Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Convert whole iTunes library to MP3

Ok, to avoid arguments with the kind of people who come on pretty strong screaming about 'why you'd want to do this' and 'how Apple's AAC or Loss-less formats are better' let me just take two seconds to explain my situation.

I am running an Apple iMac 27" with a collection of music stemming about 10 years, not massive; about 50GB-ish.  Now I have decided to purchase an OEM Car stereo which allows me to play my music from a Micro SD Card! :O I hear you gasp, yes technology is wonderful.  My problem of course is, these kinds of players only find and play MP3 formats from these disks...  So, now we have that out of the way; I'm going to let you in on a little trick I thought about which will allow you to achieve this.

My criteria for doing it this way, includes:

* The files MUST be in the same folders as the source - I don't want 1000's of mp3 files exported into the same folder so I can no longer identify tracks or Cd's!
* The original files I'd like to keep, for the sake of file sizes and other arguable reasons.

I found you can obviously Change your settings in iTunes, (Preferences, Import Settings, MP3) which then allows you to right click on each song and create an MP3 version.  The issue with this is that it duplicates it into the original folder. Thus not getting you very far at all. This will sort your problem though if you don't mind leaving AAC behind. In which case just do a search for .m4a and delete all. You're just left with your MP3's.

You could also, use technology like MediaMonkey or Format Factory again the issue is that these programs output to just one folder!

There is a script file that I found here: but I didnt try this out, maybe you may want to give it a go. It looked like it may have worked.

In the end I chose to create a new User, create a new iTunes library; setting the import function to create a copy of the music file and not read straight from source. (File, Library, Organise, Consolidate). So we now have two sets of iTunes music. Now Right click on all tracks, select Create MP3 version and then you now have a full MP3 iTunes library. Finally to finish, go into the new folder, search for all m4a's and delete.

The Final product leaves you with your library left alone in AAC (m4a) format along with a duplicate library containing everything in MP3...

This was what I needed to achieve, maybe someone else needed the same thing... hope it helps...

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Monday, 23 July 2012

iPhone / MAC can't connect to Exchange Server from inside the network.

I believe this is a relatively simple one in the case I've witnessed anyway.  The scenario is that you turn on WiFi, connect and then lose access to the exchange.  Turn off WiFi go back to 3G and voila you're connected again.

The reason that the phones and iMail (to name a few) cant connect to the Exchange from inside the network is because you will most likely be using an external IP or URL right?  Thus meaning that everytime you try to access this URL from inside the server bounces packets backwards and forwards around the network not truly knowing what to do with them. 

I found that if you create a new DNS zone for (, create an A record within that zone leaving the host blank (to use parent domain). Then point it at your internal exchange. 

This time if the users phone requests connection to they get redirected (internally) to 192.168.x.x/24

Simples.. :)

Note - You may not need to make a new zone if your domain is already running as the primary. The example I refer to above uses one domain out of about 16 that are running on this network, hence the requirement to build a zone of the sub domain.

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Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Reset Windows 7 Local Administrator Password

Ever been locked out of your Windows Vista / 7 Machine. Forgot to enable or create an account for that all important day that you get 'no logon servers available' or 'the trust relationship failed' well this has to be the single most, utterly awesome hack known to the IT world in my opinion!

You will need a Windows 7 CD.

1.Boot from the Windows 7 CD and click repair my computer, then follow the prompts to get through to using Advanced tools for repair and then command prompt.

2.Type C: to change letter from (normally) X: to the active partition.
3.Type the following command:
copy c:\windows\system32\sethc.exe c:\

This creates a copy of sethc.exe to restore later.

4.Type this command to replace sethc.exe with cmd.exe:

copy /y c:\windows\system32\cmd.exe c:\windows\system32\sethc.exe

Reboot your computer and start the Windows installation where you forgot the administrator password.

5.After you see the logon screen, press the SHIFT key five times.

6.You should see a command prompt where you can enter the following command to reset the Windows password (see screenshot above):

net user administrator password  <-- replacing 'password' with what you actually want to use.
7. If the account is disabled you also need to run:

net user administrator /active:yes

For anyone who wants to know what we've done here; we're replacing the Sticky Keys executable with a Command Prompt application. Windows will allow you to run Sticky Keys from Pre-Logon so it allows us to boot into a command prompt without authentication.  You will probably not want to leave this open on your desktop so once you've finished I'd recommend you go back into the Recovery environment and replace the setch.exe file with its actual file and purpose again. (backed up to C: as per above)

Did I solve your problem? Buy me a virtual beer by clicking on a Google ad :). Thanks!

