A couple of months ago, I started loading all of my CDs on to my computer's hard drive. This process consists of inserting each CD into my computer which has been configured to automatically rip (extract) the digital music on to the hard drive, and then encode it as a very high quality MP3 file.
We have decent amount of CD's so the process had to be automated (well, except for inserting each disc). I use the GRip program (for linux), which automatically determines which CD I've inserted, and tags each MP3 file with the album name, artist, track, year, and so on.
I configure GRip to encode the MP3 files as very high quality (256 kbps bitrate or higher), because I don't want to lose any quality. The problem with this approach is that the very high quality MP3 files take up more space, which can be a problem when you load them on to a small personal player (Jocelyn has the
Rio Cali, I recently got a free Ipod Mini.)
To solve this problem, I wrote a quick program, the MP3 Downsampler, which makes a copy of your entire music collection, re-encoding at a different quality level (so you can fit more songs on your player). If you later add new CDs to your MP3 collection, just run the Downsampler again: It is smart enough to only re-encode songs you've added since last time it ran.