Friday, January 21, 2005

notes for later

A few things I should address later:

  • secret history

  • winwall

  • smugmug

  • weird protesters

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Saturday, November 13, 2004

Homegrown MP3 Ringtones

It's amazing how much you can get done when you remove all computer games from your computer. And by 'you', I mean 'I'. And by 'how much' I mean having the time to write up something like this. Anyways, I figured I would write a simple walkthrough on how to make your own mp3 ringtones since it took me a bit of finagling to get this figured out. I'm sure you can think of many reasons to do this - the ones I was interested in center around cost and control; I don't want to pay several dollars for a ringtone and I also want ringtones of stuff that's not even offered (or if it is, the clip isn't what I want to hear).

There are 2 things you need to check first:
  • Can your phone even play mp3 ringtones? Newer phones can, but most cannot.

  • Make sure your phone service will allow you some way to transfer the ringtone to your phone. Most of the time you can do so by attaching it to an email sent to your phone, but some services may have even that locked down.

So, let's get started

1)Pick an mp3 that contains a sound clip you want to use as your ringtone. I'm no lawyer but I'd guess that it's ok to use music ripped from CDs that you own. Or maybe not. If you want to find something to play with, IUMA is a good source of samples from independent artists.

2)Now you need a sound editor and mp3 encoder. If you've got your own then you're a step ahead of the game (unless you don't know how to use them!) and can skip way down to the next step, but be warned that I'll be assuming you use Audacity and LAME.

For the sound editor try Audacity - it's free and has good features even if its GUI is a bit dated and some options are in weird places. Installation is straightforward, although you'll have to later tell it where your MP3 encoder is.

For the MP3 encoder, grab the LAME MP3 encoder which is free as well (finding a download link for it can be tricky; here's one). There is no installer for the encoder. Although all you really need is lame_enc.dll just go ahead and extract the entire zip file to its own folder and move that folder inside your C:\Program Files directory, or wherever you want to leave it.

Now run Audacity and click File-->Preferences and choose the File Formats tab in the window that pops up. Click the Find Library button in the MP3 Export Setup section and hunt down that lame_enc.dll file. While you're here, set the Bit Rate to 56 or 64 - it all sounds the same coming from the small speaker on your phone, so it's not worth the extra filesize to save at a higher bit rate.

You're set - you can now use Audacity to save MP3s!

3)Copy your source audio file to your desktop, so you don't accidentally screw up the original. Drag your desktop copy into Audacity to open it. You'll find that after your file is imported, you can see the left and right channel waveforms and that if you click anywhere in the file a marker will be set where playback will begin. You can use the magnifying glass tool to zoom in or out (left/right click) which is helpful in figuring out exactly where to cut the sound. To select a portion of the file you have to click and drag within the waveform. If you need to fine-tune the endpoint you can hold down shift and click to reset it without losing your startpoint. When you've selected part of the file, only that part will play when you hit the play button - helpful for getting a rough idea of your ringtone.

4)Roughly isolate your ringtone but leave maybe a 1/2 seconds worth of padding on each end. You'll probably want to keep the length to under 20 seconds or 30 at the most - otherwise the file may get to be too large or give your phone problems (again, this varies by phone and service). Select the range you want, cut it, and paste it into a new file. Now, select a small bit at the start of your new file and choose Effect-->Fade In to get rid of the abruptness. Do the same for the end of the file (use Fade Out...). Play back your ringtone to make sure it sounds OK to you.

5)You don't need both channels as your phone only has one little speaker it'll be playing your ringtone from. So here's a chance to shrink the filesize to save room on your phone. To the left of the audio channels is some basic info about your sound file. Click the file's name (next to the file close X button) to open a menu - select Split Stereo Track. Now you have two separate files that will both play when you hit the play button unless you mute one. Each will only play from your left or right speakers though - so again click the filename tab next to the X button and this time from the menu choose Mono; do this for both files. Now, mute one file (there is a button to do so to the left of the waveform) and play the other and then reverse..if one sounds better then it's the keeper. Close the other.


Audacity window
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6)Save your file as mp3 by going to File-->Export as MP3. Give it a filename, type in ID3 tag info if you like, and close Audacity.

7)Get the file onto your phone. If you've already got a data cable and your provider hasn't locked down your phone (*cough* Verizon), that's the quickest and cheapest way to push your file across. Similarly, some phones take TransFlash cards; swap it from your computer's card reader to the phone to get the file across. To use it as a ringtone you might need to find the file on your phone and use the file options to actually copy it to the phone.

For most people you'll end up attaching it to an email you send to yourself at your phone (it'll probably count as a text message). It'll also probably cost you to receive the text message, especially since it will have the attachment...you may want to check up on this first (and in the future attach multiple ringtones to the same email since you're usually charged per message and not attachment). If your message comes with no attachment and you're a new customer you may have to call support and make sure that you're setup to receive attachments properly; it's also possible that the file size was too big (most of mine are 120-150 kilobytes) or your phone flat out doesn't support MP3s. In some cases you actually have to rename the file to .MID before attaching it.

You're done! Now go customize your ringtones on a per friend basis and be sure to get called when you're hanging around them so you can show off. And for bonus cool points make sure to scroll through all your custom ringtones in public while you assign them to contacts. ;)

Check CellPhoneHacks.com for more info on mp3 ringtones, or just google it!

2 Comments:

At 5:40 PM, Blogger Ray said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 2:37 PM, Anonymous Laurie said...

This post was such a great help! Thanks a lot!!

