Find and Read Tons of Free E-Books with FBReader

Do you like to read? I love to read, but I have trouble making time for it. Typically, I’ve always read books, and only recently, have I moved to reading on my laptop or netbook. While using a computer, I wondered why so many people preferred using an e-book reader application. I always found most books in PDF or plain text.

Now I know why. An e-Reader can be your best buddy if it’s a good one. It keeps track of all your books, keeps track of where you are in each book, and it may also help you find more books. That’s certainly the case for FBReader, a free and open source (FOSS) e-book reader.

fbreader-icon As you may already know, besides plain text or PDF, e-books come in many formats. FBReader supports html, chm, plucker, palmdoc, oeb, rtf, tcr, OpenReader, non-DRM’ed Mobipocket, and fb2. It also supports reading from tar, zip, gzip, and bzip2 archives. It also has automatic language and encoding detection, automatic hyphenations, full-screen mode, and screen rotation.

Perhaps the best feature for FBReader is that it’s available for many platforms and operating systems. Windows, Linux, FreeBSD, Android, Sharp Zaurus, Siemens Simpad with Opensimpad ROM, Nokia Internet Tablet (Maemo platform), Archos PMA430, Motorola E680i/A780/A1200 smartphones, PepperPad 3, Asus Eee PC, IRex iLiad, UMPC. There’s also a Java version that likely works on a Mac OS.

The FBReader menus and help are available in 13 languages; Arabic, Chinese, Czech, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Lithuanian, Russian, Spanish, Swedish and Ukrainian.

If may have spoken too soon, when I said best feature. I also love the fact that I don’t even have to leave FBReader to go and look for more books. It’s able to search several online libraries and download new books for you. You can even add libraries, as if there wasn’t enough to read already.

Here are four screen shots showing the major functions.

Finding New Books

fbreader-network-library

Looking at Your Books

fbreader-book-lists

Book Cover Art

fbreader-book-cover

Reading a Book

fbreader-book-reading

In Windows, FBReader is offered as a 5MB installer. I found that the program folder can be copied to a flash card or USB drive and used as a semi-portable app as well.

On a final note, there is an active FBReader Group online, which can offer all kinds of help and advice, such as, where to find more cool books.

Download FBReader

Techie Buzz Verdict:

I haven’t been using FBReader long, but I have a feeling it’s going to be one of my favorite apps. The ability to read when I want, on the go, on any PC, and find more books easily is priceless.

techiebuzzrecommendedsoftware1

Techie Buzz Rating: 4.5/5 (Excellent)

Download Podcasts To your PC or Mac

Podcasts are a series of digital audio or video files that can be downloaded using web syndication or RSS feeds.

You need a software such as iTunes to automatically update and download podcasts to your desktop.

podcast_downloader

Sansync is a simple that will allow you to download and listen to podcasts on your PC or Mac.

Once you download and install Sansync, just add the podcast feed URL and it will automatically download the podcasts whenever updates are available.

Sansync is a pretty decent, easy to use application and it is also lightweight compared to other software that can be used to download and listen to podcasts.

Download Sansync for Windows & Mac

Has RealPlayer Stopped Giving Us Real Headaches Yet?

I first wrote about RealPlayer and it’s bad habits in 2004. Back then, you could expect that a RealPlayer install would load you down with adware applications you didn’t want. It would also stage a hostile takeover of all of your media file types. We’ve told you how to get back your favorite file types, but you don’t want to have to do that every time you install new software. Many people swore back then, and even today, that no power on earth would ever get them to use a RealMedia product again.

In the past my recommendation has always been for people to use Real Alternative if they need to play RealMedia files. I may be softening a bit on that advice after trying RealPlayer SP today.

The reason I decided to try RealPlayer after ignoring it for several years is that it now allows you to easily download and convert streaming video from many websites. I couldn’t resist trying that out. Fortunately, I haven’t sworn any oaths of undying hatred for RealPlayer.

RealPlayer SP now advertises that it can:

Download Video
Now you can download and organize your favorite videos from thousands of Websites. Then watch them anytime, anywhere you want.

Convert Video
Our new video converter makes it incredibly easy to copy online video to your iPod, cell phone, Xbox, PS3 or other favorite device.

