Using Zune Within VirtualBox

Zune error in VirtualBoxSince the Zune 4 software was released, I have been using it fairly exclusively as my media player when using Windows. I really enjoy using the software, and I like the way it tracks and shares my recent plays. In the spirit of Xbox “achievements,” the Zune social system even issues “badges” once you’ve listened to a specific artist enough times.

Unfortunately, however, the Zune software is only available for Windows, and I use Linux about 99% of the time on my home computer. I do, however, have Windows XP installed as a VirtualBox guest so I can use Windows programs like Photoshop, Internet Explorer 6 (for Web development testing), etc. I thought it would be simple to use the Zune software inside of that VirtualBox. I was wrong.

Apparently, the Zune software will not recognize media files stored in a VirtualBox shared folder. When you attempt to play the files, you will most likely receive an error stating that the file couldn’t be played, and that it might have been moved.

Setting Up Google Apps (Gmail) For Your Domain

The other day, I was talking with my friend Aaron (@riddlebrothers) about all of the various e-mail addresses we have and how we use them. At one point, after discussing the virtues of using Yahoo! Mail, I mentioned that the e-mail addresses I have hosted on my own servers are often unreliable. I told him that I rarely give out anything but my Yahoo! e-mail address, because a lot of messages get lost in cyberspace with my other accounts.

He asked me if I had looked into using Google Apps for my domain-based e-mail services. I honestly hadn’t thought about it before (in fact, I made a post a while back about how strange it was that everyone was moving to Gmail). However, his suggestion made sense. Following are some of the advantages I see in moving your e-mail over to Google Apps:

Web Development for the iPhone

I am now attending a session on developing Web applications for the iPhone and iPod Touch. The presenter is Steve VanBrackle. Unfortunately, I have already discovered that this session is going to be completely dependent upon a Mac program called DashCode, for which there appears to be no Windows alternative. The interface for DashCode appears insanely easy to use, though.

To begin, VanBrackle simply created a new project. A working shell app was immediately created for him to edit and customize. All of the buttons, bars, etc. are automatically generated as part of the app.

He is now demonstrating how simple it is to click and drag information from a data store into the app. For the most part, it’s creating a JSON file to generate the data that’s being displayed in the application. Because of this format, it is easy to create the app a single time and then replace the data without having to redo everything.

At this point, he’s showing us how to add new buttons to the application, once again using click and drag interfaces. Once he places the button, a dialog appears presenting him with the choice of various event handlers that are available on the iPhone with buttons. By clicking one of the event handlers and typing the name of a function, a new, empty function is automatically created in the code window, allowing him to insert his custom code into the function.

Search and Replace with MySQL

Every once in a while, you might find that you need to find a string or value in your MySQL database and replace it with a new value throughout. For instance, let’s say you decide to move your MySQL-based Web site from one domain to another, and now all of the links you had stored in the database are broken, because they still point to your old domain.

MySQL offers an extremely simple solution to this problem. Here is a code snippet that shows you how to do so:

Four Things You Need to do for Your Web Site

For many people, most of these things will be old hat. However, this post is just intended to recap four necessary steps for any webmasters trying to get their Web sites indexed by various search engines.

Create a Site Map

First and foremost, you must have an XML sitemap. Almost all search engines (certainly the three big ones) utilize a sitemap to become aware of all pages on your site. If you have good link structure, a sitemap might not be necessary, but, it doesn’t take much effort to put one together, and the benefits could be fantastic.

Many content management systems (CMS) will automatically generate a sitemap for you, but, if you aren’t using a CMS that does that, you have a few other options. If your site has an auto-generated RSS feed, that can be a good place to start. Most search engines will treat an RSS feed the same way an XML sitemap is treated, so that can make a big difference.

If you don’t have an auto-generated sitemap or RSS feed, there are quite a few tools you can use to create a sitemap; but you’ll have to make sure you update it each time your site architecture changes. A site called “XML-Sitemaps” will crawl your site and create a sitemap for up to 500 pages for free.

Two Good SEO Articles

Kyle James, founder of doteduguru, analytics guru and consultant for HubSpot, made two really good posts the last few weeks about search engine optimization (SEO). His two articles deal with on-page SEO (the way to optimize the pages themselves for search engines) and off-page SEO (the way to optimize other parts of your site to direct people to the pages you want optimized).

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