Monday, 20 October 2014

Quick Tip: Fixing Album Art

Having recently ripped an album to my file server, I couldn't get the album art to display in xbmc. The solution turned out to be changing the file permissions to read/write for all users & groups.

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Happy Birthday Ubuntu

Happy birthday to Ubuntu: ten years old today!

I for one am grateful for the adventure.

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Sunday, 19 October 2014

Fixing mp3 Track Duration Errors

I recently converted my music collection to the mp3 format; however, whilst the playback quality is excellent, many of the tracks had erroneous track duration data. This wasn't a particular problem until I copied some of the tracks to my phone which started crashing while playing music and I began to suspect the duration error as the culprit.

Changing duration is not as straightforward as fixing tags (easily achieved using EasyTAG) but there is a great app in the Software Center for doing just that, MP3 Diags.

Track duration errors are caused by missing, incomplete, or corrupt variable bitrate (VBR) headers:

"There are 3 kinds of VBR headers: Xing, LAME, and VBRI. MP3 Diags identifies files having an incorrect or missing VBR header, and allows you to create Xing headers, should you need to." Source: MP3 Diags, MP3 Introduction

Warning, following this advice may corrupt your music files - backup first!

Despite the rather dire warning above, I've experienced no data loss or corruption (at least, none that I've found) and this great app has repaired all of my track duration errors and one or two other issues as well!

If you're using Ubuntu or one of it's derivatives, the best installation option is the Software Center. Open the Software Center and search for mp3diags - don't put a gap between mp3 & diags or you'll only be offered the MP3 Diags documentation. Simply install as usual.

When you open the app you must scan your files for errors. Just click the gear icon (1st on the left of the toolbar) and the browser will open. You can also scan remote files if you have mounted them using SSH: in Mint the route is a little convoluted, try:


...and then look for your music directory. Select your directory and then hit the Scan option. This can take several minutes on a single remote directory (album), so patience will be needed if you have a large music library with lots of errors. My repairs took over a week on a modest (3,500 track) library.

If the scan reveals any Xing errors, repair them by clicking the single transformation icon (a hammer with a green arrow) and selecting the Repair VBR data option.

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Sunday, 5 October 2014

Fixing The Internal Microphone - Presario CQ60

It's taken weeks of Googling, but I've finally found a fix for the internal microphone on the Presario CQ60.

I had no luck with the various fixes that I found online until I came across this post which, if I've understood it correctly, suggests that the problem with the internal microphone on the CQ60 is not a software issue but a hardware problem. As I understand the OP's problem, the kernel allocates the wrong pin id at boot: the workaround turns out to be surprisingly simple.

First we need an application developed by David Henningsson at Canonical. It's called HDAJackRetask and it was originally developed to turn unused microphone jacks into additional headphone jacks - brilliant! It's now part of the alsa-tools-gui, so there's no need to add a new repository. Open a terminal and do:

sudo apt-get install alsa-tools-gui

Alternatively, you can download it from the Software Center or Synaptic. When prompted about the additional space (in the terminal method), type y and hit enter.

Open HDAJackRetask from the Main Menu (in Mint Cinnamon it's under Sound & Video). Select your sound card and then, under the Options panel, check the Show unconnected pins option. In the Pin configuration section, look for your Internal Mic, Riser entry, click the Override checkbox, and set the spin button to Not connected.

Next, look for the Pin ID: 0x1d, check the Override checkbox, and the use the spin button to select Internal mic. Now click the Apply now option and test your microphone. If all's gone well, it's time to make this a permanent change: click the Install boot override. You'll see the following message dialog: click OK and reboot.

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Wallpaper of the Month: Presario CQ60

There never seems to be enough hours in the day and I have a pile of topics that I want to get published here on Karmic Odyssey but haven't (yet) had the time. Nonetheless, posting my wallpaper for all to see is a cheap post and often gets the ball rolling: for my first post this month, here's the new desktop for the Presario CQ60

This is Llyn yr Arddu looking west towards Moel Hebog. It's another image taken with my Samsung Galaxy which is rapidly proving that I don't need to carry a large (and heavy) camera on the hills.

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