I have a number of jazz tapes of the greats from the 1930s and would like to load them onto CDs. I am looking for software that would enable me to record this music into MP3 files on my computer.

I have purchased several software programs but have not been able to make it happen as yet. Probably the reason for that is I am from the generation that couldn’t even spell computer several years ago.

– Don Daves

Your query may lead the list of frequently asked questions this column receives, Mr. D.

There is a good reason for ever-growing interest among amateurs and propeller heads alike in transforming music on reel-to-reel tapes (like you), LP vinyl records (me), tape cassettes (my kids) and even many types of digital audio discs.

Owners of such music want to transform audio into digital computer formats like MP3 so they can use the tunes on mobile music players or computers and stop worrying about tape getting brittle with age and vinyl treasures getting warped or scratched every time they’re played.

Past answers all focused on using the audio-in ports on PC sound cards to accept RCA pin cables from the audio out on whatever analog device is used to play the music.

Some readers were understandably daunted by the need to look for the right connection in the back of the computer case and then find software that will do the actual digitizing. I named several programs that do this – including Roxio Easy Media Creator, Nero and AudioXtract.

Lately, however, companies such as California’s ADS Tech have offered products that simply plug into a PC or Mac’s USB ports and handle both the music connections and the software needed to get the job done simply.

ADS InstantMusic costs $50 and consists of a white plastic box the size of a large pack of Philadelphia brand cream cheese. It has ordinary red and white stereo audio-in/out openings in the back and handles the transfer from one’s analog music player to the computer by way of the USB port instead of messing around with the sound card and its settings.

The included Nero recording software handles the job from start to finish. It includes routines to automatically clip each song into a separate file and separate programs for trimming tracks and tweaking the sound quality by removing hiss, click and rumble sounds. Finally, the software converts the music into any of the major computer formats including ordinary MP3, Microsoft’s WMA audio files, Apple iPod’s AAC format and a few others.

I have a ton of folders and a lot of files in each folder. Is there any way I can print out the folders and folder contents as a simple list giving file names and folder names?

– Eric Bracher, Saratoga, Calif.

Your question may sound simple to those who haven’t tried to get a simple printout showing the names of all of the folders and subfolders on a hard drive. Such a document would give the owner a hard copy of what gets displayed as icons when the computer is up and running.

Unfortunately, and despite years of customer entreaties, Microsoft has refused to build this kind of tool into Windows. There are commercial programs available to do this such as File Monkey (www.monkeyjob.com), but most folks find that using the DOS software built into Windows is both free and adequate. DOS was the underlying operating system for Windows until recently and is available as a program called Command.

So click on Start and then Run and type the word command in the input box and tap Enter.

The resulting display will look like this “C: 1/4Docume(tilde)1 1/4Owner 1/4” with a flashing cursor ready for text commands. Type in “dir /s” (no quote marks) and you’ll get a list of all of your files and folders. It will flash by faster than anybody can read. So you need to redirect this listing of all files and folders into a text file that can be printed out as desired.

So type in “dir /s (open bracket)gt(closed bracket)C:filename.txt” with a space after dir and a space after /s. This will create a file called filename.txt with the names of your files and folders. If you want to change things – such as the amount of information shown about each file – you can get a full list of commands by typing in “help dir” at the Command prompt.

Got a question on personal technology? Send a note to Jim Coates at [email protected] Questions can be answered only through this column.

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