ScatterTunes is a Texas start-up focused on making the experience of digital music more visual and interactive. In September, the company introduced its V-Album format, which includes audio tracks in unprotected MP3 format, plus material such as lyrics, photos, videos, and links to merchandise and (where applicable) concert tickets. Although the audio portion of the download works with any software, and can be exported to any MP3 player, the video part requires downloading and installing the free ScatterTunes Player. So far, ScatterTunes has only released a couple of V-Albums, and none by artists I'm interested in, so I didn'… Read more
You know what I like? Free stuff. Especially free music, like the kind Amazon seems to have in abundance these days.
For example, right now you can score a whopping 120 MP3 albums at no charge. Gratis. Nada. Zilch. Freebie.
Note: These are albums, not songs. And they cover a wide range of genres, from classical to comedy to Indian music to pop. I particularly like the 26-track "I Love the '80s, Vol.1 (1880s)," which features works from Brahms, Dvorak, and Mahler, among others.
If this sounds a bit familiar, it's because in the past I'… Read more
Medieval CUE splitter is an easy-to-use tool for breaking long audio files into smaller, songlike chunks. It has a simple layout and fast results; its only drawback is the rare CUE file format it uses.
The program's interface is nothing spectacular; in fact, it looks and feels rather sterile. However, its commands are clearly marked, and we had no difficulty navigating it or understanding its controls. This program's biggest problem is that it doesn't support every audio format. While it's compatible with MP3, WAV, and other popular formats, these files need to have a CUE text … Read more
I have no doubt musicians will continue to perform throughout the 2010s, but they'll make less and less money from recorded music. The passion to make and sell recorded music is already starting to wane.
Big record labels will be increasingly irrelevant so I wouldn't be surprised if Warner, Universal, Sony/BMG, and EMI eventually merge into one mega-label to sell and license back-catalog music. New music, that's another story. Already established bands, like Radiohead, have already proved the point: they don't need record companies anymore. They can sell their music directly to fans.
But that model won't work for smaller groups. Recorded music for them may survive purely as a promotional tool, as fewer and fewer bands have any expectation of seeing recording as a potential source of income. Buying music, in physical form or by legal download, doesn't seem to have much of a future. So why would a band make an effort to make music people would want to listen to decades from now? The art of making albums--a suite of songs if you will--may become a rare pursuit. … Read more
PrintStation is designed to assist in the photo-printing process. You can use it to create layouts of single or multiple photos and print them out or save them as image or PDF files.
PrintStation has an attractive and modern interface. The main interface serves as a file browser. You can change the background color to gray or black, which helps you evaluate the color and tone of your photos. The file browser allows for scalable thumbnail viewing of photos that you can select for printing, or you can create new folders and organize files from it. From the Create Layout … Read more
Believe it or not, we're beginning to wind down the year here at CNET. Before your eyes is the final Download Dispatch of 2009. We've had a pretty busy year, reporting on everything from new security apps (incidentally, check out our Security Starter Kit) to complete coverage of Microsoft's new Windows 7 operating system. We even launched a Windows 7 blog.
But before we leave you to the merriment of the festive season, we wanted to give you a tip about organizing your holidays photos. If you missed it, Google's free photo-organizing app, Picasa, recently received … Read more
Create photo slideshows using Flash technology with Fortop Album Creator. Choose a template, select your photos, and Fortop Album Creator will create a slideshow. You can upload MP3 files for background music, too.
The interface is attractive, with a good variety of templates to choose from. A Help file is there when more assistance is needed. Creating a slideshow is easy, but saving the file is tricky. It's important to select "create loading HTML file" when saving your slideshow. Choosing that option lets you view your slideshow in your computer's browser. Fortop Album Creator's native … Read more
Virtual Album Maker Standard is a virtual photo album maker that allows users to easily create attractive electronic photo albums. Although it's not the most sophisticated program we've ever seen, its ease of use makes it a good choice for this type of task.
The program's interface is particularly intuitive, walking users through each step of the album creation process. There are several templates to choose from, including calendars and collage-style albums. Users then customize the album cover and background, choose music (the program comes with a handful of MIDI files, or users can use their own … Read more
PixFiler is an attractive and easy-to-use program that lets users easily organize their digital images. The program's intuitive interface makes it a breath of fresh air compared with other image management programs.
Everything about PixFiler is easy to figure out. The interface is split into two panes: one for thumbnail previews, and another to view the full-size image. Getting images into the program is simple: users choose the directory they want to import, selecting the entire thing or specific images, and the program loads the images quickly. From there, users can edit image information, including ID number, date, description, … Read more
HP Photosmart Essential provides a simple set of tools for editing and sharing photos. While not offering a ton of options and functions, the program does a fine job of sticking to the basics.
We were surprised by how simple and professional-looking the program's interface was and it was clear the designers put a lot of effort into it. That was even before we watched the brief tutorial videos that showed us everything we needed to know. The program reminded us of many other photo editors, though with only a handful of tools, like color, lighting, resizing, and cropping. … Read more