VGMusic.com Frequently Asked Questions -- Miscellaneous Questions




: What are emulators?

Emulators are specialized pieces of software or hardware that mimic the functions of another piece of hardware or software. There are all manner of different types of emulators, but when used in relation to the topic of video games, most often it refers to programs that mimic video game systems. These allow you to play games from the systems they emulate on your computer. For example, a Nintendo emulator will allow you to play Super Mario Bros. on your Whiz-Bang Ultra II desktop computer, without any special hardware. There are emulators for most of the major systems, and many of the more obscure systems. Instead of using the original cartridge or disk, emulators use files called "ROM"s. ROMs are digital copies of the original cartridge or disk, so they play the same as the original game. ROMs for many games can be found on the Internet.

Now, for the legal parts of this: Emulators themselves are not illegal. They are simply programs written using freely available information, which do not contain anything that is copyrighted (Or at least they're not supposed to... If they do, and don't have a license to use this copyrighted material, then they are illegal.). The ROMs, on the other hand, are quite a different story. They are (For the most part, there are some exceptions) direct copies of copyrighted material being distributed and used without permission, and therefore ARE ILLEGAL. Even if you own a copy of the game, possessing the ROM may be illegal. Also, don't believe any of that "Delete within 24hrs" or "These are provided for educational purposes only" crap. Those are not exceptions to the copyright law. If you're concerned about staying on the legal side of things, don't bother with emulators (But, to be honest, I haven't heard of any copyright infringement suits being filed against someone for downloading a ROM. I'm just letting you know that it is illegal and you're getting involved with them at your own risk). And finally, DON'T ASK US FOR ROMS. We will not provide you with any, nor will we tell you where to find any. (Try a search engine, try an emulator site, just don't try here. We're the Videogame Music Archive, not ROM Central.)

If you're still interested in finding out more about emulators, go to Zophar's Domain.

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: Can anybody put this music on their homepages or do they have to have special permission or something?

We make no claim to the ownership of these files, so don't ask us about using the files. If you want to put these files on your site, you should ask permission of the sequencer, and if you want to be double safe, the permission of the copyright holder. It's also courteous to provide credit information regarding the song (The sequencer and composer names), and make it your policy to remove any files that either the sequencer or copyright holder may not want on your site. Also, do not link directly to the files on our site. You will have to transfer any files you want to use to your own website.

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: MIDI sucks.

No it doesn't. Also, that's a statement, not a question. Try rephrasing that in the form of a question.

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: Why does MIDI suck?

As I responded to the statement above, MIDI doesn't suck. If MIDI sucked, it would not have been around for as long as it has, nor would it have become the standard that it is. I know of no other standard that is so versatile and portable and that can be used by such a wide range of equipment as MIDI. MIDI allows a single person with a single measly keyboard to produce the sound of a single piano, a full rock band, or an entire orchestra, as well as give that person full control over the entire sound. There are three things that might suck, but MIDI isn't one of them.

The first thing is you, but I don't want to be insulting, so I won't dwell on that one, as it probably isn't the case anyway.

The second thing is your sound card. This is the most likely possibility. If your computer is like most computers, your soundcard is probably one of the most overlooked pieces of hardware in it. You need more RAM, you need a faster processor, you need more hard drive space, these things you notice, but your sound card works in games just as well as it did the day you got your computer. That's the problem. Many people with older systems or recycled soundcards will have a Sound Blaster 16 (or compatible) card in their system. A standard SB16 uses FM synthesis for MIDI, and that is what sucks. FM makes most drums sound identical to the seashore instrument, makes the gunshot sound like a drum, and makes most every other instrument sound horrible and not even close to what it should (Except for the Square wave, which it does quite accurately). If this is the case, not all is lost for you. There is something called wavetable that does a very good job at banishing the evils of FM. Instead of synthesizing instruments like FM does, wavetable plays actual instrument samples. The quality of the wavetable relies heavily on the quality of the samples, however, but you are almost guaranteed to get a better sound than FM (If you don't, complain to the person/company you got it from). You have several options on getting wavetable on your computer. The simplest (and cheapest) option is a software wavetable emulator (Addressed in a later question). But, if you have a little extra money, it would probably be best to upgrade to a Wavetable sound card. I have seen them for less than $30. Newer computers should come with wavetable already, either in the form of an actual card or through something such as the Microsoft Music Synth. These are of varying quality, but all should sound better than FM.

The third possibility is that the file itself is no good. A MIDI file is not a direct translation of the song, so something may be lost in the MIDI version. Usually this loss is ignorable (The flute doesn't sound quite right, the guitar hits the wrong note every time, the piano is too loud), but occasionally I have heard songs that have made me wonder if the sequencer was completely deaf when they sequenced it. These files transcend the differences between FM and wavetable or the differences between particular sound cards, these files are bad all around.

If even after all of this you still think MIDI sucks, well, you are entitled to that opinion, but don't come complaining to us about it. If you don't like them, don't download MIDI files and don't visit this site. It's that simple. MIDI was not designed to do some of the things you're probably thinking it should (Voices are an example). Complaining about that would be like yelling at a dog because it can't fly.

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: What can/can't MIDI do, anyway?

Well, General MIDI can do a good many things, include reproduce pretty much any piece of music played on a wide variety of traditional instruments and capable of being scored using traditional means. It's great for anything from pretending to be a garage rock band to pretending to be a full symphony. It has major instruments from the Western Classical music side of things, through Africa and India, to East Asia. As far as instruments go, if you want it, it's probably there (Or at least a close enough replacement). That's where its main weakness comes in. While it does the instruments it contains rather well, it mainly sticks to instruments. It has a few synth sounds, but outside of the square wave and a few others, the sound of them changes so drastically between devices so as to make them useless for anything that's going to be played elsewhere. So, however ironic it is, the greatest weakness of General MIDI is its inability to handle Synth/Electronic music well. General MIDI also doesn't do sound effects (Outside of a few rather useless ones, included in the standard). That means it doesn't do voices, either. Many people use this to point at MIDI and label it inferior. To them, I ask: "Can your car fly? Can your car float?" The answer is, of course (For most circumstances), "No." Does that make your car inferior to a boat or an airplane? No. They were designed to do totally different things. MIDI was designed to connect a number of devices and coordinate playback and recording and facilitate editing. It does that well. I'd like to see a digital audio format do that. So, by the same logic that MIDI sucks, MP3 sucks because you can't change that electric guitar to an oboe in the middle of a song.

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: What is a "Software Wavetable Emulator", and where can I get one?

