Thursday, January 24, 2008

Ripping CDs

Someone's discovered a new toy in their car - a USB port connecting to the speakers. He couldn't connect his Sony Walkman to it as it's all in ATRAC format (I could use it as a pure storage device for MP3s but then they won't work on the player itself thus doubling up) so he picked up an 8Gb stick. I'm in the process of ripping all his CDs using iTunes into MP3s.

iTunes itself is pretty good at this, pop in the CD it connects to Gracenote to pull the track list for you. Some small annoyances with Gracenote itself - Cliff Richard and the Shadows by Summer Holiday types mean having to edit things around, but it's not as bad as having to enter all the information yourself. Album Names can be annoying "Now 68 - [Disc 1]" appears after "Now 68 - (Disc 2)" because round brackets have precedence over square ones. Pick one style and stick with it.

More annoying is being asked if the CD is "Inspirations by Robbie Williams" or "Inspirations by Robbie Williams" is there a difference in the track list? I can't see until I pick one.

The second problem with iTunes is dragging and dropping ripped tracks onto the stick; despite the fact that you can return to the iTunes program you can't do anything with it such as eject the (now ripped) CD for the next one. Manually ejecting the CD and popping in the next while the copy is still going means iTunes not noticing you've switched discs. Likewise right-clicking on a blank album graphic and Get Album Artwork will try to find artwork for the album that is highlighted, which may not be the one you're clicking. Silly little things like that.

Anyway ripping CDs that have been rolling around a car floor is a fun experience, most went through well. It choked after the second track on "Piece by Piece" by "Katie Melua" which I can sympathise with. Couldn't handle "Anastasia" either. "The Beautiful South" had a nasty crack so I didn't even try it which led to looking for it on the iTunes store. Despite my warnings he bought it and it transferred to the stick in Protected m4a format. Of course it wouldn't play, so he's trying to get his money back.

[Update - If you go into purchase history you can select "Report a problem" this then puts the words "Report a problem" next to the purchased tracks, then you click "Done"; except you don't. You're supposed to then click those appearing phrases to progress to the next screen to tell them what the problem is. This is not mentioned at all on that screen. So poor user-design from Apple!

Probing deeper into support it tells me that all sales are full and final, once you've clicked "buy" that's it. I think the Distance Selling Regulations that provides a 7-day cooling off period for all contracts may have something to say about that.]

This led to a long discussion on the fighting over DRM that he was completely unaware of up until this point "But I'm doing this with CDs so why can't I do with these from the store?"
"Because with the CDs it was a down to trust that you wouldn't make and distribute multiple copies or even let someone play the CD while you listened to them as MP3s. Now they don't have to trust you; they can stop you at source"
"They can't do that"
"Sure they can it's their music; you're essentially paying them a one-time fee for leasing it. You'll be surprised what you don't actually own"

Anyway just approaching 1300 songs with 3.5 days of play.

Favourite thing heard regarding ripping music. He's got a high-end speaker system from.. well you can probably guess; anyway you can play music and store it into the system. The drawback is you need to be listening to the music at the same time; with the obvious drawback that you can only record in real-time. The reason for this said the technical guy is that you get better quality doing it that way. What? What the? What the f***?

Suddenly all those years of odd program failures make sense - when I installed them the disc was playing to quickly and it wasn't reading the all of the data.