The Mac Jukebox and what's to be done with it

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chombee
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The Mac Jukebox and what's to be done with it

Postby chombee » Wed Jan 24, 2007 12:09 pm

I guess this working group is the right one although we probably need some wider feedback about this.

I think there are 3 problems with the Mac that we're using as jukebox in the cafe right now:

1. There's no backup of the music, as far as I know. When the Mac has a hardware failure (Apple is known for good quality hardware, but I do mean when) then all the music will possibly be lost forever. Has there ever been a backup made?

2. We are using Mac OS X and particularly iTunes which are . I care about this and think we should not use this software on principle.

It might not be so important with the Mac that is locked away in a cupboard, BUT whenever an artist gives us a CD and we rip it using iTunes it is probably storing that music in a hideous . This means that iTunes encodes the music in such a way that only software produced by Apple can use the music. This is a corporate tactic known as : once you have a large collection of music that you can only play on Apple software, then you become dependent on Apple.

This is potentially very shit, because if our Mac should stop working, even if we had a backup of the music, we might not be able to play any of our music until we got another Mac, not a PC.

Ofcourse, there are ways around the problem, we could probably find a way to convert the music into a free format that can be played on any computer with freely available software. is a free audio format.

3. When you rip a CD with iTunes, iTunes decides what to name the files, and where to put them, probably creating a huge mess. Not such a big deal, but annoying.

A friend of mine, Erik, has an Apple laptop and has offered to use it to backup all the music from the jukebox. We would copy all the music to his laptop, then burn it to DVDs. We might also convert it to a free format while we're at it. That would solve problem 1. Does anyone know roughly how much music (in GigaBytes) is on there?

As for problem 2, there are two things we could do:

1. Get a decent spec PC, install Ubuntu on it, put the music on that, and put it where the Mac is. Move the Mac downstairs as a backup. We can both play and rip music easily with Ubuntu. This disadvantage of this option is we will probably have to spend money to get a computer, though not much.

2. Install Ubuntu on the Mac, which according to Erik is child's play and exactly like installing Ubuntu on a PC, so should not cause any problems. This would not cost us anything. The disadvantage is that if something goes wrong, not that I think it would, but if something went wrong and Ubuntu was not doing the job, we wouldn't simply be able to bring the Mac back upstairs and use it as before. We could however reinstall OS X if we had to, as I think we have an OS X CD.

I realise that the jukebox is needed to play music all day every day and has always just worked, and must continue to do so, so I think it's important to do any change with no disruption. Ubuntu is very reliable -- as far as I know the two Ubuntu machines in the cafe, which are running on really crappy scavenged old hardware, have never crashed.

How do people feel about this?

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Duncan
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Postby Duncan » Wed Jan 24, 2007 4:13 pm

Totally agree with what's here, my only worry is possible loss of sound quality converting to ogg. Nothing against ogg, but it's always a issue coverting between compressed formats. My only experience is ogg to mp3 (to make stuff work on an ipod) and the result wasn't great.

I think if we're backing up we should keep copies in the existing format as well as converting, unless someone knows of conversion software that really is spot on fidelity wise.

I personally use Winamp all the time (I know it's corporate owned now, which is a shame, but..). I guess you don't get winamp for mac ? Anyway much better to have something that rips to mp3.

While I'm at it, a plug for the Brian Jonestown Massacre who've made most of their albums available free on ogg.

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Postby ravanwin » Wed Jan 24, 2007 4:50 pm

i'm in favor of the work it will take to make our computing more ethical but also echo duncan's concern.
r

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Postby chombee » Wed Jan 24, 2007 5:20 pm

Duncan:

you're right that converting the Apple files to Ogg will lose some quality. This is unavoidable regardless of the file conversion software used, because both are lossy formats. Different conversion softwares may lose less quality though. Me and Erik decided the result would not be noticeable, as when ripping a CD which was previously burned. This is a matter of opinion though. We'd keep the original files, yes.

If we really care about audio quality, is a free compressed file format that is lossless -- the FLAC file sounds exactly as good as the original CD it was ripped from (or, I guess, the other file format it was converted from). FLAC's take up more space than Ogg's or other lossy files, but not too much as they're still compressed. We could use FLAC instead of Ogg Vorbis, the trade-off is disk space for audio quality.

About Winamp, the people who made it are now making , a free (ethical) media player that works on Windows, Mac and Linux and that 'plays the web' as well as playing the music on your computer. It's like iTunes and Firefox combined into one, it integrates music blogs, music search engines, etc. Very cool.