A Software Wavetable Emulator is a program which will allow you to get wavetable quality MIDI playback on any sound card that supports digital audio (Original SoundBlaster and up. If you can play .wav files, you have one that will work). Instead of sending the MIDI data to the MIDI processor on your sound card, the wavetable emulator will take the MIDI data and play a digital sound sample using the digital sound processor of your sound card instead. The result is often a better, more realistic sound. If you have an FM MIDI card, you NEED to get a wavetable upgrade, and I have also heard people with wavetable sound cards talking about software wavetable emulators improving their MIDI quality, as well.
Here are a few Software Wavetable Emulators that I know of:
  • WinGroove (PC-WIN)
  • UMP (PC-LINUX (Appears to be a Plug-in for Netscape))
  • Apple QuickTime (PC-WIN/MAC)
    I have been informed that the standard way Macs play MIDI is already wavetable quality, because it uses QuickTime anyway, so if you have a Mac, you probably don't need to worry about this.

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    : How to change between FM Synth & Wavetable

    The best example of why one would want to change between FM Synth and wavetable is the NES song "Super Mario Theme Song". It sounds wrong with Wavetable, but near perfect with FM synthesis sound. So, while wavetable makes MIDIs sound better in general, it may cause some music from older systems to lose some of their authentic sound. Therefore, you may want to change it back from time to time. (I hope you have Windows 95/98/ME or 3.1, as that's what the instructions will be for.)
    Go into Windows Control Panel (Start->Settings->Control Panel in Win95/98/ME), and double click on the Multimedia icon (Sounds and Multimedia in ME). Click on the MIDI tab (Audio in ME). In the MIDI Output window, pick the one that says "FM Synthesis" (Or in the case of some Creative cards, "MIDI for Creative Stereo Music Synthesiser"), this will give you the classic FM sound instead of Wavetable. To change it back, go through the same steps and just pick the Wavetable output. (Steps should be similar for Win3.1) These settings are pretty much universal, in other words, your MIDI file player (Whether it be Media Player, Crescendo, Winamp, or some other program) should respond to changing the MIDI output here, however, you may need to restart your computer for it to take effect in all programs.

    As for Macintosh, I have been informed that it is possible to switch between wavetable and FM by swapping the current QuickTime Musical Extensions with an older version. This will likely require a restart, and as it involves fiddling with system files, I make no guarantee that it will work as I've been told.

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    : Why don't you have MP3, WAV, or RealAudio files?

    The simplest reason is their size. They're big. They take a long time to download, and a lot of space to store. We would not be able to have anywhere near the amount of songs we currently do if we had them in a digital audio format. MIDI files are much smaller for the same song. Also, there's a quality issue. MP3s are generally CD quality recordings, which is overkill for the quality of sound that comes out of a standard video game system (Except for the systems that use CD audio as their music). But WAV files (when made a size that's acceptable to be downloaded) as well as RealAudio, aren't of a good enough quality. And finally, there's the dreaded copyright concerns again. WAVs, MP3s, and RealAudio are all digital recordings of the actual song. Some video game companies make CD soundtracks for their games. A MIDI file usually isn't the same quality or just doesn't sound the same as the actual recording of a song, so people that want to hear the real music will have an incentive to buy the soundtrack CD. But if we were distributing digital recordings of the actual music, then there'd be no reason to buy that CD. The game companies would probably get angry if we're giving away what they're charging $15 for and that might prompt them to take legal action against us, which would be a bad thing.

    Of course, neglecting the storage size and copyright issues for a moment, there's also a small little thing called "Bandwidth". You see, on the information superhighway, MIDI files are basically the equivalent of a two seater micro-compact import car. Digital audio formats are roughly comparable to a mile and a half-long, three lane wide convoy of Snowbirds, with their mobile-home sized RVs towing huge SUVs and large boats. The Information Superhighway is a toll road, but we've worked out an agreement wherein some guy will pay the toll for all our cars if he can put up billboards along the road. That's just fine and works great if all we're driving is micro-compact imports. But then let's say we move to the convoy of RVs. Suddenly the road is clogged and the Mr. Billboard isn't nearly as happy. True story: Another game music website tried to have an MP3 site. They had the soundtrack to around 40 games. In two days, over 375 GB of files were transferred. Our site never gets anywhere remotely close to that kind of traffic in a month, let alone two days, and this was before word had spread about the site. Traffic would have increased. Needless to say, they don't have that MP3 archive anymore.

    So, to summarize, no, we do not have digital audio, and we never will, so don't even bother asking us about it.

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    : But MIDI is ancient. MP3 is modern. Get with the times.

    Ha. Ha. HA HAHAHAHAHAHA! Excuse me for one moment while I choke down my laughter, because you are just so hilariously uninformed. General MIDI, which is what we have on our site, was standardized and came out in 1991. Sure, old enough when it comes to computer technology. But MPEG Audio Layer 3 (MP3) was developed in 1987. Which one again is "ancient", exactly? Turn on your radio. Go through the various stations, listen to all different types of music. I guarantee you (If you live in an area with a good selection of radio stations, not like two, one country and the other classical) that you heard something using MIDI.

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    : What is the difference between different music types such as .mid, .mod, and .mp3?

    The best way I've heard a .mid described is that they are like a piano roll. They contain the note data, but nothing more. The file is then played on various machines, and it tells the machine (In the case of a computer, the sound card) what note to play, what instrument to use, at what time, and for how long. It doesn't tell the machine what the note should sound like. Just like if you played a piano roll on an untuned piano, a MIDI file will sound different based on what you're playing it on. However, since they only contain the note data, they are relatively small.

    A .mod (And all the derivative module formats) is similar in that it contains note data, telling what to play and where. The major difference between .mod and .mid is that .mod files also contain the instrument data. This means that the files can be played on many different systems and sound exactly the same. .mod files are generally larger than .mids, because the instrument data takes up quite a bit of space, but they are still smaller than .mp3s.

    .mp3s (And .wav, .ra, .au, etc.) are digital audio. They are straight recordings of the song. CD-quality music requires 44,100 samples per second, with 16 bits per sample. That's 88,200 bytes for one second (And that's not even counting the stereo, which doubles it). Most are compressed in various ways, but they do not begin to approach the size of a MIDI or module.

    In a .mid or .mod, the music is recorded note by note, not by samples. Each note takes up the same amount of space, no matter the length, and that space is just a few bytes. While a second of a digital recording may be 88,200 bytes, even if it's a second of silence, a second of a .mid or a .mod might not take up any space at all if no new notes are started during it.

