psst.. this blog is on hiatus.

How to play AAC and M4P files without iTunes

iTunes is a piece of shit. I hate it. It’s slow, it’s a RAM hog, and its constant self-updating is both annoying and destructive (as noted by Dennis Kennedy). Of course, this is to say nothing of my disdain for the iPod.

But I do own an iPod, and I did use iTunes to rip my CD collection, so I’d been using iTunes to play the AAC and M4P files–until now.

My favorite little Winamp replacement, Quintessential Player, has a plugin for playing AAC/M4P files. Get it from RareWares. Then you needn’t use Microsoft’s abominable resource hog (Windows Media Player) or Apple’s abominable resource hog (iTunes). You get to use a fast, skinnable little player, and you feel extra special nerdy cool while you do it.

Mounting an ISO as a drive: no need to burn a CD/DVD

I picked up a useful bit of information this morning. Did you know that you don’t have to burn an ISO image to CD/DVD to access its files? Instead, you can mount the image as a local drive. This is handy because (a) you don’t have to wait to burn the image, (b) you don’t have to waste a DVD/CD, and (c) it’s faster because the files are accessed off the hard drive, not the CD/DVD drive.

Since more and more apps are downloadable as ISOs, I think this will be useful.

TiVo should store settings online

My TiVo’s hard drive died last weekend. I’d owned it less than a year. This is quite common, of course, as a TiVo is just a computer, and computers’ hard drives fail. I bought a cheap, bare drive from Newegg, burned an image with InstantCake, and spent too much money at the hardware store on a Torx set to install the new drive. (Why do computer components use Torx screws?!) However, the biggest pain in the entire process was going through the guided setup again: setting my lineup, setting up the control of the cable box, etc. And I lost all my Season Pass settings.

But it got me to wondering: Why doesn’t TiVo store the box’s settings online? My TiVo is networked and “calls home” every 15 minutes or so. TiVo.com stores the device ID of my box. Why couldn’t the TiVo pass back my season passes and lineup info? I’m not even asking for web management of Season Passes and the To Do List; I’d just like to have the main box info backed up remotely. Seems easy enough.

WindyBits: Covering Chicago technology

WindyBitsI haven’t posted much recently, but I’ve got a good excuse: WindyBits.

In the past few months, I’ve become more interested in the Chicago technology “scene.” (“Scene” is a funny word when you’re talking about techies and startups, but I don’t have a better word.) Chicago is home to plenty of cool startups and interesting tech types, but the coverage sucks. I’m aiming to change that.

WindyBits is a site dedicated to covering the ideas, events, and people in Chicago technology. We feature:

This is a fun project for me, and just a side project, but it’s a lot of work! Anyway, you, the loyal jotsheet reader, are invited to slide on over to WindyBits and offer encouragement and suggestions. Oh, and an incoming link from you important bloggers wouldn’t hurt.

Consolidate CSS and JavaScript in WordPress

If you’re on WordPress and are using a lot of plugins, chances are that your blog is slower. No, not because of the plugins’ functions — that’s easily mitigated by WP-Cache — but because each of the plugins is inserting its own JavaScript and CSS into your blog. This causes users to have bigger page downloads and more HTTP requests, slowing everything down.

Note: This tutorial is for advanced users. Be careful! I screwed my blog’s commenting up for a while after posting this. :) I do not recommend messing with scriptaculous stuff — just leave it be. If you’re a novice, you probably don’t care about your site being a little bit slower, so this isn’t worth the effort.

Background

The best thing to do is to consolidate your CSS and JavaScript into singular files. This isn’t always possible — sometimes, the contents of included CSS and JavaScript depend on variables set in the plugins — but usually the included JavaScript and CSS are static.

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Hacking MySpace: Block ads, disable custom layouts

MySpace is a terrible, terrible website. It’s kind of an embarassment to mankind that it’s gotten so popular, seeing as it’s one of the most unintuive, poorly designed sites on the web.

That said, lots and lots of people are on it, so maybe you can’t avoid it. (I try but I fail.) If you can’t avoid it, at least make it usable. Here’s what I do.

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DreamHost promo code: Full $97 discount with code “MAX97″

Do you need the best DreamHost promo code? It’s right here, plain and simple.

Promo code: MAX97

Compare the hosting plans, pick the best one for you, and input “MAX97″ at Step 5 to get the best price possible.

And remember, after you sign up, you can create your own promo code, publicize it on your blog or website, and make a little cash for yourself!
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