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COVER STORY 30 01/2009 INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP SMS us! Story code: HCS to 57007

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COVER STORY 30 01/2009 INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP SMS us! Story code: HCS to 57007

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SMS us!

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COVER STORY 30 01/2009 INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP SMS us! Story code: HCS to 57007
Create, store, convert and organize all your music and movie files. You don't have to
Create, store, convert and organize all your music and movie files. You don't have to
Create, store, convert and organize all your music and movie files. You don't have to
Create, store, convert and organize all your music and movie files. You don't have to

Create, store, convert and organize all your music and movie files. You don't have to wade through piles of junk anymore—just sit back and enjoy multimedia nirvana.

BY TEAM CHIP

M ultimedia today is about a lot

more than the beeps and clicks

PCs used to make a decade or

so ago. Media files today account for the majority of used space on most computers, and it isn't uncommon to see people buying new hard drives solely to accommodate all their movies and music. Hard drives, CDs, DVDs and all kinds of removable storage devices need to be managed when free space runs out. With multiple PCs and laptops in a family, it's easy to waste space with needless duplicates.e And we all have some of these files on our portable players and cellphones, although there never seems to be enough room for all of them! Luckily today, hard drives are as cheap as Rs 6,200 for a terabyte, but there's still a lot of room for improvement when it comes to smart organization and storage of these files. To deal with the avalanche of files, CHIP has put together this guide that covers every step from the creation to the organization and playback of digital multimedia.

to the organization and playback of digital multimedia. POWER MULTIMEDIA PACK INCLUDING: iTunes, WinAmp, VLC Media
POWER MULTIMEDIA PACK INCLUDING: iTunes, WinAmp, VLC Media Player, AutoGK, DVD Decrypter, TagScanner, Corel WinDVD
POWER
MULTIMEDIA PACK
INCLUDING: iTunes, WinAmp, VLC Media Player,
AutoGK, DVD Decrypter, TagScanner, Corel
WinDVD Movie Factory, FLAC, MP3Gain 1.2.5,
CinemaForge 3.1, Free Video Zilla 1.1.2, Kigo
Video Converter Free 1.0, Free Video Cut And
Split 2.6.0.3, Free Audio Editor 2008 5.3.1,
MiniDVDSoft Free DVD Burner 3.0.
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All the tech you need to know

Codecs

Behind most audio and video files are any of a number of codecs—pieces of software that allow computers to turn huge uncompressed files into more portable, convenient formats, as well as interpret those formats and decompress the media when it needs to be played. Dozens of formats and variants exist, many of them used only by certain publishers or only for certain purposes. It isn’t always easy to decide which codec is best for your purposes, and it isn’t always possible to ensure a file will play on a portable device or someone else’s computer. Codecs are generally categorized as lossy or lossless: those which trade file size for quality and those which retain all the quality of the original source. It is the goal of every codec to strike a balance between size and quality, so users should choose which approach they prefer based on their individual needs. You can’t always tell what codec a ficodec to strike a balance between size and quality, so users le uses just by checking le uses just by checking its extension. AVI and MPG are really only the extensions of container files, which hold video encoded with a certain codec along with other information such as subtitles, tag metadata (such as the title, language, director, year of release, etc) and even DRM security. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the terms you’ll run across, and what each really means:

MP3: The most common audio format today, MP3 is widely supported and contains no copy protection mechanism. Quality and size can be controlled by

varying the bit rate, but it is still lossy and unsuitable for audiophiles. Licensing and security issues have led to the emergence of WMV (Windows Media Video), a similarly capable format. MPEG: The Moving Picture Experts Group, part of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is behind many of the most common audio and video codecs. MPEG-1 is found on Video CDs and offers slightly better quality than VHS. MPEG-2 is found on DVDs (using VOB container files), digital TV transmission systems and computer files a multitude of extensions. MPEG-4 is used on Blu-Ray and HD-DVD discs as well as newer digital TV signals. MP4/M4A: MP4 is a format designed around one of the MPEG-4 standards, while M4A is the extension sometimes used for such files which contain only audio. MP4 files can contain subtitles as well as multiple audio and video streams. The term “MP4” is also thrown around to identify portable devices which can also handle video (to connote functionality greater than just MP3 playback), although this usage doesn’t guarantee any format or standard compatibility.

