Tag Archives: music

TuneTune – YouTube To MP3 Converter Browser Add-on

imageSt. Patrick’s Day is over for another year – and, thank goodness for that. Along with New Years Eve, St. Paddy’s Day, it seems to me, brings out the worst in the non-drinking drinkers who load-up well past their capacity to handle the juice of the barley. As an Irishman (of some renown   Smile ), I do celebrate St. Patrick’s Day – but, in comfort – at home – with good friends – and, a boatload of Guinness.

Traditional Irish music, along with good craic (conversation), plays an essential role in properly celebrating Ireland’s patron saint. So, this year, as in previous years, I turned to YouTube audio ripping to augment my collection of  traditional Irish music (no, not Danny Boy, When Irish Eyes Are Smiling, or the like).

Ripping music from YouTube videos is a quarrelsome question. There are those who consider anything downloaded for personal use to be legal. There are those who consider downloading anything that is copyrighted to be illegal – under any circumstances.

The YouTube audio ripping situation presents a different set of legal issues though, it seems to me. I’m not sure I see the difference between saving a YouTube video to disk (which loads of people do), for later playback – and, simply ripping the audio portion for later playback.

There are any number of ways to extract audio from YouTube videos, but many are cumbersome and time consuming. There is a solution thought, that’s neither cumbersome, or  time consuming – TuneTune, a freeware YouTube to MP3 converter. Once this browser add-on is configured, it’s one click simple – more or less.

Following installation, the add-on will append an icon to the toolbar or status bar. This icon will go from gray to color (as shown in the following screen captures), when you’re visiting a YouTube page.

Non YouTube page:

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YouTube page:

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Clicking on the icon will convert the video from YouTube, to MP3, in one click.

Additional choices are available in the options menu – as shown below.

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Here’s a quick walkthrough which will illustrate how quick and convenient this browser add-0n is.

First up – a visit to a YouTube page hosting the Neil Diamond tune – “Hello Again.”

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Since I obviously have the add-on installed, you’ll notice the TuneTune icon displayed (in the screen capture above), directly on the YouTube page. A simple click on the icon begins the conversion process – as shown below. BTW, pasting the YouTube link is not necessary.

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Following the file conversion, users have the opportunity to customize the converted file, in a limited way – as shown below.

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The following screen shot shows the converted file in the directory which I created specifically for this test.

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Elapsed time (clicking on the icon to file download completion) – under 15 seconds. That’s fast!

Supported browsers:

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TuneTune is available in multiple languages. The current language is changeable by clicking on your language of choice in the footer.

Visit the author’s site – here (TuneTune.net).

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8 Comments

Filed under Audio Software, Browser add-ons, downloads, Freeware, Software, YouTube

Free Nero Kwik – Media Management Application

Nero has just released a free media management application, Nero Kwik Media, that’s definitely worth a look. Richard Carriere, Nero’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing explains the new application this way – “Kwik Media …….. lets you do picture, music, and video organizing, managing, exchanging, putting up on social sites, viewing, and basic editing.”

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Click graphic to expand to original.

The install is a two stage process. In the initial stage, a number of Direct 3D extensions and sundry other bits and pieces, are installed – as per the following screen shot.

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Following the required reboot, the main Kwik Media application is installed. If you’re watching the install carefully, you’ll notice that an Ask Toolbar appears to be installed. The reality is – the Toolbar executable is copied to the HD. However, you will have an opportunity to reject activating the Toolbar.

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The user interface is underwhelming from a styling perspective – a perfect example of form following function.

If simple and unobtrusive is what you want – then, you’ve got it here.

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Click graphic to expand to original.

Media library user interface:

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Click graphic to expand to original.

Media Center user interface:

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Click graphic to expand to original.

Creation Center user interface:

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Click graphic to expand to original.

Burn and copy Disc Center user interface:

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Click graphic to expand to original.

Fast facts:

Move photos, videos and music anywhere – Move all the files your heart desires to and from your PC and mobile devices

Play back Blu-ray movies – View HD video projects on DVD and watch Hollywood Blu-ray movies on your laptop

Burn Audio CDs from MP3s – With just a few clicks, you can create a CD mix from your favorite playlists

Play and rip music – Play back your favorite jams from your laptop and rip Audio CDs to add to your computer

Find and organize friends by faces – Easily organize photos of friends and family by faces

Search and organize – Browse and organize photos, music and videos in one place

Play and rip music – Conveniently create projects to burn and share straight from your library

Edit photos before sharing – Make quick and easy edits of photos before sharing or adding to slideshows

Share videos on YouTube or myNero – Upload your photos, music and videos to social media websites with just a few clicks

Edit slideshows with effects – Add exciting, animated background themes to slideshows

Easy Media Syncing – Sync your music playlists as well as photo and video album contents from your PC to any mobile device with USB mass storage

Download at: Nero

Additional functionality can be purchased (although, some apps are free), from the Nero Store.

