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TECH TIP - Using Audio
 
Not many of us probably think to use some of the audio capabilities of our computers.  But there are some neat options to using audio that may make you life easier.
 
I use audio to record notes and reminders, make lists, dictate things that I don't need to have typed but want to have a record of, record personal messages to people and send them as email attachment, and I even embed audio into Word documents.  I recently had a list of about 200 names that I wanted to keep a record of but that I didn't want to take the time to type.  I simply recorded the names and if I need to refer to them, I will just listen to the sound file.
 
So how do you it?  Well, you need a few things to do this.  First of all, you need a microphone that plugs into your computer.  There are two types you can get for very cheap prices.  You can get a head phone with a "boom" mic attached to it.  Or you can get just a simple microphone on a stand for a few bucks at Radio Shack or other electronics store. 
 
Then you need some software to do your recording.  There is a great FREE software program called Audacity.  This freeware program is a very powerful recording program that allows you to record and edit sound files.  But it is simple enough to use for just basic recordings.  You can download it here:
http://audacity.sourceforge.net/
 
OK - so you have the microphone and the software.  Now you are ready to start your recording.  Plug your microphone into the "mic" plug-in - usually in the back of your computer.  It should be marked with either an icon of a microphone or may have the word "mic" next to it.  Start your software.  The software has a panel of buttons just like a cassette recorder or CD player.  Click on the Record button - make your recording - and then click on the Stop button.  That's it!  Now you can "export" (save) your sound to a wav file or an mp3 file.
 
You are going to want to export it as an mp3 file because the file will be much smaller than the wav file - much. much smaller.  A Note Here:  Audacity requires that you have an encoder to export the file as an mp3 file, so you must add that proper encoding file to your computer.  The best encoder to use is one called "Lame."  You can download Lame from this website (it is also FREE):
http://linux.tucows.com/preview/74622.html
 
For help on using Lame, click on Help in Audacity and read about it.  They have an excellent help section.

 

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