Play Music and Get a Date at the Tool Bar & Grill

I know, the Tool Bar & Grill isn’t well known as a pickup joint, but you will find valuable tips on getting and keeping dates right here. But first, a little music to set the mood.

Just Music, Just Right

Sometimes you just want to play some music on your computer. You don’t want to futz with playlists or assemble libraries. You don’t want to look at album covers or get dizzy watching swirling colors. You only want to listen to the songs in your music directory, one after the other.

You want 1by1, a deceptively simple MP3 player (other formats are supported through WinAmp plug-ins). Point 1by1 at a folder, and it will play the music files it finds there (and, optionally, in subfolders). 1by1 is small, simple, portable – and free (donations are accepted).

1by1 is customizable, and does support playlists if you really do want to futz with them. Behind the plain interface are a number of helpful options, including audio enhancements and the ability to compare different folders and to copy, rename, move, and delete music files (but not tagging, unfortunately). The other drawback is that FoxyTunes does not recognize it, so you can’t control 1by1 from within your browser. But when the question is plain and simple music playback, 1by1 is the answer.

How to Get a Date in Linux

by Mark Lautman

The regulars at the Tool Bar and Grill are congenial, well dressed, well educated, and function well in a highly social environment. That’s in stark contrast with the regulars in the Linux Room. They can type, they can think, they can even breathe; but when they need to do something as simple as ask a waiter for a glass of water, they freeze.

Take Peter, one of our more timid regulars in the Linux Room. He’s been rejected by every young woman that he’s met in his multi-variate differential equation classes. “I just don’t understand it,” he bemoans. “I keep asking them what they are doing on Friday night, and they keep saying, ‘Don’t know, ask me next week.’.”

“Peter, you’re going about it all wrong,” I advise. “You need to send her a recurring reminder. Something like ‘REM Friday AT 18:00 MSG Are you doing anything tonight?’ That saves you the agony of being rejected in person.”

Well, since we’re on the topic of dates, calendars, and recurring reminders, we should go over the fabulous tools available in Linux which can soothe even the most lonely of hearts.

The easiest calendering program available is Mozilla’s Sunbird, which you can also install as an add-on into Thunderbird as Lightning. Sunbird provides standard, easy-to-use functions such as appointments and reminders. A nice feature is the availability of national holidays (download) which you can load into your calendar.

Like all Mozilla products, Sunbird is great. But the heartbroken need so much more. Evolution is a Linux drop-in replacement for Microsoft Outlook. This application includes a very versatile calendar (as well as email and contact handling.) Evolution often gets praise for being a successful replacement to a Windows application.

Most Linux distributions, including Ubuntu, come with the standard utility calendar. You type your appointments, one-time and recurring, into a text file. When you run calendar, it parses the file and displays what you need to do on any given day. Here is what a typical week of mine looks like.

There are a variety of plug-in calendars available for calendar, including many religious versions.

Calendar is good, but its big drawback is that it doesn’t pop up any reminders. You need to run it manually every day to see what is in your appointment book. A much more feature-rich reminder program is remind, whose flexibility is limitless. You can easily specify reminders that repeat for a month, a year, every 1st and 15th of a month, or any frequency you can possibly imagine. This program can also avoid scheduling repeating appointments on certain days. For example, in the Linux Room we don’t have meetings on the full moon in December because everyone turns into werewolves.

Remind provides a variety of output formats, including PDF, HTML, and a standard desk display. In addition, remind runs as a process, and displays alarms on your console when you need to do something.

Trust me, if you take the time to learn all of these Linux calendaring programs, you’ll always have something to talk about at any party or on any first date! –Mark Lautman

How To Get Rid of a Caller

So Peter finally got a girl on the phone from the dingy phone booth in the back of the Linux Room. After half a minute, he heard a tea kettle whistling, and she said she had to go because the water was boiling. But Peter stayed on the line, because she had forgotten to get his phone number, or even his name. When she picked up the phone again a moment later, she was startled to find Peter waiting. After just a moment, Peter heard the wailing of a car alarm, and she said she had to hang up quickly because someone was breaking into her car.

After he hung up, Peter remembered she didn’t have a car. Mark had already passed out under the table, so Peter came out to the front and asked me what had gone wrong. “She’s a smart one,” I said. “She knows about SorryGottaGo, the Web site with sound files that back up all kinds of excuses for getting off the phone quickly.”

“How does that work?” ask Peter. “Don’t worry, Peter, you’ll never need to know,” I consoled him. “But anyway, you can download lots of different sound effects, or play them right from the site while you’re on the phone. Each sound file supports a different excuse for hanging up quickly.”

“There are sounds of babies, pets, traffic, storms, and much more,” I continued, “and here’s something even you will like: They even have scripts you can play to telemarketers so you won’t have to talk to them yourself.”

Peter reasoned that there is only a finite number of recordings at SorryGottaGo. Excited at having made the acquaintance of such a clever girl, he thanked me and rushed right back to the phone booth.

At the Tool Bar & Grill, we’ll never blow you off or hang up on you. So be sure to stop in every week, and bring everyone you know. And you also can help this blog survive by visiting our advertisers.

Did I overlook your favorite utility or Web site? Tell us all about it by clicking on “comments” below or, if you prefer privacy, by writing to ]]