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Music Online

by Frank Lenk

Frank Lenk’s Music Online is a computer manual that foregoes most of the technical jargon frequently used by such books, instead presenting the material in clear, reader-friendly language. That was a relief to me, someone easily baffled by talk of bitrates, pixels, and html. Beginning and intermediate users will also appreciate the solid presentation of the basics in the book’s first five chapters. Readers are taught how to convert music from analog to digital form; two ways to download music directly from the World Wide Web; which equipment, both hardware and software, is required to “turn your PC into an audio powerhouse”; how to process digital sound files, and how to store downloaded music. It’s a comprehensive guide that provides ample explanations for why the sometimes mysterious world of the Web works the way it does, and examples (with screenshots) of how various features might be put to use.

From a user’s point of view, Music Online falls somewhere between the Idiot’s Guides and the more advanced books on the subject, like the recently released I Want My MP3! by Bill Mann. Lenk’s guide may be too rudimentary for the more advanced technophile, but will easily impress the average technophobe like myself.

Canadian readers will be particularly interested in the book’s final chapter, “Commercializing It,” which examines the legal ramifications of downloading music and burning CDs from the Net. “Copyright law is a mysterious area of knowledge,” Lenk writes, and he goes on to explain the differences between Canadian and U.S. laws. It is a dry topic, but crucial to understand if one plans to use downloaded music for nearly any purpose.