Sunday, December 23, 2007

Give Music Over The Holidays!

I'm gonna put you to work: maybe you've been sitting there like a lump on a log, wondering why no more than 30 people a day show up to read your blog (I see posts like that all the time) and you're getting frustrated. "Why did I even start a blog?" Please, don't obsess over it! People start blogs for different reasons and whatever yours is, here's a simple way to handle everything: write. One day you might be on fire, writing about this and that and the other. Open up notepad or wordpad and write/save your stories. Pick the most time-sensitive topic and post that article to your blog immediately. Come back later or tomorrow and look at the others. Meantime you may hear something on the news or see something on another blog that you've nailed in your article. That's the time to go back, add in links to the new material, and post. If you post once a day, your blog will be strong and healthy. You may not have time to WRITE everyday, so that's when those "banked" articles come in handy. think of those 30 readers or blogders as your personal disciples. People who liked you or something you wrote about so much they come back almost everyday for a visit.

Oh yeah, back to the idea of putting YOU to work... it's almost Christmastime, and nothing is better than giving a friend or relative the Gift of Music, also an incentive to get people to BUY music. Case in point: Lordi. Just over a year ago, I burned a video CD of the band's performance of "Blood Red Sandman" and gave it to a friend. He went nuts and ordered every Lordi product he could Google.


I'm giving you the names of the tools you'll need. It's up to you to FIND them (I did) and use them! Let's take VIDEO first. You see a great song on YouTUBE, either something brand new or a clip that evokes memories from the past. Here's what you need to save that:
  • Ordinary PC with Win9x, ME or better
  • CD Burner (DVD burner is not needed!)
  • Internet Connection (Duh!) - Yes, DIAL-UP is okay!!!
  • Check out - poke around and get familiar, because when you find a video you want to keep, you go through this site to park it on your computer!
You'll need to gather a few other FREE programs:
  • Riva FLV player - so you can verify you have a complete download
  • SUPER - to convert .flv files to .mpeg
  • VCDGear - to assemble one or more videos and format them to be burned on a CD
  • BurnAtOnce - or similar CD burner software - to do the actual burning.

Remember, you don't need a DVD burner. Your finished CD (ordinary blank CD's may be used) will not only play on your DVD player, but you can play it back on your PC using a free VCD player like LALIM. Make a copy or two to give to your friend(s).


Boy oh boy, here's a sweet little trick I learned. One day I went searching for a new CD by a new artist. I found one of those sites where you could LISTEN to entire songs online, and they let you download 2 or 3. I DL'd the songs, all the while wishing I had a cassette deck attached to the PC to record the others.


If you have speakers or an earphone jack, you can go to Radio Shack or a similar store and get a wire with the plugs you need to patch your PC into a cassette deck! Some PC's come with audio out jacks on the back, so check what your model has. If you're afraid of buying the wrong accessories, look through your stuff and find jacks or plugs that perfectly fit those on your PC and deck, then take those items with you when you shop for a cord. I once taped an entire session off WFUV's archives that featured a performance by Norah Jones. I used a DIAL-UP connection, with a headphone-jack plug from my speakers into an RCA-type plug on my cassette deck. It sounds clean, crisp and clear!

Now back to those songs I was wishing I could copy. Totally by accident, I "lost" a file while moving it from one directory to another using Windows Explorer in ME. As I looked and looked I eventually got to Internet Explorer's Internet Temp files, I saw a dozen or so files bearing the Windows Media Player icon. I clicked a few to check file size. All but three were VERY small... 950k or thereabouts. I clicked on one of the three: it was one of the songs I downloaded! I clicked on one of the smaller ones: it turned out to be a COMPLETE song, one of the ones I could only listen to online! I moved all 12 files into a folder in "My Music." Manna!

I needed a way to convert the files to MP3's. I found a free software called "JODIX." VOILA! I had the contents of the entire CD now, which I had converted and burned onto a CD. Now, to do this properly, before you go looking for music online, clean out your internet Temp files completely, using your browser tools or a free standalone program like EasyClean. It'll make it easy to find the files after you've listened. Now my other PC, running Win98SE, was being used by someone who had just listened to about 14 songs on a variety of music sites. I checked the IE temp files: they were all there, all in that 750-950k size range. Some had a .WMA file extension. Others did not. If you know how to change file extensions (see your Windows help file for information on how to reveal and change media file extensions) you merely change the .ASX or whatever to .WMA, click on the file to make sure it plays okay, then run it through JODIX and you have your ready-to-burn mp3s!

Now, using your own CD burner software program, you can make a CD sampler of songs you like for your friends, who, in turn, will find songs on the disc THEY like, and they'll search for and purchase that music! It's really a win-win-win situation for you-your friends-the artists & labels.

Ever since cassettes came on the market back in the late 60s - early 70s, record companies have worried about people making copies. If an artist or group puts out a great recording, people will still buy that original product if it's worth it's salt! Despite what you may have been told otherwise, that held true in 1976 and it still holds true in 2006! I personally have purchased about a dozen music CD's this year: all except two were by artists I'd encountered on the Net through online downloading, streaming and places like YouTUBE!

There's a lot of material here, and a lot for you to do. You may even have to improvise or find other programs that do the same things. It's interesting, frustrating, but you'll LEARN a lot more about your computer and how things operate, and when you crank out that first videoCD or music CD, you'll be proud of yourself! You may even decide to blog about it!

In case you don't stop back by here for awhile, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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1 comment:

  1. Dear Dave,

    I have the best wishes for you now and forever.

    Merry Christmas and happy new year!


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