 

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Friday, November 12, 2004

Ten by ten

It's always fun to see an interesting new way of looking at heaps of data. This site, 10x10, continuously monitors several news sources and from this creates a 10x10 grid of images relating to the most widespread news items at the time.

http://www.tenbyten.org/10x10.html

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Saturday, October 16, 2004

Run Tablet PC Energy Blue theme on your XP box


Windows XP (Tablet 2005) Energy Blue Theme - cropped from 1280x1024
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A neat find - this theme is meant for Windows XP Tablet Edition 2005, and the installer will prevent you from installing it on your desktop (or laptop) running standard XP. But, it's possible to get the theme running anyway.

Here's how (it's easy):
  1. Download the theme from Microsoft (click to download)
  2. Use a program like WinRAR to extract the contents of the self-extracting archive to a folder. WinZip may be able to do this too.
  3. Re-create the file structure shown here. Create a new folder with the name 'Themes'. Inside it, create another folder with the name 'Royale'. Inside 'Royale' create two folders: 'Shell' and 'Wallpaper'. Inside 'Shell' create four folders: 'Homestead', 'Royale', 'Metallic', and 'NormalColor'.
  4. Now move a few files you extracted in step 2. Take 'royale.theme' and drop it in the 'Themes' folder. Move 'royale.msstyles' into the 'Royale' folder. Next, take 'energybliss.jpg' and put it in the 'Wallpaper' folder. Finally, take 'shellstyle.dll' and copy it into each of the 4 folders you made in the 'Shell' directory.
    Update: It appears that the shellstyle.dll part is unnecessary as it doesn't actually change anything from the standard Luna skin. From what I've read, this version of the skin's shellstyle.dll is the same as stock XP's, so Common Tasks in folders won't look any different.
  5. Now, open C:\Windows\Resources and move the 'Themes' folder (it contains 7 files and 7 folders) into it. Click yes to any prompts you get.
  6. Go ahead and delete the other files you extracted.
  7. Right-click your desktop and choose "Energy Blue" from the Theme dropdown box on the Themes tab.

There are entire sites dedicated to styling up Windows how you like. I never got into that, but I like this theme and am glad I stumbled across it.

2 Comments:

At 3:14 PM, Blogger Ray said...

osx is so much cooler

 
At 12:11 AM, Blogger asd said...

OK, you just let me know when it can run Half-Life 2. Yeah, buh-bye. :D

 

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Saturday, October 09, 2004

Greater than the sum of its parts, for sure

Get suckered into buying a family pack of ice cream bars? Is the box sitting in your freezer 3/4 full because you got tired of them after a week?



Meh ==> Yum
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Then try this: toss ice cream bars (scrape them off the stick) and sandwiches into a blender with a splash of milk and a few ice cubes, hit blend, and then enjoy a nifty milkshake. The ice is needed to thicken things, and you may consider adding some hershey's syrup to counteract the over-sweetness of most ice cream sandwiches/bars. And I like to toss in some chocolate chips for good measure.

Tune in next week to put those perishables to good use in the tasty Sour Cream Cheese Grilled Sandwich (mayonnaise optional).

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Friday, October 08, 2004

Now Fear This

Today I was going to have Subway for lunch - but the shop is small and the line long and barely moving when I got there (plus the service sucks, so it's not a very attractive proposition to begin with); I would've had nowhere to sit and am not a fan of eating at the office. So, I looked around and ended up at McDonald's (it's been awhile).

Now, the last time I ate a cheeseburger from McDonald's was at least 8 years ago; probably 10. My dad had taken my brother and I out golfing one morning on an executive course and we were done by the early afternoon. So of course my brother and I whined about being hungry and wanting some food; this particular course was near a McDonald's and though at the time I hated the place my dad let my brother choose - so we drove through and I got some double-cheeseburger thing. It almost made me sick - not through food poisoning, but just through flavor. Since then I have not touched any beef from any McDonald's and only in the last year have given their chicken a try when convenience outweighed taste. Or laziness.

So anyways, today I decided to give a burger a shot - and it wasn't bad. Certainly as good as the Burger King junk I had a few weeks ago and the Wendy's/Carl's stuff I barely remember from months ago. Of course it doesn't hold a candle to In-n-Out, but I was truly surprised that the food was decent.

I'm a little scared of these recent discoveries - first that the chicken tastes ok and now that the burger's aren't bad. I've avoided any McDonald's since being a little kid and now..it's..not so bad. And yes, I've read Fast Food Nation, My Year of Meats (a work of fiction based on heavy research - you probably haven't read it but it's a great read) and seen Super Size Me. But having read Michael Fumento's Science Under Siege and being naturally skeptical I am not so quick to join the 'processed food is scary' believers. (Science Under Siege explains, with volumes of citations of research to back it up, how so many things we take for granted as being horribly dangerous to us actually are not)

McDonald's is a far stretch from what I'd call a good meal, but if I'm in a hurry I know I can at least pop in and get something quick.

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Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Every Secret Thing

The other day I actually clicked on one of those BlogSnob blogs that get displayed over on the right under the 'Random blogs' header. BlogSnob randomly displays 2 blogs of other people in the system. It's free; kinda neat. Not a show-stopper by any stretch though, especially because now they toss in an ad every now and then (the guy running it has to make $$ somehow).

Anyways, after clicking through linked sites I came across one mentioning some great book. All I can find now are the reviews linked from that one blog, but I've now picked up Every Secret Thing by Laura Lippman and it's starting out pretty well - it's been awhile since I've read a good mystery. It's gotten good reviews.

If you read the reviews, you'll see this isn't a happy story. I'm already getting a feel for the characters; their lives are all sad but while normally that would disinterest me I'm very much drawn in right now.




Every Secret Thing - Paperback cover - from Amazon
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