H.264: Also known as AVC (Advanced Video Coding), this is a recent standard that allows for high quality files at lower bitrates than even MPEG-4. It’s one of the standards Blu-Ray discs might use, and is also used to deliver video through Flash using FLV files. QuickTime, x264 and Nero Digital are codecs that use this standard.

x264 and Nero Digital are codecs that use this standard. VC-1: This alternative to MPEG-4, developed

VC-1: This alternative to MPEG-4, developed mainly by Microsoft, can be found on many Blu-Ray discs and is the codec behind WMV9 (Windows Media Video) files and video on the Xbox 360.

DRM

The term Digital Rights Management makes it sound like users are being assured of a lot of cool features and functions when they buy any new content or hardware. But the reality in many cases is that DRM only restricts the ways in which you can use the media you’ve already paid for. High-quality digital file formats and high-speed Internet connections have led to a huge amount of file sharing and piracy of music, movies, games, books and software. The corporations that produce them have put various mechanisms into place to protect their copyrights; however DRM is much more involved than just preventing users from making copies of files. There are various forms of DRM that are designed to prevent users from copying legitimately purchased media onto multiple computers or portable players. Some companies prefer to let you copy your files only to certain pre-approved devices, or to allow only a certain number of copies to be made. Unfortunately, there is no one standard for DRM, meaning that users are often locked into convoluted schemes by multiple content providers. DRM has caused countless headaches to people

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schemes by multiple content providers. DRM has caused countless headaches to people 32 01/2009 INTELLIGENT COMPUTING
schemes by multiple content providers. DRM has caused countless headaches to people 32 01/2009 INTELLIGENT COMPUTING
for newer, more powerful onboard GPUs such as the Nvidia GeForce 8200 or higher as
for newer, more powerful onboard GPUs such as the Nvidia GeForce 8200 or higher as
for newer, more powerful onboard GPUs such as the Nvidia GeForce 8200 or higher as
for newer, more powerful onboard GPUs such as the Nvidia GeForce 8200 or higher as

for newer, more powerful onboard GPUs such as the Nvidia GeForce 8200 or higher as these support HD video decoding and GPU-based acceleration, and offer more value for money than Intel onboard GPUs.

Sounds good!

The case is the same for sound cards. Current mainstream and entry-level motherboards offer multi-channel sound, but they are designed for only average sound quality. Audiophiles and music lovers should either buy a good discrete sound card or a motherboard that bundles one. Motherboards from Asus’ Republic of Gamers series and from MSI’s Diamond series bundle discrete (low profile) sound cards. These cards use a riser slot on the motherboard and offer digital output via optical and coaxial ports. If you aren't buying a new motherboard, you can add a quality sound card such as Asus’ Xonar and Creative’s Audigy and X-Fi series. And if you want pristine sound from your laptop, use an external USB device such as the Xonar U1 or the Creative X-mod. When using discrete sound with digital output—regardless of it being internal or external—the motherboard’s onboard sound doesn’t matter. Sound travels in the form of digital data from the card to the amplifier’s decoder where it is converted into analog singals and is distributed to the speakers, so a digital input provides better sound quality than an analog one. Another option is digital speakers which have built-in decoders, such as the Logitech Z-5500 set. Finally, it’s worth mentioning that your speakers and sound card are equally important. A great sound card will sound awful with awful speakers, and vice versa.

who pay for legitimate copies of their music and movies:

Songs purchased from Apple’s iTunes Music Store can’t be copied to portable players that aren’t iPods. Sony sold audio CDs that surreptitiously installed the equivalent of a Trojan on users’ computers, compromising their security. Yahoo and MSN music have both decided to shut down, and once their

authentication servers are offline, users won’t be able to authenticate and play any music they’ve paid for. Some digital TV broadcasts can be flagged so that video recording devices are disabled, preventing users from watching shows at a convenient time. Even a decade ago, DVDs shipped with CSS (Content Scrambling System),

a short-lived attempt to prevent illegal

ripping, which actually only prevented the discs from working on Linux and other legitimate playback environments. Fortunately or unfortunately, most of these methods can be cracked quite easily. Software to make perfect copies of DVDs has been widely available for

years, and some “protected” audio CDs can be ripped by simply holding down the [Shift] key while inserting them intoto make perfect copies of DVDs has been widely available for a PC, i.e. preventing the

a PC, i.e. preventing the autorun function.

And anyone can burn iTunes or Yahoo music onto regular audio CDs and then re-rip them, or route their soundcard’s output back to its line in jack and record the incoming stream as a new file. Pirates and anti-DRM software vendors in many countries are being prosecuted anyway under DRM laws such as the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act, or are being scared into abandoning their illegal activities. But it’s ordinary, non-technically-inclined users

who are suffering the most, by paying for content in formats that they simply can’t use wherever and whenever they need to.

