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Second, Windows XP lets you create standard music CDs O CDs containing a dozen or so songs that play back in your home or car CD player. By mixing songs from various albums, you can create your own Greatest Hits CD containing your favorite songs.
To store a dozen or so songs on a CD for playing on your home or carâ€™s CD player, follow these instructions. (Actually, theyâ€™re very much like copying songs to a portable MP3 player, as described in the preceding section.)
1. Insert your blank CD into your writeable CD drive.
When the helpful little message pops up, click Take No Action. Media Player handles the details.
2. Open Media Player and click Copy to CD or Device.
(This button is one of the buttons along the left side of Media Player.) Media Player shows a window split in two. One side displays the files youâ€™d like to copy to the CD; the other side shows the CD. (Both sides are empty because you havenâ€™t selected any files, and youâ€™re copying to a blank CD.)
3. Click Media Playerâ€™s Media Library button.
Click an album containing songs that you want to copy to the CD; its songs appear on Media Playerâ€™s right side.
Chapter 13: Sound! Movies! Media Player!
4. Right-click on the desired song and choose Copy to Audio CD.
Each time you click a song and choose Copy to Audio CD, Media Player immediately shows you the window you see in Step 2, with your currently chosen file on the Music to Copy list. Media Player keeps track of each songâ€™s length, listing the total at the listâ€™s bottom.
Why does Media Player care? Because CDs hold only 74 or 80 minutes of music. If you try to stuff too many songs onto the CD, Media Player displays the message Will not fit next to some songsâ€™ names.
To remove songs that wonâ€™t fit, click the check marked box next to their names.
After you line up the right amount of songs, move to Step 5.
5. Click Copy Music.
Copy Music is the little red button near the upper-right corner.
Now itâ€™s time to move away from your computer for a while. Windows must convert the files into the proper CD format, and that takes about ten minutes. Then, Windows needs a half hour or so to copy the music onto the CD â€” and Microsoft warns you not to fiddle with your computer while creating a CD because Media Player could â€śstop functioning.â€ť
A Media Player copies to both CD-R and CD-RW discs. Many stereos choke on CD-RW discs, so youâ€™re best off with the CD-R discs. I buy â€™em in stacks of 50 through Amazon.com.
A When storing songs onto your hard drive, Media Player compresses them into WMA format, losing some quality in the process. To let Media Player work with the best-quality recordings when creating CDs, use the highest quality level possible when ripping songs onto your hard drive. (Set the quality level by choosing Options from the Tools menu, clicking the Copy Music tab, and sliding the tab to Best Quality.)
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Adding Skins to Media Player
Todayâ€™s generation wants to play with its toys. So, Microsoft added a whimsical feature to Media Player. The program normally rests on your desktop like a big wet towel, covering everything in its path.
Through skin technology, users can change that ugly wet towel into something much more hip. Skins are new interfaces for Media Player that make it less imposing and more friendly.
Hereâ€™s how to put new clothes on Media Player:
1. Click the Skin Chooser button.
A list of skins appears on the left with the currently highlighted skin displayed on the right.
2. Choose a skin from the list.
More than a dozen skins await the dressing room. Try one on by clicking its name. The preview window shows the skinâ€™s appearance, as shown in Figure 13-8.
Đ¤ Windows Media Player
Click a skin to see its appearance in the preview window.
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Mors ĂĽ N ins
To see even more skins, click the More Skins button near the top of the list. That whisks you off to the Microsoft Skins Gallery on the Internet â€” a collection of user-submitted skins up for the taking.
Apply S k:n
3. Click the Apply Skin button.
Located near the top of the list, this button dresses Media Player in your newly chosen skin and places it onto the desktop for evaluation, as shown in Figure 13-9.
The newly selected Media Player appears onscreen.
If you like your new selection, keep it. (And try to figure out the new placement of all the buttons.) If itâ€™s not quite up to snuff, repeat Steps 1 through 3.
Choose the Miniplayer skin when listening to music and still working on the computer. A nice small player, it fits into the background nicely. (Miniplayer wonâ€™t play videos, though.)
Fixing Media Player Muckups
The all-powerful computing world stumbles when trying to act like a simple TV set. Changing a channel on a TV set involves pressing a button. Over the Internet world, users must deal with weird standards, confusing terms (such as codec), and computers that shudder under the weight of displaying high-powered Internet sound and graphics.