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Books Sub FAQ

Tips Section
Note: Tips are just that, opinions and suggestions, and NOT part of the official FAQ
This is not the Gospel and it is not the Criminal Code. This is a collection of recommended standard practices for posting and downloading in absm.books. The purpose of the Guidelines is to help the group manage its growth; provide a standard way of identifying the posting history of a book; allow for easier navigation of the headers; and provide predictable posting/reposting expectations for downloaders. Please take the time to read the full text these Guidelines to see how recommendations to posters are related to the tips for downloaders.

ALT.BINARIES.SOUNDS.MP3.BOOKS GUIDELINES
revision 05

Introduction
All Posters Are Also Downloaders
What To Post In ABSM.BOOKS
Other Places To Post And Download Related Material
Reality Check For Cable Modem Users
Secrets Of Segments Revealed

Before Posting
Encoding Notes
Common Sense About Filenames
Tag It With ID3 Tags
Be Prepared

Posting
Notes For New Posters
Announce Your Post In Advance
Providing Support Files
The Posting Cycle, New Post/Repost/Request
Sometimes Less Is More
Identify Your Post With Good Headers
Crossposting To/From Other Groups
Post Checking
Policing Your Posts

Posting Partners And Fill Posters
Don't Step On Toes
Becoming A Posting Partner
Filling Requests
Reprise Reposts

Tips For Downloaders
What You Will Need
Use The Support Files
Prioritize Your Downloads
Making Requests
Empowering Yourself

The Guidelines Are Yours

 


INTRODUCTIONHere we have a handful of points to cover before getting into the main body of the Guidelines.
ALL POSTERS ARE ALSO DOWNLOADERS
All of the standard practices suggested here in the Guidelines intend to make our posted material available and accessible to the greatest number of downloaders. This would seem to place the larger part of the burden on the posters in this group, but we should keep in mind that all of the posters are also downloaders. These suggested standard posting practices benefit both downloaders who are also posters and downloaders who are not.
There are also suggestions for all downloaders and for reposters which will help to maintain an orderly and civil posting environment.
WHAT TO POST IN ABSM.BOOKS
ABSM.BOOKS is for people who like books. This is the place to post audiobooks and only audiobooks. We have fiction and non-fiction of all genres: mysteries and histories, science and science fiction, romances and westerns, thrillers and philosophers, classics and new age, books for young and old alike.
What we do not post here are audio dramas. It is surprising how often new posters cannot distinguish between an audiobook and an audio drama. Consider these examples by way of illustration:
A television mini-series based on a book is not a videobook.
A movie based on a book is not a cinebook.
A radio drama based on a book is not an audiobook.

An audiobook is someone reading from the text of a book.
An audio drama is a group of actors performing from a script.

An audiobook may be read by more than one reader, may be read dramatically, and may include some incidental sound effects and music, but it is ALWAYS a reading of the text of a book.
An audio drama usually has multiple performers, usually has a good deal of sound effects and music, and it is always performed from a SCRIPT, which may have been based on a book BUT IT IS NOT READ FROM THE TEXT OF THE BOOK ITSELF.

The two most frequently mis-posted examples are the BBC and the NPR radioplays of "The Hobbit" and "The Lord Of The Rings". These radioplays are all delightful and quite faithful to the books on which they are based, but they are audio dramas and should never be posted to ABSM.BOOKS. (However, dramatic readings of the text of J.R.R. Tolkien's immortal tales of Middle Earth are audiobooks and may be posted to ABSM.BOOKS.) Worthy runners-up in this category are all of the NPR Star Wars radio dramas, and the radio production of The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy. Never post these here.

Music, performance art, and tutorials are not appropriate for ABSM.BOOKS. Material in any audio format other than MP3 is not appropriate for ABSM.BOOKS.

File compression is also not appropriate for ABSM.BOOKS for several reasons:
1) it is unnecessary because MP3 is already a compressed format,
2) some compression formats may not be available on all computing platforms so the use of file compression may deny the use of those files to some of our members,
3) extracting compressed files requires a lot of extra available space on hard drives, something which may be precious for members with older computers,
4) unlike in the *.warez groups some of our members just don't know how to work with compressed files, and
5) it is simply part of the tradition of this newsgroup. Look around, we don't use compressed files.
6) when you download an mp3 file you can listen to it immediately. With compressed files you will usually have to download a complete series of files before you can decode them to mp3s.
OTHER PLACES TO POST AND DOWNLOAD RELATED MATERIAL
You may have some audio material that you would like to post that is not appropriate for posting in ABSM.BOOKS. Perhaps one or more of the newsgroups listed below would be the appropriate venue. And if you think this material would be interesting to members of ABSM.BOOKS you can post an announcement here to let others know where and when they can download your post.

alt.binaries
audiobooks, highspeed

alt.binaries.mp3.audiobooks
audiobooks

alt.binaries.sound.radio.oldtime
episodes from old-time radio programs

alt.binaries.sounds.audiobooks
accepts ALL book-type MP3 files including Dramatizations, Audio Plays,
Speeches, Poetry, Book-Readings and the Like, Audiobooks, Books, Spoken-Word, and Classical content (of all genres). Comedy is now included. No reposts.

alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.comedy
bootleg tapes and commercial releases of comedy material

alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.speeches
currently moribund

alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.spoken-word
pretty much all spoken-word material in mp3 format, often used for crossposting from other mp3 groups.

alt.binaries.sounds.radio.bbc
radio material originally produced for the BBC.

alt.binaries.sounds.radio.misc
radio material other than otr.

alt.binaries.sounds.radio.oldtime
episodes from old-time radio programs

alt.binaries.sounds.spoken-word
reposts and requests from alt.binaries.sounds.audiobooks.

