Napster may be a wonderful piece of human ingenuity and a real kick-ass piece 'o software, but it definetely isn't something everyone can easily use to it's fullest extent. So let's get started on how to find the songs you want and maximize the speed with which you download them.

Note: A lot of things in Napster ARE self-explanatory (clicking on SEARCH will let you search, duh) so I'm going to get to the point.

1. Type in the band/group/artist and the name of the song. If the song is named something like "I wan't to love you until the end of the world", it's better to type in something along the lines of "I love you end world". Using just a couple keywords scores you a better chance of finding the song you wan't. If you typed in the band/group/artist, they'll probably have just one song with those keywords anyway (exceptions are boygroups, britney spears, etc., who have "love" or "you" or "baby" in practically every song title).

2. Click on "Advanced" to get at those extra search options. Use them! Choose 44100 as the kilohertz rate and leave it there, since ALL songs ripped from CDs are encoded at 44100, unless some idiot who didn't know what he was doing fucked around and messed something up. Unless you are looking for a radio broadcast (FM should be encoded at 22050 kilohertz, AM even 11025), keep the rate at 44100.

3. 128kbps is standard bitrate encoding with MP3s, but with a lot of songs, it sucks. You can set the search options to look for just one bitrate (like 160, 192, 64). See list at bottom for details on the best bitrate.

Check the list below for the bitrate that is best for you.

4. There are a lot of different connection types: 56K Modem and lower, ISDN, DSL, Cable Modem, T1 and even (technological orgasm) the god-like T3 connection. ALWAYS look to see if you can download your song off a T1 or T3 first (although think about it: If you had a T3, wouldn't you be downloading stuff all day? Downloading 10 songs at a time can even clog a T3, so T1 is always another option). If you can't find your song after setting the connection type to T1 or T3, remove that option and try again.

Your best bet is a T1 or T3 connection.

5. Now. You have a list of songs to choose from, I assume. Unless you're looking for some ultra-rare 20-year-old bootleg (but you can even find those sometimes!). Now take a look at the song lengths. See a pattern? Let's assume 80% of the people have a song that's 3:47 minutes long. Then a couple have song lengths between 0:52 and 5:21. What would YOU choose? There are exceptions to that rule, however. "Live" recordings for instance, which are usually longer than their album counterparts. But maybe you WANT a live recording? Look for "Live" in the song title, and once again compare song lengths. 80% have 3:47, and 15% have 4:25? The latter songs probably are live versions. Note: If a song differs by only 2-3 seconds, it usually doesn't matter, but you're safer if you take the slightly longer one. (i.e. between 3:47 and 3:50, choose 3:50)

Use the song length everybody else does.

6. Know what a "Ping" is? If you don't, it doesn't matter. Just remember: The smaller the ping, the better. Usually you should look for a ping thats under 400, but there are connections that are just as fast at 800 (even Napster makes mistakes).

Just always use the lowest ping you can find.

7. So you got your song, the "Transfer" screen says "Getting info...", you think you can just lay back and watch it download? WRONG. If it's been telling you "Getting info..." for the last 30 seconds, forget it. Cancel the connection. Same with "Remotely Queued...". It isn't worth the hassle of waiting, just cancel and move on to the next-best connection/song. Also: If your connection is slouching around 1-2 Kilobytes per second, that usually means the dude/dudette is downloading something of his/her own, which might take a while, or you might just be too far away, geographically.

When in doubt, cancel the connection.

Extra Tip: Try to keep your MP3s organized. Rename the file names to something uniform, like "Pimpin' Ho's - (Gimme my money)". That makes it easier for you and others to find the song. My personal opinion of course.


128kbps and lower: Not really worth it unless the song is mostly spoken word or a radio broadcast.

128kbps: The mainstream standard. Doesn't mean that it's GOOD though. Some songs, like ones with a lot of crash symbals and high pitched tones just absolutely SUCK to the uttermost degree. You have been warned.

160kbps: Quite nice. Less distortion, mostly none. Slightly bigger files of course. Better stereo sound.

192kbps: Pretty much perfect CD-Quality sound, and I've never come across a file where I could hear any kind of distortion at this level (although most people will tell you 128kbps is CD-quality. Bullshit. Not always, not even often.) Downside: Songs are usually about 1 MB and a half larger.

256>: You are a complete audiophile. Either that or you got a "Ferrari" connection. Nothing wrong with that, but you might be going a *bit* overboard with sound quality. Wait until something better than MP3 comes along to archive music is my advice.

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