I had several old audio recordings made with a microcassette recorder that I wanted to transcode to digital files. Problem was, the resulting digital files had a lot of background noise I wanted to get rid of before archiving.
But I don’t know much about audio cleanup. I did, however, find a very easy-to-follow tutorial that teaches how to use Audacity, a free audio utility, to get rid of unwanted noise in a digital file. I’m sure there are far more powerful (and expensive) solutions, but I was shocked by how well the noise-removal process worked in Audacity. My files sound better than ever.
You can read the tutorial here. Of course, you’ll also need a copy of Audacity, which will run on Windows or Mac OS X.
Much appreciation to the authors of both the tutorial and the software.
While USB 3.0 has been around since early 2010, only this year has the newest, fastest universal port come into widespread use. USB 3.0 ports are now common on Windows 7 desktops and laptops (usually marked with a blue connector), and are even on the latest-generation MacBook Pros and Airs.
Faster USB peripherals aren’t nearly as plentiful, however, with only thumb drives and external hard drives getting widespread USB 3.0 treatment – and the latter far more than the former; in fact, while USB 2.0 remains the connection method of choice for USB thumb drive makers, USB 3.0 now dominates external hard drives.
Which is great. After all, USB 3.0 drives can transfer data far faster than their 2.0 predecessors – up to 10X faster, in fact – which makes them more useful and and less time consuming.
But there’s a problem:
USB 3.0 and the drivers that make the I/O technology possible are still new enough to have bugs, which can create some headaches for users.
Continue reading »
Viruses were a major concern for PC users in the first decade of the 21st Century. Antivirus and anti-malware utilities were mostly subscription solutions, and many users would either forget to renew each year or opt to spend the cash elsewhere. And most email was client-based, meaning malicious code piggybacking a message arrived unfiltered through Outlook or Eudora, leaving the user to deal with the threat him or herself.
But as time passed, free security software became more commonplace. Email moved from the client to the Cloud with services like GMail and Yahoo! removing threats before they ever got to your PC. These shifts, along with improved OS-level security, made it more difficult than ever for bad actors to get dangerous code onto your machine.
Today, with these vulnerabilities largely closed, the scumbags behind malware have moved on to other methods of getting their crap onto users’ PCs. Not content to concede defeat – or give up the money to be made from your personal information or your fear – they’ve shifted focus to widely used third-party applications as points-of-entry. And among these applications, Java has become a gateway of choice.
Continue reading »
I’m on constant lookout for better ways to keep all of my data painlessly in sync, both between devices and between my devices and the Cloud. Dropbox has been my drop-it-and-forget-it syncing service of choice for much of the last three years, and it’s unquestionably a great option for many users and uses.
But earlier this year I went in search of… not a replacement to Dropbox, but a service that would add to and complement what Dropbox already did for me. My search led me to a lot of syncing services, but in the end there was only one that did everything I wanted: SugarSync. As I wrote in April, SugarSync was the best method for keeping certain work files synced between my office Windows desktop and Mac laptop, and it it performed spectacularly for this purpose. Still does. But over the last three months, I’ve found that it’s also a worthy Dropbox replacement, particularly if A) you have limited free space on Dropbox, and/or B) you are willing to pay for a syncing service but find Dropbox’s $120, $240 or $600 yearly costs too high.
Continue reading »