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Chris Fehily

Part 8

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Chapter 12 Pictures.

A sampling of vintage and modern pictures that you can download: Alb.u.m, CD, and DVD covers Art and architecture (fine and otherwise) Blueprints, designs, and plans Cartoon, comic, and anime characters Celebrities, models, and naked people Family trips Games and athletes Graphics and icons Landscapes, seascapes, wildlife, and undersea life Maps, signs, and symbols Optical illusions Outer s.p.a.ce Posters, ads, and logos Railways, planes, and vehicles Stock art and photos Tattoo designs Wars and crime scenes.

Torrent payloads range from single pictures to large stock and museum collections, representing the work of artists, ill.u.s.trators, graphic designers, photographers, photojournalists, drafters, architects, and cartographers. Image quality ranges from small, low-resolution photos to oversized, high-res desktop backgrounds (wallpaper).

Image Formats.

The most common image formats are JPEG (.jpg, .jpe, .jpeg), PNG (.png), TIFF (.tif, .tiff), and GIF (.gif). Bitmap or BMP (.bmp) images are rare because, unlike the preceding formats, they're uncompressed and have large file sizes.

To view or organize image files in Windows, use Windows Photo Viewer or Windows Live Photo Gallery (the latter is a free download from Microsoft via Windows Update). In OS X, use Preview or iPhoto. Third-party image managers like Picasa are available; read Wikipedia's list of image organizers. The hardware players listed in "Media Players" in Chapter 11 can run slideshows on your TV.

Other formats include Adobe Photoshop (.psd) and Ill.u.s.trator (.ai). An Encapsulated PostScript or EPS (.eps) file can be placed in professional design programs like those from Adobe and QuarkXPress. Some picture collections come as PDF (.pdf) doc.u.ments (see "PDF Files" in Chapter 14).

If you download a picture in an unfamiliar format, search for the filename extension or read Wikipedia's article about image file formats. To a.s.sociate a particular image type with a specific program, see Chapter 3.

Chapter 13 Music and Spoken Word.

A sampling of audio files that you can download: Audio books, which can come as a single file, per-chapter files, or multiple equal-sized files that must be played gaplessly Cla.s.sroom recordings, training courses, tutorials, and seminars Comedy shows Dance mixes Foreign-language instruction Historic speeches Literary and theatrical dramatizations Movie and musical soundtracks Music of every genre and venue from artists of every caliber, with downloads ranging from single pieces to discographies Podcasts and audio magazines Radio shows, news shows, and interviews Ringtones and computer system sounds Religious text readings Self-help and relaxation techniques Sound effects.

Audio Formats.

The most common audio format is MP3 (.mp3). An MP3 file's bitrate largely determines its quality: The bitrate is between 32 kbps and 320 kbps (kilobits per second). Bitrates less than 128 kbps are low quality, akin to broadcast radio. 128160 kbps is standard quality. 224320 kbps is high quality, with 320 kbps sounding about the same as a CD.

Better quality means larger files: the file size of a 3-minute MP3 is about 2.8 megabytes @ 128 kbps, 4.2 MB @ 192 kbps, and 7 MB @ 320 kbps.

Expect diminishing returns: 128 kbps audio sounds hugely better than 64 kbps but only marginally worse than 256 kbps.

For music, the torrent name, filenames, or release notes will sometimes give the bitrate; if not, you can view a file's bitrate in its Properties or Info window (see Chapter 3). Bitrates matter less for spoken-word audio, which are typically single-channel (mono) recordings with little dynamic range.

Other audio formats include AAC (.aac, .m4a, .m4b, .m4p, .m4r), AIFF (.aif), FLAC (.flac), Musepack or MPC (.mpc), RealAudio (.ra), Vorbis (.oga, .ogg), WAV (.wav), WMA (.wma), and many more. These formats may have better sound-quality/file-size tradeoffs than MP3, meaning they sound better at the same bitrate, but none has MP3's ubiquity. Every media player plays MP3s. Windows and OS X come with Windows Media Player and iTunes. Other popular media players include VLC media player and Winamp. I prefer the simplicity of Media Player Cla.s.sic. See also Wikipedia's list of media players. The hardware players listed in "Media Players" in Chapter 11 can play audio files on your TV. Some audio collections come with playlists, such as .m3u files, that you can open in your media player to play the accompanying audio files in a specific order.

If you download an audio file in an unfamiliar format, search for the filename extension or read Wikipedia's article about audio file formats. To a.s.sociate a particular audio type with a specific program, see Chapter 3.

Chapter 14 Books, Doc.u.ments, and Fonts.

A sampling of books and doc.u.ments that you can download: Academic textbooks and instructors' solutions manuals Comic books and anime Computer source code Course notes and reports Dictionaries, thesauri, references, and usage books Fiction and nonfiction of many periods, genres, and languages Foreign-language instruction Knitting patterns Magazines Maps, atlases, and travel guides Musical scores and songbooks Programming, computer, and technical books Religious texts Screenplays and scripts Tests and test-preparation guides Training courses, tutorials, and seminars WikiLeaks archives.

PDF Files.

