Creating mp3?s

I mentioned that I had an mp3 player for running. One problem was that I’ve been using iTunes for some time, and my mp3 player doesn’t accept the default itunes format (.m4a). So I needed to re-copy those songs as either .wma (Windows Media format) or mp3’s.

Now, I don’t like to lose quality too much. As far as copying music to your computer is concerned, the standard metric for the song’s quality is the bit rate (how often the sound wave is sampled). In general, the higher the bit rate, the better quality the music is, but the larger the file becomes. A 64Kbps bit rate–64,000 bits/second–is a standard quality. Music that is streamed over the internet will usually be low-quality, since the smaller file-size allows for the music to be transferred faster.

So the next question is how to get high-quality mp3’s from your CD’s? Here are some freebies that I’ve looked at:

Windows Media Player can be configured to create mp3’s, and allows for high-quarlity bit rates. Windows Media Player will let you encode into mp3’s at 128, 192, 156, or 320 Kbps.

Exact Audio Copy can do similar, but adds an extra feature: Variable Bit Rate encoding (VBR). The idea behind this is that the mp3 encoder will determine what quality is needed for a given small section of the music and set the bit rate for that small section. This allows you to get high-quality music and save a little more space. The problem with this program is that the setup is more involved, rather than working out of the box.

iTunes also lets you configure your format choices, and so you can choose to have iTunes copy songs in mp3 format. I was pleased to note that they also have an option for variable bit rate (VBR) encoding, but on top of that, you can set a minimum bit rate. So when you’re copying your music to mp3, the bit rate won’t go below the threshold that you set.

Right now I’m using iTunes to copy my CD’s to mp3’s. I’m using the VBR encoding with a minimum bit rate of 192Kbps.

Half-Marathon

I’m a programmer. A professional geek. I work on a computer all day every day, and some extra just to maintain a firm control on my nerdness…

What the heck am I doing trying to do a half-marathon!?!?

I don’t know, but overall it was pretty fun.
fun!
fun?

It all started with my sister, who got me and a number of my siblings to run the 5K. And it was actually kind of fun. It was really hard, but I enjoyed the challenge, and I got a decent time. A few weeks later I found myself running a 10K with the group. I had run a couple times between then, but I hadn’t really trined for it.

It was actually king of fun. Really hard, but I enjoyed the challenge, and again I got a decent time.

So then my sister said we should run a half-marathon!? I hadn’t really considered it before, but I had done pretty well on the half-marathon, so I figured I would go ahead and do it. So I went and got some running shoes and other supplies. I eventually got an mp3 player (unfortunately, not enough funds for a nice ipod). And for a few weeks I trained pretty regularly. After that I only had time to make a few runs, but I was rather nervous going into the marathon.

So we had to get up at a completely unholy hour (4:30 AM!) so that I could get to the finish point. From there we were bussed to the start point. The bus went uphill… and more uphill… and… more… uphill…

nuts.

Well, our little group found each other and eventually the race started. There were a fairly large number of people and we were near the back of the crowd, so once the race started, we kind of… stood there… We eventually started, and we were running downhill.

It didn’t turn out to be too bad. I found my mp3 player to be very helpful (they allowed them in this race–I understand that for more serious runs they are not). My choice of music was probably very different than what one would expect (see my comments on soundtracks below–I also enjoyed Dvorak’s 9th Symphony).

The pack I got for my bottle had proved to be useless – it kept sliding up to my stomach and bouncing around – so I carried my water bottle. That turned out to be less than usefull. I ended up ditching the bottle about a mile from the end when it was still half full (oops).

The other fun part was when my mp3 player died. I really noticed that. All of a sudden the running was a lot harder. Fortunately it was only about 3 miles from the end.

As it turned out, the half-marathon was easier than the 5K and 10K. I suspect it may have to do with the fact that I actually trained for this one. I was quite pleased at my time, 1:54 for 13 miles, but I think what I was most pleased about as far as running was to find that I generally kept my wind – I’ve always had a very short wind, but for virtually the whole race I was breathing just fine.

I also really enjoyed that it was something of a family event. It was really neat to cheer each other on, and see them come in once I had come in.

Private Blog Now Available… uh, privately…

A while back my family had a camping trip that was rather fun, and I was excited to post about it in my blog. Unfortunately, I realized that this blog is public (on purpose–I’m sure there are lots of people that wish to discuss their favorite movie music composers).

At any rate, I decided to create an additional private blog (invitation only). It will be used for posts that have somewhat more sensitive information on it (family pictures, etc). When I post to one blog, I’ll try to make note of it in the other.

If you have not received and invitation to my private blog, and would like one, first check your email. Then if you still haven’t received an invitation, send me an email.