Share Video
RealPlayer SP is the easiest way to share your favorite videos with your favorite people on your Facebook page or Twitter feed.

You can download RealPlayer SP here.

Here’s what I’ve found after a brief trial.

Before installing, I fired up Zsoft Uninstaller to monitor the RealPlayer install in case I decided not to keep it.

The installer wasn’t a big download, but it was a “stub”. In other words, you’d better be connected to the net because more is going to be downloaded when you start the install. Real Networks used to sometimes hide other programs in the install but now all that I saw was an offer to install Google Chrome and maybe the Google Toolbar. Naturally, I turned them down. I use a different version of Chrome called Iron which offers you far more privacy and I’ve never really liked browser toolbars.

As I mentioned above, RealPlayer used to automatically steal all of the media file types, but this time it asked nicely if it could take only those not already assigned to some other program. It also asked me if it was okay to install an addon for Firefox and other browsers for grabbing videos.

When all was said and done, the final footprint was about 63 MB in the Program Files folder. Sure that’s pretty good sized, but it’s not out of line for a full featured media player.

The first thing I did was visit the “Library” and have RealPlayer scan my drives for media files. It was very fast at this and I was impressed.

When I tried playing some types of media, RealPlayer would offer to go out and get codecs or plugins. In the case of MOV files, it had to grab a plugin for QuickTime. Once that was done it was able to play almost everything I have. It even plays FLV (Flash Video) files now. That’s a trick that Windows Media Player still doesn’t appear to have mastered. If you want to play Flash Video in Windows Media Player, we’ll tell you how.

Next, I went out to test how well RealPlayer rips streaming videos. All I did was open up my Firefox browser and go to JibJab as a first try. As you can see below, the RealPlayer plugin put a small download tab over the video and all I had to do was to click on it to download the video.

cn_realplayer5

cn_realplayer1

The download link worked nicely. I also tried it at a few other video sharing sites like YouTube, Viddler, Vimeo and DailyMotion. It works at them all.

Once downloaded, I checked to see how well RealPlayer could convert it to a different format. The first format I tried was “Zune” which is actually a WMV file format.

cn_realplayer3

It took what seemed forever for the conversion but it got the job done. If you do a lot of conversion between file formats, you may want to try something like Quick Media Converter or maybe an online media converter.

Conclusion:
RealPlayer seems to be making real progress on not giving us so many headaches. I don’t feel that it’s any worse than using Windows Media Player in most cases. If you need to go out and rip videos from the video sharing sites, it may be a great tool for you. If you are using Firefox, keep in mind that there are quite a few addons that also let you grab streaming video from websites. RealPlayer isn’t the only game in town. It’s up to you. Personally, I’ll probably be uninstalling it soon.

Kantaris: VLC Based Media Player With A Sleek Interface

We have seen tens of media players come and go but none has won more hearts than good old VLC (Video Lan Client). However, one thing that was always a negative for VLC is the mundane interface. Now you can solve this by using Kantaris instead.

Kantaris is a free and open-source media player that is based on code from VLC and Bass audio library. Kantaris can play almost all multimedia formats without installing any extra codecs. If you have songs inside an rar archive, no need to extract the first. Kantaris can scan the multimedia within the compressed folder and play it automatically.

With beautiful music visualizations, Kantaris has some similarities to the Windows media player. However, what stands out are the added features it has. Kantaris has an integrated feature to play movie trailers from the Apple website and a built-in support for last.fm.

Right now, Kantaris is only available for Windows. Download it here.

How to Turn Foobar2000 Into a Super Music Player

Foobar2000

Foobar2000 is an advanced music player that sports a very minimalistic look and can manage features TNT size – at the same time. Developed for Windows by Peter Pawlowski, a former freelance contractor for Nullsoft the company that makes WinAmp, Foobar2000 is totally the player of dreams for anyone who needs power, control and speed at the same time in the same player.

However, just after installation, you’ll notice the GUI is very simple, in fact, it’s the most simplest. It’s just grey. That’s all. Then how is it powerful? That’s what you’ll find out in this post.

Default GUI

Although Foobar2000’s base is closed source, it’s development kit, the SDK, is licensed under the BSD license. So there’s a plethora of plugins and modules that can enhance the player’s functionality. Moreover, a lot of advanced features are actually hidden under its hood, that we will tell you about today.