    Of course, a digital recording is the real thing, while a MIDI is just an imitation with limits. A MIDI can't have lyrics or undefined sounds in it (Not counting sound fonts and that sort of thing). But digital recordings are BIG. Even compressed .mp3 and high quality .ra files are usually several megabytes in size. MIDIs rarely get over 100K.

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    : Are there any programs to convert between these different file types?

    The first and most important thing to understand is that changing the file extension does not change the file type. Those three letters are simply an identifying marker to help you and the operating system figure out what type of file it is supposed to be, they don't have any effect on what type of file it actually is. You CANNOT convert any file to another by changing it. All you've done is changed the name and confused the operating system. It's like this: I can call you Betty and you can call me Al. That doesn't make you Betty or me Al. We're just saying that we are, but that hasn't actually changed who we are.

    MIDI to module converters and module to MIDI converters exist and are relatively easy to find by doing a shareware/freeware search. However, due to the differences in the file format (Mainly due to the fact that modules have samples and MIDIs do not), conversion is rarely perfect. MIDI to module conversion is generally better than the other way around because decent instrument samples can be made to use for the module, but when converting from module to MIDI, all samples must be discarded and turned into the 127 preset MIDI instruments, thereby creating a substantial quality loss.

    Converting from a digital music format to a module is possible, but pointless because all the converters will do is chop the digital music file into smaller bits and store them as samples in the module. Doing this will probably only increase the file size and decrease the quality. Converting from a module to a straight digital recording is possible with little to no loss of quality.

    MIDI to a digital recording (Such as WAV or MP3) is possible, and detailed in a later question.

    Converting digital audio to MIDI is a much different story. The short way to tell it is "No, you can't do that", but that's not entirely accurate. It is possible to convert a digital audio format to MIDI. Of course, it has to be a monophonic, one-track (In other words, a single instrument) sound which is clear and uncluttered. By determining the pitch of the audio in the file, the corresponding MIDI note can be found and a MIDI file can be created. The results, however, are often horrible and unrecognizable, thus making the entire process worthless. For those who absolutely must have a demonstration of exactly how horrible and awful it sounds, follow these simple steps: Get a cat. Get that cat drunk, I mean completely plastered. Have the cat walk across a piano or keyboard for a few minutes. Randomly delete 90-95% of all the notes the cat hits. There you go, a quick demonstration of digital audio->MIDI conversions. (Except the cat method is slight more accurate.) Currently, the best way to convert digital audio to MIDI is to do it yourself, playing it by ear.

    Here's a double whiz-bang ultra-boffo sized list of converters that are available. Be warned, very few of these will produce anything you'll actually want to listen to, and if you upload any of the results of these conversion to our site we will have you hunted down by a pack of hungry spider rats. So don't do it.

  • DigitalEar (wav->mid) (Win)
  • AKoff Music Composer (wav->mid) (Win)
  • Wav2Mid (wav->mid) (Win)
  • gym2mid (gym->mid)
  • SPCTool (spc->wav & spc->mid)
  • OpenSPC (spc->it)
  • 2MIDI (mod->mid & xm->mid) (Win)
  • MID2XM (mid->xm) (Win)
  • MidiMix (mid->xm) (DOS)
  • NSF2MIDI (nsf->mid) (Win)

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    : Can I use a converter or an emulator to make a MIDI, then upload it to your site?

    No.

    In the past it has been policy to accept touched-up conversions, the output of converter programs sometimes being so poor that to get a decent file would require nearly as much time and work as sequencing the file from scratch would need. However, more recent programs are able to produce near-perfect conversions, accurately selecting instruments and with minimal mutilation of note data.

    As this means that pretty much anyone could now easily acquire entire soundtracks of MIDIs for several games in a single day, compared to someone sequencing by ear who would probably require months to do the same, we think it is grossly unfair to provide greater credit to the person who did little more than click a few buttons, than the person who drove themselves mad listening to a three second fragment over and over trying to pick out all the notes, for a single dayís MIDI-making.

    This does not mean to say that sequencing by listening to ripped music is disallowed, however. While purists might think that channel muting and such is as good as cheating, sequencing a fresh MIDI using a converted file certainly doesn't count as the forbidden "uploading a conversion". Don't be tempted to copy and paste anything in to your MIDI, though. Then your file would contain converted material, which you must not upload.

    If you're not happy about this policy, sidelining the unfairness issue, arguing that denying conversions will discourage growth of the archive and reduce the quality of it, go look at the size of the New-Files directory. Now, this question isn't dynamic, but I bet new-files still has a lot of MIDIs in it, even now. If we were to actively encourage ripped MIDIs, which, remember, can be made in bulk very quickly, we just wouldn't be able to handle it.

    Also, not all conversions are perfect, remember. Not every converted file would actually pass the rigorous quality control checks each file goes through, since some people just wouldn't bother to check that their conversions were up to scratch, with that policy in force. If we were to realistically deal with that extra workload of masses of rips, we would probably have to make compromises, the most obvious place for those compromises being... the rigorous quality control checks. Ultimately that would decrease the quality of the archive.

    If you persist "but your sequenced files arenít of consistent quality", then Iíd have to agree. However, Iíd say the same was true of converted MIDIs, as Iíve mentioned. And while it is fair to say that some sequencers are not as good as others, at least they are putting some effort into the task and trying to create as good a reproduction as they can (if theyíre not and it shows, their file will not make it into the archive anyway).

    Besides, if you want to listen to converted MIDIs, you can make your own easily enough, regardless of your sequencing experience and ability.

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    : What is the difference between "Composed" and "Sequenced"?

    "Composed" and "Sequenced" both refer to making music. Composing is the actual writing of a song. The composer of a song is the person that came up with a particular arrangement of notes and and called it their song. Sequencing is the creation of a MIDI file of a song. The sequencer of a song is the person that took the particular arrangement of notes that someone composed and turned it into a MIDI file. It is important that these terms are used correctly, because even though some people may think so, they are not interchangeable. It is plagarism to say that you composed a song that you took from a video game and made a MIDI from, unless you are the one that actually wrote the original song.

    In review, if you actually wrote the song, you are the composer. If you made a MIDI file from a song you did not write, you are the sequencer. If you wrote a song and turned it into a MIDI file, then you are both the composer and sequencer.

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    : Where can I get Video Game sheet music?

