19. September 2015 · Comments Off on Create YouTube Playlist Links – No Login Required · Categories: Video, Windows · Tags:
YouTube playlists are a useful way to watch videos in sequence or for sharing a list of videos with others. However, at times it may be insecure to share playlists created from your personal account or inconvenient to log in into your account to create them. This guide describes how to create playlists in a single link that allows you to view your videos immediately, save them for later, or to share them with others – without logging into your YouTube account.

youtube filmstripA YouTube playlist can be created manually by concatenating the unique videoIDs, separated by commas, to the URL:

http://www.youtube.com/watch_videos?video_ids=

A completed playlist will thus look like so:

http://www.youtube.com/watch_videos?video_ids=video_id#1,video_id#2,etc

Just paste the completed link into your browser to start the playlist. A more complete explanation of this process can be found at the following blog post:  How to Create YouTube Playlists without Logging In.

Creating playlists manually can be inconvenient, so a way to accomplish this automatically with a script was sought. Because the Windows command-line doesn’t easily support the clipboard without 3rd part tools, AutoHotKey was used instead since it can manipulate the clipboard more easily. AutoHotKey version 1.1.22.06 was used for the script and tested on a system running WinXP.

AutoHotKey script: youtube_playlist2.ahk

To use the script, run it to monitor the clipboard for youtube.com/watch, youtube.com/embed/, or youtu.be; text which is used in normal, embedded, or shortened YouTube video links. The script generally ignores any other text, so in most cases, the script can be active and not interfere with normal clipboard activity.

After starting the script, a popup message (shown below) appears to alert the user that the script has started and informs the user that CNTL +Y will create the playlist link and copy it to the clipboard, and CNTL + Z exits the script.

AutoHotKey popupEach time a YouTube video link is copied to the clipboard, a Traytip displays the link that was processed and how many video links in total were copied and processed. Hit OK to continue. Wait 2.5 seconds between selecting videos (when the Traytip disappears) before selecting another video.

After selecting all your videos, use CNRL + Y to copy the final playlist to the clipboard. Another popup message (screenshot below) will appear. This popup indicates the total number of videos in the playlist, the final playlist link, how to exit the script, and reminds the user that the playlist link has been copied to the clipboard. The playlist link is ready to use by pasting it into a browser or in an email. After hitting OK you can continue adding videos or use CNTL + Z to exit. Exit and restart the script to clear everything out and start over.playlist final popupThe script can be customized by the user as desired.

Share
14. March 2015 · Comments Off on Automate mp3 File Concatenation with Windows Command-line Tools · Categories: Audio, Windows · Tags:
Although it requires a bit more technical effort than GUI-based applications, merging mp3 files with the command-line allows for a faster and more complete merging process and more flexibility and customization options. This guide demonstrates how to use a batch file and free Windows command-line tools to concatenate two or more mp3 files, preserve the ID3 metadata, and repair and verify the integrity of the combined file. The information in this guide was tested on system running XP SP3 32-bit and should be similar for other Windows versions.

merging mp3s

Command-line vs GUI tools

Command-line tools generally provide more options than GUI-based tools and that’s especially true for tools working with complex SW such as media files, which can be created with many different types of codecs, containers, and formats. Most GUI-based tools use command-line tools on the back-end, but GUIs are rarely able to incorporate all the possible combinations of complex commands and options of those tools into their designs. It’s difficult to design GUI’s that can accomplish difficult tasks and still be easy to use. Because GUI-based application designs are often driven primarily for ease-of-use and wide appeal, functionality and complexity are necessarily reduced in order to accomplish those goals. Command-line tools are the opposite, they are more difficult to learn and to use, but are generally able to accomplish a wider and more sophisticated range of tasks.

Command-line

Advantages – faster execution, specialized tasks can be accomplished by executing a single script, flexibility/customization (adding tools, changing options, etc.), free, uses less system resources

Disadvantages– requires coding or understanding code, takes more time and effort to configure, less intuitive

GUI-based

Advantages – quicker learning curve, more intuitive visually and for multitasking, more complete viewing and listing of information, easier switching between commands

Disadvantages – slower execution (additional programs are often required  for processing ID3 tags or to repair VBR headers), requires more system resources (video, drivers, mouse, etc.), limited options for advanced tasks (especially for free versions), limited availability of easy-to-use but highly configurable applicaions

Command-line Tools for this Guide

The command-line tools used in this guide are:

MP3Wrap (ver 0.5) – Wraps two or more mp3 files into a single file. The command-line executable is mp3wrap.exe.

