Play opera on MP3, without the gaps

Published: Monday, May 1, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, April 30, 2006 at 11:10 p.m.
  • Q: I have many opera CDs, but when I rip them to MP3 files, iTunes inserts a two-second gap between the tracks, which interrupts the flow of the recorded performance. Is there any way to get rid of this gap of silence between tracks?
    A: The iTunes program that comes with the iPod includes a menu option called "Join CD Tracks" that lets you combine several selected songs on one CD into a single long track - without the gaps of silence between them. To join multiple tracks together, insert the CD you want to convert into your computer's disc drive and let iTunes collect the titles and artist information from the online Gracenote CD database.
    The songs you want to join together must be adjacent to each other on the disc, which should not be a problem if you are ripping an entire opera. To select all the tracks, click on a song title and choose Select All from the Edit menu to highlight each one.
    Go back to the Advanced menu and choose "Join CD Tracks." A black bracket appears next to the song titles indicating that iTunes will combine the selected tracks. Click the "Import CD" button in the top right corner of the iTunes window to convert the songs into one big file, which you can copy over to your iPod.
    If the "Join CD Tracks" command is dimmed, the songs on the disc may be sorted in some way other than by track number. To make sure the tracks are in ascending order, click the top of the first column on the iTunes song display window so it turns blue and make sure the black triangle is pointing upward before trying the "Join CD Tracks" option again.
  • Q: I lost the special cable that came with my digital camera. Is there any way to get the photos onto my computer?
    A: Check your manual, but many digital cameras use a USB-to-Mini-USB cable to connect to the computer. You can find replacement cables for less than $20 at places like RadioShack or
    If you can't find a replacement cable, a memory card reader may work. SanDisk and Lexar are among the companies that make inexpensive models that connect to the computer's USB port. Once you insert the camera's card into the reader and it shows up as a drive on your Mac or PC, you can copy your picture files directly onto your computer.
  • Q: Why does Windows XP have two views of the Control Panel area, and is one better to use than the other?
    A: The Control Panels section of Windows XP is where you go to make adjustments to your computer's settings for everything from network connections to sound levels. There are quite a few individual control panel icons to choose from, and Windows XP lets you browse them in two different ways: Category or Classic view.
    In Category view, the control panels are grouped together in nine categories like "Printers and Other Hardware" or "Network and Internet Connections." When you click on a category, Windows XP takes you to the control panels that are related to that topic. By sorting general groupings by theme or task, Category view is intended to help you find the right control panel even if you don't know exactly which one you're looking for. It can be helpful for those who are new to Windows or computers in general.
    In Classic view, all the control panel icons are displayed on the screen so you can see them all at once. Earlier versions of the Windows Control Panel were set up this way, and some people prefer this view because they are familiar with it or because they can go directly to the system setting they want to adjust.
    Which one you use is entirely up to you and whatever you feel most comfortable with. When computer advice columns or articles refer to specific Control Panel icons by name but not by Category, you may have to switch to Classic view to see the icon under discussion. You can easily switch back and forth between Category and Classic view by clicking on the link on the left side of the Control Panel window.
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