Tag Archives: mp3

My library-loan audiobook dilemma

As I under­stand it, I am pretty late to the party when it comes to bor­row­ing audio­books and DVDs from the library. Although I have been aware of their avail­abil­ity for many, many years, I only checked out my first audio­book on Saturday. From what I hear both anec­do­tally and sta­tis­ti­cally, more and more peo­ple are turn­ing to the library for media like this, ver­sus buy­ing or rent­ing DVDs and CDs. The par­tic­u­lar audio­book I reserved took about a month to become avail­able, even though eight copies are float­ing around the library sys­tem. But this is all lead-in to a big­ger pair of dilem­mas.

About a year ago, torgo_x blogged about issues with mak­ing MP3 copies of library audio­books. He was, in turn, extend­ing an argu­ment of Cory Doctorow. What kind of legal and/or moral stand­ing do you have when turn­ing a bor­rowed audio­book into an MP3? (And in torgo_x’s case, lis­ten­ing to for­got­ten MP3s of an audio­book he pre­vi­ously donated to the library.) I would like to get enjoy­ment from this audio­book, but the only way I can do so would be to rip the disc or buy a dis­c­man. The only true CD player we own is hooked up to the liv­ing room stereo. Several com­put­ers have CD/DVD burn­ers, but they have tinny speak­ers. My lap­top doesn’t even have an opti­cal drive. But all that is beside the point. I lis­ten to pod­casts and audio­books when I am out-and-about, not when I am teth­ered to the com­puter or stereo. It basi­cally has to be in an iPod or iPhone–or tech­ni­cally any off-brand MP3 player. I can see that buy­ing a new dis­c­man can skirt around that legal gray area but these days the dis­c­man seems to me to be no dif­fer­ent than an 8-track player. I know plenty of peo­ple still use them, but I don’t know any of them. The tech­nol­ogy just feels anti­quated.

So then we get into the ques­tion of when to return the discs. Do I hang on to them until I am fin­ished lis­ten­ing to the MP3s? This keeps a 1:1 ratio between the disc and the files. In computer-speak, hold­ings the discs in my pos­ses­sion is a token or mutex for hav­ing pos­ses­sion of the MP3 files. The flip side is that it seems more friendly and effi­cient to return the discs as soon as con­ve­nient and delete the MP3s when done lis­ten­ing. This helps the next per­son get the discs and min­i­mizes, for instance, that month-long wait­ing time I had before I could get the audio­book. But this starts down a slip­pery slope. Who’s to say that I don’t delete the MP3 files when I’m done–either mali­ciously or just out of for­get­ful­ness? What hap­pens if I start the book, but get dis­tracted by life or another book, and don’t get around to fin­ish­ing it for years–do I just keep the files indef­i­nitely?

In a way, there are par­al­lels to pho­to­copy­ing or OCRing a book. Is it legal? Is it ille­gal? When I was writ­ing papers in high school and col­lege, pho­to­copy­ing pages and chap­ters was not only avail­able, but was actively encour­aged by teach­ers and librar­i­ans. Back then, it was $0.10 per page at the copiers in the library, so copy­ing the whole book would have been cost-prohibitive, but it still could have been done. I knew peo­ple that copied a chap­ter at a time and car­ried around just that week’s lessons instead of whole text­books. Is there a limit to copy­ing? Copying one page is prob­a­bly okay. Same with two or three? But what about 10? 50? 100? A whole text­book over the course of a semes­ter? Where is the divid­ing line between what is accept­able and what isn’t? These days, pho­to­copiers are every­where, and it would be easy for an office worker to stay a lit­tle late one night and use the com­pany pho­to­copier to copy a library book. In that exam­ple, the employee is steal­ing (ink and paper) from the com­pany, but is it steal­ing from the library? And what about OCR? You can just do the “pho­to­copy” into the com­puter instead of on to paper and scan the whole book in. Time con­sum­ing, yes, but pos­si­ble. The audio­book argu­ment is sim­i­lar, but dis­tinctly dif­fer­ent because it involves no tedious or time con­sum­ing work. Pop in the CD and you’re done.

All this leads into my sec­ond dilemma. I’ve accepted, gray-area or not, that for me to use an audio­book, it needs to be con­verted to an MP3 file. It takes a few min­utes to con­vert each disc. It takes about 20 min­utes to walk to the library, so a 40 minute travel time. Is it wrong to go to the library, check out an audio­book, load it into a lap­top, then imme­di­ately check it back in? It is cer­tainly effi­cient. It saves a sec­ond 40 minute trip. Technically, if you give in to the first dilemma that rip­ping audio­book CDs is fine, then this should be fine, too. But some­thing about doing every­thing all on the same trip feels very, very wrong.

