Monday, August 12, 2013

How to Merge Multiple Music Services Into a Mega-Library with Tomahawk

As more music services appear on the scene, it's become more and more difficult to keep your library from becoming a disjointed, cluttered mess split between 10 different apps. Tomahawk is a free, cross-platform music player that combines a wide variety of services and files into one place so you can have one giant mega-library of everything you want.

At its core, Tomahawk is a simple, free, desktop music player. What makes Tomahawk interesting is its resolvers and extensions. Instead of just having access to a set of music files on your computer when you search for something, Tomahawk can also look for tracks on services like Spotify, Soundcloud, YouTube, exfm, and plenty of others. This essentially turns the entire internet into your music library. From there, you can set up Pandora style radio stations, share playlists, or search for tracks on a half dozen services at once.

What's more, you can also set up Tomahawk to share your library with friends over Google Chat or Jabber. Provided both you and your friends have Tomahawk installed and running, you'll always have access to their entire music library. This social aspect happens within Tomahawk, so you don't need to worry about going through other services or signing up for something new. It might sound like a pain to set up, but it's actually remarkably easy to do.

First things first, we need to get Tomahawk installed. Head over to the download page and grab a copy of Tomahawk for Windows, Mac, or Linux.

Once it's downloaded and installed, you're asked to point Tomahawk to your current music folder on your hard drive. Do that, and wait a few minutes (or more depending on the size of your library) for Tomahawk to scan everything you own.

After Tomahawk is done scanning your local library, it's time to set up the various external services you want to use. Click Tomahawk > Preferences > Services to get to the services panel.

Here you'll find a menu to easily install resolvers. Resolvers are the various external services you can add to extend your music library and search for music. When you install one of these, every time you search for a track within Tomahawk it will search your local library as well as these services. For example, if you install Soundcloud, Tomahawk shows you search results both from your local library and from Soundcloud's external library.

In most cases, it's beneficial to install all of these. Just click the checkbox next to the service name, and Tomahawk does the rest. That said, some services, like Spotify and Grooveshark, require a premium account to work, so don't bother with those if you don't have the right account types.

How to Merge Multiple Music Services Into a Mega-Library with Tomahawk

Not everything you need to get the most out of Tomahawk is built into the app. If you want to expand the source list to include the likes of YouTube, 8Tracks, and others, you'll need to seek out additional resolvers. You can find a list of additional resolvers here, but be warned, not all of them are ready for primetime. They'll typically still work though, and won't mess anything up if they don't. Installation of these is simple:

Download the the resolver you want from here.In Tomahawk, navigate to Tomahawk > Preferences > Services.Select "Install from File," and navigate to the to the folder you just downloaded. Select the JS or AXE file inside the folder (usually located at > Content > Contents > Code). Click "Open" and that resolver will be installed.That's it, these resolvers will now work and every time you search for music the new sources will appear in your list. This is probably the most handy for YouTube, but some of the others can extend your music library quite a bit as well.

Tomahawk's more than just a socially connected music player. It has all sorts of little features hidden away that make it fun to use in a variety of ways. Here are just a few things we've found useful.

How to Merge Multiple Music Services Into a Mega-Library with Tomahawk

One of the best things you can do with Tomahawk is create Pandora-style automatically generated playlists. You can keep this simple, or make it incredibly specific.

To create a playlist, just head to the Stations section, and select "Create new Station." If you want to create something like you find on Pandora or Spotify Radio, just select the "Artist" and "Similar To" boxes, and enter the artist name. Tomahawk will pull from all your sources to create a playlist for you on the spot.

You can also get really specific with these playlists. Just select a setting from the drop-down menu, set the parameters, and then click the "+" button to add more. You can add as many as you want, and the end result is an incredibly specific playlist just for you. For example, as you can see in the image above we've made a playlist with the requirements: "Songs similar to Jeff Buckley about 96 BPM, wish a sad mood, a very low danceability, in C minor, and with very low energy.

This might sound silly, but it's pretty fun to dig really deep and make playlists for yourself based on specific moods. So, have fun and play around with these settings to come up with truly unique playlists.

How to Merge Multiple Music Services Into a Mega-Library with Tomahawk

Searching for new music within Tomahawk is great, but it doesn't really help when you're just browsing the internet and find some music you like. Thankfully, the Tomahklet bookmarklet does just that.

With the bookmarklet installed, you can generate playlists from within web pages. So, if you're browsing on a site like NPR's All Songs Considered, and find a song you like, just click the bookmarklet and Tomahawk automatically searches for all the songs listed on the page. The list of supported sites is pretty massive, and the Tomahklet ends up being a nice way to bookmark songs for later listening.