alt.binaries.startrek
star trek audio and video material

alt.binaries.starwars
star wars audio and video material
REALITY CHECK FOR CABLE MODEM USERS
Many, perhaps even most, of the people who download audiobooks from alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.books connect to the Net using dialup modems. Several of the people who upload audiobooks to the group also connect using dialup modems.
Those members of the group who connect using cable modems and have never had a dialup connection may not appreciate that their experience of the Internet is fundamentally different than that of the dialup user. It's sort of like the old joke about the millionaire who upon learning that the poor have no money wonders how they could have handled their investments so foolishly. The experience is so different that unless you have experienced both it may be difficult to grasp the reality of it.
We are told by the cable companies that cable connections are 50 times faster than dialup connections. Well, what does this really mean? Let's look at an example audiobook of 20 parts. If each part is one side of a 90 minute cassette, or 45 minutes, encoded at 64/44 mono, then each part is approximately 20 megabytes. The total size of the audiobook is around 400 megabytes. A cable modem user can download the entire audiobook in 30 to 50 minutes, depending on the time of day and the quality of their connection. A dialup modem user will need 4 days downloading 5 to 6 hours per day, or at least a day downloading 24 hours a day. Half an hour for one person, 4 days of normal downloading for the other.
Of course nobody usually posts 400 megabytes at a time to this newsgroup. In our example this would be about 4 parts of our 20 part audiobook. A cable modem user will be able to download this in about 5 to 10 minutes. The cable modem user can then also download as much other material as he or she cares to. The dialup modem user will require 4 to 6 hours to download the same 4 parts of our example audiobook. And unless they are prepared to tie up their telephone 24 hours a day, that's all they are going to get for that day, no parts of any other audiobook.
And for the dialup modem poster the situation is even worse. It takes the dialup modem user 2 hours or more to upload a single 20 megabyte file, which the cable modem user can download in a minute or two. This is worth remembering when asking for a file repost instead of a segment repost.
What the cable modem user can do casually and spontaneously the dialup modem user must plan and strategize to do. While the cable modem user dines at an always open buffet the dialup modem user must grow their own food before they consume it.
Having cable modem service is usually not a matter of choice. Either it is available in your neighborhood or it is not. Cable modem users should not feel that they are being disadvantaged here in alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.books simply because we remember the limits of dialup connections. While these Guidelines are designed to make it easier for dialup members to plan and complete their download strategies we hope that they also serve the highspeed members by insuring the quality and completeness of all posts. Of course for the truly impatient there are now newsgroups that cater to the cable modem user and which carry much of the same material.
SECRETS OF SEGMENTS REVEALED
You will find several references to "segments" made in the Guidelines and just in case your understanding of segments is a bit unclear an explanation is offered here.
Because a complete audiobook is so large when it is posted it is usually posted in several files, each representing one side of a cassette tape or a track of a CD. So you will see filenames such as "spillane-black alley-1-4.mp3". This particular file identifies itself as file 1, or part 1, of 4 files making up the audiobook "Black Alley" by Mickey Spillane. The files themselves are large files, often 10 to 20 megabytes, and these are broken up by the posting software into segments. So you will see subject headers like "spillane-black alley-1-4.mp3(01/92)" then "spillane-black alley-1-4.mp3(02/92)" and so on until the final segment "spillane-black alley-1-4.mp3(92/92)". You need all of the segments to get the complete file. Your newsreader software should automatically combine the segments and decode them into a complete mp3 file.
It is one of the peculiarities of the Internet that all of the segments do not always travel together as they propagate over the Net from one newsserver to another. As a result some segments may arrive out of order, at different times, or not at all. It is possible for individual segments to be reposted which allows incomplete files, those missing some segments, to be made complete.
The individual segments are very much smaller than the complete files and therefore take much less time to post and much less time to download (particularly important to dialup members), and take up much less storage space on newsservers (helpful to everyone). For these reasons reposting segments is preferable to reposting complete files. So when you see references to reposting or requesting segments you will understand that the idea is to provide complete files using the least amount of time and resources.
Downloaders should experiment with their newsreader software to determine how to download segments of incomplete files, how to avoid inadvertently deleting these segments, and how to combine segments arriving at different times or with different headers. Posters should learn how to repost individual segments of previously posted files. Please note that some software refers to segments as "articles" or "messages" but they are all the same thing.
Also please note that encouraging the use of segment requests and reposts is not meant to completely discourage file requests and reposts. The use of segment requests and reposts may reduce the number of incomplete files but will never completely eliminate the need for file reposts. Downloaders should take advantage of segment requests whenever possible and posters should fill segment requests promptly, but posters should also make time in their schedules or make arrangements for others to repost complete files when necessary.
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BEFORE POSTINGA lot happens before posting. For most posters it takes more time to prepare an audiobook for posting than it takes to post the material. In most cases it takes longer to prepare an audiobook for posting than it takes to listen to the audiobook. What is done here in the pre-post period has everything to do with the quality and accessibility of the material we see posted in this group.
ENCODING NOTES
note: Some of this material may seem very basic to our experienced encoders but I urge them to skip ahead to the section on file sizes and encoding rates.

The Guidelines does not attempt to offer instruction on using specific software packages. And it also is not intended to provide a primer on encoding. It is hoped that eventually FAQs will be developed by other members for some of the more popular software packages.
Encoding is actually a fairly simple process once you get the hang of it. It is also one of those things about which everybody has an opinion, often a strongly held opinion. Feel free to ask around in this group and in other binary audio groups for more comprehensive information about software and techniques.
So without pretending to be comprehensive the Guidelines here offers a few recommendations for encoding material that will be posted in absm.books.

The first obvious question new encoders have is: How do I get the sound into my computer?
First of all you need software that will capture the sound digitally so it can be converted to the mp3 format. There are many audio editing programs available that can capture the sound digitally, a process often referred to as "ripping". An audio editing package also allows you to edit the captured sound file, perform audio enhancements, convert sample rates and bit rates, and save your audio file in many different audio formats including mp3. One very good resource for software is www.tucows.com, where you can download freeware, shareware, and trial versions of commercial audio software for every computing platform. Once you have your software set up and running, getting the sound from a CD or a cassette into the computer is then a fairly simple matter. The CD-ROM drive in your computer will handle ripping CDs, and cassette players can be connected by running a patch cable from the "line out" jack of your tape deck or the headphone jack of your walkman to the "line in" jack on your computer's sound card.
Never attempt to get audiobooks into the computer by setting the computer's microphone in front of your speakers. This always produces very poor quality audio files.
Test the playback level of your CD or your tape player and adjust it to a comfortable level that plays through the computer's speakers without distortion. Set your software to rip in mono, not stereo (more about this later), at sample rate as close to 44 kHz as your sound card will accept. This sample rate produces quality rips but higher rates may introduce hiss when you are ripping from cassette tapes. Now set your software to record and begin playing your CD or tape.
At first do several test files, recording five or ten minutes at a time and then playing back to determine the best audio level, the one with the clearest sound and the least distortion. Remember that this may differ from CD to CD and from tape to tape because different CDs and tapes may have been originally produced with differing audio levels. You should check the audio level of everything you rip before committing to ripping it in its entirety. When you have found the optimal audio level, begin a new recording from the beginning of your CD or tape. When it is finished, save the audio file in the mp3 format. Converting the file to mp3 format is called "encoding". Listen to your file. If you hear distortion or if it is too loud or too soft you will need to experiment further.

The next important consideration is the size of your file. The larger the file the longer it takes to post and to download, and the greater the chances are that it will be incomplete on some servers.
File size depends on two things, the runtime of the file and the bitrate of the encode. Runtime can be controlled when ripping cassettes by limiting each file to one side of each cassette. With CDs it may be a little trickier. Some CDs will make things easier by having several tracks. In this case make each track a separate file. But some CDs will have only one track for the entire CD. In these cases you will need to use the editing feature of your software which allows you to save a selected portion of the rip as a file. You can then save the entire CD in two or three selections.
Encode bitrates affect more than just the size of a file. They also affect the sound quality of the mp3 file. You can readily appreciate that this compromise between size and quality is ripe for controversy. Let's look at the file sizes of a typical file (one side of one cassette) encoded (using CoolEdit 2000) at different rates:

runtime = 41 minutes, 20 seconds

32/22 mono = 9.93mb
48/44 mono = 14.90mb
64/44 mono = 19.89mb
96/44 stereo = 29.81mb
128/44 stereo = 39.74mb

