By Steve Bass
I know you’re not always happy with your PC, so here are three
fixes to some of the annoyances you’ve sent to me.
Louder. No, Quieter
The Annoyance: I have lots of MP3s
I’ve ripped onto my hard drive from CDs. Nothing seems to
play at the same volume level. When I play Copeland’s
"Fanfare," it’s loud enough to make the dog jump, yet
all of Dave Brubeck’s music is way too soft.
The Fix: When you use Windows
Media Player to burn music into a CD, the trick is
to adjust–or normalize–the sound level as you’re
burning the MP3s to the CD. Do that from the Burn menu by enabling Apply volume level across tracks on the CD.
Normalization doesn’t work in WMP when you’re ripping MP3s from a CD
to disk. Unfathomable, I know, but it’s Microsoft’s party. So use FairStars CD Ripper to do the job. The
freebie does its job, normalizes the cuts, and handles plenty of file
formats, including WAV, MP3, WMA, and more obscure ones, such as APE
Use FairStars DC Ripper to normalize while ripping.
The hassle is what to do with all the music you’ve already ripped. Microsoft’s WMP
ﬁxes the problem by normalizing the volume as you play the
music. Look under View, Enhancements, Crossfading,
and turn on Auto Volume Leveling.
Unfortunately, this trick works only when you’re playing
the music in WMP. But there’s a way to permanently normalize all your
cuts. Download MP3Gain, a free–and very
cool–utility that analyzes and normalizes the sound levels of
MP3 files that you feed to it. Check out the FAQ; you have to send MP3 files to MP3Gain for it to do its work.
Need a Quick Print? Just Right-Click
The Annoyance: I’m in Windows
Explorer and found the file I need to print. Isn’t it silly
to have to double-click the file to open the application and then find
the Print command–just to print the file?
The Fix: You’re
right, there is a better way to do it, but the
designers at the Redmond Empire don’t make it obvious. The
fastest way to print a document, no matter what the application, is to
let Windows Explorer do the deed. Right-click the file and select
Print. Explorer will open the program that’s associated with
the file extension and send the document to the printer.
Explorer’s neat and tidy, too, closing the app when
The Annoyance: I like a messy
desktop, okay? I don’t care if I haven’t used some of the icons for
years. And no, I don’t want you to clean it up for me, thank you very
much. Now how do I turn the freakin’ thing off? [Actual note
from Judy Bass. –Steve]
The Fix: Yes, dear. Right-click
on the desktop, select Properties, choose the Desktop tab, and click Customize
Desktop. Uncheck "Run Desktop Wizard every 60
days" to disable the wizard, then click OK twice.
(I’ll get to the lawn tomorrow. –Steve)
TechBite’s columnist Steve Bass and PC World Contributing Editor publishes a free weekly newsletter with commentary on the technology products he loves, the strategies for getting the most out of them,and the gotchas that can cause computing misery. Sign up for the newsletter here