Dropbox Finally Implements Selective Sync

Dropbox, my favorite file syncing service has finally implemented selective file sync in a the latest release candidate build. This is awesome for those of us who’ve bought a premium account with lots of space! Previously any folders in your Dropbox were synced to all your computers. This meant for instance my 8GB of music would be synced to any virtual machine I linked to my Dropbox which is a waste of space and bandwidth. Now I can chose just one or two folders to sync which is what I’ve already done on my Ubuntu VM. This will be a very useful feature for Netbooks with small hard drives and all sorts of portable devices.

So far it’s worked without issue on my Mac and Linux machines. Have you tried selective sync yet?

Applications Mac OS X

Moving your Tunes Library From PC To Mac

Recently I bought an iPod Touch and originally I set it up to sync with my Mac. In the interim I decided to move everything over to my PC as my Mac was supposed to be moved into another room. The mac never got moved and I decided to again hook up the Mac to my main monitor and use it as my daily internet surfer. Figuring that I would be spending more time in front of the Mac it would only make sense to have my iPod sync with the Mac. With help from Life Hacker I got everything setup. Click the Life Hacker link to read more about the nuts and bolts. This post is more about my experience with the move and some tips to help speed things along.

I should preface this by saying if you haven’t invested any time creating playlists, added metadata (title, track, album, etc)  to your songs and aren’t transferring purchased iTunes music to your Mac you can simply copy all your MP3 files over and import them. That being said I’ve spent many a nights with Fix Tunes (aka Tidy Songs) fixing my tags and wanted to retain that information..Hence the project and headaches start.

There’s several options to transfer your library from one computer to another. One option is home sharing in which you setup iTunes with your Apple account to share files between computers on your home network. This method seems to be the easiest and most straight forward. You setup the sharing, select all your files and copy everything. The only problem here is speed. My Mac connects to the network wireslessly which is to slow for my likes to be transferring large amount of files. Even with my modest 8 GB library, I was running out of patience with the transfer process.

The second option and the one I originally chose was backing up my library to disc (File > Library > Back Up To Disc). I’m a little surprised at Apple here as the only option is to burn discs. Which is odd, it would be much faster and not to mention cost effective to back to up to an external hard drive. Even so my library is only 8GB I figure 2 maybe 3 DVD-R’s and I’ll be set. Tip: if you have DVD-RWs (rewritable DVD discs) at your disposal you can use them instead of wasting DVD-Rs. As luck would have it I wound up trying to do the backup process 3 times because it kept failing and I couldn’t get it to work. Apple’s “suggested method” didn’t work. So, I had to hack a little.

I wound up using the method outlined in the Life Hacker article linked above. This method was a little more hassle but go figure a lot easier than Apple’s way of copying a library. After consolidating my library via iTunes I simply copied the whole iTunes folder to an external drive then copied it on to my Mac’s hard drive. Consolidating your library basically means that iTunes copies all of your music files to folders under iTunes’s folder in your music folder. After everything copied over to my Mac, I open the library.xml file in Smultron (a text editor) then used search and replace to change the file paths to reflect Mac’s paths to the music. This worked and retained all my information.

I probably should mention that you can also use your iPod as an external hard drive and copy all the data over that way. There is no real reason why I didn’t do it that way other than I have several external hard drives to use.

Another thing is I didn’t have to worry about any purchased content except for applications which were relatively easy to sync back to iTunes from the iPod once I authorized iTunes, I suspect the same will be true of purchased music, TV shows, and etc once you authorize your Mac with your iTunes account by going to Store > Authorize computer.

In conclusion I was really surprised that Apple hasn’t made this simpler. I should be able to take my iPod and plug it into a new computer choose sync and have it copy everything from the iPod to the new computer. I have no doubt in my mind that the process isn’t easier to prevent music from being freely copied but for a company that markets themselves on easy of use this project certainly wasn’t as easy as it could have and should have been.

Applications Ubuntu

First Installs for Ubuntu

With the release of Ubuntu 9.10 aka Karmic Koala last week it was time for me to do a fresh install of Ubuntu on my main machine which dual boots Vista and Ubuntu. For the most part I upgrade my Ubuntu install around beta 1 then roll along with the updates until final release, a few days after final release I wipe the partition and install with a fresh copy just in case any bugs are hanging around.

The default Ubuntu install has some great software out of the box but we need some multimedia stuff like the ability to play MP3s (which may or may not be legal in your country, IANAL) and flash player. From there I install a bunch of other programs I enjoy playing with. Here’s the first command I run for installs:

sudo wget$(lsb_release -cs).list \
–output-document=/etc/apt/sources.list.d/medibuntu.list &&
sudo apt-get -q update &&
sudo apt-get –yes -q –allow-unauthenticated install medibuntu-keyring &&
sudo apt-get -q update &&
sudo aptitude install ubuntu-restricted-extras skype googleearth kompozer keepassx pidgin pidgin-plugin-pack inkscape xaralx epiphany midori audacity djplay hydrogen hydrogen-drumkits terminator filezilla gftp abiword cowsay thunderbird banshee virtualbox-ose gnome-do gnome-do-plugins nautilus-image-converter cheese

This adds the Medibuntu repository, which distributes among other things multimedia codecs and Google Earth then updates the software sources and adds it’s keyring (for authentication of packages) then yet again updates the software sources and finally starts installing my programs with confirmation.

