Tech Blog

How-to create mailing labels or stickers – Osoitetarrojen luominen

lähettänyt Jukka Niiranen 6.12.2012 klo 7.54   [ 7.12.2012 klo 9.05 päivitetty ]

In these days creation of mailing labels should be an easy everyday task any person could perform any day and in any place. But it's not. For some weird reason office software developers want to do this simple task in unbelievable complex way. In this article we go thru a step-by-step process how to easily and quickly create mailing labels for a SME company's billing or marketing purposes or for example for your personal Christmas card mailing.

This how-to has been created based on free and open source tools: Libre Office 3 (version: running on Ubuntu 12.04. However things should go similarly even if you are using Open Office or running either of the two office software on other operating systems like Mac or Windows.

Suomenkielinen tiivistelmä - Finnish summary of this text

Osoitetarrojen luominen pitäisi tänä päivänä olla sellainen joka päiväinen toimenpide, minkä pitäisi onnistua keneltä tahansa ja milloin tahansa ilman mitään ponnistelua. Jostakin syystä toimisto-ohjelmistojen tekijät haluavat kuitenkin tehdä tästä yksinkertaisesta ja tarpeellisesta toimenpiteestä aivan käsittämättömän hankalaa. Lisää haastetta asiaan tekee tietysti vielä amerikkalaisten hassu epästandardi letter-arkkikoko ja parin jenkkifirman aktiivinen ote omien tarra-arkkiformaattien markkinoinnissa toimisto-ohjelmistojen tekijöille. 

Tässä artikkelissa käymme askel askeleelta läpi postitustarrojen luomisen käytännössä. Näkökulmana on PK-yrityksen laskuttajan, markkinoijan tai joka kodin joulukorttien postittajan lähtökohta. Eli nopeasti ja tehokkaasti valmista käyttämällä standardia A4-paperia, käytännössä mitä tahansa tulostinta ja mitä tahansa kirjakaupasta löytyvää osoitetarra-arkkia.

Avainsanoja: postitustarrojen luominen, osoitetarrat, osoitetarrojen tekeminen, joulukorttiosoitetarra

Process overview

Unfortunately there are rather many steps in this process, but bear with me, this will work and for example software installation and creation of the sticker need only be done once.
  1. Installation of the needed software
  2. Creation of your custom label sheet (physical sheet of label stickers) to LibreOffice
  3. Creation of a list of addresses to a spreadsheet (= address database)
  4. Creation of a database connection to the spreadsheet of addresses
  5. Creating the labels and defining their contents
  6. Printing or saving the mail merged labels
  7. Final manual editing of the labels before printing

1. Installation of the needed software

You need to have complete version of LibreOffice installed on your computer, including LibreOffice Base, the database application. If you are using Ubuntu, just click and open “Ubuntu Software Centre”, type in “LibreOffice” (no space in between the words!) to the search box and look for all needed LibreOffice parts from the list. To install certain part, click “Install” button. You need at least “Writer”, “Calc” and “Base”. On other operating systems follow the installation instructions available at LibreOffice's web site.

2. Creation of your custom label sheet (stickers)

  • Open LibreOffice Writer and from the top menu choose: File > New > Labels

  • Now you have to have the retail box of your label stickers at hand. First of all you should check if your stickers are already listed on the 'Brand' and 'Type' drop down boxes (in 'Labels' inter-leaf’s 'Format' section). If your stickers are not listed, which is the case practically every time at least in northern Europe, you will have to create a custom label. To do this, get a ruler and go to 'Format' inter-leaf. (see picture below) 

  • Now you just have to measure your sticker sheet (or read the information from the box), count your stickers and put in correct values to the fields. When you are ready just click Save button and give your custom labels 'Brand' and 'Type' names, so you can easily find it later. 
    • In the picture there are the measures I used for my “Talex 140.401” stickers. My sticker sheet has 5mm physical margins at the top and the bottom. I also put 5mm margin to the left as printers tend to leave couple of millimetres white space on both sides. (Note: there seems to be a small bug, in this version of LibreOffice. When label measures are set correctly as below in the picture, value in "Page Width" is automatically calculated to be larger than the paper sheet. But fortunately this doesn't seem to make any difference and most likely this will be fixed soon.)  
Custom label

3. Creation of a list of addresses to a spreadsheet
(= address database)

This phase is easy, just open normal spreadsheet (LibreOffice Calc) and type in all contacts and addresses you want to create the labels for. Use the first line as a header and give logical names to each column. For example like this:

FirstnameSurnameSpouse name Children Street address Post address 
Susan Smith John Jean, Peter Bondstreet 153900 Bigcity 
PaulDuck Paulina Dean, Dylan Churchstreet 1059100 Smallvillage

Naturally you can have whatever fields you want and as many fields as you want. After creating of the spreadsheet, just save it in a known location and close the spreadsheet. To put it in tech words, this spreadsheet file will now act as your address database.

4. Creation of a database connection to the spreadsheet of addresses

Warning: this is the most technical part of the entire process. But if you just follow these steps, things will work. Do not be alarmed by the technical terminology. All we do here is that we tell LibreOffice to use your address spreadsheet as an address source.
  • Open LibreOffice Base

  • In the first view you will see the Welcome / Select database dialogue box shown below. What you want to do is to “Connect to an existing database”. Choose Spreadsheet as an existing database and click “Next”.
Connect to database

  • New “Set up a connection to spreadsheets” dialogue opens. Click Browse and point to the spreadsheet file you created earlier. (the spreadsheet that contains your addresses) Click “Next”.
Connect to database

  • Now we have to “Decide how to proceed after saving the database”. All you have to do is to tick-in the box “Yes, register the database for me”. You can un-tick the “Open the database for editing”, if you do not want to edit your data now. Click “Finish” and you are done.
Connect to database

5. Creating the labels and defining their contents

Now finally we'll get to the point. First of all, open LibreOffice Writer and go to the top menu File > New > Labels. The same label dialogue opens as earlier, when we created the custom label stickers.

  • This time we do not have to touch the “Format” inter-leaf at all, but please make sure that there is a tick in the box “Synchronize contents” on the “Options” inter-leaf. See picture below.
Labels - options

  • Now back to inter-leaf “Labels”, see picture below. Do the following:
    • From "Database" drop-down menu choose the database / spreadsheet which you added to LibreOffice Base earlier.
    • From "Table" drop-down menu choose the appropriate table from within your database / spreadsheet. Most likely there is only one item to choose from.
    • Now you'll see all your data fields (column titles from the spreadsheet) in "Database field" drop-down menu. Pick them one by one and click the big left pointing arrow to add each field to the “Label text” box on the left. All fields you now add to the “Label text” box, will be included in your labels. Vice versa, do not add those fields you do not want to show in your final labels. When you are done, click “New document”.
Labels - fields

Now you see a sticker / label sheet in front of you. See picture below. The merging of your own address data has not yet been done. But instead you see the field names (address spreadsheet column titles) you chose in the previous phase on each sticker / label.

Labels on a sheet

If you want, you can now edit the looks of the upcoming address stickers by editing the first label (top left corner). You can add for example empty lines or text formatting like fonts, colours, bold / italic etc. When you are done, just click the “Synchronize labels” button on the floating window. This will copy the formatting changes to all labels / stickers.

If you want you can now save this document for later use.

6. Printing or saving the mail merged labels

A bit surprisingly the next step is to print the labels!
  • From top menu choose File > Print. Now LibreOffice automatically notes that “Your document contains address database fields. Do you want to print a form letter?”. Click “Yes”.

  • A Mail Merge window opens. You can now choose to print or save all labels, a range of labels (use “from” and “to” fields to define the range) or random labels (ctrl+click those addresses you wish to print/save). Let's now choose “All”.

  • From “Output” section you can choose if you want to directly print the labels to a printer or output the mail merge to a file and thus save the labels in their own document. Let's now choose “File”.

  • You can leave the “Save merged document” option “Save as single document” as it is. I guess this is most useful when you are mail merging contact information to for example business letter and want to save each letter in their own files. Click “OK”.

  • Now you will be asked for a file name and location for the document with your final labels / stickers.
Mail merge

You can close all LibreOffice windows.

7. Final manual editing of the labels before printing

Open the just created final label document. 

You can now see your address data on labels / stickers. If everything looks good, you can just print the labels on physical stickers.

However, quite often there is need for some final fine tuning of random labels (typos and other “oops” situations). For some odd reason you are not allowed to edit the labels by default. If you try, LibreOffice just says “Readonly content cannot be changed. No modifications will be accepted.” To enable the editing do the following:
  • From the top menu choose Format > Sections
  • Click any of the listed sections on the left to activate the field. Then type ctrl+A to choose all. And finally un-tick the box “Protected” from “Write protection” section of the window. Click "OK".
  • Now you can edit and fine tune your labels freely. 
Remove label sheet write protection

Save and print the labels according to your personal needs.

