Month: July 2008

Ripping More Music

So I splayed out all the CDs we own on my desk, and have been dropping them in my CD burner, as I’ve sat at my desk watching movies on my computer.

I learned a valuable lesson: Windows Media Player rips music much easier than iTunes.

With iTunes, you have to drop the CD in, wait for it to get recognized, then click the “Import” button, or click “Yes” on the “Do you want to import” dialog.

With Windows Media Player, you just drop the disc in, and close the drive. As long as you’re on the “Rip” tab in your player, it auto-rips the disc, and ejects it when done.   Then you grab it, and drop the next one in.

I did about 200 discs while watching The Incredible Hulk and Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay over the weekend.

I’ve still got a ton more to go, but it’s a start.   I wish I could remotely rip discs from work, to home. That’d be a big help, but I don’t think technology’s that advanced, yet.

So far, we’ve got about 39.5 gigs of music on the new terrabyte drive (aptly named “music”), with I’d guess another 100 gigs to go.   Good thing I bought a big drive, we buy a lot of music.

The Importance of Backing Up Your Site

Working for a fairly large webhost, I often see people who got “hacked”, and their websites destroyed.   I often laugh, because people don’t often get “hacked”, but often simply have their password guessed, which gives the “hacker” full access to your site, account, and files.

98% of the time, that’s the case.   Given, there’s always the chance that someone got root access to your server, and really did “hack” you, but that’s very rare in today’s day and age.

So, I often laugh, until it happened to me back mid-June.   I noticed I couldn’t load the stats pages for any of the sites in my hosting account (of which there are quite a few), so I contacted my host.

Their response was “The page won’t load because it’s 0kb”, a file size of zero? That stats package has worked for years on some of my domains, I thought that was odd.

So I uploaded a new version, and went on about my business.

Hours later, I realized I should go through FTP, and look for other files that had been modified recently.   Sure enough, every index.html and index.php file, in every domain, in every subdirectory had been modified.

The “hacker” (read: bored kid in some random European country) added some code to all my pages that was supposed to redirect a visitor to a spam site.   Luckily, he did it wrong, and none of my visitors were affected.

Needless to say, I was bullshit.   I spent a few hours going through, and removing all of the code, by hand.   I got annoyed, and finally asked one of the guys who works for me, for help.   He wrote me a nifty little bash script that I could run.   Luckily, my host gives me SSH access, and I managed to run it against my entire account, and clean out the rest of the modified files, without issue.

The reason I got hacked? Simple. I had a stupid, easily guessable password.   Exactly what I laugh at our customers for.

So, I panicked.   I went in, and first changed my hosting and FTP passwords.   I then thought about how to change my MySQL password.

The problem with that is complex, but follow me.   If I change the password on the MySQL server, my sites will go down, until I update them one at a time.

If I change my password in the sites, they’ll go down until I change it on the server.   Follow?

So I opted to create a new MySQL user, with a new password all together.   I then (using the same find and replace code from earlier) updated my username in all my scripts, then my password, and voila, back up and running.

I then began thinking about how to protect myself, should this (or something worse) happen again.   I looked for scripts that I could run on the web server, to backup my sites and databases, but couldn’t find anything that would work.   I then stumbled upon HandyBackup, which runs on my computer at home.

It simply connects to your account via FTP, and downloads all of your files to your computer.   This is great, assuming you’ve got storage space to keep all those backups around.   If you upgrade, you can also have it burn to DVD automatically, but that’s costly, and not very effective.

So, each night of the week, I have the application connect, and download all of my changed files.   On Saturday night at midnight, it connects and downloads all of the files (changed, or not).   So, at worst, I’m a week out from a complete restore of files.   And any file that’s changed, I’m only 24 hours (at most) out from a clean working version.

It takes up quite a bit of space, because I host a lot of sites, however I think it’s worth it.   It’s also helpful for when you accidentally break some code on a page, and didn’t think to save a copy right then.   You just jump to your backup, and voila.

If you run any website that you “make money” from, or that “is my business!!”, you should take it upon yourself to do the backups, and not rely on your host to do it.   While most hosts do it anyway, some charge you to do the restore. (My company doesn’t, but the company I host with, does.)   You know what they say, if you want something done right, do it yourself.

