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by Ray DeCosta

Q. A friend told me that he is "ripping" music to his MP3 player. What is he talking about?

A. Music files on CDs may be reduced in size and saved to your hard drive or copied to your portable audio player. This process is commonly referred to as "ripping." The term "MP3" stands for a kind of audio file that takes up less room than the same file on a CD. While an MP3 file is usually thought of as being a music file, it can also refer to "audio books" or "books on CD" which are available at any library.

The trade-off for this reduced file size is that the quality of the smaller audio file is not as good as the original. Modern conversion techniques can minimize this loss of quality. You may have a ripping function installed on the music player that came with your computer. For most people, this is Microsoft's Media Player. You should check your player's directions or Help file to find out how to access its rip function.

If you don't have a ripper or want to try a different one, there are many free programs available on the Internet. However, this area is ripe for unscrupulous people who may try to infect your computer with malware. A good free (and safe) ripper is known as CDex and is available here.

For directions regarding how to use CDex, you should check out the extensive tutorials also available at that website.

Published: Courier 2/7/10 - Page 5C