Friday, 21 September 2012

Dealing With .Rar Files

 An Open and Shut Case? - Introducing .Rar Files

Perhaps you'll agree, we have now entered an era where the vast majority of media is transferred and shared online. An age where music CDs have been replaced by digital files sold online, sometimes without record label support. Independent music artists emerge every day. These independent artists have come to utilize the web as a means of selling and distributing their work to the masses. They aim for means of distribution which are low-cost and make distribution of their music happen in the blink of an eye.

The .rar file (Roshal ARchive file, so named after its developer, Eugene Roshal.) has become the common tool to accomplish this. Also distributed as .rev, .r00, or .r01, these compressed file extensions get the job done. What these files essentially are are libraries of digital files compressed to download in practically no time at all. With this technology, photographers, music artists, and even authors can distribute their work with just one file.

Let's say that your favorite independent music artist has released a new album and wishes to distribute it digitally. They would simply compress  the music file of each song into a .rar file, compromising very little music quality in comparison to other formats of compressed files. You would pay them for this file and download it.

There's just one problem: Our computers can't just open these files all on their own. They need to be decoded by separate program in order to be viewable.

There are a variety of free software tools that can be used to do this. A favorite amongst Windows users is WinZip. The image above is one of Winzip's logos.

7-Zip is also incredibly useful. As the computer I use for my day-to-day tasks runs Mac OS X, my personal favorite is UnRarX.

Most of these programs take up virtually no space on your hard drive, depending on how many other file extensions they can read. For example, WinZip not only does .rar files, but can also do .zip files and other file extensions. This may mean that WinZip would take slightly more room on your hard drive, though for the extra file extensions, which you may encounter on the web, the space sacrifice may be well worth it.

Once you open your decoding software, you will have to browse through your computer to find the .rar file(s) you wish to read. The software will then create a folder in the same directory as the .rar file and read every music file. It will then unpack it into the folder it created. Voila! You now have your favorite music artist's new album. You can then easily import it into the music player of your choice. However, the usefulness of .rar files doesn't stop there.

Suppose you just went on a family vacation to Venice. Your mum, who lives miles away in Aberdeen, wants to see pictures of your trip. You hit a snag: You have hundreds, maybe thousands, of pictures and you can't possibly send mom every single picture. The solution is pretty simple. You can download a program to create a .rar file and compress every image so that mum gets every picture in a heartbeat. She would just need a reading software described earlier in the article.

However, the options of software you can download for creating these files becomes limited. The majority require payment, as they must be licensed by Roshal's brother, Alexander.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

3 Essential Software Programs

3 Essential Software Programs for Your Laptop or PC

Many of us use our laptops and our PCs for a wide variety of purposes including work, entertainment and communication. While you can use a computer for a whole range of tasks, it mostly depends on which programs you use. Many of us do not use our computers in a particularly efficient manner, partly due to the fact that we can never decide which programs we should have installed. Here are three completely free programs which almost any computer would benefit from.

1 – Skype

Many people are familiar with Skype and those who aren’t are probably missing out on something which could be very useful to them. Skype is one of the most popular free communications programs. User-friendly and easy to install, Skype allows you to communicate by way of instant messaging, computer-to-computer phone calls, computer-to-phone calls and video chatting or conferencing.

While Skype itself is completely free, it also offers some paid services which are very competitively priced compared to the other options. These are particularly useful if you regularly send SMS messages or make calls abroad. Using Skype to send SMSs or call mobile or landline numbers abroad is often the cheapest option, being far more affordable than phoning from a regular landline or mobile phone. The prices depend only on where you are calling and not on where you are calling from. provides detailed information on costs of messages and calls to almost every country and territory in the world.

2 – WinRAR

Windows Millennium and all later versions natively provide the ability to read ZIP and .rar files, the most popular compression format around today. However, you cannot create your own compressed archives or work with other formats without a third-party program. WinRAR is one of the most popular solutions, since it supports all of the major formats. Other options include WinZip and 7zip which all do much the same thing.

If you download anything from the Internet or you have people regularly sending you compressed archives by email, WinRAR or another file compression utility is a must-have. It allows you to make files or entire folders full of files into a single compressed file, making it suitable for sending over the Internet or distributing in any other way.

3 – WordWeb

Having a full dictionary, thesaurus and mini-encyclopaedia at your disposal at all times is very convenient for most of us. If you need to look up a quick-fact online or offline or you need to check a spelling, WordWeb is ideal. WordWeb is a very small application which can be configured to run unobtrusively at system start-up so that you can easily access its features whenever you want. You can look up anything in WordWeb simply by pressing CTRL and right-clicking your mouse at any time. When you do this, the entry will appear right in front of you. A paid “Pro” version is also available, which provides the ability to add additional custom dictionaries to the program.