Let me run through the packages and what they do:

Ubuntu-restricted-extras: Installs flash, MP3, WMA, and MS Font support among other things.

Skype: The world famous video messaging client works on Linux.

Google-earth: Who doesn’t love Google Earth?

Kompozer: Fork of NVU a WYSIWYG HTML editor, good for simple webpages.

Keepassx: A great cross platform password database app to save all your passwords. I use this on Windows, Linux, and OS X.

Pidgin & pidgin-plugin-pack: Multi-protocol IM client.  In Karmic Empathy is the default IM client however I’m still happy with Pidgin. I use Pidgin on Windows & Linux

Inkscape & Xaralx: Cool graphics programs, which I haven’t dived into as much as I’d like to as they appear to have a steep learning curve.

Ephphany & Midori: Internet browsers as a webmaster you can never have to many browsers.

Audacity, Hydrogen, and DJ Play: These are all programs. Audacity is a track editor, Hydrogen is a beat maker, and DJ play lets you play DJ between two tracks. I haven’t played around with the latter two a whole lot but like to have them installed for when the mood strikes.

Terminator: Embeds multiple terminals in one window. Mainly useful for when I’m ssh’ed into more than 1 server

Filezilla & GFTP: Filezilla is my preferred cross platform FTP client. GFTP is my backup FTP client in addition to Nautilus’s capabilities.

Abiword: Lightweight cross platform word processor I use this on all 3 platforms for hammering out blog posts and replies to longer private messages on forums. I must admit I lauch Abiword before Open Office in most cases.

Cowsay: Neat little app that puts whatever your place after the command in a comic strip bulb over an ASCII cow. It’s not useful for anything just good a for a quick laugh. 😀 Check out Cowsay:

Cowsay screenshot

Thunderbird: Firefox’s sister a cross platform email client. I mostly use it just to monitor a couple of IMAP accounts

Banshee: A music manager.

Virtualbox-ose: A free virtual machine app, I use this to run Windows XP in a virtual machine both on Ubuntu & Vista

Gnome-do & Gnome-do-plugins: Gnome do is a great launcher app much like Vista’s start menu or spotlight on OS X. It can do a lot more but I don’t use for much more than the basic functionality

Nautilus-image-converter: Resize images by right clicking.

Cheese: Webcam application much like Photo Booth on OS X.

From there I head  on over to to grab Songbird and Ubuntu Tweak the go off and download Opera & Dropbox from their respective sites. Assuming Firefox is saving your downloads to ~/Downloads, I install them all with two commands.

cd Downloads/

sudo dpkg -i *.deb (this tells the Ubuntu to unpack all .deb files)


sudo apt-get install -f (to fix dependency issues with Ubuntu Tweak)

Lets run through the apps again: 😉

Songbird: Is a cross platform music manager based on Mozilla. I use it mostly for streaming Shoutcast but it has some great library features built in and is expandable with extensions just like Firefox

Ubuntu Tweak: Basically helps you install packages and if enabled set up some of Compiz’s features in additon to setting default user paths and desktop icons. It’s a nice little app, sort of the modern day Automatic

Opera: Just another web browser

Dropbox: This an awesome cross platform sync tool. I’ve got a premium account and use it to sync and files across all my computers that aren’t confidential. I really cannot say enough good about Dropbox, give it a try.

There you have it with my internet connection I normally get all this installed and have a system ready to go within less than an hour. What do you install first with Ubuntu? Leave any questions in the comments please.

Applications Opinion

Open Source Software

Here at AG you will often see me recommend open source and/or free software. There are four main reasons for this:

  • Most are cross platform. That means you can use the same programs and files on Windows, Linux, and OS X without running into problems. Additionally, you can transfer the programs preferences and stuff between platforms with a little prodding around. Often times configuration files are in easy to read XML files.
  • Data lock in isn’t an issue because the file formats are open and can easily be opened with another application or a converter can be built.
  • Price is a big factor for me at least. I operate on a shoe string budget and if I can save money on software I will. I don’t believe in pirating software so if I cannot find a free alternative I’ll gladly go without.
  • Do one thing and do it well. With few exceptions the common thread in open source software is that each application does ONE thing and does it well. Often times on the commercial side you see applications that do many things like a Swiss army knife but rarely do they do all the things they claim to do well.

There are a few other reasons why but that covers most of it. Reading around the internet the common arguments against open source software seems to be it’s insecure because you can view the source. Quite the opposite since it’s source visible anyone can audit the code and secure it. It’s free so it must be worthless, I cannot rebut that because I don’t understand the logic there.

My biggest issue with open source programs is many projects fall by the wayside some of the less popular programs I’ve used have not seen updates in a couple of years. I suppose developers loose interest or move on to bigger and better things which quite frankly sucks however commercial software also goes by the wayside too. Developers either discontinue support for older versions or stop making the application all together. I don’t have an statistics but I’ve venture to say the number of abandoned applications on both sides of the fence are similar.

In conclusion unless I win the lottery, you will see a lot of free software  recommendations here. Even if I win the lottery I’ll probably still be using many free programs because that’s what I’m used to using. 🙂  What software do you use and why?