ID3 mass tagger (ver 0.78) – Copies the ID3 tag to the merged file. This is the download link for the older freeware version, which is the version used in this guide. A newer version (1.21.25) is available here for both 32-bit and 64-bit systems, but it non-free shareware. It includes a GUI and a command-line version.

MP3Val (ver 0.1.8) – Validates and fixes MPEG stream, frame, and header errors. Includes both GUI and command-line versions. The command-line executable is mp3val.exe.

Because MP3Wrap strips and replaces the ID3 tags with its own information, ID3 is used to copy the tags from one of the files. MP3Val repairs any errors in the pre-merged files copied into the merged file or produced during the merging process.

Command-line Examples:

Command-line syntax useage for this guide and in the batch script:

Merge Files

The batch file provides an option to use either the Windows command-line or MP3wrap to merge the files.

The command to merge mp3 files with Windows command-line:

copy /b file1.mp3+file2.mp3+file3.mp3 outputfile.mp3

/b = binary file

Command to merge mp3 files with MP3wrap:

mp3wrap outputfile.mp3 file1.mp3 file2.mp3 file3.mp3

additional commands for MP3Wrap (ver 0.5): mp3wrap_cmd_help:

Copy Tags

The command-line syntax to copy the ID3 tags from input file1 to the output file with ID3:

id3.exe -D file1.mp3 outputfile.mp3

-D = duplicate tags from filename

additional commands for ID3 (ver 0.78): id3_078_help

Fix and Validate

Command-line syntax to fix and validate the output file with MP3Val:

mp3val outputfile.mp3 -f -nb -si

-f = try to fix errors

-nb = delete .bak files (suitable with -f)

-si = suppress INFO messages

additional commands for MP3Val (ver 0.1.8): mp3val_cmd_help

Merging mp3 Files: Process

Steps

If using the provided batch file (see below), two steps are required.

1. Prepare the mp3 files

Ensure that the mp3 files to be merged have the same frequency, bitrate, and MPEG coding and layering. Otherwise, the output file may contain non-apparent errors, even if no errors were displayed during the merging process.

2. Drag and drop the mp3 files onto the batch file to merge

Drag and drop the mp3 files all at once and in the order to be processed by the batch script. Rename/renumber the files as necessary to obtain the right order.

Batch File Processing Steps:

  1. Display the order of the mp3 files to be processed
  2. Ask the user to select between merging the files with the Windows command-line or MP3Wrap
  3. Merge the mp3 files into a temp file, “temp_MP3WRAP.mp3”
  4. Transfer the ID3 tags from the first mp3 file to the temp file with ID3
  5. Fix and validate the temp file with MP3Val
  6. Rename the temp file to the first mp3 file and append “_merged” to the file name
  7. Exit

Example Batch File:

Ensure that the file extension is changed to “bat” before using.

mergeMP3_cects.bat

References:

blogferret.com – id3.exe – ideal tool for tagging and renaming MP3 files

alexenglish.info – Concatenating MP3 Files in Linux

cephas.net – Merge multiples MP3 files into one

ghacks.net – ID3 Mass Tagger

Share
02. December 2014 · Comments Off on Formula and Data Protection for Excel Worksheets · Categories: Windows · Tags:
This guide demonstrates how to lock cells in Excel worksheets to protect formulas or other data from being changed, while allowing selected cells to remain unlocked. This is useful to prevent accidental changes to the worksheet and to enhance navigability by allowing users to select only the modifiable cells. The information in this guide was tested on a Windows XP system using Microsoft Excel ver. 2003. The steps in this guide should be similar for other versions of Excel. An example worksheet provided for this guide is provided here.

