Data compression you can see

Compression even your Mom will loveThe compression ratio is better than 4:1. Try that with Lempel-Ziv!
Written by Robin Harris, Contributor

Compression even your Mom will love The compression ratio is better than 4:1. Try that with Lempel-Ziv! I'm talking about compressing your CD collection - not electronically, buy physically. I've been doing it at my house and it works great.

Where 10 CDs once sat, I can now store over 40. I'm actually going from over 30 linear ft (~10 M) of shelving to almost zero. With the exception of some rarities and box sets, all the CDs are going into a storage box that slides under a bed.

Here's the new data compression algorithm Take the CD out of the case, place it in a paper CD envelope, slide in the front and back paper CD inserts, and toss the jewel case. The paper CD envelopes with clear fronts are a nickel apiece in bulk.

All the bits are going into iTunes As part of the process I've been ripping, and in some cases, re-ripping all my CDs to the highest quality MP3 format iTunes supports: 320 kbps. I rip while working, 1 CD at a time. I'm ripping while I write. At 20x ripping doesn't take long.

By the time I'm done I'll have a about 100 GB of MP3s. I'll keep the CDs - it is only Fair Use if I do - but I'll also back up the MPs to 20 odd DVD-Rs as well. I'll have two backups: the originals and the DVDs. Should my 2 copies on disk disappear the DVDs will make for a fast restore.

When disk is cheap enough, I may re-rip in a lossless format. And back up to 200 GB Blu-ray disks. Then I'll be ready to tackle my 800 DVDs.

iTunes changes music Or at least the Party Shuffle has. In my Party Shuffle review I noted

. . . [Party Shuffle] has changed the way I become familiar with new music. . . . I can add a new album and, over time, be introduced to each of its cuts in a context of familiar and loved music. For example I just added a CD of Chet Atkins to my collection. While writing this a cut I’d never heard before, “Boo Boo Stick Beat” came on. I loved it, didn’t recognize it, looked at iTunes, and realized that the genre label “country” fell far short of encompassing Chet’s genius . . . . Free of preconceptions about his music, I could just be delighted by what I heard, when I heard it.

The Storage Bits take Massive storage doesn't have to be physically massive. I love my music, but the physical infrastructure is nothing to get sentimental about - although LP album art could be terrific and I miss that.

The Virtualization of Stuff, including CDs, books and video, enables us to live fuller lives with less physical impact on an ever more crowded world. It can also lower the cost of access when "things" don't need to be packed, shipped and stored.

I'm loving the digital age.

Update:The first comment got me to thinking about CD longevity. You've no doubt heard that CD-Rs have a limited lifespan. Recordable CDs use a chemical dye to record and over time the chemicals can degrade, losing your data. Commercial music CDs and, AFAIK, commercial DVDs, use a mechanical mold to physically imprint the content on the disk. These "glass mastered" CDs are much more stable than CD-Rs.

Update II: Ripping a lot of CDs? iTunes will only rip 1 at a time - but if you have 2 CD readers - you can set iTunes to automatically "Import & Eject" in the Advanced section of Preferences. Feed each reader a CD and when the first finishes ripping it'll pop out. You'll keep the system busy without having to watch it constantly.

Comments welcome. I think I'll rip my DVDs to disk in 2011. What do you plan to do?

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