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Click graphic to expand to original.

Bottom line:

If you’re looking for a reasonably inclusive free media application, capable of handling videos, music, and photos, then Nero Kwik Media should make your short list.

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4 Comments

Filed under Audio Software, CD/DVD Tools, Connected Devices, downloads, Freeware, Graphic Software, Image Editors, Integrated Solutions, Media Players, Photo Tools, Software, Video Tools, Windows Tips and Tools

Hallmark Card Studio 2011 – Greeting Card Software On Steroids

imageThe history behind greeting cards is fascinating. Did you know for example, that greeting cards may well go back as far as the ancient Egyptians? Or, that there is evidence that in ancient Chinese culture, greeting cards were used to convey New Year’s  “best wishes”?

Stepping into the modern age, greeting cards are now exchanged on virtually every occasion, from Births to Deaths, Marriage, Divorce, Anniversaries ………….. and on special days: Birthdays, Valentines, Thanksgiving ……… and of course, Christmas. By some accounts, more than two Billion Christmas cards are exchanged annually, just within the United States!

There’s no doubt that the greeting card business is BIG BUSINESS. We’re all pretty familiar with the extensive display areas often set aside in retail outlets –  displays that can be captivating, and designed to influence our purchasing preferences.

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Personally, I find that buying a premade greeting card can be, more often than not, a daunting experience. It takes me forever to decide whether the card should be funny or serious, traditional or new age, sentimental and sappy, or …………

But, technology has come to my rescue, in a sense. Using the right computer software, I’ve found that I can construct my own greeting cards that are just as attractive as a premade store-bought card. And better yet, my self made cards seem to be more meaningful to those on my mailing list.

Recently, I tested the new Hallmark Card Studio 2011 application, which now includes – not only the tools to construct spectacular greeting cards, but integration with YouTube, Facebook, and other social networks; exclusive Hallmark fonts; and graphics for designing custom calendars, photo cards, note cards, matching stationery and envelope sets, as well as invitations and scrapbooks.

As a bonus, Hallmark Card Studio 2011 provides the user with an Event Planner which includes an address book and mailing list. Event Planner takes the worry out of trying to remember birthdays, anniversaries, and other important events.

Fast facts:

New! User Interface – Easier than ever before with popular design tools now at your fingertips.

New! Integration with Facebook and other social networks.

Enhanced! Hallmark Graphics Collection with even more images.

Photo Cards, Calendars, 3D Cards & 3D Projects.

Hallmark Note Writing Guide.

Easy to Use! A tutorial gets you started fast.

6,700+ Hallmark Greeting Cards and customizable projects.

1,000+ Spectacular Graphics to complement your designs.

Search projects easily by design theme or occasion.

Event Planner can help you keep track of your schedule and contact information (including birthdays and anniversaries) for all the special people in your life.

Hallmark sentiment library with 5,400+ sentiments.

Installation, from the DVD, is the usual click – click – click, and you’re done – straightforward and simple.

The user interface has been designed, it seems to me, to appeal to the hobbyist and is a bit retro.

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But, once past the opening screen, the interface reverts to a more familiar classical layout – as illustrated in the following screen capture.

The following screen shots represent a walkthrough in choosing, and then emailing a personalized Christmas card. Clicking on any graphic will expand it to it’s original size. Since these shots were captured on a 22 inch screen, they are very large.

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I’ve chosen a rather sentimental card – but aren’t all technologists sentimental?  You’ll notice that there are an abundance of tools and selections available so that you can customize to your hearts content.

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Rather than having to stay with an old familiar message, you’re sure to find just what you’re looking for with the extensive “greetings” menu.

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Adding sounds, and music to your card is a snap, and adds that “just so” finish.

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Emailing your creation, or sharing it on Facebook and YouTube, couldn’t be easier. Simply select, and go for it!

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I’ve been using this type of application for years, but Hallmark Card Studio 2011 is a major step up from what I’m use to. The choices and customization possibilities seem endless – very impressive.

Despite the fact that I’ve been using this application for only a few days, and I have yet to really dig below the surface, I have no hesitation in recommending Hallmark Card Studio 2011 to those who enjoy that special feeling that comes from construction their own greeting cards.

The application is available at $29.99 at the the publishers website here.

System Requirements: Windows XP, Vista, Win 7.