How to Merge Multiple Music Services Into a Mega-Library with Tomahawk

Tomahawk has a few different external plugins and apps that extend the experience beyond what's listed above. There are a a bunch of options for this, but here are a few of our favorite external apps that integrate with Tomahawk:

Global playlists: Want to integrate playlists from different services into one, easily playable format? Global playlists does it, and makes them instantly compatible with Tomahawk.Playlick: Playlick combines with Tomahawk to create a huge library of content right in your browser. If you're a big user, Playlick is worth a look.John Peel's Collection: Legendary DJ John Peel's record collection is massive, and filled with all kind of gems. With this little app, you can browse his collection and play any of those songs in Tomahawk.How to Merge Multiple Music Services Into a Mega-Library with Tomahawk

Creating a massive library of music using both your local files and several services on the internet is great. Where Tomahawk really shines is in its ability to combine and share your library with friends. Thankfully, this is super easy to set up, and once you do you'll be able to share your entire music collection easily with anyone you want.

Currently, Tomahawk has two ways to connect you to friends to share your music library: GChat and Jabber. With one of these accounts, you'll invite and authorize friends to share libraries. Setup is super easy:

Head to Tomahawk > Preferences > Services.Select Google or Jabber, and click the "Add Account" button.Add your account details and back out to the main Tomahawk screen.Click the Google Talk or Jabber logo in the top right-hand corner.Invite your friends to share your music library by entering their username and selecting "invite."Once they accept your invite, you share your entire music library as long as you're online. Your friends will see what you've been listening to, what you've "liked," currently playing tracks, and all your playlists. They'll also automatically start sharing their library with you as well (You can always enter a private mode by navigating to Controls > Listen Privately).

To view a friends library, just click their name and then click "Collection." Better still, to view a gigantic, mega-library, head up the Browse section in the left-side panel of Tomahawk, and click "SuperCollection." This is a collection of tracks from your library, your friends library, and any tracks you've added or liked from additional sources.

With Tomahawk running, you're also broadcasting everything you're listening to so friends can listen along. To listen along to a friend, select their name from the Friends list, and click the headphone icon next to their currently playing track. You'll start listening to what they're listening to within a couple seconds. This is a surprisingly fun way to discover new music, or to just keep up with what your friends are listening to without asking them to make playlists or mixtapes for you.

The one quirk with this setting is that you'll need to have UPnP enabled on your router, which, as we've pointed out before, isn't the most secure setting. There are some workarounds for the security conscious, but the basic UPnP setting is still the easiest way to make the library sharing function work.

Being an open-source project, Tomahawk does have a few quirks. Some of the interface is a bit confusing, and occasionally it doesn't work exactly as you'd expect it to. Still, it's an app that makes browsing for music—whether it's your next favorite song, or a classic—easier than ever. It also manages to turn your tiny little music library into a full-fledged record store caliber collection in the matter of about five minutes.

Photo by Lonely (Shutterstock).

How to make chevre goat cheese

I like to learn new "stuff" and so I decided to challenge myself.  This time the target is to create some chevre goat's cheese. (No need for any rennet)

First off is to get about 2L of goats milk, I use fresh.  The act of heating it up also pasteurizes the milk at the same time so don't worry about that.

The process for cheese is a lot like yogurt, heat up to 170-185 degrees.  I acquired a glass double boiler thanks to Kijiji for $25.00.  This ensures I do not scaled the milk and give it an "off" flavour.
The rest of my used items was from a creative canvass of regular used items.  The plastic tube is a hamburger press, works pretty good too!

So this is the hit list;

1 Liter goats milk
Juice of lemon (2-4 Tbsp divided)
1/2 tsp salt

Heat milk to 170-185 degrees, remove from heat and add lemon juice.
*if it does not curdle to you liking after 10-15mins, reheat and add lemon juice amts again.

Heat down to 120 degrees and ladle into cheese cloth

tie down or otherwise secure and weigh down

Refrigerate for 2hrs under weight

Remove and scrap out, add salt and seasonings (if desired) and stir in 1 tbsp of lemon juice.