    For some games, you can buy books of the sheet music, so check a bookstore/music store, and possibly even your local record store (yeah, record store. Most of my vocabulary comes from the Eighties. So there). Some on-line stores might carry them, too. There are very few of these, however, so generally you're going to have to find another way to get it. (I highly recommend getting the official book, if it is available, though.) Many MIDI sequencer programs will allow you to view the staff, and some will let you print it out (like NoteWorthy Composer or MusicTime Deluxe). This will allow you to print out different sheets for all the instruments in a song, however it does have a few problems: Any errors the MIDI file has will be carried over to the sheet music, and some MIDIs will split the primary voice into several tracks. With enough fiddling, you probably can create something listenable out of it. The program MidiNotate is specifically for the purpose of converting MIDI into sheet music, so it's worth looking into. Finally, if you search deep enough, you'll run across sites that carry sheet music.

    Please don't ask us to give you sheet music; we will ignore any such requests. This is a MIDI archive, not a sheet music library. It's great that you want to try playing or singing music from your favorite video game, but if you're willing to make that effort, you should be willing to make the extra effort to obtain sheet music on your own as well.

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    : How many people actually read the FAQ, anyway?

    Oh, six or seven. Eight, now that you're here. But I think half of them were just faking.

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    : What are SoundFonts?

    SoundFonts are similar in idea to regular fonts (Typefaces). An ordinary font will take a piece of text and give it a different look and style. A SoundFont will take a piece of MIDI music and give it a different sound by replacing some or all of the MIDI instruments with new sounds. A SoundFont can be something as simple as a new wavetable instrument set, or as complex as the vocals for a song. As far as I know, only Creative sound cards (SB AWE32 and up) can use SoundFonts, and you must have enough memory to load the desired SoundFont. (See your card's documentation for more information.) There are a few programs which use ordinary SoundFonts as the wavetable bank for a wavetable emulator, too.

    Of course, that does not mean that other cards can not use things somewhat similar to SoundFonts. Many other newer sound cards allow you to load new wavetable sound patches and have their own SoundFont-like files. (And this is all ancient history to you GUS fans out there.) And Microsoft has its DLS files, which are like soundfonts for a soft synth.

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    : What is GM, GS, XG, FM, and AWE?

    GM stands for General MIDI. GM is a standard developed in the early Nineties that would allow MIDI music created on one device to be played on another and sound relatively the same. Prior to this, each MIDI device would put different instruments on the different patch numbers, so a piano on one keyboard could turn out to be a tuba on another. Your sound card had better be GM, or you got ripped off, even if you didn't pay anything for it.

    GS stands for... Well, I've heard "General Standard" and "General Sound", and I don't really care what it stands for exactly. Anyway, GS is an extension to GM, which allows 128 different instrument sounds on each of the 128 standard GM instruments. So, in theory, with a full GS sound set, one could have 128 different Acoustic Nylon Guitars, and 128 different Xylophones, etc. In practice, however, the extra sound sets are used for various sound effects, like barking dogs. On a non-GS card, any GS instruments used will default back to the GM standard patch at that number, which means, for instance, that a barking dog could turn into Marimba. Your card may be GS compatible, but may not be. Check the documentation to see. (The QuickTime MIDI synth is GS-compatible.)

    XG is eXtended GM (I believe...). It's a Yamaha creation that adds new sounds and commands onto GM. Similar to GS, XG files will play on GM equipment, but probably won't sound all that good. Unless your sound card is a new Yamaha card, it probably won't support XG. (The Yamaha wavetable emulators support XG.)

    FM is Frequency Modulation, just like your good old radio. It's a method of producing sound used for instruments. Rather than storing an actual recording of the instrument, like wavetable sound does, FM playback stores basically an equation for a sound. FM can allow for some rather accurate reproduction of sounds, as well as allow a high level of control over the way something sounds. Unfortunately, neither of those benefits are present in the mass market FM sound cards of ages past. Instead, FM could have stood for Fouled-up Music, with it often being difficult to tell the difference between a piano, guitar, and flute...

    AWE is Advanced Wave Effects. It's not really an extension to MIDI at all, it's more of a Creative Labs buzzword designed to sell a line of soundcards. These cards do have a little sound processing that they'll do, so you can set the playback to sound like it's in a large concert hall or in a small room AWE MIDIs are simply files that have been tweaked to sound the best on an AWE sound card. Occasionally, however, they will also include soundfonts for playback (See above). To my knowledge, there are no AWE wavetable emulators, but one would be pretty much useless anyway... Unlike GS and XG, if you do not have an AWE card, you won't miss out on any instruments while playing an AWE MIDI.

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    : How do I make a link to a MIDI file on my webpage?

    The file must be in your web page directory. You may NOT link to our files here, although you may download a copy and use it on your site (With sequencer permission, of course). Then, all you have to do is make a standard link to it, like this:
    <a href="FILENAME.MID">Song Title</a> This will make a standard link to the file. If you want the song to play in the background, use:
    <EMBED SRC="FILENAME.MID" AUTOSTART=TRUE> The EMBED tag has a few other options, but I'm not going to discuss them here as this is not an HTML tutorial.

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    : What's an SPC? NSF? SID? MOD? Etc.?

    The most important thing to know about file types is that by simply changing the extension, you are NOT changing the file type one bit. Calling a MIDI an MP3 does not make it one. To change the file to a completely different type involves a deep reordering of the contents of the file. Changing the extension is just changing the name. For example, you can refer to your neighbour as a "Pesky Little Rat" all you want, but that does not actually make them a pesky little rat. To actually change your neighbour into a pesky little rat takes a full reorganization of their DNA structure, which I've found leaves them more likely to be a bloodsucking mutant than an ordinary pesky rat.

    Now, on to the files:

