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Thursday, January 04, 2007

Ubuntu and my new Sansa

I just got a Sansa m250 (2GB) mp3 player, and naturally I wanted to see how it would work with Ubuntu. So after getting all excited about actually getting my mp3 player (3 days early, I might add), I plugged it in to my computer, and...Ubuntu didn't do anything. I was disappointed, but not surprised, as the manual made a big deal about Windows Media Player and using other stuff to work with it. Then I looked down, and figured I should turn it on first. So I did, and viola, Ubuntu recognized it as a usb disk.

Unfortunately, most of my music is in OGG, and Sansa doesn't like OGG. So I had to convert it to mp3. After some quick googling, I came across SoundConverter - a very handy program to do (almost) exactly what I wanted it to do. If it's not in your package manager (under "soundconverter" - "soundconvert" is different, and not the right one), you can just download it. After unzipping, you can just run the soundconverter.py file - no compiling or installing necessary. After setting it up to preserve my filenames (I'll explain why later) and just put them in the same place, only mp3, I pointed it to my music folder and let it work. It took quite a while, especially since I kept interrupting it to restart.

It worked - almost beautifully. It didn't, however, recognize a lot of my tags (the song info that my Sansa uses to categorize my songs - very important). So I turned to another handy program (one you should have anyway) called EasyTag. It's a very handy utility to edit and assign tag info for any number of file formats. I think it should be in the package managers, if not, download it from the website. I simply pointed
it to my music folder, and it scanned the files, automatically filling in the tags from the file structure (which is why I told it to keep the mp3s in place). That was easy! I exited EasyTag, telling it to save the tags, and then simply did a search (Places->Search for files) for *.mp3 in my music folder. I selected all of the ones it found, dragged them onto my Sansa (in a "Music" folder, just for organization's sake), and it worked! Actually, I had to figure out that the trash (from all the OGGs I had tested) was still on the flash drive, and I had to delete it first - do see the trash folder (and other hidden folders), hit Ctrl-H. I was excited at how easy that was - not laborious like in a certain other OS.

I discovered another nifty thing during this process. I had noticed that when I moused over the sound files, the icon changed, and I thought nothing of it. But when I held my mouse over a sound file for a while, the song started playing! Amazing! Mouseover sounds = play sounds, without any player or clicking or any such nonsense - just that sound file, coming out my speakers. Beat that, Bill.

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