Archive for October, 2010

What to do when your PC crashes and burns, and all your music in iTunes is “lost”

October 27, 2010 Leave a comment

Let’s say the worst happens: your computer (the den of all your iPhone/iPod music and media) fails. It could be just a freak thing, or it could be your husband accidentally downloaded some malware that effectively knocks your PC’s lights out (I’m not pointing fingers or looking at anyone in particular… ERIK!). But hey, it happens, right?

Now, if you’re a responsible iTunes user, you made sure to back up your media, yes? Pat yourself on the back because you rock, seriously. But let’s just say that SOME folks will not get the chance to do a backup. That means your music is sitting there on your iPhone taunting you, saying “You can’t add more music, chick. Deal with it!”. After all, iTunes is known for not playing nice with new machines, much less giving you a way to copy the music straight from the iPhone (earlier generations did, but no more).  Sometimes that Zune looks more and more appealing, I swear.

But fear not, because after hours of trial and error (and a few times where I wanted to throw my phone against the wall), I came up with some steps as to how to move your music from your iPhone to your new machine AND get iTunes to be happy with it.

Please note (and this is why I have this in bold letters): I am not a Microsoft or Apple professional, merely an iTunes user whose machine crashed and burned. The steps involved include letting iTunes wipe out your music to complete the process, so if you’re not comfortable with that, don’t follow these steps.

If you have an old iPod or Nano to test with, try with that first.

I can’t stress this enough… back up your library. Don’t do like I did and let fate decide to pwn your collection. iTunes has a nifty backup utility that’s very easy to use. I don’t have a large library, so I fit it all on one DVD. You may need several as DVD-Rs generally hold about 4.5 GB.

Go to File > Library > Backup Library and get to it:

Back up your Library here

Now… to the nitty gritty…

1. Download an app called SharePod ( Give the author some financial love if you feel like it, because the app is free and it just provides good juju. Sharepod is cool, because it gives you a few options that come in handy: Copy To Computer, Copy To iPod, and Backup iPod. In this case, I copied all my files directly from my iPhone to my computer’s My Music directory. Select all the files, and copy away:




What I found cool was this: I’m very bad at organizing my music, so I had songs and artwork scattered in various folders on my old machine. SharePod doesn’t care where they used to live, just that they live in the iPod currently. So, when you finish doing the copy process, your artwork will come along for the ride 🙂

A Quick Note About Enabling Disk Use

The  newer versions of iTunes do not like you trying to move new music from a new machine, or even have the ability to add files to your player’s root directory. That’s a big reason why folks go to other MP3 players. Earlier generation iPods were able to act as flash drives, where you could drag and drop files willy nilly. Nowadays, the new stuff doesn’t allow for that.

If you are interested in enabling disk use on your iPhone without having to jailbreak it, TouchCopy works very well ( There is a trial version, but only the paid version (about 25 dlls US) will let you try out enabling disk use.  DiskAid ( is another app that can do this, and the trial version WILL let you drag and drop files into your iPhone. Trial is only for 14 days, though (paid version costs about 10 dlls US).

Back To The Task At Hand

2. So back to iTunes. I just downloaded it today to my new PC, so it’s a completely fresh install. Because it’s a fresh install, it’s not going to want to recognize your old library but still wants to see one. What do you do? Create a new blank library. Steps here (also shown at

Steps to create or choose a different iTunes Library file

  1. If iTunes is running, quit iTunes.
  2. If you are using Windows, hold down the Shift key and from the Start menu and choose All Programs > iTunes > iTunes.
  3. If you are using the Mac, open iTunes and immediately hold down the Option key.
  4. You should see one of the following screens:



Create the new library and it will automatically go in your Music folder. Open it up and you’ll see iTunes Media > Music. Niiice.

3. In iTunes, go to File > Add File to Library. Here, you can navigate to your Music folder (where all your songs are stored currently) and copy all the song folders. It’ll take a while depending on how much music you have. When it’s done copying, you can go back to the iTunes Media > Music folder and see the files now happily living in the correct directory.

The above steps for creating a library are also good if you have multiple iPods/iPhones but just one computer. Each gadget can have its own library in that one instance of iTunes, which is very handy.

4. Go to Files > Library > Organize Library and check Consolidate Files. This option puts copies of all your media files into the iTunes Media folder, but will leave your original music files where they are. This provides a little peace of mind in case you think “Oh no, everything is gone yet again!”


Organize Library

Click OK here.