Settings and Configurations

There are several changes you can make to the default installation to make Foobar more happening and useful. Let us check out what they are. Below are some components that we recommend.

1. Add all your media files to the library (and keep them in sync): Just like any other player, you can import all your library into Foobar. The folders that you wish to add will be synchronized and any deletion/addition of music from those folders will instantaneously reflect in your Foobar library.

  • Click Library → Configure. In the dialog box that opens, click on Media Library’ in the sidebar.
  • Click on Add to add the folders you wish to monitor. Once added, Foobar will import all music files present in those folders and also monitor them for any changes.

Media Manager

2. Associate File Types: Foobar supports a large list of file formats. To select Foobar’s association with different formats, follow these steps.

  • Click Library → Configure. In the dialog box that opens, click on File Types’ in the sidebar.
  • Select for which formats you wish to make Foobar the default music player.

File types

3. Configure Keyboard Shortcuts: Keyboard shortcuts play a very important role for any music player. And Foobar does a very good job of handling them. You can create and edit keyboard shortcuts in Foobar, it’s just so easy.

  • Click Library → Configure. In the dialog box that opens, click on General’ and then Keyboard Shortcuts’ in the sidebar.
  • Click the Add Newbutton. Select an action in the Action’ column. Use the Filter box to quickly browse through the actions you require, example: next, play pause, volume up/down.
  • Go to the Key’ box and type in the keyboard key you wish to make the shortcut for the specified action. It can be a combination of keys. Also, if you wish to make it a Global Hotkey, click the corresponding checkbox. Making it a Global Hotkey will let you use the shortcuts even when Foobar is not selected, or you are using another application!

Keyboard Shortcuts

4. Make the cursor follow playback: When songs are being played in a playlist, by default, the song selection does not automatically shift when a new track plays after another. It means, the window will not automatically scroll up or down as per the track’s location. To fix this:

  • Click on Playback’ and select Playback follows cursor’ and Cursor follows playback’

Playback follows cursor

5. Set the order of playback: You won’t see the usual Random’ or Shuffle’ button here in Foobar. It is, in fact, just a click away under a submenu.

  • Click on Playback’ → Order. Select the order of playback you want from the options given. Ample options, eh?

Playback options

6. Minimize to Notification area and Balloon Tooltip: You can minimize Foobar to the Notification area with a single config edit. Enabling balloon tooltips also needs just a click.

  • Click Library → Configure. Select Display → Default User Interface. Under the System Notification Area’ column, select Always show notification area icon’, Minimize to notification area’ and Show balloon tooltip on song change’. Of course, you may select the options you desire and not necessarily these.

Notification Area options

7. Installing themes: Foobar also supports GUI customization and theming. There are several themes available on the internet, most popularly on DeviantArt. Each theme has its own installation instructions and many themes also require certain modules to be installed. More on modules later. Anyhow, to install a theme:

  • Click Library → Configure. Select Display → Default User Interface. Under Theme Management’, click on Import theme’. Select the theme file you’d downloaded from DeviantArt or any other place.

IBIZA Ibiza Theme by Br3tt

Components and Modules

Functionality can be added to the player by using several components or modules that are available. A bunch of them have been developed and supported by the developer, rest are community developed.

The Fooblog has an interesting read on useful components. You should definitely check it out. Fooblog notes:

Installation of components couldn’t be simpler, once downloaded browse to your foobar2000 application directory, typically:

C:\Program Files\foobar2000\

From here enter the componentsdirectory, making sure that fb2k is closed, paste the newly downloaded component .dll file here. Close the folder and open up fb2k again to check the component has installed go to File > Preferences (CTRL+P) > Component. This page lists all the installed plugins, their titles and their version numbers. Double clicking the component will bring up some basic information about it, for instance its purpose and the author.

Each component will have a different method of configuration but ultimately these options will appear in the preferences panel under the associated section, e.g. Display, Tools, Library, etc.

1. Enable Last.fm Scrobbling

Last.fm scrobbling

  • Download Audioscrobbler (foo_audioscrobbler.dll)
  • Save the file in [InstallationDrive]:\Program Files\foobar2000\components
  • Restart Foobar2000
  • Go to Library → Configure → Tools → Audioscrobbler and set the settings. You’re done.

