Saturday, November 12, 2011

Watching Multiple Folders with Songbird

The Problem

I finally made the switch from WinAMP to Songbird. I had tried it on a laptop, so wasn't too surprised...and liked most of what I saw. That is, until I realized I couldn't watch multiple folders. Oh no!!!

This would have been fine if I could watch the 'My Music' folder...but Songbird seems to disapprove of watching libraries. Something about file duplication issues...whatev.

The Fix

Shortcut (failed)

I first tried to make standard shortcuts (right-click > new shortcut) to the other folders I wanted to watch within the watched folder. No go.

Symlink (worked)

I had recently run into a problem on my Linux box that I had to utilize Symlinks to address. Why not try something like that for Windows?

I came across this link:

It showed how to, using an (elevated) command prompt, make a Symlink in Windows. This is only available for Vista or later. I successfully used it for Windows 7.

Using the following code for the 4 additional folders I wanted to include in my library, new Symlinks were created in my watched folder which allows Songbird to successfully see songs added to those places.

mklink /d c:\media\music\extra_folder d:\music
          [watched fol] [Symlink name][folder to watch]

This has to be run in an elevated command prompt:

A Visual

...they look like shortcuts, but they are Symlinks!


Symlinks seem to be the solution to only one available watch folder in Songbird. This was verified on Windows 7 and Songbird 1.10.1 (Build 2160). Presumably, the same idea would probably work in Linux.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Project Elite v6.5 - Choppy Video Recording and Playback

The Problem

I got an OG Droid (Motorola Droid 1) and have been using it as music player / nerd toy until I activate it when my Verizon contract is up in a few months. At some point after flashing it with the Project Elite v6.5 rom, my video started recording choppy (choppily?). Hence, playing back choppy (due to recording state)...not horribly, but enough to degrade the viewing experience, certainly.

The Fix

A few forums I found said to 'clock cpu to 600MHz'...from what I can tell, they meant to change the following:

Settings > Elite Settings > Performance > CPU settings > Max CPU frequency -- change this to 600MHz

Using the default Kernel, I wasn't able to do this. I first had to modify the kernel by doing the following:

Settings > Elite Settings > Performance > Change Kernels -- from P.E LV 1.05ghz(default) to Elite Series v3 LV 900mhz

Once that is done, I had to restart. Once the kernel was updated, I had to go back and set the Max CPU frequency to 800MHz or 600MHz...either seemed to do the trick for me.

I also made sure I checked the box at the bottom of the 'CPU settings' seems to 'remember' the clock you set on restart. Which is important.

In Conclusion

This information was available in forums, but wasn't very I hope to save someone a little time by reading it here.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Cloud Computing -- A Quick Look

I created this presentation for Granville Academy as a stand-in for my presence at the Grand Opening, 2011 event which will be held on October 1st. My wife helped me stay some of the excessive content and translate the native geek speak.

Although it is very concise, I'm very happy with the result!

Photos and Graphics by Nick Chapman
Editing by Melissa Chapman

Further Reading

Google explains far more eloquently than I can...and they do it with HTML5. *insert ooohhh...and ahhhh*
The 'web apps' section is also relevant. The whole booklet is actually a pretty informative read.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Importing csv contacts into Gmail (with mapping)


This post attempts to provide help importing csv contacts into Gmail. The intention is that people who import data which is improperly mapped -- ends up in the 'Notes' section instead of in the appropriate field -- will be helped by this post.

Skip to Synopsis if you want the quick fix.


I finally got my wife a smartphone and was trying to get it set up in time to give it to her for her birthday. Everything went smoothly. I was able to flash the LG Ally with the Velocity 1.1 custom rom (recommended if you have an LG Ally -- it is super fast. Google it). Next I used BitPim to backup her pictures, videos, and ringtones (see previous post here). I hadn't exported her contacts before..even though BitPim makes it relatively easy to export. Additionally, LG (or Verizon) seems to offer a backup tool...but I kinda like to do stuff like this manually to ensure it works properly, even if it is a little more work. I got the contacts exported in a relatively straightforward csv file. Easy. Importing into Gmail proved not so easy...

