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New car, part 3: The CD player - The online computery journal thingy of a turtle

Jan. 5th, 2007

08:28 pm - New car, part 3: The CD player

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I'm getting used to the new car, learning what I have to do and don't have to do (so far, the don't-have-tos are well outweighed by the have-tos). Today I tested the CD player. It came with the car, unlike in my old car (Steve), which came with a radio only and no CD player, so I went to a car audio store and had an Alpine radio/CD player installed.

Good news: the new CD player works! More good news: like the old one, it's a shuffler instead of a rouletter!

Shuffler: a CD player whose shuffle/random/mix/whateveritcallsit mode works by playing all tracks on the CD exactly once each, in random order, not repeating any tracks unless it's in repeat mode.

Rouletter: a CD player whose shuffle mode works by playing tracks totally at random, not keeping track of what it's already played, allowing the possibility of repeating a track while there are still unplayed tracks.

I prefer to listen to most albums in shuffle mode these days, because I got tired of listening to or singing a song, and then getting the next song after it from the album stuck in my head. And when I shuffle an album, I like shufflers. I do NOT like rouletters (and I had a little portable CD player that was a rouletter once).

The CD players in both cars are shufflers, although they have different names for shuffle mode. The old player calls it "M.I.X.", which is just trying too hard to be hip. The new player calls it "RAND", which sounds a bit clunky and workmanlike. Still, concern over what the player chooses to call its shuffle mode is at or near the bottom of the priority list, isn't it.

Higher up on the list is the question of how to skip tracks in shuffle mode. The old player makes this easy; just hit the >>| button and it goes to the next track in its shuffle list. The new player, however, doesn't have that convenient feature. There's a pair of buttons, collectively called SEEK/TRACK and labeled ^ (up-arrow) and v (down-arrow), for skipping tracks, but in shuffle mode they do the SAME thing as in regular play mode, which is the WRONG thing. The v button jumps back to the beginning of the current track, which may be useful, but the ^ button jumps to the numerical next track on the disc, NOT the next track in the shuffle list, EVEN if the next track on the disc has been played before. WTF!!!

There are buttons labeled << (rewind) and >> (fast-forward), and they scan through the current track. I guess I'll have to use fast-forward to skip tracks I don't want to hear. And then I guess I'll have to be careful to stop fast-forwarding before it gets to the end of the song, or else it'll go on to the next track on the disc and ignore the shuffle order, won't it. Sheesh.




Getting back to the subject of shufflers vs. rouletters, I thought of a couple of mathematical puzzles, but I've forgotten almost everything I learned back in statistics class. Anyone else wanna take a crack at these?

1. KT buys a CD player and discovers to his dismay that it is a rouletter. If he inserts a disc with n tracks, what is the expected number of tracks it will play before the first time it repeats a track?

2. KT stubbornly decides to let the CD (still with n tracks) play in roulette mode until it has played every track at least once, and then press stop. What is the expected number of tracks it will play before KT presses stop?

Current Mood: geekygeeky
Current Music: R.E.M.: Texarkana

Comments:

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From:thecanuckguy
Date:January 6th, 2007 03:00 am (UTC)
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Current car which is a 2000 (Hyundai Elantra) surprisingly came with a tape deck only (and radio, of course) instead of a CD player! I mean, what car with a "2" as the first digit of its model year comes equipped with a tape deck nowadays, hmmm? I've been meaning for the several eyars we've had it to buy a CD deck to replace it with (as we have very few tapes), but haven't had the time or money. (Fortunately, canucksis gave me her gizmo that sticks into a tape deck at one end and a portable CD player at the other end and it plays the CDs in the CD player thorugh your cars audio system, so we use that.)

Personally I don't like any kind of shuffle mode (roulette or shuffle) - I usually play my "mix CDs" in the car/at home/on my PDA's MP3 player/etc. and I make my mix tapes for a reason, and I carefully choose the songs and which is the best order they will go in, I don't want a shuffler mixing with that. My only exception is when I'm listening to my national anthems CDs - I like to play "guess the anthem" and see how long it will take me to guess it not knowing which one will come up (I average about 2 seconds) - since I started my anthem hobby back when I just had cassette tapes I have a lot of anthems memorized in alphabetical order as a result (I also sometimes play them "in order" too for certain occassions) - sometimes it does help in the "guess the anthem game": "oo, I know this one, lets see, la la la lalalala ... I know it comes right after Liberia ... must be Libya's!")

And, KT, minor nit, you forgot to turn off your bold text mark after your first "Rouletter:"
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[User Picture]
From:kinkyturtle
Date:January 6th, 2007 03:08 am (UTC)
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Bold tag fixed.

