Walt Mossberg

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Mossberg’s Mailbox

Converting Cassettes to CDs

Q:

Is there a way to convert cassette tapes to CDs through the computer?

A:

Yes, there are a variety of hardware gadgets, that, with accompanying software, can plug into computers to convert the contents of cassettes to digital files, which can then be burned to CDs.

I can’t recommend any specific products, since I haven’t tested any. But you can find some by searching for “cassette to CD.”

Note that such conversions, like conversions of records, can be very time-consuming.

Q:

I will be on the road this summer and I don’t want a large laptop. I’m wondering what your opinion is on a tablet vs. netbook. My main purpose is to retrieve/send email, access the Internet and download important files. If I bought a tablet, it’d be an iPad.

A:

Most of what you want to do is easy on the iPad. But downloading of files is a bit trickier.

The iPad makes it easy to view — and with extra apps, to edit — files received as email attachments. And it has some apps that allow file retrieval from the cloud.

But a straight download from a website usually doesn’t work well. So you might prefer a laptop. In that case, I recommend a full-sized, but thin, light laptop over the generally cramped netbooks.

Q:

I live in the U.S. and have a mother living on her own in Montreal. I would like to video chat with her on a daily basis. She is elderly and has some memory/dementia issues. I’d like it set up so I control the whole process from my end, leaving her to do little more than turn on a monitor. How can I do this?

A:

By taking remote control of her computer. There are a number of simplified remote-control software programs that would allow this, and I have no reason to think they wouldn’t work across a national border.

Two I have tested are LogMeIn and CrossLoop.

But you would first have to install these on your mother’s computer and make sure her machine is turned on and connected to the Internet when you want to initiate a video-chat session.

You can find Mossberg’s Mailbox, and Walt’s other columns at the All Things Digital website, http://walt.allthingsd.com. Email mossberg@wsj.com


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