With CD-ROM Drive
The most convenient way to run CDTraq (Win95) is to put the music
CD in your computer's CD-ROM drive and let CDTraq read the track info directly
from the CD.
When CDTraq is run without any command-line parameters (listed below), it first asks for your drive letter, then tape length. Once these are entered, CDTraq will read any CD currently in this drive, displaying a list of all tracks on the CD and their times. Deselect any tracks you wish to exclude from your recording, then press <ENTER> to begin optimising. CDTraq will think for a moment and then output a list of tracks to record on each side of your tape.
Without CD-ROM Drive
CDTraq also lets you enter track information manually. When asked for a CD-ROM drive letter, type "0" to indicate to CDTraq that you don't have a CD-ROM. Enter the tape length as usual. The program will then allow you to enter track times in min:sec format. Input this information for all tracks on your CD, then press <ENTER> again to finish. CDTraq will then allow you to select/deselect tracks, then optimise the tracks selected.
Either way, CDTraq will begin processing as soon as you finish selecting the tracks you want to include. The results it produces are typically very close to the target time, quite often within 10 seconds of the end of the tape. on common 60-minute tapes (30 minutes per side), many CDs will be optimised so the SIDE A tracks total 29:59! (It may even look like a program bug at first, that the times are so close. But total them up and see for yourself!) If you don't feel like cutting it this close, input a slightly lower tape time (e.g. 29.75 minutes for a 30-minute recording) to give yourself some slack. See the "Hints & Tips" section toward the end of this file.
The following command-line options can be used with CDTraq (or in a batch file) to pass required information to the program. If no command-line options are set, CDTraq will prompt you for this information at runtime.
/D:<driveletter> Allows you to specify your CD-ROM drive letter. (If you don't have a CD-ROM drive or aren't using it, use "0" for your drive letter.)
/T:<time> Allows you to specify the tape-side length, in
/P:<1-3> Allows you to specify a choice of progress indicators while CDTraq is processing.
0: Displays no progress information at all (not very useful)
1: Displays basic percent-complete message at bottom of screen
2: Displays bar progress meter with percent-complete (default)
3: Shows what the program is actually "thinking" during each step of optimisation
/? Displays a help screen with this same information.
For example, if you wanted to record from a CD in drive D: onto a tape that has 30 minutes per side, you would run the program with:
CDTRAQ.EXE /D:D /T:30
Command-line options can be entered in any order.
How it works (and why it's so slow sometimes...)
CDTraq works by sequentially trying every possible combination of the selected tracks, and comparing the resulting time for each combination of tracks against the tape length. It determines the combination that comes closest to the target time and outputs this combination after all combos have been tried. With only a few tracks this combination is small, however, with a large number of tracks (20 or more) there is an extremely large number of combinations that must be tried, hence a longer wait for CDTraq to optimise these tracks.
The total number of combinations that must be tried is given by the formula
C = 2^n
where C is the total number of combinations, and n is the number of tracks selected. For example, when 10 tracks are selected the total number of combinations is 2^10 or 1024 combinations, which typically take 2 seconds or less to process. If 20 tracks are selected, though, the total number of combinations is 2^20, or 1,048,576 combinations! This may take several minutes to calculate. CDTraq imposes a practical limit of 30 tracks, or 1,073,741,824 combinations. Beyond this number, the program will take an impossibly long time to finish and the number of combinations will exceed the program's integer-size limitations (in other words, the program environment literally can't count that high!)
Hints & Tips
Progress display: The nifty "program-process" display (displays 1's and 0's for the tracks currently being considered) can be enabled with the /P:3 command-line option, or by typing "12345" at the "tape length" prompt.
CD-ROM Access: This program can read track information directly off the CD, but only under Windows 95. Under MS-DOS, you will be asked to enter this information manually. It will also not read track information off an ECD disk; that is, a music CD that also contains binary computer files such as music videos, software, interviews with the band, virtual tours, pictures, etc. You will have to enter the track information manually.
