MP3 Creation, The Long Way

There are plenty of strictly speaking illegal means of finding and saving media. From the earlier methods of checking P2P sites and software to using places like rapidshare and torrents. The history of the internet is filled with smart and plain illegal means just to get one’s hands on music, video and software.

Of course plenty of websites exist that allow streaming of music but make it difficult or impossible to save the file. Sometimes listening to places that stream music it is even possible to find a link to a working, downloadable MP3. Search for song on for example and you may find the MP3 of the song easily available on the ‘Visit Site’ link under the song title. Another way is using google with search terms like

-inurl:(htm|html|php) intitle:”index of” +”last modified” +”parent directory” +description +size +(mp3) “band_or_song_name”

This will output sites and not so hidden directories that may have a copy of the song.

When all else fails or when one just wants to try something new one can create a MP3 the long way. Start by downloading the famous and open source audio editor Audacity then download and save the LAME MP3 encoder. Use Audacity paying particular attention to the areas marked in the image below.


Launch the song on the streaming site and record. When the song is over stop the recording process in Audacity and ‘Export As Mp3’ under the File menu.

Tools To View And Analyze Disk Usage

As a followup to my post on TreeSize here are some other downloads I have come across that let the user view or visualize space usage on a disk.

For this article I chose to analyze a folder that is approximately 945MB and has 28 subfolders and 170 files. Using a not so new Windows XP machine.

Free Disk Analyzer is described by its author as

The easiest tool for quickly finding large files and optimizing disk usage.


Free Disk Analyzer comes in at 11.1MB, much larger than the others looked at in this article, and while having the most elegant or perhaps uncomplicated interface that is pretty similar to Windows Explorer it still difficult to understand the need for the program size. Free Disk Analyzer includes links to the system control panel and even a breadcrumbs style menu. It was slowest to analyze the chosen folder and provide the info seen in the image, it even went into a Windows ‘Not Responding’ state for a few seconds. But the results clearly and by default include analysis of the files and not just folders or subfolders being scanned. As mentioned, for a download its size it has surprisingly few options. One can filter result by the usual types like images or system files. It is possible to analyze the largest files or set a minimum file size for analysis and also to cache or save the results. After one analysis it took up about 25MB of memory. Supported Windows versions are not listed on the developer’s website.

OverDisk is described by its author as

OverDisk is a disk usage browser. It can be used to quickly find out how a partition’s space is distributed among the file system hierarchy.


OverDisk, at a 502KB download, is much smaller. It generates an immediate graph of the space taken that can be configured for ‘Logical’, ‘Physical’ and ‘Wasted’ space taken by the operating system – as in taking into account the cluster size. One interesting tool is the Statistics under the Info menu which allows the user to check for such things as ‘Deepest’ and ‘Largest’ path names (see image). OverDisk took less than 5MB of memory during and after analysis was complete. Supported Windows versions are not listed on the developer’s website.

WinDirStat is described by its author as

WinDirStat is a disk usage statistics viewer and cleanup tool for Microsoft Windows


WinDirStat, a 630KB download, at startup and by default will give an overview of the disk drives and if one doesn’t see the option and doesn’t choose the ‘A Folder’ radio button and just click OK it proceeds to fully analyze the whole drive without any further prompts. Subsequent to that but choosing a folder the stats are displayed pretty instantaneously. The rather strange and unusual map which is also color coded according to file types (see image) makes for a more detailed representation of the space the files take. It is possible to zoom on the map to get a close up if many subfolders or files are being looked at. Various disk cleanup options are included and one can configure more via the Options menu. Memory usage topped off at around 10MB. Runs on all versions of Windows including Windows 95 with Internet Explorer 5 loaded.

Folder Size is described by its author as

Folder Size helps you figure out where all that hard drive space has gone on your computer.


Folder Size is a more basic analyzer with a basic option of visualizing the amount of space each folder or subfolder is taking. It is possible to filter the results but little else is included. At 333KB (unzipped) and not requiring installation it is good for quick reference. Supported Windows versions are not listed on the developer website.

Xinorbis is described by its author as

Xinorbis is a simple but powerful hard disk analyzer. Using a sophisticated mix of graphs, tables and tree displays, it gives the user a complete overview of the contents of a hard disk (or directory)


Xinorbis, another available as a portable no-installation version is 4.64MB unzipped. Xinorbis provides a different and perhaps confusing GUI that packs its features in tabs. The tabs allows such things as keeping a folder history and also many different views of the results be they text, pie chart or table format. It also provides a ‘Top 101’ files table that lists the largest and smallest files in the disk or folder being analyzed. One additional filter that might be of interest is the ‘Null’ tab which lists any null files or empty folders. Xinorbis features four ways to export the results in HTML, XML, CSV and text. It used 15MB of memory. Of note is the shell support that makes it possible to scan a directory from the command line. It runs on Windows 2000, XP and Vista

For the simplest of all one can not forget Folder Size, an open source project that adds folder sizes right in the Windows Explorer details view, much in the same way as file sizes are displayed. It works on Windows 2000 and XP, and provides a features sorely missing in those and other Windows versions.

