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                                      MP3 for

                                   BY YITZCHOK

                                                  important, make sure that the player has     than on your home computer. Instead

          ld age must be setting in. I            a voice recording option—and a mike          of clicking on the title, right-click on
          have clear memories of people           with sufficient sensitivity to do the job    the “d” (for download), which is to the
          walking around with Sony                well. I have obtained good results from      right of the title. (Other sites will offer
Discmans, listening to music etched               my iriver even when sitting fifteen feet     different methods for downloading,
onto plastic CDs.                                 away from the speaker. If you want the       usually by right-clicking on the selec-
       Sobering, isn’t it, how last year’s        option of using an external mike, check      tion.) In the drop-down menu that
cutting-edge technology quickly                   to see that there is a line-in option.)      appears, select “Save Target As….” A
becomes this year’s coffee cup coaster?                  Unlike the older technologies,        box will open, which will allow you to
Chances are that some of our readers              MP3 players are designed to work in          choose the folder in which to park the
even remember—gasp!—audiocassette                 tandem with a home computer. Some            downloaded shiur as well as assign a
tapes!                                            potential users may be intimidated by        name to it. I created a Temp folder for
       For the moment, MP3 players are            procedures and jargon that are mysteri-      things I wish to use and quickly dispose
what cognoscenti are using to play                ous and new. This article is directed at     of; you may find it simpler to use your
music and voice recordings. MP3 play-             them, and all others who have not yet        Desktop. Let’s give our soon-to-be-
ers are a fraction of the size of CD play-        taken the MP3 plunge. It will map out        downloaded file the name “Hillel” and
ers. Competition is driving the prices            the four steps—download, reformat,           click “Save.” With garden-variety broad-
further down and the enhancements                 splice, move—needed to take material         band, you will have the shiur down-
further up.
                                                  from the Internet and transfer it to a       loaded in about a minute.
       The hardware is handy, versatile
                                                  personal player.                                    While the source file was down-
and inexpensive. I purchased a small
                                                                                               loading, you may have noticed that its
capacity iriver about a year ago for
                                                  Download, Reformat, Splice, Move             original name ended in .ram. Those last
around one hundred dollars. My little
                                                         Rabbi Shmuel Irons of the Kollel      three letters, called a file extension, tell
gadget holds about twenty hours of
material, and runs on a single AA bat-            Institute of Greater Detroit gobbles up      you that the file is not an MP3 file, but
tery. My youngest son more recently               Jewish history in his spare time. His        was created through a Real Audio for-
bought a comparable device with twice             acclaimed history series combines his        mat. (Audio files come in a host of for-
the capacity—for half the price! (If you          knowledge of the past with the insight       mats. The novelty of MP3 is that it
haven’t purchased a player yet, think             of a recognized talmid chacham. We will      crunches down a bulky file into some-
carefully about the features you want. If         use one of his lectures as our demo.         thing far more manageable. It gets rid of
taping the shiur you listen to in shul is                Assume you’ve found your way to       the parts of the signal that are just not
                                         (one of the first sites to make a    going to make much of a difference to
                                                  rich assortment of Torah audio avail-        the human ear. This allows for far
Rabbi Adlerstein grabs MP3 Torah between          able), located Rabbi Irons through the       quicker download time and much more
jobs at the Simon Wiesenthal Center and           “speaker and singer” list and found a        convenient storage.) Your MP3 player
Loyola Law School; he also serves on the edito-   class entitled “Hillel.” You would like to   will not play files in this format. Before
rial board of Jewish Action.                      listen to the class on the run, rather       you can move a file to your player, you
                                                                                                Spring 5766/2006 JEWISH ACTION          91
want to change it to an MP3 format.           sequentially, beginning in our case with       might be OU Radio,,
(Other files you download may already         Hillel 1. The files are arranged as “slices”   which offers multiple “channels” of pro-
be in the proper format, and you will         of a pie, with all of the files equaling an    gramming, including short and longer
then be able to skip this step.) A variety    entire pie. Once again, it is a good idea      shiurim, presentations on parenting,
of software programs will do this for         to delete the original large file and leave    Israel-related issues and more. Many of
you. I use Switch, available in a freeware    only the smaller ones.                         the offerings are downloadable after free
