joshp's blog

How to clean up your Music library mess...aka: I just joined "Play Ogg"!

What do you do when your entire music library is infested with wma files, incorrectly tagged and renamed, sorted all wrong and just one big mess? You admit it was your own fault for not sticking to one single standard for naming and organizing, for letting Windows Media Player try to do the work for you, and not trying first to understand formats and codecs and licenses. Then you get rid of your wma files (DELETED) and re-rip, re-download, re-tag and re-encode until your entire library is ogg, uniformly named, sorted and tagged correctly. This is the 17000 file mess I am cleaning up right now, and I decided I should join the PlayOgg movement for some inner support. Henceforth, I will be displaying this or similar on my site. Ogg is a great multimedia format that is simply the one solution that will work for everything I need as a format, and as a piece of nicely licensed and supported free and open source goodness. It's widespread implementation would be just an awesome thing. The only reason I have not moved on this yet, is the knowledge that doing so would force me to do so much tedious work on my music library...well, I'm over it (Trying hard not to slam wma to compare it to ogg) and I am now taking the correct steps. Read below the break for some useful tips to get the job done.

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Twitter tricks with Ubuntu...How to serve your own personal Twitpic and Twitterfeed using Jaunty

A little while back I had a mind to set up a Twitpic account, so that I could post photos from my Centro directly to the microblogging service of kings, Identi.ca. But for some reason, either my mobile provider, or mobile platform didn't want to play well with Twitpic, so I set out to find a different solution, thinking how nice it would be to self host this solution.

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Reset and restart!

It's official, the P90X doubles routine kicked my butt two times in a row. I have been out of commission for about a month due to two shoulder injuries, on top of the flu, on top of some crazy stress from my school this semester. This is a lesson learned: don't overdo it! I definitely piled on too much, and my immune system, nerves, and muscles all got angry at me for doing it.

I don't think I'll be attempting the doubles routine again for a while. Maybe next summer, or after this next round? If anybody out there has actually finished the P90X doubles routine, I would love to hear any tips! As for right now, I am moving on to P90X Plus. I have officially graduated from P90X (doubles is extra credit, not a required course!), so it's on to the next step...and I have to get training for a potential triathlon, or a different long distance cycling project this summer, and time is ticking!

I won't be uploading my progress from this last doubles routine, I was able to increase my total weight and reps, get down to the weight mark I was shooting for, and I have shrunk, yet again, out of my jeans, but I'm not putting up the spread sheets for this one. I'll post progress after this round of Plus, which starts this afternoon. I'm also going to get some photos for before and after this time, promise!

So my system has recovered, I have reset my schedule, and I am restarting the program. I've made a promise not to overdo it, or to get all worked up about the numbers. It's about feeling good, not having a big ego! Anyway, off to the races, people!

EDIT: almost forgot! There's a custom made excel spreadsheet (you are welcome) for tracking P90X Plus progress! Let me know if you love or hate it!

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Should I work out when I'm sick?

I've done workouts when sick before, and they made me feel quite a bit better, so I just kept to them. It makes me feel like life is worth living beyond the cold! But is this a good idea? Should I "walk it off" or should I take to the couch and "let my body heal"? The "common sense" of things seems to contradict itself, so I thought I would address the major issues I find myself concerned with when I have to confront this issue.

First of all, I need no research to tell me that if you're sick, stay out of the gym. Don't go exposing yourself to congested public places, and the people in those places to your cold, if you don't need to. This is just politeness. Ever catch a cold and, wondering how you got it, remembered that sick dude at work, school, or the gym and think to yourself, "Why didn't they just stay home a day or two?" I work out at home, so this is never an issue for me.

To be blunt, you should never do some crazy, exhausting workout if you are suffering from a cold. You should, at the very least, pull back a little. Focus on some light cardio, or reduce your weights some if you are circuit training. Take it easy. But, the good new is you don't have to stop working out, just because you're stuffed up! That's right, you have no excuse! A lot of people use a little head cold as an excuse to "take a break" from their routine, and never get back into it. This is just a way out for the uncommitted. The truth of the matter is, working out dilates the blood vessels and helps clear congestion, so it will make you feel better, but research shows that working out will not speedy the recovery process. It just makes it a bit more bearable. Likewise, the cold will not affect your ability to work out, it will just make it a bit less bearable! Just don't take it to far, working out too hard will prolong any cold.