Steps to Protect Excel Worksheets

1. Use the Control or Shift key to select individual cells that are to remain unprotected and modifiable by the user. The screenshot below shows the selected cells in grey. All unselected cells will be protected.

selected cells

2. Right-click over one of the selected cells and select Format Cells… from the right-click menu.

select format cells

3. In the Format Cell dialog that appears, select the Protection Tab and unselect both the Locked and Hidden options and then click OK.

format cells dialog

4. From the application menu, select Tools->Protection->Protect Sheet…

protect worksheet menu

5. In the Protect Sheet Dialog that appears, ensure that Protect worksheet and contents of locked cells a the top and Select unlocked cells from the list are selected and then hit OK.

protect sheet dialog

That’s all there is to it. The Tab key can be used to move between the selectable cells. All other cells are protected. To make changes to the worksheet, select Tools->Protection->Unprotect Sheet…

Share
13. September 2014 · Comments Off on Retrieve and Embed Cover Art into Audio Files · Categories: TechBits · Tags:
bluenotegreen notemusic folder

Useful information from Tinyapps.org that shows how to retrieve and embed cover art into audio files with MP3Tag and the command-line application DisCoverArt. The blog post is reproduced in its entirety below:

Batch download and embed album cover art #

If you have a huge MP3 collection and just want to batch download and embed cover art without verifying each cover individually (and iTunes’ “Get Album Artwork” is insufficient):

  1. Download and install Mp3tag
  2. Download DisCoverArt and unzip contents to the Mp3tag program directory (e.g., C:\Program Files (x86)\Mp3tag)
  3. Open an elevated command prompt and cd to the Mp3tag program directory
  4. Run regsvr32 custommsgbox.dll and click OK when the success dialog appears
  5. Open Mp3tag
  6. File > Add directory… > navigate to your music folder > Select Folder
  7. Create a new tool:
    1. Tools > Options > Tools
    2. Click the New (yellow star) button
    3. Name: DisCoverArt Google 300×300 Artist+Title NoQuotes
    4. Path: Browse to the Mp3tag program directory and select DisCoverArt.exe
    5. Parameter: “%artist%” “%title%” -discomusic.com 0 1 300 300 jpg 1 1
    6. Check “for all selected files” > OK > OK
  8. Create a new action:
    1. Actions > Actions (you need to select at least one song in the main interface for this menu item to be available)
    2. Click the New (yellow star) button
    3. Name of action group: Save Coverart
    4. Click OK > click the New button again
    5. Select action type: Import Cover From File > OK
    6. Format string for image filename: %artist% – %title%.jpg
    7. Import cover as: Front Cover
    8. Check “Delete existing cover art” > OK > OK > Close
  9. Right click on column header > Customize columns… > check “Cover” > click “Move up” until it is at or near the top of the list
  10. Click the Cover column to sort
  11. Select all files without an entry in the Cover column (the author recommends selecting no more than 300 at a time to avoid problems)
  12. Right click on highlighted files and click Tools > DisCoverArt Google 300×300 Artist+Title NoQuotes
  13. Wait for all console windows to close
  14. Actions > Actions (Quick) > “Import cover from file” > OK
  15. Format string for image filename: %artist% – %title%.jpg
  16. Import cover as: Front Cover
  17. Check “Delete existing cover art” > OK > OK
  18. Close Mp3tag
  19. Getting the artwork to show up in iTunes:
    1. Open iTunes and click “Albums”
    2. Edit > Select All > Right click > click “Uncheck Selection” (album covers will appear)
    3. Edit > Select All > Right click > “Check Selection”

Another option is to download cover art with Album Art Downloader and embed with Mp3tag:

  1. Download and run Album Art Downloader
  2. File > New > File Browser…
  3. Enter path to music directory under “Search for audio files in:”
  4. Click Search
  5. Click “Select all albums with missing artwork”
  6. Click “Get Artwork for Selection…”
  7. Click “Automatically download and save results for the remaining queued searches”
  8. Click “Download and save results automatically”
  9. Click “Start”
  10. When the process is complete, embed the album art with Mp3tag by starting with step 14 above. The only change is in step 15, where you’ll need to use Folder.jpg as the format string.