As you see, the file sizes range from approximately 10 megabytes to approximately 40 megabytes for the same audio runtime.
A dialup modem user would need about 30 minutes to download the file encoded at 32/22 mono and about 2 hours to download the file encoded at 128/44 stereo. Since a typical unabridged audiobook requires a dozen or more such files, download time and therefore file size is an important consideration.
But so is sound quality. Although some software, using HQ algorithms, can produce adequate audio quality at 32/22, it can do so only through very time consuming methods. Most software cannot produce adequate audio quality at 32/22 mono. Another shortcoming of this encoding rate is that most portable mp3 players, designed with the higher encoding rates used for music in mind, will not play files encoded at this rate. 32/22 mono is a popular encoding rate for old-time radio, but in many cases the original material is of such low audio definition that the lower rate does not compromise it further.
48/44 mono and 64/44 mono both produce audio quality ranging from adequate to very good. You should do some experimental encodes at both bitrates to determine for yourself whether either of these two encoding rates produces acceptable audio quality on your particular hardware/software setup.
Because most audiobooks come on cassettes the quality of the original material is limited. Audio cassettes have less audio definition than CDs. And most audiobook cassettes are originally recorded in mono. For these reasons there may be little point to encoding this material at higher encoding rates and in stereo. A considerable increase in file size provides little, if any, improvement in sound quality. Many audiobooks distributed on CDs may be recorded in stereo but upon listening demonstrate little or no stereo separation. In these cases the fact that the material is originally recorded on two channels adds little or nothing to the dramatic effect of the reading. Again there is little to justify encoding at higher stereo bitrates.
In the very few cases where stereo separation does make a major difference in the dramatic effect of the original material you may well ask yourself whether or not this material is actually an audiobook, at least as defined by these Guidelines (see Introduction:What To Post In ABSM.BOOKS), or if it may be an audio drama, in which case it should not be posted in absm.books to begin with.
With these considerations the Guidelines recommends encoding most material at 48/44 mono or 64/44 mono.
COMMON SENSE ABOUT FILENAMES
It is important that filenames contain enough information to be useful. Filenames like CD5-02.mp3 or tape3a.mp3 are useless. In some cases they are worse than useless because if files with names like tape3a.mp3 are downloaded from more than one audiobook or from more than one newsgroup it may be very difficult to later distinguish the parts of one audiobook from the parts of another. Worse, if a file named tape3a.mp3 is copied or moved into a folder which already contains a file with the same name the original file will be overwritten and thereby lost. A filename should at least contain enough information to identify the name of the book and which part of the book it contains. If possible it should also contain an indication of the author's name.
Constructing a filename which contains all of this information would not be an issue if all computers handled filenames the same way, but they don't.

While Windows and the UNIX variants allow 255 characters in filenames, the Mac operating system is limited to 32 characters, or 27 characters plus the .mp3 extension. Although Windows is the dominant operating system in the market today many of our members use Mac computers and they are forced to rename files with long filenames. In practice there should be little difficulty in creating a useful filename within this 31 character limit.
When a filename is constructed without consideration of its length we might see something like this:

(69 characters)
1234567890123456789012345678901234567890123456789012345678901234567890
rex stout - the league of frightened men - unabridged - 01a of 12.mp3

When a Mac user downloads a series of files with filenames like the above these files are saved as:

rex stout - the league of frigh
rex stout - the league of fri~1
rex stout - the league of fri~2
rex stout - the league of fri~3

If the Mac user moves these files to a folder and the next day downloads the next group of files in the same series (03a through 04b, for example) the files will be saved with the same filenames you see above. The Mac user will have to rename them before moving them to the folder to prevent the new files from overwriting the first group of files.
This is completely unnecessary because a useful filename can be constructed like this:

(30 characters)
1234567890123456789012345678901
stout-frightened men-01-12.mp3

When the Mac user downloads a series of files with filenames like this the files are saved just as they are named:

stout-frightened men-01-12.mp3
stout-frightened men-02-12.mp3
stout-frightened men-03-12.mp3
stout-frightened men-04-12.mp3

If you find it impossible to give your file a name that provides useful information AND is 27 characters long you should take particular care to place its number in the series close to the beginning of the filename. Some posters solve this problem by placing the series number at the beginning of the filename. This works but the requirement is only that it appears within the first 23 characters.
There is one other filename problem that is peculiar to the Mac computer. When a Mac user tries to read a CDR(W) disc created on a Windows machine the Mac will truncate the filenames down to 8.3 filename.extension format that old DOS users may remember. This is because Windows computers use the Joliet file system for CDRs and the Mac does not. Fortunately there is a safe, easy-to-install software patch for Mac operating systems that allows Mac computers to read 31 characters of Joliet filenames. This patch is available at: www.tempel.org/joliet/ ...

The second filename limitation affects Windows users who archive their audiobook files to CDR(W)s. Windows uses the Joliet file system for CDs and the Joliet file system limits filenames to 64 character including the extension. Using the same example as above:

(69 characters)
1234567890123456789012345678901234567890123456789012345678901234567890
rex stout - the league of frightened men - unabridged - 01a of 12.mp3

files archived to CDR(W)s will have their filenames truncated to:

rex stout - the league of frightened men - unabridged - 01a.mp3
rex stout - the league of frightened men - unabridged - ~01.mp3
rex stout - the league of frightened men - unabridged - ~02.mp3
rex stout - the league of frightened men - unabridged - ~03.mp3

Of course this will never be a problem if you construct your filenames to fit within the Mac filename limits. But if you must use a longer filename it should under no circumstances be longer than 60 characters plus the extension (.mp3).

The only other restriction on filenames is that they should never contain the following characters which are reserved to the Windows operating system: / \ : * ? " < > and |. And to protect UNIX users never begin a filename with - .

Extended information about the audiobook, such as the full name of the author and the full title of the book, may be given in the subject header when the file is posted. It is recommended that subject headers be limited to 70 characters to prevent the header and filename information from scrolling off the right side of the screen. Again, try to construct an economical subject header when possible.
TAG IT WITH ID3 TAGS
In addition to creating useful filenames encoders should also add id3 tags to their mp3 files.
Mp3 audio files are designed to contain a small amount of text information used to further identify the file. This part of the file is called the id3 tag. The id3 tag is formatted with data fields named Title, Artist, Album, Composer, etc. This is because mp3 files are most commonly used for musical selections but the same data fields can be used for audiobook files:

Title = file name or book name including the part number
Artist = full name of the author
Album = full name of the book.

Id3 tags necessary to fully identify files for Mac users when the filename exceeds the Mac limit of 31 characters. Id3 tags also allow the name of the file being played to be displayed by audio player software. And id3 tags can be very useful for identification and sorting when mp3 files are played on portable mp3 players.

Many encoding software products support id3 tags for mp3 files. Most of these will automatically insert the filename in the Title field of the id3 tag. Some of these software packages also allow you to edit the id3 tag to insert or edit the rest of the information in the other data fields. In addition to having these features in the encoding software some audio player software also allows you to create and edit id3 tags. The id3 tag may be referred to as an id3 tag or as "file info" or as something similar. If these features are not included in your encoding or playback software there are audio utility programs available for the specific purpose of creating and editing id3 tags.
You can look for software supporting id3 tags at www.tucows.com and at www.mp3.com.
BE PREPARED
Please encode the complete audiobook before you begin posting. It is quite disconcerting to downloaders to have an audiobook post interrupted for weeks or months or completely abandoned in the middle. Many members have had to delete gigabytes of abandoned audiobooks from their hard drives. Most of the time this happens because the poster had not encoded all of the material before beginning the post.
There are a number of good reasons why a poster might not be able to complete the encoding of an audiobook. Life happens, sometimes it gets in the way of our hobbies. Sometimes the original material is found to have a fatal flaw, or to be incomplete, or becomes unavailable. However if posters completely encode their material before posting there will be fewer interrupted or abandoned posts.
Posters should also do an "ear check" of their material before posting. This is the final check for completeness, audio quality, mislabeled files, "blank" audio (usually at the beginning or the end of a tape). There really is no good excuse for forcing other members of the newsgroup to download a "fixed" version of a file. Often members will have archived the "broken" files to CDRs which will need to be replaced. And it is also likely that many members will miss the notice that a "fixed" file is required to "repair" an audiobook.
Posters should always listen to their mp3 files before posting them.
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POSTINGNOTES FOR NEW POSTERS
Generally speaking there is a natural evolution of members of the group like stars on the main sequence. Members begin as Downloaders, later they may become Fill Posters, and finally they may become Posting Partners and fully fledged Posters. Along the way members learn the etiquette and traditions of the group. The Guidelines provides advice to those who take the fast track along this path and also serves as a reference on the finer points to senior members of the group.