While it's never a good idea just to stop working out because of an injury or head cold, but better to find a way to work around your injury or illness, there are some situations when you should just put a pause to your routine. Let's look at these:

  • As far as the common cold/flu symptoms go, do the neck check! If your symptoms are above the neck only, then just continue on as described above and be happy. But, if your symptoms are below the neck (ie,nausea) then you need to take a break, and let your body heal itself. In other words, if it's just stuffiness and a runny nose, you're good to go.
  • If you have a fever of any degree, stop working out. You are going to do nothing more than stress out your immune system and make matters worse, and this could even lead to myocarditis (inflammation of the heart).
  • If you have any sort of "body aches", including a headache., stop working out.
  • Lung congestion, hacking cough? No work out for you, my friend. Take a break, and let your lungs fight the battle.
  • If you experience any fatigue, listen to your body and rest. Don't feel guilty for not working out here, you are tired because your immune system is burning all of your calories working overtime to fight that virus. Let it!

Naturally, you're getting your rest and remembering to meet your nutrition/hydration needs, and before long, you're feeling you're over the hump of the cold's course. Keep to these rules as a good measure until it's out of you entirely, if you need to do something, go for a calm walk, or do a stretch. Finally, after you've followed these rules, and you're feeling over your cold, don't go full tilt back into your routine, take it easy at first, and build back up into it!

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I have no name!

About a week ago I had a sort of system crash on my Intrepid server. After performing some rote maintenance, and deploying a vanity Drupal site for my daughter I was getting the "permission denied" error from Apache on all of my domains and sub-domains. To top this off, no users I host mail for on that machine (my daughter, a bot, and myself) were capable of receiving any mail. Great.

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One year anniversary of a very important date

NO-SMOKING

So, one day shy of exactly one year ago, I posted a quick article about making it one whole week without any tobacco intake. It was not an easy decision to make to quite smoking cigarettes...for good, and here I sit, over one whole year later, an accomplished man. In that post I pointed out how I was coping with the tension and withdraws: by working out. Weights and cardio all the way. That was my approach. It was health that I was after, so putting the focus on actively doing healthy things instead of the negation of unhealthy things just seemed to make sense to me.

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XMPP notices: a workaround for Drupal 5 (and how to install Openfire 3.6.3 in Ubuntu 8.10)

Since I got my self-hosted Ubuntu lamp server up and running some while back, I have made it my personal mission to find out exactly what she can do. "Why in the world would you want to run a home server?" is the question I sought to answer for myself, and sought to do so in such a way that any novice could benefit from what nifty things I did find. In this, I tinker with new (new to me) technologies, and see if any inherent level of novelty outweighs any technical level of brain hurt. The first thing I installed was Drupal, which you can do with apt or synaptic, and it has become the bedrock and center of everything I do on this server. I love to find new ways to interact with my site, new ways to get the site to perform and interact with users, and generally any neat trick I can come up with that has functionality. Every time I discover a new technology, I see if there is a way to integrate it into my Drupal setup, integration is a wonderful thing.

  • I can publish to Drupal from my Ubuntu desktop using drivel.
  • I can further integrate my Ubuntu desktop with Drupal using Evolution and the excellent calendar module.
  • My Tweets and/or Dents go to my Drupal installation via a custom block I got from Twitter
    • And my Drupal installation can talk to my identi.ca account when I post new content via a small rewrite of the twitter module for drupal.
  • I aggregate interesting news feeds I discover from my Tiny Tiny RSS installation with the core module "aggregator".
  • I integrate my Gallery2 online picture gallery with drupal using a great module for the job, and I can publish pictures into that Gallery from my Ubuntu desktop using the excellent F-Spot photo manager
    • I can take a picture, plug in my camera to my Ubuntu desktop, and that picture goes right into my Drupal, via Gallery, via F-spot...one click!

Pidgin Jabber/XMPP server, and see if I could get Drupal and Jabber to play nice together, showing up on my Ubuntu desktop via Openfire, and between separate services I run on my Ubuntu server and Drupal. I am, in my way, attempting to make a nice transparent portal from my Ubuntu desktop to the internet via Drupal, and vise-versa. So, in this ongoing effort to self-host and experiment with different technologies I recently decided to install and run with the I am a geek for integrations between Drupal and my Ubuntu desktopGet the picture?