The Problem

When I first imported the csv (from Gmail's contacts section -- click more > import), it went smoothly enough. It seemed. I had expected to see some type of 'mapping' option, enabling me to specify that name becomes name, phone becomes phone...etc. There was no such option, so I thought Google's code may have just been smart enough to figure it out on its own (this turned out to be grossly incorrect). Upon review of the imported contacts, nothing went to the correct field...except maybe email. I searched a few forums and websites which gave me little hope that it was possible. After trying again with logically named headers (instead of the somewhat strange ones from the original export), and having no success, I thought I could export from Gmail contacts...then mimic the resulting headers for a (surely) successful import. Despite having to reorganize my csv substantially, this only produced another failure. The 'name' finally went to the correct place, but that is all. There were no errors, most of the imported information just ended up in a generic 'notes' textbox where any non resolved information went. This is certainly better than discarding the unsuccessfully mapped information, but not ideal, either.

The Solution

Finally, I came across this page, which had some column header suggestions and indicated experiencing a successful import. I decided to reorganize my csv information again and give it a shot. I used the third set of headers as my guide...and hypothesized that I needed to use typical Gmail contact keywords plus the 'phone' monikers to get my numbers to map correctly. This turned out to be correct -- at least for Name, Mobile Phone, Home Phone, and email. I'm not sure about successfully mapping Work Phone and Mobile 2 Phone (maybe another 'Mobile Phone' column would work?), as those column headers didn't work for me. The successful headers I used follow:

Successful Column Headers:

NameMobile PhoneHome PhoneEmail

Let me know if anyone else finds other successful headers, or a google resource which explains the situation / resolution more eloquently.


If you have trouble importing csv contacts into Gmail contacts (your information is being imported into the Notes box, but not being mapped correctly), try using column headers from the Successful Column Headers above. I can't be of help beyond those mappings, though.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

how do i...remove malware

This was my attempt at a simplistic malware removal guide for someone who isn't technical, but is willing to roll up their sleves and give removal a shot before having to take more drastic measures (pay someone) -- it worked. My guess is that it will work for 50% of malware infections and can take 20 minutes to an hour.

Removing Malware

*You may want to print this before beginning. You may not. Who am I to say.

Run this first:

(save to desktop, then run)

…then, download, install (allow updates) and run a ‘quick scan’ with this:

(download and install free version)

…if it finds infections, show results >> remove selected (make sure they are selected – right-click > select all if they aren’t). Reboot if prompted.

…if it doesn’t work, you might be able to boot into safe mode…(reboot computer, tap ‘f8’ every two seconds…when prompted, select ‘safe mode with networking)…run (1), then download and run the following:

(save to desktop, then run, accept all defaults. Ignore if prompted to disable av software, unless you want to right-click on your av software and attempt to disable temporarily. Allow recovery console to be installed)

If that doesn’t work, you’ll have to get professional help, probably. See my site to run the remote help request, where I can remotely verify the infection...and, if necessary, attempt removal.

If you are rid of popups, but no longer have internet access, you can go to control panel >> internet options >> connections (tab) >> lan settings >> remove check from “use a proxy server…” (assuming you have Windows XP. the location will be similar, but maybe slightly different for Vista or Windows 7 -- search for 'internet options' from the start menu search bar)

Almost done...but

When you think you are done, you should probably re-download (the original download may be corrupted or comprimised since you were infected) (1), reinstall and update, then run a 'quick scan' again. Hopefully, you are clear or it is just cleaning up traces.

Additional Preparation Steps

To speed up the scan process, and as general recommended practice, run disk cleanup, ccleaner, or glary utilities prior to scanning for noticeably faster scan times.

Am I infected?