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10 Comments

Filed under Arts and Crafts, Digital Media, Email, Interconnectivity, Productivity Software, Software, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP, YouTube

LimeWire Is Dead – Long Live FrostWire!

If you visit the official LimeWire website, you will, no doubt, be surprised to see the following message –  “This is an official notice that LimeWire is under a court-ordered injunction to stop distributing and supporting its file-sharing software. Downloading or sharing copyrighted content without authorization is illegal.”

The Recording Industry Association of America which represents the recording industry distributors in the United States, has struck once again in its aggressive battle to combat what it defines as copyright infringement. While I’m not a supporter of copyright infringement, I do consider RIIA’s tactics not far removed from those that were once employed by the Spanish Inquisition. Heavy handed – to say the least.

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Unfortunately, if you were a LimeWire user you’ve noticed that searching, downloading, uploading, file sharing and so on, are no longer available. But, don’t despair – there are other solutions. Maybe now is the time to take a close look at a LimeWire alternative – FrostWire.

FrostWire (newest version: 4.21), released September 29, 2010, is a free, open source Peer to Peer application which incorporates all of the now dead LimeWire’s functionality, as well as a number of the features of the old LimeWire Pro – including multi-threading downloads, and Turbo-Charged connections.

To insure broad appeal, FrostWire is a multi platform program running on Windows 7, Vista, XP, 2000, NT, Mac OS X 10.4 or later, Linux, and some flavors of Unix.

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Fast facts:

Open-source

Firewall-to-firewall transfers

Built-in community chat

Connects to more sources

Creative commons license support

Broadband network connection

Junk result filters

Turbo-Charged download speeds

iTunes integration

Gnutella support

BitTorrent support

Proxy Support

If P2P file sharing is one of your interests, then you’ll find that this program, with its highly intuitive interface, should meet all of your needs. With almost 30 Million downloads on CNET alone, calling this application “very popular” is a bit of an understatement.

System requirements: Windows 7, Windows 2000, Windows Vista, Windows NT, Windows XP, Mac OS X 10.5 or later, Linux, Unix such as Solaris.

Additional requirements: Java Runtime Environment 1.6

Download at: FrostWire.com

Note: Consider the trade-offs, and the very real risks involved in Peer to Peer file sharing.

Privacy: When you are connected to file-sharing programs, you may unintentionally allow others to copy confidential files you did not intend to share. So be sure to setup the file-sharing software very carefully.

If you don’t check the proper settings when you install the software, you could allow access not just to the files you intend to share, but also to other information on your hard drive, such as your tax returns, email messages, medical records, photos, and other personal and financial documents.

It’s extremely important to be aware of the files that you place in, or download to, your shared folder. Don’t put information in your shared folder that you don’t want to share with others. Your shared folder is the folder that is shared automatically with others on peer to peer file sharing networks.

Copyright Issues: You may knowingly, or otherwise, download material that is protected by copyright laws and find yourself caught up in legal issues. Copyright infringement can result in significant monetary damages, fines, and even criminal penalties.

Some statistics suggest as many as 70% of young people between the ages of 9 – 14, regularly download copyrighted digital music. If you are a parent, you bear the ultimate responsibility for this illegal activity.

Adult Content: Again, if you are a parent you may not be aware that their children have downloaded file-sharing software on the family computer, (Susan Naulls), and that they may have exchanged games, videos, music, pornography, or other material that may be unsuitable for them. It’s not unusual for other peoples’ files to be mislabeled and you or your children can unintentionally download these files.

Spyware: There’s a good chance that the file-sharing program you’re using has installed other software known as spyware to your computer’s operating system. Spyware monitors a user’s browsing habits and then sends that data to third parties. Frequently the user gets ads based on the information that the spyware has collected and forwarded to these third parties.

I can assure you that spyware can be difficult to detect and remove. Before you use any file-sharing program, you should buy, or download free software, that can help prevent the downloading or installation of spyware, or help to detect it on your hard drive if it has been installed.

Viruses: Use and update your anti-virus software regularly. Files you download could be mislabeled, hiding a virus or other unwanted content. Use anti-virus software to protect your computer from viruses you might pick up from other users through the file-sharing program.

Generally, your virus filter should prevent your computer from receiving possibly destructive files. While downloading, you should avoid files with extensions such as .exe, .scr, .lnk, .bat, .vbs, .dll, .bin, and .cmd.

Default Closing Behavior: It is critical that you close your connection after you have finished using the software. In some instances, closing the file-sharing program window does not actually close your connection to the network. That allows file-sharing to continue and will increase your security risk. Be sure to turn off this feature in the programs “preferences” setting.