Kaapeli-tv-kanavien uudelleen järjestely Sony Bravia -televisioissa

lähettänyt Jukka Niiranen 8.4.2012 klo 5.24   [ 8.4.2012 klo 5.34 päivitetty ]

Sony Bravia NX
Yhä useammin ja useammin tuntuu siltä, että digitaalisten laitteiden valmistajat, sisältö- ja kaapelioperaattorit sekä erityisesti sisällön tuottajat lähtevät toteutuksissaan ensisijaisesti siitä, että järjestelmien käyttäminen tehdään mahdollisimman ei-asiakaslähtöiseksi. Viimeimmäksi törmäsin tähän ongelmaan Sony Bravia -television kanssa, jossa kaapeli-tv-kanavien järjestäminen käyttäjän halumaan järjestykseen on tietoisesti estetty!

Tällä kertaa tämä temppu on vielä tehty erityisesti juuri suomalaisten television katsojien kiusaksi! Toisin sanoen syyllistä täytynee lähteä etsimään joko tekijänoikeusjärjestöistä tai kaapeli-tv-yhtiöistä, mutta ainakaan minä en keksi yhtään syytä miksi tämä hölmöily hyödyttäisi ketään.

Kuva 1 (oikealla): Sony Bravia.

Hyvä puoli asiassa on tietysti se, että koska ongelma koskee vain Suomea, on sen kiertäminenkin helppoa. Käytännössä kaapeli-tv-kanavien järjestelyn estosta pääsee eroon valitsemalla tv:n asennuksen yhteydessä käyttömaaksi ilmeisesti minkä tahansa muun maan paitsi Suomen.

Itse kokeilin mm. seuraavia yhdistelmiä:

  • Kieli "suomi", maa "Suomi": kanavien uudelleen järjestely on estetty
  • Kieli "englanti", maa "Suomi": kanavien uudelleen järjestely on estetty
  • Kieli "suomi, maa "Great Britain": kanavien uudelleen järjestely on sallittu, mutta kanavat järjestyvät erittäin hassusti asennuksessa
  • Kieli "suomi", maa "Eesti": kanavien uudelleen järjestely on sallittu, tilanne sama kuin Iso-Britannia -asetuksella
  • Kieli "suomi", maa "Danmark": kanavien uudelleen järjestely on sallittu ja kanavat järjestyvät jo automaattiasennuksessa kohtuullisen hyvin

Näin ollen päädyin suosittelemaan Sony Bravia (ainakin NX-sarja) -televisioiden asentamista käyttöön Suomessa asetuksilla: kieli "suomi", maa "Danmark". Seuraavassa askel askeleelta ohjeet.

Sony Bravia kieltäytyy järjestämästä kaapeli-tv-kanavia suomeksi. Kuva 2: Digitaaliohjelmien jaottelu. Sony Bravia kieltäytyy järjestämästä kaapeli-tv-kanavia käyttäjän haluamaan järjestykseen. Asetukset; maa "Suomi", kieli "suomi".
Sony Bravia kieltäytyy järjestämästä kaapeli-tv-kanavia englanniksi. Kuva 3: Digital Programme Sorting. Sony Bravia kieltäytyy järjestämästä kaapeli-tv-kanavia käyttäjän haluamaan järjestykseen. Asetukset; maa "Suomi", kieli "englanti".

Sony Bravia NX-sarjan asetusten muutokset

Nämä ohjeet on tehty oletuksella, että laite on jo kertaalleen asennettu esim. asetuksilla kieli: "Suomi", maa: "Suomi".

  • Paina kaukosäätimen "Home" -painiketta
  • Valitse työkalupakki -kuvake
  • Valitse "Järjestelmäasetukset"
  • Valitse "Autom.asennus"
  • Valitse "Kyllä" (Aloitetaanko autom.asennus?)
  • Valitse kieli "Suomi"
  • Valitse maa "Danmark"
  • Noudata normaalia asennusta ja ruudun ohjeita
  • Kun olet valinnut, että asennetaan kaapeli-tv-kanavat, tulee näkyviin uusi valikko, jossa on tarjolla tanskalaisia kaapeli-tv-operaattoreita. Valitse "Muuta" ja seuraavalta sivulta "Aloita".
  • Tämän jälkeen asennus menee läpi normaalisti, ainoana erona kieli "Suomi", maa "Suomi" -asennukseen on se, että asennus käy läpi myös analogiset taajuudet, joista Suomessa ei luonnollisestikaan enää löydy kanavia.
  • Kun analogiset taajuudet on käyty läpi, pääsee asennuksesta pois painelemalla kaukosäätimen "Home" -painiketta.

Nyt kanavien järjestely toimii kuten pitääkin.

Valitse operaattori -näyttö.
Kuva 4:
Älä valitse mitään tarjotuista tanskalais-operaattoreista, vaan valitse "Muuta".

Aloita viritys.
Kuva 5:
Muuta sivulta ei tarvitse muuttaa mitään asetuksia, valitset vain "Aloita".

Kaapeli-tv-kanavien järjestely

  • Paina kaukosäätimen "Home" -painiketta
  • Valitse työkalupakki -kuvake
  • Valitse "Digi-tv-asetukset" -kohta
  • Valitse "Digitaaliohjelmien jaottelu"
  • Kanavia saa nyt vapaasti lajitella kaukosäätimen joystick-ohjaimella:
    • napsauta siirrettävää kanavaa kaukosäätimen valintapainikkeella (Kuva 7, vihreä nuoli)
    • valitse paikka minne kanava siirretään kaukosäätimen ylös/alas-painikkeilla (Kuva 7, keltaiset nuolet)
    • lopuksi napsauta uudelleen valintapainiketta ja kanava ankkuroituu oikealle paikalleen. (Kuva 7, vihreä nuoli)

Uudelleen järjestellyt kanavat saavat myös oikeat kanavanumerot.
Kuva 6:
Nyt myös kaapeli-tv-kanavien järjestely on mahdollista.

Kanavien järjestelyssä tarvittavat kaukosäätimen painikkeet.
Kuva 7:
Kanavien järjestelyssä tarvittavat kaukosäätimen painikkeet.

Muutoksella saavutettavat edut

 + Kanavat saa siihen järjestykseen kuin katsoja ne haluaa.

 + Uudelleen järjestellyt kanavat saavat oikeasti uuden kanavapaikan numeron, siis viidenneksi siirretty kanava todellakin saa numeron 005 ja löytyy jatkossa kaukosäätimen painikkeen "5" takaa.

 + Prog +/- painike toimii oikeasti ja eikä esim. ilmaiskanavien seassa olevat maksukanavat häiritse television katselua.

 + Kanavaluettelon loppupäähän satunnaisesti sijoitetut HD -kanavat ovat helpommin käytettävissä, esim. ohjelmapaikalla "5" eikä "201".

Muutoksen haitat

 - Maa-asetuksen muuttuessa myös laitteen aikavyöhyke muuttuu. Tämä on helppoa korjata takaisin oikeaksi (GMT+2), menemällä Home-painikkeen takaa työkalupakin kuvakkeeseen, sieltä "Järjestelmäasetukset"-kohtaan ja edelleen kohtaan "Kello/ajastimet".

Sony ja Sony Center

Veikeintä asiassa on, että Sonyn oman jälleenmyyntiketjun "Sony Centerin", myyjä ei osannut varoittaa tästä ongelmasta vaikka ostotilanteessa erikseen tiedustelin kaapeli-tv-kanavien järjestelyn toimivuudesta. Sonyn laitteelle laatima käyttöohjekirja on puolestaan laitteen jalustan kiinnittämisen jälkeen käytännössä hyödytön, se ei kerro itse laitteen käyttämisestä mitään. Bravia -televisio kyllä tarjoaa laitteen ruudulta luettavan i-Manual -käyttöohjekirjan, mutta se tarjoaa ratkaisuja vain erittäin yksinkertaisiin ylätason ongelmiin, joista keskinkertainenkin käyttäjä varmasti selviytyy ilman ohjeita. I-Manual on periaatteessa hyvä idea, mutta sen sisällön määrään olisi syytä panostaa merkittävästi enemmän kuin Sony on vaivautunut ja i-Manualin ao. ohjesivulle tulisi ehdottomasti päästä suoraan laitteen asetussivuilta, silloin kun ongelma on "päällä". Erityismaininnan antaisin vielä Bravia-television suuresta käännösvirheiden määrästä, joita esiintyy niin valikoissa kuin i-Manual ohjeissakin. Ilmeisesti suomentajalle ei ole annettu juuri vihjeitä siitä, mihin tekstit ovat loppupelissä menossa.