 

Source: Tinyapps.org

 

Share
12. September 2014 · Comments Off on Multi-boot UFD with Hi-Res Menus using Windows and Syslinux 6.xx · Categories: Batch Files, Graphics, Multiboot USB · Tags:
screenshot of main menuThis guide provides everything needed to create a customizable multi-boot USB flash drive in Windows with high resolution menus and customized splash screens. It provides a framework for creating a basic but functional multi-boot flash drive using Syslinux 6.xx as the primary bootloader. Basic menu configuration files and splash screen examples are provided. Experienced users shouldn’t find it difficult to follow this guide to create a ready-to-use bootable flash drive that can be customized to their needs. Users should already have some familiarity with Syslinux, installing Linux distros, and with formatting and partitioning flash drives.

For the sake of simplicity, this guide is limited to setting up Syslinux for a single partition using the BIOS modules. The instructions were tested and verified on a system running Windows XP SP3 and using Syslinux 6.02.screenshot of menu3 This guide is essentially a more up-to-date version and combination of two previous posts, Create a Multiboot Multipartition USB with Syslinux and Grub4Dos and Create Custom Grub4Dos, GRUB and Syslinux Compatible Splash Images.

Syslinux 6.xx

Syslinux provides two menu systems, the Simple Menu System and the Advanced Menu System. The advanced system must be compiled while the simple system includes the ready-to-use vesamenu.c32 and menu.c32 modules. This guide uses the vesamenu.c32 module.

Splash Screen Resolutions

Syslinux 6.xx can use splash screens in the .png or jpg formats at resolutions from 640×480 up to whatever is supported by the system. If the flash drive is going to be used on multiple systems, it would be best to use a typical resolution such as 800×600 that would work across most systems.

Modules

Since version 5.xx, modules are no longer stand alone or need additional libraries to work. A description of the changes can be found on the Syslinux Wiki at http://www.syslinux.org/wiki/index.php/Library_modules. In most cases, Syslinux will alert you of any additional libraries required when you try to use them.

(U)EFI (Unified/Extensible Firmware Interface)

Although there has been a lot of hype about (U)EFI (Unified/Extensible Firmware Interface) in general and support for (U)EFI began with Syslinux 6.xx, the (U)EFI modules are still fairly new, have a number of unresolved issues, and are not widely used at this time. UEFI in Syslinux is buggy and has problems on both Windows and Linux. Arch Linux describes some of the more relevant ones at http://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/syslinux#Limitations_of_UEFI_Syslinux. Some of the issues with UEFI are:

  • UEFI Syslinux does not support chainloading other EFI applications like UEFI Shell or Windows Boot Manager.
  • UEFI Syslinux does not boot in Virtual Machines like QEMU/OVMF or VirtualBox or VMware and in some UEFI emulation environments like DUET.
  • Memdisk is not available for UEFI.
  • UEFI Syslinux application syslinux.efi cannot be signed by sbsign (from sbsigntool) for UEFI Secure Boot.
  • Using TAB to edit kernel parameters in UEFI Syslinux menu leads to garbaged display (text on top of one-another).

Other Syslinux issues/limitations:

  • Using Syslinux 6.02 on BTRFS volumes corrupts the superblock.
  • Syslinux cannot access files from partitions other than its own.
  • Using the memdisk module to boot most ISOs is often difficult or impossible.

Syslinux.org has admitted to these limitations and has often recommended other bootloaders such as GRUB, Grub4Dos, or Plop Boot Manager to compliment Syslinux. In spite of this, Syslinux remains one of the most functional and popular bootloaders not only for flash drives, but for other bootable devices like CDs, for most operating systems, and for chainloading partitions and hard drives. It’s very flexible and is an excellent choice as the primary bootloader for most situations. And by adding another bootloader such as Grub4Dos, this greatly enhances the flash drive’s booting options.

Creating a Multi-boot Flash Drive steps:

  1. Format the flash drive
  2. Install Syslinux 6.xx
  3. Install modules and files
  4. Install or create splash screens
  5. Customize menu configuration files (optional)

1. Format the Flash Drive

Format the flash drive with FAT16 or FAT32.

