How-To Guides

Guides & How-To’s for helping people with tech orientated topics

MP3 Tag Editing

By on Nov 4, 2009 in How-To Guides |

If you download many podcasts, you’ll often find that some of them aren’t tagged properly, and so don’t show up in your MP3 player where they should. There are two ways you can deal with this. First is the manual method with a graphical application. My recommendation goes to MP3TAG. It is a highly flexible system which can handle all the tag fields you’d need to handle, including cover art. It can also fill in tag information from systematically named files, and vice versa, as well as pulling tag data from Amazon and the CD internet database. When I was organising my 1,800+ MP3 collection, I was able to tag and rename every file with a ridiculous amount of ease. Manual tag editing is all well and good for occasional jobs, but when you need see to podcasts that your computer gets every week, it can get repeative and time consuming. Therefore you need an automated method. The best way to automate a task is to find a command line tool for which you can write a script and execute on your operating system’s scheduler. This is were ID3 Mass Tagger comes in. This is a really handy little utility, pointed out to me by fellow blogger, Pokeh. Fortunately the author makes versions of this for most operating systems. I run a script on my Ubuntu laptop for synchronising my podcasts with my mobile phone, and I’ve been able to incorporate this into that script to correct all my genre tags. References: ID3 Mass Tagger Homepage...

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Tip of the week 30th October 2009

By on Oct 30, 2009 in How-To Guides |

If you need to ensure your privacy, here is an extension that (after you’ve added it’s little red X button to your toolbar) will close the tab you are currently on, AND delete all related cookies and history entries. It’s called Close n Forget. I affectionately think of it as the pr0n button. I think this is a little better than the privacy mode of IE8 and Incognito mode of Chrome, because it works retro-actively and you don’t have to have some special mode running to use it. One caveat, I’ve found in my testing of it that it will leave one entry in your history, just linking to the root (i.e. www.site.com) of the site you were on. Although one trip to the “Awesome Bar” with your Delete key will fix...

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Using images to help visitors see more of your WordPress site

By on Oct 28, 2009 in How-To Guides |

A while ago I was doing some research into how I could better design the layout of my blog to encourage new visitors to read more posts, rather than just bouncing away (i.e. leaving after reading one post). I already used a plug-in called YARRP (Yet Another Related Posts Plug-in), to show a list of posts that were similar to the one the reader was looking at. Although I found this blog post describing how you could customise your related posts layout to include thumbnail images for each post. Depending on your PHP & CSS skills, the customisation could either take you 20 minutes to implement, or a whole evening. It also depends on what formatting problems your theme has would would need working around. In my case, I think it took me five hours, on and off. My CSS skills were a little rusy, and my theme had an issue which made different posts have different issues. So it took a lot of systematic experimentation to mess around with CSS margins to make sure everything stayed where it was supposed to be! Note that you need to be self-hosting to be able to do this one. You’ll be able to see the results of my implementation of this at the bottom of the page, and it I have noticed an objective benefit in having done this. According to Google Analytics, comparing the month before and the month after making this change, my bounce rate fell by 4.4%, my page views per visit ratio increased by 3.4%, and my average time per visit went up by 25%. Doing this hasn’t gained me more visitors, but that’s not the point. From where ever they come, this layout change is designed to make your visitors stick around and see more of your work. Going by the above results, it really does seem to work. So, all that’s left to say is thanks to Zach at buildinternet.com for posting about this, as it’s been a good help to me. References: Display Thumbnails For Related Posts in...

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Tip of the week – 23rd October 2009

By on Oct 23, 2009 in How-To Guides |

If you want to have some programs run automatically from your USB thumb drive (only do with programs you trust). There here’s a link to a little application that will help you, by writing the Autorun.inf file for you. Handy if you knew that Autorun.inf was the file you needed to do this, but were afraid of doing a little script hacking....

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Tip of the week – 16th October 2009

By on Oct 16, 2009 in How-To Guides |

You might be interested in the Camera Hacker Development Kit (CHDK). This is for Canon cameras to enhance and customise their standard software. Such things you can do is record video for an indefinite amount of time (instead of a 3 minute limit like on my Powershot), or take photos every few seconds, or get additional on-screen information, and much more. Apparently you can even add games! I haven’t used this yet, but I fully intend to. Edit: Appears my A510 is a bit too old, some hacking may be...

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Password Maker

By on Oct 12, 2009 in How-To Guides |

If you were following the tech news last week, hopefully you’ll have heard about the surge in leaked and phished passwords from Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo. CNET UK covered it twice. This brings up the thorny issue of how to effectively manage all of your passwords. Some people have one strong password they use everywhere, others will do this but append something for each site. Other people, who frankly scare me, use simple things like “password”, “12345”, “67890”, etc. What exactly is a strong password? The more random and unpredictable a password is, the stronger it is. In other words, predictable passwords are easy to remember, and easy to crack. Randomly flaying your fingers at the keyboard will generate a random block of text. Although, you need to recall this random text sometimes, but how? You could keep them all in a file, but this is no good, because if someone gets that file, you’re sunk (same goes for paper records). Even if you use a password manager which keeps your passwords in an encrypted file, they’re still there in a file, which if obtained, could be decrypted by brute force. A while ago, I listened to Floss Weekly interviewing Eric Jung from the Foxy Proxy project. During the interview, his involvement with a free and open source project called Password Maker was mentioned. Password Maker works by generating a cryptographic hash of both the domain of the website you’re logging into and a master password of your choosing. Thus creating a different piece of pseudo-random text for every website you use. There are lots more settings so that you can finely tune what goes into the password, but don’t worry about those just now. To put it simply, you never have to find or recover your passwords, because they’re never stored, they’re just generated for you when you need access to them. The best way to use Password Maker is in the form of a Firefox add-on. However, if you’re away from home, or whatever, there is an on-line version and a mobile browser version, which you can even install on your own website, if you have one. This best security aspect of this is that your master...

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