Tag Archives: File Format

Spider Player - Free music only media player

spider

Despite the fact there are an inordinate number of media players available, it is difficult to find one that is quite as well rounded as Windows Media Player; the application included as standard with Windows. Many other media players are either overloaded with features you will never use or stripped down to the point where the few extra features you are likely to use on a daily basis are missing.

Just recently, however, I was pointed in the direction of Spider Player, an application that is available via a free download at www.spider-player.com. Admittedly this is just a music player and does not support videos files but focusing purely on audio allows it to excel in this area.

It offers a 32-bit sound processing irrespective of the specification of your sound card which should ensure a high quality of playback of all your audio files. The player also supports 5.1/7.1 surround as well as traditional stereo/mono audio files.

Standard features such as the ability to open individual files and create and save playlists are also included along with a wonderfully simple equalizer panel which is available at all times. This can be minimised if you should wish but this feature, along with the DSP effects manager allows you to customise the sound of the playback to your personal taste.

Along with supporting every conceivable file format, Spider Player will also allow you to convert existing audio files in to another format; for example to change a WAV file to a small MP3 file. This is provided in addition to the ability to rip tracks directly from a CD and then convert them in to a number of formats including MP3, WMA and OGG.

Direct access is provided to a number of Internet radio stations and can record up to five minutes of transmission to any one file (recording time is unlimited in the professional version).

While the standard design of the player is relatively pleasing as it is, the player is fully skinnable with a variety of designs available for free from the developer’s website. If you would rather personalise your own player, there is a skin development package available for download from the website.

Users who require the ability to play video may be best looking into downloading the excellent VLC Media Player, one of the many alternatives mentioned in Click over the years, or sticking with the faithful Windows Media Player. For those that are primarily concerned with music, Spider Player certainly comes highly recommended as although the claim “The Ultimate Music Player” may seem rather grandiose it certainly comes with all the features I could hope for without any of the chaff I would have previously tolerated.

 

About the Author - Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges who supply a wide range of printer cartridges including the Canon PGI-520Bk at incredibly low prices.

ISO Format

isoformat

One of the most common file types used in the distribution of software over the Internet is the .ISO format; these single files contain within them an exact copy of an entire CD or DVD disc. They are ideal because rather than having dozens, hundreds or even of thousands of files to transport you only have one.

There are of course other methods of achieving the same goal; some of you may be familiar with .zip or .rar files which have the added advantage of being able to not only take many files and store them temporarily as one but also compress the data, making the total file size smaller. Unfortunately, when using this method on a media disc you strip out important characteristics of the original such as boot code, disc structures and file attributes which can often prevent an application from running.

As a result of this exact copy process, the format has become a popular method of transporting pirated software - the ISO file is an exact match of the original and as such there is no reason the software would realise it had been copied and refuse to run. There are plenty of legal uses for the format, however, and it is highly likely that even the most legitimate users will come in to contact with an ISO file at some stage sooner or later.

Unfortunately they are not the most user friendly file format; you can’t simply complete the download then double click to run the application as they first have to be returned to their original format. There are typically two methods that can be used to complete this process; burn the data back to a physical disc or create a virtual drive on your computer.

The first method relies on a piece of disc burning software such as the fantastic and free CDburnerXP (www. cdburnerxp.se). Simply click ‘burn an image to disc’, point the application in the direction of your ISO file, insert a blank CD or DVD and your computer will then spit out an exact copy of the original media as if it had come direct from the manufacturer.

The second method uses a piece of software such as the free Alcohol 52% (www.alcohol-soft.com) to create a virtual drive that can simulate an actual CD or DVD disc. By asking Alcohol 52% to ‘mount’ an ISO file downloaded from the Internet, Windows will be tricked in to thinking there is a physical drive connected to your computer containing the original disc. You simply access it through Windows Explorer as you would any other regular drive connected to your computer.

This latter method prevents us from having to waste a blank CD or DVD which is especially handy in instances where it would have only been used to install the application before being discarded. We can also keep the original ISO file and mount it whenever it’s required rather than having to store and locate a physical disc when the data is required again in the future.

There are additional benefits, especially when it comes to speed. Not only does it take seconds to mount an ISO file, rather than the minutes it would take to burn it, but in addition the speed of reading the data is exponentially faster. A virtual CD for example will read at 200x speed whereas the fastest CD drives on the market are limited to 52x speed.

Some users may also appreciate the ability to create multiple virtual drives that can function simultaneously; this is useful if you have more than one disc that you need frequent access to without the need for multiple readers. You can create copies of your own discs and load them up on to multiple virtual drives in this fashion and as long as you own the original it is perfectly legal.

 

About the Author – Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges who supply a wide range of printer cartridges including Brother LC970 Cartridges at incredibly low prices.

Music converter

Being quite fond of both music and driving I went out last year and bought myself a shiny CD player for my car which could read CD’s crammed full of MP3’s. This meant that rather than reading the CD in the usual way, the player was able to read compressed MP3’s that I’d put onto the disk from my PC and typically using this format I was able to store around a dozen albums on one CD. This comes in handy as when driving you don’t want to be fishing about around locating and changing over CD’s as obviously this could result in a nasty accident.

This player wasn’t cheap and for best part of a year I have been more than happy with this it although now my flatmate has gone out and bought one for himself which can play WMA files I’m finding that all the (legitimately acquired) music that we get hold of is in WMA format which my poor old player can’t play. For those of you not in the know, WMA is Microsofts own standard which they hope will someday rival the compressed music format MP3 in popularity.

I wasn’t too happy that my player couldn’t read this new format so musing around on the Internet I’ve found a very useful program that is able to convert practically any music file from one format to another which is perfect for me as I can then simply select 100 tracks to convert from the WMA format to MP3 and then burn them straight onto a CD to play in my car. With many CD players and indeed portable CD players now also able to read CD’s filled with MP3’s a program such as this will be useful to more people than one would first imagine. Of course, a program like this would also be useful if you wanted to swap music files from say an Apple Mac file format to a PC file format.

To download this fantastic little program head to https://www.dbpoweramp.com/dmc.htm and once installed you will be able to convert any music file from or to the following formats: mp3, mp4, Windows Media Audio (wma), Ogg Vorbis, AAC, Monkeys Audio, FLAC and also there are many other less popular standards supported. The beauty of this program is its simplicity as once you start the program it asks you which files you want to convert then what format you wish to convert them into and at what quality then it just goes off, takes several seconds per file and then comes back to let you know when its finished.

In addition a CD-ripper is included so that you can take any disk and copy the contents onto your machine in one of the file formats given above. Please note that it is obviously only legal to rip a disk in this fashion if you actually own the CD in question and just require it stored on your machine so you can listen to it without having to have the original disk to hand.

The program is only 1.4mg in size, is free of charge and there are no complicated settings, no spyware, no adware to worry about; it really is one of those utilities that most people will probably need once in their life so why not download it and give it a try?

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