Friday, October 28, 2005

Download and share music, movies and software

Today a friend of mine was asking me to advise him on the best way to download music. I'm not sure exactly why he didn't just google it but that doesn't matter really, for some people asking friends seems easier than googling, so whatever -- it's sweet. This post is for those of you who would rather ask a friend than ask your computer -- some refer to you as non-tech savvy individuals whilst others, myself included, would just rather not label you.

Nowadays, Kazaa will cost you money but everybody remembers a time (not so long ago) when it was the hottest free peer to peer network to download heaps of free music and movies. Now Shareaza is the quick and easy way to search for and download mp3s, movies, pictures and software. Click on the link above, download, install and start downloading mp3s and movies -- it's that simple.

BitTorrent is a fairly recent file sharing network craze with a new twist. It works on a network scheme of cooperative distribution. As soon as somebody begins to download the file that you are sharing, they too are sharing that file -- or at least the first bits that they've already downloaded. Here it becomes easier to find whole albums at once like Tubular bells I, II and III. Thus allowing you to avoid conversations like the following:

  • "What the heck was that third track on Tubular bells II called again? Hell I don't know why don't you just bittorrent it and download the whole album?"
If you want to share your own unique library of music files with others you'll want to rip your CDs. FreeRip is a reliable and free software program for which I can find no fault. Winamp and Windows Media Player only rip to shitty non-MP3 formats in their free versions. These formats are useless to you if you want to play the files with other media players or want to burn them to a CD, or put them on your Ipod. FreeRip will also convert music files into different formats (like the wonderful Ogg Vorbis format -- read more below).

While your in the whole music downloading, file storing, burning and sharing stage of things you might consider downloading Audacity -- a powerful, cross-platform music file editor that is completely free! Many files you find on the net have loud clicks, hisses and other garbage that can be a terrible jar while you're at the computer typing your next blogpost at 4am -- Audacity will do the trick, quick and easy.

If you are an artist or just want to be on the cutting edge of 'the shit' check out Ogg Vorbis -- a completely patent free, open-source method to compress music files using less space for the same sound quality. Chances are that most of your music playing software supports this format which I believe is actually a better sounding format than MP3. Strange thing that I never knew before:
  • The MP3 format of compressing sound files is patented!
  • If you want to distribute music in the MP3 format you have to give money to Fraunhofer!
So encode all of your music in Ogg Vorbis to get better sound quality for the same space and to help rid the world of Microsoft and the Fraunhofers -- Audacity and FreeRip both are completely Ogg Vorbis compatible but I don't know if Ipod supports Ogg Vorbis format, sorry.

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