If you are reading this, probably so. The symptoms are too varied to be sure, but if you are getting popups from (what looks like) an antivirus program that wasn't on your computer a month ago...that wants you to pay for help, you are probably infected. Additional symptoms can be browser redirects (you click on a google search result and end up on a non-related page that wants money), or program malfunctions (fake system messages saying your program can't run...your disk is corrupt...your momma eats twizlers, etc.). Good luck at playing MD and making the diagnosis. General cleaning programs can be found above (additional prep steps)...and are recommended to clean a slow, but non infected, computer.

Friday, April 8, 2011

You are not backing your data up!

Data backup: Examining common perception

20140109 Update: Added notice about Google Photo backup to bottom.

Hopefully I'm wrong, and you are backing up your data. However, I was recently trying to recover some data from a failed hard drive (hdd) for a client. Browsing some forums, I was surprised at how many people had misconceptions about what backing up data actually meant. I thought I'd go over the basics in hopes that I can inform people to the end of saving important data from the dark recesses of oblivion.

I think it important to dispel the misconception that storing your data on an external hard drive is the same thing as backing up your data. While it may be true, it is not implicitly correct: an external hard drive is only being used as a backup repository if the information held there is ALSO stored elsewhere, such as a laptop or desktop computer. To state it another way, if the information is located only on an external drive, it is not backed up. It is simply stored on an external hard drive. This is important because external hard drives are just as likely to fail (arguably, more likely) as internal drives.

Have a look a this professional infographic which demonstrates my point:

As I'm sure you gathered, information must exist simultaneously on some two devices, at least, to be qualified as a data backup. Ideally, three devices will contain the information or the information will be synchronized on update or some other fancy device. But that is beyond the scope of this article.


Storing your data only on an external hard drive is not backing it up. It must exist in two locations to be backed up.

What do I use to backup my data?

To state the obvious, backing up your data is a pain. There are some ways to make it more of an automatic process...but they cost money or take some reasonable initial effort. Unless you don't value your data, either option is worth it.

(1) You can buy an external usb powered and attached hdd. It will probably hold as much as your internal or more and if you are backing up the essentials (not the pirated movies), you can probably even get fancy and have 'incremental' backups. Just make a folder for each month...and copy over your Desktop, Documents, and Favorites. That covers 95% of average user stuff. Your emails are probably stored with yahoo or google or someone...and unless you use old or fancy programs, they store your data in those places. The primary drawbacks to backing up this way are: [1] It must be performed manually, or some software must be set to perform periodically. Don't forget to do this every couple of weeks (or, more frequently if warranted); [2] In the event of a local disaster or something, you could lose both copies of your data. For instance, a fire may consume both data copies...hopefully you were more lucky. Backing up to CDs or DVDs have the same drawbacks.

(2) You can purchase a backup software subscription such as carbonite or mozy. These programs are roughly $50/yr and include software which runs on your computer. They will attempt to backup common data (Desktop, Favorites, and Documents) by default...but also allow configuration so that other folders can be backed up as well. The good thing about these programs is that they perform their task update a file on your desktop, and it relatively quickly gets backed up by the software on your computer. Sweet. The downside of this software is that it must be properly only backs up what you tell it to, and sometimes backing up information like family videos takes special precaution (see note about carbonite and videos below).

_quick carbonite vs mozy comparison_
carbonite's advantage seems to be 'unlimited' data. mozy's is that it allows video. depending on what you are backing up, and how much data you have, either could be a better choice. i can say that carbonite's 'restore' process is pretty easy.


Some common backup comments (and my preemptive responses)

oh no...when i put my information on the cloud, the government will have access to it!!!
if you are worried about this...take the extra step which is good practice anyway: store your files in an encrypted truecrypt file. back that up.

carbonite doesn't backup video
this annoys me. not as much that they don't do it, but that they don't make it explicitly known prior to sign-up. to circumvent this, however, append a non-standard file extension to your video files. for instance...rename homevideo_20110407.mkv to homevideo_20110407.mkv.myvid. obviously this will require a little time and the extra renaming step...but if you remember to do it just after importing from your camera, it will become habit and won't be that bad. additionally, you can tell your computer to 'always open' with your default video viewer and the non-standard extension shouldn't inconvenience you too much.

just backup to an external hdd
i certainly understand the logic here...and think that external hdd backup is very important, but as a supplemental backup...not a sole backup. the reason is that, in case of localized catastrophe, such as home fire or home robbery, your data could all be unavailable at once -- including your backup.