Return to fridge for 48hrs to intensify flavour and will keep for 1 week.  (Never lasts longer than a few days in my house anyways)

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Seagate 600 240GB SATA III 6Gbps SSD Review

Legit Storage Reviews

Seagate has long been a player in the storage industry, best known for its hard drive products and more recently, its hybrid HDD/SSD drives. As such, it may be surprising that it's taken so long for them to jump into the pure SSD consumer market as so many other already have. At this point, we are seeing drive makers reduce in number as component prices and sales margins fall, somewhat of an echo of sorts of how the spinning platter drive market evolved. Nevertheless, Seagate has chosen to power their latest 600 series drives with the Link_A_Media Devices (LAMD) LM87800 controller (now owned by SK Hynix) and pair it with Toshiba NAND - a configuration we've seen before with good results.

Seagate 600 240GB Front

The 600 series is actually available in two configurations - one with a z-height of the familiar 7mm and another with a rarely seen 5mm (part numbers end 1). Both are available in capacities of 120GB, 240GB and 480GB. There is also a pro model with similar capacities plus higher overprovisioned capacities of 100GB, 200GB and 400GB. They are essentially the same drives as the non-pro but offers a few extras such as greater endurance and on-board capacitors as an extra measure to prevent data loss should power be suddenly interrupted. Here's a quick little overview video produced by Seagate:

The drives have admirable performance specifications of 550MB/s reads and 450MB/s writes and IOPS performance of 80,000/70,000 reads/writes respectively. All carry a three year warranty and Seagate's track record of quality.

Nonrecoverable Read Errors per Bits Read:Annualized Failure Rate (AFR):Endurance (Total Bytes Written (TBW)):Seagate 600 240GB Rear

Our test sample arrived bare in nondescript packaging so we have no images of that but the drive comes as is with no other frills such as adapter plates, cables, stickers or software. Although not relevant to performance, the exterior of the drive is quite attractive with the black textured surface and a white wave accent flowing down the left side. Definitely different than any other drive on the market. How about the inside? Let's see...

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Multiple Rocket Control Center

As a long time Boy Scout leader I have found Instructables as a invaluable resource. So here is my first attempt at helping the community with my first instrucable. 

This idea was born out of a frustration from last year. I was a Scout Master on a National Youth Leadership Training course and I felt that it took to long to launch multiple 2 liter soda bottle water rockets. So I started to look for launchers that could launch several rockets at once but I did not find what I wanted. After searching the internet I found inspiration from several sources and designed the RPL (Rocket Propulsion Laboratory) a multiple rocket launch control center. Not only can you launch water rockets but paper and solid engine rockets as well. 

I designed it with lots of lights and switches that get the boys intrigued and relay involved. The launcher I use is located here 

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How to make a Kayak drainage port

DTD.pngI've been Kayaking for several years.  As much as I love getting out onto the water I don't look forward to the necessary cleanup.  Oh, for the most part it's really straight forward but the way kayaks are designed drives me absolutely bonkers.  They mold the kayaks to create a deep cockpit that is absolutely impossible to empty of water.  Now don't get me wrong, my kayak doesn't get filled up when I'm paddling about, it gets filled up when I have to hose out the muck and grim that gets inside it from hopping in and out. I usually launch from the water's edge and not a dock so I usually end up with a small amount of mud, sand and such on the inside.  The cockpits are lipped on the edge so even flipping it upside down and rolling it back and forth won't get everything out.  In I go with my various methods of water drainage - e.g. cups, sponges, towels, etc...

I can't imaging why they couldn't build proper drainage into the production molds but since they didn't I decided to take matters into my own hands.  A quick trip to my local depot store for a few odd pieces and I was ready to get started.  Never shy to Frankenstein my Kayak to make it more usable, I grabbed my Dremil and swung into work with careless abandon!

Sketch.pngI had previously taken a swing at making it easier to empty the water from my cockpit by putting a drainage plug on its side, under the edge lip.  Didn't work very well.  Honestly, it didn't really work at all.  The effort it took to rock the kayak back and forth over this little 1" hole just wasn't worth it and it ended up taking longer than normal methods.

Where to now?  How could I drain the water of the cockpit without sacrificing its water tight integrity?  Front, back, side, top, bottom?  I originally though about putting a plug up towards the bow but the surface curvature was too much and I couldn't figure out how to mount a plug correctly.  Plus, there's a large block of ballast foam stuck way up front and I'd have to dig that out.  Too far up, too narrow and I'm too fat.  Next...

The rear of the kayak was flat(ish) and would make a decent plug mount location but there was the problem of the rear watertight compartment.  I'd have to allow the water through the watertight bulkhead, through the watertight compartment and out the watertight skin.  Three "watertight" items that I've to pass water.  Yeah, perfect, that will do nicely!!

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