What’s more, some file-sharing programs automatically run every time you turn on your computer. As a preventive measure, you should adjust the file-sharing program’s controls to prevent the file-sharing program from automatically starting.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

6 Comments

Filed under downloads, Freeware, FrostWire, Interconnectivity, Open Source, Peer to Peer, Software, Ubuntu, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

CoolPreviews – You Ruined My Day!

OK, maybe “you ruined my day”, is an exaggeration, but…..

Let me start by saying I love CoolPreviews – a Picture-in-a-Picture free Browser add-on, that lets me preview links and rich media content, without clicking the link, or leaving my current page.

I use this tool every day to confirm that the links in my “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News” column are live. The screen capture below illustrates how this works.

CoolPreviews bug

I just cursored over the link, in this case ““CNET Free Security Starter Kit: Refined for 2010”, and CoolPreviews opened a preview window of the referenced link. Pretty cool, no?

But then there was yesterday. CoolPreviews, you definitely tried my patience.

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Early in the morning on opening my primary Browser, Firefox, I was greeted by loud PacMan like music that I could not shut down. First thought – a malware infection. Drat – the first one in two years; maybe even longer.

Since mornings are a huge rush time for me, I simply closed Firefox and opened Chrome. Hmm, no PacMan music. So, probably not a system wide infection, but a possible Firefox infection.

After finishing what work I could using Chrome, I turned to the problem with Firefox. I won’t go through the whole process, but it went something like this:

Booted to Avira Rescue Disk – no infections found.

Ran on board Microsoft Security Essentials, Malwarebytes Free Edition (secondary scanner), and SuperAntiSpyWare Free Edition (secondary scanner). No joy.

Uninstalled Firefox using Revo Uninstaller, since it was important to remove all Registry entries.

Reinstalled Firefox and launched – hey, no PacMan music.

Ran MozBackup to restore my add-ons, bookmarks, mail, contacts, history, extensions, passwords, cache etc.

Relaunched Firefox – oh no, PacMan Music. But some headway – now I know that the likely cause is a compromised Firefox add-on.

Disabled all add-ons, and then re-enabled one at a time, until CoolPreviews  proved to be the guilty party.

Now, this whole exercise didn’t take all that long – the biggest time waster was in running deep scanning mode with my AVs. Diagnosing the problem after this part of the process, was a no-brainer.

Later in the day, CoolIris, the CoolPreview developer, finally posted on this problem. Here’s what  they had to say:

Google launched a homepage today which features an interactive PacMan game, with music, sirens, etc. If CoolPreviews is enabled, the music plays even if you don’t have Google opened in your browser tab. We apologize for this inconvenience.

But, that’s hardly what I call an explanation. The real cause of this  “bug” was pre-fetching. In this case, CoolPreviews pre-fetching the Google Home page. So, here’s a suggestion for CoolPreviews – STOP pre-fetching.

Pre-fetching might appear to be sexy but it is not universally admired. Some of the issues include, unwanted cookies, increased bandwidth usage, and  possible exploitation by unwanted sites.

In any event, this “bug” issue won’t dissuade me from using CoolPreviews. In the long run, it’s just too valuable in my day to day computing.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

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Filed under Browser add-ons, Browsers, downloads, Free Anti-malware Software, Freeware, Interconnectivity, Manual Malware Removal, Software, Uninstall Tools, Windows Tips and Tools

Free FrostWire P2P – Not Just LimeWire Pro in Disguise

imageFrostWire (newest version: 4.18.5), released December 11, 2009, is a free, open source Peer to Peer application.

To insure broad appeal, FrostWire is a multi platform program running on Windows 7, Vista, XP, 2000, NT, Mac OS X 10.4 or later, Linux, and some flavors of Unix.

FrostWire includes all of the free LimeWire version’s functionality as well as a number of the features of LimeWire Pro – including multi-threading downloads, and Turbo-Charged connections. An added benefit in using FrostWire; you won’t have to put up with LimeWire’s nag screen or ads.

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Fast facts:

· Open-source

· Firewall-to-firewall transfers

· Built-in community chat

· Connects to more sources

· Creative commons license support

· Broadband network connection

· Junk result filters

· Turbo-Charged download speeds

· iTunes integration

· Gnutella support

· BitTorrent support

· Proxy Support

If P2P file sharing is one of your interests, then you’ll find that this program, with its highly intuitive interface, should meet all of your needs.

With over 26 Million downloads on CNET alone (200,000 in the past week), calling this application “very popular” is a bit of an understatement.