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Biphasic Sleep Experiment - Day 1

Let me bring you into my story first..

So, normally I wouldn't immerse myself into experiments; I'm normally the cautious side-liner that would watch, observe and then when proven will follow! I have however taken on this role of health conscious Haynes and after panning down all those Easter eggs this March, I think it's time to evaluate my fitness regime. The problem I have as an individual; is that when I get home at 6pm, it's time for tea, half 6-7 undress, redress and get ready for the evening and then I either go out to meet friends or go out to my Photography club all of which I enjoy but it does take up a lot of time. By the time I get home, we're normally around 11/12pm and I'm up at 8am very tired, to then shower and run off to work for 9am.

I want to have some time to exercise but finding it around my schedule is difficult. I've done some research and to what I understand, I've been doing this so long that my agenda is written very strongly into my subconscious. I wake up at 8am (practically without an alarm / albeit tired) I sleep at 12/half 12 in the morning, just because I need to not because I'm tired and this is what I want to change. I want to wake up early, go for a run/swim/cycle or jog have some time to relax before work and then get on with my day.

My Options...
So I reviewed my options, it appears the three most obvious (Shy of using anti-sleep drugs - not my idea of safe/fun) that I can find are to explore MonoPhasic, BiPhasic and PolyPhasic Sleep patterns.

Monophasic being sleeping during the night and awake during the day with a very particular pattern.

Biphasic to sleep for 4 hours in the morning and 1 hour in the evening - strict but with variance.

Polyphasic to have 2 hours sleep a day, every four hours taking a 20 minute nap. - Very strict.

Now I'm quite intrigured by the polyphasic idea but to be quite honest, it's incredibly unsociable and I can't imagine my boss being too happy at work when I suggest every 4 hours I'm just going to take a nap! So I said I'm going to try and migrate myself onto a Biphasic Sleeping pattern.

So now you know what I'm upto, I figured I'd share my experiences. Apparently the first week is supposed to be the worst where you feel you have been hit by a bus.

Here's my new schedule; starting today.
00:30am - Go to Sleep.
05:30am - Wake up and exercise
06:30am - Shower and dress.
07:15am - Some 'productivity' time.
08:15am - Set off to work earlier.
08:45am - Start work.
17:30pm - Finish Work.
18:00pm - Arrive home and have tea (Dinner).
18:30pm - 1 Hour Nap.
19:30pm - Wake up and go out.

This will give me a total of 5 Hours sleep per day compared to my normal 7 and a half although I'm fairly confident that after the first week 5 hours will be more than enough, if well balanced.

More entries to follow... I'd be interested if people have thoughts or have tried this before to let me know below...

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Time Machine Full Not Deleting Backups Mac OS X

See, I said this would happen didn't I.

I managed to break every element of Windows and now I'm even managing the same with MAC OS X!

This one got me for a while though, basically I found that my 500GB External Passport Drive was full, it made sense because the day prior I moved 200GB of data from one location to another, so I guess the time machine simply presumed it would backup the same data but in different locations hence running my drive out of space.

The issue was that Lion (to my understanding) would delete old backups in order to fix the space issues on my drive, apparently this seems like it isn't quite accurate. You have to go into Time Machine and Delete the old files you don't want anymore. So here's how I did it, I spent ages in that stupid Time Capsule Preferences window with barely any settings to change and just shy of chucking the machine through the window i noticed that in the top right where you locate the Time Capsule icon you can actually hit Enter Time Machine which takes you into the Backup Program. Now if you navigate to a point in time or to a set of files that you perhaps don't need anymore. Right click and hit delete all backups of... This will clear out your old data on the backups and allow the program to continue.

Obviously this won't apply to everyone, 50% of you will probably actually have a full disk. In which case, go out and buy another! The remainder however; this should help you out hopefully.

Hope it helps :)


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Saturday, 7 April 2012

iMac 27" WiFi losing connection intermittently

In the aid that this helps anyone I thought I'd post it up there with my normal helpful stuff :).

This week I decided to finally bite the bullet, you can see through my exhaustive blog that I have found and fixed my fair share of Windows OS problems and it's only fair I give MAC OSX it's shot. So I invested in a brand new 27" iMac, Quad Core 3.4Ghz i7 with a 1TB hard drive I was more than looking forward to working on this bad boy.

I was incredibly disappointed when I took it home though, to find that at least three / four times an hour I was having frequent drops in Wireless Connection. I have a decent wireless router (Yes I'm perhaps 30ft away) but I can sit in my car outside (60ft away) and still get a good signal on my iPhone.

