Whip your music meta-data into shape with the MusicBrainz and MediaMonkey one-two punch.

I like most people have quite a few music files laying around on various places on my hard drive, and not all of it is in what could be called the best “shape.” After doing some playing around trying to get things fixed up, I think the best solution that I’ve come across so far is to use a combination of MusicBrainz and MediaMonkey. First things first, the two biggest requirements I wanted to get out of this project was to 1) clean up my meta-data for all of my songs and 2) display the album art in the best “cross-platform” way possible. For requirement number two, the best way is to embed the art into the music file itself, this works with all the media players I use as well as displays very nicely in Windows Vista explorer.

MusicBrainz is one of the better tools I’ve used to clean up meta-data, especially if it doesn’t even exist for some files. It has an ability to scan files to generate an “audio fingerprint” and match that against it’s database to come up with possible matches. The two weaknesses I’ve run into using it so far is that it’s database is entirely community driven, which isn’t itself a bad thing but it seems that there’s not a good way to remove invalid data from their database. You’ll understand once you search their database and get 4 album results with the exact same name but 4 different number of tracks for each, or a slightly different capitalization scheme. The only other weakness i’ve run into is probably with the software i’m using, but the Picard tagger doesn’t have the ability to play music while you work (a must if you are using it’s scan functionality). Here is the documentation page for the Picard tagger which is the one i’m currently working with. From there start with the Getting started guide or go to the more in depth documentation.

MediaMonkey is the album art heavy weight that I’ve seen. it’s one of the few that will embed album art into the music file if it can, and flexible enough to save it to a file if it can’t. MediaMonkey will also tag files, but doesn’t have the scan feature of MusicBrainz. By default will will use Amazon to find album art, although that can be changed with various plugins. another great thing is that it has a built in player so you can play music while you’re working on your music (seems kinda obvious, right) which makes the work go by so much quicker. One of the better write ups I’ve seen so far is an older write up in Lifehacker with step-by-step instructions for embedding album art using MediaMonkey, even though it’s old, everything they’ve written still holds true.

Now go forth and rid the world of bad meta-data and album-artless music files…

Super easy way to save on the water bill…

A how-to on WikiHow has been making the rounds on some blogs and I figure I’ll add to that here since many places in the US are still under moderate to severe drought including my part of the country. The article is “How to Convert Any Toilet to a Low Flush Toilet” and the just of it is to take a half-gallon container of milk or juice, remove any labels, put in something to make it sink (pebbles, sand, gravel, whatever…), and then add water so it doesn’t move around. Take this unit you just put together seal it shut (put on the lid) and place it the tank of the toilet so it doesn’t interfere with the mechanism. Replace the lid and then use as normal. The container will displace an equal amount of water up to a half gallon depending on the type of toilet you already have.

There are a number of other things you can do if you feel to lazy to put together this milk jug, simply putting a rock in the tank can have the same affect, of course you’ll want to be VERY careful not to crack the tank and make sure to clean it off very well before you put it in the tank. As you can see you can use about anything to take up space in the tank, the big criteria is that it doesn’t get in the way of the mechanism or damage the toilet or septic system.

Easy way to add a second monitor.

There are a ton of good reasons to have your computer as a dual-monitor setup, there’s the added productivity of being able to have applications open in each monitor to work with at the same time. You could also have one monitor dedicated to goofing off, but we won’t tell the boss about that one… There also the fact that they are cool and get plenty of attention, if you’re like me you will have to explain almost daily how just because you have two monitors you don’t have two computers.

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How-To use KeePass to Store Password and Other Sensitive Information

KeePass, along with KeePassX and KeePass Portable, is software that safely and securely stores username and password information. One big advantage of KeePass over lots of other methods of storing passwords is the ability to setup groups and subgroups of passwords along with keeping your password database encrypted using AES or Twofish encryption algorithms. So lets get started by going through how to set up and use a database as well as some useful options in the program.

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