Tile Icon Fix

While I was trying to sort out a connection issue today I accidentally started MSN messenger. For some reason that one act changed the icon for a file type when viewing a folder in “tiles” and “icons”. Unfortunately the effect was on .htm files. These files before this showed a lovely Firefox icon, as they should. After said dreaded event these icons showed the icon for Internet Explorer. I can’t stand IE and I felt ill. It immediately became my mission to fix it.

The file associations were not screwed up, double click the icon and Firefox opened the page. I also checked the settings for the Folder options and selected icon for file types, nope all good there. But the damn icon stayed the same. I started searching and everything I found related to the associations and the Folder options that I had already checked.

By this point in time I was willing to change the view to “details”, which displayed the correct icon (go figure). But then that would mean working a bit different and I did not want to do that. I have my download directory as “Tiles” or “Icons” because I can then quickly see what type a file is and what is in it. I have a lot of images for web pages and such and this is the quickest way of identifying them for me. Plus the problem just plain irked me.

Then I found this gem of advice and it highlights something about XP that I did not know and I found my fix.

If you go to the desktop, right click and go to properties and go to the following menu:

→ Appearance → Effects

Select the check box for “Use Large Icons” then click apply. Now go back and change it back by unselecting the check box and then apply again. After this my icons were restored. So what the heck did that do?

Well apparently this “clears the cache” from where and how has me stuffed. But it worked. So I am just passing that on, just don’t ask me how it works. It supposedly fixes issues with the wrong program opening and other stuff, I can’t verify that though. The icon thing… worked a treat, still has me buggered as to how. I guess it is another example of a screwy Windows thing with an unlikely resolution, what’s new?

Fixed Firefox Icon

Recording Skype :: MX Skype Recorder

We went to record The Global Geek Podcast last week and something came up and Knightwise was unable to attend the recording. Knightwise usually records the show on his Mac using Call Recorder. So as you might appreciate, him not able to be there and nobody else with a spare Mac at hand we were stuck. We needed to find a method to record the show and fast!

We went through a few dirty hacks. The worst of which is to change your audio source to Stereo Mix. This mixes everything that you hear back through the sound card. This means that you can hit record on any recording software and record Skype. While this works and flawlessly it has one major and limiting side effect. The other person gets their voice feed back to them with a slight delay. For some psychological reason it makes it nearly impossible to talk properly.

We also considered doing a double ended recording. That is I record my end locally and Tim his. This gives great quality and awesome control over levels. But the drawback here is that you have 2 huge files and one of those files has to get to me to edit it. Because there are 2 files it also means that I have to splice the two together flawlessly to sync the audio. Easier said than done. Extra post production editing is never a good thing.

We checked out a few options that I have checked out before. None are stunning or perfect and most are well below par in every respect. Tim though found a gem that I had not unearthed. MX Skype Recorder. Not a plugin but a separate program that enables you to record Skype with the great quality that we demand and expect for the show. It also has some features that make it ideal.

MX Skype Recorder Interface

Once you have downloaded MX Recorder you need to run the application then run Skype or make the call. You can not start recording mid call. It is as simple as hitting the record button to record a call once you have done this. By default it records an .mp3 with average quality settings. Fine to just capture the call but no good for podcasting. Enter the options.

In the options you can record a call in either a .mp3 (lame) or a PCM wav. The latter is what you want for recording a podcast. As I have said before you should not edit a .mp3 due to it’s lossy format. So I set to it to record a .wav. Now there are two options record as a “mixed” input and output or as a “dual channel”. Dual channel gives you one channel for input and one channel for output. So you have left with one person and right with the other. This is great because with any good audio editor you can get the levels right for each one. Once you are happy with the levels mix the audio into a mono mix then if you usually produce your show as stereo split it into a stereo mix. It might require some amplification after this process, just be careful you don’t clip the audio. I would suggest using a compressor to do this as it is a more balanced method of getting the volume right. Then just edit the show as you normally would.

MX Skype Recorder Options

There are many settings for outputting to a .mp3. Including changing the kHz and sample rate. Use this if you are into doing a raw unedited podcast. Your output is your show. Add ID3 tags and change the file name and you are done. Nice seamless experience.