Posted in: Dear Diary Questions

Protected: I NEED CAULK TO FILL IN THE HOLE

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This con­tent is pass­word pro­tected. To view it please enter your pass­word below:

Posted in: Dear Diary

List

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JOY
I have been doing a lot of burn­ing audio­books to CD, then rip­ping them to MP3, thanks to my lit­tle Audible.com leech­ery process. Unfortunately, some of these audio­books end up being multi-gigabyte WAV files while I am splic­ing together the seg­ments and cre­at­ing final WAV files to encode as MP3. This is not a prob­lem on the desk­top, but a bit of a prob­lem on the lap­top (which is where I have been doing most of the pro­cess­ing) because I only have a cou­ple of gigs free. Since the lap­top is Linux and the desk­top is OS X, I needed to find a replace­ment multi-track audio edit­ing pro­gram that lets me time-shift tracks around until they line up right, then merge them into sin­gle tracks. Audacity did a good job of this with Linux, but what to do with OS X? I down­loaded three or four edit­ing programs–each with some pretty nice bells and whis­tles, but none that would let me eas­ily do multi-track edit­ing. Then, I hap­pened across the Audacity home­page. THERE IS AN OSVERSION! Coolness! It works just like the Linux ver­sion, includ­ing hotkeys (except instead of Alt-something it is Command-something). I am a very happy mon­key because the desk­top is now run­ning the same soft­ware and has plenty of gigs to spare.

DISAPPOINTMENT
The com­mand line para­me­ters that the OS X ver­sion of tar accepts are mea­ger, at best. In fact, they suck don­key scro­tum. I am try­ing to write a backup script that will archive some stuff in my home direc­tory, but tar keeps chok­ing on files that are already open by other processes. I would very greatly like to say “skip past files that are open” or “do not archive any files in direc­tory xyz,” but there is no way to do that. The OS X tar com­mand has, like, 10 options. I ended up hav­ing to copy the files to the temp direc­tory, then archive them (because “cp” will skip past the locked-for-reading files with­out abort­ing). Of course the cp com­mand does not sup­port the “-v” flag that actu­ally allows me to SEE what it is copy­ing, so I just have to take it on faith while debug­ging. Bleh!

JOY, REDUX
In another month, I hope to have the 17″ uber­lap­top, thanks to the sav­ings account and the IRS.

Posted in: Dear Diary

B2B eCom WSF (With a Side of Fries)

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Help Me I Am In [PKI, secu­rity, cer­tifi­cate, key­chain, RSA, PEM, DER, PKCS12, RC4, MD5, 3DES] Hell.

It used to be that set­ting up a secure web­server with a nice, valid, SSL cer­tifi­cate was hell. I can now do that blind­folded, in hand­cuffs (the William Gibson X-Files episode comes to mind now: “Are you gonna take these off, or am I gonna have to do this with my tongue?” “Trust me, you don't want to take a vote.”). Now, I'm traf­fick­ing business-to-business mes­sages that are MIME/Multipart strings over SSL con­nec­tions. Parts of the mul­ti­part mes­sages are plain­text, parts are sim­ply signed with any one of a vari­ety of algo­rithms, and parts are encrypted with a vari­ety of algo­rithms. Of course, this is deter­mined dynam­i­cally at run­time, with the plain­text parts telling what the non-plaintext parts are. Of course, the responses need to be dynam­i­cally gen­er­ated and returned in the same for­mat. Good times!

If every­thing went well and DNS pro­pogated prop­erly, I should have http://cu.be. As sub­sti­tute pointed out, I should also have all sub­do­mains (hyper.cu.be, sugar.cu.be, gleaming.the.cu.be, etc). Something tells me that not all went well. ...espe­cially after look­ing at the cur­rent whois record.

In other news, after a num­ber of use­ful patch sub­mis­sions, I am offi­cially a SoleSeek devel­oper. W00t. And stuff. If I have the time, I will be writ­ing one met­ric shload of internal/developer doc­u­men­ta­tion this week. There is a lot of debug­ging to do–file trans­fers exist in the most recent cvs ver­sion, but don't work past the “Hi! Can you send me that file of yours?” request mes­sage. Oops.

Posted in: Work

4 gigs down, 76 to go...

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I have dis­cov­ered a few things today:

1. iTunes is great if all of your MP3 files have the proper ID3 tags for track, artist, album, etc.
2. iTunes hurls some pretty extreme chunks when you try to import only a few hun­dred MP3s that are not tagged con­sis­tently.
3. iTunes hurls some pretty extreme chunk­age if you try to import about 80 gigs of MP3s, regard­less of tag­ging.
4. iTunes is great at rip­ping and tag­ging your CDs, so is won­der­ful if you do not yet have an MP3 col­lec­tion of any real size.
5. My MP3 col­lec­tion con­sists of about 15,000 MP3s on about 80 gigs, none of which are tagged very well (if at all).
6. Tagging is made eas­ier with a pro­gram like MP3 Rage that can extract tag infor­ma­tion from all sorts of sources (reg­u­lar expres­sions against path+filename, CDDB lookups, etc).
7. Tagging is extremely time con­sum­ing and prob­a­bly one of the most tedious things ever when your files are not on the local machine, but on a net­work shared drive using Samba file shar­ing, over a con­nec­tion with a 10 megabit bot­tle­neck. (And actu­ally, I am bypass­ing Samba in one direc­tion and using raw, non-ssh rsync, which makes the oper­a­tion slightly faster).
8. I am begin­ning to won­der if I am being a lit­tle too anal about ID3 tags.

