Thursday, June 18, 2009

Sometimes, the Stupid Answer IS the Right One

I listen to a lot of books on CD. Well, actually on my MP3 player. I check the CDs out of the library and then rip the tracks so I can listen on my MP3 player while I do chores around the house. (Don't worry, I delete it all when I'm done. No piracy involved. After all, I am married to M, the anti-piracy nazi.) In fact, books on CD are basically the only way any actual cleaning gets done around here. If I forget to pick up a new book before I finish the book I'm on, it's pretty much a guarantee that we'll run out of clean spoons AND underwear until I get to the library.

Well, the other day I started ripping CDs for my latest book. Now there's something you need to know about the data encoded on most books on CD. Turns out that whoever burns these things isn't very good at using a consistent naming scheme. For example, the first CD might be named "Book I'm Reading" and the tracks might be called 01-01, 01-02, 01-03, etc. Then the second CD might be called "Book I'm Reading Disc 02" with the tracks called 02 Track 01, 02 Track 02, etc. Then you get to the third CD and it's called "03 Book I'm Reading" and the tracks are Track 01, Track 02, etc. This is all a pain, but then it gets really interesting because you get to the fourth CD and it's simply called "Book I'm Reading" again. Suffice it to say that sometimes you have to do a little supplemental naming and regrouping when you're done. So when I started to rip the 8th CD from a book the other day and it came up with the CD titled as though it were the 4th CD, I didn't think much of it. I mean, apparently this was just another case of the CD company farming CD burning out to a wide array of teenagers in their garages or something. But then I noticed that it had overwritten the files from the real 4th CD. I went through a variety of renaming tactics as I reripped both CDs several times. After a long time I finally admitted defeat and asked M for help. I was a technical failure...

He asked me about what I had tried so far and he seemed fairly satisfied by my thorough answers. Then finally he asked me, "Are you sure the CDs are actually different?" Of course I was. One had Disc 4 printed on it and the other had Disc 8 printed on it. The first tracks were a different length (by one second). "Did you actually listen to it?" Well, no...

Turns out Disc 8 really has the same data on it as Disc 4. Well, that would explain things, wouldn't? But I still can't believe it! Has no one else ever checked this book on CD out? Did no one else ever bother to mention this little idiosyncrasy to the librarians? Did no one notice they were missing out on 1/13th of the book???

Guess I need to have a chat with the librarians AND go find a hard copy of this book so I can read whatever parts correspond to Disc #8. And since the CDs aren't kind enough to actually list what chapters each CD covers, I get to listen to Disc #9 to try and figure out the first time it starts a new chapter so I know when to stop reading the printed book and get back to folding laundry.

6 comments:

Kristen said...

wow, what a pain. What types of books do you listen to? Is it something you care if your kids here? Suspense?

Sherry said...

Yeah, if it weren't for Wait Wait I would never do any cooking or cleaning on Saturdays.

Kelly M said...

I'm not smart enough to really understand this post (ripping? Huh?), but I do like the idea of listening to books while cleaning. . . I'm just afraid something horrible would happen to my kids while I couldn't hear them. When I lay on the couch with a book I can still hear what's going on. :)

Janssen said...

Haha, what are the odds? Also, that is REALLY annoying.

azufelt said...

Well, sucks for you that you miss out on 1/13th of the book....

Here's a possibley helpful hint though: The SA public library offers check-out-able books on mp3 download, straight from their website. I've downloaded a few to my home pc. Here's the catch, the files can totally be transferred to a cd or mp3 player... but NOT on iPod. So, it you are using a "no name" brand you would be good to go. I unfortunately was stuck listening at the computer, so I OBVIOUSLY never listened to the whole book before it self-destructed on me.

good luck this week!

Scott said...

As Sherry hinted at in her post...you really ought to look into podcasts for those times that you haven't made it to the library. If you like NPR they put a lot of their content out via podcasts. There is also plenty of other interesting/educational content. That is how I manage to deal w/ the awful torment called driving. iTunes is a nice delivery mechanism, but there are others out there if you hate Apple or something.