NX-sarjan Bravia on kaikesta mainitusta huolimatta hyvä televisio. Ominaisuuslistalta jää mielestäni puuttumaan vain tuki MKV ja WebM -videotiedostoille. Tämän lisäksi todellista lisäarvoa toisi, jos laite tallentaisi ohjelmat ulkoiselle USB-kiintolevylle Sonyn oman formaatin ja levypartitioinnin sijasta levyn juureen normaalissa MP4-muodossa. Näin tallenteet olisi näppärää napata mukaan vaikka matkalle. Ratkaisu tähän ongelmaan löytyy toki täältä:

Keywords, avainsanat: kanavien järjestely, kanavien järjestäminen, kaapelikanavien, kaapeli-tv-kanavat, kaapeli-tv kanavat, kanava, järjestäminen, kaapeli-tv, sony, bravia, KDL-40NX723, NX-sarja, digitaaliohjelmien jaottelu, Digital Programme Sorting.

BytePac recyclable HDD casing - is the environmental greenness really reaching ICT?

lähettänyt Jukka Niiranen 1.4.2012 klo 8.30   [ 8.4.2012 klo 5.31 päivitetty ]

BytePac Kit opened and ready to use.
I stumbled upon this really interesting product a couple of weeks ago; an external hard disk drive (HDD) casing and archiving solution made out of recycled cardboard! I have several old hard disk drives lying around and I've been looking for a suitable solution to connect those to my laptop, thus I got interested in BytePac. See more:

For years we have all been used to energy saving monitors and power sources and in recent years acronym RoHS (the EU Directive on the restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment) has been popping up on manuals and stickers. But otherwise all computer stuff has been traditionally made out of plastic and metals. Then these gadgets are scratch protected with plastic films, packaged in brown cardboard boxes, repackaged in retail boxes and finally packaged into additional cardboard boxes for shipping – and if you choose to use some courier service that shipping box might still be once again packaged into the courier company's own plastic bag!

Picture 1 (on the right): BytePac Kit opened and ready to use.

Especially in this light, receiving the BytePac Kit from post was really really positive surprise. There is practically no shipping waste! The product's own cardboard box acts as a shipping box and only the tear-away-stripe and the front part of the box is discarded. All the rest of the packaging is used as a part of the actual product. Ok, we must note, that if the parcel really gets rough handling during the shipping we might end up with some cosmetic issues with the product, but even in this case the smudges and scratches will most likely be hidden behind the product when it's placed in a bookshelf.

BytePac Kit unopened right from the post.
Picture 2: BytePac Kit unopened right from the post.
Opening the package.
Picture 3: Opening the package.
That's all packaging waste there is! Great job BytePac!
Picture 4: That's all packaging waste there is! Great job BytePac!

So, what does BytePac Kit include?

One BytePac Kit includes three HDD casings and a bookshelf box for them - all made of cardboard. One of these HDD casings include all necessary cables and a power source (connection kit). Additionally the package also includes stickers for the HDD boxes as well as to the HDDs themselves. There are versions available for both computers with USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 bus.

Connection Kit can be found from one of the HDD boxes.
Picture 5: Connection Kit can be found from one of the HDD boxes.
HDD boxes and stickers.
Picture 6: HDD boxes and stickers.

What's it for?

With BytePac Kit one can conveniently store up to three serial ata (SATA) hard disk drives (HDDs) and connect them (one at a time) to a desktop or a laptop computer or for any device needing external USB mass storage device.

How to use it?

Using the BytePac Kit to connect your hard disk drives to a computer is a breeze! All you have to do is to follow the very easy provided connection illustration. See picture 8 below.
  1. Put a hard disk drive into empty BytePac box. Close the cardboard box, put the covering sleeve on and fold the connector door and the small leg open. The leg rises the box a bit and allows better air flow. (Picture 7 below)
  2. Plug the wide end of the data cable to the hard disk drive and the other end to the ByteSpotter branded Powerbox. (very small foot print: 3,5 x 4,5 x 1,8 cm)
  3. Plug the power adapter's cable to Powerbox. When you plug the adapter to wall socket the hard disk drive starts spinning.
  4. Finally connect the Powerbox to your computer with the second cable. My BytePac Kit included a separate usb stick that was needed to connect this second cable, but the manufacturer's illustrations show a cable that has usb connector directly at the other end. I guess this depends on the version of the product.
After this there really isn't anything else to do! The computer now sees the hard disk drive in the BytePac box just like any other usb mass storage device – like a regular usb memory stick! I tested the BytePac with my Vaio laptop running Ubuntu and with a Sony's flat screen TV. Both devices accepted the BytePac immediately out-of-the-box without any issues.

Data port door and leg folded open.
Picture 7: Data connector door and small leg folded open.
How to connect diagram.
Picture 8: Very easy to read how-to-connect diagram.

Recommendations and notes

If you are looking for a solution to connect standard hard disk drives through usb BytePac is a really good option. I do recommend it especially as it offers unique green approach as well as a visually very agreeable way to store the ugly HD disks in plain sight.

BytePac looks good and hides ugly hard drive in plain sight.
Picture 9: BytePac looks good and hides ugly hard disk drives in plain sight.
Platform independent solution just works - no drivers are needed. Here connected to television.
Picture 10: Platform independent solution just works - no drivers are needed. Here connected to television.

On the practical side, when you are deciding about how many BytePac Kits you need, I would recommend you to reserve one of the BytePac Kit's HDD boxes for the storing of the cables and connection boxes. So the first BytePac Kit offers you boxes for two HDDs (as the third box is needed for the cables). This is of course only needed when the HDDs are only used every now and then, for example for backup copies. If you are planning to use the HDDs on daily basis and (especially) using a desktop computer, where the connection cables can be connected all the time, there surely is no need to reserve any HDD boxes for the cables.

Additional BytePac 3-packs (the HDD boxes) without the connection kits are available, so one can have practically unlimited amount of hard drives.

Before placing your order, make sure to check the type of your existing hard disk drives! You can use 3,5” or 2,5” serial ata (SATA) disks with the cables that are included in the BytePac Kit, but you will need to order an additional IDE-to-SATA adapter in order to use older 3,5” IDE drives. Unlike with some other vendors' adapters BytePac's IDE-to-SATA adapters are screwed to the hard disks, so you will need a separate adapter for each IDE drive, which can be a bit costly.

If you don't know which connector your HDD has, check these:
You have IDE drive, if your HDD's data connector looks like the one on this page: Wikipedia
You have SATA drive, if your HDD's data connector looks like the one on this page: Wikipedia

It might get messy with all these cables.
Picture 11: It could get a bit messy with all these cables. Note the 90 degree angle between the stiff cable and the usb dongle.


 + No packaging waste, which is a huge advantage! (see picture 4)
 + Made out of recycled materials
 + Can be recycled after use
 + Platform independent, no drivers needed. Works with all systems: Linux, Mac, Windows, embedded systems.
(see picture 10)
 + Disguises the ugly HDDs nicely for example in a bookshelf. (see picture 9)
 + You can download a HDD box sleeve design template from BytePac's web site and make the HDD boxes look just the way you want
 + The price is right


 - The cables and connection boxes create quite a mess on the table if used with a laptop.
 - 'No packaging' might cause cosmetic issues (during shipping) to the product itself.
 - The DeLock branded usb stick that connects to computer and offers SATA and eSATAp connectors seems and feels a bit “cheap”, especially when compared to other ByteSpotter / Convar branded "high quality feel" components provided. The 90 degree angle between this adapter and the thick connection cable also puts strain to the computer's usb port.

Purchasing a BytePac Kit

The BytePac Kit can easily be purchased from Convar's web shop ( ) as well as from Amazon. And there is also a selection of different HDD box sleeve designs available. The Convar's web shop is clear and easy-to-use, but unfortunately there are two major, but normal, Internet shopping problems:
  1. they do not tell you the shipping costs before you have registered and
  2. you have to register to purchase.
My opinion is that if I want to buy milk, I should get my milk for my money and there should not be any requirements to join the retailer's loyalty program. And what comes to shipping costs, I can't even remember how many times I have left a web shop because there is no indication about shipping costs or whether the product is shipped to my country at all. Oh, by the way, BytePac Kit's shipping to Finland costs 8,69€ (spring 2012), so I guess it's probably pretty much the same to all EU countries.

Gimp kuvankäsittelyn perustoimintoja

lähettänyt Jukka Niiranen 8.11.2011 klo 1.35   [ 8.11.2011 klo 1.39 päivitetty ]

Törmään toisinaan työtehtävieni yhteydessä tilanteisiin, joissa ihmiset joiden normaaleihin tehtäviin kuvien käsittely ei kuulu, joutuvat kaikesta huolimatta tekemään pientä kuvankäsittelyä. Yleisimmin tähän törmätään PK-yritysten verkkosivujen ylläpidon yhteydessä. Tämän johdosta olen koonnut tälle sivuille joitakin GIMP-kuvankäsittelyohjelman käytön perusohjeita.

