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From online to CD in minutes

By DAVE GUSSOW

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 30, 2000


Music to burn
Internet music is such a guilty pleasure.

From online to CD in minutes
With digital music, it doesn't take long to go from online to a disk.

With digital music, it doesn't take long to go from online to a disk.

I approached Napster (www.napster.com) cautiously, leery of a music-sharing program that allows others to peek into my computer, even on a limited basis, but curious about all the hoopla.

In only a few minutes, I downloaded and set up the software, and then I started digging into a musical gold mine.

To find a song on Napster, a user types in the title or singer. A list appears quickly of other Napster users who are online and have the song available for sharing.

I tried my best to stump it, but got a hit on every search, from an early 1960s group called the Village Stompers to classic comedy routines from Carlin to Seinfeld. It's also addictive. Once you start looking, it's hard to stop.

Choosing an eclectic mix that reflects my affection for '60s radio and my brief career as a disc jockey, I downloaded a dozen or so songs. On the search list, Napster puts a green, yellow or red dot next to each hit. Green means it's a fast connection, yellow is slower and red is, well, watching paint dry.

I started downloading, creating a small library of songs. I listened to them on the PC, using the MusicMatch jukebox software (www.musicmatch.com).

I quickly discovered that quality is not a certainty. Even on cheap PC speakers, I could hear the familiar pops and hisses from vinyl recordings. One song abruptly cut off at the end.

Since I have yet to get a CD-RW drive (compact disc-rewriteable), I had to wait until I visited a friend to burn a CD. He had some of the same songs downloaded on his PC, and I retrieved a few more.

He had software that came with his Sony CD-RW. It was easy to transfer the songs from Napster, arrange them in the order I wanted and click a button. About 10 minutes later, I had a CD with about 65 minutes of music.

The deed done, I haven't returned to Napster much (though my kids have) and have not burned another CD. At some point, I have purchased almost all of the songs I downloaded. That helps my conscience a bit, but it still nags at me that I didn't pay a dime for the downloads.

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