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How is it possible to scrobble on Last.fm from VLC on a Mac?

Answer by Andrew Maiman:

In the current version (2.0.7) of VLC for Mac, the option for scrobbling has been moved into the ‘Advanced’ preferences panel.  To access it, select ‘VLC -> Preferences’ and then click the ‘Show All’ button in the bottom-left corner.  Next, select ‘Interface -> Control Interfaces -> Audioscrobbler’ and enter your Last.fm username and password.  Leave the ‘Scrobbler URL’ as the default of post.audioscrobbler.com.

Next, select ‘Control Interfaces’ and check the ‘Submission of played songs to last.fm’ checkbox.

Click ‘Save’ and then quit and re-launch VLC.  Your played tracks will now be scrobbled to Last.fm.  Note that it does not submit the track until is has completely finished playing (unlike other scrobbler apps that will send it after 50% of the playback.)

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How to easily switch audio languages in XBMC

March 17th, 2012 3 comments

Japanese anime with English subtitleIf you use XBMC for watching media content from your PC on your TV, you may have noticed that there is no hotkey for switching audio languages. This is particularly annoying if you’re trying to watch anime, as it will typically default to the English audio track instead of the Japanese (which usually has better voice acting.) It’s also a problem if your native language isn’t English.

Here’s how to fix it. Create a new Keyboard.xml file. It should be located at C:\Users\[yourusername]\AppData\Roaming\XBMC\userdata\keymaps\Keyboard.xml (on Windows) or at /Users/[yourusername]/Library/Application Support/XBMC/userdata/keymaps/Keyboard.xml (on MacOSX).

Add the following lines:

<keymap>
  <global>
    <keyboard>
      <k>audionextlanguage</k>
    </keyboard>
  </global>
</keymap>

(If you already have a Keyboard.xml file, you’ll probably just need to add the <k>audionextlanguage</k> line to the <keyboard> section.)

This will map the ‘K’ key (not used for anything by default) to ‘Switch audio languages.’ I picked ‘K’ since it’s next to ‘L’, which is the default hotkey to enable subtitles. (No, I don’t speak Japanese.)

Additional information about XBMC keymaps is available here: http://wiki.xbmc.org/index.php?title=Keymap.xml

 
Categories: How-To, Software Tags: , , , ,

Remove the Ping buttons and sidebar from iTunes 10.0.1 on Windows

October 2nd, 2010 3 comments

If you recently updated to the latest version of iTunes, you probably noticed Apple’s latest force-feeding of their new Ping service.  When you run iTunes for the first time after upgrading, you’ll have a giant Ping sidebar on the right side of your screen as well as icons next to each song.  You can close the sidebar, but there’s no option in the UI for turning off the (in my opinion, annoying) icons next to the song titles.

iTunes screenshot showing Ping icons and sidebar

Here’s how to get rid of them (thanks goes to OS X Daily for pointing me in the right direction, the majority of sites are only giving the Mac method for fixing this which doesn’t work on Windows.  I’ve added a fix for their typo and how to execute the command correctly on a 64-bit system which wasn’t mentioned in their original post):

1) Close iTunes if it’s running.
2) Open a command prompt window.  (Start -> Run -> cmd)

3) Enter the following commands:
"C:\Program Files\iTunes\iTunes.exe" /setPrefInt hide-ping-dropdown 1
"C:\Program Files\iTunes\iTunes.exe" /setPrefInt disablePingSidebar 1

If you’re running a 64-bit version of Windows, you’ll need to use the following commands instead:
"C:\Program Files (x86)\iTunes\iTunes.exe" /setPrefInt hide-ping-dropdown 1
"C:\Program Files (x86)\iTunes\iTunes.exe" /setPrefInt disablePingSidebar 1

It appears that the button for the Ping sidebar will not go away if you have ever activated it. Just close the sidebar once after running the commands above, they will prevent the Ping sidebar from automatically re-opening.