Hardware for video playback

You may ask why anyone should shell out thousands of rupees for a discrete graphics card and soundcard when their motherboard has them onboard? The technologies used in manufacturing motherboards have progressed at such a speedy pace that today onboard sound and graphics chips are tinier than your thumb nail. However the performance of these chips is only the bare minimum that you require for basic everyday tasks: listening to music, watching movies, and some light gaming. Discrete components are needed for greater performance for gamers, audiophiles and cinema devotees. Graphics cards are usually seen as gaming hardware. But today a GPU is far more versatile and can do much more than only processing the pixels on a screen. The current generation of GPUs by ATI (Radeon 4000 series) and Nvidia (GeForce 8000 series and above) can decode high-definition content and also accelerate certain video encoding and imaging applications. Imagine the power of the hundreds of stream processors in a GPU compared to the number of cores in a dual-core or quad-core CPU. With DirectX 11 in the future, even the visual effects in Windows will be completely GPU-accelerated thereby freeing resources for other tasks. You don’t need a high-end graphics card to enjoy these features—even a GeForce 9400 GT or Radeon HD 4350 which cost less than Rs 5,000 each are quite capable. If you’re planning to buy a motherboard with integrated graphics look out

capable. If you’re planning to buy a motherboard with integrated graphics look out INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP

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capable. If you’re planning to buy a motherboard with integrated graphics look out INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP

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capable. If you’re planning to buy a motherboard with integrated graphics look out INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP
capable. If you’re planning to buy a motherboard with integrated graphics look out INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP
COVER STORY Ripping and encoding music Ripping and encoding music from CDs allows people to
COVER STORY Ripping and encoding music Ripping and encoding music from CDs allows people to

COVER STORY

COVER STORY Ripping and encoding music Ripping and encoding music from CDs allows people to fi

Ripping and encoding music

Ripping and encoding music from CDs allows people to fill up their MP3 collections, but taking the trouble to specify file names, sizes, formats and sound quality was never very easy. This workshop shows you how, with a little attention to the encoding process, you can create great-sounding MP3 files

which still occupy as very little space. We used Exact Audio Copy or EAC,

a ripping program known for its faithful

reproduction of music and immense flexibility with options. Apart from the ripping program, we used the LAME MP3 encoder to handle the compression. Let’s begin with configuring EAC.

Step 1: Initial configuration

While installing, you have two options for sound quality: lossless (FLAC and WMA) or lossy/compressed (MP3 and WMA). FLAC is best for archiving CDs in their original sound quality for future CD writing.begin with configuring EAC. Step 1: Initial configuration Step 2: Encoder path and filename Configuration EAC

Step 2: Encoder path and filename Configuration

EAC needs an external MP3 encoder. LAME is a good option, so download

it from the Web and enter the path on

your PC during installation. Next is the Filename Configuration option, where you can choose the way your ripped files

are named.

Step 3: Compact Disc Database (CDDB)

You can import the CD’s information from the Web instead of typing it manually. Go to 'Database | Get CD Information From | Remote freedb'. This fills in the track titles, artist, etc which you can use to name and tag the files.

Step 4: File naming scheme

Click 'EAC | EAC options'. The ‘Filename’ tab lets you customize the way your tracks are named. You can include the title, number, artist, etc, and even choose their sequence in the names.

Step 5: Bitrate settings

Now you must decide the sound quality and file size—the most important step.

the sound quality and file size—the most important step. 34 01/2009 INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP Step 6:

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and file size—the most important step. 34 01/2009 INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP Step 6: Normalizing and creating

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Step 6: Normalizing and creating audio CDs

The ‘normalize’ option decreases the jarring in an audio track and brings down peak levels to make the track more soothing. EAC also lets you create audio CDs with custom gaps between tracks.

About bitrates

The three main types of bitrate are constant (CBR), variable (VBR) and average (ABR). CBR maintains a

constant sound quality, and is not as optimal as VBR, which adjusts the bitrate according to the requirements of each part of a track. ABR restricts the size of the output file, so the bitrate is calculated to that target. LAME, however offers only the former two options. Ripping is permanent, so to increase the quality or decrease the file size, you'll need the original CD. Re-encoding an existing MP3 file to a different bitrate will result in lower quality.

