In my last post regarding Mp3s in the office (MP3s in the office: Part 1), I showed you a little bit about google and it’s wondrous filters like “intitle” and “filetype”. This time around we’re going to simplify things a little bit.
Okay, your search engine, what does it do? It finds pages based on two things. The search terms that you enter, and the content of the page. What does this mean to us? Well, directories usually have a uniform structure, and it’s by searching for words commonly found in a directory that google (or yahoo, etc) will find a directory for us to browse.
This leads to that important question the average schmoe in my office doesn’t ever stop to think about…”What is on the page that I am looking for?”. Well, let’s take a look at the page, shall we?
Hmm…What’s on this page? A bunch of dates, file sizes, file names…but what else? Hmm, there’s a bunch of those little note images on the left…if only they were text, so I could search for them…wait, when I move my mouse over one of them…
What the hell is that? That little yellow box that says “[SND]”? This is called the “alt tag“, a little bit of information describing what the image is on the off chance that the image doesn’t load. Well, by looking at the source code…
it looks as if the alt tag “SND” is a pretty damn good search term, simply by how much it is listed.
So far, my search string is kind of lame. It only has the word “SND” in it. Check it out, over 7 million results, and they are all full of garbage like stock quotes and other crap.
Well, the obvious next move is to throw in a song or band name, to narrow down the search a bit. I’m feeling frisky today, so I’ll try for a little Coldplay. Now our search is looking a little better, with a little over 16,000 results. Of course, your mileage may vary, so check it out yourself.
Let me see, is there any other way for me to narrow down my search results? Are there any other search terms I can use in addition to the ones I have? Let’s have a look at the sample page again and see what else grabs our attention.
Hmm, what’s this? A bunch of different possible search terms I can use in the form of the size information of the mp3 file? Score! Now, how do I use this? Well, I could find the length of the song in seconds, then multiply the amount of seconds by the most common bitrate (128 kbps) and get a rough approximation of the filesize.
Yeah, I know I just said a mouthful. Let me break it down so it’s easier to swallow.
- Find the length of the song. In my case, Coldplay – Clocks comes in at 5:07, thanks wikipedia.
- Convert the song length into seconds. 5 minutes 7 seconds to seconds is 307 seconds. If you can’t figure this out, google will do your thinking for you. Just ask the great lord google, “5 minutes + 7 seconds to seconds“.
- Find the most common bitrate, I asked google “most common bitrate mp3” and got back a wikipedia article telling me that the most common bitrate is 128 kbps. (Yes, I know that higher bitrates are better, but I’d rather catch thousands of mp3 fish in my inter-net than only a few dozen)
- Ask google “seconds * average bitrate of mp3 files”. In my case, I ask google “307 seconds * 128 kbps“.
- With the result, I only need to bother with the first two digits, as the average mp3 directory only lists filesize to the first decimal place. In my case I get a result of “4.796875 megabytes”, but I only need the “4.7”. I won’t bother rounding up as I find the actual filesize a little bit smaller than the calculated filesize.
So, there we go, we have another search term “4.7M”. Why the M? Take a look at the above directory pictures again, what do you see after the filesize?
Alright, let’s give this a shot, I’m going to tell google “4.7M snd coldplay clocks“. Normally I will only include the band name OR the song name, but since “clocks” is so generic of a term and I really wanted to listen to that specific song (no, not really), I decided to enter both. Worst case scenario, it would narrow down my results too much. In that case I would just get rid of the song name “clocks” and have the search results jump up by a few hundred, like so.
I’ll stick with the “4.7M snd coldplay clocks” search string because it looks like I may have struck gold. It turns out that 3 of the first 6 websites on the results page have the song I’m looking for…plus open directories chock full of various other mp3 files.
Another school of thought, if you don’t really care what music you get, is to enter other common mp3 file sizes in place of our “4.7M”. Other common mp3 filesizes might be 4.6, 5.4, 3.7, etc. If we use any of these in place of our “4.7M”, we will get most of the same directories that we pulled up using our “4.7M snd coldplay clocks” search string, due to how common those other filesizes are.
In the older days of the internet (e.g. more than two weeks ago) I would get by with only using “4.6M SND <insert band name here>” for every mp3 search, regardless of filesize, just due to how commonly I would find mp3s that are 4.6MB in size.
You could, of course, do the same but if you go with our coldplay example above and the slight amount of work THAT WE HAD GOOGLE AND WIKIPEDIA DO FOR US you will notice that there are more search results for “4.7M SND coldplay clocks” than there are for “4.6M SND coldplay clocks“.
In the end, I have my song, a few mp3 laden directories to explore and a smile on my face. If you just took the time to read this article, you should too.
If you enjoyed this article, be sure to check out MP3s in the office: Part 3