Editing: CDTraq accepts a number of shorthand methods for entering track times. Entering a colon (:) with no numbers on one side of it implies zero for that field. EX: "5:" is short for 5:00, and ":45" is short for 0:45. ":" by itself is short for 0:00, but why you'd actually have a zero-length track is anybody's guess.
Entering "0" copies the time of the previous track entered. E.g., if you have two consecutive tracks that are both 5:23 long, you can type 5:23 for the first and simply type "0" for the second, and it will also be entered at 5:23.
Leading zeroes are optional. For example, If the track length is 5:03, you can simply type "5:3".
Manual entry only accepts minutes and seconds; it does not make any provision for milliseconds. This is because it is a pain to type in this extra (and pretty useless) information, and because you probably don't know this number anyway (most CD players and CD booklets don't tell you how many ms are in each track). CDTraq assumes 50 milliseconds for each track, which should statistically even things out--50 ms are added to each track entered.
Timing/Precision: CDTraq reads track info as accurately as possible to ensure the best possible results. However, two potential problems may cause difficulty for you when you try to record the tracks. These are tape leaders and tape-recorder speed.
---Tape leaders: Most tapes have several seconds of mylar "leader" tape at their start and end that cannot be recorded on. It is advisable to allow 5-10 seconds at the beginning and end of the tape to compensate for the non-recordable leaders. Most tape recorders have a transparent window by which you can see the cassette inside; you can usually tell when the recordable (dark brown) tape begins by watching through this window. You can allow for the tape leader by inputting a slightly lower time for your tape length, e.g. 29.75 minutes for a 30 minute recording (this allows 1/4 minute or 15 seconds of slack).
---Recorder speed: Tape recorders are *supposed* to all run at the same speed, but there is a slight degree of variance in every recording deck. Some decks advance the tape slightly faster, some slightly slower. This can cause problems when your CD's tracks are optimised to within a few seconds and your tape recording deck records slightly faster than expected. If your deck runs slightly fast, allow some extra time by inputting a slightly lower tape length to CDTraq. Conversely, if your deck is slightly slow, you can allow some seconds of extra recording time. If your deck runs extremely fast or slow, however, recording/playback tone may be affected, and you should probably have the deck serviced.
Copyright, license, disclaimers...
This software is copyright (c) 1999 Bill Webb (GIP Software). Although this release is freeware, the author still retains copyright on the software. Naturally, don't steal any part of the software for use in another program, put it on one of those "5,000 Shareware Thingies" discs, etc. without getting permission first.
This beta release of CDTraq is free for personal, noncommercial use. For commercial applications of CDTraq, please contact the author <firstname.lastname@example.org> for further information. This software can be redistributed provided it is distributed free-of-charge and in its original, unmodified form.
WARRANTY: In the event this software should prove defective, not do what you want it to, or you are for any reason unsatisfied with it, etc., Bill will cheerfully refund your purchase price of $0.00.
Otherwise, this software is provided AS-IS without any kind of warranty. The author disclaims any and all liability that may arise from the use of this or any other software. (Standard release-of-liability legalese junk)
Info, New Versions
I'll be maintaining a homepage for this software where I'll post any updates or new versions. This page will be availible at:
Drop Me A Line
If you have comments, suggestions, bug reports, flames, difficulties, recommendations for new features, or just want to congratulate me on another wonderful utility, feel free to fire off a quick email to me at http://cexx.org/email.htm. Depending on the volume of mail I receive I may not have time to write a long-winded reply to each and every message... but I do read every mail I get.
v0.9 - 2/28/99 Public beta release (this version)
Look for additional features in the next release, such as the ability
to save track info for each CD to disk (so you never have to re-enter it),
and perhaps a module to autoplay the CD-ROM disc using the optimised tracklist--just
record from your computer's line-out instead of programming your CD player
or manually switching tracks...
Be sure to check out some other programs on this site.