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Tue, Dec. 28th, 2010, 03:53 am
Useful metadata which your MP3 software will ignore.

disctag is something trivial I just threw together (literally—it's past-midnight Perl, so if you care about it getting confused and chewing up your tags make backups first) as a post-step for abcde, a frontend for CDDB/cdparanoia/lame (et. al.) which—despite being a huge hairball of sh—remains one of the few ways to turn a CD into a bunch of MP3s in a vaguely automatic and sane manner I've found (iTunes' encoder is iffy and it tends to be funny about only using its XML database for metadata; Max.App is about equal to abcde except for the fact it uses a lookup service with incredibly patchy coverage; and EAC and CDex of the Windows world are both atrocious UI trainwrecks in every regard and also serial and only filling in half the metadata).

It sets up the TPOS ID3v2.3 tag for multi-CD albums. It also sets TRCK to include the total number of tracks, since no bugger ever sets that either. And renames the files iTunes-style to be prefixed with the album number, so 01.Dont_Stop_Believin.mp3 becomes 1-01.Dont_Stop_Believin.mp3 and everything lexically sorts helpfully in your filer or shell expansions.

With this correctly set, you can take off the atrocious hack of pretending that each CD is a separate album with " [Disc N]" suffixed on the end of its name, which makes media libraries that autoarrange files into folders less useful and also deeply offends anyone who would like their computer to have correct information to work with. (Computers working with incorrect information are a common cause of hateful behaviour such as not letting the "Play this entire album" button work.)

Of course, this is the lovely theory. The less-than-lovely reality is that iTunes—written by freaking Apple, whose usual view of other people's standards is that they're quaint little curiousities that they need support only as far as needed to help people migrate into the Apple ecosystem—is the only thing I've found that actually gives a damn about this metadata. foobar2000 doesn't understand it. Windows Media Player doesn't understand it. WinAmp, VLC, mplayer, MPC et. al. just play things in the order you specify anyway (WA3 had some kind of media library but also caused cancer in lab rats)—which is at least hopefully the correct lexical ordering from your filer. And when I say "doesn't understand", I mean that if you tell foobar2k or WMP to play an album so tagged, it'll play track 1 from every disc in the order it found them, then track 2 from every disc…

(And, of course, if you actually tweak this in the iTunes metadata editor—again, the only one I've found that'll show or let you change TPOS, although VLC at least shows it read-only buried in a tree in a tab in the extended metadata window, there is a good chance iTunes will replace your ID3 tag with nothing but strange hex comments and then ferret away all the metadata in its big XML database. Writing some Perl to dig the metadata back out [this part is at least done] and re-write it as regular tags is still on the to-do list. [iTunes is also the only one I've found to actually show explicit "out of" fields, rather than expecting you to have read the ID3 spec and know to type "1/18" as a track number.])

The virtual does not have a monopoly on the suck, of course. I broke the damn case trying to pry CD2 out. Which is at least better than breaking the disc. And it's only one of the incredibly stubborn plastic centre teeth, rather than the nefarious multiple hinges that were trying to flex the wrong way. I want to find whoever designed those 2CD jewel cases and beat them with textbooks on designing everyday physical artifacts to not be ridiculously fragile.

So basically it's almost 2011 and both mechanical plastic engineering and music library software still can't cope with the fact that sometimes an album has more than one disc. Hooray.

Oh good. At some point, LiveJournal broke recognizing HTML entity references and not escaping all the ampersands.

Sun, Jan. 2nd, 2011 12:22 pm (UTC)
tomo2k: So iTunes really is the only usable soft MP3 player

I almost said 'decent', except that it installs Bonjour and will not run if you kill it.
Bonjour is the spawn of satan on a well-behaved network - I've had to manually blackhole it in the software firewall and just hope that it stays dead.

Not to mention continually pushing ****ing Safari on everyone. I do not need another web browser throwing at me - if I want another, I'll go and get it myself.

As to the plastic engineering - it's pretty much deliberate. Those cases are designed to be dirt cheap, unit cost inc shipping is well under 10p, probably under 5p.
So they use the cheapest plastic possible - usually polystyrene with no plasticisers (cheaper than expended PS!) - making it stupendously brittle.

Sun, Jan. 2nd, 2011 12:26 pm (UTC)
lionsphil: Re: So iTunes really is the only usable soft MP3 player

Actually there's a whole laundry-list of reasons why iTunes is pretty much insufferable as well, and the day I install Apple software on a Microsoft OS again (or vica-versa) is the day I've apparently had a lobotomy.

I know the materials have to be cheap but I swear the actual mechanical design of some of these cases is terrible and does not allow for this.