2.  Install Syslinux 6.xx

Download and unzip the latest .zip version of Syslinux 6.xx from Kernel.org. The file size should be about 12mB before unzipping. Open a cmd window and cd to C:\syslinux-6.xx\bios\win32. Type the following to install Syslinux to the flash drive where x is your flash drive:

syslinux.exe -sfma x:

This installs ldlinux.c32 and ldlinux.sys to the flash drive.

3. Install Modules and Files

Modules

Look for and copy the BIOS versions of the modules shown in the directory tree for the root of the flash drive. An easy way to locate the modules is to use something like AgentRansack. Modules have a .c32 extension (except memdisk) and are located in various folders in the C:\syslinux-6.xx\bios\com32 directory or C:\syslinux-6.xx\bios directory (for memdisk). Place all of the modules in the root directory of your flash drive. Copy the following modules:

chain.c32
cmd.c32
cpuidtest.c32
hdt.c32
ldlinux.c32
libcom32.c32
libgpl.c32
libmenu.c32
libutil.c32
meminfo.c32
menu.c32
memdisk
poweroff.c32
pwd.c32
reboot.c32
vesainfo.c32
vesamenu.c32

Configuration Files

The help text, menu.cfg, syslinux.cfg and other configuration files required can be downloaded from the configfiles download link below. Right click and using “save target link as” or similar (depending on your browser) to download it and then unzip and extract its files to the root of the flash drive.

  configfiles (9.8 KiB, 256 hits)

Download the latest version of Grub4Dos from grub4dos-chenall. Extract the grub.exe and menu.lst files to the root of the flash drive.

4. Install or Create Splash Screens

Install ready-made Splash Screens

To get started, splash screens tested to work with the configuration files are provided below. Just unzip them to the splashimages folder. After installing the splash screen images, the flash drive is ready to test or use.

Link for the splash screens: splashscreens

Nine (9) splashscreen files are provided. Download them as an album and extract to the splashimages folder. Slightly change the filenames by removing the number and dash so the filenames match those used in the menu configuration files.

The correct splashscreen filenames are:

  1. cave_800x600_14.png
  2. fallleaf_800x600_14.png
  3. grassyhill_800x600_14.jpg
  4. mist_800x600_14.png
  5. nightlight_800x600_24.jpg
  6. ny_800x600_14.jpg
  7. road_800x600_14.png
  8. Spruce_800x600_14.png
  9. winter_800x600_14.jpg.

The link below displays a directory of what the flash drive contents should look like at this point:

indexFlashDrive

Create and Install Customized Splash Screens (optional)

To create your own menu graphics, use the batch file below or another graphics program to create .png or .jpg format splash screens from your image files. Since the menus are already configured with light text, you may want to use a dark color to start off with. Generally, 14 colors works nearly every time and renders more quickly.

The batch file below is configured to use ImageMagick portable installed to the Utilities folder. If ImageMagick is already installed, simply change the line set IMdir=C:\Utilities\ImageMagick\ to your ImageMagick location. Use double quotes if the path contains spaces (e.g., set “IMdir=C:\Program Files\ImageMagick\”). Be sure to use the latest version of ImageMagick since the newest version has improved image conversion options and processing.

convert_syslinux_rev4b.bat

If creating a customized splash screen, place it in the splashimages folder in the flash drive and change the file name in the appropriate menu configuration file(s) as below so it can be used on the next boot:

MENU BACKGROUND /splashimages/your image name.jpg

5. Customize Menu Configuration Files (optional)

After the flash drive is working properly, try to install bootable applications or Linux distros by modifying the boot options in the menu configuration files for Syslinux or in menu.lst for Grub4Dos. Some menu label entries are already provided in the Syslinux menus that were verified to work such as Slax, Grub4Dos, and a few others.

That’s it. If anything gets messed up, everything can just be reinstalled and started again from the beginning. Good luck.

 

References:

Syslinux – http://www.syslinux.org/wiki/index.php/SYSLINUX

Syslinux Menu – http://www.syslinux.org/wiki/index.php/Menu

Syslinux 6 Changelog – http://www.syslinux.org/wiki/index.php/Syslinux_6_Changelog

Memdisk – http://www.syslinux.org/wiki/index.php/MEMDISK#ISO_images

 

Share
Private
Bear

Bad Behavior has blocked 725 access attempts in the last 7 days.