BOOT CAMP ARCHIVE 2002

  

 

BOOT CAMP 213 (19/02/02)

 

SHAREWARE TOP TEN, part 3

 

In the third and final part of our brief introduction to shareware and freeware we are looking at multimedia utilities, programs that one way another make it easier for you to view pictures or listen to music on your PC. Shareware and freeware are programs and utilities that you download from the Internet or are given away on computer magazine cover-mount discs and are either completely free or require the user to pay a modest fee after a trial period. There’s no catch these programs are usually every bit as good as commercial products, sometimes better, but without the frills, fancy packaging, and cost overheads of advertising marketing and distribution.

 

The downloads for some of these programs are in the form of compressed ‘Zip’ files, so you will need a decompression utility like WinZip on your PC (download from www.winzip.com and also the subject of next week’s Boot Camp), which will extract the files to a folder on your PC. Most of these programs are freeware but in the case of shareware titles, if you find them useful and want to continue using them please pay the licence fee, it’s usually a great deal less than the cost of an over-the-counter program.

 

 

MYALBUM, 1.7k, Windows 95/98/SE/ME/NT, freeware

http://perso.wanadoo.fr/myalbum/

 

If you have a digital camera and unless you are very well organised you will quickly load up your PC’s hard drive with tens of megabytes of picture files, most of them with meaningless file names, unsorted and they quickly become very difficult to manage. MyAlbum can easily take care of that, it supports all common file formats and helps you to find and categorise your photographs. MyAbum has multiple thumbnail, zoom and full screen displays, to make image selection simple there’s a slideshow facility, you can easily rename files, add comments or notes. In addition there’s an advanced print facility that lets you create poster-sized pictures from multiple A4 prints.

 

 

DIGITAL CAMERA EXTENDED FILE INFORMATION VIEWER, 240k

Windows 95/98/SE/ME/NT, freeware

http://oneilsoftware.hypermart.net/Exif/Exif.html

 

Most digital still cameras record a wealth of additional information along with the image files, however this data is normally hidden from view, and consequently few digi-cam users even know it exists. It depends on the make and model of the camera but alongside a thumbnail sized image the sort of information this very useful utility can reveal about a photograph includes exposure settings, f-number, shutter speed, focal length, aperture bias, metering mode, flash, light source, the precise time and date the picture was taken, and a great deal more, that will be of interest to amateur and serious photographers alike.

 

 

WINAMP, 1.83Mb, Windows 95/98/SE/ME/NT/2K, freeware

http://www.winamp.com/

 

In spite of the many improvements made to the latest version of the Windows Media Player (Wimp 7) many still consider Nullsoft’s WinAmp to be the best way to hear music through your computer. WinAmp can handle virtually all audio file formats, it has snazzy spectrum analyser and oscilloscope displays, an advanced graphic equaliser that gives you full control over your PC’s audio system. There’s also a sophisticated file manager and a built-in mini browser that lets you download music, purchase CDs on-line, view pictures and biographies of artists and download the famous ‘skins’ and ‘plug-ins that allow you to customise the way WinAmp looks and works.

 

 

CD-DA XTRACTOR. 900k. Windows 95/98/SE/ME/NT/2K, freeware

http://xtractor.sourceforge.net/

CD-DA Xtractor is known in the trade as a ‘Ripper’. Its purpose is simply to convert the digital audio data on an audio CD – played in your computer’s CD-ROM drive -- into a file format that can be stored and played on your PC. CD-DA Xtractor converts audio CDs to the two most common file MP3 and Wav formats (as well as the new and exotic Ogg Vorbis format...) The program is fast, free and easy to use and just the job for creating your own music library from your album collection.  

 

 

MP3 CD BURNER, 1.3Mb, Windows 95/98/SE/ME/NT/2K, shareware

http://www.cdburner.com/

Downloading MP3 music files from the Internet so you can play them on your PC is all well and good but what happens if you want to listen to those tunes on your living-room hi-fi, personal CD player, or the CD player in the car? That’s no problem if your PC has a CD Writer, and this very easy to use program. MP3 CD Burner converts music files on your PC – not just MP3 files by the way – into CD-Audio data, that’s compatible with any standard audio CD player. It works in conjunction with your CD writer, optimising the files and if required, carrying out a ‘test and burn’ before finally creating your own compilation albums. The shareware version has limited functionality and will only burn up to ten discs but registration, which unlocks the full program is fast and cheap (around £13).

 

 

Next week – file zipping

 

JARGON FILTER

 

MP3

Motion Picture Experts Group audio layer 3 -- digital audio compression system commonly used to send files containing audio and music over the Internet

 

PLUG-IN

A data file that extends the capability or adds extra features to a program or application

 

SKIN

Essentially the visual appearance of a computer program – the cosmetics, colour, shape and layout of graphical elements like buttons, menus and dialogue boxes etc. A growing number of programs allow the skin to be changed -- like the cover of a mobile phone -- to reflect the users mood or personality

 

TOP TIP

Speaking of Plug-Ins (see Jargon Filter), here’s one for WinAmp, and it’s also available as a stand alone program. G-Force works a bit like the ‘Visualisations’ in Windows Media Play 7, except that the pictures and patterns it generates, in time with the music, are about a hundred times more dazzling and colourful

 

2.1Mb, Windows 95/98/SE/ME/NT/2K, freeware

http://www.55ware.com/gforce/

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