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Two Drives, One PC

So, I’ve been watching YouTuber Carey Holzman, and the man is full of useful information. He’s a certified technician and is happy to share the different ways he troubleshoots, maintains, upgrades, and builds computer systems.

In more than one video, he pours himself an icy glass of Coca-Cola and proceeds to geek out.

He explains that Solid State Drives can significantly speed up a computer. That if we simply swap the Hard Disk Drive out with an SSD, our Personal Computers can run revitalized.

However, SSD’s are a bit expensive.

So Carey proposes that we use an SSD with enough space for the Operating System, but to use an HDD for storage since they’re cheaper. Brilliant!

These two drives complement each other – the SSD is used to run the system and other software, while the HDD would be used to hold data. To be clear, the storage drive does not replace the need for a backup drive, which will essentially be a mirror copy of the storage drive.

Nicely Display Music in the Scion tC

This post is about using a USB to play and nicely display music in a Scion tC, but it also applies to music kept on a smartphone.

The stock radio I have in my 2016 Scion tC is the Pioneer AXLP-Q16U T10071. It’s equipped with Gracenote, which is nice to have. When music plays, Gracenote displays an image of the song’s artist. If it doesn’t recognize the artist, it’ll display a generic image for the genre.

However, I wanted to make sure my music displayed properly all the time – that is, nicely formatted labels with matching album covers.

Here’s what I learned:

  1. If using a USB, the USB needs to be formatted with the FAT32 filesystem.
  2. Files have metadata.
    • Metadata is essentially information about the file.
    • There are different metadata types.
      • ID3 tags to use: ID3v2.3 with ISO-8859-1.
    • In the case of audio files, metadata includes information that you would normally want to know about a song – artist, track name, album, etc.
  3. For the Scion tC, the following metadata fields are available for a really nice presentation of the music and operation of the radio (sort/search).
    • Artist (album-artist)
      • Though some tracks have multiple contributing artists or features, if more than one artist is added in this field, then the radio will treat that combination of artists as a unique entry.
      • If we want to find the entire catalog for an artist through the SEARCH ARTIST feature, then treat the ARTIST field as the main artist – whomever the album is attributed to. Featuring artists could be placed within the song name.
    • Album
    • Track Number
    • Track Name
    • Genre
    • Release Year
    • Composers
    • Album Artwork: 300×300 (or smaller) jpeg/png

The time the radio system takes in sorting the music on a USB depends on how much music there is. So if we have a large library, we may have to give the radio a good amount of time to let it sort through all of the music files. The radio only does this the first time we insert the USB or if any changes are made to it.

A Quick Description of Plex

What is the Plex Media Server Application?

First, imagine how nice it would be if you could have a Netflix-like environment for all of your favorite movies, TV shows, music, audiobooks, podcasts, and even personal media like pictures and home videos.

Then, stop fantasizing because that’s exactly what Plex does. It’s a service that runs on your media server (or computer) and nicely exhibits your media library.

Give it all of your properly-named and organized media files, and it will gather artwork as well as detailed information about your media, then present it in a nice, easy-to-navigate environment – much like Netflix.

Unlike Netflix though, Plex made space for extra features like interviews, deleted scenes, and alternate endings to video collections. Also, not only can music be outfitted with artist and album artwork, but music videos and lyrics can be added too.

There’s more.

Also unlike other video streaming services, Plex manages media on a computer/server located on YOUR home network. That means that even when your internet service is out or you’ve hit your Internet Service Provider’s data limit, your media will still be available to stream on your home network (without extra costs).

On top of all of that, it also makes your media available to you outside of your home network. That’s right, Plex also makes it incredibly easy to stream your media from outside your home network!

It’s really quite impressive what Plex has been able to put together and offer to the public, and a lot of it for free! Plex is your ultimate media hub, capable of beautifully hosting your entire collection of audio, video, and image files.

Would You Please Backup?

Protect What Really Matters, Backup Your Files

The most valuable thing about our technology is the data on it.

The files we accumulate throughout our lives are, in a sense, our lives.  The pictures we take, the music we listen to, and the documents we work hard to develop are all at risk, but we could easily secure them by taking a few cautionary steps.

Personally, I like to backup my files daily to a storage drive (USB or an external/internal hard disk drive) connected directly to my computer. Another backup is made monthly to a drive that is kept elsewhere.

Have you heard about differential backups?

Differential backups only update the files that have been modified, making the backup process a breeze. This type of backup essentially mirrors the files on your computer, so it does not offer different versions of your files, just the latest.

Also, you might want to save space on your storage drive by omitting system files during backups.