© Gaye Wilson 2010

image by fangolI’ve been frustrated recently with my lack of technical knowledge about downloading from the internet. I signed up for an online course that provided the lessons in streaming video and streaming audio. When I signed up, I understood that I would be getting downloadable files and transcripts. Not so. Everything is streaming.

I tend to work offline far more than online. I like to download stuff, copy it to my laptop, and deal with it wherever I happen to be, rather than be chained to my internet computer.

So it is exceptionally frustrating when I have paid for something that can’t be downloaded. A search of the internet to find a way to download streaming files didn’t find anything useful. I really wanted to download these particular files, because I paid a lot of money for the course and the presenter was not willing to change the format although he originally promised to do so (note to readers: if you offer anything, you MUST pay attention to your customers’ requirements and requests – this guy didn’t do that, and now I have a bad impression of him and his business).

I had downloaded a free program called Audacity before, for another project, but never could get it to work correctly (I told you I’m technically challenged in some areas!). Using Audacity, I could record the stream, but the recording was so soft that I couldn’t actually hear it, even with the volume as high as it will go.

So I started to search online for tutorials on how to set up and use Audacity to download streaming files (since the literature on this program says it will do that). One tutorial suggested a free recorder if you can’t get Audacity to work, so I checked it out.

It’s wonderful!

The program is called Freecorder, and it works as a toolbar in your browser, so I’m thinking it’s probably cross platform (although I’m not 100% sure of that).

The tutorial that mentioned Freecorder suggested that you download Freecorder 3, because it gives you choices about the file format you want to record to. So I downloaded and installed Freecorder 3, and immediately struck problems.

First, Firefox wouldn’t install it, because it doesn’t have valid updating files (or something like that).

So I tried it in Internet Explorer, which installed it just fine, and appeared after I closed IE and then opened it again.

But when I tried to record something, it threw me into an update page for Freecorder – every time. With a sigh, I downloaded Freecorder 4.

The sigh wasn’t justified. Within seconds, I had Freecorder 4 installed and recording streaming audio as an mp3 file. Who cares about whether the mp3 format is lossy or not? It did what I needed it to do!

Freecorder doesn’t seem to have a lot of tweaks available: the Settings panel doesn’t have a lot to it. But it’s easy to use, and it works. Apparently you can also use it to record videos, although I haven’t tried it for that.

Freecorder will record whatever is audible from the computer, so if you talk while the Record button is pressed, it records your voice. That’s handy when you want to make a short note to yourself, or if you have trouble writing and can speak it easier than write it. Or you could record yourself singing a song, or whatever. I saw a YouTube video that showed how it will also record two things at once: I haven’t tried that with Freecorder 4, and I suspect the YouTube video is talking about Freecorder 3, but it probably still does it – cool, huh?

Of course, the program has limitations. As I said above, the settings are minimal (made to be idiot-proof, perhaps?). You don’t get a chance to say where you want the resulting mp3 files to go for each download: in the Settings panel you nominate where to put them and that’s it. If you wanted to change the destination folder, you’d have to go into the Settings panel each time. There are probably other limitations of which I am not yet aware: I only discovered it this morning.

Disclaimers

  1. Please note that I am not advocating downloading copyrighted streaming audio or video if you do not have a right to do so. If you do, that’s piracy and it’s illegal worldwide. I downloaded these files because I had paid for them.
  2. I have no affiliation with this program or its creators. I am posting this simply because I found something that gave me a solution to a problem. Your mileage may vary.
  3. I have no idea what else is out there that will do this job. I found this one, it works, I like it.

If you know of something similar, please let us know with a comment.