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27 September 2008
CDex is a free Windows program for converting CDs into MP3 (or other format) files on a computer. It's been a long time since I used the program which explains why I missed it on my earlier list of free Windows software. The software turned out to be extremely useful a few years ago when I first converted all my CDs to MP3s.
The program has a simple interface and assuming there is a network connection (and CDDB is enabled) it will automatically load the song and artist information. When extracting the music the program automatically creates the appropriate folder structure with artist, album title and song name.
CDex has a number of over using other audio programs. For example both Apple iTunes and Windows Media Player default to their own proprietary audio codecs rather than using the common MP3 format, and having to re-encode can be pretty painful. CDex creates the files so that they can be shared across different programs, portable music players and even different operating systems.
There are patent concerns about the use of MP3 files. This is one of the reasons that I am strongly opposed to software patents: (eg. World Day Against Software Patents - 24 September 2008). It should not be allowed to hold the world to ransom by forcing payment to read or write to a common file format.
The confusing and absurd situation on MP3 patents is summed up in Wikipedia - MP3 Format - Licensing and patent issues.
Fortunately software patents are not allowed in Europe (in general) - see Wikipedia Europe software patents, so I don't believe that it applies to me in the UK. Although with the lobbying of the commercial software giants it's still in the balance.
There is a free alternative the Ogg music format, although it does not yet work in all portable music players so is not quite fully accepted (although it's catching up fast - and has much better support than when I first converted my files to MP3). Ogg has superior compression and creates better quality audio files so it is worth considering. CDex has full support for Ogg and just needs a change in the settings to use that as default.
CDex is free and well worth giving it a go.