Category Archives: Technology

Raspberry Pi XBMC Media Center – A Complete Solution

Raspberry PiI have to admit it’s taken a good amount of research and experimentation, but I finally have an XBMC media center solution on the Raspberry Pi that rivals what I used to have on my old power-sucking full-size PC.

I’m writing this guide to help others get up and running with a stable solution as quickly as possible. I’ll be covering everything from the hardware pieces to the software and configuration. I’m also hoping this guide will be accessible to those who aren’t overly tech-inclined, and I’ll provide some support in the comments.

Continue on after the break for the complete guide.
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TrueCrypt Automation using Shell Scripts on Mac OS X

TrueCryptThis is probably a fairly unique situation, but I thought I’d post it here just to see how many people might have the same need. I use TrueCrypt almost exclusively as my encryption solution due to the fact that it’s both cross platform and open source, and because it’s highly secure and “just works”. Really, I don’t know why anyone wouldn’t use it; it really is the ideal encryption solution.

That said, I often find myself having to create new volumes, and I find that process to be relatively cumbersome. I prefer to have many smaller volumes than one or two large volumes, primarily because they sync up via Dropbox (actually just recently I switched to Google Drive), and online sync services do much better with smaller files than, say, a 50GB file.

The non-automated way to create and mount a volume seems to take ages; you run through the wizard, wait for the volume to be created, go hunt for the file, mount it, and then you’re finally good to go. It requires entering your password not once but three times, and just gets irritating after having to do it even once a day. To solve this, I looked into TrueCrypt’s command line options, and created a couple of shell scripts to make things much easier. Read on after the break to dive into the scripts.
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Amazon MP3, Cloud Player, Cloud Drive – New Features Coming Soon

This article will be admittedly vague, as Amazon has released little to no information on new features that are coming to their MP3, Cloud Player, and Cloud Drive services. However, I just got off a call with someone from Amazon’s Cloud Drive technical support team, and asked when and what might be coming regarding new features for the services.

Amazon MP3 Amazon Cloud Drive Amazon Cloud Player

The candid response I received noted that the techs had been told that new features were coming “within the next couple of weeks.” However, apparently Amazon is being hush-hush as to what the new features will entail, as the tech claimed to know absolutely nothing about them. In fact, the tech was openly irritated by the fact that he was not being told what was coming, and had had no training on the new features.

I will say that I was impressed with the support I received; the fact that Amazon actually has a phone number to call is surprising, and the fact that the person I talked to was obviously US-based (no accent whatsoever) was even more impressive. On top of that, I waited less than a few minutes to receive support. That’s a big win as far as I’m concerned.

Anyway, we have reason to be excited, as Amazon is sharing internally that new features will be coming to their Amazon MP3, Amazon Cloud Player and/or Amazon Cloud Drive services “within the next couple of weeks.” How excited, though, we’ll just have to wait and see…
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5 Crucial Tips for Being Lazy and Productive at the Same Time

LazyOne thing’s for sure: I hate work. But we all have to be productive from time to time (or we’ll end up living in our parents’ basements till we’re 45). These are a few tricks I’ve learned over the years that constantly save me ample amounts of time, and I think it’s hilarious when I see other people wasting their time using the traditional approach.
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jQuery Tools Scrollable – Stop Scrolling Past the End

jQuery Tools is an amazing library, and the Scrollable control is extremely useful. However, it doesn’t work well by default for situations where you want to display more than one item in your list at a time, and scroll through them one by one (instead of five at a time such as in this example). It took a bit of time for me to figure this out, so I thought I’d share it with everyone. Credit goes to neogisme and soon7 from this post for getting me half-way there.
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UpSync Version 0.7 Released

Update on November 25th, 2012
This application has been retired, as there are much better solutions available for free; please check out FreeFileSync instead.

The new version is here! As always, it is recommended to upgrade as soon as possible. Here are the major changes:

  • Administrator permissions are no longer required to run the application from the Program Files folder; application settings and logs are now stored in the Windows program data folders.
  • The application has been tested with and should now work fine with UAC under Windows Vista and Windows 7.
  • Summary logs have been added to the end of the logging to report count totals for the various operations.
  • Fixed a bug in the new syncing empty folders functionality that caused a neverending loop when the root of either folder was empty.
  • Added a “File Filter” property to mapped folders to allow the use of wildcards (*.txt) to restrict which files to sync (as requested by Jason Saul).

Simply run the setup to upgrade to the latest version.

[Download links removed]

Remember to share your thoughts and suggestions!

UpSync Version 0.6 Released

Update on November 25th, 2012
This application has been retired, as there are much better solutions available for free; please check out FreeFileSync instead.

I have a new version of UpSync to put out today! If you are regularly using the application, it is strongly recommended that you upgrade because the stability of the sync process has been greatly improved. Here’s a brief list of some of the more interesting changes:

  • Significantly improved error handling
  • Delete prompts are now all displayed at once (instead of throughout the process)
  • A new “stop prompting and do this for x remaining files” feature has been added
  • Code is now StyleCop-compliant (as well as code analysis-compliant)
  • Empty folders are now synced properly based on their creation date

You may simply run the new setup and it will automatically upgrade over whatever old version you have installed.

[Download links removed]

Please remember to comment and share your thoughts on the application! :)

5 Often Overlooked Caveats of Managing a Digital Music Collection

If you’re like me, you slave over your music collection on a regular basis making sure every song is properly tagged, free of any audible flaws, and overall as perfect as possible. Okay, well, you’re probably not like me. But still, having your music skip because you used a crappy ripping application or hiccup between songs because of a non-gapless codec is exceedingly annoying. Here we’ll go through five commonly-made mistakes by music enthusiasts when managing their music collection.

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Centering a Message Box on the Active Window in C#

One of the annoying caveats of using the built in .NET message box is that it provides no functionality to center a message box on the currently active window. Oddly, even when you specify the parent window using the proper overloaded version of the Show() method, the window still insists on centering itself on the desktop, instead of on the active window. This is annoying and confusing to the end user because it breaks the ability to set aside particular “screen real estate” for an application. Fortunately, there is a way to fix this, although it does involve the Win32 API.

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