browsers don’t implement this mechanism because E was kind enough to commit not to pursue legal actions against open source browsers that are violating its patent. Why? I guess because it wouldn’t really be able to enforce that anyway. Builds without this future would pop up everywhere in no-time.

Now that you understand a little bit about what is going on and the feature that you can remove, I have to tell you the bad news. So far we’ve only had time to patch Windows builds and most Intel Linux and Linux x86_64 builds.

If you’re looking for the Windows patch files then head on over to d.i.z.’s blog post and grab the download there as I will not be maintaining that one.

If you’re looking for the Linux patches, then you’re at the right spot!

I’ve managed to write three script files that will do everything you want! You will only need to use one of them if you only want to patch your version. The files are as follows:

  1. Patch script
    This script obviously patches your Opera file to remove the “Click to activate” feature. You only need to run this one if you just want to remove that and forget about it. Running it more than once will not affect the file as the hex search will no longer match after being patched, so that is why it will fail if the file has already been patched.

    To use this script, run the following commands in the terminal:

    chmod +x ./click-to-activate-removal-opera-10.sh
    sudo ./click-to-activate-removal-opera-10.sh
  2. Switch between patched Opera and unpatched Opera script
    This file will, as it says, rename your patched file and unpatched file accordingly so that each time you run it you will be able to alternate back and forth between patched and unpatched versions. This will no longer work if you remove your unpatched version which is created and saved originally by the Patch script above.

    To use this script, run the following commands in the terminal:

    chmod +x ./click-to-activate-removal-opera-10-swap-patched-unpatched.sh
    sudo ./click-to-activate-removal-opera-10-swap-patched-unpatched.sh
  3. Patch removal script
    This script is a clean-up tool. If you decide for some reason that you don’t want the patch anymore and want to remove it completely, then run this script. It will delete the patched file, so switching between patched and unpatched will no longer be possible until you reapply the Patch script.

    To use this script, run the following commands in the terminal:

    chmod +x ./click-to-activate-removal-opera-10-unpatcher.sh
    sudo ./click-to-activate-removal-opera-10-unpatcher.sh

Please make sure that you have completely closed Opera before running any of these three scripts.

After using any of the above scripts, you are free to delete the script. You can always grab it again here if you wish, just make sure to bookmark this page!

The example usage commands that I posted are correct for Ubuntu/Debian. I’m not sure how they compare across distributions, but just make sure to make the script executable and then run the script with root privileges.

I’m sure you noticed that the file names are very long. You can feel free to rename them to anything you want to. They run independently of the file name. I just named them very descriptively to help myself keep them sorted and maintainable. πŸ˜‰

As usual, if you wish to use any of these scripts then you understand that I am not responsible for any damages done to your computer (even if it explodes πŸ˜› ) and you accept the responsibility on yourself to deal with any results, good or bad.

If you experience any problems with these files then please let me know in the comments. Notice that these only work so far for Intel Linux builds and Linux x86_64 (64-bit), so don’t waste your time with other builds unless you want to help extend the scripts!

Also, please notice that currently this Patch script does not work for the Intel Linux builds that were compiled with GCC 2.95, but hopefully it will be supported soon. If you’re using a build other than this that is Intel Linux or Linux x86_64 then please let me know the version you downloaded so I can look into it!

I extend a special thanks to d.i.z. for making this hex edit hack possible and helping me form these scripts in the first place!

Enjoy!

Crash logging Opera with Inspector IIXII for Linux

For those of you interested, I’ve spent a bit of my time trying to make your crashing logging life easier. πŸ˜‰

After reading a post from csant‘s blog I decided to try to make the process of starting up Inspector a little less annoying by writing a Bourne shell script to automatically parse the PID and execute Inspector with the proper PID parameter for Opera.

After taking what csant had already posted (and is posted in a couple of other places) I just did a little extending that narrowed down the results to the correct one and parsed the second element divided by whitespace, which has to be the PID. It’s a fairly simple script. πŸ˜‰

To get started crash logging Opera to help make it better all you need to do is download the Inspector program and create a new file named “inspectr.sh”.

Notice that I named it “inspectr” intentionally, as the linux program file is and has always been just “inspectr” so this helps keep confusion between file names down.

In the new shell file that you’ve created, copy and paste the following and save it.

#!/bin/sh

opera=`ps aux | grep opera$ | awk '{print $2}'`
if [ "$opera" != "" ]; then
./inspectr $opera
fi

After saving it, you’ll need to run the following to make it executable.

chmod +x inspectr.sh

Make sure that you saved both of the files together and also followed the instructions for setting up Inspector (really just chmod 755). After that you can just pop open a terminal, navigate to the inspector directory and run the following command to attach Inspector to the current running version of Opera.

./inspectr.sh

That’s about it! Collect those logs and make sure to send them with your bug reports!

UNIX: 1234567890 on Friday Feb. 13, 2009 @ 18:31:30

This coming Friday the 13th (ahhhh, bad luck!!!!) will be a unique day for me and everyone on earth!

This coming Friday the 13th will be the day that makes a milestone mark in the history of UNIX! That milestone has been running since midnight Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) of January 1, 1970, not counting leap seconds.

Basically, if you live if Eastern Standard Time (EST) like I do, then you will see this once in a life time event occur on:

Fri Feb 13 18:31:30 2009

Here is a quick screen shot that illustrates how to find the local time for you as well as the local time for me. πŸ˜‰

If you want to check the time in your location then enter the following terminal command (compliments of Β Gizmodo.com).

perl -e 'print scalar localtime(1234567890),"\n";'

Enjoy the day and maybe down a brew to celebrate the unique timing! Go UNIX!