cell phone

Playing Mobile Device Videos on Your Computer

Question: I emailed myself a video I took from my blackberry curve. When i try to play the video on my computer it says it can't find the file extension. What is the deal?

Answer: The deal is that you either need a program installed on your computer that can play the video file, or a program that will convert it to a common video format like Quicktime or Windows Media.

I'll cover both approaches, and will introduce you to some free and low-cost programs that'll handle the video viewing and converting. I'll also show you how to convert Quicktime or Windows Media videos into a format that can be viewed on a Blackberry, iPhone, or virtually any mobile device that supports video.

Video Players

Most computers come with some form of a video player, such as Windows Media Player that plays video files with a .wmv extension. You can also get the Quicktime video player for free from Apple that plays .mp4 video files.

However, videos that are recorded from a mobile device will usually have a different file extension, such as .3GP for movies recorded on Motorola RAZR phones. These videos won't play in Quicktime or Windows Media.

You'll need a video player designed to read the video format that your specific mobile device uses, or better yet - one that can play a wide range of video formats so that you'll still be in luck if you switch phones in the future.

Rather then look for a universal video file player, look for a video file converter. Not only will you get the ability to view all kinds of video files, but you'll be able to convert them to be viewable on other devices or other computer systems like a Macintosh. Two for the price of one.

Video Converters

How to Connect to the Internet using a Tethered Cell Phone

Question: "My cell phone lets me browse the web, so it seems I should be able to use that connection from my laptop. Is there a way to connect my laptop to the Internet using my cell phone?"

Answer: Yes, you can use your cell phone's internet connection to browse the web on your laptop, by connecting your cell phone to your laptop with a USB data cable and software that handles the connection(also known as "tethering").

What you'll need

  • A web-enabled cell phone with a data plan. If you can browse the web on your cell phone, then it's web-enabled, but you still need to have a data plan with your wireless service provider (e.g. AT&T) in order to use your cell phone as a tethered laptop modem.
  • A USB data cable or a Bluetooth adapter. You'll use the USB data cable to connect/tether your cell phone to your computer, or the Bluetooth adapter to connect without any wires.
  • Tethering software programs like DataConnect or Mobile PhoneTools Bluetooth that use your cell phone as a modem.

Tethering your cell phone to your laptop

  1. Connect your web-enabled cell phone to your laptop
  2. If you're using a USB data cable, then you'll plug your phone into your laptop which will also charge your phone's battery while it's connected.

    If your phone is Bluetooth-enabled - and most new phones are - then you can connect your phone without any wires by pairing it with your laptop.

    For Motorola phones, open the phone and select the following menu options:

    Menu --> Settings --> Connection --> Bluetooth Link --> Setup --> Power

How to create a ring tone for free using iTunes

You can create ringtones for free with iTunes using the steps outlined below, and can upload them to your cell phone with a USB data cable or a Bluetooth connection.

I'm assuming you already have your song loaded in iTunes, and you can refer to other articles in the iPods and MP3 Players forum if you need instructions for loading songs into iTunes from your iPod or a music CD.

Set the song length to about 30 seconds

Right-click on the song in iTunes and select "Get Info" from the pop-up menu. Choose the Options tab and change the Stop Time to 0:30 for 30 seconds of play time.

This won't change or damage the actual file; it just tells iTunes to only play the first 30 seconds of the song (plenty of time for you to answer your phone). You can change this setting back to full length after you create your ring tone.

Configure the iTunes MP3 Encoder

Configure the MP3 Encoder built into iTunes to use 22khz and mono encoding (the format used by cell phone ring tones).

Click the Preferences menu and then choose the Advanced tab. Click "Importing" and then choose "MP3 Encoder" from the Import Using drop down. Choose "Custom..." from the Settings dropdown, which will display an "MP3 Encoder" dialog like the one shown below.

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