Friday, November 18, 2011

Creating Playlists for a Sansa Clip Using Linux.

Creating Sansa clip playlists in Linux is super easy IF you do it exactly right and make NO mistakes.

The playlist is just a text file with a .m3u file extension; that's all there is to it, but (and this is a BIG BUT) the playlist won't work if it doesn't have a commented out identifier at the top of the list. Here's one I've copy pasted from my Sansa Clip:

---

#EXTM3U

Away_In_A_Manger.mp3
Be_Home_for_Christmas.mp3
Carol_Of_The_Bells.mp3
Charlie_Brown_Medley.mp3
Christmas_At_Hogwarts.mp3
Holy_Night.mp3
I_Saw_Three_Ships.mp3
Let_it_Snow.mp3
Merry_Little_Christmas.mp3
Silent_Night.mp3
The_Christmas_Song.mp3
The_First_Noel.mp3
The_Holly_And_The_Ivy.mp3
What_Child_Is_This.mp3
Winter_Wonderland.mp3

---

If you've been a Linux user for a while you know as well as I do that the hashmark (pound sign) preceding the characters at the top of the file indicates that what follows is a comment which should be ignored by the player's software but if you leave that commented line out of the playlist it WON'T WORK. Why? I've no idea but that's how it is. The carriage return which followed the commented line seems to be optional but this particular playlist didn't work without it so I've gotten in the habit of using it with all of them.

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As it powers up, the Sansa clip doesn't recognise folders in its file system and will list your music files as though you had dumped them all into one large folder even if you've carefully sorted them into labelled folders. If, on the other hand, you do carefully sort your music into folders, each folder must contain its own playlist because folders ARE recognised by the software that reads the playlists and will be unable to find an mp3 file which isn't in the
SAME folder as the playlist.

Note: In case you're wondering if you can specify the path to the mp3 file in the playlist, I have no idea, I've never had occasion to try that.

If you wish to use the same tunes on more than one playlist you must, then, avoid using sub-folders and put all your mp3 files and playlists into the MUSIC folder.



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You CANNOT delete any music files or playlists using your file manager in normal user mode because Linux will then create a hidden, system trash folder inside the Sansa clip and move the files you've deleted into it. You will know that this has happened because when the Sansa clip re-initializes, after you've safely removed it from your computer's USB port, it will find, recognise and display the deleted playlist (or music files). You'll know this has happened because you'll have an extra playlist that comes up empty when you select it (or songs that you're certain you've delete will still appear to be there).

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** If you find that you do, in fact, have an empty playlist (or songs that you know darn well you've deleted), you'll need dolphin, Konqueror or some other file manager that permits you to split the screen into two windows and you'll need to open an instance of that file manager with root privileges.

With *buntu systems (or systems based on Ubuntu) you can use...

sudo dolphin

or

sudo konqueror

On just about any other system you should probably use

gksu dolphin

or gksu konqueror

Note 1: If you get an error message, open up your package manager, search for and install gksu. Then try it again.

Note 2: In either instance, you may have to go to your package manager and install dolphin or konqueror.

Note 3: Yes, you may be able to type "su" followed by your root password and then type dolphin or konqueror but, in my experience, this sometimes returns an error and simply won't work whereas gksu, which is designed for the purpose, usually works fine.

Note 4: Insofar as I'm aware, there are no other Linux file managers with split screen capabilities but don't let my ignorance stop you if you have, or know of, another file manager which has the capability.

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Once you've opened an instance of your file manager which has root privileges, split the screen, direct one window to the trash folder on your main hard drive and the other window to the Sansa clip.

With focus on the window showing the Sansa clip, set the file manager to Show hidden files. Drag and drop the hidden, system trash folder from the Sansa clip into the trash on your main hard drive. While you're at it, check the file folders, and every folder you've created on the Sansa clip for backup files created by your text editor and delete them. Why? because the Sansa clip doesn't recognise backup files and will find and display them as yet another playlist after it's initialised.