GIMP -kuvankäsittelyohjelma

Gimp 2_6 latauskuva rajattuna
GIMP on erinomainen työkalu kuvankäsittelyyn, joskin ohjelmiston käyttölogiikka pohjautuu osittain ammattilaistyökalujen tapaan toimia, mikä voi vasta-alkajalle joskus tuottaa haasteita. GIMPin peruskäytön opettelu on kuitenkin ehdottoman kannattavaa ja palkitsevaa! Verkkojulkaisemisen ohella GIMPin osaamisesta on hyötyä omien valokuvien käsittelyssä. GIMP on avoimen lähdekoodin ohjelmisto, joten se on maksuton myös yrityskäytössä. Ohjelmiston voi ladata kaikkiin työpöytäkäyttöjärjestelmiin (Linux, Mac, Windows ) osoitteesta

Muita vaihtoehtoja kuvien käsittelyyn

Verkosta löytyy paljon selaimessa käytettäviä kuvankäsittelypalveluita, jotka tarjoavat myös erittäin hyviä vaihtoehtoja omalle koneelle asennettaville ohjelmille. Kannattaa ehdottomasti tutustua ainakin näihin:

Kuvan koon muuttaminen

Aivan ensimmäiseksi kannattaa muistaa, että kuvaa ei yleensä kannata käydä suurentamaan, koska silloin kuvan laatu kärsii nopeasti. Kuva koostuu kuvapisteistä ja suurennettaessa näitä kuvapisteitä tarvittaisiin enemmän kuin niitä on olemassa - ja tunnetusti ”tyhjästä on paha nyhjästä”. Toki suurentaminenkin jossakin mitassa on mahdollista, jos kyse on vain pienestä suurentamisesta ja/tai kuvan loppukäytössä tuhruisuus ei ole vaarallista.

Tee näin:
  1. Valitse ”Image” -valikosta kohta ”Scale Image” (sininen nuoli alla olevassa kuvassa)
  2. Uusi ”Scale Image” -ikkuna aukeaa.
  3. ”Scale Image” -ikkunasta löydät kohdan ”Image Size” (punainen soikio kuvassa)
  4. Syötä haluamasi kuvan koko; leveys tai korkeus. Oletuksen GIMP estää kuvan muodon vääristymisen, eli kuvan leveyden muutos muuttaa myös kuvan korkeutta ja päinvastoin. Jos kuitenkin haluat että kuvan muoto saa vääristyä, voit avata korkeuden ja leveyden välisen linkityksen napsauttamalla kuvassa pinkin nuolen osoittaman ketjukuvakkeen auki. Sen jälkeen voit vapaasti määrittää kuvalle korkeuden ja leveyden.
  5. Napsauta lopuksi ”Scale”-painiketta.
Kuvan koon muuttaminen GIMPissä
Kuva: Kuvan koon muuttaminen GIMP:issä. Napsauttamalla saat kuvan suuremmaksi.

Kuvan taustan eli kanvaasin koon kasvattaminen

  1. Valitse ”Image” -valikosta kohta ”Canvas Size” (katso nuoli alla olevassa kuvassa)
  2. Uusi ”Set Image Canvas Size” -ikkuna aukeaa.
  3. Ikkunan yläosasta löydät kohdan ”Canvas Size”, johon voit määritellä joko kanvaasin leveyden tai korkeuden. (katso nuoli alla olevassa kuvassa) Oletuksena GIMP yrittää pitää kuvan muodon entisellään, eli kanvaasin leveyden muutos muuttaa myös kanvaasin korkeutta samassa suhteessa. Jos haluat muuttaa kanvaasin muotoa, napsauta leveys ja korkeus kenttien vieressä oleva ketjukuvake auki. Sen jälkeen voit vapaasti määritellä kanvaasin korkeuden ja leveyden.
  4. ”Centre”-painikkella (katso nuoli alla olevassa kuvassa) voit halutessasi sijoittaa alkuperäisen kuvan kanvaasin keskelle.
  5. Lopuksi napsauta ”Resize”-painiketta. (katso nuoli alla olevassa kuvassa)
Kanvaasin koon muuttaminen GIMPissä
Kuva: Kanvaasin koon muuttaminen GIMP:ssä. Napsauttamalla saat kuvan suuremmaksi.

Jos määrittelit kanvaasin koon suuremmaksi kuin alkuperäinen kuva oli, näet nyt kuvan ympärillä läpinäkyvän alueen. (turkoosi nuoli ensimmäisessä alla olevassa kuvassa) Läpinäkyvä alue on nyt kuvan taustaa. Saat muutettua sen värilliseksi näin:
  1. Valitse ”Image”-valikosta ”Flatten Image”-toiminto (punainen nuoli ensimmäisessä kuvassa)
  2. Kuva litistetään ja taustan väriksi tulee taustaväriksi valitsemasi väri. (sininen nuoli ensimmäisessä kuvassa) Katso taustavärin vaihtaminen omasta kappaleestaan. (kuvan litistämisen vaikutuksen näet toisesta alla olevasta kuvasta)
Kuvan litistäminen GIMPissä
Kuva: Kuvan litistäminen GIMP:ssä. Napsauttamalla saat kuvan suuremmaksi.

Kuvan litistämisen vaikutus GIMPissä
Kuva: Kuvan litistämisen vaikutus GIMP:ssä. Napsauttamalla saat kuvan suuremmaksi.

Kuvan rajaaminen

Kuvaa voi rajata nopeasti rajaustyökalulla. (vihreä nuoli alla olevassa kuvassa)
  1. Napsauta työkalu päälle ja vedä haluamasi rajaus kuvaan.
  2. Kun tämän jälkeen napsautat hiirellä rajaamaasi aluetta astuu rajaus voimaan.
Jos haluat rajata kuvasta jonkun tietyn muotoisen alueen voi ennen rajausta rastittaa kohdan ”Fixed Aspect Ratio” rajaustyökalun valinnoista. (turkoosi nuoli alla olevassa kuvassa) Kun nyt vielä määrität kuvasuhteen alla olevaan kenttään ja valitset pysty / vaaka kuvakkeen, pystyt nopeasti rajaamaan kuvasta haluamasi muotoisen alueen. (punainen soikio alla olevassa kuvassa)

Kuvan rajaaminen GIMPissä
Kuva: Kuvan rajaaminen GIMP:ssä. Napsauttamalla saat kuvan suuremmaksi.

Piirto- tai täyttövärin määritteleminen

GIMPin työkalulaatikossa näet kaksi värillistä laatikkoa. (alla olevassa kuvassa näihin osoittaa punainen ja turkoosi nuoli) Kuvassa punaisen nuolen osoittama värilaatikko on etualan väri, jota käytetään piirrettäessä tai täytettäessä. Turkoosin värinen nuoli puolestaan osoittaa taustaväriä, joka tulee näkyviin esimerkiksi leikattaessa kuvasta alue pois. Nämä värit voidaan vaihtaa nopeasti keskenään napsauttamalla vihreän nuolen osoittamaa nuolikuvaketta.

Etu- tai taustaväriä voit muuttaa näin:

  1. Napsauta sen värin laatikkoa, minkä haluat vaihtaa. Siis etu- tai taustavärin, kuvan punaisen tai turkoosin nuolenosoittamaa laatikkoa.
  2. Uusi ”Change Foreground Colour” (tai ”Change Background Colour”) -ikkuna aukeaa.
  3. Määrittele uusi väri antamalla RGB väriarvon numerot niille varattuihin kenttiin. (kuvassa sininen soikio)
  4. Tai valitse väri vapaasti ikkunan vasemman reunan väripaletista.
  5. Napsauta lopuksi OK.

Värien määritteleminen GIMPissä
Kuva: Värien määritteleminen GIMP:ssä. Napsauttamalla saat kuvan suuremmaksi.

Converting Videos to Creative Zen X-Fi Style with Ubuntu

lähettänyt Jukka Niiranen 5.11.2011 klo 5.07

Well, I've been meaning to write this entry for a long time now, but for some reason I haven't seem to have time before. Last Christmas - yes full ten months ago - we purchased this small media player for our sons to play with. The specs seemed nice and the price was acceptable. And I do have to say that it has full filled it purpose rather perfectly; the back seat has stayed happy and dad's phone has been left alone, at least time to time, when cartoons have surpassed Angry Birds....

Creative is selling this device with vague mentions about how to convert video materials to it. And unfortunately after purchasing one really doesn't get any wiser. The retail package contains small start up guide and some Windows only software, which I naturally trashed immediately as we're happily living in a 100% Microsoft free zone.

As any modern USB devices, also Creative Zen X-Fi Style, can be seen as a standard external drive when connected to computer. So there is absolutely no need to install any unknown Creative-made software to any computer to be able to use this device.

Still I recommend choosing another brand

Even though Creative Zen X-Fi Style can perfectly be used in any computing environment (Windows, Linux, Apple), I still recommend everybody chooses another brand. I base this recommendation to the company's utter disregarding of the non-windows users. Creative does not offer you any kind of User's Manual in any generally used format. The User's Manual is only available in some cryptic .chm -format within their “starter pack”, which is a Windows-only software that requires installation. For some odd reason Creative's User's Manual is not available in PDF nor HTML formats.