System requirements: Windows Me/2000/XP/Vista/7

Additional requirements: Java Runtime Environment 1.6

Download at: Download.com

If P2P file sharing is one of your interests then you should consider the trade-offs and the very real risks involved in Peer to Peer file sharing.

Privacy: When you are connected to file-sharing programs, you may unintentionally allow others to copy confidential files you did not intend to share. So be sure to setup the file-sharing software very carefully.

If you don’t check the proper settings when you install the software, you could allow access not just to the files you intend to share, but also to other information on your hard drive, such as your tax returns, email messages, medical records, photos, and other personal and financial documents.

It’s extremely important to be aware of the files that you place in, or download to, your shared folder. Don’t put information in your shared folder that you don’t want to share with others. Your shared folder is the folder that is shared automatically with others on peer to peer file sharing networks.

Copyright Issues: You may knowingly, or otherwise, download material that is protected by copyright laws and find yourself caught up in legal issues. Copyright infringement can result in significant monetary damages, fines, and even criminal penalties.

Some statistics suggest as many as 70% of young people between the ages of 9 – 14, regularly download copyrighted digital music. If you are a parent, you bear the ultimate responsibility for this illegal activity.

Adult Content: Again, if you are a parent you may not be aware that their children have downloaded file-sharing software on the family computer, and that they may have exchanged games, videos, music, pornography, or other material that may be unsuitable for them. It’s not unusual for other peoples’ files to be mislabeled and you or your children can unintentionally download these files.

Spyware: There’s a good chance that the file-sharing program you’re using has installed other software known as spyware to your computer’s operating system. Spyware monitors a user’s browsing habits and then sends that data to third parties. Frequently the user gets ads based on the information that the spyware has collected and forwarded to these third parties.

I can assure you that spyware can be difficult to detect and remove. Before you use any file-sharing program, you should buy, or download free software, that can help prevent the downloading or installation of spyware, or help to detect it on your hard drive if it has been installed.

Viruses: Use and update your anti-virus software regularly. Files you download could be mislabeled, hiding a virus or other unwanted content. Use anti-virus software to protect your computer from viruses you might pick up from other users through the file-sharing program.

Generally, your virus filter should prevent your computer from receiving possibly destructive files. While downloading, you should avoid files with extensions such as .exe, .scr, .lnk, .bat, .vbs, .dll, .bin, and .cmd.

Default Closing Behavior: It is critical that you close your connection after you have finished using the software. In some instances, closing the file-sharing program window does not actually close your connection to the network. That allows file-sharing to continue and will increase your security risk. Be sure to turn off this feature in the programs “preferences” setting.

What’s more, some file-sharing programs automatically run every time you turn on your computer. As a preventive measure, you should adjust the file-sharing program’s controls to prevent the file-sharing program from automatically starting.

If you enjoyed this article, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

9 Comments

Filed under Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Freeware, Interconnectivity, Networking, Peer to Peer, Software, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

FreeRip – Free Multi-format Audio-track Ripper

If you’re an audiophile, or a wannabe audiophile, and you love to rip CD’s,  then guest writer Glenn Taggart has some great advice for you.

I have a vast collection of music on CD. I remember buying my first CD in about 1989. Twenty years later, I have hundreds of CD’s.

For the past couple of years, I have been backing up my CD music collection to FLAC lossless audio, which basically copies the music without any discernible loss in quality.

FreeRip is a great CD file ripper that will copy a CD in not only FLAC, but OGG, Wave, WMA, and of course Mp3.

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Like I said, I prefer to rip all of my music to FLAC because most of my listening is on my computer and home stereo systems, both of which support the FLAC audio format.

If you prefer to listen to your music mostly on, say, an IPOD, you will need your music files in the Mp3 format. I also listen to music on my IPOD and have a mirror of my FLAC files in Mp3.

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FreeRip will not only rip music files from a CD but will also convert the files back and forth, to and from, the various audio formats I mentioned above.

Although I prefer another program for tag editing, FreeRip also has a built in tag editor.

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FreeRip is available as a FREE download. The user interface is simple and intuitive which means you can be ripping your CD’s in no time.

Version 3.3 released December 15, 2009.

System requirements: Windows 95/98/Me/2000/XP/2003/Vista/Server 2008/7/NT

Download at: Download.com

Guest Writer: This is a guest post by Glenn Taggart of The Crazy World of G, who brings a background as a high level super user, to the Blogging world.

Drop by Glenn’s freeware page.

If you enjoyed this article, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

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Filed under Audio Applications, Audio Software, CD/DVD Tools, Digital Media, downloads, Freeware, Guest Writers, Software, Windows Tips and Tools