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PC Hardware Annoyances by Stephen J. Bigelow

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PLAYBACK ANNOYANCES

DIRTY DISCS DISTORT VIDEO

The Annoyance:

I spent 50 cents at a yard sale for a DVD of my favorite western, “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.” But when I popped the movie into my laptop, it played for about 10 minutes and then started to hesitate and break up into weird colored blocks.

The Fix:

Your disc is simply dirty. What do you expect for fifty cents? Remove the disc and use a lint-free eyeglass-cleaning cloth to gently wipe fingerprints and other debris off the disc. Now you can watch Clint, Lee, and Eli in all their wide-screen, spaghetti western glory.

REMOVING POPS AND CLICKS

The Annoyance:

Why are there pops and clicks in music I burned to CD?

The Fix:

Audiophiles often “rip” tracks from music CDs for MP3 conversion or CD-R compilations of their favorite tunes. The trick is to “rip” the audio data as cleanly as possible. Simply ripping audio at top speed from any old CD-ROM will not give you the best results. Instead, rip from a CD/DVD drive that supports Digital Audio Extraction (DAE)-virtually all modern optical drives support DAE, but check the specifications to make sure.

Tip

Although many personal audio players support WMA files, you can rip to MP3 with Windows Media Player by using a plug-in such as CyberLink’s MP3 PowerEncoder (http://www.gocyberlink.com) or InterVideo’s MP3 Xpack (http://www.intervideo.com).

If your drive does not support DAE (or DAE still doesn’t give you the best results), try ripping from another drive. Alternatively, rip the tracks at ...

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