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Tagged: ogg vorbis

iRepair and Rockbox give new life to my iPod

I have a third generation 40 GB iPod. In the past year, I’ve hardly used it for two reasons. First and foremost, the battery was pretty much dead. I couldn’t get more then a few subway rides of play time or a few minutes of transfer time to my computer. Second, I decided to re-rip my CD library into Ogg Vorbis — a free, lossy audio codec. The iPod doesn’t support Ogg formats.

Oh, and a few months ago, it stopped booting.

I began searching for new digital audio players without much luck. I couldn’t find anything with the quality of hardware in the Apple devices and software compatibility with GNU/Linux and Ogg codecs. (Well, Cowon came close, until I realized their devices were running Windows CE.)

The other option was Rockbox — free software firmware for digital audio players. Rockbox runs on iPods and supports Ogg formats, but when I tried it back in the fall, it wasn’t working consistently on my model (though it ran fine on my brother’s newer iPod). I decided to pull my iPod out of the closet and give it one more shot. A user in the #rockbox IRC channel, BigBambi, helped me to troubleshoot the boot issues I was having. I reinstalled the bootloader and upgraded to the latest version of Rockbox and it’s working now! It also has some nice features that the stock Apple firmware doesn’t, like plug-in support and fade-outs. Rockbox doesn’t require any fancy (or proprietary) database either, it just reads files off the disk, so it’s super easy to transfer my music library over.

Except that my battery would die after about two minutes of transfer.

I went to the Apple Store, and they suggested a third-party retailer in terms of price and having the batteries for my old model in stock. I headed down to College and Spadina and was directed towards a store called iRepair. I found the store, just west of Bathurst street at 492 College.

Two minutes and $45 later, my iPod had a new battery. With a one-year warranty.

I was extremely impressed at how easy and inexpensive it was! Most people buy new iPods when their batteries wear out. I’ve had my iPod since June 2004. Now, with new firmware and a new battery, I may just be able to get another four years out of it. 🙂

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Encoding to Ogg Vorbis using a GStreamer pipeline – vorbisenc plugin quality property

I’ve been eager to transition my music library from the proprietary patent-ridden MP3 format to Ogg Vorbis, and since my iPod died a few months back, I’ve decided to make the move. I’ve read up on Ogg Vorbis and learned that it’s best to re-rip my CDs, since converting from one compressed audio format to another is a bad idea.

In Ubuntu 8.04, I tried using Rhythmbox and Sound Juicer to rip my CDs. They both use the same settings, making use of a GStreamer pipeline, and I encountered a problem with the quality setting. The Vorbis format uses a quality setting of -1 to 10, instead of measuring quality by bitrate. I wanted to use a Vorbis quality setting of 6. I went to Edit -> Preferences and clicked “Edit” under the “Format” heading. I selected “CD Quality, Lossy” (Ogg Vorbis) and the GStreamer pipeline read:
audio/x-raw-float,rate=44100,channels=2 ! vorbisenc name=enc quality=0.5 ! oggmux

0.5 seemed ridiculously low, so I changed it to 6. Which didn’t work. I googled around, sifted through man pages, baffled at what this quality setting should be set at… didn’t it use the standard Vorbis quality scale? It did, but in a stupid way.

Eventually, I went in search of the Gstreamer documentation, and found this description of the quality property for the vorbisenc plugin:

Specify quality instead of specifying a particular bitrate.

Allowed values: [-0.1,1]

Default value: 0.3

Who decided to make the scale one tenth of the actual standard? *sigh* Ah well, now I know how to use it and it’s working wonderfully! Here’s my new pipeline:
audio/x-raw-float,rate=44100,channels=2 ! vorbisenc name=enc quality=0.6 ! oggmux

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