Merge multiples MP3 files into one

This last week someone sent me a CD with fifty 60 second tracks (it was a presentation that someone inexplicably saved as fifty separate tracks instead of one contiguous fifty minute block) that they wanted ripped into a single MP3. Ripping is easy with CDex and my initial google search left with with Audacity, which looked promising but I couldn’t figure out how to merge multiple MP3 files into a single file (using Audacity that is). Finally, I came across this little gem on binarybonsai.com, where a commenter mentioned that you can use the DOS copy command to append one files (or multiple files) to one another, creating one big file from many. Syntax is as follows:

> copy /b file1.mp3 file2.mp3 file3.mp3 end_result.mp3

which combines file1.mp3, file2.mp3 and file3.mp3 into end_result.mp3. The /b switch indicates that you’re copying binary files.

Top 15 Ant Best Practices

Good stuff over at OnJava.com, the article “Top 15 Ant Best Practices” gives 15 recommendations on how you should be using Ant to structure and complete your builds. We’re using most of these already at work; I’d be curious to know the author’s take on the deployment system we’ve developed using Ant. I’ve got Subversion handling source control, so on the production machines, I have a build file called build-production.xml that I invoke from the command line using a batch file:

ant -buildfile build-production.xml

which a) checks out the latest build from Subversion / source control, b) executes the default build file (which is in source control) which compiles the project and then wraps up the result in a war file, c) stops the Tomcat Windows service, d) deletes the existing application from the $tomcat/webapps directory, e) unpacks the application from the .war creates in step b, and then finally f) starts the Tomcat Windows service.

It’s worked out pretty well so far in that it decouples the build file for the project from having to know anything about the environment in which it’s executing so developers can write their own build-development.xml which maybe does something similar to the build-production.xml, but deploys to a different location, or even a different application server.

The wrapper build file (be it build-production.xml, build-local.xml, etc..) can also override properties set in the project build.xml. In our projects, I’ve got the build.xml file conditionally setting properties in log4j.properties using the <propertyfile> tag. There are two such targets: one for production that sets the appender to SMTPAPPENDER and the logging level to ERROR and one for development that sets the appender to STDOUT and the logging level to INFO. Said targets use the if and unless attributes of the <target> tag like so:

<target name="build.resources.debug" if="project.debug">
...

and

<target name="build.resources.production" unless="project.debug">
...

This way, unless I set the project.debug property, the system will always be in ERROR / SMTPAPPENDER mode but developers can override that property at compile time using the wrapper build-local.xml to set the project.debug property, ie:

<ant antfile="build.xml">
  <property name="project.debug" value="true"/>
</ant>

Do you do it better? Can you one up me? I’ve love to hear about it.

ASP, Java, Cookies and URLEncode

One of the bugs I tracked down a couple months ago dealt with the different ways in which ASP and Java handle URL encoding in a cookies. ASP automatically encodes and decodes cookie values (without you telling it too even though it the Server object has a method ‘URLEncode’ which does the same job) while Java requires that you explicity use the URLDecoder and URLEncoder, otherwise it sends the cookie values without encoding them first, which in my case lead to an interoperability problem (one assumes URL encoding of cookie values, one doesn’t).

But then it gets weirder. The encoding that ASP automatically applies is different than the encoding that Java applies. For example, in ASP you’d write something like this to set a cookie with my email address:

Response.cookies("encoded") = "ajohnson@cephas.net"

which would then result in this:

ajohnson%40cephas%2Enet

where in Java you’d have something like this:

String email = "ajohnson@cephas.net";
String encoded = URLEncoder.encode(email, "UTF-8");
res.addCookie(new Cookie("encoded", encoded););

which results in this:

ajohnson%40cephas.net

So why does ASP encode the period as %2E and Java leave it alone? The Microsoft documentation for the ASP Server object contains very little documentation about the URLEncode method other than to say that the URLEncode method

… applies URL encoding rules, including escape characters, to a specified string.

(which could be a teensy bit more helpful, must have been a programmer writing that documentation). On the other hand, the Java URLEncoder class documenation says that the special characters “.”, “-”, “*”, and “_” are not to be encoded according to the HTML specification, which itself cites RFC 1738 which says:

…the special characters “$-_.+!*’(),”, and reserved characters used for their reserved purposes may be used unencoded within a URL.

which seems to me to imply that the ASP Cookie object is wrong (ie: it should leave the period alone in the email address). And beyond that, it’s pretty aggressive in assuming that I want to encode the data in my cookies. Am I missing something? How do other languages (PHP, Python, Perl, etc..) implement the same functionality? Aren’t web applications fun?