And the first car I had, a used Chevy Cavalier just like Steve, except it was red and two-door, had a tape deck installed. I got one of those tape deck adapters so I could listen to CDs. When I got Steve, he only had the radio, so at first I cobbled together a portable anti-shock CD player and a boombox and connected them with the tape deck adapter. Later, I wised up and had the Alpine installed. Now I don't need the tape deck adapter anymore; I'm not even sure where it is!
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From:yakko
Date:January 8th, 2007 09:51 am (UTC)
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I mean, what car with a "2" as the first digit of its model year comes equipped with a tape deck nowadays, hmmm?

My car's a 2001 and it came with an RDS radio with a tape player and no CD player.

BONUS MALLET: Can't swap the head unit without getting a separate "chime module" (gotta love GM Class 2 data bus), and can't eBay a GM head unit with all the parts without taking it to the dealer to get the ECM to recognize it again so the radio will unlock (the unit keeps track of a chunk of the VIN; this is GM's Theft Lock stuff).

Fortunately, it all worked out in the end, as I got an iPod not long after getting the car, and the tape deck is the best way to play it through.

My next car will directly deal with my iPod, whether it's via an AUX jack or via the dock connector.
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From:shadowolf
Date:January 6th, 2007 03:15 am (UTC)
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Check out the Birthday Paradox to get your answers :)
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From:nefaria
Date:January 6th, 2007 03:54 am (UTC)
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I checked out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birthday_paradox, but I'm not sure the solutions they give under the Generalization section are appropriate for small values of n. The error becomes vanishingly small for large n, but for small n, the error of the exponential approximation can be very large. For 1., you'll want n(p;d) with p = 0.5 and d = n, which comes out in their approximation to (2n * ln2)^(1/2). I'm not sure what exact formula to use for 2. As you may notice, this is NOT a trivial question!
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From:discopanda
Date:January 6th, 2007 03:18 am (UTC)
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1. KT buys a CD player and discovers to his dismay that it is a rouletter. If he inserts a disc with n tracks, what is the expected number of tracks it will play before the first time it repeats a track?

Minimum: Play one track, then repeat it.
Maximum: Play all n tracks without repeat, then repeat one of them.


2. KT stubbornly decides to let the CD (still with n tracks) play in roulette mode until it has played every track at least once, and then press stop. What is the expected number of tracks it will play before KT presses stop?

Minimum: Play all n tracks without repeat.
Maximum: Play tracks forever with /at least/ one (but up to (n - 1)) remaining not played ever. Infinite.

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[User Picture]
From:kinkyturtle
Date:January 6th, 2007 04:25 am (UTC)
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But I'm asking for the expected values, which lie somewhere between min and max. The average value one expects.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Expected_value
(To be precise, I'm asking for math formulas to determine the expected values, as functions of n.)
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From:wbwolf
Date:January 6th, 2007 03:29 am (UTC)
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It has been my experience with CDs has been that most players except the absolutely cheapest ones are "shufflers". I don't think I've ever had a player that was a "roulette" model. Granted, I'd had an issue with my 25 disc Pioneer player repeating songs, but that was only in different play sequences. I don't think that I've regularly listened to the original album sequence since I got my multidisk player, and it's even less frequent now that I'm all digital. Pretty much the only time any more is when I first get the album.

BTW, RAND would stand for "random," which is pretty typical name for shuffle mode.
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From:kinkyturtle
Date:January 6th, 2007 04:12 am (UTC)

RAND stands for "random"

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I know *that*. That's *not* a dream; there *is* a dog trapped inside my guitar.

Oh wait, I got sidetracked.
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From:orv
Date:January 6th, 2007 07:04 am (UTC)
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Some new cars are coming with CD players that will also play MP3 files burned to CD-R discs. Is yours one of those?
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From:jmaynard
Date:January 6th, 2007 04:42 pm (UTC)
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It's quite possible. KT, are there FILE and FOLDER markings on the player somewhere? Mine has them, and will play MP3 CDs fine.

(You can also rest comfortably in the knowledge that your Yaris' CD player acts just like the one in my Lexus.)
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From:kinkyturtle
Date:January 9th, 2007 02:13 am (UTC)
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Apparently so!
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From:ringbark
Date:January 6th, 2007 12:17 pm (UTC)
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It's too early to do all the mathematics, so while I'm working on it, here's what I'll do. I'll send you a copy of the "Tropical Thuderstorm" CD. Then the answers are: (1) after it has played the thunderstorm, it will play it again. (2) Once you have played the thunderstorm, you will press stop. CDs with only one track are so much easier.
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From:yakko
Date:January 8th, 2007 09:55 am (UTC)
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Never have I encountered a "rouletter" in 20 years of using CD players, so this is shocking. I'd consider a "rouletter" to be a broken CD player.

It's just evil that the "next" button doesn't go to the next random track. Again, they've ALL done this before for me, so I'd consider it a bug too.
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