Converting videos for Creative with Ubuntu

Creative's Customer Support's view to this is that it cannot be done. Of course that's not true and just Redmond talking. So here's a step-by-step guide how-to do it! See also picture below.

  1. Record, download, film, acquire, purchase (but do not steal) any video, show, film or movie you want.
  2. Launch video conversion software WinFF
  3. Either drag'n'drop the videos you want to convert to the WinFF window or click Add button and browse for the files. You can convert one or many files at the same time.
  4. From Output details area choose “Creative Zen” as a device to convert to and “Zen Fullscreen” as presets. Choose Fullscreen because X-Fi Style as 3:4 radio screen.
  5. Take a note about the “Output folder” where the converted files will be put. Naturally you can also change this if you want.
  6. Click “Convert” button and wait. Waiting time depends on your computer's computing power. Generally converting of a 10 minutes cartoon takes couple of minutes.
  7. When conversion is done. Close WinFF, turn Creative Zen off and connect it to the computer thru USB cable. Now just drag'n'drop the converted files to the Creative's video folder. That's it!
Video conversion to Creative Zen with Winff
Picture: Converting video files to Creative Zen with WinFF in Ubuntu Linux.

WinFF - conversion settings for Creative Zen

Creative says the player can play files with frame rate up to 30 fps (frames per second) when video bit rate is 1.0Mbps. But my testing has shown that again they just almost correct. The device can play videos with 30 fps, but the audio starts lagging badly. To make the videos play smoothly and in sync with audio, I recommend that you use frame rate 25 fps.

WinFF's default settings for Creative Zen use frame rate 30 fps. So this has to be changed before you do any conversions. Not to worry, it's very easy. Just follow these steps:

  1. Open WinFF and go to “Edit” menu. Open “Presets”.
  2. The Presets window opens (see below). Locate “Creative Zen” from Category/Presets list and click “Zen Fullscreen”.
  3. Now all you have to do is to change the frame rate value in the “Preset Command Line Parameters” dialog box. (see red arrow in the screen shot below) Change the value from “29.97” to “25.00”.
  4. To apply the change, click the “Add/Update” button
  5. And finally click the “Save” button.
  6. That's is. You're done and ready to do video conversions as illustrated above.

I recommend that you do the same change to “Zen Widescreen” option also.

Correcting the preset settings for Creative Zen in WinFF.
Picture: Here's how to correct the WinFF video conversion presets for Creative Zen.

Here's the WinFF “Preset Command Line Parameters” in full for the reference:

-f avi -r 29.97 -vcodec libxvid -vtag XVID -s 320x240 -aspect 4:3 -maxrate 1800k -b 1500k  -acodec libmp3lame -ar 48000 -ab 128k -ac 2
After the change:
-f avi -r 24.00 -vcodec libxvid -vtag XVID -s 320x240 -aspect 4:3 -maxrate 1800k -b 1500k  -acodec libmp3lame -ar 48000 -ab 128k -ac 2

More info on Creative Zen X-Fi Style's video capabilities can be found from here:

Installing WinFF to Ubuntu Linux

WinFF can be installed through both the Ubuntu Software Centre and the Synaptic Package Manager. Just search for "winff" and click "Install".

Converting CD to MP3s with Cover Image – Best Practise & How to

lähettänyt Jukka Niiranen 30.10.2011 klo 9.50   [ 15.1.2013 klo 10.35 päivitetty ]

This autumn I finally decided to take the time and convert my entire CD collection to MP3s. Afterwards I can say that it was a great decision as now the entire collection is once again usable, I can't even remember when I had last time crawled into the cupboard and taken those CDs out from there.

The actual CD ripping took the time it took, you really can't make it happen any faster. But clearly the biggest obstacle at this process was the decision making at the beginning. How and with what tools I should do the job. Thus I decided to write this “Best Practise” / “How to” blog entry, perhaps this can help someone with the same dilemma. At least this will help me to remember how to do this. ;)

What I wanted to do?

When I started I made the following decisions:
  1. I want best possible music quality
  2. I want to be able to listen the music with all devices I have
  3. I want to have the CD cover images available to all music players

Naturally I had to make few compromises to full fill the first and the second decisions. The best possible music quality would have required me to use FLAC format, but that would have not allowed me to listen to the music with all devices.

With “all devices” I mean all phones in our family (Android and Symbian), network media players (WD TV Live HD), media players (Creative ZEN X-Fi Style), car stereos (very important!), laptops (Ubuntu) and most importantly all future additions to this arsenal.

This lead me to choosing MP3 with Variable Bit Rate as the format. Now all I had to do was to figure out how to efficiently add CD cover images to the the ripped MP3s and albums.

CD Cover Images

I was a bit surprised to find out that the ripping software in general wasn't ready to add the CD Cover Images automatically and even more surprised that there really isn't any standard, de facto or otherwise, about the size of the cover images to use.

I did some research in the Internet and also benchmarked some MP3 files sold in the net stores and found out that one could actually use almost any picture size one likes. Majority of the current MP3s sold seem to include cover images embedded with ID3 Tags sized 300x300 pixels. And this seems to be the currently prevailing recommendation of many web sites also.

The major concern with the embedding of the cover images is their impact on the MP3 file size. A cover image sized 300x300 pixels adds about 40-60kB to the file size. My opinion is that this is very acceptable, especially considering that the size of a good quality MP3 file is between 6-8MB. This means that the picture takes less than one percent of the final file size.

I also considered whether I actually should put in larger cover images, but when I tested 300x300 pixel images in different devices, I came to the conclusion that it looks really good and there is no need for larger images.

But... Yes, there is a but!

Even though I had embedded the CD cover images to all files of my test album, some of my devices still were unable to show the cover image when browsing the albums. It seems that some devices look for a separate image file within the album folder and use that as cover image. So I came to a conclusion that one must have both the separate image file and the embedded ID3 tag image.

Final decision about the CD cover images

To make the cover images available to all devices I made a decision to:
  • embed the small 300x300 pixels image to the MP3 files' ID3 Tags and
  • add a larger 1500x1500 pixels (or best available) cover image as a separate file to the album folder
  • all images will be in JPG format
CD Cover Image 300x300 px
The larger image also makes it possible to later on replace the small embedded image with a larger one, should it seem necessary in the future. The practise also showed that vast majority of the cover images available in the Internet are actually a bit smaller than 1500x1500. And my scanner also seemed to produce images sized around 1420x1420 pixels.

Picture: For example, the CD cover image on the right is sized 300 x 300 pixels.

Where to get the CD cover images?

There are many places where you can download the CD cover images. However there aren't that many places that offer really good quality, so most likely you are going to have to do some searching from several places. Here's where I found my images from:

Decisions about the tools for ripping and tagging

There is a huge number of possible software to use for CD ripping and file ID tagging. And at least as many web sites recommending and evaluating these tools. Thus I won't go into details here.

As I'm an Ubuntu user I ended up using Rubyripper for CD ripping and EasyTAG for adding the embedded cover images to ID3 tags. EasyTAG can be installed thru both Synaptic Package Manager and Ubuntu Software Centre so it's just click'n'play. However Rubyripper is a bit of a pain to install but it's well worth the effort. I'll explain the installation in detail later in this document.

It's kind of matter of opinion, but I also decided to exempt my laptop's internal CD drive from the chore of ripping two hundred CDs. And went to the local computer store and purchased a cheap external USB CD/DVD drive to be used in this job. I gathered that it's cheaper this way if the CD drive gets destroyed during the ripping. Luckily nothing of that kind happened and the external LG CD/DVD drive is still live and kicking after the ripping job.

CD Ripping and Tagging Process - In Brief

Here's how the ripping and tagging process went in a nut shell
  1. Launch Rubyripper
  2. Insert CD
  3. Click “Scan Drive” and verify that the disc information is correct
  4. Click “Rip CD Now” and go do something else for 1,5 hours (snogging with wife/girlfriend recommended)
  5. Exit Rubyripper when it's done
  6. Launch EasyTAG
  7. Add small CD cover image to all files / songs in the ripped album folder
  8. Exit EasyTAG
  9. Add large CD cover image to the album folder
  10. Move album folder to appropriate location (to Music folder of your computer and/or network drive)
So that's how it goes. I will explain the process in more detail later in this document.

Finding out your CD drive's Accuraterip Offset

Rubyripper uses a thing called Accuraterip offset value to make the CD drives perform better with the digital audio extraction. The offset and the values seem somewhat confusing and things aren't that well explained at the Accuraterip's web site, but the offset value is easy to find and I guess it won't hurt if you also put this value into the Rubyripper. My guess however is that this really isn't absolutely necessary!

To find the Accuraterip offset value for you specific device please to to this web page:
and locate your CD/DVD drive from the list. Then pick the right offset value from the “Correction Offset” column. You'll need this value when you're setting up Rubyripper for the first time.

