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Five great multimedia freebies.

I am often asked to suggest software packages that can enhance both the professional and entertainment aspects of a user's computing world. While many great software products come to mind, I have my favorites--and what makes a software package a favorite in my book is when it's free!

So, here is my personal best list of cool free stuff:

1. Audacity

This highly versatile software is a one-stop audio file solution--from recording and publishing, to editing and altering. The best use of Audacity that I have found is for recording personal or business pod-casts. Podcasts are Web-based audio files that can be collected by a user's software every time there is an updated file. Audacity is compatible with most operating systems including Windows, Mac OS X and Linux/GNU.

Here is just a sampling of its many features:

** Record live audio

** Convert tapes and records into digital recordings or CDs

** Edit Ogg Vorbis, MP3 and WAV sound files

** Cut, copy, splice and mix sounds together

** Change the speed or pitch of a recording.

For a complete list of features and to download Audacity, go to http://audacity.sourceforge.net

2. IVE (Instant Video Everywhere)

IVE was developed by Sony to provide unlimited voice and video between IVE users from anyplace at anytime. All the user needs is a computer, Web cam and a broadband Internet connection. Account sign-up is free, and the software itself is fairly simple to install. IVE users can make free one-to-one VoIP calls over the Internet and stream video to each other, which works very well. For additional benefits, the Premium version costs $9.95 per month and the Professional package costs $19.95 per month.

Some of the features include:

** Unlimited video and voice calling

** IVE worldwide calling

** Video call mailbox*

** Multi-party video and voice calling*

** IVE Video Meeting Rooms*

For more information and to download software, go to: http://www.instantvideoeverywhere.com.

3. Camstudio

Camstudio is screen-recording software that can also capture voice during the recording process, making it a great product for video tutorials, software demonstrations, tracking problems with your computer to show technical support, and much more. It is open source software, which means users can adapt the program coding to meet their needs. Camstudio can record screen captures with voice to be made into AVI files or SWF (Flash) files. It is an incredibly easy tool to use that can be of great benefit for many reasons.

For a full list of features and to download Camstudio, go to http://www.camstudio.org.

4. FreeMind

This open source mind-mapping tool is written in Java, which makes it extremely easy to use. FreeMind is a great organizational tool that helps keep simple notes, plans, goals, and strategies in a quick and easy format.

For the free download, go to http://freemind.sourceforge.net.

5. CDex

This free CD-ripper can extract digital audio from any audio CD. CDex rips quickly and accurately. It offers great quality thanks to its jitter correction tool that eliminates cracks and pops in audio files, as well as a volume normalizer to ensure all files can be ripped at the same volume level. It also includes a free mp3-to-wav converter that prepares audio for CD burning.

For more information and to download CDex, go to http://cdexos.sourceforge.net/index.html.

If you are looking for more free multimedia tools or any other software solutions, a good place to start is www.sourceforge.net. There are thousands of different software packages to meet hundreds of needs. Keep in mind, however, that a majority of this software is unsupported since the applications are free. Please review the software carefully before downloading it or contact a member of your technical support team before installing any software packages.

Grant Seese, MCP, MCSA is the technical support specialist for The Ohio Society of CPAs. He can be reached at gseese@ohio-cpa.com or 800.686.2727, ext. 330.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

By Grant Seese, MCP, MCSA

* Available in the Premium and Professional packages only, check Web site for pricing.
COPYRIGHT 2006 Ohio Society of Certified Public Accountants
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2006 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Business Bytes
Author:Seese, Grant
Publication:Catalyst (Dublin, Ohio)
Date:Nov 1, 2006
Words:676
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