version at                                           You are now ready to transfer your      registration. I could also go to one of          files to your player. You can link the         several pay-per-learn collections
These programs will ask you to identify       player to your computer with a USB             (;
the file you wish to have converted, and      cable, and open the program that came that gathers
the format that you would like to use.        with the device. My iriver’s Music             scores of popular presenters and pro-
Using our demo, when you finish, you          Manager looks like Microsoft Internet          vides downloads on a fee basis, generally
will have two files: Hillel.ram and           Explorer, only with two parallel sets of       for the equivalent of what the major
Hillel.mp3. They will likely show differ-     panes—one for the computer, the other          music sites charge for a single track.
ent icons. To avoid confusion, delete the     for the device. You simply find the files      Yeshivat Har Etzion’s free site,
old .ram file.                                in the folder in which you’ve stored , offers a great
       We are almost there. One of the        them, select them and drag them to the         deal for people ready to confront chal-
drawbacks of digital formats like MP3 is      appropriate folder on your device. For         lenging material. Its KMTT (Ki
that it is difficult to resume exactly        very simple transfers, it may be feasible      Mitzion Teitze Torah) “station” pod-
where you left off if you’ve powered          and simpler to ignore the packaged soft-       casts a shiur a day, which means that
down the player. Old-fashioned                           ware and use Windows                special software automatically down-
tapes did not have this problem.                                                             loads the item for you without you hav-
They physically froze wherever you                                                           ing to lift a finger to a mouse.
hit the stop button, and picked up                                                                  I lean most heavily, however, on
again when the player was turned                                                             one wonderful site, YU Torah Online,
back on. Digital formats, however,                                                  Here you can select
don’t really have any bookmarks to                                                           from a rich variety of some of the most
use, other than the beginning of tracks.      Explorer,                                      gifted magidei shiur in America, both
This means that if you press stop thirty-     where your device will likely show up as       contemporary and of previous genera-
two minutes into a seventy-five minute        a removable disk or USB device.                tions. (They’ve converted old tapes to a
shiur, you have no way of finding your               The versatility and compactness of      digital format.) Whether it is halachah,
place, other than starting over and gues-     the MP3 format gives you other alterna-        machshavah, shiurim on various tractates
timating where you wish to resume by          tives as well. You can bypass the player       or supplementary material to the daf,
using the fast- forward button. It can be     altogether, and simply burn the files to a     YU Torah offers stunning variety and
very frustrating. The workaround is to        CD. This will work fine if you listen          scope, with new material added fre-
artificially create new tracks—really         only in the car, but it won’t help you         quently. It is great for long trips. (I suf-
files—by splitting the seventy-five-          while you are sitting in the waiting           fer from an extremely low boredom
minute colossus into more manageable          room at the doctor’s office. You can also      threshold, which makes long drives
segments of five or six minutes each.         share your files by e-mail. If the size of     actually dangerous for me. I had no
Remember which segment you were lis-          your files exceeds the limits imposed by       trouble going on a five-hour trip
tening to, and you will only have to fid-     your Internet service provider, go to          between Los Angeles and Mammoth
dle with a few minutes worth of sound for a reliable way        Mountain, kept awake by the depth of
to find your place.                           to send oversized files.                       Rabbi Dr. J. David Bleich holding forth
       Splitters are programs that do just                                                   on arcane matters of halachah.)
that. Mega MP3 Splitter (free download        Where to Go                                           With every passing digital day, we
at                   I start my weekly shopping at The      see more and more of what seem to be
uct.php%5Bid%5D62447%5BSiteID                 Yeshiva of Kishiniev School,                   moving earphones in close association
%5Dpcmag) works fine for me. The               with semi-mesmerized humans, who
program senses the length of the select-      ly.htm, where I help myself to a short         seem detached from the world around
ed file. Using a slider, you find the vari-   treatment of the parashah by Rabbi             them by music-inspired trances. It is fit-
ous “breakpoints” you would like to use,      Moshe Eisemann, one of the deepest             ting that the same little electronic device
depressing a scissors icon to make your       Torah figures of our times. If traffic is      can transport us to more celestial desti-
choice. You save when you’ve finished         congested, this shiur won’t last longer        nations, listening to the real music of
carving up the original, and Splitter         than a single trip to the office, so I’m       the spheres, the holiness of Hakadosh
generates a group of files numbered           still looking for more. The next stop          Baruch Hu’s Torah. JA

92   JEWISH ACTION      Spring 5766/2006

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