Playing MP3 Music
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MPEG3 or MP3 is a highly compressed audio format that is used for storing audio data, mainly music Many music files are available on the Internet in MP3 format, which has the file extension mp3 The problem with many MP3 files is that they are bootlegged, recorded illegally without the permission of the copyright holder Some files are put on the Web by small bands that are just getting their start, and they use MP3 and the Web as a great way to get wide exposure legally and inexpensively To play an MP3 format file, you need an MP3 player Windows Media Player, WinAmp, RealOne Player, and MusicMatch, which were mentioned earlier in this chapter, can play MP3s, or you can look for other MP3 players to download from the Internet These players and many others are also available from TUCOWS (www tucowscom), MP3com (wwwmp3com), or CMJ New Music First (wwwmp3now com), which have lots of other MP3-related information Many people think that because music is available on the Internet and so many people download and play it, this must be legal It s not, unless the copyright holder of the music (usually the publisher) has given permission If you live in the United States, see wwwlocgov/copyright for information about copyright
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Ripping MP3 Files from CDs
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If your computer has a CD-ROM drive, you can also convert songs from CDs that you own into MP3 files Converting your music CD songs into MP3 files is legal as long as only you use the MP3 files that you create, and you don t give or sell them to anyone else All newer CD-ROM drives can be used to create MP3 files, but older drives may not able to read raw data from music CDs, which is a must to create MP3s Most MP3 players can copy, or rip, the songs from your music CDs and save the songs as individual files on your hard drive, often complete with the song title, and saved in folders named for the artist and album title Figure 22-2 shows the RealOne Player playing music that was copied from a CD to the computer s hard disk
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RealOne Player playing music ripped from a CD
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Customizing Your Player with Skins
WinAmp pioneered the concept of customizing the look of the player interfaces with skins, making the program look even cooler than it usually looks For example, here s WinAmp with a wild (and almost unusably confusing) skin applied:
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RealOne, MusicMatch, and Windows Media Player all support skins, and you can find many free skins for each program on the Internet You can even create your own skins all it takes is a graphics editor (such as Microsoft Paint or Paint Shop Pro) and a text editor like Notepad to create a basic skin Specific instructions for creating skins for each player can be found at each player s web site or in the Windows Media Player SDK at MSDN (msdnmicrosoftcom)
Finding MP3 Music on the Web
Many players include a start or search page to help you find music, or you can use one of the many MP3 search sites, including the following: I MP3 Master List, at wwwmp3masterlistcom I MP3Board, at wwwmp3boardcom
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I MediaFind, at searchmp3de I Scournet Media Search, at wwwscourcom (requires IE) You can find additional MP3 sites using your favorite search engine Some of these sites include audio and video files in other formats, but you can identify MP3 files by the filename extension mp3 Once you find the song that you are looking for (most current songs and many older songs are available online), you download the file, many of which are three megabytes or larger You may have trouble getting through to sites that have MP3 files because they can be very busy: if you get Document contains no data or Site busy messages, just keep trying After you download the MP3 file, you can play it as many times as you want by using an MP3 player If you have a slow computer, the music may sound terrible; but on faster computers, MP3 files can sound like CDs If you have a CD burner, you can make your own music CDs Not all CD boom boxes can play these CDs, but many newer ones will play them You can also copy the songs to a portable media player, which is a small Walkman-style device that holds music on Compact Flash or Smart Media cards Other popular formats for music include WAV which is the original sound format , for Windows, and Windows Media Player s WMA RealOne Player saves music using RMJ format, which can only be played using the RealOne Player at this time