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Do you realize that robot can hum like Pink Floyd?
October 25, 2009 12:00 PM   Subscribe

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy was (originally) a radio series, broadcast on BBC Radio during March and April 1978. It was a success. Since then it has spawned a 5-book trilogy, additional radio broadcasts, a television adaptation, a computer game, a comic book series, a movie, and at least one minor holiday. However, subsequent releases of the original radio series were edited (in part for copyright reasons), and the original broadcasts have been unavailable, until now. A software engineer and H2G2 fan has now tracked down the recordings of the original broadcasts, analyzed the differences between them and the official CD releases, and provided patches and instructions to update the CD release to match the original broadcast. Not only that, but he has written software to automate the process.
posted by fogovonslack (30 comments total) 41 users marked this as a favorite

 
Okay, this sounds like exactly the kind of pet project that Douglas Adams HIMSELF would have actually done, right down to writing software to automate things.

this tickles me.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:40 PM on October 25, 2009 [5 favorites]


Finally, Paul Neil Milne Johnstone will have the immortality he deserves.
posted by infinitewindow at 12:47 PM on October 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


Honestly, the only bit I really am glad got recovered was the Marving Humming bit. The rest of the changes seem kinda minor.

I actually prefer the re-recorded mouse voices, too.
posted by SansPoint at 1:03 PM on October 25, 2009


I have an old cassette release that I could swear has the Pink Floyd bit in it, but maybe I'm just remembering the script book. I'll have to dig it out. Have to dig out a cassette player too.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 1:15 PM on October 25, 2009


Do any of these links have the copyright issues?

My brother-in-law, says, after hearing about the death of Douglas Adams, "That guy spoke at work. Who knew he was an author too."
posted by cjorgensen at 1:18 PM on October 25, 2009


I know that the NPR broadcast of H2G2 had the Pink Floyd bit. It never occurred to me that it might not be in the other versions -- I lived with my off-the-air cassette recordings for years and years. But now that the differences between what I grew up with and what I've heard recently have been pointed out, I'm a bit shocked to realize that Marvin humming hasn't been part of the listening experience.

How fascinating. It's like, a plate of beans, but really really interesting beans.
posted by hippybear at 1:23 PM on October 25, 2009


Never heard the CD releases. My stepfather taped them off of NPR back in the day, and that's what I always listened to. This is cool, though.
posted by adamdschneider at 1:25 PM on October 25, 2009


It's over-the-top projects like this that make me love geekdom.
posted by ardgedee at 2:20 PM on October 25, 2009


I grew up listening to HHGTTG that my dad taped off Radio 4, that grew gradually fuzzier and wurblier as time drew on - so of course we bought the CDs when they came out. I never noticed that there was anything missing from the CDs (and looking at this, there isn't a huge amount changed), but when I listened to the Magrathea missing scene it was completely familiar - still lurking in my memory from those wurbly cassettes.

And EmpressCallipygos - gosh yes this is a DNA sort of project. Needs a bit more Mac love for a full DNA feel though.
posted by Coobeastie at 2:28 PM on October 25, 2009


I remember asking about the missing material on the Hitchhikers mailing list back in 1994 or so and being pretty amazed when Douglas himself replied to me about it. He seemed to be quite amused by it considering he was good friends with Pink Floyd. Alas the email is probably on a unreadable floppy somewhere at the bottom of a locked filing cabinet.
posted by markdj at 2:38 PM on October 25, 2009


Oh hells YES! Thanks for this post.
posted by dabitch at 3:18 PM on October 25, 2009


Don't panic.
posted by Skeptic at 3:58 PM on October 25, 2009


LOVE THIS. Thank you for posting it!!
posted by zarq at 4:39 PM on October 25, 2009


Needs a bit more Mac love for a full DNA feel though.

Ask and ye shall receive....

* Frank the Vandal
* Under-The-Desktop Publishing
* The Little Computer That Could
* Dongly Things

....and not mac-related, but this is one of my favorites:
* Riding the Rays

:)
posted by zarq at 4:45 PM on October 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


I introduced my dad to HHGTG and he bought the audiobook versions of HHGTG and Restaurant at the end of the universe (unabridged, but from the books so not the original, I know), narrated by Stephen Moore, who was the voice of Marvin in the original radio series. It was the only thing that would keep us kids quiet on the interminable family holidays driving from London to the South of France.