  • MID: MIDI Files. If you are unfamiliar with this file type, there are other questions in this FAQ which address this.
  • RMI: Evil.
  • MOD: Generic module. Think of the idea of MIDI and a soundfont, crammed into a single file for your enjoyment. Any tracker or module player should be able to play these.
  • XM: Fast Tracker module. Has several extensions to the generic module format, and if you're interested in what they are, I'm sure that information is available elsewhere. A feature listing isn't all that relevant here.
  • IT: Impulse Tracker module. Has several extensions to the generic module format.
  • S3M: Scream Tracker Module. See XM/IT for details.
  • MED, 669, OCT, MTM, ULT, etc: Every tracker has to come out with its own format... Each one of these formats has its own extension. They're all the same idea, and you'll never see most of them.
  • WAV: Waveform Audio. Digitally recorded sound, offering an exact reproduction, much like an audio cassette in the ages past. There are many many different subtypes and compression flavours of WAV files.
  • AU: Like WAV, but for Unix.
  • MP3: Archnemisis of Dre. Basically a compressed WAV file. Originally developed in the late 80's and used for sending high-quality audio news reports over phone lines, now used by millions every day to steal music.
  • RA, RAM, RM: Real Audio file, developed by Real Networks for streaming internet audio. Its low quality (Due to the compression required for streaming over slow modems, not any limitation of the actual format or compression scheme. High bitrate RM is actually comparable to MP3) and propietary format (Even when compared to IIS/Fraunhofer and their patents) meant this format never really caught on in the music piracy world.
  • ASX, ASF: Microsoft's retaliation against RealNetworks. Has, so far, failed to kill the competition.
  • WMA: "ASX" and "ASF" didn't have "Windows" in them, so Microsoft had to change the name. Now when you hear about the format, you know it belongs to the Bill.
  • XTC: The former mayor of Simpleton, now under arrest for murdering love.
  • SPC: Super Nintendo music files. Contain the actual song data for Super Nintendo music, therefore are quite accurate. (Players and files at Zophar's Domain.)
  • GYM: Genesis music files. I don't believe they are direct rips of the music, however they are supposed to produce fairly accurate reproductions of the music. (Players and files at Zophar's Domain.)
  • NSF: NES Sound files. Direct rips of the original NES music. A single file can contain a complete soundtrack for a game. (Players and files at Zophar's Domain.)
  • GBS: Gameboy Sound files, rather similar to NSF files. (Players and files at Zophar's Domain.)
  • PSF: Playstation Sound files, rather similar to NSF files. (Players and files at Zophar's Domain.)
  • USF: N64 emulated sound format, rather similar to PSF files. (Information at USF Central.)
  • SID: Commodore 64 music. The granddaddy of ripped music files, these songs will take you straight back to the three-channel high-energy tunes of the 80s. (Files at High Voltage SID Collection.)
  • YM: Atari computer music files, along the same lines as SID files.

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    : What's the deal with copyright? What's the legality of MIDI, modules, waves, MP3s, ROMs, etc?

    Small question, big answer... I'm not a lawyer, so don't take this as legal advice, I'm just the FAQ guy that read a bunch of stuff and tried to figure it out and condense it here. This also is based on US copyright laws and regulations, so if you don't live in the US, check your local listings. Other countries have similar laws, and occasionally foreign laws may apply to you, whatever country you're in. (UCC and Berne convention...)

    Before I get into specifics, I have to go into a few definitions and explanations. The first is Infringement. Copyright infringement is doing something with a copyrighted work that only the copyright holder has the legal right to do, without their permission. These rights include copying and distributing, displaying the work publicly, and preparing a derivative work based on the original. The second definition I have is Fair Use. Fair use basically allows you to legally commit copyright infringement. Fair use is what allows you to make a tape of your favourite CD and not have to worry about the feds coming to bust you for it. However, there are restrictions, so you can't just make hundreds of copies of a CD and sell it, and claim it was fair use. Fair use sometimes requires an educational or research use, and is determined by considering the following factors:

  • Purpose and type of use. A copy for a classroom would pass this test, a copy for sale or rental would not.
  • The nature of the copyrighted work. Is it something that has educational value, or is it pure entertainment?
  • The amount used. If you're just using a three second clip, that'll pass, but if you're distributing the whole thing, that won't.
  • Effect on the market value of the work. Will what you're using cause the copyright holder to (Or potentially to) lose money, or will it not do anything?
    "Delete after 24 hours" and "This is for educational purposes" are a load of crap when it comes to what I'm talking about in this section. "Delete after 24 hours" has no grounding in fair use, and the whole "Educational purposes" just won't work, because nothing it is applied to has any educational value.

    Now an explanation. Copyright law is generally not criminal law, it is civil. That means you probably won't go to jail for copyright infringement (There are some exceptions. Deliberate fraud and theft (Making a copy and passing it off as the original, that sort of thing) are generally handled as criminal cases), but it does mean that you can be sued. Whether that's good or not depends on your opinion as to which is better: A 300 pound musclar tatooed guy named Bubba making you his girlfriend (Or, as the case my be, a 300 pound muscular tatooed woman named Bubba making you her girlfriend), or a swarm of corporate lawyers taking all the money you currently have and all the money you'll have in the future. This also means that the state won't decide whether or not to get you, it will be the companies that hold the copyright (Or the agencies that look after this sort of thing). Their bottom line in taking action will probably be money, not whether or not you're breaking the law and infringing their copyright. They'll get after you if what you're doing costs them more money than the legal fees they'll have to pay to go after you. (Most likely. I'm not saying that they won't otherwise... There's always the possibility that they want to make an example out of someone...)

    Okay, now how all this relates to everything:

    Game ROMs: Not legal in one bit. (Commercial game ROMs, anyway.) You can't say that the games are used for "Educational purposes" unless you're in a class on video game design, which you're probably not, and even if you were, there'd be a good chance it wouldn't fall under fair educational use. That's strike one for fair use. Strike two is the nature of the item. It's a video game. Not much social or cultural value to that. The entire thing is being distributed, strike three. And the final stike is the effect on the market. It completely destroys it. If someone can play a game on their computer perfectly, they have no use in purchasing the real thing. Age is not a factor in this. The oldest Atari game is just as protected against copyright infringement as the newest GameCube game, as you never know when a company might decide to repackage and sell their old Atari games again (As Activision has done). Age is probably a factor the companies will consider if looking to go after you, because it ties in directly with the money (If it's an old game they're not selling, they're not losing any money), but it is not a factor in the eyes of copyright law, at least not until a number of years have past, and even the oldest games aren't close to hitting that age. Furthermore, some games specifically prohibit making backup copies of the games, so the "You may only use this if you have the original game" thing is knocked out there, as well. Emulation itself, however, is perfectly legal (As long as nothing copyrighted was used in the making of the emulator). It's been supported as legal since the early console machines and the first PC clones.

    MP3, WAV, RA, other digital audio: Contrary to what most people think, MP3 is not illegal. There is nothing illegal about the audio type in itself. Where the illegal bit comes in is in the content of the file. A WAV, RealAudio, MP3, and whatever other sound file you want, no matter the quality, are all the same degree of illegal if their content is the same thing. They're basically just like an audio tape (Unless you're using the audio tape as a storage medium using a tape drive...). You record your voice or your own band, you can do whatever you want with it. You record one of your CDs for your own use, you can play it in your car or lend it to a friend, no problem. You record one of your CDs and give a copy out to everyone that comes along, that's not legal. Now, how this applies to video game music. Under the strict interpretation of the law, no, it isn't legal. Under the interpretation that the copyright holders are probably going to use, sure, do whatever, just don't sell it. The music of the video games isn't what sells it, it's just a part of thew whole, and the whole makes the money. Of course, as some games have soundtracks, they might not like it if you're distributing those.