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Postby chris » Wed Jan 24, 2007 9:10 pm

itunes just rips to mp3, and anything that plays that can use it...(just for info)

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Postby chombee » Wed Jan 24, 2007 9:19 pm

I think it depends on the version of iTunes and how it's setup. But if it's ripping to mp3 that's a relief. It's still a proprietary format, but free (illegal) codecs for it are so widespread that in practical terms it doesn't really matter to us. And there probably won't be any really nasty stuff like DRM preventing us from copying the files off the mac or something.

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Postby chris » Wed Jan 24, 2007 10:12 pm

i think itunes only does that if you buy the songs from its store...

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Postby beev » Thu Jan 25, 2007 11:36 am

The conversion would be a good thing. I much prefer the FLAC idea for converting what we have - any loss of quality should be avoided.

Backups definitely also good. I was doing it, but I don't have the room on my hard drive anymore. The sooner Erik can do a backup the better as my last one was a while ago, and anyway I've deleted it all as I needed the room!

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Postby chombee » Thu Jan 25, 2007 1:22 pm

Okay, I think we'll use FLAC for converting what we have and try to avoid any loss of quality. If it's too much trouble we could even just leave it as mp3. Once we have a free software jukebox though I think we'll set it to rip to Ogg Vorbis, not FLAC, just because FLAC takes up a lot of disk space compared to Ogg (30-50% compression for FLAC, 80%+ for Ogg). We could set it to quite high quality Ogg though...

I'll talk to Erik about when a good time to do the backup is.

What I really wanted to get some feedback on was... should we install Ubuntu on the Mac? Or should we try to leave the Mac untouched, so it can be brought back into service if it's ever needed, and get a PC to install Ubuntu on and replace the Mac as jukebox?

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Postby beev » Thu Jan 25, 2007 4:04 pm

I would say if we can get these FLAC's sorted out then we should aim to use a PC running linux. We're gonna need more disc space than the Mac has, and also I don't think the Mac will create Ogg's, which is clearly the way forward.

I hear you can get a 1 terabyte hard drive these days!

The Mac could be useful in the office, or as another ubuntu web computer in the cafe. Or as our listening station.

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Postby chombee » Thu Jan 25, 2007 4:18 pm

There's been talk of either getting a new PC for the office from Duncan or buying one. Maybe we could move the Mac into the office instead and use this new PC as a jukebox. That would work very nicely. What do people think?

Me and Erik would like to do the backup to DVD on Saturday, Does the forest have any blank DVDs or shall we buy some? Does anyone know how much music there is to backup?

An Ubuntu PC as jukebox could possibly even double as a listening station if it had two soundcards...

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Postby Gaz » Thu Jan 25, 2007 9:06 pm


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Postby chombee » Thu Jan 25, 2007 9:59 pm

Maybe when the new office computer comes we can move the current office computer upstairs and turn it into a jukebox with Ubuntu installed, and move the Mac downstairs as a second office computer?

This would still allow there to be a Windows PC downstairs (the new one Duncan's bringing) if people feel they need that.

Btw they are working towards setting up PCs for video editing in Infoseed. Tom has installed the non-linear video editor on all the machines, and I think the quest now is to find enough good spec hardware to use it with.

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Postby Gaz » Thu Jan 25, 2007 10:47 pm


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Postby chombee » Fri Jan 26, 2007 11:07 am


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Postby beev » Fri Jan 26, 2007 11:09 am


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Postby Gaz » Fri Jan 26, 2007 11:33 am


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Postby chombee » Fri Jan 26, 2007 11:52 am


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Postby Shannon » Fri Jan 26, 2007 3:43 pm


chombee
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Postby chombee » Sat Jan 27, 2007 7:49 pm


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Postby chombee » Sun Jan 28, 2007 1:56 pm


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ravanwin
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Postby ravanwin » Mon Jan 29, 2007 5:18 pm

dvd with all the forest tracks has been dropped off and lives in the archive drawer of the filing cabnit in the office.

r

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Postby chombee » Mon Jan 29, 2007 5:38 pm

Okay I'll put the other DVD that I already put in the office with the rest sometime.

I've been thinking about the Mac... main thing is we have a backup now. And the file format it uses is relatively benign (it's set to mp3 now, and Chris is right that iTunes only does the really bad stuff if you buy music from their store). So I think if it's not broke don't fix it. It would be nice to install Ubuntu on there and if we ever do replace the Mac we should use Ubuntu with the music from our backup. But I'm not sure it's worthwhile doing it now since it's working fine as it is. Basically I don't want to make more work for myself. Lets just stick with OS X.

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Postby chris » Tue Jan 30, 2007 12:44 pm

hurray! sense prevails!


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