Downloaded the audiobook of Eoin Colfer's "And Another Thing", voiced by Simon Jones (the original Arthur Dent) on Friday in the hope of reliving those heady childhood days and was initially delighted, then bored and finally horrified - I still haven't been able to finish it.

I suppose it was inevitable that I would be disappointed, but the endless and repetetive exposition and the unnecessary injection of 'zany guide asides' really got my goat. Colfer has simply over-egged the pudding and doesn't seem to get that Adams' flights of fancy were nearly always some comment on the human condition. Colfer just seems to think that if he makes up enough 'alieny' sounding names and ideas (referencing wherever possible, the existing canon) that he's done his job.

The characters are now simple 2 dimensional cut-outs and the super-saccharine, 'emotional' plot-line just made me want to barf (that and some of Simon Jones' voices, Wowbagger and Random especially).
posted by JustAsItSounds at 5:17 PM on October 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Huh, while I remember the jarre and pink floyd, I don't remember the rock and roll interlude. I'm not sure _which_ bit of canon I grew up with, as it was an nth generation audio cassette that just fascinated my young mind. But the shortened version really is pretty jarring to me. I must have heard it on the CDs, and wondered where all that conversation went.

On the other hand, I don't remember the original mice at all. I wonder how far along my tape copy got, it might not have been that far along.
posted by Kyol at 6:27 PM on October 25, 2009


EmpressCallipygos, you totally nailed it. Well said indeed!
posted by perilous at 7:12 PM on October 25, 2009



There's at least one bean yet unaccounted for on this plate.

In the unlikely event that you're interested AND don't already know what happens in the cave on Brontitol in Fit #10:

*** HERE THERE BE SPOILERS***

In Fit #10, about four minutes in, Arthur falls out of the cup. A few minutes later, Ford and Zaphod fall out of the cup. In some versions there's a bit of conversation between Ford and Zaphod between these two events that is edited out of others. No idea why. This sort of tinkering for no obvious reason used to bug me, and I happened to like the gag they deleted.

Z Did you hear the computer calling after we left?
F No.
Z Ah, I probably imagined it.
F No, Arthur thought he heard it as well.
Z Yeah? Then I MUST have imagined it.
A [In the distance, falling out of the cup] Ahh-aaaaaah!!
F Strange cave, this, isn't it?

-------- begin deleted material ----------

Z Hey, it's really weird.
F Did you hear a noise just then?
Z A noise?
F Yeah. A sort of "Ahh-aaaaaah!!" noise.
Z No.
F Oh. [calling] Arthur?
Z He doesn't seem to be about.
F Oh well. I just wondered if he heard it.
Z [chuckle] Doesn't sound like he did.
F [chuckle] No.

-------- end deleted material ----------

Z [Giggling manically] Hey, this rock. . .
F Marble.
Z Marble, yeah.
F Ice-covered marble.
Z Yeah, it-it-it's slippery as, uh . . . what's the slipperiest thing you can think of?
F At this moment? This marble.
Z Right! This marble is a slippery as this marble.

*** BEAN COUNT COMPLETE -- WE HAVE NORMALITY ***
posted by Herodios at 9:05 PM on October 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


JustAsItSounds: "Downloaded the audiobook of Eoin Colfer's "And Another Thing", voiced by Simon Jones (the original Arthur Dent) on Friday in the hope of reliving those heady childhood days and was initially delighted, then bored and finally horrified - I still haven't been able to finish it.

I suppose it was inevitable that I would be disappointed, but the endless and repetetive exposition and the unnecessary injection of 'zany guide asides' really got my goat.
"

The endless Guide asides do get very wearing but it's worth sticking with. The feral personal trainers about three quarters of the way through are as good as anything in the Hitchhiker's canon and the ending was pretty satisfying, definitely better than the ending to Mostly Harmless.
posted by minifigs at 9:10 PM on October 25, 2009


Interesting about the Pink Floyd. When I was a freshman in college in 1994, I wrote an e-mail to Douglas Adams asking why he was thanked in the liner notes to Floyd's "The Division Bell." He wrote back that he had suggested the name.
posted by johngoren at 9:22 PM on October 25, 2009


Today while sprinting through O'Hare, I passed a book shop with this book in it. I was sufficiently confused to slow down.

