Lord of the Rings Geeking

August 27th, 2007 | Posted in It's All Geek to Me!


Despite being a bit swamped with jobs, I took a few moments out of each of the last few days to accomplish a task I’ve been trying to find time to do for some time: import the entire, unabridged audiobook recordings of J.R.R. Tolkien‘s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings into iTunes and therefore into my iPod. I had previously accomplished this a few years ago, but that was before my researching how to do it properly (and in fact before the proper software was available to do it right in the first place). Additionally, I had used iTunes 5 to import the CDs, and that version had some serious bugs that caused many of the files to become corrupt and unlistenable. Having imported them with that version also prevented me from using the excellent JoinTogether program (Mac only) to combine the tracks into a manageable and organized number (won’t work on buggy iTunes 5 files). So, I had to reimport all 10 disks for The Hobbit and 46 disks for The Lord of the Rings. It was no easy task.

I wanted to organize the files very specifically. One of the problems with importing audiobooks from CDs is that each CD is usually made up of some 20 tracks of 2 to 3 minutes each. ITunes treats each track as a song, so importing a 10 disk audiobook results in 200 plus small tracks. That’s a lot of tracks. The CDs don’t have any information about the tracks imbedded in them the computer can read (they get numbered 1, 2, etc. and that’s it) so iTunes goes to an online database to find the disk/track information for each disk. That does not work very well, as this information was uploaded by users who could name the files whatever they wished, and there is no rhyme or reason to them. Sometimes you get multiple choices for a given disk, but you are unable to see the format of them past the name of the disk itself, so you end up with mixed and unmatching naming formats… some seemingly done by monkeys. “Tolkien” was misspelled in half the ones I was forced to download, and the methods used to name the tracks are so cryptic as to be undechiperable. That makes it a mess to upload them and keep them in order, let alone differentiate the beginning and ends of specific chapters.

That is what my goal was: to import the disks, then use JoinTogether to combine the tracks for each separate chapter and convert them into the proper audiobook format. Then, using Jointogether again on these combined, one-track-each chapters, I would combine several full chapters into about 2.5 to 3 hour parts, making each chapter have a “chapter stop” embedded in them so I could click forward or back to the beginning of each separate chapter at will. Using a command line program called Chaptertool with the Joingtogether program, and meticulously renaming the downloaded messes into chapters like: “Book V Chapter II- The Passing of the Grey Company” within the title The Return of the King that is in turn within the album The Lord of the Rings. Eventually I succeeded in making a complete, unabridged audiobook file of the whole of the Tolkien trilogy and The Hobbit, complete with stops at each chapter and combined into between 5 and 9 “parts” per book. I also customized a bit of album art above for iTunes and the iPod. Whew.

So, that’s my geek moment of the year. I’m happily listening away to it as I work in the studio. This information serves no useful purpose except to demonstrate my utter lack of ability to prioritized my time or to prevent the occasionally succumbing to my obsessive/compulsive tendencies.


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New profile pic courtesy of my self-caricature for the Scott Maiko penned article “Gotcha! Mug Shots of Common (but Despicable) Criminals” from MAD 550

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