MP3s need nice tags, album art and lyrics

After you download an MP3, it is amazing how many don’t come with everything you need. Like file names and tags that are right. Embedded Album Art and lyrics for each song. So here is how to get your MP3s up to snuff so you can give really use them on your iPhone or give them as a gift with art, lyrics and what not. BTW, lyrics are a great place to put messages to people and art doesn’t have to be album, it can be photos or whatever you want. So they make great digital gifts particularly when played back on an iPhone or iPod Touch (it is too bad iTunes doesn’t have a visualizer that shows the album art and also the lyrics):

Here is how to get them in shape. These are all Windows utilities. The Mac is barren because iTunes sucks up all the oxygen. That is too bad because iTunes doesn’t store the album art in the MP3s themselves, doesn’t have any automated way to find lyrics and doesn’t have a way to automatically take tags and create filenames

# MP3Tag. This is the basic utility to read in an MP3 and then fix the tags and filenames. It is much less buggy than the Mac’s Tritag and has great string matching built in. It also has a search amazon function as well. It uses Freedb to find tags and then uses Amazon to find album art. In the section called Tag sources. So lyrics are the only thing missing
# MediaMonkey. Recommended by Lifehacker, has a function that searches Amazon for art and adds it automatically. I didn’t find this worked too well.

Neither of these automatically finds lyrics though. You can insert them, but it is a pain.

Here is what I finally end up using:

# Harmonizer. This is a desktop widget that finds lyrics only. Seems to do a decent job and will also let you go to Google and then just paste in.
# Cover Version. This is visualizer that let’s you see the album art.
# nLyrics. This tool lets you find LRC files. These let you show synchronized lyrics in this .lrc file format that has time stamps so you can get scrolling. It automatically finds the LRC files and then also has a visualizer which let’s you see the lyrics floating in a window. Pretty cool! It puts the .LRC files net to where the .MP3s are which is perfect because the .LRC format is ugly. So you want to put plain text lyrics embedded into the MP3 files which is what harmonizer does and then separately have .LRC files in the same directory
# Album art is the one thing I haven’t completely figure out yet. I mainly do it manually now.

What is the Apple Brick?

The ‘Brick’ is… | 9 to 5 Mac

The MacBook manufacturing process up to this point has been outsourced to Chinese or Taiwanese manufacturers like Foxconn. Now Apple is in charge. The company has spent the last few years building an entirely new manufacturing process that uses lasers and jets of water to carve the MacBooks out of a brick of aluminum.

(Yes, this sounded a bit crazy to us as well. But our source is adamant so bear with us. He says Apple has built a manufacturing process that would make Henry Ford proud.

Unlocked iPhones

OK, you can now find these in “Hong Kong”:http://www.9to5mac.com/hkiPhone. Not prices you can love, but the 8GB iPhone is $695 and the 16GB HK$6200 or $800 US Dollars. In comparison, the original iPhone was $599 and dropped to $495.

You can also buy unlocked iPhones from Belgium and Italy at the same outrageous prices:

$695 – Apple’s official price for unlocked iPhones | 9 to 5 Mac

Unlocked iPhones are available since july in Italy, prices are 499 EUR for 8 Gb and 569 EUR for 16 Gb version

$695 – Apple’s official price for unlocked iPhones | 9 to 5 Mac

iPhone is being launched today in South Africa 🙂 and can be purchases for:
$790.00 8 GB
$940.00 16 GB

$695 – Apple’s official price for unlocked iPhones | 9 to 5 Mac

The iPhone 3G has been on sale in Belgium since July 11 and it’s always been unlocked (615 Euro for 16 GB, 525 Euro for 8 GB). The online Mobistar store is currently out of iPhones (again).
http://iphone3g.mobistar.be/en/index.cfm

At current exchange rates this is $770 for the 8GB!

Importing Canon camera images

Canon’s are quite different from Nikon. Nikons just appear as hard drives on your computer, but Canon doesn’t allow it. Instead, you have to either install their shovelware to import or get a card reader for their CF cards.

