Now For Fun Stuff!

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We have had a couple of serious columns, and it’s time to talk about the fun things in computing. Here is a sample of things you might find fun, interesting, and maybe even helpful!

Can You Hear Me Now?
If you are running Windows XP, you might want to give the new Windows Media Player a try. Fair warning: This version is in BETA which means it’s not guaranteed stable. You will find it here: http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/player/11/default.aspx. (Version 10, the latest “stable” version is here: http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/player/10/default.aspx). As with any BETA software, approach it with caution and limited expectations. I haven’t had any problems, but your mileage may vary. Microsoft actually admits that this is not a completed project.

Version 11 changes the whole look of your music library. You can add album art, you can sort the library contents several different ways, and it is much, much easier to sync to an mp3 player than in the past. I also used Media Player to rip a CD. It was fast, I was able to save the files as mp3’s, and the tag editing function is much improved from version 10. The whole look is very sleek, and I really like it. I am looking forward to testing the video capabilities.

Please Don’t Call My mp3 Player an iPod!
Do you have an mp3 player? Well, iPod is one brand of mp3 player, but by far it is not the only one. There are many, and there is a wide range of features and prices. They are the descendants of the Sony Walkman and portable CD players. (More about that here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_audio_player) If you have one of these devices, you can copy your music or other audio files to the player and carry it with you.

I enjoy listening to podcasts. A podcast is simply an audio file, generally in mp3 format, that you can listen to at your convenience. You can “stream” the file and listen on your computer. You can download it and listen on your computer. And, you can download it, transfer it to your mp3 player, and listen to it while you’re in the car, mowing the lawn, doing the housework, or just about anything that doesn’t involve submerging the player in water. (Listening with headphones while bike riding is not a good idea!)

An earlier column (here: http://rlis.com/columns/column7.htm) has more information about how to find podcasts, download them and listen to them. Two of my favourites are The Poddog Show (http://poddog.ca/Start%20Here.html) for a dose of Canadian Content and a dose of dogs, and The Typical PC User Podcast (http://www.typicalpcuser.biz/tpcu/), where they’ve been talking about Windows Vista and Yahoo!Toolbars.

OK, now the really silly stuff. First, Spelling With Zombies, here: http://e-zombie.com/. Enter a phrase and see it spelled out with zombie characters. I can think of absolutely no good reason to do this, but I can’t resist passing it along.

Next, if you play Sudoku and you like dogs, maybe you would like Sudogku. You’ll find it here: http://www.sudogku.com/

Do you talk to your computer? Well, now you can make it say whatever you like. Try the AT&T Labs Text-To-Speech page, here: http://www.research.att.com/~ttsweb/tts/demo.php. Here’s what I got it to say: http://rlis.com/sounds/thanks.wav.

Thank you all for reading this column and thanks to those who send along comments and questions! See you next week.

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About the Author

The Technology Shaman, Cate Eales, has been helping people make online computing safe, accessible, and fun for over 30 years.

Cate lives in Kelowna with her husband, Eric. She owns and operates Computer Care Kelowna, a mobile computer business providing on-site service for home and small business customers.

Cate is here to help you and your home or business computer get along.

E-mail Cate at [email protected] with comments, suggestions, or questions.

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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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