Safely Transfer Files Using WinSCP

WinSCP is described by its author as

WinSCP is an open source free SFTP client and FTP client for Windows. Legacy SCP protocol is also supported. Its main function is safe copying of files between a local and a remote computer.

It is a very robust and feature rich FTP client that supports secure file transfer using SSH over FTP. It has many of the usual and expected features like integration into Windows for such operations as drag and drop and insertion into the Send To context menu. Additionally in can be used via the command line to perform many actions available in its GUI such as synchronizing files between remote and local folders or simply uploading files. Many remote commands are also available by right clicking files in the remote pane, such as duplication, move, Tar, Touch, Grep and of course changing file permissions. It is possible to store sessions or login details and even remember last used local and remote directories.

Two perhaps trivial but stand out features are an internal text editor to work on remote files and the ability to actually view such formats as .htaccess files in the remote pane therefore eliminating the risk of overwriting such files that Windows does not recognize, one thing that is really missing on most FTP clients.

WinSCP should run on any system running Windows 95 or later and is currently at v4.1.8. In my experience I have had less problems with WinSCP when compared to the highly rated FileZilla.

Encrypt And Hide Files With TrueCrypt

TrueCrypt is described by its author as

Free open-source disk encryption software for Windows Vista/XP, Mac OS X, and Linux

TrueCrypt is a feature rich, powerful and reliable software to secure any number of files, folders or even entire drives. It achieves this by creating a ‘virtual encrypted disk’. It is possible to hide most any thing in one ‘file’ that is only accessible with TrueCrypt and via password and/or keyfiles. It is also possible to encrypt an entire partition or a USB key or flash drive. TrueCrypt supports three main methods of encryption, AES-256, Serpent, and Twofish, and depending on the data being encrypted one may not even need the most powerful but nevertheless it is also possible to generate strong password using TrueCrypt.

Starting up the program and hiding, securing or encrypting requires a few steps. The user starts by pressing the ‘Create Volume’ button which leads to the launch of the ‘TrueCrypt Volume Creation Wizard’. Once there one chooses to either encrypt by creating a virtual disk within a file, a non-system partition such as a USB key or a system partition which basically allows for the encryption of the operating system as a whole. In one of the more typical uses, the ‘disk within a file’, the next step is to choose between a ‘normal’  encrypted disk or a hidden volume which basically hides the encrypted data inside another area so as to make it possible to deny any data is encrypted at all, what is called plausible deniability. Then the user chooses a location for the so-called file, the type of encryption, the size of the container or file, a password (and keyfiles if preferred) and finally between FAT or NTFS for the format of the volume.

When the program is launched the user will see something like the image below where the encrypted file becomes accessible as a drive.


For increased security check ‘never save history’ and keep ‘cache passwords and keyfiles in memory’ unchecked (see image above).

Many command line options that can ease the use of and for example automate mounting of encrypted drives plus many other explanations including a very easy to follow tutorial are all available at TrueCrypt is currently at version 6.1a and supported by a good community and a detailed site.

TreeSize Drive Report

TreeSize is a small executable that lets the user visualize how much space a drive or a folder and its subfolders is taking. Opening the program and opening any directory or folder presents a windows explorer like and expandable list of folders.

The results can be viewed in KB, MB, GB, or even mixed units so that varied folder sizes can be more precisely accounted for. It is also possible to view the sizes in percentage, file count and cluster size.

It is also possible to enable or disable the bar that acts as a relative size indicator (see image below). Most interestingly perhaps are the options to add TreeSize to file and drive context menus accessible via right click and the ability to show tooltips when hovering over the results. The tooltips provide such info as Wasted space, in how data chunks are handled by the operating system, and such things as Creation Date, Average File Size and folder Permissions. Buried under View—>Options is File Filter which lets the user ‘Enter one of more file filters which should be included in a scan’, but it proves mostly useless since it seems to only be an indicator that an uncertain number of a certain file type exists within a folder.


The current version, 2.2.1 , is compatible with Windows 2000, XP and Vista but the last Windows 98 and ME compatible version, 2.1, is also available. TreeSize is freeware but a professional version with many more features, including the ability to export reports to formats other than a simple print job, is also available.

Tagging And Organizing Non-Media Files II

Last week I posted that in my opinion there is a general need for applications that do more than just tag music and photos. Tagging that extends to all file types can ease organization not least because searching for files in folders is not always the most efficient.

Therefore it was great to see that Samer @ Freewaregenius has found and reviewed TaggedFrog. In very much the same way and perhaps even better ways TaggedFrog does what I was looking for and perhaps more importantly is being developed and is not abandoned.

It is described by its author as

TaggedFrog allows you to organize your files, documents and Web links. Just add objects to the library and tag them with any keywords. That’s it. You can forget the file name or where the file is located, but don’t worry – the tags will find the file for you.

and it looks good. Although, in general, I think one would prefer to do without a .NET requirement but since Ultrafolder is dead and tag2find runs as a service this is a good and promising alternative.