Speaking of which; before creating, editing or manipulating playlists, make sure you've set the preferences in your chosen text editor so that it will NOT create backup files.

If you forget to do this and notice that your editor has, for example, created a back up copy of your playlist on the Sansa clip remember that you cannot just delete it. Why? Because when you do Linux will create a hidden, system trash folder and move that backup playlist into it and because the Sansa clip operating system has no idea what a trash folder is it will find and display that deleted playlist (unless you also deleted the songs that were listed in that playlist, thereby putting them in the same folder, in which case it will remain a playable list). What should you do if that happens? back up the two asterisks on this page (** above) and start over.

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So, if you started your playlist with the right information...

#EXTM3U

...listed the songs you want played, separated by carriage returns (the enter key for those of you too young to remember typewriters) with no typos in the file names or the file extensions, didn't list any songs that aren't in the same folder as the playlist, didn't delete any files or use an editor that creates automatic backups and remembered to save your playlists with .m3u file extensions, your playlists will be recognised when the Sansa clip initializes and will work beautifully. If you've forgotten even ONE of these carefully composed instructions you get to start all over again.

Do NOT ask my how I know so much about making playlists for Sansa clips on Linux systems. You may, however, assume that I've had a great deal of experience with creating playlists for the single Sansa clip I happen to own. My Sansa clip contains 200 songs sorted into 5 perfectly functional playlists. That's the truth and is as much as I'll admit to without coercion.

If you get stumped feel free to contact me. :)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Thank You World Wide Web

Dear internet,

Thank you for helping me find my wonderful wife and introducing me to some of the best friends I've ever had in my life.

Thank you for paperbackswap.com because I'll never again be without a book to read.

Thank you for bobsredmill.com.

Thank you for sfherb.com.

Thank you for amazon.com, ebay.com, half.com, google.com, paypal.com, icanhascheezburger.com and all the other wonderful websites which teach me new things, make me laugh, help me find things I would otherwise never have found, help me buy things I could otherwise never have afforded and bringing the entire, great-big, wonderful world into my home, placing it at my fingertips.

I know I owe you big-time and I'll keep doing what I can to repay you.

Love,

Don Crowder

Thursday, November 25, 2010

We Love Our Freezer!

When Lisa and I began our new lives together we were both working as stockers in a supermarket in Llano (Texas). The store had a deli and most days there was cooked food left in the warmer at closing time which was distributed among employees. As often as not, we took home a few pieces of fried chicken but there was seldom enough for a meal and Lisa couldn't eat the breading anyway so I pealed off the breading, pulled the meat from the bone, put it in a ziplock bag and put it in the freezer. I added to the bag each evening until it looked like there was enough in the bag for a meal at which point I'd start another bag. Having little packages of cooked chicken in the freezer lead to one of our favorite recipes, "Apricot-Chipotle Chicken", and gave birth to an idea. These days we have thaw-heat-and-eat packages of cooked shrimp, sausage, chicken, turkey, beef and pork in the freezer along with a collection of really good recipes which are quick and easy to prepare. We can have a terrific home-cooked dinner on the table in a half hour or less. We have to cook our meals, due to Lisa's food sensitivities (hybridized wheat, corn and milk), but we've learned how to make that an asset instead of a liability.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Unanswered questions.

Until today I'd never heard of Epicurus but I was intrigued by this quote which is attributed to him:

“The gods can either take away evil from the world and will not,
or, being willing to do so, cannot;
or they neither can nor will,
or lastly, they are both able and willing.

If they have the will to remove evil and cannot, then they are not omnipotent.
If they can, but will not, than they are not benevolent.
If they are neither able nor willing, then they are neither omnipotent nor benevolent.
Lastly, if they are both able and willing to annihilate evil, why does it exist?”