If you have a Mac, then iPhoto knows how to read them too, so you can import them. They do get sucked deep into the iPhoto library directories, but you can find and copy them with Show File.

a href=”http://www.ehmac.ca/mac-ipod-help-troubleshooting/49359-connecting-canon-camera-my-mac-install-software.html”>Connecting Canon camera to my Mac- install software? – ehMac.ca

General consensus is that Canon cameras don’t mount onto the desktop, but is seen by iPhoto. If you want to mount it onto the Finder, you’ll need to use the card reader.

Final Mac Ripping Workflow

OK, so here is the best way to backup and rip your CD on the Mac:

# iTunes-LAME. To rip. So you insert you CD and click on it. , Make sure that iTunes-LAME is set to _–alt-preset fast extreme_ which is most folks think the best tradeoff between compression and CD quality. Now, you want to stick you music at the main volume and not way down in your personal directory, so create /Music/mp3/ and point iTunes-LAME there, then when you create the album, you want its name to be _:%a:%l:%a – %l – %n – %t which means put it in a subdirectory for the artist and then for the album, finally, name the track as _artist_ – _album_ – _track number_ – _song title_.mp3. This is good because no matter where you copy your tracks, you won’t forget where it belongs. You are now ready to push encode and away you go.
# Harmonic widget should be on and set to automatically install the lyrics into iTunes
# Amazon Art Finder widget should also be installed and set to operate on the whole album.
# Use the iTunes control widget and go to the playlist that iTunes-LAME automatically creates in iTunes, play each song. The lyrics are added automatically by Harmonic and when you get to the first song, click on the Amazon Art Finder to get the art and then click on Add Art to iTunes

At the end, you have to go through each song, but you will have lyrics and album art in each MP3.

Lyrics and Artwork on the Mac

I’ve tried a bunch of tools. Pearlyrics is gone thanks to the RIAA, it was great because it would go through your whole set of songs. All the rest just do the current playing song and most are widgets now:

# “Harmonic:http://www.macupdate.com/info.php/id/2035. This seems to work the best. Listens to the current song and plugs the lyrics into iTunes and therefore into the MP3s.
# Cantopod. Nicest interface, but doesn’t automatically insert
# I Sing iTunes. This is most popular sing it handles Japanese and Chinese lyrics, but it seems to hang for me.
# “Album Art Thingy 1.9”:http://www.apple.com/downloads/macosx/ipod_itunes/albumartthingy.html. Reported downloads artwork and lyrics inthe background. Cost $15, but saves lots of time!
# “Amazon Album Art Widget”:http://www.versiontracker.com/php/dlpage.php?id=28644&db=mac&pid=85611&kind=&lnk=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.widget-foundry.com%2Fdownloads%2FAmazonAlbumArt-2.12.zip is a manual utility and looks up the current song.
# “GimmeSomeTune”:http://mac.blorge.com/2007/10/21/free-mac-software-sunday-automatically-fetch-itunes-album-art-with-gimmesometune/ is donationware that does lyrics and artwork.

Also you want to automatically get artwork. ITunes finds artwork, but unless you manually go a Get Info and put it in, it doesn’t copy it into the MP3.

Mac Excel function keys

Mac 101: Reclaim your function keys – The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW)

The folks at Bitbox have described the simple steps needed to get some of that old flexibility back. First, launch system preferences and click the “Keyboard” tab. Next, select the “Use all F1, F2 etc. keys as standard function keys” option.

For Excel lovers, this gets you back to using the function keys the right way and also check the System Preferences/Keyboard Shortcuts and turn off F8-F12 in the Dock and Expose section

Mac Excel Shortcuts

It turns out that some of the commands in Mac Excel can’t actually be rebound. For instance, Allison, wants to have these work. Here is the list and how to get them Mac Excel. For Mac Excel 2001 we have a list.

Control + page up. This maps to Ctrl-Right which is find the next empty cell. On a Mac laptop there is no Page Up or Page Down keys, they only have arrow keys, so can’t remap these. Need to use an extended 101 keyboard for this to work. The Mac equivalent is Command-F6 and Command-Shift-F6 to go back a worksheet

The function keys are gotten by typing FN-F1 since the Mac uses the function keys for other things:

F2. This is so strange, with the Mac, it maps to Ctrl-U and there is no way to get F2 for EDIT and need a shortcut. You can get this with Quickeys
F4. This is Command-T on the Mac (“techjive”:http://www.techjive.net/2007/02/02/excel-keystrokes/). The only way to get this to work for Excel is some sort of shortcut. You can get this with Quickeys to map it.
F5. This is the Goto function and it works
F9. Recalc which is CMD-W The main issue is that normally Mac Excel makes F9 their own shortcut, so you have to turn off keyboard shortcuts for Expose.

