Category Archives: Technology

Applying ReplayGain more easily with Foobar2000 and MP3Tag

I previously wrote about applying ReplayGain to MP3 files with a combination of Foobar2000 and MP3Tag.  I’ve come up with a slightly easier way to reduce some of the manual steps.

I found out that both Foobar2000 and MP3Tag both supports some limited command line operations, and with a tiny bit of legwork, you can add a right-click (context menu) way of making this process easier.

With this approach, you can now right-click songs, select a context menu option and Foobar2000 will automatically apply ReplayGain at the track-level then MP3Tag will automatically open up and add the songs ready for you to apply the custom Action we previously created.

First, make sure you have Foobar2000 and MP3Tag installed.

Second, copy the following script and put it in a batch file and save it somewhere you can remember. I put mine in E:\Documents\ReplayGainScripts\ReplayGain.bat.  I’m on an x64 system, so notice the environment variables highlighted in red which will need to be changed to %PROGRAMFILES% if you are on x86 (32-bit).

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Deleting song in iTunes Library from within a Playlist

I’m always playing songs in iTunes through a playlist (vs. navigating through the Library), so when I come across a song that I want to delete, I have always used a 2 step process since through the iTunes UI you can’t delete it from the playlist and the library at the same time. I resorted to:

  1. Look at the song title
  2. Type the song title into search box
  3. In the search results, right click and delete the song

This was such a pain in the butt that I always wished there was an easier way to do this straight from the playlist.  Turns out there is!

I found this list of Windows shortcuts on Apple’s site which shows that Shift+Delete is the answer I’ve been looking for:


Delete the selected song from your library and all playlists

So when you’re in an iTunes playlist and want to remove the song from the playlist only, use Delete.  If you want to remove it from both the playlist AND your iTunes Library, use Shift+Delete !

(There is also another undocumented shortcut – CTRL + SHIFT + Delete which will do the same thing as Shift+Delete except it will add an extra confirmation for sending the file to the recycle bin. Since you already get one prompt using Shift+Delete, there’s no reason for this extra step)

Turning on the Zumi Black & White Mode

Over the past year, I’ve fallen in love with photos out of toy / Lo-Fi cameras so I was absolutely thrilled when I got a Zumi Digital camera 2.0 as gift this past Christams.  I have been shooting like a fiend with it for the past week.  Here are some sample shots:

Yaletown BuildingSeattle Building

One of the hidden surprises of this camera was that there is an undocumented black & white mode!  I stumbled across it by accident going through the menus one day, and the great part is that it also works for videos!

Here is a shot I took of downtown Seattle:

Black and White 2

Here’s how you turn the B&W mode on:

  1. Start with the camera off
  2. Press the “On” button and wait for the screen to say “Ready”
  3. Press “Menu” button 5 times so you cycle through all the menus and end up back at the screen that says “Ready”.
  4. Press “OK” button 3 times – first time to toggle into Video mode, second time to toggle back to camera, then the third time to go back to video mode.

Tada! You’ll now see video mode in B&W, and if you press the “OK” button one more time, you’ll go back to photo mode which will now also be B&W.

You automatically go back to color mode when you turn the camera off and back on, which means that you unfortunately can’t stay in B&W mode by default.

Note: I have the Zumi 2.0 camera, so this may not work for the first generation that was originally sold by Photojojo.

First annual internet speed test

I got this idea from Tom, but for the life of me I can’t find his previous blog post on the topic (or I’m imagining that he inspired me).  Anyways, I thought it would be useful to start tracking the bandwidth I’m getting from my ISP on a yearly basis to see improvements along the way. It would have been even more useful to have started this several years ago, but here goes!

Results from dslreports:

Speed Test 2009

Getting MP3 songs to play at the same volume in iTunes and beyond

My music library consists of songs that I’ve acquired from a variety of sources such as web downloads, Amazon, iTunes, eMusic and rips from my own CDs.

One of my biggest pet peeves for the longest time is that songs and albums across my library vary in playback volume.  Since I almost always listen to music in shuffle/random across the entire library (or within a specific genre), track-to-track volume differences are very noticeable.  It’s particularly bad if I’m listening to through headphones.

By default, iTunes will analyze volume information on songs as you add them to your library.  It stores volume normalization in an extended ID3 tag called “COMMENT ITUNNORM” which it will read and adjust playback volume before each song starts.

