Saturday, February 23, 2008

Hymn Project Website Gets Cease and Desist Note from Apple

hymnIf you've ever used the myFairTunes or QTFairTunes programs to strip DRM from Apple's FairPlay DRM or Windows Media DRM, then you're probably familiar with the Hymn Project Web site.  This past week, the site received a cease and desist letter demanding that all downloads be removed from the site.  From the website forum:

Until further notice, no links are to be posted anywhere on the site to programs that can strip DRM from any of Apple's music or videos. Any user who does so will get the link removed and a warning from us. Any further infraction will get you banned permanently. The site will remain open for now and we won't have a problem as long as we abide by the C&D.

The tools used to remove DRM from iTunes-purchased songs were used by many people so they could use those songs on unsupported players, mobile phones and other non-Apple devices.  One of the sites administrators speculates that the reason Apple made this move after so much time (these software programs have been available and updated regularly on the site) was possibly related to a new program being developed by them called Requiem that used decryption instead of copying the unprotected music from memory while it is being played like the other programs, that Apple took the step of legal action.  The forum post goes on:

Apparently with requiem the balance has been broken in Apple's eyes. This is really a shame...for them. Because I can no longer remove the DRM from songs I purchase legally from iTunes, I am boycotting the iTunes store and purchasing all my future music from vendors who no longer shackle their music with the chains of DRM. I suggest you do the same. We've complied with the C&D and removed all DRM breaking software from the site. But they can't force us to purchase DRM'd music from their store. I've been a long time fan of Apple and iTunes. But this latest move just plain pisses me off. So, I can no longer support them.

I'm going to guess there will be others to fill this void.  Matter of fact there already is one option that was released last week called DoubleTwist created by DVD Jon.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Sharper Image Files For Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

siI remember getting excited every time I got a new Sharper Image catalog in the mail as a kid.  The inner gadget geek in me always dreamed of owning those too-expensive, but too-cool gadgets that Sharper Image always hawked.  Well today the retailer filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection citing declining sales, three straight years of losses and lawsuits involving their Ionic Breeze air purifiers.  They'll probably survive to see another day, but in a much smaller form than today.  For the story on the bankruptcy of Sharper Image head over to Reuters.

ib   Ionic Breeze Purifier

Spring 2008 TV Updates from the Major TV Networks

greysI've updated the "writers strike update" TV list with all of the latest post-strike updates.  All of the major TV networks have released their revised, winter/spring 2008 Television schedules and there is plenty of good news for you TV addicts.  We now know the plans for Lost, Desperate Housewives, Ugly Betty, Grey's Anatomy, CSI (all of them), Moonlight and more.  The worst news for me is no more Heroes until next Fall 2008, but other than that there is plenty of good news.

I'm still updating the page daily and it now includes not only how many episodes to expect before Summer gets here, but also when those episodes will air when that information is available.  Check it out HERE

Monday, February 18, 2008

Automatically Embed Album Art to Large MP3 Collection

If you are like me you have a large collection of MP3 music files on your hard drive.  Some of my MP3's were converted from places like iTunes and Amazon, while others were ripped from my CD collection and others came from all over the place.  Well the end result is a pile of MP3's where some have album art but many others do not. 

At home I use SageTV's HTPC program and on the road I use an iPod to listen to music and it's helpful to have album art embedded into the file itself instead of having a separate photo file for the album art.  When you have a large collection, this can be very tedious if you do it one-by-one.  My solution is to make this process as automatic as possible using MP3Tag.


When you embed album art into the file itself it's easier to move the mp3 file and

If you have a large MP3 collection that you want to transfer to the PS3, you'd want to have album art for each track since the PS3 can only sort one level deep for any media.  If you embed album art into your media *before* transferring to the PS3, you can then group your collection by Artist and consequently view all albums by that artist with pictures for each track showing which album it belongs to.  Its the only decent way to currently use music in the XMB until sony gets its act together and allows folder structures on the native PS3 harddrive (as well as supporting folder.jpg type album art on import).

Here's how you can *automatically* update your MP3 collection with album art.

Note: you must already have album art for each album in your collection.  You might have a "folder.jpg" in each albums folder that you downloaded yourself or if you use something like Microsoft's Media Player, you might have automatically downloaded album art in each folder named something like: "AlbumArt_{0C2xxxx}_Large.jpg", etc.  If you relied on Microsoft Media Player to get your album art, the files it downloaded are probably hidden so you'll want to show hidden files from within explorer to make sure the art exists for each album (click: Tools menu, Folder Options, View tab, Show hidden files/folders from explorer to unhide).  Whatever your album art type, you just need to know the file names stored in each album folder for the art.

Download the free MP3Tag from

  • Install and run MP3Tag.
  • Select the directory with your digital music files (File-Change Directory) and select the folder with your music.
  • MP3Tag will then load all of your music files.
  • Select the first song in the media list on the right, then press CTRL-A to select all of your music files.
  • Now press SHIFT-ALT-5 to get the "Select Action Type" dialog.
  • Choose "Import Cover From File" in the drop-down list, then press OK.
  • In the "Format string for image filename" field, type your album art filename here.  (e.g. folder.jpg, cover.jpg or Name.jpg etc) 5
  • If you want to replace existing cover art already embedded in one or more of your MP3 ID3 tags click the "delete existing cover art" option.
  • Click OK and let MP3Tag import your cover art for every one of your MP3 files.

Keep in mind that when you embed the cover art into your music file, the size of your music file grows by the size of that cover image.

Once you've finished this, you can delete any of the individual photo files and just leave the mp3 files with the cover art embedded.  To learn more about what MP3Tag can do to help you organize your music files check out this post from last year.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Week in Review: Week Ended February 17

Here's a quick review of the past two weeks posts.

  • Flickr Keyboard Shortcuts

      I'm a big fan of Flickr and a big fan of keyboard shortcuts.  Unfortunately, Flickr doesn't have many shortcuts except for those few available for the built-in flickr slideshow.  While I hope Flickr adds true keyboard shortcuts for navigation of their site, here's one way to get a…

  • Shorts - Links and Quick News Items from the Web

    Here's a few short news items and links I've run across in the past few days...   Online TV Guides The useful, ajax-based Online TV Guide was officially taken off line Monday as expected .  The statistics page that shows the most recorded shows (recorded by BeyondTV users)…

  • Writers Strike Over - What That Means for the TV Shows

    The writers strike has been going since November 5th and there's been plenty of TV casualties, but the strike is all but over .  A tentative deal was announced Saturday, and has since then the WGA leaders have voted unanimously to endorse the new deal between the Writers Guild and the TV…

  • Now Playing - SageTV Netflix Plugin with Watch Instantly Support

    With Netflix beginning to work with vendors on integration of their "watch instantly" movie streaming, Home Theater PC Owners have been longing for support for their HTPC's. Starting today, you can manage your Netflix Queue, browse movie previews and even play "Watch…

  • Hauppauge Component HD Encoder for HTPC's - UPDATE

    Rakesh from Snapstream Media has the latest scoop on Hauppauge's soon-to-be-released HD PVR device that will receive HD from a cable or satellite set-top box component video output and encode the HD channel into H.264 at up to 25 Mbit/s.  I first mentioned this device back on January 10th when…

  • Coverflow Style Flickr Slideshow

    Are you a fan of the cover flow browsing you see in Apple's iTunes and iPhone?  Well so am I and I've stumbled across two sites that let you make your own coverflow-type slideshow using either your Flickr or Picasa photos.