5. Next thing to do is go to Edit > Preferences > Advanced. In this screen, you’ll see the iTunes Media folder location (where everything is going to be stored). Check “Keep iTunes Media folder organized”, and “Copy files to iTunes Media folder when adding to library”:


iTunes Advanced tab


6. One more thing… make sure Sync Music is checked. I didn’t do this the first time, and I spent an hour in frustration trying to figure out why the music was showing up in iTunes but not my phone. Duh, need to sync the music! It was my Derrr moment of the day (the first of many).



Sync it, for the love of little green apples!


7. Now, up until this point, we hadn’t wanted to really do much as far as syncing iTunes, because we know what’s going to happen: It’s going to want to erase the music files you currently have in your iPhone since you don’t have your old library in this new machine. If you’re comfortable with that, go ahead and let it erase. If not, then don’t sync and forget you ever read this bit :).

Remember all those boxes we checked earlier in iTunes? That’s what’s going to get your music populated into iTunes and back onto your phone. Depending on how big your library is, it’ll take some time. Once you’re done, your new machine will have your music, and so will your iPhone. Good times.


The music is back, ladies and gentlemen!


You will also get a prompt asking if you want to authorize this machine and de-authorize your old one. Since my old one is no longer in existence, I had no issue with that. Proceed with the authorization, sir/madam.

Once everything is done and you’ve got your library nice and populated with your good tunes, you could go to back to the root of your Music/My Music folder and delete your old files to recover some room.  Your computer will probably be happy to reclaim that extra space.

The downside to all this is your playlists will be wiped out. It’s sad but true. But, do like I did. Look at is as a chance to clean up the old playlists to include stuff you haven’t heard millions of times.

Categories: Computing, Music

Turbo Fire vs. Turbo Kick vs. Turbo Jam

October 12, 2010 Leave a comment

I’ve been a fan of Chalene Johnson’s workouts for a few years now. Why? Pure craziness 🙂 Kickboxing has always appealed to me more than step aerobics or any other type of aerobic activity (except running). In the many years I’ve been going to classes, I’ve found more often than not that classes taught at gyms don’t really allow for modification of moves, and I think that’s definitely a drawback for a lot of folks just starting out.

I have a slight back injury that likes to rear its ugly head from time to time, so I can’t really be hopping for minutes at a time. But, in the time that I started with kickboxing, I was able to modify my routine slightly to make less of a possible impact on my back.  What frustrates me, though, is the overall trend of fitness clubs around here using greenhorn instructors, who just got certified, teaching the class and going full bore without allowing for modifications. Someone like me who’s been doing fitness for a long time now can keep up (again, with modifications), but what about the poor girl in the back who just started at the gym and wants to lose 60 lbs but can barely keep up? Will she come back to the gym or give up entirely?

Enter Turbo Jam, something a newbie can do and stick to. All you need is a TV, a room to work out in, and the desire to do it. No driving anywhere 🙂


Turbo Jam

Turbo Jam is a home fitness program created by Chalene. It’s comprised of a series of DVDs that involve kickboxing, strength training, and core training. There is a beginner level introductory video, a 20 minute cardio video (for those days you don’t have a lot of time to get the longer classes done), and 4 full length cardio workouts for the longer days when you have more time to sweat. In addition, one 30 minute strength workout uses  resistance tubing (and believe me, your triceps will feel it), and one 40 minute strength workout uses hand weights.  I believe there are other titles in the series, but I can’t think of their names.

I am a big believer that Turbo Jam is a great place for folks to start. It’s fun, has good music, and half the time you don’t even realize you’re working out. And the big plus is this… there is always someone stationed near Chalene (usually Mindy, my homegirl from Texas represent :D) who will always demonstrate a modification of the moves. You can keep it low impact and still burn the calories, if you do the moves properly and get low, get low, get low. Plus, you don’t need much to get started. Resistance tubing, hand weights, a mat, and you’re set.


Turbo Kick

Turbo Kick is the health club version of Turbo Jam, and predates it by a few years. Chalene started the classes in So Cal, and they just grew in popularity from there. I think the big reason is Chalene herself. She’s a very charismatic instructor, always encouraging students to keep going and being genuinely funny without the fakeness a lot of home video instructors tend to have. I personally hadn’t had a chance to experience Turbo Kick up until last week. Why? Because no one was certified to teach here 😦 Such a bummer.

