Sound and pictures: all the rage: 1

Used to be computers served for what the name implied: to compute things.

Then, we had the era of word-processing, database creation and sundry such tasks.

Next came the era of communications, and now we have the era of multimedia. It is imperative, therefore, that we know what we’ve got our fingertips.

So: what’s the difference between DVD, MP3, VCD, iTunes and Windows Media Player?

To start off, DVD and Video CD, commonly called VCDs – are movie file formats, MP3 and WMF are music file formats. iTunes and Windows Media Player are audio and video players. They theoretically play all types of media files.

There are quite a few movie and audio file formats. They are different as file types. Ways to create them differ, too.

To create a MP3 file from a CD you bought in a store requires a conversion or encoding of the data from the CD to a format the computer recognizes. To create an MP3, you can use Windows Media Player. Insert you store-bought audio CD into your drive and you should be prompted with a menu of selections. The menu is the Windows autodetect feature, triggered by the insertion of any compact disc or DVD media into the appropriate drive. Select Play with Windows Media Player and it will launch that application. Media Player has a tab called Rip, which will convert the audio CD to MP3 or WMV formats. It will automatically name the titles and search an Internet database for album information. If you find the information it collected satisfactory, you may proceed to the ripping process. Otherwise, you may edit the CD information and make changes. You may edit the titles song by song, or perform a search to change the complete album information. Please note that you cannot copy movies within Windows Media Player.

If you’re an Apple fan, iTunes is the other kid taking over the neighborhood. iTunes is also a media player designed around the iPod product. You essentially perform the same tasks in iTunes as Window Media Player. It is primarily designed to communicate with an iPod, though. It also comes free with an iPod. It is not included in Windows, so you have to download it from Apple. Please make note of the extra software that they will bundle on the website download link. Watch for those annoying checkmarks to install add-on software, or sign up to e-mail newsletters.

The nuts and bolts behind MP3s is the process of MP3 encoding. This encoding uses proprietary algorithms to convert the data into a format that represents sound and maintains the quality of the original sounds from the CD or other sources. The ultimate goal is to recreate accurately your audio CD with the same quality, using as little space as possible on your hard drive. These same principles apply to videos and movies.

To be continued … »