While iTunes handles this really well, it sucks if you also use other media player software or want to move to another music player in the future.

Since I wanted to future proof myself, I started investigating how I could have a more portable solution that would be player independent.

Solution: Replay Gain

After doing some searches, I stumbled upon various ways of analyzing audio files in order to normalize overall loudness of song playback.  The most popular method seemed to be “Replay Gain” and it was getting a ton of support in 3rd party applications.

Continue reading “Getting MP3 songs to play at the same volume in iTunes and beyond” »

Windows 7 ISO, Bootable Media and the Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool

One of the big benefits of buying ESD aside from the environmental one, is that it increases the convenience of buying software online.  Not only can you typically get it faster than waiting for a physical shipment in the mail, but you also get the benefit of being able to re-download it in case you need to reinstall in the future.  Additionally, we also store your product key in the cloud so you don’t have to keep silly post it notes or DVD jewel cases around.

One drawback, however, is when you need to install Windows from bootable media such as a DVD.  With Windows Vista, Microsoft Store only gave you an option to download the Windows setup files, and to install windows, you would run setup.exe to kickoff the Windows setup.

This happens when you have a PC without an existing version of Windows installed, or even a Mac where you are trying to install Windows with boot camp.

In these cases, it’s hardly convenient to have an ESD version of Windows since you have no way of starting setup without a lot of manual steps.

Windows 7 ISO files

After purchasing your downloadable Windows 7 edition on Microsoft Store, you now have the option of several types of downloads.  By default, we offer the 32-bit version of the edition you purchased that can be downloaded and Windows setup can be kicked off right away.  This is the version that most of our customers be downloading.

However, in addition to this, we also now offer a set of “Advanced” download options that gives you choice of 64-bit installer and both 32-bit and 64-bit ISO files!


Offering ISO files in addition to our regular “installer” versions, helps customers that need both the convenience of a download but also need physical media to boot from.

The Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool

Our team is committed to creating the best experience for downloading software from Microsoft.  We previously created the Microsoft Store Download Manager to help with the download process.

To burn an ISO to DVD you can use any of the many free or commercial applications that are available.   However, majority of these programs don’t provide easy ways to create bootable USB Keys in addition to DVDs.

We created the Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool (WUDT) to help customers that have more advanced needs for their Windows 7 installation and need an easy way to create bootable media.  The WUDT will take the ISO files from Microsoft Store and easily create either a bootable DVD or a USB Key with only a few clicks.

This is a free tool and available for immediate download.

Here is the WUDT step-by-step for creating a bootable USB Key:


image image



After the process is completed, you can take the USB key and plug it into your target installation PC and choose to boot from the USB Key which will automatically start the Windows 7 installer.  If you chose to create a bootable DVD instead, the process is nearly identical except that you’ll boot from the DVD.

For answers to frequently asked questions, please see our FAQ.

The New Microsoft Store launches with Windows 7

You’ve read the amazing reviews and now the day is finally here.  Without a doubt, one of the biggest launches of the year is Windows 7!

It’s available for immediate purchase where you can choose to either have it shipped to you or to download it direct from Microsoft.

imageIn addition to the availability of Windows 7, I’m happy ecstatic to announce the launch of the brand new Microsoft Store, which coincides with the opening of new Microsoft retail stores.  Our first retail location opens tomorrow at 10am in Scottsdale followed by our second store in Mission Viejo on October 29th.  In fact, we already had 4 fans standing in line at 4pm earlier this afternoon in anticipation of the opening!

On the new online Microsoft Store, we’ve added a bunch of new products, including Windows 7 PCs as well as select 3rd party software and accessories.  And let’s not forget a ton of gaming products that have been added including a bunch of the top selling Xbox 360 titles.

We initially launched the online store last November, and since then we have had nearly a years worth data coming in from usability studies, web analytics and direct customer feedback.  Based on all of this data, coupled with the newly expanded product catalog, one of the biggest goals we had in this release was to simplify site navigation for our customers.  With the new site, you’ll notice a re-designed categorization, navigation and filtering system aimed to make it easier and faster to navigate as well as help you find products you want more quickly.

Go check our new store out, find information about our new retail locations, and while you’re at it, get your copy of Windows 7!

We’d love to know what you think of the new site, so drop a comment here or send me a line on Twitter.