Hits and Bits

Cheap and simple software choices for capturing webcasts on your iPod

Q. Is there some way for me to record tracks off Internet radio stations, so I can rock 'em on my iPod? There's this one midnight show on CBC Radio 3 that I absolutely adore, but I can't figure out how to turn the songs into MP3s.

A.A modest problem, dear reader, given the plethora of freeware and shareware tools designed for just this purpose. The options are slightly better for Macheads, though it's not like you're SOL as a PC user, either.

Let's start on the Apple side, with Oleg Kibirev's RadioRecorder for Mac OS X (u1.netgate.net/~snowcat). The software makes it easy enough to schedule recordings, just in case you're not awake for that midnight show, and to add tracks to your iTunes library. Oleg doesn't charge for RadioRecorder, though you're free to leave him a tip; considering what a stellar job he does providing directions, as well as answering users' panicked queries, y'all should dig deep for the man.

Also worthy of a gander is Rogue Amoeba's Audio Hijack Pro (rogueamoeba.com). At $32, it's twice as expensive as plain ol' Audio Hijack, but it's money well spent: The pro version lets you record songs in MP3 and AAC format, while its less muscular sibling only works with AIFF. Audio Hijack Pro also includes some basic editing tools, allowing you to quickly chop up radio shows into individual tracks. You can even rip out snippets of DVD audio, just in case you like walking around town while assaulting your eardrums with Tom Berenger's "I am reality . . . " speech from Platoon.

The Mac Internet radio triumvirate is rounded out by Bitcartel's RadioLover (bitcartel.com). The $15 program includes a nifty drag-and-drop interface for dragging MP3 stations with .pls extensions into the recorder. Bitcartel's also offering a special deal, pairing RadioLover with iRecordMusic (which lets you capture audio from video streams) for the low, low price of $30.

In the Windows realm, Mr. Roboto's pick is also the cheapest: StationRipper (stationripper.com), a spin-off of the open-source recording application Streamripper (streamripper.sourceforge.net). It's set up to work best with stations gleaned from SHOUTcast (shoutcast.com), a Winamp-based streaming audio system. You can find just about every genre of music imaginable on SHOUTcast, including Holland's Radio Zilvervos, home to the greatest polka jams this side of Oktoberfest. Just do a search by genre, and you're set.

A little dearer, but still effective, is Replay Radio (replay-radio.com), which works with Windows 98 and up. The latest version sends songs straight to iTunes, and the graphics are a bit less clunky than StationRipper's. But don't take Mr. Roboto's word for it—try the free demo on the website.

One piece of advice on any of these products: Record at a pretty high bitrate or you'll be disappointed with the audio quality. Mr. Roboto recommends going at least 160 kilobits per second on the MP3s, and even 192 if you can stomach the storage requirements.


At your Service Pack 2.1

Big-time tip of the helmet to Richard J. McAllan, who wrote in with a stellar suggestion: If your peripherals are on the fritz after installing Windows Service Pack 2, it might be because the fix wreaks havoc on Java-based programs. So if your printer or scanner is acting askew, it might be worth visiting the Sun Microsystems website (sun.com) to obtain a fresh version of Java. Nice one, Richard.


Blanket security

Mr. Roboto has just one response to the recent debut of Bruce Schneier's blog: It's about freaking time. Anyone with an inkling of interest in security, both online and off, should hightail it to schneier.com/blog on a daily basis to receive the guru's wisdom on subjects ranging from pervasive surveillance to cryptography (the latter being his personal specialty). While you're there, sign up for his monthly Crypto-Gram newsletter, a favorite among hackers and spooks. Soon you'll know more than the boys out at CIA headquarters in Langley. Disturbing, but true.


bkoerner@villagevoice.com

 
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