It is always appropriate to ask questions here in the group. Unlike many other alt.binaries.sounds.* groups we have our discussions here in the main group instead of in a separate alt.binaries.sounds.*.d group. There are some issues not covered in the Guidelines and these issues are particularly suited to open questions to the group. For example the Guidelines does not specifically discuss software tips and techniques. There are too many software packages to cover and the feature sets change with every new release. There also may be items in the Guidelines that are insufficiently clear and questions on these items should be raised in the group. If a consensus can be reached it will be incorporated into the Guidelines.

As a practical matter posters should always use full-featured posting software. Most newsreader software is very good at exchanging text messages but is not particularly suited to multipart binary posting such as we use in absm.books. For this reason many posters use newsreader software to download mp3 files and to exchange messages but for posting they use specialized posting software.

Posting software should have at least these features:
1) should allow for the reposting of individual segments. This is a very important feature that allows incomplete files to be completed by reposting only those segments that get lost on their way around the internet.
2) should allow files to be queued for posting. This allows the poster to queue several files so that the program will post multiple files unattended.
3) should have an auto resume feature. This is also necessary for unattended posting. If the posting is interrupted by a timeout or an interrupted internet connection the post will resume where it was interrupted. This eliminates "retry" posts.
4) should keep a history file. This makes it easier to requeue files for reposting or request fills.
5) should allow you to set the number of lines per segment. Experience has shown that segments with sizes set to between 5000 and 7500 lines have the best chance of being propagated across the net.

New posters should always practice test posting in alt.binaries.test to work out any glitches in their posting technique and to experiment with different option settings. Even experienced posters should use ab.test when trying out new software.
New posters should also take particular care to post each file separately. Some software allows you to combine several files into one large post but this practice is strongly discouraged. For one thing it does not allow the downloader to see which files they are actually downloading, and for another it leads to VERY large posts which are more likely to lose segments and become incomplete.

Effective in 2005, there is no longer a posting cap in effect.

ANNOUNCE YOUR POST IN ADVANCE
It is a good idea to announce your plans to post an audiobook at least a few days before you begin the post itself. This would be done with an "Intent To Post" message to the group (example: "Intent to Post - Rex Stout - Over My Dead Body").

The purpose of the Intent message is:
1) to give you feedback on your upcoming post. You may learn that the audiobook you intend to post has been recently posted by someone else, or that the material may be better suited for another newsgroup. Or you may get abundant thanks in advance for a welcome and wanted audiobook.
2) to give notice to downloaders which will help them prioritize their download strategies. This is very important for dialup members who have to make choices every day about what they will download and what they must leave behind due to the download speed limitations of their internet connections.
3) to give notice to other posters who may have been planning to encode or post the same material.

You may also use your Intent message to give information about the post. This can include the number of files, encoding information, your repost/request policy, reviews of the audiobook, and anything else you think will be helpful to potential downloaders of your material.
By the way, if you intend to post something in another newsgroup that you think would be of interest to members of this group you can post an Intent message here to let members know when and where they can find your post.
PROVIDING SUPPORT FILES
When you post an audiobook you will want to provide information about the post to all of the potential downloaders of your material. This is done by including support files. The single most important support file is the nfo file. The nfo file is a simple text file with a ...nfo extension. It can be created and read with any text or word processor. The nfo file should at the very least provide the name of the book, the name of the author, the abridged or unabridged status of the audiobook, the number of mp3 parts, and your repost and request policies. This information is essential to everyone who may wish to download your post. The nfo file should be posted every day of the New post and every day of the complete Repost along with the mp3 files being posted.
Here is an example of a blank nfo file which you may wish to cut and paste to a text file to be used as a guide for your own nfo files:

.nfo
General Information

-------------------------------------

Book Title..................:
Author......................:
Read By.....................:
Publisher...................:
Copyright...................:
ISBN#.......................:
Abr/Unabr...................:
Genre.......................:

-------------------------------------
Post Information

-------------------------------------

Poster......................:
Group posted to.............:
News server used............:
# of Files..................:
Files per day...............:
Full repost?................:
My request policy...........:
Support files posted........:

-------------------------------------
File Information

-------------------------------------

File Name...................:
Total size in megabytes.....:
Run Time ...................:
Encoding Bitrate............:
Mono/Stereo.................:
ID3 tags y/n................:
Lines per segment...........:
comments/reviews:
----------------------------------------------------------------

.sfv
Another support file in common use is the sfv file. This is also a text file which can be read with any text reader. Sfv is short for "simple file verification (or validation). Sfv files are created by programs that calculate a verification value for every file in a folder and also note the file size of every file in the folder. These values are written to the sfv file. Posters who use sfv will perform this action on the folder containing all the files of the audiobook. Later, when the files are downloaded by another member and collected in a folder the downloader can use their own sfv program to validate the downloaded files. Sfv programs are available for all platforms but there is no guarantee that the validation values will be consistent between different sfv programs.
Even if the downloader does not use an sfv program the sfv file will list all of the files and give the file sizes. This information can be useful if the downloader is unsure about having received all the files completely.

.jpg, .gif
Posters who have scanners often take scans of the audiobook packaging or the CD faces and post these as image files. Besides being informative these images are sometimes suitable for printing as labels for archived audiobooks.

These types of support files may be supplemented by any other files the poster thinks might be of interest to the downloader. Support files should be posted at least on the first day and the last day of the audiobook post and may be posted more frequently.

The nfo file should be posted every day of the audiobook post.
THE POSTING CYCLE, NEW POST/REPOST/REQUEST
The Posting Cycle (Post/Repost/Request) was developed to help all downloaders complete their download of your posted material. With so much good material being posted many downloaders will be unable to get the complete audiobook the first time it is posted. The Repost and Request cycles give these downloaders an opportunity to complete the audiobook.

Posts of new material should be preceded by an Intent To Post announcement a few days before the actual post. An nfo file should be posted every day with the posted mp3 files. The header for new posts should include the word New or the initials NP (New post). Be careful to use similar headers for the mp3 files and the nfo file so they will show up together in the header listings. Except in certain cases which are mentioned below file requests should not be filled until the Request cycle. Segment requests, on the other hand, should be filled immediately. It is a reasonable assumption that if one person is missing certain segments then others using the same server will also be missing the same segments. Completing these files early through the use of segment reposts will allow downloaders to enjoy your files sooner and reduce the number of file requests later.
Headers for reposted segments should be exactly the same as the header for the post from which the segments are missing. This will allow them to integrate seamlessly with the headers of segments already available to the downloader. Do not address segment reposts to a specific individual (ATTN so-and-so). This will require a bit of fiddling around on the part of downloaders to match the reposted segments up with the available segments and may cause the segments to be missed entirely by downloaders other than "so-and-so" who also need the same segments.