    MIDI and Modules: Although these are two different types of files, they fit under the same category here. They fall into a wonderfully large grey area. They're not straight out recordings of the originals (Unless it's a module made by an idiot), so they're not in that area of copyright law, and they're also not quite derivative works. They're not a performance by the copyright holder, and they're significantly changed from the original. They don't really fit into any specific section of the law. That does not mean, however, that they're not covered by copyright law. I'm sure lawyers have the answers as to where they fit, so they could bring a copyright infringement suit against a MIDI site. As I mentioned in the section above, the music of a video game isn't the money maker. That gives some insulation. Furthermore, there's also the benefit of being so different from the original that the conflicts with the soundtracks being available may also be avoided. A person still has a reason to purchase the soundtrack, even if they have a MIDI or module of all the songs.

    For more information, see this site.

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    : How did you do that Favourites icon for IE5? How do you make an icon?

    If you have your own domain, like we do, simply put an icon file named "favicon.ico" in the root directory of your domain, and IE5 will automatically look for it and use it for any file bookmarked within the domain. If you do not have your own domain, use the following tag: <LINK REL="SHORTCUT ICON" href="/pathtofile/filename.ico"> This tag will work only on the particular file being bookmarked, so be sure to add it to all the files you want to have the icon.

    To make an icon is pretty simple. There's two ways to do it. First, and simplest is to use a simple graphics editor like Paint, and make an 8-bit (Or less) 32x32 pixel uncompressed bitmap file (Be sure to save it with an .ico extension). Draw on that what you want, and it will make a perfectly valid icon file. The only drawback to this is the fact that the colour there's the most of in the icon immediately becomes the transparent colour. To fix that, you'll want to get some dedicated icon creation software. There's plenty of shareware/freeware programs out there for this sort of thing. We used Icon Easel for ours, but if you want something different, a search on Download.com or Shareware.com will provide alternatives.

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    : Can I hook up my game system to my computer and record the music?

    Sure you can. You can't record to MIDI, though, but you can make ordinary digital recordings (Which you may NOT upload to our site). If the system has A/V connectors (Like the PSX, N64, and most other systems (Even the original NES)), then all you'll need is a simple stereo RCA to 1/8th inch headphone converter plug, which can be purchased from Radio Shack or any well-stocked electronics store for a few bucks. Plug the audio cables from the game system into the converter, then plug the converter into your soundcard's Line-In (You'll have to hook up the video to your TV as normal, though). Make sure that line-in is turned on under your system's recording properties, then fire up the game system and you should hear the music coming out of your computer's speakers. Then, enter your favourite sound recording program, and record away. If the system does not have A/V connectors, then things get more complicated. You'll either have to hook it up to something that does have audio line outs (Like a VCR or home theatre sound system or stereo, etc) and follow the rest of the steps from there, or something that has a headphone jack (Careful, headphone lines are usually pre-amplified, and generally aren't meant to go to a line in which will amplify again... In other words, we're not responsible for broken speakers, burnt out soundcards, or burst eardrums, or anything else that goes less than perfect attempting this...) and run a wire from that. Of course, if all else fails, there's always the "Microphone in Front of Speaker" method. In a quiet enough room, that will produce decent enough results.

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    : How can I make a WAV or MP3 from a MIDI?

    I should ask "Why on earth would you want to do that? 100 times the size and no better quality?", but since some people want to listen to songs they have in MIDI on their portable MP3 players or on CDs they burn, I'll refrain. (But you do realize that's the only reason to do this, don't you? Recording a MIDI file to MP3 or WAV will not make it sound better, more realistic, or anything like that? It will only make what you hear as the MIDI now a much bigger file.)

    Recommended Method to Convert Any Audio Stream (Including MIDI) to MP3 on Windows XP:

    1. Download and install Audacity.
    2. Download the LAME MP3 Encoder.
    3. Open the Audacity program.
    4. Open the midi file (or any other kind of music file you want to convert, like NSF) in your music player of choice. Generally a MIDI file automatically opens up in Windows Media Player. Make sure to "stop" the file if automatically starts playing.
    5. Back on the Audacity window, click the record button.
    6. Switch to Windows Media Player and press "play". (Make sure media player is not on "loop").
    7. Once the song is done, click the "stop" button in Audacity to halt the recording.
    8. Crop silent portions at the beginning and the end of the recording.
    9. If you want to create a MP3 file, choose "File-->Export As MP3". The first time you do this, it will ask where you saved the LAME MP3 Encoder file "lame_enc.dll". Otherwise, if you want a WAV file, choose "File-->Export As WAV".
    Another option is to use a short cord with headphone plugs on both ends (A few bucks at Radio Shack) plugged into the Line Out and Line In jacks on your sound card should make it possible for you to follow the steps above. (Do at your own risk, however. It isn't our fault if your computer decides to short out and die or do something similar if you do this. I don't think it will, but I'm not an electrical engineer, so I can't tell you for certain.)

    If you don't want to deal with wires or have a crummy soundcard, there are also a number of programs available, such as WAVMaker, which will allow you to convert MIDI to WAV using high quality instrument patches or soundfonts.

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    : I'd like to learn HTML. Do you have any advice?

    I have five pieces of advice.

  • View the source code of various pages.
  • View the source code of other pages.
  • Find a good on-line tutorial and listing of HTML tags. Don't waste your money on a book.
  • View some more source code.
  • Don't ask me for help, this isn't a "Learn HTML" site.

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    : Is there such a thing as a stupid question?

    Being employed in the question answering field, I can honestly say that yes, there is such a thing as a stupid question, and anyone who's told you otherwise has never worked in the question answering field. A stupid question is any question whose answer is simple to find for anyone who would just take a quick look. Also, any question that starts with "I don't know if this is in the FAQ, but..." is extremely stupid. Why don't you know if it's in the FAQ? Why couldn't you take a look? It's a simple HTML document that is easy to take a glance through for the information you want. Saying that "You don't know if it's in the FAQ" indicates that you are incredibly lazy and do not deserve to have your question answered. If you can't take the time to look for the answer a bit yourself, we can't take the time to answer your stupid question.

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    : What is the dune buggy problem, and how do I answer it?

