Monday, October 24, 2011

Application Review: Puddletag for Linux (installed in Ubuntu 10.04)

Puddletag is an audio tag editor that I stumbled upon while browsing through the WebUPd8 PPA for Ubuntu Linux. While not an application I was looking for at the time, it did fill a need for me.

I have a number of MP3 files that do not have meta tag data entered. And while this worked fine in my car stereo MP3 player that only read file names, virtually all modern music players I have used as of late rely on this data for display. So, wanting to sort my music for playback on my computer I would need this data entered. I had previously used a Windows based program called "Stamp" which wasn't very quick, and doesn't fit anymore as I use a Linux system for my personal computer and want to find a native Linux application for all my computing needs.

The interface of Puddletag is simple and efficient. Browse for your media location on the left hand side and on the right you are greeted with a spreadsheet like view of all the editable fields (file name, artist, title, album etc...). This view is very easy to work with and will even let you copy and paste a field over multiple files (say album title).

I did find that some operations are night lightning quick, but that could be a combination of editing files on a USB hard drive and my older Pentium 4 system. It is by no means unbearably slow, and plenty tolerable to use. I have started working on my collection and will continue till the last of my files have been edited and ready to load up in my music player. I would highly recommend giving Puddletag a try if you have need to edit meta data on any audio files.

Puddeltag is available in the WebUpd8 PPA or from the developers SourceForge site. Give it a try, I doubt you will be disappointed.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Good news about Gimp Development from Libre Graphics World

According to a post on Libre Graphics World, the Gimp development team is likely looking at saving an obstacle to the Gimp 2.8 release for a future release to prevent further delays of the 2.8 release date. This change hasn't been reflected on the Official Schedule for the release of the next version, currently projected for January of 2012 and being pushed back nearly every day.

In my opinion, The Gimp program has huge potential for a graphics editing program but at least two factors are holding it back at this time. First, for those used to other programs the floating windows that make up the user interface can be a nightmare to work with and be especially confusing for new users. This is even more apparent on smaller screens where you have little room to lose for the main image window. This will be eliminated when 2.8 is finally released with the single window mode.

The second part is the pace of development. While I am not a fan of the rapid release schedules seen in some open source software, development that is too slow can be even more frustrating. The Gimp could definitely benefit from a quicker release schedule as the current development pace can feel painfully slow. Getting bug fixes and new releases out to the public sooner rather than later is definitely a plus. To accomplish this, the Gimp simply needs more developers on the team.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

How Windows 7 Makes Tech Support Easier

I haven't had a lot of experience with Windows 7 until recently. I work at a local school district and we recently replaced a fairly large selection of computers, and at this point you can no longer purchase licenses for Windows XP - every new computer comes with Windows 7.

This forces the tech department's hand when it comes to upgrading, or in our case running in a mixed environment with the majority of systems running XP and all the new machines from here on out being Windows 7 (or newer).

Granted, Windows 7 does cause issues when it comes to group policy and other issues that arise on a large, domain network. We also find issues with older printers no longer being supported under Windows 7 by either Microsoft of the printer manufacturer. So Windows 7 is not all rosy and great, but there is one big advantage as a Technician that makes my job much easier.

On our network (like most large organizations) individual user accounts have restrictions when it comes to administrating a system and installing software. Under the Windows XP environment, updating or installing software would require logging off of the restricted user and me logging in with my account with administrative rights to perform the needed actions. With some of the older systems and local user policies, it could take quite a while to log in and finish the job. In theory, Windows XP would allow you to enter your credentials to install or run certain programs while logged in as a restricted user, but I never had any success trying to change anything this way.

Now, with the Windows 7 systems I can perform administrative tasks by entering my credentials and being able to function with elevated rights. This is a big improvement, makes my job easier and produces less disruption for the computer user.  All in all I have been pretty impressed with Windows 7 during my exposure with the new systems at work - a definite and huge improvement over past Windows versions for sure.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Printing with an HP printer in Ubuntu Linux

With computers most people want them to just work. Sometimes they do and sometimes they come no where near just working. When it came to my first experience with printing in Linux it simply worked with no fuss at all.

For those used to Windows systems, the first thing you will notice when printing from Ubuntu Linux is there is no new hardware detected pop up notification, no configuration or installation needed and the printer is not displayed anywhere once connected. My first thought when I turned on my printer was 'did the computer see it?' Since there was no notification, I wasn't quite sure. But I decided to open up Open Office and give it a shot to see if it would print. I went to print and sure enough my HP PhotoSmart printer showed up as available and printed fine (of course, Linux cannot solve the several year old, nearly dry ink cartridges).

The only draw back I can see right now is the lack of a management from the default install (Ubuntu 10.04) where ink levels can be monitored. If you like technology to just work, a Linux distribution (most have the HP print driver package as part of the default setup) with an HP printer will likely be a no fuss, no install - it just works scenario. I was very pleased with my first printing experience from a Linux system and will be looking into the lack of management options and hopefully find something worth while, stay tuned!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

OpenShot Video Editor 1.4

I am going to make my first post about something I was quite excited to read about: the 1.4 release of the OpenShot Video Editor. OpenShot is a free, open source video editor for Linux. They aptly describe the program as "Simple & Powerful" and I would have to fully agree. The learning curve was not very dramatic and the results I was able to achieve on my first video lived up to my expectations and were very well loved by family members receiving the DVD I produced.

I read the preview post on the developers site ( and began waiting for the updated release to hit their repository. And while I haven't had a chance to try out the new features, I am looking forward to my next video project to see how they shape up. You can head on over to the developers site for a quick (1:45) video for the release announcement.

I am also excited that the long term plans are shaping up for cross-platform compatability. While I don't use Windows or Mac OSX on my personal computers, OpenShot could gain use at the school I work with (when available for Windows) as well as be a very capable and free option for Windows and Mac users.

In the mean time, if you are a Linux user with interest in video editing (or might just want to give Linux a try to explore this program) you cannot go wrong with OpenShot. The video (and subsequent DVD) I created with OpenShot was a combination of video footage and still image slide show taken and my sister in-laws birthday party. The program performed quite well on my older Pentium 4 laptop, and should be even better on a newer machine.