The last time I wrote a post about connecting to Pandora when you are outside the USA was just (sic) three years ago. Meanwhile a lot of things changed and Anonymox, the Firefox add-on and proxy service I suggested in 2012, it is not free now.
It happens but when my nephew asked me something similar and really intuitive to connect to Pandora I was in trouble… more in trouble than I could imagine…. In fact when I started to search something alternative, I found a lot of very good proxy add-ons for Firefox. It was a pleasure to discover some of them because they are technically well done and offer a lot of flexible features for privacy purpose. But this is not the topic of my post… for today.
After many unlucky trials, where I tested different add-ons that were not able to guarantee a minimal rate of usable connection, I found ProxMate .
ProxMate is an open-source, SSL proxy manager for real dummies. As Firefox add-on you can install it on your browser in just few clicks and then you practically don’t need to configure anything. The only requested thing after installation is to decide the websites and services you want to connect through ProxMate. The internet connection has a good speed rate and the music flows as silk through your Pandora account.
You can install ProxMate searching it through the add-on panel you find in Firefox or you can decide to directly open the link from the ProxMate website. After the installation ( no restart required) you have to find the “shark fin” icon into your Firefox bar. If you don’t find it immediately, you have to manage your icons and manually personalize the bar.
Then, click on ProxMate “my button” icon and select: “Install New Packages”. You are redirect to the ProxMate website where you can select Pandora or others interesting websites (e.g. Netflix, iHeart Radio, etc..) with specific IP restriction policies.
Now, you select your desired website/service and follow the instructions (click selection) that will appear on the screen to complete the installation.
Last but not least, don’t forget to click again on the ProxMate icon and enable the proxy service.
As usual, I recommend to NOT forget to disable ProxMate (as every other proxy server) when you don’t need to use it.
Oops, I forgot to say that ProxMate is free of charge……. Enjoy it!!
It was just a simple system update which dropped off audio on my Ubuntu 12.04. It was really strange to admit that I had experienced a crash (better: an audio crash) on a Linux but the 12.04 Ubuntu actually caused similar problems to a numerous bunch of long-term aficionados around the world.
The real problem with the last Ubuntu versions is that this OS is not supporting properly “old” hardware as it did previously during so many years. Reading some other bug reports on the web I discovered that these audio troubleshooting crashes happen principally to “old” IBM ThinkPad and Dell. I hope Ubuntu developers will consider to solve immediately these kind of issues or many users certainly migrate to other Linux version.
In any case the best and complete guide to solve audio troubleshooting has been developed by Ubuntu itself. The guide is very detailed but, if you want to definitively solve this bug, you have to spend more or less 40 (forty…. sic!) minutes and follow all the 17 (seventeen… sic!) steps.
In my case the audio was back after the first step and I decided not to follow the other instructions but the audio troubleshooting comes back, more or less, every two months. Just to you if you want to spend 40 minutes only one time or a couple of minutes every two/three months.
When I consider all the problems I had with Ubuntu on “old” hardware starting from the 12.04 version, my advice is to start thinking about a migration to another Linux OS. I am testing some Ubuntu alternatives and in the next weeks I will post something about the tests I’m doing on old laptops. Stay connected!
This week, in our Linux Page (in Spanish), we posted a brief tutorial about installing XBMC on Ubuntu 8.10. As you certainly know, XBCM is a complete Media Center based on Ubuntu. This program is multiplatform (Linux, Windows, OS X and also XBOX – not officially supported-) and, in our opinion, is the most efficient and complete open source media center you can find today on the Internet. Moreover, XBMC has developed a special version that could be installed on a USB Key on a Live CD to freely test the application before installing on your PC. The post is brief but contains all the complete instructions to quickly install XBMC without problems. Please, be sure to digit sudo apt-get update in Terminal after you install the new repositories. Recommended!!
Today, in our Linux Page (in Spanish) we have added a short post about Cleepr, an interesting web portal which allows you to easily find, in YouTube, all the music videos you are looking for. Cleepr is very simple to use and, graphically, very clean. During our tests we occasionally found some delay (one or two seconds) when we decide to download other files while we were watching the videos. Using Cleepr we were able to find immediately all the music videos we were looking for, without wasting time to select them between other amatorial videos contained in YouTube. Funny and enjoyable!
