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Pick your price to convert vinyl to digital files

November 27, 2005|By JAMES COATES

Q. I am looking to rip my vinyl LPs into digital music files and was wondering if you could recommend software to do this job. I have a turntable that has an internal amplifier and will connect directly to my PC.

- Mike Getz,

Warsaw, Ind.

A. Once one has acquired a turntable with an internal amplifier and a computer with a line-in soundcard, there are two approaches to software. You can acquire a shareware program from small-time operations over the Web or buy one of the programs from established companies.

I'll give you my choices in each category, Mr. G.

I've never seen audio-recording shareware that beats the product from the Netherlands-based Polderbits Software (www.polderbits.com). Called Sound Recorder and Editor, the software works with admirable simplicity. It costs about $33.50. A bit of advice: You can avoid a lot of invasive ads by looking for the option on the download page to use the Netherlands site rather than one nearby your home state.

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The software does exactly what you describe and then some. It not only will record anything that is plugged into the computer's line-in port, but it also will automatically snip files into individual tracks so you can name each song.

I prefer a more costly solution because I am a heavy user of DVD/CD recording packages like Nero 7 Ultra and Roxio/Sonic Solutions Easy Media Creator, both around $80. These suites of media software include splendid line-in recording, along with a huge number of other tools, ranging from copying a CD to making a fairly serious movie. I have tried both with good results. Check them out at www.nero.com and www.roxio.com.

You'll need to wade through dozens of features to find the sound-recording and editing software, but it certainly delivers what you want. And both offer serious sound-editing software to remove scratch and dust sounds and other glitches.

Q. I have a new Dell laptop and the following problems: Photos from my Verizon cell phone sent via the Internet will not open. Sent to my company's computer they will, but mine will not.

I get the message but no attachment. Also, maybe related, I get photos e-mailed from another computer that are much too large to view at one time, and I cannot make smaller. Any advice?

-Mike Magera,

verizon.net

A. Welcome to the growing ranks of folks who get hit with this double whammy.

First, the e-mail issue.

Your Microsoft Outlook Express software includes a setting to stop all attachments from downloading, a way of keeping people from getting sucker punched by viruses and worms concealed in files that attack when opened.

Keep that in mind before clicking on Tools and Options in the display at the top of Outlook Express. In the tabbed menu box that appears, go to the one marked Security and remove the check mark beside the box that commands the software to stop downloads of attachments. When you do this, remember not to open any files that come in as attachments unless you know the source, and that they are safe.

Now to the question of oversized photos, which usually come in when somebody uses a scanner to capture an image. Scanners work at resolutions much higher than the 72 pixels per inch that a computer screen can display.

It's easy to shrink these attachments, but it does require opening them in software like the Paint program in Windows. That can be found by clicking on Start and Accessories and then Paint.

With Paint open, click on File and then Open. This brings up a browser box that you can use to find the image file. With the file open in Paint, you likely will see only a fraction of the image before the bottom of the screen cuts it off.

So click on the item called Image on the toolbar at the top and pick the Stretch/Skew command. Change the setting to 50 percent from 100 percent in the boxes for height and width. If you can see the whole image, great; if not, make the numbers smaller.

When finished, click on File and Save As and change the name so that the computer-friendly file won't overwrite the high-resolution version, which you should use for making prints.

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