Regular expressions are powerful and terrifying in equal measure, and they're not something most of us want to decipher while we're happily navigating about on the command line. rare, however, might make you change your mind. It describes itself as a file scanner and regular expression extractor with real-time summaries, and it builds into a single binary you can place in your path. You use it like you might use grep or find, only rather than returning single results, rare will search through files for matches to your regular expression and return the results in different ways. If you use the histo argument, for example, the results are summarized into a histogram that's drawn directly into the command output. Using the analyze argument will extract numbers that tell you details such as mean, median, min, and max about the nature of your results. Similarly, tabulate turns the same results into a table. There's even a mode, using the filter argument, that will return results just like grep without the analysis.

The elephant in the room with all this power is that you will need to construct your own regular expressions for the searches you want to perform. There are plenty of resources that can help you if you've not done this before, with interactive online builders being a good recommendation. But with that out of the way, rare becomes as simple as grep, albeit with many options to help you target your data, even without the regular expression. There's an interactive mode, for example, where you can follow changes in the data and update your selected output automatically. You can decompress a file while reading, sort rows, and set your own delimiters, and each output has its own set of arguments. Just like regular expressions, rare is difficult to use but can produce unrivaled results quickly.

Project Website

rare is a very quick and efficient way of analyzing data from the command line.

Audio ripper


Even in this age of music streaming, there are very few services that can offer audio at the same quality as you find on a humble compact disc. This is because CD audio is uncompressed and mastered specifically to get the best out of the sample rate and bit depth of its medium. It doesn't suffer anti-aliasing noise on high-frequency voices or high hats, and doesn't break into noise on long fade outs. Converting the audio into an AAC, MP3, or Vorbis stream not only compromises the quality, it can break continuity between album tracks, alter the dynamic range when tracks are normalized, and even make the original album order difficult to discern. So it's still worth buying CDs, or the WAV source files, when you know the music is worth it. But when you do, it's not always easy turning that audio into something smaller and more transportable, especially from a single track rip off a CD. This is when Flacon can help.

Flacon is a GUI application that can convert a single audio file that's a concatenation of multiple tracks into separate files containing a single track each, as used by most media players. The input format can be WAV, but it can also be FLAC, APE, WavePack, and True Audio. The output format can be FLAC, WAV, AAC, OGG, or MP3. In-between taking the input and producing the output, Flacon will take the track information from a CUE file, the text-based description that most rippers generate from a CD, or provided with a download, and turn it into separate tracks, complete with filenames that match the track names. It can also use CDDB as a source of this data, though the original site is down, and scan a collection of audio automatically, which is handy if you have not ripped the file yourself. And that's all there is to it. Flacon performs a simple job that's difficult to achieve without it.

Project Website

Even if you no longer have a CD player or drive, Flacon is still useful when converting purchased WAV files into individual FLAC files.

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