The most common format for books is Portable Doc.u.ment Format or PDF (.pdf). PDF is a fixed page-layout format, meaning that you can't change a PDF file's font, text size, page size, page numbers, margins, columns, gutters, or whites.p.a.ce. PDF works best for highly formatted doc.u.ments like magazines, brochures, and screenplays, or typographically complex works like technical manuals, design specifications, math books, academic texts, and music, architecture, and art books.

PDFs are easy to read on large screens and tablets, but small-screened mobile devices show either an illegible miniature or a zoomed letterbox view of a partial page. Some ereaders reflow PDFs (badly).

For Windows, the most popular PDF viewer is Adobe Reader. Depending on who you ask, Reader either works fine or is a buggy, bloated, chronically self-updating security hazard (PDFs can carry malware). Safer and svelter alternatives include Sumatra PDF and FoxIt Reader. See also Wikipedia's list of PDF software. If you download Adobe Reader, opt out of any accompanying c.r.a.pware (such as McAfee Security Scan).

For OS X, use Apple's built-in Preview application or Adobe Reader. (In OS X 10.2 Jaguar and earlier, Preview doesn't support links in PDFs.) For iOS on iPad, iPhone, and iPod, you can use Apple's free iBooks app to read PDFs. You also can attach the PDF to an email message and send it to yourself; to read the PDF, open the message and tap the attachment. Alternatively, transfer the PDF to your device and read it by using a third-party app such as GoodReader (my favorite), AirSharing, Doc.u.ments To Go, or Aji Reader. All are available from Apple's App Store, or via Cydia for jailbreaks.

Amazon's Kindle DX and Kindle 2 and later have a built-in PDF viewer. Send PDFs directly to your Kindle via your address, or drag and drop PDFs from your computer to your Kindle via a USB connection.

Dedicated ereaders such as the Sony Reader and Barnes & n.o.ble Nook have built-in PDF readers. Most smartphones have built-in PDF readers or third-party readers such as Doc.u.ments To Go.

If you download a pa.s.sword-protected PDF that won't open or print, you can crack it easily with ElcomSoft's Advanced PDF Pa.s.sword Recovery.

Ebook Formats.

For novels and text-heavy works, avoid PDFs and look for books in EPUB (.epub), Mobipocket (.mobi), Amazon Kindle (.azw), plain text (.txt), or HTML (.html, .htm) format. Like webpages (and unlike PDF pages), ebook pages are screenfuls of text and graphics that reflow when you change the font or text size. EPUB is an open standard that all ereaders except Kindle support. Kindle supports .mobi and .azw. To convert among formats, use Calibre, an open-source, cross-platform library manager that's better than the shovelware that comes with some ereaders. See also Wikipedia's comparisons of ebook formats and ebook readers. If you're looking for cla.s.sics or works in the public domain, skip BitTorrent and browse Project Gutenberg's huge library of free ebooks and audio books, which you can download in multiple formats.

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Other Doc.u.ment Formats.

Disk Images.

Often a program comes as a disk image, which is a single large file that reproduces the contents, structure, and behavior of an optical disk, hard drive, or other physical storage medium. If you've copied or backed up any music CD or movie DVD, then you're familiar with the idea. Think of a disk image as a digital copy of a program's original installation disk. Large programs can span multiple disk images.

The standard Windows disk-image formats are ISO (.iso) and CUE/BIN (paired .cue and .bin files). IMG (.img) files are equivalent to ISOs. Nonstandard images, which you should approach with caution, include MagicISO (.udf, .uif), Media Descriptor (paired .mdf and .mds files), and PowerISO (.daa).

The standard OS X disk-image format is DMG (.dmg). A less-common format is CDR (.cdr), an ISO-like format used by OS X's Disk Utility (you can change the filename extension from .cdr to .iso). Old OS 9 disk images have .smi or .img extensions.

If you download a disk-image file in an unfamiliar format, search for the filename extension or read Wikipedia's article about disk images. To a.s.sociate a particular disk-image type with a specific program, see Chapter 3.


An executable or EXE file is a program. (Technically, it's a sequence of instructions that performs specific tasks on a computer.) When you launch an application, you're actually opening its executable file. Windows application files have the extension .exe (notepad.exe, for example). OS X applications have the extension .app ( Small, standalone applications and utilities, which you can launch without installing, tend to come as executable files rather than as disk images.

Mounting Disk Images.

Mounting a disk image makes it behave like a physical CD or DVD. A mounted image appears as a separate virtual drive in Windows Explorer or Finder windows, as though it were a real disk inserted into a normal CD/DVD drive. You can mount multiple disk images at the same time, from local or network drives.

Windows programs that can mount disk images include Daemon Tools Lite and Virtual CloneDrive. If you get Daemon Tools Lite, opt out of the bundled spyware (browser toolbar, Daemon search, and so on) during installation.

In OS X, .dmg files automount when you open them (you don't need a separate mounting program). To mount an ISO, use the built-in Disk Utility application (choose File > Open Disk Image) or the hdiutil command (in Terminal, type hdiutil mount -help).

File archivers (Chapter 5) can browse and extract the contents of ISOs and other disk images without mounting them.

See also Wikipedia's list of disk-image software.

Burning Disks.

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