Ctrl-R.Copy from the cell on left into this cell. This works in Mac Excel and is called the Right function
Ctrl-D. Copy from the cell above down to here.
Alt + =. Not sure what this does but on Mac, Alt keys actually puts in special character
Shift+F2. Insert comment. this works in Mac Excel
Alt+E, S, T. Opens the edit menu, then s choose paste specials and then format. You have to get this with Quickeys
Control + 1. Format Cells. Need to change in the Excel Keyboard Shortcuts since it is select object on the Mac and format cells is command-1.

Alt+I+C. Insert Column. Which I actually do as Ctrl-Space and then Ctrl-+, but you need a key remapper to do this.
Alt+I+R. Insert Row. Same thing, but it is actually Ctrl-Shift-Equal
Control+P. Works this is File/Print
Control+Y. This is redo and is mapped to Command-Y on the Mac, but Control-Y is unassigned, so use Excel to map
Control+Tab. This is next workbook. It works in Mac Excel. Note that Alt-Tab on the PC is Command-Taq on the Mac which you need Quickeys can’t remap

Some of my favorites are

Ctrl-$ for currency format. Works on Mac
Ctrl-% for perfentage. Works on Mac
Ctrl-Shift-Arrow. Select to the rigth

Ctrl-PgUp navigates through worksheets
Ctrl-PgDn navigates through worksheets.
Ctrl-Minus is Delect
Ctrl-Shift-Plus is Insert
Ctrl-* is fill in
Shift-Space selects a row
Ctrl-Plus inserts a row
Ctrl-Minus deletes a row

Printing out a roster and signing it

OK, when the coaches have turned in their forms and all kids have proof of age verified, you are ready to have a signed roster. This gets sent to the coaches and the registrar job ends 🙂

Here are the mechanics:

# Click on the league like 2008 Fall Rec
# Click on the quick link called Find Participant
# Type in the last name of the coach and you will see his coaching record. Click on the last link which should be for the current year
# You will see his assigned team as a link, click on it
# This will get you to the team page so you can get the roster
# At the menus, select Reports>Folders and Teams > Admin Roster this will now download a roster in PDF form
# Save this and if you are on the Mac, get yourself a copy of PDFpen and have a scan of your signature somewhere.
# Open the roster with PDFPen and Choose File>Insert and find the JPG of your signature
# Choose Edit/Make Transparent and click on the white part of the scan and Make it transparent
# Move this down to the signature section and paste
# Click on the text tool and by the date, type in the date
# Now the trick, there is a bug in 3.5.1 of pdfpen, so you need to choose File/Print and select Save as PDF as the bottom to spit out a PDF
# Mail this to the coach.

Remote Mac debugging

So if you have a Mac say at your friends home, is there an easy way to diagnose it. I’ve tried this a bunch with Windows machines, but never quite got all the connections right. So maybe Apple works better. On a single network this is great, you can Share Screen with other Mac’s and it is so easy, but what if you are going over the Internet to another network, what do you do. Here are some tips. The main thing is there is a professional tool called “Apple Remote Desktop”:http://www.apple.com/remotedesktop/ which looks like the big brother of what is built in. It is insanely expensive at $500 for unlimited destops and $300 for 10 managed desktops.

Apple Remote Desktop: Connecting through a firewall or NAT

If you are planning to use Apple Remote Desktop through a firewall or network address translation (NAT), be sure that traffic is allowed on UDP port 3283. ARD does not use TCP port 328

So if you don’t want to do that, what are the options. Well, the good news is that deep in the guts, Screen Sharing and Apple Remote Desktop. Because Mac OS X is really Unix, it is pretty easy to write some cool scripts. For instance, to do this as a one liner which creates a new command _stss hostname_

alias stss=’echo 127.0.0.1:59000 | pbcopy; \
open /System/Library/CoreServices/Screen\ Sharing.app; \
ssh -C -4 -L 5901:127.0.0.1:5900′