WordPress 2.6

WordPress 2.6 was released last night/this morning, and is a big improvement. There’s some great new features, and some security patches that were done.

I went through this morning, and upgraded all my WordPress installs, which is always a fun (yet daunting) task.

I began repurposing the old media tower last night, into a home web-server. Not that I plan on using it, but just because I want to see if I can do it, from the ground up.

Trying to run Fedora 9 as my OS, having a bit of trouble with DNS and internal routing though. Going to work on that this weekend.   Am also planning on trying Ubuntu as my server OS, as well.   I like Fedora, but apparently Ubuntu’s all the rage right now.


Finally!   It certainly helped having the conversion application running on the better computer.   Now   that all the music’s in one directory, it’s easy to see how many duplicates of some tracks we had.

I whittled it down from roughly 18 thousand songs to just over 10.   Talk about a lot of doubles?

Now I just have to go through Windows Media Player and add a lot of artwork to some of the discs that didn’t have it.

Deleting 40 gigs of music off the old computer is a bit depressing, and knowing that it’s going to go into the closet, for “spare parts” probably will hurt, too.   She was a good computer, and served me well.   Farewell Pentium IV, 2.53 single core, it’s time for you to rest now.

Still Converting Music

I think the problem is that I was using the “old” PC to do the converting, and not my new workhorse machine.

I installed the conversion software on my better computer, and things are speeding up much faster.   A song on the new computer takes roughly 15 seconds to convert, versus a minute and a half on the old computer.   That’s going over my wireless network from the old PC (where the music’s stored) to the new PC where it’s being converted and saved.

At this rate, I should get done today or tomorrow.   I’m not sure why I didn’t think of this in the first place.

Sometimes the software craps out, and doesn’t convert a track right, but I’m sure I won’t even miss those songs that it doesn’t work right on.   Will update again shortly.

Moving from iTunes to Windows Media

I thought it would be easy, and quick to leave iTunes.   I just wanted to break up, and start my new relationship with Windows Media Player/Center.   Why? Easy.

When we moved into our new place, there was no room in the living room for the “Media PC”, to be hooked up to the stereo anymore.   (We used to stream iTunes from it to the surround sound, and out other PCs).   So, I looked for a smaller PC, and determined it wasn’t worth it.

I then remembered that the XBox360 streams music from Windows.   Unfortunately, the 360, and iTunes don’t like each other, at all.

So, I made the decision to convert all of my music to Windows Media player, which sounded like it’d be easy.   They’re just music files, right?   Not so much.

See iTunes creates their own propriatary filetype (AAC, or M4P), when you rip a CD through them, which I’ve done with hundreds of gigs of music.   That creates a problem, as Windows Media can’t play/read AAC or M4P files.

So I had two options: 1) Re-rip hundreds of CDs, which took months to rip in my spare time, or 2) convert the music.

I opted for the music conversion, and found a program called “Protected Music Converter”, which boasts that it can “quickly and easily convert music files to mp3”. I thought “Great, it’s exactly what I need!”

I started running it at 9PM last night.   It’s not 9:15AM, over 12 hours later, and it’s only converted 457 tracks. That’s only .63 tracks per minute.   At this rate, it might have been faster to re-rip them.

It’s gonna be a long weekend. Good thing the software’s automated, and making the mp3s on its own.   Once it’s done, I just need to copy them over to my new terrabyte hard drive that I bought to house the music collection last week. (Bringing my total storage capacity to just over 8 terrabytes. I’ve got an obsession.)

Will update with a final “it took this long” post when it’s done.

So Far Removed

Packing up the rest of our stuff over the weekend kind of depressed me.   I looked at my collection of guitars, and drums, and microphones, and mixing boards and the like, and thought about it.

It’s been a good three years since I played anything, seriously.   And even longer since I’ve written anything music related.   I’m so out of the loop, it’s saddening.

What was once my dream to do full time, is now just a memory.   I gotta try to get back into writing, and playing.   Once we are done putting away all the stuff we own, in our new home, I’m going to restring my guitars, and start playing again.   It’s time to play a guitar that isn’t plastic.   I’m going to have to break up with Guitar Hero and Rock Band for a while.   Which is also sad.