From CD to Cloud with Debian

Hi again, Merry Christmas and happy new year to all ūüôā

One of my favourite new products in recent months is Google Music, a new cloud-based music system which allows you to keep up to 20,000 tracks on Google’s servers. In a similar fashion to Apple’s iCloud, this music can then be accessed at any time via your Android devices or a web browser. Having used Google Music for nearly 2 months now, I absolutely love it – so much so that I’ve cancelled my Spotify subscription.

Around a year ago the media hard drive in my home server crashed, causing me to lose almost all of my digital music collection. Recently I’ve been starting to re-import my CDs so they can be uploaded to Google Music, going via my laptop. Problem is that the CD importing is happening via iTunes, and my 5-and-a-half-year-old macbook certainly isn’t as fast as it used to be – the spinning beach ball of doom regularly pops up. So why not let my home server take the strain? Pop in a CD, let the server automatically rip it and eject when it’s done, and have that new music automatically uploaded to Google. That’s entirely possible on a headless Debian server.

My starting point was a blog post which deals with ripping CDs on a headless server using ivman to listen for an audio CD being inserted and abcde for ripping. However, I later discovered that ivman has effectively been abandoned and has since been replaced by halevt.
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An update

Well, I’ve definitely been quiet these past few months, and with good reason. I’ve recently finished University and found out I’ll be graduating with First Class Honours, which I’m feeling *very* chuffed about. Secondly, I’ve managed to land myself a full-time job as a mobile apps developer, which has meant I’ve had to move to another part of the country.

Since I’m now working full time, I have a lot less time for other projects. Likewise, after spending all day staring at a screen and coding at work I have little appetite for doing more of the same on personal projects at home. As a result, all development work on RSS Alarm has been suspended. I may release free side projects onto the Google Play store in the future, but there will be no more major updates to any existing projects.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has downloaded RSS Alarm to date, and hope you can understand my reasons for deciding not to develop this app any further.


RELEASE – RSS Alarm 1.2.0

Hi everybody, long time no see!

The good news is that my time at University is quickly drawing to a close. The even better news is that this means I can get back to working on RSS Alarm. With that, I present version 1.2.0.

The first thing you’ll probably notice is that it looks different. I’ve given the interface a cleaner, brighter look with a larger contrast between the background and the text. Those running Android 4 will also notice a few more subtle differences, as the native Action Bar and Holo UI elements are now used. Users on Android 2.2 and 2.3 will still have the old navigation style.

There’s also a few tweaks and bug fixes. The method of queueing up alarms has also been reworked to improve reliability. Now that’s out the way with, I can finally take a look at the to-do list and start adding some more features! Watch this space.

This update is currently live for the paid version only. I’ll update the free version when time allows. As ever, you can get RSS Alarm from the Google Play Store¬†for only 99p!

[ISAD334] The Web of Influence

Foreword:¬†As part of one of my modules for my final term of University, I’m required to make a blog detailing my ideas and findings. Any posts relating to this module will be tagged under ISAD334.

Despite being less than a month into 2012, one of the year’s biggest agendas already seems to be coming to the forefront as Governments increasingly try to legislate activity on the Internet. In the past couple of weeks alone we’ve seen the rise and fall of SOPA and PIPA¬†as well as the ratification of ACTA, which lead to the resignation of one MEP from the European Parlament.

One of the websites which seems to fly in the face of legislation the most (outside of piracy websites) is Twitter, the micro-blogging service. On a number of occasions last year Twitter users found themselves skirting the law, most notably in the case of Ryan Giggs. In that particular case Giggs had taken out a super injunction to prevent the media from commenting on an extra-marital affair, however this did not stop over 75,000 Twitter users and a Scottish Sunday newspaper from naming him, making a complete farce of UK privacy laws in the process.

But how can we ascertain that a source on Twitter is genuine? How do we know that the information it provides is genuine, or that the user him/herself is trustworthy? While the Twitter account that outed Ryan Giggs and other famous faces, one of the tweets relating to an affair between Jeremy Clarkson and Jemima Khan was later strenuously denied. The twitter account in question was a throwaway, likely to help avoid any legal repercussions, however the overall accuracy of the information helped it to gain nearly 100,000 followers.

But could any one person simply create an account, post a couple of tweets about a topic subject and gain 100,000 followers? What qualities do people look for when trying to determine if an account and/or the information posted by it is genuine or not? And how does the ability to create a throwaway twitter account cause problems for pre-Internet laws? I will be examining this question over the coming weeks and will post my research and findings on this blog.

RSS Alarm v1.1.0 – A change cometh

RSS Alarm has been out for over a month now, and it’s still surprising how positive a reaction it’s received in the media and from its users. While I’ll readily admit it’s not sold a ground-breaking amount of copies, it’s still sold a lot better than I expected and it’s paid for my web hosting this month.

So what next? How do I drum up some more publicity for RSS Alarm now the initial media coverage has faded away? A very difficult question for a team of developers, let alone a one-man operation. The clue to this answer is that this is version 1.1.0 of RSS Alarm, not v1.0.5. This is a major change.

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RSS Alarm v1.0.3 – The mini feature update

Hooray! It’s the first non-bugfix update! RSS Alarm v1.0.3 will be on the marketplace shortly, and it brings:

  • The ability to specify the amount of time between RSS Feed updates. (Main screen > MENU button > Settings)
  • Alarm will be dismissed when moving away from the alarm screen (e.g. pressing the back or home key)
  • All indexed podcasts will now be displayed on the Feeds screen, below the list of RSS Feeds.
  • Did I mention RSS Alarm is now on Google+ and Twitter?

The update will automatically download to your phone shortly (provided you’ve allowed automatic updating), and if you don’t have RSS Alarm yet, you can buy it here.

RELEASE: RSS Alarm v1.0.2

Ice Cream SandwichMy new phone arrived today!¬†Though it’s not all sunshine and butterflies when you realise that RSS Alarm has a couple of major bugs specific to Android’s latest release. As such, there’s a new version out to fix these Ice Cream Sandwich-specific problems:

– Fixed bug that prevented users from importing their feeds from Google Reader
– Fix bug that prevented the Text-to-Speech engine from reading out RSS feeds.

As you can see, those were problems that warranted an immediate fix, so here you go. Updates will be arriving to your phones within the hour.