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Archive for October, 2011

Ubuntu 11,10 – first impressions

October 14, 2011 Leave a comment

This week saw the release of Ubuntu 11.10, which could also be considered a tribute to the late Dr. Dennis Ritchie, who was heavily involved in the development of Unix and the C programming language. Both of these technologies are essential building blocks in the Linux arena, owing to the fact Linux was developed as a Unix clone and coded in C.

Last night, I pulled down the ISO image for the 64-bit desktop release of 11.10 and installed it into a VMWare virtual machine. Installation was easy – no change from the previous 11.04 version and it’s a very straightforward routine. The usual choosing of disk partition, language and time zone etc.

You can also boot Ubuntu from other media – a bootable CD (by burning the ISO image to one) or create a bootable USB key. It can be an extremely useful tool for salvaging data off non-booting Windows systems or those that are infected with a virus or malware, as the infected will not be active when Ubuntu is booted, making it a safe platform to back data up from the infected PC.

After the VM booted for the first time, I was presented with a login screen not dissimilar to the Windows XP one. After clicking on my username and entering my password, I was presented with the Unity desktop. The Unity desktop was first introduced in the 10.10 Netbook release and became a core part of the Desktop release in version 11.04, but there was also an option within Ubuntu to switch back to the standard Gnome ‘Classic’ desktop. If you want Gnome ‘Classic’, you’ll now need to install the Gnome Desktop package.

Gone are familiar menus at the top of the screen, although the icons that make up the equivalent of the Windows System Tray are still present in the top right-hand side. Occupying the full length of the left-hand side is an applications  launch bar or dock. There are some pre-defined shortcuts to apps – such as Firefox already present as part of the default install. Right-clicking on a shortcut allows you to remove it. Other applications can be launched/installed by clicking the ‘Ubuntu’ icon at the top of the launch bar. You can also drag applications to the launch bar for quick access.

Back in version 11.04, LibreOffice replaced OpenOffice. LibreOffice is a fork of Oracle’s OpenOffice and is produced by The Document Foundation. It began as a result of concerns that Oracle would either discontinue or place restrictions on OpenOffice. I’ve not personally used LibreOffice yet, but a quick look shows that it is extremely similar to OpenOffice, which makes sense, given that it originates from the same code base.

In summary, Ubuntu 11.10 looks to be a useful update to the operating system. It’s easy to install, offers a range of applications that would give you a useful, working platform with a fully featured office suite. LibreOffice is compatible with Microsoft Office, although glitches can and do occur with document conversion from time to time.

Categories: Computing, Software

Importing .m3u playlists into iTunes 10.4.x on Windows

October 3, 2011 Leave a comment

When Apple released the 10.4.x versions of iTunes. support for importing playlists in .m3u format seemed to have become broken. Having spent considerable time today creating some playlists on my main desktop PC, it was very frustrating to find out that they wouldn’t import properly into the iTunes library on my laptop.

The fix requires modifying your .m3u playlist file and can be easily carried out in any text editor such as Notepad. Please note that it is extremely important that you get the file paths correct or the playlists will not work!

In my case, I store music in D:\Neil\Music (I set up redirects to Music, Videos etc. to relevant folders within D:\Neil). The file structure is the same on both my laptop and desktop systems and I keep directory structures and contents synced using SyncBack, using my Buffalo LinkStation NAS box as a backup source and a sync source for the laptop.

First, you need to export the file from iTunes. To do this, right-click on the playlist of your choice and choose ‘Export’. Choose where to save the file and change the file type to .m3u.

Next, open exported .m3u file up in Notepad. You’ll find the relevant paths to the music will look similar to this:

#EXTM3U
#EXTINF:293,Can’t Fight This Feeling – REO Speedwagon
D:\Neil\Music\Compilations\Take It On The Run_ The Best Of REO Spee2 Can’t Fight This Feeling.mp3

The first step is to replace the first part of the path to the drive. We need to replace D:\ to file://localhost/D:/file://localhost/D:/, where D can be changed with the drive letter than is relevant in your case.

To do this, go to the Edit menu and select Replace. Enter the relevant item to find – e.g. D:\ and the item to replace it with – e.g. file://localhost/D:/file://localhost/D:/. Click Replace All and then Cancel.

The next step is to replace the rest of the ‘\‘ characters in the file to ‘/‘ characters. To do this,  go to the Edit menu and select Replace. Enter the relevant item to find – \ and the item to replace it with – /. Click Replace All and then Cancel.

Next, save the file. Repeat if necessary with any other playlists. You can also make other changes using the above method for different paths etc.

To import the file on the target computer, open iTunes and also ensure a Windows Explorer window is open with the .m3u files present. Drag the files onto the iTunes sidebar.

You should be all done!

Categories: Computing, Software