Size does matter

Of course, I mean size of audio files (again). Thanks to Cory Doctorow, I found out that the talk Digital Culture in Brazil is available as mp3 file.

And again, the file is huge: 181 MB. After reencoding it with properties set to mono and 32 kbps (method below), the resulting file is only 22.6 MB. I may be wrong, but there is no significant difference between both files. I think the size issue is important not because of the end user, because (s)he can always reencode the file her/himself. It is a question on not wasting bandwith when it is really not required.

I have never lived in Austria, but I lived two years in Germany (not the same country, but Bavaria is very similar to Austria, even more similar than other parts of Germany). And coming from Spain, one of their remarkable things for me was the Umweltfreundlichkeit, which refers to the environmental consciousness or ecology. One example of this could be how much water you use to wash the dishes. I learned a lot on environmental consciousness.

What about the net? How about wasting internet ressources? It is only a question and I assume that the excessive size of that mp3 file was intended. If it can be improved, I think it should be improved.

BTW, the Internet Archive offers unlimited hosting with unlimited bandwith for free and for ever. The requirements are that the materials should be licensed by their copyright owner at least for private copy (otherwise it wouldn’t make sense to offer hosting facilities to anyone). They aim to provide universal access to human knowledge, so reads their motto, and they also accept donations.

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Smaller is beautiful (also when podcasting)

I have just discovered Michael Geist’s lecture Our Own Creative Land: Cultural Monopoly and the Trouble with Copyright has been podcasted (text version also available).

I have an issue with this file. The problem may be only mine (or maybe not). My mp3 player has only 256MB as storage capacity. I know this is not much, but the podcasted file is almost 56MB. IMHO, the file is huge, considering that it contains a lecture (no music in the background or similar).

Analizing the mp3 file, it seems that it has been encoded with stereo and 128 kbps frame rate. Setting encoding parameters to mono and 32kbps frame rate, the resulting file has 14MB. The resulting file is four times smaller, since the compression rate is four times smaller.

Listening to both files on my mp3 player (no iPod), I don’t hear any significant difference between both files. Maybe I should visit the doctor or 32 kbps and mono as settings are enough for an audio file containing only human voice and no music. I know that Michael Geist has nothing to do with mp3 encoding. But it is important for the people at Rabble Podcast Network, because they probably will not have unlimited storage capacity and unlimited bandwith. If their podcasted mp3 files are smaller, it is not only me the one who benefits with more free space and faster downloads, RPN also benefits form less bandwith usage and less hosting space used.

How did I get this? Using lame on GNU/Linux (but there are Windows and MacOS X versions too and they work the same way). This program is a command line application, so you have to type:

lame -m m -b 32 input.mp3 output.mp3

Just in case you wonder, syntax is explained typing lame --help on the command line.

Of course, there are other programs that could generate the same result as the above program. It is only one of them, but with the command line you see exactly what you will get.

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