Posted in: Music

AudioGalaxy is no longer a file sharing service

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The RIAA licks my unclean, smelly bung­hole. It now seems that AudioGalaxy is no longer a file shar­ing ser­vice. Musicians can go online (“back­stage,” as it is called), and upload MP3s, web­sites, images, etc. They then set up the MP3s so that peo­ple can down­load them for free or for a price. There is no file shar­ing.

Audiogalaxy is a com­mu­nity of music fans and artists. Fans visit Audiogalaxy to read reviews and sam­ple new music, dis­cover up-and-coming artists and explore new gen­res and styles. Musicians can post their music, images and info, host a web page, receive feed­back from review­ers and fans and get the expo­sure they’ve been crav­ing. And the best part is? IT’S ALL FREE! Audiogalaxy offers 25 MB of free web space to musi­cians for MP3 files, band images and a web page. All con­tent (music, images and html) is accept­able as long as it is related to your band (excep­tions are pirated mate­r­ial and soft­ware). Every MP3 you upload to our site will be avail­able for users to down­load, rate and dis­cuss. We also have daily spot­light fea­tures of bands on Audiogalaxy that run on the front page as well as within each genre sec­tion. With over 80,000 hits per day, you can be assured that your band will receive some new­found expo­sure.

Hey, fuck­faces at AG. Guess what? We already HAVE this ser­vice. It’s called mp3.com and works a lot bet­ter than your kludged-ass shitty sys­tem. I really wish I had been on the month-to-month pro­gram so I can stop pay­ment, instead I am an AG-Gold mem­ber who paid for a year of use­less mem­ber­ship in one lump sum. Fuckers.

I can­not WAIT for Trillian to release their soft­ware devel­op­ment kit. I have been think­ing of design and would LOVE to write a peer-to-peer file shar­ing sys­tem into this that is cross-platform and inter­op­er­ates with Gaim (for Linux, et al). This might make things a lit­tle eas­ier and more decen­tral­ized, which seems to be the key to good (i.e. not legally fuck­able) file shar­ing. End rant.

Posted in: Dear Diary Music

Under The Sea

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You AND the Little Mermaid can go fuck your­self.

Posted in: Dear Diary

Audio Galaxy kicks ass!

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Did I ever men­tion how cool Audio Galaxy is? I have music before it has been released. HOW COOL IS THAT?!?! Unfortunately, I see two prob­lems with Audio Galaxy at the present time. One is a design deci­sion and the other is a polit­i­cal deci­sion.

Design-wise, AG uti­lized a cen­tral­ized server. Unlike Gnutella, IRC, and sev­eral other pro­grams, it is NOT decen­tral­ized. This means there is a sin­gle point of fail­ure. A sin­gle Jugular vein for lawyers and record execs to slice. When “audiogalaxy.com” is killed, the sys­tem no longer works. The client you run talks to a cen­tral server. Your web browser user inter­face talks to a cen­tral server. Take away the server and you have nothing–except for a bunch of bro­ken client pro­grams. And don’t even men­tion the band­width that the server must be suck­ing up. Everyone talks to it, so there must be enough con­nec­tiv­ity for every­one to talk. That costs mucho bucks.

Political-wise, AG is closed source. This means that if-and-when it gets taken down, nobody can grab a copy and set up their own server. Hell, you can’t even make your own clients. You HAVE to use their clients. Blah. This puts them into a lit­tle bit of a power posi­tion, in that you get to see THEIR ads and installing the Windows soft­ware (at least used to–I didn’t see it when I just now installed) installs some spy­ware that tracks your brows­ing habits and such. Sure, they need the income from their ads to pay for the band­width of the cen­tral server, but it means that nobody out­side of their orga­ni­za­tion can cre­ate a client, run their own server, fix bugs, or add fea­tures.

What would be cool would be to write a clone of some sort. The eas­i­est clone (which is not easy, by any stretch) would involve writ­ing an Open Source dupli­cate of their cen­tral­ized server soft­ware. This, I am sure, would mean some PHP, some MySQL, and some C++ for the clients and prob­a­bly a server dae­mon. Not too dif­fi­cult, but very time con­sum­ing. Making it open source means peo­ple could run their own servers (although this means that splin­ter groups would sit in iso­lated pools and share only amongst them­selves, not the rest of the world). The next log­i­cal step would be to have the servers talk to one another. This is what Napster servers ended up doing after it had taken off. Of course, this adds even more com­plex­ity.

Anyway–food for thought. Someone should prob­a­bly do some­thing like this before AG gets shut down. If I get more moti­vated, I might make a start at this. Probably not.

Posted in: Code Dear Diary

Nothing new to report

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Nothing new to report. New York and Washington are still “blowed up.” I still do not have a job. I am in the process of down­load­ing the new Tori album, even though it is not to be released until tomor­row. I am in the process of releas­ing a net­worked MP3 juke­box system...software for which I will not receive a penny. Whatever. I think it is almost beer o’clock.

Posted in: Dear Diary