I found a few 'hot fixes' online, something about in Network Preferences, set it to a new name and not Automatic. I gave it a try, no joy.  So amongst my troubleshooting steps I took note of every change and tested and tested and tested until eventually JACKPOT.

The problem I have is that my wireless is running WPA-PSK encryption; although my Windows PC, two iPhones and iPad have NO PROBLEM whatsoever the iMAC does! The second you change it to WEP it works like a gem!

I have to say I am very, very unhappy about having my network open to WEP. So I went into my Access Point and locked my network down to mac address access only, so I have to approve anyone coming onto my wireless. It gave me that extra piece of mind.

To be fair, I'm not entirely against WEP and it will work fine for a lot of people, I just know from my own technical understanding of 'hacking' etc that it is fairly easy to break!

Hopefully this post finds those in need well and let me know if it helps.


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Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Renewing a self signed SSL Certificate in Exchange 2007

Ok, so I've actually seen this problem so many times now it's unreal and people are always asking me how to fix it because most other guides on the net make it look way to complicated to properly comprehend. So, here goes. This is how I renew an Exchange 2007 SSL Certificate when you get the notice in Outlook it has expired. N.B - The process for renewing through a verified authority like GoDaddy / 123 Reg is not discussed here.

First thing you'll need to do is logon to your SBS 2008 (Ex2K7) box as the domain administrator and open the Microsoft Exchange Management Shell.

Type the following command:  Get-ExchangeCertificate - This will list all of your existing certificates by Thumbprint and CN (Common Name).

You'll need to know the CN, if you're unsure match it to the certificate error being presented in Outlook. History tells me it's normally the that controls the Ex Cert on SBS.

Now, using the identified Thumbprint of the certificate you require use the following command. (Important that you use the Pipe command to run this all in one.)
Get-ExchangeCertificate –Thumbprint 12345678900000000000000000000000000123456 | New-ExchangeCertificate
Press Y to the overwrite certificate, this doesnt actually overwrite anything. It essentially just sets this new Certificate as the default.

Now, we're nearly there. In the above process you are given a new Thumbprint for your newly renewed SSL Cert. This is the thumbprint we'll be using moving forward.

All you have to do now is enable the SSL Certificate for the services you are going to be using it for. If you're unsure just use the four most common (Particularly on SBS). SMTP, IIS, POP, IMAP.

To do this run the following:
Enable-ExchangeCertificate –Thumbprint 12345678900012345600000012345600000123456 –Services IIS

Enable-ExchangeCertificate –Thumbprint 12345678900012345600000012345600000123456 –Services SMTP

Enable-ExchangeCertificate –Thumbprint 12345678900012345600000012345600000123456 –Services POP

Enable-ExchangeCertificate –Thumbprint 12345678900012345600000012345600000123456 –Services IMAP

I like to do it step by step to make sure it works ok but you can run this command all integrated by seperating the below out with commas. ie. Services IIS, POP, SMTP, IMAP. Sometimes you get a warning on the SBS about another cert taking precendence on TLS connections, again nothing to worry about.

Now test your SSL Certificate, it should all be working and renewed for another year. You can verify the next renewal date by typing:
Get-ExchangeCertificate -Thumbprint 12345678900012345600000012345600000123456 |fl

Last but not least when you are happy it's all working again. Simply remove the old cert by typing:
Remove-ExchangeCertificate -thumbprint 12345678900000000000000000000000000123456
Remember to use the previous thumbprint not the newly created one.

Hopefully that helps a few people and makes this process that at first glance looks terrifying to actually become fairly simple...

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Thursday, 2 February 2012

Configuring QoS for SIP / VoIP

Unless you have a true understanding of the layer protocols and technologies behind SIP, setting up QoS can actually be quite difficult, as I found out myself.

Interestingly when setting up SIP you often set the firewall port to 5060 and leave it at that, so you may simply assume that 5060 is the only required port. What you forget though, is that this is only inbound; what is going outbound?

So my personal understanding of SIP (and some wiresharking later) is that it tends to use the following protocols.

Signalling via port 5060. ALSO each line after uses upward one port.Line 2 5061, Line 3 5062 etc.
Realtime Transport (RTP) 10,000 - 20,000 varying per call.
STUN 3478/3479

So you see straight away that setting QoS to prioritise 5060 will do next to nothing on your network you need to put in three ranges. 5060-5080 (20 lines), 10,000-20,000 & 3478/3479.

All of the above only need to be UDP.

Putting these ports into QoS makes a huge difference to the quality of a call for me. I'd be interested to hear other peoples stories.