27 November, 2011

Cleaning iTunes Library - Finding Mismatched Tracks

I recently changed my computer and I am now a full time laptop user. I hardly waited up until now and resisted to keep my desktop but I cannot avoid the fact that a laptop of 500$ is almost more powerful than my 2 year old expensive gaming PC. Why not switch to a laptop now? I've made the move BUT I took these decisions so fast that I completely forgot certain small things, like properly backing up my iTunes library, Google Picasa albums, Microsoft Office program settings... I did not loose any data though. Do not get me wrong here. I have backups of backups because of all the bad experiences I've had in the past with loosing important data. But today, all these programs are working with some type of internal databases. Those databases keeps the metadata attached to your pictures, tracks, movies... When you use your programs internal "backup" functions, like Picasa's "Backup Pictures" option under the "Tools" menu.

So, here what I've been through and I hope my article will save you the time that I lost on finding how to do this kind of messed up situations.

I've installed iTunes from scratch and set my library location from the "Edit", "Preferences", "Advanced" menu to the folder that has all my music. Let's say, M:\Music for example purposes. Than, I had almost triples of every track in my library and also missing a lot of tracks... Based on my hours of research, I found this way to easily get rid of all the mismatched items in your iTunes library. No need to install any third party software.

  1. Make a smart playlist called “All Files” with this rule: “Artist” is not “123456789? (or any nonsense name that won’t be in your library).
  2. Make a static playlist called “All Live Files”.
  3. Make a smart playlist called “Missing Files” with these rules: Match all of the following rules, Playlist is “All Files”, Playlist is not “All Live Files”
  4. Select all the files from “All Files” and drag them into “All Live Files”. The dead files marked (!) will not copy over.
  5. “Missing Files” will contain all of your dead files. Select all and delete. 

This method can be found on the internet. I did not discover this method personally. I'm just sharing it so anyone who is looking for the answer can find it easily. But i personally, saved hours of work with this method and I was able to recover  most of my songs information and artwork.

But I want to mention a third party software that might help you if you still have problems. Especially for thos who have huge itunes library wih thousbands songs, this third party tool is just perfect for you. If you want a clean iTunes library, this tool will work with an online music database to artwork and metadata your entire iTunes library. I do not work for these folks but I am just a happy customer who have a very clean iTunes library now. When I say clean, I mean not a single song with a missing artwork cover! It's "TuneUp for iTunes". You can find more info @ www.tuneupmedia.com


09 November, 2011

Terminal Services Easy Print Advantages & Issues

Lately I have been working on a new Remote Desktop (formerly Terminal Services) server and I’ve seen a couple of problems related to the printers. Windows Remote Desktop Services is a great technology and for some organizations out there is the ultimate solution! Especially, with some new features like “RemoteApp” and “App-V”… It’s a great technology for users and from IT when your server is configured properly and it’s a big headache if you don’t know what you are doing. For everyone out there who is looking into “Remote Desktop Services”, I highly recommend to spent a little time on Microsoft forums and read as much as you can because there is a lot to know before you go ahead and install the roles on your server. In this article, I’ll only cover print features in Remote Desktop Services.

Let me tell you what the problem was before giving out the solution. We have a plotter printer to print out plans for electricians and engineers. I had no problem installing the printer on the remote desktop server directly with the “Add new printer” wizard and my tests were successful but some of the users reported issues with this printer. I think it’s worth to say that these users were using the remote sessions from outside of the company through a mobile 3G internet connection. On the client side, there is nothing special other than setting “printer redirection” as shown here;

So, with these settings, when people hit the “print” button on any application with this printer, either there is nothing happens or the remote desktop session window crashes…
So the problem was related to the “Easy Print” feature of “Remote Desktop Services in Windows Server 2002 R2”. This feature is great for almost any model and make of printers. Basically, it’s for people who have small printers connected to their machines locally that need to print out stuff from the “Remote Desktop Sessions”. You don’t want any user to install a printer on your server but you want your users to be able to print their stuff on their own printers. Easy print feature is redirecting any local printer to the remote sessions and your local printers become available in the “Remote Desktop”. This magic happens with this feature called “Easy Print”. So in our case, the easy print was unable to print out on the plotter. Probably this was due to the driver that the plotter was using.
The solution was hidden under group policy. There is a “Group Policy” setting right under;

Computer Configuration\ Administrative Templates\Windows Components\Terminal Services\Terminal Server\Printer Redirection\

When the policy “Use Terminal Services Easy Print Printer Driver First” was not configured or set to enabled, whether your server has the right drivers or not, the server tries to do it’s magic before even attempting to try the right way. This was causing the issue because our server had already the right drivers that could use to handle the plotters print jobs.
By setting this policy to “Disabled”, we have come over the problem. Right after the changes were applied, users were able to print without a problem on this printer.