About four to seven days after the completion of the New Post the entire audiobook should be Reposted. Many downloaders who were unable to complete their downloads of your audiobook New Post will be able to complete the audiobook during this cycle. The nfo file should be posted every day with the mp3 files. The header for Reposts should include the word Repost or the initials RP (RePost). Be careful to use similar headers for the mp3 files and the nfo file so they will show up together in the header listings. As with the New Post cycle file requests should not be filled during the Repost cycle but segment requests should be filled immediately. The same header recommendations made above for segment reposts also apply here.
If for some reason you will not be able to do a complete repost yourself, you should arrange to work with a Posting Partner (see section POSTING PARTNERS AND FILL POSTERS) who will do the complete Repost for you.

About four to seven days after the completion of the complete Repost you should accept and fill requests for files. The header for Request Fills should include the word Requested, or Fill, or the initials RQ. Requested files may be addressed to a specific individual (ATTN so-and-so) but doing so may cause them to be missed by other downloaders who may later request the same file. It is recommended that the headers for Request Fills be similar to the original New post and Repost headers. File Requests should be filled by the original poster for at least one week. After that time anybody may provide the requested files. If for some reason you will not be able to fill file requests please arrange to work with a Posting Partner or a Fill Poster to fill these requests. Segment requests should be filled immediately. The same header recommendations made above for segment reposts also apply here.

All requests should receive a prompt reply even when the request is made outside of the normal Post/Repost/Request cycle. Several purposes are served by these replies:
1) it informs the requester that you are aware of the request and lets the requester know when to expect the request will be filled.
2) if the request is made out of sequence it informs the requester why their request will not be filled at this time and lets them know the appropriate time to repeat the request.
3) it informs other potential Fill Posters that this request is being handled. This is important because more than one Fill Poster may queue the requested file for posting along with a batch of other files, resulting in multiple posts of the requested file.

Note about segment repost headers:
Some servers will not accept a header that is identical to one it has in storage, many will but some won't. If you do some segment reposts and find that they never show up your server may be one of those that rejects identical headers. In this case you can try using a different server (if one is available to you) or you can try making some changes to the header that leave it as close to the original header as you can get it and have it accepted.
There are some exceptions to the general Post/Repost/Request cycles:
1) If a post takes several weeks or longer to complete it is unreasonable to keep downloaders waiting before they can collect files from the standard Repost and Request Cycles.
2) In the most extreme cases, when a post takes months to complete, it may not be practical to have a Repost or Request Cycle at all. In these No Repost cases the original poster should make it clear in the nfo file that there will be no Repost or Request cycles and should also include in the post header the initials SNR (Sorry, No Repost).
In both the delayed Repost and the No Repost cases, downloaders should be allowed to make file requests and have them filled during the New Post cycle. The appropriate schedule for this should be determined by the poster and mentioned in the nfo file. For example, file request and reposts might begin 2 weeks after the beginning of the New Post, or after a specific number of files have been posted, or be announced by a message in the group. It should be up to the original poster whether this is a task they wish to undertake themselves, or one to be undertaken by a designated Fill Poster, or if fills may be made by any member of the group who has the requested files.
SOMETIMES LESS IS MORE
Some posters bypass the Repost cycle and some also decline to fill file requests, preferring to move on to posting the next audiobook in their collections. It is worth pointing out that this leads to a diminishing likelihood that many people will actually get the chance to listen to these audiobooks.
Consider that highspeed downloaders can download up to 500mb an hour. For material encoded at 64/44 one hour of material is about 30mb. So the highspeed downloader gets over 16 hours of material for every hour of downloading. Unless these members listen to audiobooks every waking minute, and presuming that they download only one hour per day, sooner or later most of what they download ends up archived to CDRs and will be listened to sometime in the 22nd century. Dialup downloaders on the other hand can download about 100mb per evening (5 to 6 hours per day). These members have to carefully select what they will download and there is always a huge amount of material they will never get to download.
Posters actually increase the likelihood that more people will get to hear their posted material if they take the time to do full reposts and fill requests because 1) it reduces the volume of new material that highspeed downloaders must archive, and 2) it increases the likelihood that dialup downloaders will be able to complete their audiobook downloads during the Repost cycle.
Reposts aren't just about replacing incomplete files (those that are missing segments). The system of post/repost/request was originally instituted specifically because people with slower connections really do have to strategize their downloads. Quite often dialup members must interrupt downloading parts of one book to get parts of another and the Repost cycle is their main chance to complete one or both audiobooks.
IDENTIFY YOUR POSTS WITH GOOD HEADERS
Your subject header is the first contact downloaders will have with your posted material. The subject header should provide useful information which the downloader can use to properly identify your posted material.
The subject line should give the name of the author, the title of the book, and say if the audiobook is abridged or unabridged so downloaders will know what the material is. The subject line should also tell if a post is New Post, a Repost, or a Request Fill. Many (perhaps most) downloaders have dialup connections and need this information to strategize their downloads. The subject line may also give the total number of parts and the day of the posting sequence.
In some cases this may be lot of information to put into a subject header so abbreviations may be used. Most downloaders have their screens set to 800x600 so there is only so much text they can see without scrolling horizontally. For this reason it is recommended that headers be limited to 70 characters. For example:

1234567890123456789012345678901234567890123456789012345678901 ...
New-Rex Stout-The League of Frightened Men-unabr-day 4 of 6, etc

Keeping the subject under 70 characters will leave enough room on the line for the file name and the number of segments to be read by people interested in downloading your post. If you think you will have difficulty remaining below the 70 character limit remember that you can always provide additional information about your post in the nfo file.

Also, because it confuses some newsreader software, do not use any fraction representations inside parentheses "(18/24)" in the subject header and do not include any text after the filename.
CROSSPOSTING TO/FROM OTHER GROUPS
New posters may be in some confusion as to what crossposting actually is so before getting into crossposting let us distinguish between crossposting and double-posting. When a message or a file is posted its header includes an address field (or "to:" field) containing the name of the newsgroup to which it will be posted. If the address field contains more than one newsgroup name the header will appear in each newsgroup named in the address field. While the header will appear in more than one newsgroup the body of the message and the attached file will be posted only once. This means that the message and the file will be available to more than one newsgroup but they will take up no more storage space on the newsservers than they would if they had been posted to only one newsgroup. Many new posters make the mistake of posting files first to one newsgroup and then to another newsgroup. This is double-posting. In this case the posted material takes up double or triple or more storage space than it would if had been posted to only one newsgroup. Do not double-post.