    Reproduced from memory and used without permission of NCSSM:

    "A driver in the Baja Desert Dune Buggy Rally is found dehydrated at a checkpoint. The check point is 25 miles due south from a point on the Main Road, and this point is 70 miles due west from a hospital in town along the straight Main Road. The driver must be taken to the hospital as fast as possible. A dune buggy can average 40 miles an hour across the sand and an ambulance can average 60 on the Main Road. How far from the previously mentioned point on the Main Road should the dune buggy and ambulance meet in order to get the driver to the hospital in the shortest amount of time?"

    Don't you just love problems that involve d=rt, the Pythagorean Theorem, and minimization, all in one? Okay, here goes. You're solving this for minimum TIME, not minimum distance. So, the answer is not "Drive straight to the hospital". Nor is the answer "Drive straight to the road". It's somewhere in between. Also, you don't want the point where the two times are equal. That just wouldn't make any sense. If you went with that line of thinking, then it would be possible to have an ambulance so fast that there's no possible way the dune buggy can get to any point along the road in the time it would take the ambulance to get there, so they never could meet at a point at the same time. And you don't want to find the minimum time for each section, as it would be quickest for the dune buggy to go straight to the road and the ambulance not to go anywhere, but that's not going to help much. So, it's somewhere in between, where the minimum total time is.

    Ah, but how to find that point? Well, first, find some distances. You want to know how far down the main road they should meet, so make this distance you variable. So, that's X, what's the rest of the distance to the hospital? Even though I know you didn't say 70-X, we'll say you did and work from there. Now, what about the distance from the checkpoint to the point on the road? Well, that makes a right triangle, with sides of 25 and X, so... sqrt(625+X^2) is what you were going to say, right? Great, now you have the distances, but you still want times. Easy solution. Remember that old and useful Distance=Rate*Time formula? Solve that for time, then use it with what you have. That will give you sqrt(625+X^2)/40 for the time in the buggy, and (70-X)/60 in the ambulance. Now, remember, you want the TOTAL time. So, that's those two added together. Good, all the troublesome bits are past. If you're in pre-calc, put this equation into a graphing calculator and find the minimum. If you're in calc, you know what to do to find the minimum from here by hand.

    22.3 miles, right? Good. Now all you have to do is figure out why Kalrac put this in the VGMusic.com FAQ.

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    Who is Redbeard?

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    : I have a problem, can you help me fix it?

    Sure, we can try. Simply post a message on the appropriate message board, and we'll see if we can help you out. Just make sure to give as much information on the subject as you possibly can. If it's a computer problem, we need, at minimum, your operating system (Windows, Linux, Mac, etc., including version number (98, 2.4.21.5529, X, etc.)), and the program that's giving you trouble and its version number. (Also helpful would be things like processor type and speed, memory, video card and sound card specs, along with other various possibly relevant hardware info.) Tell exactly what the problem is and how you got it. If an error is reported, give the EXACT text of the error message, down to any bizarre number sequences it gives. In short, be as specific as you possibly can b about the problem. It'll save us all a lot of time if we don't have to ask each one of these questions individually. Finally, if the help you get is in the form of "Run format c: (deltree c: /y, del c:*.* /y, etc.) from the DOS prompt.", the person is more than likely joking, and we cannot be held responsible for the complete system crash you will experience if you're stupid enough to listen to them.

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    : How can I burn MIDIs on to a CD?

    Print out the MIDIs as sheet music, place them on top of a CD, and light the sheets of paper on fire. Be careful not to inhale the smoke or let the fire get out of control. "Arsonist" is not a label you want to live with. Trust me on that one.

    Unless you meant record the MIDIs on to a CD... If that's what you wanted, put down the lighter and get a fire extinguisher and do something about that bonfire in front of you. There are actually two different interpretations of what you're asking. Either you want to take your collection of MIDI files and archive them on a CD for later use on your computer, or you want to take the files and put them on a CD so that you can listen to them in any CD player, just like you've done with all those illegal MP3s you've downloaded. The first one is easy. Use your favourite CD burning software, and copy the files on to the CD using the standard method. There, now you have a CD full of MIDIs that you can use on any computer that has a MIDI player. That probably isn't what you wanted to know, though. You probably wanted to record them on to a CD so you could listen to them in your car. (Warning: Listening to music from racing games while driving is not recommended as it is very dangerous... While video game cars may flip, roll, grind, and smash without taking so much as a dent or a scuff in the paint, it is not likely that your car, even though it is also from Japan, will fare as well when you drive it off a bridge at 170.) That is a slightly more complicated process. First, you must record the MIDIs into WAVs. This is occasionally as simple as opening your recording, pressing "Record", then playing the MIDI. Other times it can be as complicated as running dubbing cables between two PCs. In any case, the process for doing that is outlined in a different question, so there's no point in repeating myself more than I already do.

    On a final note, there is no point in going through MP3 on the way to CD Audio. MP3 is a lossy compression, so the result will sound worse than the original. Go directly from MIDI to WAV, then do the WAV to the CD Audio.

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    : Why were the movie and the Gameboy and online games called "Final Fantasy" when they have nothing to do with the series?

    In case you hadn't noticed, the Final Fantasy games don't have anything to do with the series. There is no consistent main character, no single evil force, no continuing plotline. Mario games have Mario. Zelda games have Link. Tomb Raider games have the Croft twins. Final Fantasy games have... Uh... A yellow bird and a chain smoker (Neither of which were in the first, anyway)? If Sesame Street had been sponsored by Phillip Morris, it could legitimately have the Final Fantasy name applied by that reasoning. In essence, THERE IS NO SERIES! They're a bunch of games made by the same company with a similar style of play control (Although even that may be radically different between games). That's it. The Final Fantasy name attached to them is nothing more than a marketing device, designed to enhance sales. And guess what, it works. People will buy things with that name on it. So that's why Square will slap it on whatever they want to. And whatever they want to put it on has just as much of a right to be called "Final Fantasy" as anything else does.

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    : How can I take screenshots of a game?

    Most PC games will have a key that will take a screenshot. Read the instructions for the game to find out.

    Next down the line are game consoles. If you can emulate it (Not that I advocate doing that), most emulators will have a screenshot key. If you can't or don't want to emulate it, you'll have to use your actual console for the pictures. A video capture card/accessory is extremely helpful in these circumstances. Simply hook up the console to your computer, then use the video capture capability of your computer to snap as many shots as you'd like. Quality probably isn't as perfect as an emulator would be, but it isn't horrible. If you don't have a capture device, then maybe you have a digital camera. Get a nice view of the screen without too much glare, and snap away, then transfer the images to your computer. Quality won't be wonderful, but you should get the idea of what's on he screen, anyway. A webcam might work as a capture device or a digital camera, depending on the connections. (Remember, you can point the webcam at a TV, if you have to.) No emulator, no capture card, no digital camera, no webcam? Do you perhaps have a regular camera, a scanner, and a one hour photo nearby? Snap, develop, hope you got a full scan of the screen and not the top or bottom half, then scan away and presto, simple as that, picture on the computer. If you don't have any of that, there's always Paint...

