Monday, November 19, 2007

The (Future) Best Media Player

I love searching the net for great information, and I just happened to stumble upon something like that. Mozilla, who is responsible for the creation of Firefox and Thunderbird, now is putting out a new project - Songbird.

Songbird bears an uncanny resemblance to Apple's iTunes, while proudly bearing the name of the Mozilla family tree. Songbird is currently in a development state, but it is currently available for download Windows, Mac, and Linux.

Why would this program become widely used? People, like me, have a computer with more than one operating system on it. I have Windows and Ubuntu Linux; other people have a Mac with Windows XP or Vista on it. The great thing about cross-platform software is familiarity and friendliness. Songbird, like Firefox and Thunderbird, is about being widely available to all computer users, regardless of operating system. My web browser of choice is Firefox, regardless of what computer or OS I am using. The same most likely could be with Songbird.

Straight out of the box (in Windows) Songbird supports playback 0f Windows Media files and Quicktime files. Upon install, it will automatically download and install the necessary packages based upon the options you choose.

If Mozilla creates this piece of software to be lightweight, fast, bug-free (for the most part), and very useful - which is why people use Firefox - this will be yet another friendly tool that can be used cross-platform.

Perhaps iTunes and Windows Media Player 11 might want to jump on the bandwagon. DRM is already becoming a thing of yesterday, so why not just let all users purchase the music they love anyways? (It would either be that, or the old-fashioned way - Limewire, Frostwire, Bittorrent, or whatever else is out there that people already would use for music.)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Free Bootable Partition Editor

If any of you are like me, you like to toy around with more than one operating system on any given PC. The best balance on a machine is Windows with Linux. It's like the Yin and Yang. (Sometimes Windows and Linux switch parts as to who is Yin and Yang, but they both balance each other.)

If you are also like me, than you may also be toying around with partitions too much. In my case, I decided to move completely from Ubuntu on my primary hard drive, and I am going to install a second drive completely for Ubuntu and it's goodness. While inside Ubuntu (or any flavor of Linux), a great free and open-source tool (as always) comes packaged with it called GParted. However, in Windows, there is no such a thing as a free partition editor that works well and won't destroy your harddrive. But wait. There must be, otherwise this article is about nothing.

I happened to stumble upon GParted's site at Sourceforge, and they already created a LiveCD made to boot fast, use few resources, and get your disk partitioned they way you want it in no time at all. The actual specs, according to GParted's site are as follows:

The CD aims to be fast, small in size (~50mb), and use minimal resources
to get that disk partitioned the way you want it. GParted LiveCD is based
on Gentoo-catalyst, and uses Xorg,the lightweight Fluxbox window manager,
and the latest 2.6 Linux Kernel.

The GParted LiveCD can currently support the following filesystems:
  • ext2
  • ext3
  • fat16
  • fat32
  • hfs
  • hfs+
  • jfs
  • linux-swap
  • NTFS
  • reiserfs
  • reiser4
  • ufs
  • xfs

From a Windows user's perspective, if I wanted to partition a hard drive in NTFS or move, resize, or merge an NTFS partition, this LiveCD can now support it. Since this CD is only around 50mb in size, it is even possible to load the image onto a USB flash drive and if your computer can boot from USB media, that will save you a blank CD, while extending the usefulness of a flash drive a bit further.

In my personal experience, I deleted a Linux ext3 partition, and resized (or extended) the NTFS partition on the drive to the entire disk. However, there is some difficulty in getting the video to work correctly while booted into this LiveCD. It appears there is support for Intel, HP machines, and VESA graphics, but not for Nvidia or ATI. But booting to the preset VESA setting still worked for me, just with a very dim display.