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Snow, Registration, and Radiohead
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saxifrage00
I got out of my Humanities 101 tutorial at 1:20 this afternoon and walked outside with Charlene, talking about course registration and the nature of the mind (we’re in Intro to Epistemology and Metaphysics together, too). I stopped dead when I saw that among the fat, wet raindrops were heavy and sodden flakes of snow. My first thought is that even up on Burnaby Mountain it’s too early for snow, even though it’s late November. Living in Vancouver has spoiled me in that regard.



I’m registered for next semester! I got all the courses I initially wanted right away. I’m currently enrolled in Intro to Cognitive Science, Intro to Linguistics, Metaphysics, and in Natural Deductive Logic. Mmm, sex-ay philosophy.



Last year darthmaus bought a copy of Radiohead’s Hail to the Thief, which, ironically, was shipped as a Copy Controlled Disc. The trouble with a Copy Controlled Disc is that it is not, technically a Compact Disc because it violates the Red Book Standard that defines the data format of CDs.

The reason this particular copy-protection scheme (Cactus Data Shield 200) violates Red Book is because it has a broken table of contents (ToC) sector and abuses the error-check codes (CRC) in the tracks. The effect is that normal dumb CD players can find the tracks fine, but a computer’s CD drive and some hi-fi setups rely on the ToC to find the beginning and end of the tracks and be able to handle the CD in ways a dumb player can’t, and so they just fail to read the disc at all. The effect of the abused CRCs is that an audio player will hit the unrecoverable error and just shrug, blending the sound before and after the fatal error so that you can’t hear the simulated scratch. A direct data read of the track, though, can’t use CRCs to “fix” the binary data, so you hear all the pops, clicks, and fake scratches that EMI intentionally put on the disc.

Fortunately, cdparanoia, which is the most common cd-reading software on Linux, can reconstruct the ToC if it’s broken, so it had no trouble reading the tracks off of Hail to the Thief. Unfortunately, the tracks were full of clicks in the left channel: about one every six seconds due to the error-check codes that EMI deliberately corrupted. Searching for an answer (on Google, of course), I found a nice little program called Glitch Killer that runs on both Windows and Linux, and which is specifically written to remove these kinds of pops and clicks from audio data.

Now darthmaus can put the tracks on her new Palm T5 and actually enjoy listening to the CD she paid for while she’s traveling. She’s been waiting long enough. The greatest irony (aside from the album’s title) is that she and I would have listened to this album a lot more if only it hadn’t been previously-impossible to rip.

That, and Thom Yorke and the rest of Radiohead weren’t really happy with the fact that EMI was putting copy-protection on their album.

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Oh, if I'd known I could have saved you trouble. I complained and got a non-copy-controlled/glitched disc. I thought I told you guys.

And they included a testy letter about how this was the last time ever they were accomodating people like me (implying it was my fault for owning defective equipment.)

EMI is a sucky sucky company. The only defective equipment involved is that which came in their packaging. Radiohead was pissed about what they'd done to their music too—the wma versions that install via Windows Autorun apparently have really crappy quality, among other of their complaints.

Thanks for the thought, but it was a useful learning experience. Being able to ignore the problems of defective discs is useful for future copy-controlled and otherwise-broken discs, too.

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