Sunday, September 28, 2008

Linux Task: Rip an mp3 from a CD.

Results: Failed! Then Succeeded!

Okay, so here's the report on the last few (highly frustrating) hours.

Sounds like a simple task, make an mp3 from a CD. Windows comes with this functionality built into Windows Media Player, you don't even have to connect to the internet. With Linux, it's a different story. Turns out that MP3 isn't a “freely” available format. Most of the software that comes in the box (so to speak) with Fedora will pretty much only make .ogg or .flac audio files.

As a novice Fedora and Linux user, I had a rather steep learning curve in front of me.

First, I did the obvious – fired up Sound Juicer which comes bundled with Fedora 9. That even came with a handy little “Rip it now” button. Sounds good, right? What should have been an easy one-click operation turned into a six hour saga.

I won't bore you with the details, but if you found this through a Google search I'll be nice to you and jump straight into the answers on how to get MP3's from audio cd's in Fedora 9 (or most Linux distro's).

First, you will need to get Lame (or another mp3 info-library thingy) onto your computer. If you want to check if you have Lame installed, go to the Terminal and type “whereis lame” (note: it does not matter which folder you are currently in or which user you are logged in as). If you get “Lame:” and nothing else then that means that you don't have lame installed.

To install lame: simply Google “Fedora +lame +install” and you should find a couple of pages that tell you how to go about installing lame. I didn't link directly to one because several of the tutorials that I found pointed to pages that were no longer available. It seems that Lame tends to move around a lot.

Once you get Lame installed, run the whereis command again and you should get something that looks like /usr/bin/lame – remember this bit of information.

(Quick note – I tried several different methods of ripping in Linux. The most recommended programs were Sound Juicer {comes with Fedora 9}, abcde {A Better CD Extractor} and Grip. I ended up with all three installed but wound up liking Grip the best. To install Grip on Fedora 9 either type “yum install grip” in the Terminal or go System > Administration > Add/Remove Programs and run a search for Grip. The second option is the one I did.)

Okay, Sound Juicer was a little hard to configure, so I went with Grip. This didn't work for me at first, but once Lame was installed, it was a breeze after that.

With Grip running, I tried to rip and encode but it wouldn't let me (or it wanted to do it as an ogg file). In Grip, I went Config > Encode > Encoder. In the box marked “Encoder Executable” I put in the path from the whereis lookup for Lame (/usr/bin/lame).

I left all the other options as default and guess what – it worked!

Or so I thought.

I put in an a disc from an Australian band and the track information was incorrect – it gave me some American group. But it gave me the right information in Sound Juicer! What to do? A quick search on the net turned up that Grip uses which is somewhat limited but Sound Juicer uses the better Music Brainz. So in Config > DiscDb > Primary server I put in “” and the correct track information came up! (Note: I needed to click the “Initiate DB lookup” button on the bottom for it to refresh with the correct data.)

So now I had correctly named MP3 files sitting on my computer. Success!

But no! There was one more problem: Fedora 9 won't play MP3 files natively. When I tried to play the mp3 files, the built-in player had a whinge and said “we don't support non-free formats”!

However, there was a little button underneath that said “Show me options”. Clicking that brought up a few places that provided mp3 support for Linux. A small download later and finally! MP3 files playing on my computer.

If I'd known it was going to be this hard, I wouldn't have bothered going over to Linux.

Okay, I lie, I still would have. But it'd be nice if there was a “Linux Noobs start here” with a list of common tasks (ex)Windows users might want to do and how to do them...

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Finally! A new article!

Well, it was a long time coming but I finally managed to post an update on my main site.

I've started using Linux (specifically, Fedora 9) on a resurrected PC. Part of that was the effort to make it quieter. You can read about it here and see how it went.

In other news - Firefox with Foxmarks absolutely rocks on multiple computers. I have my laptop, the main internet computer (I use Firefox, everyone else uses Internet Explorer) and the Linux computer all using Firefox. With Foxmarks, I can keep my bookmarks synchronised across all three computers.

Go me!

