6-View, Play and Use Files
- Introduction to View, Play, Use Files
- Watch Video
- CD File Formats
- View Picture Images
- Hear Audio Files
- Read eBooks
- Use Software
Introduction to View, Play, Use Files Top
After you have downloaded, decoded and extracted (decompressed) your material, you now have to figure out how to use it. This can be a challenge at times, but once you figure it out, you are good for most of the material because there are "standards" used by most posters.
There are many types of material that you can obtain from the newsgroups.
Multimedia file types include the following:
- Video - Most movies are MPEG format with a few flavour-of-the-day compression codecs used. Codecs are popular for a while and then a new codec (see below) will come along. WMV or ASF movies are rarely used for movie posts. RM (Real Media) format is sometimes found for TV programs but I have rarely seen a movie in that format. Quicktime (MOV) is occassionally found.
- Graphics and Photographs - JPEG, GIF, PNG, WMF, BMP, and ICO files.
- Audio - mostly MP3
There are also lots of other types of material including:
- Video Games
Each of these is covered in more detail in the following sections. However, there are lots of different ways to process the stuff you get from the usenet groups.
Generally speaking, the NFO files which accompany the post will provide all the information you need to view, play or use your material. Also, you can read other people's questions or post your questions about how to view, play or use the material.
Watch Your Video Top
Ok, this is where things can get kinda hairy. Theoretically, all you need to do is download, decode, decompress and voila you have a file viewable AVI, MPEG, ASF or RM file which you can burn to a CD if you want (see below).
However, there is a potentially long list of stumbling blocks:
- Do you have the right "CODEC" (instructions for your media player to play the that particular encoding format)? More on CODECs below.
- Are your sound card, video card, speakers, RAM, CPU all configured and of sufficient quantity or quality for that particular format of video?
- Do you have the right video player? For example, SVCD requires DVD capable video players, MOV format files require Quicktime, etc.
When it comes to learning how to play your newly downloaded movie:
- Read the NFO file (see Step 5: Download from Usenet) that accompanied the post.
- Read other people's questions in that newsgroup related to that post.
- Only after exhausing all other avenus should you ask the person who posted it. While there is a sense of customer service by many posters, don't rely on it too much.
- Be vigilant, learn all you can on your own.
- Do a Google Groups search.
I am not going to go into detail about your sound card, video card, speakers, RAM, CPU being all configured and of sufficient quantity or quality for that particular format of video. I have briefly covered that in another section on multimedia internet services such as radio and voice over internet. However, most of the video formats today require at least a Pentium II or higher processor with 32 MB + RAM.
Finally, one of the best sources on the WWW for everything about video is VCDHelp.com. Go there for details on playing, copying and burning VCD, SVCD and DVDs. You won't be dissapointed.
CD File Formats Top
Very often the material you get from the usenet will be "pre-packaged" (into yet another layer of formatting) so that it can be directly burned to a CD for use in a CD or DVD player or to be stored on CDs.
This a "customer service" feature so you don't have to convert an MPEG file to a CD format yourself. Aren't these people posting wonderful!
You will have to be aware of the CD formats which are identifiable by their file extension and include: iso, bin, ccd, nrg most commonly. Each file extension and formatting corresponds to specific programs which must be used to re-format the CD format to a format usuable on your harddrive.
Some general notes:
- You must use CloneCD for ccd files and Nero for nrg files.
- There are a variety of software programs that can convert between BIN and ISO formats.
- ISO Buster can extract an MPG file from ISO image files and a whole lot of other useful things. Very useful program.
VCDHelp.com also has all the details on copying and burning VCD, SVCD and DVDs.
A codec is a method of compressing video so that a video file can be as small as possible while still retaining high quality.
It is interesting that there are "brands" of codecs that have been established in the Usenet. These have largely been developed by independent programmers. One in particular, Divx, has recently made the jump from "hacker" to "corporate" status and is now being adopted by industry. This is probably a good example of why "open source" use of copyrighted material has some value.
Some of these posting groups are really well established and sometimes seem corporate in their organization and results (except for the fact that they are posting someone else's movie).
There are really only a couple of commonly used codecs although they change occassionally. You can learn more about codecs and where to get them from at VCDHelp.com.
You will also see MPEG formats being used including VCD and SVCD. You can learn more about these on VCDHelp.com.
View Picture Images Top
Most of the images you will find are jpeg or jpg format. You'll also find gif too. Because these files are generally small enough they are usually not broken up into parts like the much larger movies and other video.
After you download and decode images you can just use any image viewer to see them just by double clicking on the file in Windows Explorer or opening it using the open dialogue in the image viewer.
One of the most popular image viewers is called ACDSee which views all image formats.
Hear Audio Files Top
Music files are almost always MP3s. MP3s are also not big enough to be broken up into parts. So all you have to do is find them, queue them up and download and decode them. Then you can use your favourite MP3 player or multimedia player.
Read eBooks Top
eBooks are generally on one file, and often only one segment in size depending on the format. Because the files are so small, they are usually on your ISPs news servers in complete form if the ISP purposely limits the size of files on its news servers. They do this to keep you from using up bandwidth downloading and uploading binaries to their news server.
eBooks come in a variety of formats including:
- Palm Database format (PBD).
- lit = Microsoft Reader (LIT) format Microsoft Reader
- pdf = Adobe Adobe PDF (.pdf)
- MobiPocket (.pdb)
- iSilo (.pdb)
- TomeRaider (.pdb)
- Gemstar (.rb)
- However, often eBooks are in txt, rtf , Word doc or HTML format.
Use Software Top
Of course, there is a ton of software posted in the usenet groups. Everything that you have learned in this tutorial is entirely applicable to obtaining software.
However, there are additional steps required to use the software, but usually the NFO file provides all the specific instructions you will need.