2. Decoding support for Apple Lossless Audio Codec files (.M4A)

  • Download foo_input_alac.zip
  • Extract the file and paste the dll file in it to the components folder as mentioned previously.
  • Restart Foobar2000

3. Customize Columns. Make Layout iTunes Like

Columns_UI

This module makes it very easy to customize the layout of your Foobar2000 player. You can customize where what is displayed. Different modes are already available for you to choose to select the layout.

  • Download Columns_UI
  • Extract the dll and file and paste it in the components folder
  • Restart Foobar. You’ll be asked which UI you want to choose. Select Columns_UI
  • From the Quick Setup window that appears next, select the layout you prefer.

4. iPod Manager

iPod management component which allows you to manage most Apple iPod models without the use of iTunes. Features include:

  • Artwork support
  • ReplayGain to SoundCheck conversion
  • Gapless playback support
  • Conversion/transcoding of unsupported audio formats
  • Smart playlist creation

Extract the downloaded archive – using suitable compression software, such as 7-Zip – to the components sub-directory of your foobar2000 directory. Additional requirements/steps   and Download here.

5. Add ASIO output support

Useful for rare/obscure soundcards that provide ASIO drivers but no regular Windows audio drivers, as well as for bit-exact output on any soundcards that provide ASIO drivers.

  1. Install the ASIO component from the foobar2000 official components site.
  2. Configure it – Preferences / Playback / Output / ASIO Virtual Devices. This step is necessary because there’s no automatic way to detect which ASIO device channel corresponds to which speaker; additionally, multiple identical soundcards present in your system are presented as different ASIO channel groups provided by one driver rather than different drivers.
  3. Set your output device to one of configured ASIO devices.

6. Audio CD Burning Support

This module allows you to burn audio CDs from any of supported audio formats, through context menu commands. No longer requires Nero to be installed.

Download dll file and place it in your components folder.

7. Displays your media library in multiple list views.

default

Facets is a flexible media library viewer for foobar2000, based on linked lists. It provides a very sleek and modern looking playlist view that you must be familiar with while using other players like iTunes, Songbird etc.

Download Facets | Screenshots | Feature List | Installation Instructions

8. Pause Playback when session is locked

This module adds the menu command “Pause On Lock” which will automatically pause playback when the desktop is locked or when a Fast User Switch occurs, then resume when the desktop session is restored.

Download Component

9. View Playback Statistics

Playback statistics Playback statistics

This module collects playback statistics for your Media Library content. Statistics can be displayed in the Properties dialog or using %first_played%, %last_played%, %played_per_day%, %play_count%, %added% and %rating% in the Playlist view of the Default User Interface under the Library → Configure.

Playback statistics

10. Quickly Tag Music with Quick Tagger

Quick Tagger adds customizable context menu commands for quickly setting tag fields to preconfigured values (for rating and such). Can be used to bind keyboard shortcuts to simple tag modifications.

The configuration for the Quick Tagger can be found in the foobar2000 preferences on the Tools > Tagging > Quick Tagger page. For example, it can be used to write a rating tag to files. Click the Add New button to add a new preset, and change the name to “Rating” (without the quotation marks) and press Enter. Then press F2 or click on the values column and change the text to “1; 2; 3; 4; 5″. This will create a new submenu in the context menu at Tagging / Quick Tagger. The new commands can be invoked directly through the context menu, or they can be bound to keyboard shortcuts as usual. [by foosion]

Adding Quick Tags Values: Quick tagger

Now setting up keyboard shortcuts for the values:

Quick Tagger Keyboard Shortcuts

Download Quick Tagger

11. Install Equalizer Presets: Foobar2000 has a built in Equalizer, but there are no presets for you to choose. But we can download some and load them as we need.

  • Download Equalizer Presets (Second option, under the Download heading)
  • Extract the zip package and put the preset files somewhere you can find them later.
  • Restart Foobar2000. Go to View → Equalizer. Check Equalizer Enabled’ and click the Load’ button. Select any one preset you downloaded previously.

