Friday, October 21, 2011

How To Add Custom Album Art To Your MP3 Music Using Mp3Tag & GIMP


Introduction:

In this short, 4-step tutorial, you will learn how to make custom album art for those mp3’s of yours that don’t come with album art already pre-embedded within the MP3 file itself. If you always use known reputable music e-tailer’s, such as Amazon.com, for your music purchases, this should never be a major problem. However, for those of you that don’t purchase from these e-tailer’s, and find your music without full tags, or simply want to create different album art for tracks that already have art, this tutorial is for you. The entire process should take less than 25 minutes.

Tools needed:

      1.) GIMP Image Editor (download from: https://www.gimp.org)
      2.) MP3Tag (download from: https://www.MP3Tag.de/en/)
      3.) Windows Media Player  or Apple iTunes

Optional:

      4.) Freemake Audio Converter (download from:http://www.freemake.com/free...)
      5.) Windows Virtual PC & Windows XP Mode

Step 1: Finding A Track

For this tutorial, we’re going to use the famous Windows XP welcome music file, found at: C:\Windows\System32\oobe\images\title.wma (assuming C:\ is your Windows OS partition) on the Windows XP operating system. If you already have a MP3 track you’d like to use, please, skip to STEP 2. If you don’t have Windows XP and are running Windows 7, consider installing Windows Virtual PC & Windows XP Mode and locate the title.wma file in Windows XP Mode at the location detailed above, then continue following along to the next paragraph.

For this example, we want to use the MP3 file format so we’ll use an audio converter to convert the WMA format, the music is currently encoded in, to a more tag-friendly MP3 file format (Should this be in a separate tutorial? Maybe, but we’ll discuss it here, for now, to complete our current example).To complete this task, we will use Freemake Audio Converter found at http://www.freemake.com/free_audio_converter/. With just a few clicks you can convert the WMA file into MP3 file format using the application as shown in the image below. Next, find the converted file and proceed to STEP 2.


Step 2: Preparing Your Image

We will next find the image on the hard drive we would like to use as the album art for the MP3 file, and open the file in the GIMP image editor application*. We will have to adjust the canvas size of the image sides to be equal to its smallest side (E.g. If you have an image with a width of 1920 (pixels) and a height of 1080 (pixels), then you will have to adjust the canvas to a width of 1080 (pixels), and leave the height as-is. This is achieved by disconnecting the link on the right side of the proportion fields, and adjusting ONLY the width value), hence, creating a perfect square. The canvas size window is opened by selecting ‘Canvas Size…’ from the ‘Image’ menu. The image chosen for this example was 1333×1000 pixels large. So we will need to resize the image to 1000×1000 . We will next need to scale the image to the proper size.

*NOTE: The default size and format of MP3 album cover art is 400×400 JPG. If your image is already in this format please, skip to step 3.

We achieve this by selecting ‘Scale Image’ from the ‘Image’ menu, and leaving the link connected, we scale the image down to 400×400 (pixels).

Finally we save the image as a high-quality JPG file under the name “Windows XP Album Cover Art”, and are now free to proceed to STEP 3.


Step 3: Using MP3Tag

We open the MP3Tag application, and using the file menu, add the directory where our MP3 audio file is stored. We then verify that the audio file was successfully imported by checking for its name in the right pane of the window. With the file highlighted in the right pane of the window, we will then need to click the extended tags button, as shown in the image below. Under the right-hand ‘Cover’ menu we will need to click the ‘Add Cover…’ button, and select the 400×400 JPG image we created earlier in STEP 2. MP3Tag notifies us that the image was saved (embedded) successfully. From here we can either add text tags or save our work, and close the application. We’ll add text tags later, so for now we’ll just save our work, and close the application. It is now time to proceed to step 4.

Step 4: Verification

Next we will open Windows Media Player to check our work. To do this we place the MP3 File in the ‘My Music’ directory (‘Music’ directory in Windows 7), if not already there, and wait and watch as Windows Media Player finds the new track.

The tracks shiny new cover art is then displayed in full bloom!