If you are unsure about your CD/DVD drive's exact name you can always install “Sysinfo” -tool from Ubuntu Software Centre (Ubuntu's apps service) and pick up the needed information from there. See picture below line “Model” tells you the needed info, which was in my case: “DVD RAM GP10NW20” (the LG's external USB drive). The same information can also be found from the listing console command "dmesg" shows.

Device information provided by Sysinfo
Picture: CD Drive model information provided by Sysinfo.

For my drives the Acccuraterip Offset values where as follows:
HP Laptop:  +6,
VAIO Laptop: +102
External LG USB CD/DVD drive: +6 

Rubyripper Installation and Setup

You can download Rubyripper CD ripping software from there:

This “how to” is written using version 0.6.0. But you should pick the latest version. Download it and open it with Archive Manager. Extract the Rubyripper folder to your hard drive. There is a “Readme” file within the Rubyripper folder, which contains detailed installation instructions.

I used this procedure:
  1. I installed all additional software needed by Rubyripper (dependencies) thru Synaptic Package Manager. According to Rubyripper's instructions needed softwares are: cdparanoia, ruby, ruby-gettext, ruby-gtk2, cd-discid or discid, eject, flac, oggenc, lame, wavgain, vorbisgain, mp3gain and normalize. Many of these were already installed onto my computer and I found the rest rather easily. Only difficulties I had was with “normalize” and “wavgain”, which I wasn't able to find. However I installed “normalize-audio” instead. But missing these two packages doesn't seem to make any major difference. At least I was able to use Rubyripper without them. Please note that installing ruby-gnome2 brings in ruby-gtk2.
  2. To install Rubyripper I opened the console, moved to Rubyripper's folder and said the following commands:

    ./configure --enable-lang-all --enable-gtk2 --enable-cli --prefix=/usr

    sudo make install

  3. That's it. Now you can launch Rubyripper either from Applications / Sound & Video menu, or thru console by typing in “rrip_gui
When Rubyripper starts you get the following screen.

Rubyripper just started
Picture: Rubyripper has just started.

At the first run you should have a look at the settings by clicking the “Preferences” button.

On the “Secure Ripping” tab you should pay attention to the following: (See picture below)

Cdrom device:

  • Type in the mount point of your cd rom device. Most likely the default value points towards your main / internal cd rom drive, and it works out-of-the-box. But if you want to use another drive, or like me, an external usb drive then you'll have to change this value. One approach is to use trial-and-error method and just type in consecutively “/dev/cdrom2”, “/dev/cdrom3” etc. and click the “Scan drive” button in between every try. Do remember to put an audio CD into the drive before you try this. More intellectual way to figure out the mount point of you cd rom drive is to for example open System Monitor (from System / Administration menu) and pick the information up from there. (see picture below). Or you can also open a console and type in “df”. The listing will show your file systems and you should be easily able to figure out which one is the cd drive. Please note that you need to have a data disc inserted into the cd drive in both cases, you cannot do this with audio disc! If there are too many possibilities, eject the cd and compare the lists to see which file system disappeared.
System Monitor view
Picture: Finding the device with System Monitor.

Finding out the cd rom mount point
Picture: Finding the device with console.

For example, in my case, the mount points were:
Vaio's internal CD drive: /dev/cdrom OR /dev/sr0
Vaio's external USB CD drive: /dev/cdrom4 OR  /dev/sr1

Cdrom offset:
  • Type in the Accuraterip offset value of your cd rom drive here. See the text above about how to acquire this value.
Ripping options:
  • These options guide Rybyripper about how many times you want it to try to read a bad CD before giving up and how many times you want the read chunks to match. Rubyripper divides the songs into thousands of very short chunks and reads these chunks numerous times. If the read chunks match then we can assume that the CD was read right and the music plays correctly. My experience showed that matching chunks just twice is quite enough. Note that more times the chunks are read, more time the ripping will take. Please note also that you have to put in some number to the field “Maximum trials”, because if you put “0=unlimited” you might end up in a situation where Rubyripper says that there is only one chunk left to match and it just keeps on re-reading that chunk. If you then the click “Abort” button, you will lose all read chunks! So I recommend the values “2”, “2” and “50” as in the picture below.

Rubyripper secure rip tab
Picture: Rubyripper's Secure Ripping tab

On the “TOC analysis” tab:
  • Make sure the “Rip hidden audio sectors” is ticked.
  • I had to remove the tick from “Create cuesheet” because when it was ticked I had major problems with some CDs. For example while ripping one CD the first 8 tracks went nicely but  the ripping stopped on the 9th track with an error: "Cdparanoia doesn't output wav files".

Rubyripper toc analysis tab
Picture: Rubyripper's TOC analysis tab

On the “Codecs” tab:
  • As my goal was to create high quality MP3s I removed the ticks from all other codecs and just left the one at “Lame MP3”.
  • To create the best possible quality MP3s with Variable Bit Rate I used the following option: “-V 0 --vbr-new
  • Naturally the tick at “Create m3u playlist” box makes Rubyripper automatically create playlists for every album ripped. This is a good idea to do, as some of the mp3 players and mobile phones require playlists, if you want to listen to entire albums.
Rubyripper codecs tab
Picture: Rubyripper's Codecs tab

I didn't see it necessary to change anything on the “Freedb” or “Other” tabs. I just left them to their default values. You can control the MP3 file and folder naming scheme and file locations on the “Other” tab.

You can find more on the Rubyripper settings from here:

EasyTAG Installation and Setup

EasyTag is a software which can be used to modify the ID3 tags within the MP3 files. ID3 tags hold information about the song, album, artist and so on. And you can embed the CD cover image to the MP3 files using these tags.

Installation is very straight forwards. You can find EasyTAG from both Ubuntu Software Centre and Synaptic Package Manager. Just click install on either one and that's it!

Ripping CD with Rubyripper - In Detail

Ripping CDs is very easy and relative fast thing to do when all settings are done (see above). Here's the procedure:
  1. Open Rubyripper
  2. Insert an audio CD to be ripped
  3. Wait a second while Rubyripper recognizes the CD. Click “Scan drive” button if needed.
  4. If the CD can be found Internet's databases Rubyripper will soon show you the album and song information. If the CD is not found, then you'll have to type in the information by hand. If the CD information can be found from the databases, remember still to check that the information is correct. There seems to be some variation about song order and lots of typos!
  5. When you are satisfied with the CD information then just click “Rip cd now!” button. Now Rubyripper will create you a folder containing the MP3s. The ripping of a standard audio CD takes from 1 to 1,5 hours.
  6. When the ripping is done you can either “Exit” or put in another CD and click “Scan drive” to start again.
Rubyripper Disc Info
Picture: Rubyripper's Disc Info view

Tagging and Adding CD Cover Images with EasyTAG - In Detail

Rubyripper tags artist, album and song names as well as music genre and publishing year automatically to all MP3s it makes. If you want to later change this information, add more information or add CD cover images to MP3 files, you can use EasyTAG. Using EasyTAG is unfortunately not very intuitive, but when you get the idea, it's pretty fast.

  1. Here's the procedure how to add CD Cover Images to MP3 files using EasyTAG:
  2. Open EasyTAG
  3. From the left most area titled “Tree”, click open the folder that contains the MP3s you want to edit. (see the picture below, area “A”)
  4. The MP3 files of that folder are now shown in the middle area. (see the picture below, area “B”)
  5. Select all MP3 files in the folder. Now you indicate that you want to change some property of all these chosen files. You can do this by clicking the first song and then pressing down Shift button and clicking the last song.
  6. From the right most area titled “ID3 Tag” click the “Pictures” tab. (see the picture below, area “C”)
  7. To add a CD cover image click the green PLUS -sign. (arrow in the picture below) Locate the picture from your hard drive.
  8. Double click the cover image in the “Pictures” field. This opens a new window “Picture Properties”. Choose Picture Type by clicking the text “Cover (front)” and click OK. (see the smaller picture below)
  9. Click the tiny radio button on the right hand side of the “Picture” field. This applies the picture to all MP3 files you chose earlier. (arrow in the picture below)
  10. Click the hard drive icon at the top of the window. This writes the changes to the disk. (arrow in the picture below)
  11. You are done. Now either close EasyTAG or start again from the item 2.

EasyTAG Screenshot
Picture: EasyTAG main screen
EasyTAG Picture Properties
Picture: EasyTAG Picture Properties

If you wish to edit other ID Tags, you can do so on the Common tab. Always first choose the MP3 files from the central “Area B”, which you want to edit. And then make the changes under the Common tab and click the small radio button on the right hand side of each field you change. Finally remember to click the hard drive icon to write the changes to the disk.