What? Somebody let someone else write another Hitchhiker's book? Huh? (is anyone else confused by this?) I wonder what's in it..
posted by nat at 10:50 PM on October 25, 2009


Nat, yes. I thought this thread was going to be about Eoin Colfer's sequel. It's been getting great reviews in the UK press. I'm actually interested in reading it now, and like others I feared the worst (i.e. the average and workmanlike).
posted by rory at 2:27 AM on October 26, 2009


I was surprised the post didn't mention the new sequel, too. I have it sitting on my desk, though I haven't gotten around to reading it yet. I can attest that Colfer is a decent writer with a lot of imagination, as I was really into his Artemis Fowl series when it debuted in 2001 (I was twelve at the time). It was a solid mix of fantasy, action, humor, and believable science, so I'm hoping he transfers well to the sci-fi (and non-YA) genre.
posted by Rhaomi at 2:39 AM on October 26, 2009


When I was a freshman in college in 1994, I wrote an e-mail to Douglas Adams asking why he was thanked in the liner notes to Floyd's "The Division Bell." He wrote back that he had suggested the name.

Yup -- Adams was friends with some of the members of Pink Floyd, and they even let him play with them once. My favorite part of that "Division Bell" story, though, is that he told them that why, yes, he would name their album -- provided they first made a donation to the Save The Rhino foundation. It was only after they forked over the 25,000 pounds that he said "The Division Bell" is what he'd thought of.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:43 AM on October 26, 2009


fogovonslack0 "A software engineer and H2G2 fan has now tracked down the recordings of the original broadcasts, analyzed the differences between them and the official CD releases, and provided patches and instructions to update the CD release to match the original broadcast."

I've been eagerly awaiting an attempt to legally circumvent copyright enforcement against torrents by distributing diffs. The copyright holder or their agent is put in the position of claiming what is effectively line noise, especially if a truly random seed file is chosen, is a derivative work. A seed file which could change with every release or be chosen for it's publicity value. Something like the Gutenberg Bible say.
posted by Mitheral at 10:22 AM on October 26, 2009


I've been eagerly awaiting an attempt to legally circumvent copyright enforcement against torrents by distributing diffs. The copyright holder or their agent is put in the position of claiming what is effectively line noise, especially if a truly random seed file is chosen, is a derivative work.

The law hates people who try to be clever, and there is in fact a ready-made solution to your scheme, no silly derivative works nonsense necessary. The end product of your scheme is undeniably the copyrighted work, and so the end user is engaged in direct infringement. By publishing the diffs and instructions, you are engaging in contributory infringement. The case is easily proven because there is no substantial non-infringing use for the diffs and instructions. Sorry to rain on your parade.

There's lots of case law on this kind of thing, by the way, particularly in the analogous world of contributory patent infringement.
posted by jedicus at 9:39 PM on October 26, 2009


I realize it would be doomed to failure, it would just be fun to watch.

However you don't distribute instructions on how to add the seed file to the bible to get a movie. You do it the other way around providing instructions on creating the Gutenberg bible from a movie via the diff. Creating the Gutenberg Bible is the non infringing use.
posted by Mitheral at 7:22 AM on October 27, 2009


I think the trick is to have a lot of noise files. Distribute the diffs openly (stego them, even) and your friends will know which file to diff them off of.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:29 AM on October 27, 2009


> Needs a bit more Mac love for a full DNA feel though.
Worked fine on my Mac, after changing the call to mpg123 to lame --decode. Man, but Python's syntax is the new Fortran ...
posted by scruss at 7:25 PM on October 27, 2009


> Nat, yes. I thought this thread was going to be about Eoin Colfer's sequel.

B3ta interviews Eoin Colfer in their own inimitable (read: the opposite of reverential) style. And apparently there was a Hitchhikers convention in London earlier this month to mark the series' 30th anniversary.
posted by ardgedee at 7:46 PM on October 27, 2009


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