There are many occasions when posted material seems appropriate for more than one newsgroup. In these cases you may wish to crosspost your material. For example if you were posting the audiobook of "Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace" in the alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.books newsgroup you could appropriately crosspost it to the alt.binaries.starwars newsgroup. The material is appropriate for both groups. However, if you were posting the National Public Radio audioplays of the StarWars series in alt.binaries.starwars it would not be appropriate to crosspost to alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.books because the NPR audioplays are not audiobooks as we use the term here. It would be appropriate to crosspost these audioplays in alt.binaries.sounds.radio.misc because the material was originally broadcast over the radio.
If you were posting an audiobook in alt.binaries.sounds.audiobooks and you wanted to crosspost it to alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.books you could do so but you would have to take care to observe the FAQ/Guidelines recommendations for both groups. For example, alt.binaries.sounds.audiobooks has a 200mb per day posting limit but alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.books has no posting limit. Therefore you should crosspost only 200 mb. Also the two newsgroups have different recommendations concerning subject headers. You would have to be sure that your header conformed to both newsgroups' recommendations.
Before posting or crossposting to any newsgroup try to learn the traditions and standard practices of that newsgroup. Sometimes there will be a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) document available and sometimes there will not. Be sure to ask in the newsgroup if you have any questions or doubts about what is and what is not appropriate. You should make every effort to comply with the local customs of every newsgroup to which you crosspost.
Another thing to keep in mind is that it is poor netiquette to crosspost to every newsgroup that might be remotely interested in your post. Newsgroup downloaders often download from several newsgroups and it is time consuming to download and read the same headers over and over again. In addition to becoming annoying overuse of crossposting "dilutes" the specific interest of newsgroups that may be only tangentially interested in your post.
While crossposting is a useful way of making posted material available to a greater audience you should be careful not to abuse the power of this tool.
POST CHECKING
Sometimes segments get lost on their trips around the net. Posters can act proactively to minimize future segment and file repost requests by making Post Checking a regular part of their posting routine.
The server to which you upload your post often may have it all listed within minutes of the completion of your post. And since it is the first server to get your post it will usually have all the segments. Nonetheless it is a good idea to check. Occasionally your own newsserver may fail to accept a segment without informing you. Wait an hour or more after you complete your upload then download the new headers for the group to which you posted your files and check to see if all the segments are there. If any segments are missing you can use your posting software to repost just those missing segments. Be sure to use exactly the same header that you used for the original post. This will complete the files on your own ISP and on many others. Please note that in some cases your ISP may take longer to show your own posts. Let experience be your guide when timing Post Checks.
If you are fortunate enough to have access to more than one newsserver you may also wish to do a Post Check on your secondary newsserver a few hours after you check your primary newsserver. Within a few hours most of the major newsservers on the planet will have your post. Checking the integrity of your post on another server is a second check on the progress of your post. Regardless which second server you use to check your post the post itself will in all likelihood have passed through several other servers on its way to your second server. This can provide greater assurance that your post is propagating properly.
POLICING YOUR POSTS
Posters who encode new material and post it to the group would seem to have enough responsibilities allotted to them by the Guidelines, but there is one more thing that would seem to come with the territory.

The effort and care invested by posters should give them certain limited rights to the material they encode and post. The poster should have the right to the exclusive New Post of material they have encoded and control over the Repost and Request cycles of that material. These rights should extend through the New Post, Repost, and Request cycles. After that the material should becomes public property.
Unfortunately there will always be some newcomers to the group who will post before they take the trouble to learn our community standards. Fortunately most of them will desist and apologize once they understand the nature of their infraction.

The principal complaints made by posters include:
1) concurrent posting - posting material that is currently being posted by another poster or material that has been claimed by another poster in an Intent To Post message;
2) untimely requests - downloaders who request fills while the New Post or the Repost are still in progress;
3) poaching - fill posters who fill untimely requests while the New Post or the Repost are still in progress and/or post duplicate fills during the Request cycle.

All of these infractions should initially be considered mistakes made by well intentioned fellow members of our newsgroup who simply are not informed about the traditions and community standards we share. When you, as a poster, see that someone has made one of these errors involving your own posted material or your announced posting plans you should immediately post them a message politely pointing out the error. You may quote from the Guidelines and make any other appeal to courtesy and reason that seems appropriate. It is important that posters police their own material because no one else is likely to do it for you and because, like a toothache, the problem won't go away by itself.

You might also consider the following errors worthy of polite admonition:
4) inappropriate material - posting of material not appropriate to absm.books but very likely appropriate in another newsgroup;
5) bad manners - what can I say?
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POSTING PARTNERS AND FILL POSTERSMany people post material which they have not encoded themselves. This group includes many who also encode and post new material and many who post only infrequently. In most cases their posting efforts are welcome and in fact the group would be hard pressed to get along without them. But sometimes a well intentioned poster may find themselves stepping on another poster's toes or in some other way attracting more complaints than compliments. This section of the Guidelines deals with the specific opportunities and pitfalls of posting material encoded by others. Everyone who posts as a Posting Partner or as a Fill Poster should also be sure to read the section on POSTING because the recommendations there apply to all posters.
DON'T STEP ON TOES
Those posters who do not encode their own posting material may not fully appreciate the investments made by those who do encode. Many encoders purchase their material either new or used or may rent it from a commercial audiobook leasing firm, so there is often a cash investment. The encoding process, depending on the computer, the software, and the encoding options selected, can take 2, 3, or more hours for every hour of playing time, so there is the investment in time. The encoder may also spend a good deal of time and effort both before and after encoding to assure the quality of the encode, so there is the investment of caring. On top of this is the time spent doing the New Post and the Repost of the material, and this can be a very long time for dialup posters. A poster who purchases material, encodes carefully, and posts on a dialup connection can spend several dollars and spend many hours for every hour of the playtime of their material. For this they deserve our gratitude and respect, and they should be accorded some rights concerning the posting of that material.
The original Poster has the exclusive right to post material they have encoded throughout the New Post/Repost/Request cycle. This should be assumed to be the case unless the Poster has specifically stated otherwise in their .nfo file or in their subject header or in a specific message to the group or if you have a specific agreement with the Poster. If you have any doubt at all as to the desires or intentions of the original Poster concerning reposts or requests of their material, ask.
BECOMING A POSTING PARTNER
Becoming a Posting Partner is a great opportunity for those who wish to contribute to the group but do not have the time or the technical confidence to encode their own material. An original Poster may have difficulty completing a full New Post/Repost/Request cycle due to scheduling conflicts, slow Internet connections, unreliable servers, or any number of other difficulties. In such cases the Poster may ask for the help of a Posting Partner who will undertake some or all of the posting. Usually the original Poster will do the New Post and the Posting Partner will undertake the Repost and the Request cycles. In some cases the Posting Partner may undertake the entire posting cycle after first downloading the material from an FTP site or receiving the material on CD from the encoder. These relationships between original Poster and Posting Partner can be for a single audiobook or they can be long standing relationships.
You can look for specific requests for Posting Partners in all the newsgroups that carry audiobooks, or in the Intent To Post messages, or you can post a message volunteering to help a Poster in need. Bear in mind that as a Posting Partner you undertake an important responsibility. You should also familiarize yourself with the recommendations in the POSTING section of the Guidelines.
FILLING REQUESTS
Several members of our group make their contribution by filling requests. Almost everybody has at one time or another had to delete incomplete audiobooks from their hard drives, even when they were missing only one or two files to complete the audiobook. Fill Posters come to the rescue by filling requests for these missing files. Being a Fill Poster is a great way to contribute to the group without having to make a major posting commitment.
However, Fill Posters must be sure that they do not unintentionally trespass on the rights of the original Poster. During the normal New Post/Repost/Request posting cycle the original Posters have exclusive rights to post their own material. Unless the original Poster has explicitly waived those rights you should not fill requests for their material until after the Request phase of the posting cycle.
Always check the nfo file for any current or recent material before filling a request. Requests for older material may be filled without concerns about trespassing.