Solitary Man

Melinda was mine
'Til the time
That I found her
Holding Jim
Loving Him
Then Sue came along
Loved me strong
That's what I thought
Me and Sue
But that died too

Don't know that I will
But until I can find me
The girl who'll stay
And won't play games behind me
I'll be what I am
A solitary man
Solitary man

I've had it to here
Bein' where
Love's a small word
Part-time thing
Paper ring

I know it's been done
Havin' one
Girl who'll love me
Right or wrong
Weak or strong

Don't know that I will
But until I can find me
The girl who'll stay
And won't play games behind me
I'll be what I am
A solitary man
Solitary man

- Neil Diamond, "Solitary man"

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

That abominable noise!

I'm sure I'm not the only one:

I have become accustomed to the laptop which makes very little noise. I mentioned earlier that I have fired up an old computer to run Linux on it as an experiment. Half the point of that computer is to write stuff (such as for but it has a small problem - the incredibly noisy fans!

So this weekend I might see about ripping out the current fans and dropping in some newer, quieter ones. I might replace the power supply as well.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Linux task one: make an mp3

The whole point of having a computer is so that you ca do stuff with it. So I've set myself up with Fedora 9 as an experiment to see how a novice like me fares trying to do a few simple tasks without any external help

Task One: Make an mp3 from a disc
Result: Failed!

Fedora 9 comes with a built-in audio extraction program (at least the distribution I got does). It seems fairly straightforward and easy to use, but I've hit the first obstacle: there is no mp3 format available as an output option.

It's interesting that the help file shows mp3 as being the default option. However, on mine it does not come up. I know from my experience with the old AudioGrabber software that sometimes you need to go and grab the mp3 dll library and install it manually, so that might be the case. The program works and successfully extracted several songs straight away but it took me a moment to realise that they were in ogg format.

It then took a bit longer to find how to change it and then another few minutes to find that the option wasn't available. Though it is kind of strange since it shows that mp3 is an option and that itought to be selectable, it just won't let me.

Gonna have to ask for help on this one.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Fedora - take two (includes kittens)

Well, I decided to give Fedora another try.

I have an old computer that was gutted and gathering dust so I dropped a new old harddrive in there and installed Fedora 9. I thought it might be a bit too new for that box, but it's handled it really well so far.

I think it's because I installed it on the laptop that I had such difficulties the last time. It had a webcam, infrared, bluetooth, wireless network and a bunch of other accessories built-in that Linux didn't handle very well (or to be more accurate - I couldn't get Linux to handle very well).

Most of the other stuff I could have lived without, but setting up the wireless connection was just beyond me. With this box, it's pretty much just the mainboard, video card and a keyboard so it found everything straight away and has been working flawlessly thus far.

Of course, by "thus far" I mean "since I installed it this morning". I'll have another play with it once I finish here and see how it goes.

And now, the promised kittens:

Five adorable, fuzzy kittens but no pussy joke

Cleaning time

So very tired...

Been spending the weekend cleaning and re-arranging my room. Found lots and lots of dust, and also some stuff I hadn't seen in years. I've slao got a bunch of stuff that I've marked as "has to go" so I'm looking around to see if I can find anyone who wants an amp and some speakers, a mixer, a drum kit and a bunch of other assorted junk.

Might take some of it down to the pawn shop, or donate it to the op shop to sell or something...

Friday, September 19, 2008

And the kittens arrive

Poor little fat cat had her kittens yesterday!

Kittens - so cute and fluffy

We're not sure if she had four or five, but we think it's five. They're less than a day old in this photo, so they are barely able to move around - but they still swarm all over the exhausted cat and suckle on everything they can get hold of.

Not sure what we're going to do with them all...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A kiss on the cheek

Just how meaningful is it to kiss someone on the cheek?

Most of the time it's a simple greeting, a way of saying hello. If it's someone that you know and have known for a long time then it's about as important as a handshake. If it's a new person you've never met then it's probably just their way of greeting and if you observe them then you'll probably see them greet several people the same way.

Giving a kiss on the cheek is usually no big deal. Getting one, especially when it's not expected can have a variety of meanings.

I'm not a big kisser. I don't go around kissing everyone I meet (though some people I want to!). I don't have a problem kissing people as a greeting but as a general rule, I normally initiate. That is - most people (by which I mean ladies) don't kiss me first.