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I love questions which can't be answered. I'm amused by those who feel that such questions have been answered and disgusted by people who are frightened by the questions. I'm content to say "I don't know" but that doesn't mean I'll stop trying to reason out an answer.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Sometimes Serendipity Pinch Hits for Wisdom

When mom died we'd been living with her and taking care of her for years. This was our home and, after the will was probated, I was half owner of the house with my sister owning the other half. She wants to sell it; we don't. This is still our home. We offered to buy her out, making what we believed was a fair offer. She wanted $15,000 more than we offered. She found a lawyer to take her case and threatened Judicial Partition. Rather than negotiate with her lawyer (as the letter we received strongly suggested) we spoke with the young lawyer who handled the probation of mom's estate/will. Our thought was to have the place inspected and appraised enabling us to approach my sister with an offer based on confirmed reality. He suggested we have the house inspected but hold off on the appraisal. The inspection results show a very large collection of problems with the house, not all of which can be repaired. The inspector suggests we tear the place down and start over and, based on his results, the house is worth substantially less than our previous 'best guess'. My sister is stubborn, willful and not too bright. Bless her heart. I'm so glad she didn't accept out offer. That would have been the beginning of a never-ending nightmare for us. We were saved by serendipitous dumb luck.

I don't think my sister and I will ever get past the enmity this has created between us but I'm betting that one of us will eventually attend the other's funeral. Sometimes that's enough. Life is change; change is good.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Life, Love and the Imminence of Mortality

Aa little over six years ago a close internet friend (close in the ways that are only possible on the internet where there are no pheromones to interfere with our words) was having problems with her significant other. I'd long since decided the man was an insensitive lout who didn't deserve or appreciate her and I was angry over the way he treated her. My anger overcame me a little and I commented that "Your relationship really sucks" to which she instantly responded "So does yours". I was stunned. I got through the rest of the day in a numb haze. By the next day I decided that she was right so I sat down and had a long talk with my wife. After a brief emotional storm she calmed down and admitted to agreeing with my assessment of our relationship. So we separated amicably and that was that.

Not too long thereafter, my internet friend decided that it was time for her to move on as well and Texas was as good a place as any (she was living in Florida at the time). She rented a truck, loaded up her 'stuff' and her dog and drove to Texas. Within nine days of arriving in Texas she had a place of her own, a car and a job.

The woman is Lisa Miller. The dog's name was CeeCee. She and her dog changed my life and rocked my world. Next month, on the 24th of April, Lisa and I will celebrate our fifth wedding anniversary.

A few days ago CeeCee developed some sort of physiological problem which made it difficult for her to stand and walk. The problem came and went, getting a little worse every day, for several days. Yesterday it got bad enough to keep us up with her until about 4 AM this morning when we finally had to get some sleep. At about 8:30 this morning we loaded CeeCee into the van and headed for the Vet's office (Jim Jenson's Cedar Hills Veterinary Clinic in Llano, TX and we highly recommend him). CeeCee died before we got to the clinic. We turned around and drove back home, dug a hole in the back yard, wrapped her in the old quilt that was her bed and buried her.

All morning the orchestra in my head has been playing Ingrid Michaelson's song, Everybody. The lyric line I keep hearing is

Everybody, everybody wants to love
Everybody, everybody wants to be loved

Thank you Lisa, for moving to Texas and changing my life. Thank you for loving me and being someone I love. Thank you CeeCee for playing ball with me, begging me for snacks and being my dog too. I will remember you. I will miss you.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Universal Life Church

I am an ordained minister in the ULC, which is free on the web though it seems to me it was ten or twenty dollars in the ads which were in the back of most comic books when I was a kid. I've been asked if I seriously consider myself to be a reverend/minister/preacher. This is my 'official' answer to that question.

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If you understand that, to me, it means I hold all life in reverence
then I am a reverend.

If you accept that it means I will tend your wounds if I am able
and hold your hand if it helps you face your demons
then I am a minister.

If you believe me when I tell you that God does not
want you to be cold, hungry, alone or afraid
Then I am a preacher.

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This isn't a quotation. These are my words and they come from my heart.