Fill Posters should always reply to the Request message before filling a request because:
1) it informs the requester that you are aware of the request and lets the requester know when to expect the request will be filled.
2) it informs other potential Fill Posters that this request is being handled. This is important because more than one Fill Poster may queue the requested file for posting along with a batch of other files, resulting in multiple posts of the requested file.
REPRISE REPOSTS
A Reprise Repost is the complete repost of an audiobook that has been posted previously. This differs from a Repost done by a Posting Partner because a Reprise Repost is not done as part of the normal Posting Cycle in partnership with an original Poster. For example, you may see requests for a complete audiobook that was previously posted or you may have a favorite audiobook that was previously posted and you would like to share it with members of the group who may have missed it the first time around. There is no objection to Reprise Reposts but there is a recommended limitation. Because many or most of the people who wanted this material will have already downloaded it the first time it was posted we recommend that no audiobook be Reprise Reposted until at least three months after the original post. Otherwise the group would be burdened with hundreds of megabytes of material that almost everybody already has.
If you feel an urgent need to fill a request to completely repost a recently posted audiobook please post this fill in another group. Alt.binaries.test is frequently used for this purpose.
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TIPS FOR DOWNLOADERSWe are all downloaders. Everyone in this newsgroup is a downloader, some also post, but we all download. And everybody in this group was a newbie when they started. Some of us had more computer background than others before we started in the newsgroups, but we all had things to learn when we began. If you are new here and feel a little embarrassed because you don't know how things work remember that everyone else here was in your shoes at one time or another. Relax, download, enjoy, and observe the workings of the group. Read the Guidelines. Ask questions. Experiment. Be patient, be polite. Help one another.
WHAT YOU WILL NEED
To take advantage of the material being posted in this newsgroup you will need to have a few things on your computer.
First of all you will need an Internet connection. Since you are reading this message I will assume you already have one, but all Internet connections are not created equal. You will want the fastest connection that is available. It is certainly possible to get a great deal of enjoyment from this newsgroup with a dialup connection, but it is much easier to do that with a highspeed connection. If you have the option to subscribe to a highspeed Internet service you should do it. Not all newsservers are created equal. The newsserver is a part of your Internet service. This is the computer owned by the Internet Service Provider (ISP) which carries the newsgroups. Some newsservers have good retention, meaning messages will be available for several days or longer, and some have poor retention, meaning messages are available for only one to three days. Some newsservers have good completion, meaning that almost all the multipart binary files (like the mp3 files you want to download) are complete, and some have poor completion, meaning that several multipart binary files are incomplete (missing segments). Even good newsservers, those with good retention and good completion, can go bad at times. For this reason many serious downloaders also have accounts with commercial newsservers. This provides access to a second newsserver as a backup to the ISP's newsserver, or as a replacement for it. Commercial newsserver accounts are available for as little as $10 a month.
You will need newsreader software. Again, since you are reading this message you probably already have newsreader software. But all newsreader software is not created equal. Quite often your ISP will provide you with newsreader software when you sign up. This may be a proprietary system built in to the service itself (such as with AOL), included as a function of your web browser (as a part of Netscape Communicator) or as a separate program (such as Agent or Free Agent), or your newsreader may have come bundled with your computer's operating system (Outlook Express is included with Windows). All of these newsreaders are adequate for sending and receiving text messages but most of them do a poor job at handling multipart binary files. For this you need a separate newsreader program. There are many such programs available to choose from but there are certain features that will be most important to you as a downloader. You will want to have the ability to sort your newsgroup headers on different fields (date, subject, author). You will want the ability to download segments of incomplete files, not just complete files. You will want the ability to keep the downloaded segments of incomplete files (instead of having them automatically purged at the beginning/ending of a session) and the ability to later combine newly downloaded segments with previously downloaded segments. To those of you who have never used newsreader software before this probably sounds like meaningless jargon. Reading the section on segments near the beginning of the Guidelines may help clear it up (Introduction: Secrets Of Segments Revealed). The most popular newsreader software for Windows are Agent and X-News. The most popular newsreader software for Macintosh is Newswatcher.
Although the newsreader functions built in to web browsers are inadequate for our purposes you will find some use for your browser when using this newsgroup. Frequently you may wish to know more about a particular audiobook before downloading it. You can browse over to amazon.com or to bn.com (Barnes & Noble) to read a few reviews of the original (paper) book or sometimes reviews of the audiobook itself.
Once you have downloaded your mp3 files you will want to play them. For this you will need mp3 player software. Your computer probably has a media player bundled with the operating system so you will be able to listen to your files immediately. However you may wish to get a separate media player program that offers a more comfortable interface, more playback options, and better support for playlists. There are many media players available for free. Ask for advice in selecting and using replacement media players.
You will also want to have a text editor or a word processor to read the support files that are posted with an audiobook. These files are described in the Posting section (Posting: Providing Support Files). It is very important that you download and read these files because they provide information about the audiobook post which you will want to have. Every computer comes with a text editor bundled into its operating system and many computers also come with word processing software so you will not have to go and get this software. You will just have to know how to use it.
Although it is not absolutely necessary you will want to have a CD-R or CD-RW drive on your computer. Audiobooks tend to be rather large. The smallest might be under 100mb but the average is 200mb-300mb. Some audiobooks are larger than 1gb (1000mb) and some audiobook series may be several gb in size. Your hard drive will fill up very quickly, even huge hard drives will fill up sooner than you think. The ideal storage solution is having a CD burner. While a good drive may cost you $200-$300 the CD disks are very cheap.
If you do not feel up to installing a CD-RW drive in your computer there are several stand-alone models that connect your computer's printer port or to the USB port. There are even CD-RW drives that connect to a laptop computer's PC-Card slot. These cost a bit more but they are a snap to install.

Newsreaders, browsers, media players, and more can be downloaded from the following web sites:

www.tucows.com
www.mp3.com
download.cnet.com
shareware.cnet.com
www.zdnet.com
USE THE SUPPORT FILES
Absolutely the most important recommendation to downloaders is to download and read the nfo file. The nfo file is a text file and can be read using any text editor or word processor. Most of the questions asked by downloaders are already answered in the nfo file. Save yourself the trouble of asking and save the Poster the trouble of answering needless questions by reading the nfo file. The nfo file will tell you the name of the author, the title of the book, the reader of the audiobook, the year it was published, whether the audiobook is abridged or unabridged, the number of mp3 parts, the size of the post, the Poster's Repost schedule and Request policy, the encoding rate, etc, etc.
You will also find the sfv file useful, even if you don't use sfv for file verification. The sfv file will give you the names of all the posted mp3 files making up an audiobook as well as the file sizes.
Some posters also scan images of the cassette boxes or CD covers. The latter can be printed on labels for your CDs if you wish.
PRIORITIZE YOUR DOWNLOADS
Unless you have a cable modem you may have to make some hard choices about what you will download and what you must leave behind. If you connect to the Internet with a dialup connection (56k or less) you will definitely have to make hard choices. There is simply too much material available for anybody with a dialup connection, an ISDN connection, or a slow DSL connection to get everything they might want. To get the most out of the group you will have to strategize your downloading. Here are some tips on developing your download strategies.

