Archive for the ‘Apple’ Category

Control Your Music Playback from an iDevice without using iTunes? Yes!

Sunday, October 26th, 2014

For a variety of reasons, I prefer not to run iTunes on the old Windows XP computer that I have connected to the TV and amplifier at home.

Kids these days might call it a HTPC (home theatre PC), but in my case, it really is just a generic used computer – in fact, it doubles as the box I infrequently use for tasks like testing a hard drive, trying to image or salvage data from a disk, or testing other desktop computer components.

By number of hours of use, the machines #1 job is to be a physically enormously MP3 player. For the last couple years, I have used the trusty old WinAmp and either the wired keyboard, or the wireless keyboard, or remotely connected via VNC to add and remove tracks. It wasn’t ideal, but it generally worked fine. I really wanted a way to add items from the library to the playlist from my phone, though. Either an App or a functional mobile web page would be great.

It had been a couple years since I had thought about this, so I did some research and tried a few things. I tested both MusicBee (totally free), and the free edition of MediaMonkey. Both are highly rated, and quite good, media players. However, neither had built-in web sites for web controls or iPhone controls. There were plugins or extensions that offered these features, but, either they didn’t have an interface that worked for my needs, or they just didn’t work on my setup. This box runs XP, and the media playing runs under a Limited User account in Windows, these were at least part of the the problems. Admittedly, I didn’t want to spend too much time on this project, so I didn’t spend too much time trying to get these working.

Thanks to browsing the plugin library of MediaMonkey, I did learn the term DACP, this is the proprietary standard that Apple created to control iTunes (and other media devices) from iOS, i.e. the free Apple Remote app.

With the term DACP in hand, I was able to find out that there was a plugin for Foobar2000 that provided DACP support. I am somewhat familiar with Foobar2000, so, giving this DACP plugin, foo_touchremote, from – was a no-brainer.

It worked. Surprisingly easily (given my troubles with the other packages that I had tried yesterday).

And, even better, the Apple Remote user interface on my iPhone is fantastically better than anything I could hope for from a web based interface. There are, apparently, Android DACP apps too.

So, the moral of this blog post? I would think that remote control of music (even just volume controls and pause/play) would be a high priority feature of media players by now – I don’t really understand why these highly rated media players don’t have built-in, well-tested, support for either a mobile web controls or a app controls.

Anyway, I’m happy for now with Foobar2000 + foo_touchremote plugin.


iPhone Camera Stopped Working… so it’s not a perfect phone afterall.

Monday, January 30th, 2012

It took 6 months, but I have finally had what I would consider a non-minor problem with my iPhone 4. The camera stopped saving photos. It would focus, snap the photo, but crash before it actually saved.


It’s surprising how often I use the camera on the phone.

I found this blog post about deleting the thumbnail cache on an iPhone, and it seems to have worked. Also, it links to a neat program to browse the files on your phone. It took a couple restarts of the phone to rebuild the thumbnails, and then the Albums in the Photos app. Perhaps it would have only taken one restart if I had been more patient on the first boot.

I guess it’s time I back up those photos again.

Disappointing Out of Box Experience of Gateway Netbook… in 2011!?

Thursday, January 6th, 2011

Every once in a while I get a reminder of why Apple is able to make 10 times as much money per computer than everyone else.  The end user experience is incomparable. From the moment you walk into an Apple store, through to the point where you use the device, someone has thought about your experience.

I just had the opportunity to setup a brand new (entry level) Gateway netbook.  There’s nothing special about it. It has an Atom processor and Windows 7 Starter edition. After opening the box, plugging it in, and following the on screen prompts, things seemed pretty good.  Then, it required a reboot to finalize the settings.

It took literally 30 minutes from reboot until I was able to login.  Literally.  It felt like 10 times that long.  I wasn’t really watching what it was trying to do, but whatever it is, it is embarrassingly long.  There aren’t any install options, this netbook is exactly the same as the  rest in the pile, so virtually all of this time should have been done before it left the factory.

So, that’s my first impression of that computer, and Gateway. Sitting around and waiting.  And no, this didn’t include the Windows updates that I did later in the evening.  Actually, this reminds me of the time I setup a Gateway laptop for a client – that was a disaster also, IIRC, I had to drive around the neighbourhood trying to find blank CDRs in order to get past the required initial backup – they had included some low end blank CD’s, one or two of them were bad!

First impressions count.


Open .pages file for Printing from Windows

Sunday, August 29th, 2010

A little while ago someone asked me for help in viewing and printing a .pages file that they had received by email.  In this case, there was no intention of editing the document, she really just needed to print it.

Here’s the deal:

– A .pages file is produced by one of the applications in Apple’s iWorks office productivity suite.
– A .pages file is actually a zip file with a few files in it.
– If you rename the file from .pages to .zip, then open the zip you will see some files and folders.
– Inside one of the folders you will find a PDF file preview (and JPEG)
– View and print this PDF.

And you’re done!

Sure, sometimes you need to edit the file, the right way to do this would be to get the sender to export the file from Apple iWorks to a format that a Windows user would be able to use, such as Rich Text Format (.rtf) or Microsoft Word (.doc).

Get used to receiving these files, Apple computers are everywhere…