So when a lady kissed me recently it caught me off guard.

It probably didn't mean anything and I'm reading more into it than is really worth the effort but it meant something to me. I'm not saying that I'm going to start writing sonnets or that I'm going to give her all my worldly possessions but I have to admit that it did mean something.

Anybody reading this probably won't care, but I found it nice and was a nice moment for me, so I wanted to share it without going into specifics. So yeah, I'm happy. Or at least a little happier than I was.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Planting a cat plant

It seems that our cat likes to pretend to be a plant...

A cat, planted in a pot

It must find the pot comfortable or something. It has a bed that it normally sleeps in, no idea why it likes the pot.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Burbling along

So damned tired...

Anyway, get five main projects running at the moment. None of which will really acheive anything, nor are they of any importance.

It seems that all I do is busy work to pass the time without really doing anything...

Oh well, maybe something interesting will happen tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Fat Cat!

You may remember that a while back I posted that there was a stray kitten that was hanging around our house?

Well, said kitten is all growed up now and we're pretty sure that a) it's a female and b) she's pregnant!

Our fat little cat - she is pregnant!

She's been eating like mad, and she's getting pretty solid around the middle, so we'll have a bunch more little fluffballs running around soon. No idea what we are going to do with them...

Maybe Linux ain't so great

Well, I've been incesently working with Fedora 9 and it's just not my cup of tea.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Linux is a little beeatch

Okay, I have Fedora 9 up and running on my Acer Extensa 5220. By running I mean that it is mostly working but has a few quirks.

- Wireless is not working. This needs some special linux commands that I have no idea about. I have never used Linux before, so I do not know my way around the kernel, the terminal or any other important bits. About the only thing I do know is that I do not want to be logged in as root and be accessing the web. So I am not a complete noob, just 90%.

- The keyboard is not fully working. I cannot use the apostrophe key (that is why there are no contractions in this post) or the bunny ears.

- The touchpad is not working properly. I can use it as a pointer, but tapping it will not perform a click.

On the plus side, the sound is working, I was able to import all my bookmarks (but not my passwords which is a little frustrating) and it did not give me any headaches on installation.

On the negative side, I am still muddling my way through without being able to really do anything, the computer beeps at me on occasion for no apparent reason and the hard drive keeps working. I think that itÅ› downloading stuff in the background or running tests or something.

Not sure about how this experiment will turn out...

Frustration ensues

Okay, so here's the skinny:

A while back I bought a laptop. Out of the box it shipped with Vista which I have no reason to use so the first thing I did was burn it to the ground and install XP over the top. No drama there. I used that for many months without missing a single beat.

Then I wanted to remove that copy of XP and put the factory Vista back on there (don't ask why). Acer has a nice little feature called eRecovery (because everything has to have a lower case first letter followed by an upper case second letter nowadays) which basically means that you click some buttons and it restores everything to factory defaults.

At least that's how it's meant to work...

When I installed XP, it overwrote the factory MBR, so that option didn't work any more. A lot of digging around and researching and I eventually found that the Vista (and all the other system stuffs) were sitting on a hidden partition. Made some hacks, got access to the hidden partition and I was able to get the files out in order to re-install Acer's original MBR. Great! Except that when I rebooted, it gave me an error message and refused to work ever since.

So now I said "sod it" and killed the whole damn drive and I'm busy installing Fedora 9.

We'll see how it goes...

Monday, September 1, 2008

OGame - so addictive, but...

...I've broken the habit!

It's such an addictive game. For those that haven't played it, here's the basics of it: You are in control of a planet and you build up it's resources, make ships and attack your neighbours. You can colonize more planets, wage wars and form alliances. And it's all free - nothing pay, just register and away you go.

Now, it's a browser based game and it's basically just watching numbers count down (no funky graphics) but it is so damned addictive! You get into the habit of logging in several times a day to trigger more updates and see who is attacking whom.

Anyway - it was taking too much of my time. So I decided to stop. But since my planets had such large mines and production facilities on them I decided not to let the account be deleted. So I'll just log in once or twice a week to keep my account active so others can raid my planets. Soon all my defences will be gone, but I don't really care about that.

In other news, the cat looks like it might be pregnant.