Writings on technology and society from Wellington, New Zealand

Friday, December 21, 2007

Normal service

…will be resumed as soon as possible or so it used to say on the telly in the UK whenever the TV station broke down. And normal service on this blog will be resumed in a few weeks once I have taken some time out with my family exploring some of this wonderful land we live in.

So, sporadic posting only for a few weeks. If you’re in New Zealand go out and enjoy yourself! Have a great break, drive safely, and above all make time to just relax.

posted by colin at 4:03 pm  


  1. And Colin, if we are not in NZ? If we are gripped in the midst of a technologically advanced Lithuanian winter.

    We listen to you regularly on the radio. In fact I gleam enough info from you to almost keep my head above water in this country full of geeks. (Said in the nicest possible sense of the word of course).

    I have almost decided that I am not coming home until broadband is quick and affordable for your average consumer. However I want to die in NZ so I guess I will have to suffer that one.

    Anyhow my question. I am about to get a new laptop. And I do not have to share it with my wife, which means my operating system will be Linux. YAY! My problem, I almost love itunes and want to find the best replacement for it. I do not want any off my music to be DRM’ed. The new programme will have to convert it into MP3 format.

    Any ideas?
    Cheers Kel ps I can legally rip my CD’s and load them onto my ipod here.

    Comment by Kel — 1 January 2008 @ 10:40 pm

  2. Hi there, Kel, and greetings from a pleasantly summery South Island to Lithuania! It’s good to hear that people listen to the podcast from all over the world.

    People say that Amarok is the best iTunes-replacement for Linux. I haven’t tried it myself – I could, but my Linux boxes are all at home and I am working down a slow link, so I’ll leave that for now.

    The other thing to bear in mind is which encoder to use. The best MP3 encoder is called LAME – check whether Amarok contains LAME, or lets you install LAME into it. You can download LAME and it’s free software.

    LAME has a lot of options. I always use Variable Bit Rate (VBR) and quite a high bit rate at that, usually 320kbps. (To change this in Amarok you may need to look for an option called LAME command line parameters or some such, and be prepared to look at a LAME manual online. Google is your friend :-) )

    A high bit rate like this makes for a big encoded file, more than double the size of a file created by the default bit rate of 128kbps, but I want it to sound good. And disc space is cheap these days.

    This is probably obvious advice, but don’t spend several days ripping your entire CD collection without first checking that the first CD you rip will play back properly on all your computers, MP3 players and iPods. It may take a few attempts until you get a rip you are happy with, but it’s definitely worth getting the process right first.

    Hope this gives you something to do in the long winter evenings!


    Comment by colin — 5 January 2008 @ 4:14 pm

  3. All I want to say thanks! This is a great resource, we appreciate it.Adam.

    Comment by Adam — 7 January 2008 @ 7:57 pm

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