Hot key for changing your audio device in Windows 7

Often while playing (Battlefield 3 – which I tend to do quite a lot) I use Skype or Steam to chat with friends. To do this I use my headset (Logitech G35 – pretty satisfied by the way). However, when playing alone or using the PC for something besides gaming I want to use my speakers (Creative GigaWorks T3 – pretty satisfied with them too). Changing the sound device manually is pretty simple, however quite boring after the 1000 time. Therefore, I wanted to find a hot key for doing this in Windows.

The solution was just a few simple Google searches away, and I ended up using AutoHotKey and a script from the forum of AutoHotKey. I found it through this link. I copy pasted the script into a text file and stored it as a “*.ahk”-file. I disabled some of the sound devices that were not in use since I had some problems enabling the right device.

Simple as that!

Ripping a CD to FLAC on Windows

I have earlier written about backing up a CD collection on Linux. Lately I have been using Linux less on my desktop, but still all the time on my phone and media PC. As a consequence I chose to back up my latest acquired CD using Windows (apparently people still buy a few CDs in these digital streaming days).

Ripping a CD to FLAC (Wikipedia article) on Windows is extremely easy. I used Foobar2000 and FLAC (the software) which I had already installed. Ripping is as easy as opening Foobar2000, then selecting “File->Open audio CD” then “Rip” and finally selecting the right output format. Have a look at this guide if you need more details.

Editing of ID3-tags may be done by MP3tag.

Play back of blu-rays with VC-1 encoded video on a Linux (and Windows) PC

Unfortunately, it seems the VC-1 video codec is poorly supported on both the Windows and the Linux platform. Windows Media Player did not want to give me anything but sound. VLC was able to play back the video, but it has a lot of “micro stuttering”. On Linux with XBMC and other media players, I was unable to get anything but sound. If there is a solution to this problem out there, please let me know.

I preferably want to be able to replay the original tracks from the Blu-rays/DVDs that I buy, but I want to play them from my media center (Linux with XBMC). However, with the VC-1 codec, I found no other option than to transcode the video to a H.264 stream. This might cause some quality loss, but as far as I could see it was minimal. A bonus of doing the transcoding is of course reducing the size of the files to about half the size. The instructions below explains how I transcoded the files with VC-1 video streams to be able to view the on Linux.


First, I ripped the Blu-ray using AnyDVD HD.


Second, I transcoded the video using RipBot using the settings above. A lower CRF is supposed to give you the best quality (and the larges files). I selected this one, and I did not include the sound as I did not want to have just a 128 Kbs bit rate. See, for instance, for some more info.

To identify which streams from the blu-ray you want, you might want to have a look at BDInfo. It is normally the largest/longest playlists and streams.

TSMuxeR VC-1

Finally, I added the original HD sound track by combining the sound stream from the blu-ray, with the newly created video file from RipBot. This is easily done using TSMuxer.

BankID and Java plug-in in Firefox on Ubuntu Part 6

BankID is unfortunately pretty poorly supported on the Linux platform, or there are at least several issues with it. I have sorted out some of them before, but it seems the latest version of Firefox created some new issues. My problem was that when trying to use BankID the browser crashed when logging in (after entering the code from the code key). The solution was as explained below:

1. Remove any traces of OpenJDK. See one of my earlier posts.

2. Install Sun’s Java version 6 (I have written about this before, and there are plenty of guides out there on how to do this).

This could be enough. However, I had problems getting the Java plugin started when opening BankID. To sort this out, create a symlink to the Java plugin in a mozilla plugin folder using the following code (thanks to WebUP8):
mkdir -p ~/.mozilla/plugins
ln -s /usr/lib/jvm/java-6-sun/jre/lib/amd64/ ~/.mozilla/plugins/

Where the path (“/usr/lib/jvm/java-6-sun/jre/lib/amd64/”) depends on what JRE you have installed, and what CPU you have. I have an 64 bit AMD processor, and I have installed Sun’s JRE version 6.

The above is so far tested on only one computer. Please give feedback if you have tested it successfully yourself, or if you have further problems.

Ubuntu – synchronizing the clock over the Internet using NTP

I have had problems with the clock on one of my Ubuntu computers. The NTP (Network Time Protocol) service is supposed to take care of synchronizing the clock, and the GUI has settings for this. However, and but it did not work (Ubuntu 11.10), as the clock was constantly delayed.

The fix was simple, (re)installing the ntp package made sure that some of the missing dependencies was installed. I am pretty sure this has happened to me before, so it could be a useful tips to others. If your clock runs late, try the following (one may of course use Synaptic as well):

sudo apt-get install ntp