One tip that I would pass on. Initially the levels were off, by a long way. I was very soft the incoming track was fine. But to try and fix this was a bit of a nightmare as I had already performed the above mixing procedure and edited the show. Now what we found out was that MX Recorder uses the levels that are set in Skype for the outputs. Do a few test recordings and get them right before you record. We also found this went part way to making it perfect. I needed to increase my output locally. We got a magic recording by taking the time to tweak these settings. Use the inbuilt level indicators, get your audio equal. Doesn’t matter it it is too soft you can adjust this in post production. But make sure you are not clipping, you can’t fix that!

The end result was great MX Skype Recorder is a winner in my book. It has a very small footprint and is easy to use. It compresses the file fast and outputs where ever you want it to and stamps it with the date and time. This little app works with multiple callers as well. But remember you have one channel for all input. Everyone that is conferenced in will be on that one channel. Do a test recording and get participants to adjust their output as needed. The mess that would result otherwise does not want talking about.

This program performed well and is one of the best recorders for Skype that I have used, if not the best. One drawback might be that the software is not free. There is a free version that will only record for 5 minutes. But for $14.95 US for the Standard Version it is a small price to pay in my opinion. Nice work by these guys and until Skype get their act together and give us a record button it will do the trick nicely.

Here is the show that I recorded with MX Skype Recorder. I am sure the next effort will be better still as we had a few settings that we could have better tweaked.

As a side note MX Skype Recorder will also record other VoIP applications such as Google Talk and Yahoo! Messenger although I have not tested these applications.

MX Skype Recorder Homepage

Make Typing URL’s Easier and Be More Productive

So this might be old but I don’t care, I had never heard of it. This hack works in Firefox, IE and Opera and more than likely others as well.

  1. Take the name of a website and type it into the address bar
  2. Hold control and hit Enter
  3. The missing parts of the address are filled in for you

If you happen to need a .org or a .net:

.org = Control + Shift + Enter

.net = Shift + Enter

This does depend on your browser, some experimentation  might be required.

Firefox_Opera_IE MashUP LogoThat is if you type a lot of addresses, I am as lazy as crap. I actually type stuff into Google and click the result… how lazy is that! Should start doing this though.

Source: Daily Cup of Tech

callto:user Skype Links Hack for WordPress.com Users

When I was rebuilding this blog with a new theme and looking at the presentation and such I revisited the ability to use call:to links for the blog. Users of WordPress.com will know that many scripts and certain links are blocked. A callto:”user” link is one of them. But this blog has that capability now thanks to a workaround.

The old iteration of the blog listed my user name for Skype in a sidebar contact box. My actual username is: gonzo_001… the username was not a great choice considering what I do now. I choose the name when I first got Skype. I started blogging a while after that but started to build my contacts and did not want the hassle of changing my user name. But I wanted people to be able to contact me on Skype from my blog, minus the stupid user name. So with a little help from good mate Tim King we figured out a work-around for the fact that callto: links are blocked on WordPress.com blogs.

Believe it or not I am not going to spell it out for you. I am sure those that want it will be smart enough to figure it out. A hover will give it away, you are on your own from there. But it is a simple hack really and not really a hack as such because it uses a very simple technique and if you are a blogger you may well do it everyday.

I have voicemail so if you whack the “call me via Skype” button (sidebar button not the one in this post) to test it out to see if I got it to work, leave me a message! I really don’t mind talking to you and telling you exactly how it is done either. So feel free to test it out.

Once you have it figured out create a button and save the button as an image. The Java Script that the wizard generates will not work on WordPress.com blogs. Then upload the image to your blog and complete the coding required. Now you too can receive calls via your blog. Or if you wish you can have it as a chat button instead, this will open a Skype chat with yourself and whoever clicks it. I guess you could get creative as well and make your own button or have good friends that are graphic designers…

All the possible functions and types of links required for them are listed on the Advanced Skype Links, part of Skype Help.

Thanks goes to Tim King for the lateral thinking and the button that you created for The Rooster’s Rail. I should say as well that it would be good if WordPress.com considered allowing this type of link.

Learning Firefox; Start Here

I found that I did not have to learn how to use Firefox as such. But since I have discovered the power that you have when tweaked I have learned to manipulate it to what I want. But you have to start somewhere. Learn Firefox is such a place to start and hopefully a destination to have some walk through’s for power tweaking.

