second guessin’

It’s 11pm now on Sunday and I wrote most of this entry throughout the weekend while I was sitting at the computer. The more I listen to this new Nine Inch Nails album, the more I really, really like it. I mean really. For real. No foolin’. You should get it and check it out, it grows on you something fierce. You should check it out; no, I’m serious.

Since I last wrote about it, my disdain for retrieving and sorting the mail has grown. I have come to dread sorting through the piles of paper that I get every week. My frustrations are compounded by the fact that near 90% of what I get goes straight into the dustbin (What? “Dustbin?” I’m practicing should the Queen Mother mount an offensive to take back her colonies). It’s got the to the point where the things I used to save, the stock statements, the medical insurance statements, whatever – I now just toss them directly. I used to keep them for some reason, and I still don’t know what that reason is. When I can, I’ve switched my billing options to “paperless” statements – keeping only online records. I’ve switched all my bills to auto-debit, and keep track of all my finances online. I really only need the mail for one-off ordered items and very critical stuff. Man how I wish there was some way to restrict the incoming flow to that stuff only… and get rid of the ~5lbs of paper I just waste each week.

I’ve been back at my ripping project lately, finally having the guts to tackle my Beatles and related discs. I purposely left them for last, for a few reasons. First, there are so dang many of ’em. Second, the majority are bootlegs or rare releases, and their information tends not to be in the automatic FreeDB database. See, when you put most commercially available CDs into a ripping program, the program goes and queries the huge FreeDB database and automatically names the disc and songs. Then, when you rip the disc all the files are named and tagged correctly. If a disc isn’t in the FreeDB database – you get a bunch of songs called “AudioTrack01,” and so on. You then have to go in and somehow rename these, which is an extra and laborious step in the whole conversion process. Anyway, I started ripping through the solo and group Beatles material a couple weeks ago, and at my estimate I’m about 20% through the task. Considering I’m already at about 9GB of MP3 – I estimate I’ll end up with somewhere between 50GB-75GB of just Beatles and related. Impressive when you consider that my everything-but-Beatles tally was only ~120GB.

In other news, I waffled once more on the ripper I’m using for the project. I know it seems sorta silly to switch mid-project, because it’s like admitting any pre-switch rips are inferior – but I couldn’t help myself. Partway into the Beatles ripping, I started noticing CDex throwing a few “jitter errors” on some of my discs. Not CD-Rs, not discs in bad condition either. So, for the millionth time in the span of this project, I went online to search for information about jitter errors and ripping. And, also for the millionth-and-oneth time, I decided to re-download EAC and try using it. Turns out, EAC is much better suited to high-quality ripping than CDex is. It auto-detected the features of my CD-ROM drives and actually recommended the drive I haven’t been using as the better drive for ripping audio. It then pre-configured my LAME codec with some research-proven “best” settings for MP3 quality (which, to my surprise, was using variable bitrate encoding – I’ve been using a constant bitrate of 192Kbps up until now). So, midway through my project my MP3s have become variable bitrate and ripped with a different drive and program. Being incredibly anal, you’d think this would grate on me until I finally submit and re-rip the entire pre-EAC library. But no, I’m not doing it. I’m happy with the rips I’ve done so far, and if I ever find a rotten one – I’ll just re-rip with EAC (providing I haven’t yet sold the source CD, in which case I’ll just download it).

Friday morning at work, my little Gmail notifier popped up saying I’d got a new mail. I only needed to see the little hovering summary box to know what it was – Sharaun and I had won the World Cup 2006 ticket lottery. Out of the three individual matches we put in for, we won tickets to only a single match – #7 in Nuremberg. Since a group of friends had also cast their lot in for tickets, I fired off a message proclaiming my success. Almost right after, Ben replied that luck had also been on his side – and he’d scored a pair of tickets, amazingly, to the very same match in Nuremberg. Out of the others who applied, I think only one other couple managed to get a match – and a different one at that. Seconds later Ben was over at the desk delivering a high-five for victory and talking about World Cup Fever. Too bad the thing is a year and half away. Anyway, it has the makings of an awesome vacation… and Pat later sent out an e-mail where we could see what our odds of winning really were, I was even more pumped.


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