EasyTAG ID area
Picture: EasyTAG ID3 area's Common tab

Special Cases

Some times it happens that Rubyripper just doesn't get thru some song. This might be due to scratched CD for example. In these cases Rubyripper seems to do worse job than other possible ripping software as it still tries to combine the ripped chunks and thus ends up with silent gaps in the final ripped MP3 file. I decided to make a compromise in these few cases and just copy the wav file directly from the CD and then convert that file into a MP3. Another option would be to use some other ripping software that doesn't care for reading errors. Using WAV to MP3 conversion I was able to create equal quality MP3s minus, of course, the unrepairable CD reading errors. Here is the command I used:

Convert WAV to MP3

lame -V 0 --vbr-new input.wav output.mp3

Where “input.wav” is the name of the WAV file and “output.mp3” is the name of the MP3 file after the conversion.
Read more about this from here:

I also had another special case. Some of my music was already in FLAC format. To convert these files into MP3s, again with equal quality as the ripped CD, I used this command:

Convert FLAC to MP3

for file in *.flac; do flac -cd "$file" | lame -V 0 --vbr-new - "${file%.flac}.mp3"; done

Read more about this from here:

Create Playlist Manually
Rubyripper – as propably all ripping softwares – automatically creates a playlist for all ripped CDs. If you'll have to do manual converting of WAVs and/or FLACs to MP3s you'll also have to create or edit the playlist files.

Luckily the playlist files are really really simple. All they are, is a simple list of file names, nothing else. The quickest way to manually create a playlist is to open console and type in the following command when you are in the folder containing the MP3 files:

ls > filename.m3u

You will probably want to name the playlist “filename.m3u” according to the band and album names. In my case the playlist file names are like this: “The Corrs - Forgiven, Not Forgotten (mp3).m3u”. I just adapted the naming format from the Rubyripper. Note: the comma in the file name might create problems in some cases, but I didn't face any problems with any of my devices.

The playlist files are just normal text files that can easily be edited with any text editor. The above command lists all files in that folder to the playlist file. After running the command you do have to edit away all other files (lines in the text file) but the MP3 files. After this the playlist works perfectly. It's really quick and easy.

Final words

Do not copy! Support the artists and software vendors. Rip only the CDs you own! And use open source or use money to buy the software!

Never ever buy music in WMA format as it might be broken with DRM and most likely will not play in any of your devices! Burning CDs out of DRM broken WMAs is not a solution - it's just idiotic!

Firefox ja FTP-siirrot

lähettänyt Jukka Niiranen 27.8.2011 klo 1.28   [ 27.8.2011 klo 2.39 päivitetty ]

Firefox selaimen käyttäminen tiedostojen hakemiseen FTP-palvelimelta on tunnetusti helppoa. Ainut mitä tarvitsee tehdä, on kirjoittaa selaimen osoitekenttään normaalin http.... -osoitteen sijaan ftp://palvelimen.nimi:portti. Tämän jälkeen tarvitseekin enää vain antaa pyydetyt käyttäjätunnus ja salasana.

!! Pidä aina kuitenkin mielessä, että FTP eli File Transfer Protocol, on sellaisenaan salaamatonta liikennettä. Toisin sanojen käyttäjätunnukset ja salasanat kulkevat Internetissä sellaisenaan ja niiden poimiminen liikenteestä luvattomaan käyttöön on helppoa kuin heinänteko. Näin ollen salattujen SCP:n (Secure CoPy) tai SFTP (Secure File Transfer Protocol) tekniikoiden käyttäminen onkin huomattavasti viisaampaa. Tosin jos tarkoituksena on vain siirrellä julkista materiaalia paikasta toiseen käyttäen yksinkertaisia ja edullisia SoHo (Small Office Home Office) -laitteita puolustaa FTP kyllä vielä paikkaansa. !!

Mutta kuinka siirrät tiedostoja omalta koneelta FTP-palvelimelle päin helposti selaimen avulla?

FireFTP lisäosan asentaminen Firefox -selaimeen

FireFTP lisäosa on käyttöjärjestelmä riippumaton, eli sen voi asentaa Firefox -selaimeen olipa käytössä sitten Linux, Mac tai Windows -järjestelmä. Seuraava ohje on laadittu Ubuntu Linuxilla, mutta asentaminen etenee samoin kaikissa järjestelmissä. Ohje on pyritty laatimaan yksinkertaisimman kaavan mukaan ilman mitään ylimääräisiä "säätöjä".

!! FireFTP on ilmainen Firefoxin lisäosa. Mutta on hyvien tapojen mukaista tukea kehittäjää ja hänen valitsemiaan hyväntekeväisyyskohteita. !!

  1. Mene osoitteeseen: 
  2. Napsauta "FireFTP"-ohjelman kohdalla rivin oikeassa reunassa olevaa vihreää "Lisää Firefoxiin" -painiketta.

  3. FireFTP asentuu ja pyytää sinua lopuksi käynnistämään Firefox-selaimen uudelleen. Sulje selain ja avaa se uudelleen.

  4. Uudelleen käynnistyksen jälkeen saat huomautusruudun uuden lisäkkeen asennuksesta. Voit vain sulkea tämän ikkunan.
  5. FireFTP -ohjelma löytyy nyt Firefox-selaimen Tools-valikosta. Käynnistä FireFTP.

  6. Ensimmäisellä käynnistys kerralla saattaa ohjelman tekijän mainossivu aueta omaksi välilehdekseen. On hyvien tapojen mukaista tehdä ohjelman tekijän pyytämä lahjoitus. Voit sulkea mainosvälilehden.
  7. Napsauta ruudun vasemman ylänurkan "Create an account" (luo tili) -painikkeesta. Tämän avulla voit luoda pikavalinnat yleisimmin käyttämiisi FTP-palvelimiin.

  8. Syötä sen FTP-palvelun vaatimat tiedot mitä haluat käyttää eri välilehdille ja napsauta OK.
  9. Käynnistääksesi yhteyden napsauta "Connect"-painiketta. Muista tietojen siirtämisen jälkeen sulkea yhteys napsauttamalla "Disconnect"-painiketta. (kun yhteys on auki Disconnect -painike korvaa Connect -painikkeen)

FireFTP -lisäosan käyttäminen Firefox -selaimessa

Yhteyden muodostaminen
  1. Avaa FireFTP valitsemalla se Firefoxin Tools -valikosta.
  2. Tarkista, että sivun vasemmassa ylänurkassa lukee haluamasi FTP-palvelimen nimi
  3. Napsauta palvelimen nimen oikealla puolella olevaa "Connect"-painiketta.
  4. Yhteys valitsemaasi FTP-palvelimeen muodostuu

Tiedostojen siirtäminen

  1. FireFTP-näkymän vasemman puoleisessa osassa näet oman tietokoneesi kansiot ja kulloinkin valitun kansion tiedostot.
  2. FireFTP-näkymän oikean puoleisessa osassa näet FTP-palvelimen kansiot ja kulloinkin valitun kansion tiedostot.
  3. Vasemman ja oikean puoleisen osan välissä näet kaksi vihreää nuolta. Tiedostojen siirtäminen tapahtuu niitä painelemalla.

  4. Tiedoston siirtäminen omalta koneelta FTP-palvelimelle
    - etsi ruudun vasemmalta puolelta oman koneesi tiedostoista se tiedosto jonka haluat siirtää
    - napsauta siirrettävää tiedostoa hiirellä yhden kerran
    - siirry siihen kansioon ruudun oikealla puolella, minne haluat tiedoston siirtää
    - napsauta ruudun keskellä olevaa vihreää nuolta joka osoittaa oikealle (omasta koneesta FTP-palvelimen suuntaan)
  5. Tiedoston siirtäminen FTP-palvelimelta omalle koneelle
    - tapahtuu täsmälleen samalla tavalla kuin tiedoston siirtäminen omalta koneelta FTP-palvelimellekin
    - nyt vain napsautetaan ruudun keskeltä vihreää nuolta joka osoittaa vasemmalle (FTP-palvelimen suunnasta omalle koneelle)

Yhteyden katkaiseminen
  1. Napsauta sivun vasemmassa ylänurkassa lukevan FTP-palvelimen nimen oikealla puolella olevaa "Disconnect" -painiketta.
  2. Yhteys FTP-palvelimeen katkeaa ja voit sulkea selaimen tai välilehden.

Muut toimenpiteet

FireFTP:n avulla voit tehdä myös muita toimenpiteitä sekä omalle tietokoneellesi, että FTP-palvelimelle. Näitä ovat mm. delete (poista tiedosto), rename (nimeä tiedoto uudelleen) ja create directory (luo hakemisto). Nämä toimenpiteet onnistuvat osoittamalla haluttua tiedostoa (tai hakemiston luomisen tapauksessa tyhjää tilaa, minne hakemisto halutaan luoda) hiirellä ja napsauttamalla hiiren oikean puolesta painiketta. Avautuvasta valikosta voit valita halutun toimenpiteen.