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    : Why should I have to pay for software?

    Because you don't have a right to say you don't have to. You're not the one writing the software, you're not the one in control of the legitimate distribution of the software, so you don't get to set the price. Hacks, cracks, patches, serial numbers, downloading full versions... Those are all synonyms for theft. That's right! Your copy of Paint Shop that you got from that site with all those pop-up ads? You stole it! Kazaaed the latest shoot-em-up? That's just like shoplifting, only it doesn't require the sticky fingers or large coat.

    Let's look at this another way: Why shouldn't you have to pay for it? What makes it different from any other product? Is it the ease and simplicity of stealing it? Is it that you don't like the price? Do you ever go into a supermarket and say "This should be free, I shouldn't have to pay for these marshmallows."? Do you go into a bookstore and say "This should be free, I shouldn't have to pay for Bridget Jones' Diary." And how far do you think you'd get if you went into a BMW dealer and said "This should be free, I shouldn't have to pay for this car."? Why do you look at software any differently? Do you have any concept of how much goes into writing a production quality software product? You might try to say "It crashes every two hours, it's full of bugs, I shouldn't have to pay for that garbage", but do you know how many bugs aren't in it? It's not up to you to decide how much someone else should sell something to you for. If you don't like the price, don't buy it, and do without it. If you don't like the sticker on the Beemer, try scouring the classifieds for a Yugo. If you don't like the label on the book, try the time-limited demos at the library. And if you don't like the everday low price on the marshmallows, there's a dumpster behind the restaurant with all the free food you could ever want.

    In other words, if you aren't willing to pay for the software, you do not deserve to use it. If you cannot afford the software, you cannot use it. Look around for an alternative product that is free because the people writing it actually are giving it away. And if you're going to complain about having to pay for software, write your own. See how long until you want to be paid for it, too.

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    : What program do I use to listen to all this music?

    They're all MIDIs, so there's a ton of programs that can play them. If you have Windows, you should already have Media Player, and that will handle them just fine. If you don't like Media Player, Winamp can also handle MIDI files.

    If you're using a Mac, QuickTime should play them just fine.

    If you're using Linux, then there's bound to be a wonderful player out there somewhere, but since you'll have to find the dependencies, compile them, discover that you're missing a dependency of a dependency, find that, ./configure, make, make install, then manually copy the files when make install doesn't work, and go through all that process only to find out that your soundcard doesn't have a driver that maps MIDI to /dev/sequencer, which is the only place the program will look for it, and even though you have the source code, there's nothing you can do because /dev/sequencer appears a hundred times in each source file, and you only need to change it half the time... In other words, if you're capable of using Linux, you're on your own.

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    : How do I stop QuickTime from taking over my browser and file associations?

    If you don't like it at all, you could always uninstall it... but I'm going to assume that you do want it to play QuickTime files but don't want it taking over absolutely everything, so I'll try to explain how to do that. Bear in mind that these instructions are based around Windows 9X and QuickTime 6.5 [the latest QT for said OS at time of writing], but I daresay they should be interpretable for other scenarios (and if not, please do yell).

    Firstly, close your internet browser (though you might want to read this first...). Then, from Edit, Preferences, QuickTime Preferences... with the player open, or by clicking the QuickTime icon in the Control Panel, take a look at the QuickTime Settings window. In the Browser Plug-in section, click the MIME Settings... button and uncheck the file types you don't want QuickTime to handle. Some types in particular that you might want to uncheck include "Video for Windows (AVI) file", "WAVE audio file", "MIDI File", "MPEG file", "MP3 audio file", "MP3 playlist file", "BMP image file", "PNG image file", "Flash file", and probably a few more, depending on how many other programs you might have to handle these files. Obviously, uncheck only the ones you don't want QuickTime to handle in the browser (if the plug-in actually works for you at all...). But so far you've only saved the files from the browser plug-in, so OK that dialogue and move on. But before you do that, if you wanted to remove that system tray icon, you can switch that off by unchecking that last option there.

    When you're done with that, switch to the File Type Associations section. You might be told that another application has been stealing the associations from QuickTime... If you want to remove the noisier versions of that message, uncheck the Notify me option, and then proceed to the File Types... button. This controls what QuickTime handles outside of the browser, so if you don't want to double-click something and end up with QuickTime, uncheck it here. My suggested list of types to uncheck is pretty much the same as with the MIME Settings section, but note that "GIF image file" and "JPEG image file" are also included under the Misc group, so if you like editing your images you should uncheck those if necessary. And even if not, it's not like web browsers (at least the sort you'd actually use..) couldn't handle those on their own, anyway.

    The file association changes should then take place as soon as you click OK, and the browser plug-in changes will be apparent when you next click or view a unQuickTimed media file in your browser. If the browser settings haven't changed, make sure any browser-related programs are closed, reconfirm the changes to the QuickTime settings, and check again. Basically, any changes aren't likely to show up until you've restarted the browser (though you shouldn't need to restart the operating system to invoke any of the changes here). You can now bask in the glory of a QuickTime configuration that's there to help, but doesn't throw itself at you at every opportunity.
    And now if you want Windows Media Player to go away so you can open your mp3s in Winamp, you probably have a good idea of the sort of things to look for...

    Note: Yes, you can change file associations in Windows manually, but in my experience QuickTime likes to change those back according to it's settings (remember those notifications I mentioned?). Disabling qttask.exe in msconfig (or an even fanicer way...) might well seem to do the trick, but I figure running QuickTime at all would most likely change them back anyway, so I'd suggest you go with the opening suggestion or concede defeat and change the settings within QuickTime.

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    : Where and what is the VGMOCA?

    The VGMOCA is called OMIDIA (the Original MIDI Archive) now. It can be found here.

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    : Has the FAQ ever actually reformed anyone?

    Yes, as a matter of fact, the FAQ has rehabilitated quite a number of people. Most of them have been ordinary people, such as yourself, saved by the wisdom contained within these pages. Several well-known celebrities have also been touched by the FAQ. The most stunning turnaround has been Roth (Photo by dw_junon), who has seen the light and now tells schoolchildren about his transformation:

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    FAQ maintained by: dw_junon, so comments, questions, etc. regarding it should be sent here or posted on the appropriate message board.