Last week, a Turbo Kick master instructor came down and taught a demo class, which I went to. I loved it. Very fun, very fast, and again, still able to be modified with the high impact jumpy type moves. A certification training session is going to be held next month, and hopefully there will be more than a few folks certified to teach the class. Then, Turbo Kick for everybody! 🙂


Turbo Fire

A good explanation of where Turbo Fire is in the echelon of Chalene’s workouts from the woman herself:

Given that I’m very new to Turbo Fire (just started Week 1), I don’t think I can really go into too much detail yet until I do more classes. However, I will say that there are so many workouts on those DVDs I don’t think it’s possible to get bored. A class schedule comes with the kit when you order it, and I think it encompasses 20 weeks, if you feel inclined to follow it. They aren’t long classes, but they are completely intense (think bootcamp/kickboxing/flex and stretch drills), and the schedule includes six of those classes a week.

I’m the type of person that needs to have a schedule for something in order to keep going with it, so this is right up my alley. If you’re not, then it’s all good. Just follow as much or as little of it as possible. I do have to modify moves (again, back injury), but even doing that I’m getting a great intense workout. As always, Chalene has a young lady next to her that demonstrates the modifications. My goal is to get strong enough to not need the mods as the weeks progress.

Anyway, I wanted to write this post as a more of an informative piece rather than a critical review, because I am pretty biased in favor of the workouts. This is really intended to just provide more information for anyone interested in starting any of the programs (and no, I’m not a paid endorser for Beach Body Products 🙂 If you want more info on any of the workouts, let me know.

Categories: Health and Fitness

Recipe: Lo Mein… tasty stuff

October 6, 2010 Leave a comment

I like the idea of making this stuff at home because I’m able to tweak it to my taste and I know what’s going into it. So here’s my version:


  • 8 oz uncooked noodles (I found Asian noodles at the store, but a lot of folks will use linguini or spaghetti)
  • 2 cups shredded cabbage
  • 1 cup julienned carrots
  • 1.5 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 2 cloves garlic, smushed and chopped
  • 1 cup bean sprouts
  • 1/2 to 1 cup onions, chopped (or if you like shallots like me, 1/3 cup is fine)
  • 1/2 cup green onions, chopped
  • some sort of cooked protein (chicken, beef, tofu, all are good, or just go vegetarian)
  • 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1 TB honey
  • 1 TB cornstarch
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • salt and pepper (to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp five spice powder (popular in Asian cooking)
  • 1 TB soy sauce
  • 2 TB cooking oil (whatever you got handy)


  1. Cook noodles according to package directions (or al dente). Drain and set aside.
  2. Cook up chopped protein (skip this step if you want vegetarian). Set aside.
  3. Heat up cooking oil in a wok or large pan. Toss in cabbage, carrots, garlic, onion and saute for at least 5 minutes, or until the cabbage starts getting soft. Toss in green onions and beans sprouts and cook for another minute.
  4. Combine cornstarch and chicken broth in a small bowl and add to the vegetables.
  5. Add in honey, hoisin sauce, 5 spice powder, and soy sauce. Let simmer for a few minutes until sauce thickens. Remove from heat.
  6. Toss noodles and protein with the vegetables.

End result:

Chicken Lo Mein straight from Jen

Quick and easy vanilla cupcakes with chocolate frosting

October 3, 2010 Leave a comment

Sometimes it’s nice to be able to go into the cupboard and find the ingredients you need without having to trek out to the grocery store. I’m lazy, this is a well established fact.

I found this recipe online for classic vanilla cupcakes. A little flour, sugar, eggs, butter, milk, yep yep.

Classic Vanilla Cupcakes from Scratch

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Bake Time: 18-24 minutes.
Yield: 12 cupcakes.

  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  • 3/4 to 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2/3 cup cold milk


Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating after each addition. Stir in vanilla.

In a separate bowl, stir together all dry ingredients. Add to butter mixture; stir in milk. I like to use paper liners for the cupcake pans so I don’t have to get it all messy.

Fresh out of the oven and smelling heavenly


Of course, when you have cupcakes, you need frosting. But what type? Vanilla? Strawberry? Neh, chocolate, baby 😉
Another good recipe I found online:
Fluffy Chocolate Frosting (and it really is fluffy)
  • 1 stick softened butter
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, dark looks best
  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • milk (this depends on how thick you want the frosting to be… less milk makes it thicker, more makes it thin out. I think I used about 1/2 cup or less of 1% milk and it turned out fine)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla 
  • 1/4 tsp salt
Mix butter, cocoa powder, and sugar in medium mixing bowl. Slowly add milk and extract. Add more milk a tablespoon at a time until desired texture and volume is reached.
I like this recipe because the frosting wasn’t overly sweet and was very light and airy.
The delicious end result:

Classic Vanilla Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting

Categories: Desserts recipes
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