Today, in our Linux Page (in Spanish) we posted some brief notes about Ex Falso: a very useful software which allows you to manage your mp3 collections with just few clicks. When saving my CDs on my hard disk, I convert them into mp3 files and then I change their metadata order (or simply I add some more information) using Ex Falso. This software is very simple to install (in Ubuntu, for example, you can add it directly from the “Add/Remove” function contained in the Application menu) and very easy to use. Ex Falso is graphically divided in three main areas: Folders, Songs and a menu area where you directly decide what and how to change your metadatas. After few tests you will able to rapidly use Ex Falso and (we hope) enjoy all its features. Strongly recommended for all that people who have big mp3 collections!
Today, in our Linux Page (in Spanish) we added a brief post about XBMC, the best open source (GPL), free entertainment hub you can find on internet. XBMC is really easy to install (for Linux users, especially in Ubuntu) and its features are very intuitive and simple to configure. Moreover the graphics themes are very attractive and it is able to manage many multimedia formats, “playlists, audio visualizations, slideshow and weather forecast functions”. It is also possible to add many interesting third-party plugins that you can find through a simple google query (XBMC plugin). Last, but not least, XBMC is a multiplatform software, in fact the download page contains four different versions for Windows, XBox, Linux and MAC OSX. When we compared XBMC to the Windows Media Center we did not notice any loss in this open-source media center and, honestly, we were positively impressed by all the XBMC featured we tested. Recommended!
It is true! MP3 format is the most common format we normally use in our everyday applications but MP3 is a lossy compression algorithm and it is not comparable with the quality of uncompressed audio formats as Monkey’s Audio, ALAC, WMA. This week, in our Freeware page, we posted a brief review about some particular features of FLAC: a multiplatform (Linux, Windows, MAC OS X) Free Lossless Audio Codec. Nowadays, FLAC is well and constantly supported by many music player producer. We compared FLAC and MP3 formats using the “Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G Major – Allegro” by Bach and the results were very interesting. For common listeners (as us) the audio quality was, more or less, the same but when we asked to a couple of friends (authentic music “hooligans”) to describe the difference between the two music files (FLAC and MP3) they spent more than 15 minutes of their (and our) time talking about “tones”, “pizzicato” and something else that I really do not remember at the moment! After the listening, when we compared the file extensions, we discovered that the FLAC file was five times bigger than the MP3 (25.6MB vs 5.1MB)… To conclude, we really think that FLAC represents a fantastic (and the best) lossless format for home stereo systems. On the other side, if you are not a music purist, MP3 could be the best choice for listening music on portable audio devices.
Rockbox is the best alternative you can find to many firmware of mp3 player currently on sale. for many models it can be installed without removing the original firmware and in this case you can decide at every boot up what firmware you prefer to use. This week, in our Freeware Page, we have posted a brief review about this open-source firmware which really adds new features to your mp3 player; for example, Rockbox allows you to play movies on a iPod Photo or adds games to your Sansa e200 or c200 series. The installation is not difficult but a minimal previous experience in this field is preferable: if something goes wrong, please, don’t panic but try to solve it following the many tips contained in the Rockbox website or reset your mp3 player. Last but not least, in the “Customizing Rockbox” section you will find a huge quantity of resources to customize your mp3 player. Recommended (and really funny)!
In our Freeware Page we have posted a review about MusikCube, the most powerful competitor to iTunes. It is superfluous to remind that this opensource software has exactly the same features than iTunes (e.g. tags and dynamic playlist), personally I prefer to underline that MusikCube is extremely lightweight (12,792K on my XP), fast (due to the sqlite database engine), compact and easy to use (it has also a good integrated CD ripper) . Unfortunately it is not possible to personalize (or create) the skin but there are more than 20 plugins you can choose between. Moreover I tried to connect my IPod but I did not succeed; with Zen and Rio I had not any problem. To conclude, I suggest MusikCube to all people who are loking for a modern mp3player with a terrific integrated library manager!
This week, in our Linux page we post a brief review about deezer.com a French website which offers free music to listen or use in your website. Using deezer.com is very simple: you have to create a new account (just few personal data -email, country…- are required) and you can start to listen to your music. The audio quality is good and we haven’t found any problem also after many hours of broadcasting. Moreover Deezer has a special feature which allows you to directly insert your favourite playlist (with an included player) in your blog (all this is free). Last but not least you can buy and download the songs you like using the integrated iTunes feature. Good site, good free features!