Going back to MP3Tag to edit the album name and other text metadata should be a piece-of-cake, and specifically what the app was designed for. So, to give you a fully finished example, I made these final modifications to the MP3 file and posted an image created of Windows 7 Media Player and iTunes below. Also Included (for free download) below is the finalized album art for the MP3 file (title.MP3) we used in this tutorial.



Conclusion:

I hope you had as much fun following along through this tutorial, as I did in writing it. From here, you should be able to successfully create album art for all those special tracks missing all their metadata. I also advise you to take the time to explore all of the applications used in this tutorial to see all the features and functionality they have to offer. If you liked this tutorial, please consider joining my blog or donating in the right-hand column of the page.

Downloads:


Windows XP Album Cover Art (PNG)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

How To Protect Directories And Drives From Children And Other Restricted Users Of A Family PC


This small tutorial explains how to restrict access to select files or even a complete hard drive by modifying some simple security settings already present within Windows 7. This method can also be used on computers on display such as computers at retail store locations, from customers getting a little too comfortable with the machines. From start to finish the process should take less than 15 minutes. So let's get started!

Setting up the “Restricted Access” group:

  • Create the new user(s) you want to allow restricted access to the computer. For this example we’ll use a new user named “Visitor”.
  • Set the user(s) up as standard user(s).
  • Open Computer Management (Control Panel --> System and Security --> Administrative Tools --> Computer Management ).
  • Under “Local Users and Groups” select “Groups”.
  • Right-click anywhere within the blank space of the middle window (or select Action from the top toolbar) and then select “New Group…”
  • Give the group a name; ideally we’ll use “Restricted Access” with a description of “Restricted Access”.
  • Click “Create” to create the group.
  • Under “Users” right-click “Visitor” (the newly created user(s) in your case) and select Properties.
  • In “Member Of ” tab click “Add…”. In the Object Name box (Where it says “Enter the object names to select “) type “Restricted Access” and click 'OK'.
  • The user should now be a unique member of the “Restricted Access” group.
  • Click ok to close the window
  • Do this for each user you want to restrict access to.

Setting File Permissions for the “Restricted Access” Group:

  • Locate the drive or folder you want to restrict access to, right-click it, and select Properties from the context (drop-down) menu.
  • Select the Security tab
  • If you do not see the “Restricted Access” group you created earlier, click “Edit…”, then Click “Add..”; type “Restricted Access” (without the quotes) into the object name box, and then click ok.
  • Back under the security tab select the “Restricted Access” group, and configure desired access permissions for this drive or folder, then click ok.
  • Allow Windows to configure the new permissions you just set up, restart the computer, and Presto! You now have Secured your PC from restricted users!

How to Send Local Messages to Computers on a LAN in Windows 7 and Vista


This short, two-step tutorial shows you how easy it is to send messages to other computers on your LAN. This method can also be used to send messages to multiple computers on the LAN at once with just a little bit of modification.

Step 1 - Picking A Destination:

To send a popup message to a computer on your local area network, first identify the computers name you want to send the message to by logging into your router and checking the device list or wherever the computers on your network are listed within your routers configuration pages. Pick one or more computer(s) from the list to send the message to.

Step 2 - Sending The Message:

Both Windows Vista and Windows 7 come prepackaged with a command for sending messages to other local area network users. It is called ‘msg’. To use it, use the syntax below.

Syntax:
C:\Windows\System32> msg /SERVER:[type computer name here] * /TIME:[type amount of time (in seconds) to display message before it’s automatically closed] “[type the message you want to send here]”

Example 1:
C:\Windows\System32> msg /SERVER:Jeffs-PC * /TIME:300 “Hi Jeff! The server will be shutting down at 11:45 PM tonight for security and maintenance purposes. Please be sure to finish and save all of your work by then. Thanks –James”

That’s really all there is to it. Be sure to use the help command ( /?) included with the 'msg' command to see more options and features you may use, and practice with sending messages to your own PC until you feel more confident and comfortable with using the command to send important, real messages to others.