[Solved] Ubuntu 10.10 and Nokia CS-17 (0421:0622)

lähettänyt Jukka Niiranen 23.5.2011 klo 11.43   [ 21.6.2011 klo 23.13 päivitetty ]

- 23 May 2011 -

I received a new Nokia CS-17 Internet Stick from my mobile operator Saunalahti today. Naturally I had to start testing it immediately with Ubuntu. First I connected the USB device to my Vaio running Ubuntu 10.10. My hopes were rather high as there is already one Globetrotter 3G module build in this laptop and it work fine. But no. Nothing happened but an error message in dmesg.

Well, next thing I tried, was to connect the same USB Stick to another computer, a HP Probook with Ubuntu 11.04 (note that there is a build in 3G module in this computer also). Now Ubuntu 11.04 seems to recognise Nokia CS-17 right away and one can connect to Internet immediately. However, please note that I didn't do extensive testing with this set up.

** Update 22. June 2011: Yes, Ubuntu 11.04 supports Nokia CS-17 out-of-the-box. The Internet Stick is recognized correctly and can be used normally thru NetworkManager Applet immediately. **

That went nicely and the stick seems to be working so I could go back to Vaio and 10.10. Pretty soon I found the solution for making CS-17 work with Ubuntu 10.10 from Mika Heikkilä's site:  So thank Mika for these advices. Nice work! Here are the how-to steps:

1. Create a file named: 0421:0622 into folder: /etc/usb_modeswitch.d/
To do this, open a terminal window and say
cd /etc/usb_modeswitch.d/
and then
sudo pico 0421:0622
Now you might be asked for your password as this job need more user rights.

2. Cut'n'Paste the following (the text in red) into this new file 0421:0622

# Nokia CS-17

DefaultVendor= 0x0421

TargetVendor=  0x0421
TargetProduct= 0x0623



Save the file. If you used the above command you can save the file by clicking ctrl+o and hitting enter to the file name question. Finally use ctrl+x to close the editor.

3. Then there is still one other thing to do, you'll have to edit one more file.
In terminal window first say
cd /lib/udev/rules.d/
and after moving to this directory say
sudo pico 40-usb_modeswitch.rules
Again you might be asked for your password.

Now cut'n'paste the red part of the following text to the end of this file. Note that you'll have to leave the last line as it was. Below the text in blue illustrates the existing contents of the file and the red part is the one you'll have to add.

# Franklin Wireless U210
ATTRS{idVendor}=="1fac", ATTRS{idProduct}=="0130", RUN+="usb_modeswitch '%b/%k'"

# Nokia CS-17
ATTRS{idVendor}=="0421", ATTRS{idProduct}=="0622", RUN+="usb_modeswitch '%b/%k'"


Now hit ctrl+o to save the edited file and accept the file name with enter. Finally hit ctrl+x to close the editor.

4. Restart the system.
Most likely this is an overkill with Linux and restarting networking or session is probably enough - but after restart my Nokia CS-17 Internet Stick was found normally and all I had to do was to use the network manager to connect to the Internet just the same way as with all other networks.

Well, that's it. That did the trick for me. Hope this helps someone!

Odd Google Apps calender message: "...losing any overrides..." / "...luomansa ohitukset."

lähettänyt Jukka Niiranen 17.1.2011 klo 0.03   [ 17.1.2011 klo 0.10 päivitetty ]

- 17 Jan. 2011 -

Google seems to be a company that can make things happen and create services that really are beneficial for the masses. However comprehensible error messages are apparently not easy for them either. I just came across with the following error / notification message from Google Apps calender:

Finnish version:

Oletko varma?
Olet sallimassa tapahtuman muokkaamisen vieraille. Tämä johtaa siihen, että vieraat menettävät mahdollisesti luomansa ohitukset. Haluatko jatkaa?
|  OK  |  Peruuta  |

English version:

Are You Sure?
You are about to allow event modification by guests. This will result in guests losing any overrides that they may have created. Continue?
|  OK  |  Cancel  |

So, what on earth are they speaking about? First I thought that the Finnish translation had gone really wrong, which unfortunately often is the case. But no, the English language version of the notification is just as uninformative as the Finnish one is. The main problem is with this sentience: “This will result in guests losing any overrides that they may have created.” Overrides, what overrides?

After surfing a bit using the English version of the sentience I found an explanation. “Dingus” tells us at that:

"A third party is attempting to alternate a prior modification to an event. One person created the event, (in this instance probably you), another person suggested or made a modification to the original event by changing some dynamic (time or otherwise), and then a third person is making an additional change. The creator settings for the event are such that permission is required, and if granted, the second set of changes will be replaced by a third."

To help you understand, here's how I ended up with this error / notification message. I first created a calendar event with my mobile phone, which I synced to my Google Apps calender. Then I decided to share the event with my wife's Google Apps calender (and eventually her mobile) and let her also make modifications to the event.

The explanation of the error / notification message

So what I understood, and I sincerely hope that I got it right, was that the calendar event was firstly created by my mobile's calender and then edited by me thru web interface and the warning message was about the possibility that after sharing the event to the third party (here my wife), that third party would have a possibility to again make changes to the event, and thus possibly re-change the changes I've already made. So OKing the notification was no problem for me, as this is what I wanted to do.

Corrections to the message

But why Google is speaking about “overrides”. At least English – Finnish dictionary doesn't give any viable translations to this. And the translation Google is using (Override = Ohitus) is correct, but both words are just plain wrong. Here are my suggestions to make the messages more informative:

Finnish version current:

Oletko varma?
Olet sallimassa tapahtuman muokkaamisen vieraille. Tämä johtaa siihen, että vieraat menettävät mahdollisesti luomansa ohitukset. Haluatko jatkaa?
|  OK  |  Peruuta  |

Finnish version my suggestion:

Oletko varma?
Olet sallimassa tapahtuman muokkaamisen vieraille. Tämä johtaa siihen, että uudet vieraat voivat halutessaan muuttaa tapahtuman nykyisten käyttäjien jo aikaisemmin mahdollisesti tekemiä muutoksia. Haluatko jatkaa?
|  OK  |  Peruuta  |

English version current:

Are You Sure?
You are about to allow event modification by guests. This will result in guests losing any overrides that they may have created. Continue?
|  OK  |  Cancel  |

English version my suggestion:

Are You Sure?
You are about to allow event modification by guests. This will result in a possibility that new guests could alter the event details that possibly have already earlier been changed by the existing users. Continue?
|  OK  |  Cancel  |

Mixed locale in Ubuntu

lähettänyt Jukka Niiranen 5.12.2010 klo 5.44   [ 5.12.2010 klo 6.24 päivitetty ]

- 5. Dec 2010 -

Ubuntu is lovely system, as separate users can have different language graphical user interfaces (GUI) on one and a same computer. I wonder when - for example - the international hotels will have enough sense to upgrade the operating systems (OS) of their business centre computer to Ubuntu. What I mean is that let's say you are a Spaniard or a Dutchman or an Englishman and you are visiting for example Finland or China. My guess is that you wouldn't much benefit from a computer running Finnish or Chinese operating system, would you? While a computer with Spanish, Dutch or English OS would be much much more beneficial for you. Of course majority of public computer do already run an English language OS, but not all and most certainly using one's mother tongue would offer even better service.

Anyhow, I personally like to run my desktop in English (UK) and receive the system's feedback in English. There are basically two reasons for this. Firstly I've been used to it and secondly it's much more easy to find additional information and help from the Internet if the search terms are in English instead of Finnish. But even though I like to have my desktop in English, the system must use metric measurements, A4 paper size, comma as decimal separator, 24 hour clock and DD.MM.YYYY date format among other things. In some cases setting this up has been a chore, but now I found a solution for this!

In Ubuntu 10.10 there is a graphical user interface menu option: System -> Administration -> Language support , which should be quite enough for majority of the users. There one can set his/hers locale.

But there is also another way to set the locale setting just the way you like. Unfortunately this requires using console, but not to worry, job is easy and quickly done!

To see your current locale settings, use command:


And to change the settings one has to modify the file: /etc/default/locale by using:

sudo pico /etc/default/locale

This is how my /etc/default/locale looks like:


So everything else is "fi_FI.UTF-8" (=in Finnish), but LANG, LANGUAGE and MESSAGES parts. This gives me an English language desktop with dates, decimal separators, time / calendar etc. as they should be in Finland.

Known "issues":
  • The Ubuntu's Places menu has now the first two items "Home Folder" and "Desktop" in English and the rest of the items in Finnish (Documents, Music etc.) All links work ok, but if you open the "Home Folder", there is no Desktop folder in there, but a folder called "Työpöytä" (=desktop in Finnish). Rest of the GUI is in English as expected.
  • Date in Clock applet is shown in Finnish, it looks a bit 'out of place' in English language environment, but this was my goal at the beginning.

These two sites offered me valuable information on this topic:

Operating system used: Ubuntu 10.10, Maverick Meerkat, 64bit.

1-10 of 14