The CD Project commences

As a result of this past Tax-Free Weekend, I now have the hard disk space necessary to start digitizing all my CDs. (It’s a long story and involves a painful morning spent staring at the SBOD while trying to go over finances with Lisa, and my mentioning that moving my music files off my laptop would greatly free the system, as most of the slowdown appears to be in paging to and from the hard disk when there is very little free disk space. Also involves purchasing some wool carpets for the living room and stairs, but that’s a different story.)

I ended up with more of a solution than I thought, actually. The way I had been laying it out in my head, this was a two phase project with months of separation between the phases:

  1. Move most or all existing music files off the laptop to an external drive; change the music folder location to the external drive; rip CDs losslessly to external drive. Music can be played as long as external drive is physically connected to computer.
  2. Connect external drive permanently to home network, either by placing it in an enclosure that would allow for network access (turning it into NAS), or by connecting it to a new machine that would be connected permanently to the network.

Obviously there was potentially a large expense attached to the second phase, which is why I was delighted when Lisa found a gadget from D-Link that connects USB and USB 2.0 drives to the network via a 10/100 Ethernet cable. It now looks like my second phase is going to consist of taking the drive, once all the CDs are ripped, and plugging it into our hub.

The actual storage part was a 300 GB Maxtor drive and a Venus enclosure from AMSElectronics—previously recommended as a low noise enclosure with both USB 2.0 and FireWire support, and, as it happens, available off the shelf at our local MicroCenter.

I’ll post updates as I go through my collection. I can’t promise that my progress will be as artful or as quick as Fury’s—I’ll be lucky if I get more than five CDs ripped a night, at which rate my collection will be entirely transferred by Eastertime next year. I intend to take the opportunity to fill in performer, performance date, and composer information and cover art as I rip the albums, which (particularly for jazz discs) will probably take a long time.

But the first album I ripped using the lossless codec, Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue, went quickly—just as quickly as ripping to MP3 or AAC. The file sizes were in line with my estimates too, with the 9-minute-plus recording coming in at about 44 megabytes.

Morning Car-B-Q

Exiting the Mass Pike onto Route 30 in Framingham this morning, I smelled smoke. It was a frustratingly slow rainy commute, so at first I thought I was just smelling cranial smoke. But no: There was a car ahead with a bad smoke problem. Really bad. Can’t see inside the car because of all the smoke in the passenger cabin bad.

I passed the car as the driver was getting out. He was running around to the front of the car, which, I noted with some alarm, now featured flames starting to lick out from around the edges of the hood. And he was trying to open the hood.

I called 911, of course, and went on my way. But it made me think: Darwin Award candidate. If you can actually see flames coming out of your engine compartment, do you:

  1. Run like hell
  2. Stay a safe distance away from the car and wait for the fire department
  3. Risk burning your hands and a fireball in your face to open the hood

I know which one I wouldn’t choose.

—Incidentally, the title is the word that would inevitably be used in the radio traffic report back in Washington DC any time that a car fire occurred, and it always creeped me out. Because on the one hand, I could visualize people hurt and thousands of dollars worth of damage, and then at the same time … barbecue! So I just had to inflict that little piece of mental damage on my loving readers this morning. Happy Monday.