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Digital DVD copies DVD media don't last forever, so there are plenty of legitimate reasons
Digital DVD copies DVD media don't last forever, so there are plenty of legitimate reasons

Digital DVD copies

DVD media don't last forever, so there are plenty of legitimate reasons for wanting to make a backup digital copy. However, anti-piracy activists claim that ripping DVDs encourages illegal file sharing. Anti-piracy measures make it

difficult to create digital copies, and now software that does circumvent these measures are even considered illegal

in some countries! While there is still

a huge amount of legal grey area, this

tutorial focuses on the technical rather than moral aspects of making a DVD copy. However, owning these copies could be a liability in the future. Ripping a DVD is a two-step process. The first program needed is DVD Decrypter, which dumps the contents of

a

DVD to your hard drive. In the process,

it

allows you to strip out unnecessary

data such as a director's commentary, multiple-language subtitles, multiple sound tracks, etc. DVD Decrypter also helpfully removes most types of copy protection and region encoding. For step two, multiple options exist. We use AutoGK, a simple, point-and- click program that will get our job done with minimal fuss. For those who are comfortable with calculating bitrates and file sizes, more information can be found at dedicated websites such asdata such as a director's commentary, multiple-language subtitles, multiple

www.doom9.org.

Step 1: DVD Decrypter

Launch DVD Decrypter and insert your DVD. Switch to IFO mode through the Mode menu, and select the Stream Processing tab which will allow you to select the video and audio tracks.

Step 2: Ripping the disc

Specify an output folder and hit the giant Rip button on the lower left side. The process could take a while.

Step 3: Using AutoGK

The upper-most part of the AutoGK

window is where you select the input file (which you just created) and specify

a name for the output. You might see

a dialog asking you to choose a PGC.

Select the longest one—the others are trailers, warning messages, etc.

Step 4: DVD Decrypter

Now, you can see a simple listing of the audio and subtitle tracks you ripped. Select the one you want. Lower down, choose the desired output size. The options are conveniently sorted with different media in mind.

Step 5: Advanced options

Foreign-language movies will require subtitles, for which the options reside here. You can leave the audio and

video quality settings at their defaults. These will be determined according to the target file size you chose. Once this is done, just let the job run. A lot of background programs will run, but it's part of the process. This again could take a while—several hours on older PCs.

Step 6: Only for experts!

Press [Ctrl]+[F9] to see a list of hidden options. You can tweak these once you are more comfortable with video encoding.

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COVER STORY Tagging and renaming music Imagine a world where things and people have no
COVER STORY Tagging and renaming music Imagine a world where things and people have no

COVER STORY

COVER STORY Tagging and renaming music Imagine a world where things and people have no names.

Tagging and renaming music

Imagine a world where things and people have no names. It would be impossible to find or identify anyone instantly. Just like we relate an individual’s name to attributes they have, ID3 tags allow us to identify and organize songs based on embedded information such as the artist name, track name, album name, genre, year of release, comment, and so on. These are the details that show up on screen during playback. ID3 tags are also important for organizing music. An MP3 player can only find for songs by artist name, album name or genre if they are tagged. You can even embed the cover art of an album and the lyrics of a song into tags. Some players allow browsing through music using album art instead of plain text—namely the swanky CoverFlow mode in iPods and iTunes. The songs' filenames are equally important for managing music. You must have seen filenames full of unnecessary garbled text. Fix upon one syntax suchfor organizing music. An MP3 player can only fi nd for songs by artist name, album

as 'Artist - Title' or 'Artist - Album - Title’, and stick to it. Finally, uniformity always makes browsing easier on the eyes. Tagging and renaming each and every file of a huge music collection may seem intimidating if you haven’t used any specialized software for managing the process. There are numerous applications which can batch-process tags and filenames, some of which are Tag and Rename, TagScanner, Dr Tag Plus, and so on. You can also automate the process of acquiring tags from file names and vice-versa, and perform mass-tagging operations. Let’s take a quick look at some of the features of TagScanner, one of the most powerful free tagging and renaming tools.

Step 1: Initial configuration

Specify the path to your music collection and set the ID3 tag version as 2 from the drop down list in the top right corner. You can tag your music using the Tag Editor (mass tagging tool) and

Tag Processor (processes tags from filenames).

Step 2: Text transformation

Double-click in the Text transformations section in the top right corner and configure the parameters. You can even specify the letter case for filenames and text replacements. For instance you can replace “cant” by “Can’t” automatically.

Step 3: Processing tags

Switch to the Tag Processor, select the files you want to tag, and configure the fields in the Settings pane to the right. Specify the sequence in which various elements of the filename occur and hit the Generate button when you’re done.

Step 4: Renaming files

After tagging the files, switch to the Music Renamer and use the list of placeholders to specify the filename syntax. After previewing the results, click Rename to name files from their tags.

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