5 Cool Hacks for Your Entertainment Gadgets

Play iTunes Purchases on Any Music Player

Difficulty: Moderate; Time: 30 minutes

Here's how to make music you bought via iTunes play on any media player. Like the other hack on this page, this DRM-stripping trick could get you into legal hot water, but it also gives you control over songs that you rightfully own.

MyFairTunes gives you the ability to use any media player to listen to songs you bought from Apple's iTunes music store.
I recommend using myFairTunes to set iTunes downloads free. You'll also need to use an older version of iTunes (and yes, give up some features), because this utility strips tracks of their copy protection, and Apple regularly updates iTunes software so hackers can't remove the DRM. Search online for "Old iTunes 7.4.1 download" and "myFairTunes7 download" to find the two applications.

If you're already running iTunes, choose Store, Deauthorize Computer, and then close the program. Temporarily rename the iTunes folder something simple like 'iTunes Recent'. Uninstall iTunes, and then restart the PC.

Install iTunes 7.4.1 and myFairTunes7. Next, install Visual C++ SP1 and .Net Framework 2.0. Restart your PC, and launch iTunes. Import your DRM-loaded songs, and play one of them. Enter your iTunes Music Store account information when prompted to do so.

Launch myFairTunes7. Click the check boxes for Preserve RAW AAC Stream and Enable "No Sound" Fast Dump. If you'd like to create MP3 files instead of using the original AAC files, click that box. With the songs selected, click Start Conversion. The software will take about 15 seconds per song to remove the DRM.

Go back to iTunes and drag all of the converted files from iTunes into a new folder in your desktop. The songs should now be playable on any audio device.

Rip DVDs to a Media Player

Difficulty: Moderate; Time: 1 hour

DVDs are too big to fit into your portable media player, but that doesn't mean you need to pay again to watch a movie on it. A multitude of tools can strip out the DRM that is built into the discs, and other utilities will let you compress movies for portable use.

You can find free tools such as DVD Decryptor to rip the DVD, but most have been abandoned for years and might not work on recently released movies. If those don't work, you can use the $49 AnyDVD. After installing the software, insert a DVD and right-click on the logo in your system tray. Choose Rip Video DVD to Harddisk and give the program about half an hour, depending on your PC's power, to process the media.

Roxio Crunch isn't free, but it can free up your DVD movies to play on any device.
Afterward the video can be processed in any program that reads the .vob and .ifo files used on DVDs. Again, you can find free tools, such as Videora iPod Converter, and they tend to work better than the free utilities for stripping out DRM. For its simplicity, however, you might want to use the $40 Roxio Crunch. Open the software, and choose File, Add Movie. Select the various files you transferred, and click OK. Choose a compression level from the Format drop-down menu, click Save As, and begin the processing. When it's complete, just transfer the movie to your media player.

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