Back to normal:

iTunes screenshot - Ping icons and sidebar removed

 
Categories: How-To, Software Tags: , , ,

Sony removes PS3 Linux support from customers who have paid for it

April 1st, 2010 10 comments

No more Linux on the PlayStation 3So, even if you haven’t heard the latest news regarding Sony and the PlayStation 3 (additional discussion on Slashdot), it will come as no surprise that they’re up to their anti-consumer practices once again. According to a blog entry on the official Sony web site, they have released a new firmware version (3.21) today (which, coincidentally, is April Fool’s Day; however in their post which was written on March 27th they insist that it is not a joke). This new “update” removes the ‘Other OS’ feature that is present on older PS3s (any model released prior to the ‘Slim PS3’). This feature is the one that allows you to run Linux on your console and use it as a computer as well as a game console.

I turned my console on this morning and, sure enough, I cannot sign onto PSN (which means no online games, store, trials, etc.)  Clicking through to the upgrade page and its associated legal agreement makes no mention of the feature removal at all.  Sony is hoping that everyone who uses a PS3 will simply assume it’s a routine update that includes new features and will simply install it without thinking, thus permanently crippling their system.  I declined the user agreement and refused to install the update; so I can still use Linux but can no longer access any online PSN features.

Sony cites “security concerns” for removing the feature, but a short analysis of the issue makes it clear that they’re protecting their own interests, rather than the customer’s interests as they imply in their announcement. At issue is the Geohot exploit (which only allows access to the hypervisor which is a layer above the operating system, it does not allow any games to be pirated). Sony believes that allowing continued access to the Linux operating system on the PS3 will allow for piracy of their games. Rather than deal with the issue, they’ve decided to simply remove the Linux feature from everyone’s PS3. As usual, Sony is treating their paying customers as criminals. That approach usually does not result in increased sales, as many customers will first begin stealing their content after they’ve been negatively affected by such moves after paying for legitimate content.

Sony is hoping that nobody will care about this change, as very few people utilize this function of their consoles.  I have experimented with Linux installation on the PS3, and while it does have some limitations, there are a lot of possibilities for the system.  The PS3 possesses a powerful Cell processor and can be used for many interesting computational tasks. There have been many stories in the news recently regarding various agencies that are using the consoles for just that. (The U.S. Air Force is a prime example, others are listed here.)  Sony even promised that the feature would not be going away.

The problem with this whole affair is that Sony is removing a core feature from a product that customers have already paid for. The feature is clearly advertised, both at the time of purchase and on Sony’s website itself (They added the part about the feature no longer being available this morning.)  Should a company be allowed to remove a core function of a product without compensating paying customers for its loss? I think not.

Sony maintains that you can simply not install the update, and will then be able to retain the ‘Other OS’ feature. This is untrue; however; since if you refuse to update you will no longer be permitted to connect to the PSN (PlayStation Network), which means no online games or access to the PlayStation Store. Some new games will refuse to run at all without first installing the update. Therefore, the update is mandatory, not optional, and you’re forced to lose either the ‘Other OS’ feature or the ability to use the console for its other primary purpose.

It seems that Sony (of rootkit fame) is now planning to follow in Amazon.com’s footsteps of removing a digital item that the customer has already paid for from their possession. At least Amazon refunded people’s money when they took back 1984 and ultimately made good and apologized and returned the digital book to the customers. I fear Sony will simply continue to ignore their customers and proceed with this and similar changes.

I encourage you to file complaints with the FTC, BBB, and your state’s attorney general’s office regarding this matter if it affects you.  I would not be surprised if a class action suit appears; although that would have minimal benefit to consumers.

In the meantime, do not install the firmware update.  There may be other methods around the problem soon.