Google is now backing up your pictures (and videos?). You can back up everything (unlimited # photos) at ~3 megapixels (likely, your photos will be downsized) or as many as you can fit at whatever resolution on 15 GB -- pay for more space or switch to ~3 megapixel resizes if you fill it up.

I'm using it as another backup. I'd rather have all my stuff backed up at lower resolution and still have SOMETHING if my primary copy and backup copies somehow both disappear simultaneously.

For people who have less than 5,000 (6 megapixel) pictures and or don't see themselves taking more than that, the 15 GB version is probably better since you get full quality. You can print reasonable 8"x10" photos from a 6 megapixel shot, so you can probably do a 5"x7" with 3 MP.

You'll have to have a google account, probably update to G+ (public profile), and potentially install Picasa to use this.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Embedding JPlayer in Blogger using an iFrame

This is mostly a demo to show that a JPlayer implementation can be used in blogger using iFrames. It can probably be done a more eloquent way by editing the template, including the proper js (jquery) and linking to the proper stylesheets, then putting the HTML in the post...but this way only took a few minutes and should serve its purpose:

...the following code is used

<iframe src="" marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" frameborder="no" scrolling="auto" style="width: 500px; height: 400px; /*border: 1px dashed #333; background:#FFF;*/"> <br /></iframe>

jPlayer in an iFrame Demo

jPlayer Playlister (from folder contents)
ZINA extended with jPlayer

Thursday, January 27, 2011

XP | Safe Mode Hangs at MUP.sys / Normal Mode Goes to Black Scren with Mouse Arrow and no Task Manager

...excuse the long title.

There is a summary at the bottom if you just want the short of the solution instead of the big why and how and for what reason.

Story Mode:

I recently had a IBM ThinkPad R51 notebook/laptop computer running Windows XP that would not work in normal mode. Well, it would do the windows loading screen, but then instead of offering users to click into individual desktops, it would present a black screen with a working mouse pointer, but would not allow ctrl+alt+del for task manager or anything else. Keyboard was actually non responsive.

I was, however, able to boot into safe mode without issue. I did the typical stuff: malware scan, startup maintenance, chkdsk...all to no avail, except that I somehow managed to break safe mode. That's right, after my fix attempts, I now have a computer that boots to a unhelpful black screen in normal mode, and hangs at MUP.sys when I boot into safe mode. Boo.

I read tons of forums and wasn't especially inspired by the strange registry hive restoration options or file replacements that seemed to be hit or miss. I decided to start trying something b/c i didn't want to reinstall. A few people recommended ensuring ACPI (ACHC?) mode be turned off in BIOS, or something...I thought I'd start there since it was easy.

Able to boot into the system config (using Enter > F1 to get to BIOS), I didn't see any power saving mode options (ACPI). However, I noticed all the IRQ channels were set to 1 (or was it 11?). I changed all to 'Auto', and found another setting to change POST startup mode to 'diagnostic' instead of 'quick,' which it had been on.

Expecting the same thing, I exited, saving changes. I selected normal boot...and chkdsk tried to start (it apparently didn't remember that it had successfully scanned twice prior to this...perhaps because it never fully booted into windows afterwards?)..I 'hit any key' to skip. Next thing I know, I saw four user icons instead of the now-familiar black screen with mouse arrow. To my further astonishment, clicking on one of them took me right into a working desktop.

Problem solved.

I don't know if my troubleshooting steps actually fixed the problem or if they were coincidental, but probably worth a shot if you don't feel like reinstalling and nothing else is working. Good luck!


If you can't boot into safe mode b/c mup.sys hang, or normal mode because you get a black screen with working mouse but non-responsive keyboard, try entering bios setup and setting IRQ settings to 'auto' and boot configuration to 'diagnostic'.