Equalizer

12. Channel Mixer

This module lets you make certain changes to the way sound output is done. Like:

* – (up|down)mix (to|from) 1-6 channels
* – redirect bass to subwoofer channel (6-channels output mode only)
* – delay rear channels by 1-40 ms (4 or 6-channels output mode only)
* – surround sound effect (2->4 or 2->6 mode only)
* – changing virtual width of a stereoimage

Download Channel MixerComponent

13. Grab Song Lyrics and Update the song’s lyric metadata:

This component, once installed, let’s you download lyrics for one, or any number of songs selected from the LyricWiki or LyricPlugin Database.

Select one or multiple songs, right click, select Lyric Grabber and click on one of the two sources:

Lyric Grabber

Once it searches for lyrics, you click the Update File button, and then the lyrics will be stored in the music file as a ID3 tag.

Lyric Grabber

To know more about ID3 tags, click here.

Download Lyric Grabber Component

What Say?

Foobar2000 is a minimalistic yet powerful media player. It’s got a wealth of customization options. A good deal of developers can be found at HydrogenAudio Forums where you can also get support for the application. A list of ALL components can also be found here.

Even though, it lacks some features such as Video playback, it does Audio playback nicely and is well, very snappy at what it does. Whatever number of components you load into it and whatever functionality you add, it still takes no more than a second to start up.

With a totally customized version, a number of components installed and monitoring a music library of 30Gb, Foobar on my machine does not take any more than 14Mb of RAM at a time.

foobar2000 memory footprint

Isn’t that great? Download Your Own Foobar2000 Today!

PS: I call it the player of geeks! :P

Download Windows 7 Codec Pack

Tip: Click here if you are looking for more interesting Windows 7 tips and tricks.

Windows Media Player by default does not support many popular codecs and there are many alternatives you could use to get playback support for those codecs in WMP. However in Windows 12, Microsoft has build native support for popular formats such as DivX and MP4.

However there are still some unsupported codecs in WMP 12 on Windows 7, which will result in some videos not playing, to overcome the issue you can download the Codec pack, which will add support for the missing codecs.

Also Read: How To Play Any Video File In Windows Media Player

windows_7_codecs

The new Win7codecs which I have created do not change or mess with what Microsoft has going on with native support.This includes the native H264 playback in WMP12 and Media Center. DXVA accelerated H264 playback is provided by the codec package for all other capable non Microsoft players.

Download Windows 7 Codec Pack

More Resources that might interest you:

Free ISO Burner

ISO files are CD/DVD image files which can be easily burned to blank media, however you will require a ISO Burning software to write the content to a CD/DVD.

Free ISO Burner is a freeware that will allow you to burn ISO images to a CD/DVD. Free ISO Burner can directly burn your ISO and CD/DVD image file to CD-R,CD-RW, DVD-R,DVD-RW,DVD+R and DVD+RW, no need mount virtual drives which emulate physical CDs or DVDs.

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Quick Media Converter Converts Any Audio or Video Files

Audio Converters and Video converters are definitely a must have software on any computers, since there are tons of formats available and you may have a favorite in which you may want to store all the media files.

In the past we have written about several free tools to help you manage and convert your media files, including audio and video files, which we have clubbed together to create a Ultimate List of Tools to manage your Digital life.

Must Read: Top 3 Free Online Media and Document Converters

Continue reading Quick Media Converter Converts Any Audio or Video Files

Free Audio Joiner and Video Joiner For Popular Media Formats

There may be many times when you want to combine several audio or video files into a single file, the process is not easy and requires a special software to join the files. MediaJoin is a free software that will allow you to join all popular video and audio formats.

MediaJoin supports several popular formats such as MP3, WAV, AVI, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, OGG, WMA and WMV.

Continue reading Free Audio Joiner and Video Joiner For Popular Media Formats

Record, Edit and Convert Your Media With Blaze Media Pro

Recording, editing and converting media may require you to install separate softwares, having a single software to do all these tasks would be great, but unfortunately there are very few softwares that do all these tasks, the creators of Blaze Media Pro ordered a review from us to introduce you to such a all-in-one solution for your everyday media needs.

blaze-media-pro-logo Blaze Media Pro definitely packs in a lot of features which make this software a definite must have if you work with media files extensively or are looking to start out with complex media tasks like recording, editing and converting one format to another.

Continue reading Record, Edit and Convert Your Media With Blaze Media Pro