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Open Source and Copyleft in a Copyright, Closed Source World.

What does online community mean to you?

Jono Bacon, the Ubuntu community organizer, is working on a new project The Art of Community. This new project revolves around the creation of, and discussion of a book, which Jono is releasing under that same title, and licensing with a Creative Commons Liscence. The main marketing strategy seems to be a "get the word out" campaign, utilizing the already thriving Ubuntu community, and other online networks. Creating a community around projects in order to attract a fan-base, especially a project about community, is a particularly novel concept, and just seems to make sense. Mr. Bacon has a history of standing up to make a buzz about free software, and copy-left, his recently released Severed Fifth album is a great example of this. His implementation of "Street Teams", composed of music enthusiasts, and supporters of the work in general, is a great example of how community can replace traditional marketing. Here we have a relatively high profile individual, capable of attracting a certain level of attention, releasing work created with open source software under a Creative Commons license, and hopefully inspiring other people to do the same.

It's not just that getting the word out about F/OSS is difficult in a closed source economy, but combating the negative attention from stories like this one is an ongoing uphill battle. In light of this, to show people that it is possible, easy, and rewarding to embark on the path of open source publishing is a great thing in my world. People would benefit to grasp the energizing fact that the open source world is a very ENABLING reality, it creates opportunity to function simply by the virtue of its own existence.

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Announcing: New feature on NousEssence - poetry!

I'm pleased to announce the addition of a new section to the site's content: "Joshp's Poetry". The content of this section will NOT, by default, be promoted to the Front Page of Nous Essence, nor will it be, by default, featured on the main feed for the site. But you may see, from time to time, snippets of the work which I decide are nice enough to promote appear in your reader if you are a subscriber to the main site feed. If you are interested in subscribing to the poetry/prose feed directly, just click on this link.

I have been writing poetry, prose, lyrics, short fictions, and literary experiments for the better part of 15 years, and have now decided to filter through the entire existing body of my work, burn the terrible word-vomiting, and publish and/or rework anything that I feel deserves attention. If you subscribe, I look forward to your comments and your support!

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Awesome Music server = Your existing Ubuntu 8.10 Desktop + Ampache + Rhythmbox, Oh My!

One of the problems we were running into in our home was the distribution of media files, specifically music. My desktop has a nice 300+ Gigs of hdd space on it, so it's fairly easy for me to host all of the music on separate partitions (pretty useful when the smaller systems in the house need to update, or fresh install), but the transferring of files over the lan got tiresome, and my wife likes quite a bit of my music collection, and is really out of room on her laptop. Likewise, my daughter's desktop is in serious need of hdd space, and she has a growing musical "habit". Also, I want my music in places other than the room my desktop is in, other than the apartment my computer is in, and I don't have an mp3 player large enough for all of my files.

The solution was to find a way to host all of the files on my desktop, and to allow access to them in a nice streaming sort of way. I didn't want to just open up lan access to my partitions, I only share out one small folder for samba, and like to keep it that way. So I went out and found me some Ampache! And it was good...Ampache is a PHP based music server that uses a MySql database to store its information. It allows users to browse online music collections, build playlists, stream content to a desktop music player, or even download the tracks. There is quite a bit of flexibility with Ampache, it's theme-able, providing a nice user interface, has album art support and all the bells and whistles you could want. You can add users through the web interface and set access levels, so security is a no-brainer. There's a working demo here to get a feel for how it plays.

I simply installed the "AMP" portion of the LAMP stack on top of my existing Ubuntu desktop installation (this is easily done using the tasksel command from the terminal), installed and told Ampache to catalog all of the files in my music partition, and ran it from there. Then the hits kept on coming, I found a nice plugin for Rhythmbox that connects to the Ampache backend and loads your Ampache catalog right in your music browser! Happy, if you like Rhythmbox. Also, in Amarok2 there is built in support for subscribing to Ampache servers. Neat. So, after enabling the plugin on all of the client computers, all they have to do is fire up Rhythmbox, and they all have seamless access to my entire music collection. They get thier music fix, I look like a wizard!

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