 

Fixing a system stuck on the Windows Resume Loader

December 22nd, 2009 9 comments

Windows Resume LoaderI encountered a fairly annoying problem with my new netbook today (an Acer Aspire One D250 that I upgraded to Windows 7 over the weekend). I left the system running on battery last night, so it automatically hibernated. When I recharged it and powered it back up this evening, the keyboard would not respond on the Windows Resume Loader screen. This posed a problem, as there was no way to get the machine to return to Windows. A quick search yielded a number of other people who have encountered this problem, but not many fixes. Plugging in a PS/2 keyboard was the usual solution given, but as it’s a netbook, there’s no PS/2 port. Connecting a USB keyboard might have worked, but I didn’t have one handy.

I’m not sure why the keyboard would not respond, or if it will happen again; however there is no easy way around the issue, since Windows ignores the F8 key when hibernation data is present, so I couldn’t force it to delete the data. (The menu choice was right there, but couldn’t be selected).

Here’s how I fixed it:

  1. Connected my external USB DVD drive and booted the Windows 7 disc. You’ll also need a USB key with your BitLocker recovery key if you encrypt your drive.
  2. Access the recovery options and bring up Command Prompt.
  3. You need to delete the hibernation data (hiberfil.sys). This is a protected file; however, and it is not easy to delete even at the administrative recovery command prompt. Change to the drive letter for your hard drive. You’ll then need to enter the following commands:
     
    takeown /f hiberfil.sys
    icacls hiberfil.sys /reset
    attrib -h -s hiberfil.sys
    del hiberfil.sys

     
    (Those commands are necessary since by default even the administrative user doesn’t have access to modify the file).
  4.  

  5. Reboot the machine.

The system will then boot normally (but without the hibernation data, it’s a cold boot, so you’ll lose anything you had running when the system originally hibernated)

 

Updating Mozilla Weave for Firefox 3.5

June 29th, 2009 No comments

Firefox 3.5 logoFrom what I’ve read, it looks like Firefox 3.5 is going to be released officially tomorrow, so I decided to grab the release candidate today to see if there are any major changes that would require work on my part.  It’s a good thing I did, since I had to reconfigure my Weave server to work with the new version.

Mozilla Weave logoIf you don’t know about it, Mozilla Weave allows you to synchronize your bookmarks/tabs/saved passwords/etc. between multiple PCs.  The combination of Weave and Dropbox are what I use to keep my laptop and desktop in sync at all times.  (That will be the subject of a future post: a list of the various tweaks that I’ve done to make this work seamlessly so that all of my PCs are always in sync even if they’re not all online at the same time).  When I installed the Firefox 3.5 release candidate, I got the usual warning that most of my extensions were going to be disabled pending compatibility with the new version.  One of the ones that had an update available was Weave.  I was still running the older 0.2 version, but 0.4 has now been released.

Uh oh…My server is still running 0.2 (I run my own Weave server mainly because I don’t want to rely on the Mozilla servers for storing personal information + passwords, even though they’re encrypted, and also because when I first started using Weave their systems were overloaded and they weren’t accepting new accounts, hence the requirement to host it on my own server).   A big change is that they’re not using WebDAV anymore for the storage (fine with me, WebDAV was a pain to set up before), storage is now done using a choice of database engines, MySQL in my case.

Now the fun part, remembering the hackish way that I set up WebDAV for the old version (the new version won’t work if it’s still enabled) so that I could disable DAV.  After a little searching, I found where in the httpd.conf that I put the options before (I remembered to put in a comment when I did it :-)) and successfully reconfigured the web server.  I set up a new database and user, set the config options, and the server was ready to go!  (See the full instructions on how to set up the server for more details, it’s a little more complicated than that)

The current version of the server is 0.3, but it works properly with the 0.4 version of the client.
The new version allows for synchronization of bookmarks, cookies, forms, history, location bar, passwords, preferences, and tabs.  Basically, it means you can close Firefox on your laptop, and when you log onto your desktop, you can resume right where you left off.  Thanks to the development team, you did a great job.  I’m looking forward to future features such as extension synchronization.  Weave is still in beta, and there are still bugs to be worked out (when a problem occurs, it’s often necessary to dig through the verbose log file to try and figure out what happened), but it continues to improve with each revision.