First, download and read the nfo file the audiobook you are interested in downloading. The nfo file will tell you the poster's intentions for Repost and Requests. The normal posting cycle is New Post/Repost/Request. Most audiobook posts will follow this sequence, but not all of them, so check the nfo file.
Next check the subject header for the audiobook you are interested in downloading. The Guidelines recommend that all audiobook posting headers include information about the audiobook's place in its posting progress. If the header includes "New" or New Post" or "NP" you know this is the first complete post of this audiobook. If the header includes "Repost" or "RP" you know this is the second (and probably last) complete post of the audiobook. If the header includes "SNR" (Sorry, No Repost) you know this is the first but only complete post of the audiobook. Knowing where an audiobook is in its posting cycle can help you prioritize your downloads. For example you will know that an SNR or an RP header means this is the last complete post, so you better get it now.
In an average evening of downloading (say 5 hours or so) on a dialup connection (say 50k) you can download about 100mb of encoded material. After your newsreader decodes the material it will be 70-75mb or 4 average audiobook mp3s, roughly 2 ninety minute cassettes. The dialup downloader may be able to keep up with downloading only one title at a time this way. If you are an average dialup downloader you should consider downloading overnight. While you sleep your computer will be able to download an additional 100 megabytes or more. Most newsreader software allows you to select a range of messages to download and then downloads them as a batch. If you have trouble with disconnects from your ISP check to see if the ISP provides a dialer utility which will reconnect you if you become disconnected. If they do not there are freeware or shareware utilities that can do this for you. Check to see if your newsreader software has an auto-resume feature that will instruct the newsreader to resume downloads if it has been interrupted by a disconnect. If not there may be freeware or shareware utilities available to do this for you. These auto-reconnect and auto-resume features are worth having for all downloaders, but they are especially useful for dialup downloaders.
Take advantage of segment requests and reposts. Segment requests are handled immediately by most posters while file requests are only available at the end of the New Post/Repost/Request cycle. Besides, you don't know whether or not the Repost or the Request fill will be complete either. Try to get segment reposts the first time around and you won't have to worry about it later.
MAKING REQUESTS
Requests for material currently being posted should be made either as replies to the audiobook post itself (Re:New-Spillane - My Gun Is Quick-1-4, request segs 12/92, 13/92, 73/92) or posted to the attention of the original poster (ATTN Old Kahuna, request Spillane-My Gun Is Quick, part 1-4). Requests for older material, or if you do not know the name of the original poster should be made to the group (REQ: Spillane-My Gun Is Quick-1-4)(REQ: anything by Mickey Spillane). Liberal use of "Please" and "Thank You" are appreciated.

There are three kinds of requests: segments, files, and complete audiobooks:

A segment is a small part of a file. Good posting software can repost segments of files, a feature that works with the ability of newsreaders to lock segments of incomplete files. This is the preferred type of request because segments are so small that they take very little time to upload and download, they take up very little storage space on newsservers, and they are available almost immediately.
Because of the way the Internet itself works all of the segments of a file may not arrive at your newsserver at the same time. Try waiting half a day or longer to see if all the segments show up before making a segment request. Most posters will repost segments immediately upon receiving the request. This type of request is the quickest way to get complete files.

File requests are only appropriate during the Request phase of the posting cycle. If you were unable to get a file during the New Post phase you should wait until the Repost phase and try to get it then. If for some reason you were unable to get the file during the Repost phase you must wait until the Request phase. This usually begins 4 days after the end of the complete Repost. The poster should give the schedule for the Repost and Request cycles in the nfo file. Please do not make your request before the Request cycle. The poster is not likely to save or remember a request made during the New Post or Repost cycles and your request will probably be more of a nuisance than anything else. Worse yet, an untimely request may result in poaching by a clueless newbie Fill Poster and will get you both in hot water with the poster.

Complete audiobook requests may be made also. Because of the amount of time it may take to repost an entire audiobook this sort of request might not be filled immediately. The complete repost of a previously reposted audiobook is called a Reprise Repost. The Guidelines recommends that no audiobook be given a Reprise Repost for at least three months after the end of the original post. Therefore you should not request such a repost for a recently posted book. Please be patient and wait. Remember that storage on newsservers is finite. For everything that goes in something else must be flushed out. It would be very selfish to expect the newsgroup as a whole to commit a few hundred megabytes of storage to satisfying only you. Because we get newcomers to the group every day it is likely that in a few months there will be several people who will be downloading your request audiobook for the first time.

Please keep in mind that it takes a dialup poster 2 hours to post each hour of an audiobook. When you request a handful of files it may take this poster several hours to fill your request. Use segment requests whenever possible to reduce the number of file requests.
And a final note, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE never never never make a request in the form of a mass post of "This is what I have. Please post the rest." In some other binary newsgroups we see some newbies posting 20 files in the hope that someone will repost the one or two files they are missing. This is a huge waste of storage space and time.Just make a request for the files you need.

This is a very busy group with lots of things to download. Don't be angry if your request for a repost is not filled right away. Other people may have their hands so full downloading that they don't have time to fill your request the same day you ask for it. Or your request may have come too soon after the original posting of the material. Or your request may not have been seen by someone who has both the file you requested and the time to post it. Wait a few days and if your request has not been filled try posting another request. I have sometimes had to make many requests over a period of weeks to get a file I wanted. Be patient. Be polite.
EMPOWERING YOURSELF
Generally speaking what you get out of any experience depends to some extent on what you put into it. This certainly applies to your Internet experience. What empowers you most is knowledge, knowing how to do things. This knowledge helps you solve problems that may have limited your Internet experience and knowledge helps you to explore new options using the Internet.
Do you know about using FTP sites to complete audiobooks when you may have missed a file? Do you know how to ask your Internet Service Provider to carry a new newsgroup? Do you know how to increase the storage on your computer?
All of these things are really quite simple once you have the knowledge you need. And how do you get this knowledge? First you take responsibility for learning. Make it your responsibility to look around the World Wide Web to find the technical information you need to add a hard drive to your PC. Call your ISP for advice on adding a new newsgroup to their newsserver. Use the Help system for your newsreader software and check their website for more information. And ask questions.
Let me show you how easy it is to find this information. Do you want to add a hard drive? Use your web browser to go www.google.com, one of the best search engines out there, and search for "adding a hard drive". You will get zillions of returns. One of the first on the list is this useful page: http://www.infohq.com/Computer/adding-second-hard-drive-review.htm
Want your ISP to add a new newsgroup? Call customer service, or go to their web page and email technical support. Or take the shortcut and send an email directly to the news administrator: newsadmin@your-isp.com ...
Want to check out the FTP sites? Post a note in the newsgroup asking if any members have any FTPs up and running. If you get no replies just keep your eyes open. There is at least one FTP announcement a week in this group and in alt.binaries.sounds.audiobooks. Go to www.tucows.com and download the program WS-FTP (for Windows - freeware) or Fetch (for Macintosh - shareware). Go through the help files and learn how to use it. Still confused? Ask questions.
There are so many things you can do for yourself if you take responsibility for learning. It's alright to ask a lot of questions. That's part of learning how to do things. Don't ask other people to change their lives around to do things for you, ask them to teach you how to do things for yourself.
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THE GUIDELINES ARE YOURSThe Guidelines begins "This is not the Gospel and it is not the Criminal Code. This is a collection of recommended standard practices for posting and downloading in absm.books."

The Guidelines is not a list of binding rules and regulations. It is the best attempt we can make at cooperating with one another. These recommendations come from you, from complaints, suggestions, and advice you have posted since this group was founded. These recommended practices will not please everyone and not everyone will follow them. But these are not laws and even if they were there is no enforcement mechanism. We have to cooperate to get along.

If you think your access or appreciation of the group is being limited or impaired by the practices or behavior of another member of the group you should politely bring it to their attention. If one of the recommendations of the Guidelines covers the issue bring that to their attention too.

If you think one of the recommendations of the Guidelines unfairly detracts from your access or appreciation of the group you should post a message to discuss it. If you think there is an issue that should be covered in the Guidelines you should post a message to discuss that too. The Guidelines are intended to be flexible, to evolve over time to reflect the changing needs of our community.
Messages concerning the Guidelines should have the header "Guidelines Discussion - your-issue-here".
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