Windows Grep Text Search And Replace

Windows Grep is described by its author as

Windows Grep is a tool for searching files for text strings that you specify. Although Windows and many other programs have file searching capabilities built-in, none can match the power and versatility of Windows Grep.

Windows Grep is more or less a GUI (Graphical User Interface) for the grep command line utility. In addition to searching for text it also supports replacing of text.

Searches can be performed using either the beginner or expert mode, with the former providing a wizard. The wizard is basically a step by step version of the expert mode that does not necessarily make the searching task easier and in reality only offers less options.

File formats supported include plain (source code, batch files, etc.) and binary (EXE, DLL, etc.). It is possible to perform searches based on the size and the date of the files in question and also use regular expressions in the search. Search results can also be saved and printed. Additionally Windows Grep can search inside ZIP archives thus making it handy for searching backups for example.

One of the strengths of Windows Grep is the way search results are displayed. The user can control the number of lines displayed around either side of the matching text, whether to include whole lines and some others. (see image below). Worth a mention is the support for searching delimited (text separated by a constant character such as a comma) and fixed length text file formats.


Windows Grep runs on Windows 98, 2000, XP and Vista  and is a non-expiring and non-crippled shareware. It prompts for registration at program exit.

Digsby, The All In One Online World

Digsby is one of the newer ways to communicate with friends and colleagues across different protocols. It has been available to the world for around a year or so. Unlike the somewhat disappointing and overly long in alpha or in beta Trillian the builds or versions appear quickly and work pretty well.

Digsby requires a separate sign up to keep track of your different logins and accounts. Some privacy concerns are obvious here but are addressed as best as possible on a ‘Security Practices’ page. Over all a good product with responsive support and continuous development, at least at the time of this writing.

The protocols supported are as follows AIM, Windows Live Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, Google Talk, Facebook Chat, ICQ, and Jabber in the IM department; Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo Mail, AOL/AIM Mail, IMAP, and POP for email checking and notification; and Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and LinkedIn for social network updates and their respective chats. One of the most interesting aspects is a publicly accessible Wishlist that includes stats and votes to prioritize user input. Some of the current highly rated wishes are multi-person conversations and plug-in support. Of note is that audio and/or video chat is not natively supported but the program launches Tokbox, which can be accessed within the conversation by clicking the video button, where a new window to the TokBox service is generated and is accessible via a link to the friend at the other end of the conversation.

First start requires signing up for the aforementioned account and adding the respective protocol logins (see image below). One very user friendly feature of Digsby that should be mentioned is that if a conversation is minimized any new arriving message is not only viewable via a small popup near the bottom of the screen but it is also possible to reply using only that popup without maximizing the program. Very handy for keeping distractions to a minimum.


Digsby is freeware but the developers readily admit to the need for a revenue model and are trying to keep it to unobtrusive measures like a Yahoo toolbar and that may even be an opt-in at installation. Check out the complete feature list here. It is currently available for Windows but as many of the other Wishlist items Mac and Linux versions are coming soon. Sign up here to get notified and perhaps further encourage the work they are doing to make those versions.

Tagging And Organizing Non-Media Files

There are many tools available to organize media, audio mainly, files. Mp3Tag and MediaMonkey being just two that support tagging music files among other features. One area that is not as populated is a desktop application that supports tagging files of any kind.

Ultrafolder, now defunct, was one such promising application. Upon installation a shortcut would be placed on the desktop and any file, be it music, word or image that was dragged to the shortcut would launch the program and allow the addition of tags. The only negative aspect that I can think of was that all the tagged files would reside in a single folder, otherwise I found it very useful and bug-free. Ultrafolder existed for a while under an expiring beta @, but after the author discontinued development, due to lack of interest as he put it, the executable would only prompt for an update check and no longer launch. A very unfortunate decision by the author in my opinion.

In my search I have come across another app, it is called tag2find. Its development seems to have slowed since it initial launch and even though it is promising and with more features than Ultrafolder it has the disadvantage of needing to run in the system tray to monitor folders and also needing to be installed as a Windows service. It does have advantages, of course, and among them is the ability to move any tagged files and since it runs on a NTFS volume the meta information is easily carried over.

My search for similar apps continues, if you know of any please leave a link and a comment.

A Thought On Google Analytics

Being a rather late user or adapter of Google Analytics I was amused to find the following question and answer while searching and reading the help section of Google Analytics

Is there a report that displays IP addresses?

Due to user privacy concerns, Google Analytics doesn’t report on personally identifiable information, including a visitor’s IP address. Instead, Google Analytics provides aggregated data to help you make informed business decisions. You can view the Map Overlay report (under the Visitors section) to look at aggregated geographical data about your visitors, or view the Network Location report (under Visitors > Network Properties) to see your visitors’ ISP locations.

It is extremely odd that a search engine which undoubtedly collects quite a bit of information from its search (and other services) users decides to withhold information in this manner in the name of privacy. There are 100s of visitor statistics scripts that allow the user to classify and view site visitors sorted by IP. It is baffling to call all those privacy invaders. It is perhaps even more puzzling to assume that if any Google Analytics user sees something like “” he or she can or will somehow use that for something other than being a good webmaster.