I think that Firefox is very intuitive and easy to use. But then that is me. Sometimes people have a hard time doing simple things. True, Firefox does things differently to IE. I use IE as an example because I would argue that a lot of Firefox users come from there. You have to stop thinking that you use Firefox in the same manner. They are chalk and cheese. IE is a steel box, Firefox is plasticine by comparison. So where am I going with this?

Basically, Learn Firefox is a site attached to CyberNet that has been created as a visual “how to” guide to Firefox. They have started simple, for example how to set your homepage, make it your default browser and such. But there are more advanced features that are presented in an easy to follow format that makes it simple to do. Because it is simple, most customisations are very simple. But the functionality of Firefox can be daunting for some people, or they find it difficult to get started. This is an excellent place to get over those initial humps. It is also a great place for people that have used Firefox for a while but want to adapt it to their needs.

Everything is set out as headings and sub-headings. I am sure that most people will find what they are wanting help with very quickly and easily. One thing that I just thought of is that this service is a great way for people that don’t use Firefox to have a look at Firefox see what it can do and how it can be manipulated to what you need and want.

What I would like to see is some tips for power users such as tweaking the about:config page. Installing and using extensions like Greasemonkey and such. I know that it was not until I did these advanced tweaks that Firefox really became a powerful productive tool. Not that it is not that way to start with but I feel that tweaking it my way has made it mine. In actual fact I have tweaked it to the point where I think some users would have difficulty using it! That said they have just got the site up and going and this is the best place to start, basics.

Great job and if you are just starting out with Firefox or are thinking of using it; check out Learn Firefox. For more advanced users; keep an eye on it because I think this has huge potential to be the site to learn and tweak Firefox.

For those advanced users of Firefox check out CyberNet’s Updated Guide On Firefox 2 Tweaks as a great place to start tweaking and making Firefox your own.

Learn Firefox Homepage

Wikipedia for Your Desktop

Here’s something I did not know about the wonderful Wikipedia. I might be talking about something that is as old as last years news. But it is news to me.

Wikipedia as you may or may not know is a top source of reliable information and facts, a free on-line encyclopedia. But did you know that they also have a category entitled: Wikipedia featured desktop backgrounds? Well they do and while not the definitive source of desktop backgrounds, they are fairly good and one or two might be your taste and it is cool that it is Wikipedia.

For the pictures to get into this catagory they have to have three qualities:

  1. Wikipedia Featured Pictures or Commons Featured Pictures
  2. They are big enough to be used as wallpaper
  3. They have an aspect ratio of 4:3 or 5:4

There are currently 96 files listed for use. Covering all tastes and genres there are some interesting science based ones and arty type ones for those inclined. Something for everyone.

By the way something else I noticed is that Wikipedia has cracked the 1 million dollar mark and some in their fund-raising! Amazing.

Wikipedia 1 million

 

Wikipedia Featured Desktop Backgrounds Screenshot

Tools to Prevent you “Breaking” Your Blog’s Template

The majority of people unfortunately still insist on using Internet Explorer. There are better browsers out there you know. Different browsers “read” the page that it displays in a unique way. So a page can look totally different in a different browser. Especially where layout and images are concerned. I too rarely “test” my blog and make sure that it is being “read” correctly by each browser. //engtech has created a tool that will do it for you.

//engtec is lazy unmotivated  forgets that IE exists like the rest us us when it comes to testing his blog. He gives a good description as to what can happen to IE when you add images that are to wide, I’ll leave that for you to read. So he created a Greasemonkey script that does all the checking that you need and lets you know when you have done something that will “break” your blog in IE.

As can be expected from //engtech he has some detailed instructions about customizing it to your blog to be able to use the script. It even has pictures. A very useful tool. But you should really be making sure that images fit your space as well, even for Firefox. Re-size an image to fit. If you can not do that then link to a larger image on a separate tab. Or do it in two parts. Badly done images in blogs look cheap and half arsed. But at least we don’t have to worry about IE, nice work //engtech.

For those that do not know Greasemonkey is a Firefox extension that allows you to manipulate the way that a web page is displayed using JavaScript. There are tons of different scripts and applications. Plus you can do what //engtech did and write your own.

I have just noticed that //engtech’s script has no name, does any one have any ideas? ImageAlert, TempAlert, IEisBusted, BlogBrokeGMS…

engtech Blog Screenshot