Friday, July 17, 2009

EAC, FLAC and embedded Cuesheets

For the second time, I’ve started the process of backing up my CD collection onto my computer.  I’m doing this with two goals in mind:

  1. Allow me to restore an identical copy of a CD if I were to misplace it.
  2. Allow me to use the backup to produce a copy of the tracks in any format quickly and easily.

I’ve chosen to use EAC to rip the CD because it can correct errors on scratched discs, with the AccurateRip feature you can identify when a rip may not be perfect.

And I’ve chose to store the CD as a single file in FLAC format.  There are other lossless formats that might offer better compression, but FLAC is open source so I can be confident of the formats longevity.

The reason this is the second time I’ve attempted a backup is because I spent so long researching the right configuration for EAC that by the time I got to the FLAC side of things I ran with some settings I seen online which wasn’t the ideal choice when it comes to handling cuesheets.

Cuesheets describe how a single audio file should be split up into tracks.  EAC will create the cuesheet as a separate file which totally fine—unless, like me, you would feel more confident with your backup if the cuesheet can’t be separated from the FLAC file.

The solution for not allowing the cuesheet to be seperated from the FLAC file is to embed it.  But there are two ways to embed a cuesheet:

  1. Embed as a tag named CUESHEET.
  2. Embed in the CUESHEET block.

I’ve chosen to embed the cuesheet in both the tag and block of the FLAC file.  I made this decision because the block option only stores the track running times, necessary to recreate the CD using CD burning software, whilst the tag option allows you to store track information including the track titles which can be used by music players and convertors. 

You could just use the tag option, but all FLAC software should read the cuesheet block, whilst cuesheet tag support could vary and I want to avoid having to export the cuesheet from the tag in this situation.

So here’s the punchline—my EAC command line options to import the cuesheet automatically after ripping:

-5 -V -T "ARTIST=%a" -T "ALBUM=%g" -T "DATE=%y" -T "GENRE=%m" --tag-from-file=CUESHEET="%a - %g.cue" --cuesheet="%a - %g.cue" %s

Here’s a quick breakdown of the parameters meaning:

  1. -5 : The amount of compression (between 1 and 8)
  2. -V : Verify the encoding
  3. -T : Each of the values after the T’s are tags.  I’ve selected to use only tags recommended by the OGG specification.
  4. --tag-from-file : Creates the CUESHEET tag
  5. --cuesheet : Creates the CUESHEET block
  6. “%a - %g.cue” : This will resolve the file name of the cuesheet EAC generates.
  7. %s : The name of the Wave file to be encoded.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Good, clean Internet censorship

Censor this?

Good, clean internet censorship? Help get this advert on the air and in the air - on every Qantas flight in the country during the next sitting week of Parliament.

The Government's test trials on internet censorship are about to end, the results are nearly in and they're looking to announce their plans to filter all internet activity.

We know exactly where every politician will be - on a Qantas flight to Canberra as Parliament resumes. Your contribution will allow us to show this ad directly to them, and their staff, making it an issue they can't avoid.

Even if you’re not interested donating, it’s worth viewing the ad.  The Internet is a little “too amazing”.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Novint Falcon – the ultimate FPS controller

This will probably be out of my budget, but it looks amazing.  So I’ll be keeping an eye out for an Australian price.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Enable Gmail themes within Google Apps

Gmail theme

A little while ago I decided to enable Google Apps for my domain for Email use.   It’s free, I can easily access my mail from anywhere, and if I change web hosts I don’t have to worry about backing up my mail.

But one thing I had missed with Gmail under Google Apps, compared with normal Gmail, is the ability to apply themes to Gmail.  I had read somewhere that the theme setting would appear automatically after an undefined period, but was this was wrong.

If you want access the themes in Gmail under Google Apps you need to log into Google Apps for your domain, and go to Domain settings.   Then under the General tab, check “Enable pre-release features” and save the changes.  Wait 20 minutes, or so, log into Gmail and you should see the themes tab under the settings.