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I recently listed my top ten favourite websites, and after searching through Ciao today I see I can write a full review on one of them, so here I am, again. It's a teriffic money saving opportunity to music lovers, as well as ringtone lovers (with datacables and MP3 compatible phones!)
*What is Limewire? Limewire is a one stop, non stop share file system. It's free and easy to use (Internet connection and relevant fees apply whilst downloading), saving an absolute fortune on singles, albums, programs, pictures, documents and videos alike.
*Appearance. There are several skins built in, and more to easily download. At the basic screen it's rather dull and drab, but functional. With a concertina folder style screen there are tabs at the top, boxes lower down to help you in finding your file whether it an image, video, audio, document or program. For video's you can choose the year, director, stars for example. Similarly with audio you can narrow down the search by album, artist, title, genre etc. Once you have typed in your choice it takes a matter of seconds to find files in excess that you are looking for, all displayed on a large screen. Here you can arrange them at will by quality of the track, likelihood of download, length, speed or size!
*How safe is it? If there is a problem with any file you are accessing Limewire issues a prompt. It tells you that there may be a problem with the file, and asks if you wish to continue with the download. Obviously, to protect your pc you stop the download. Depending on the content you are downloading alters how much you see this prompt. It's mainly unique to adult videos.
*Where do I get it? www. Limewire. Com (no spaces). Downloading the software is easy, and can be running in the background while you complete other tasks, as long as you don't ignore the prompts, it takes around ten minutes on a small broadband connection (1.1mbs). Once it arrives and makes itself comfy on your pc it's easily accessible from your desktop and recognisable by the green "slice of lime" button.
*Now what? Once you have Limewire installed look across at the top of the screen to familiarize yourself. Your first tab is "File" where you can connect to the sharing network
Pictures of limewire.com
or disconnect when you have had enough. The next is "View" where you can apply different skins, and access to user skins on the network. My Limewire is now a rather Barbie shade of pink, desperately not matching the material withheld. You can also choose to change the language and remove tabs from your folders (such as "shopping"). Third up is "navigation" basically the same as the search engine running around the left hand side of the screen. "Resources" is where you learn about Limewire Pro, the costs and benefits. In my opinion, stick with the free version, it does what it's meant to do! The "Tools" tab comes next and is the most useful, open up "Options". Here you can set how much bandwidth you use, how much you share, even how many files each person can access from you. You can place an adult filter on to stop youngsters downloading adult material, although if they have any knowledge of pc's and Limewire it is easily removed! For the real techies (not me!) you can find out all the statistics on bandwidth and blah blah! The very last tab on the first row is "Help". An in depth guide on how to use the software, and how best to access different areas of the programs. I found the help section useful when I first downloaded Limewire, finding out how to turn off the adult filter, reaching a friend's pc and removing the awful skin preloaded, I think it was a dank grey? If all else fails, access the "Forums", I found people here to be extremely helpful, and friendly.
*The Search facility. I had to pop this note in having forgotten about it until I tried to think of a disadvantage for the review. There have been two instances when I haven't remembered the title of a song, let alone the artistes name. (If you have read any of my other reviews you will know already my memory is infamous!) The first was Lasgo - Something. Here it took positively hours of brain storming and I still couldn't think, only of "SGO" which I typed in the search box. Lo and behold, it found my song, I was over the moon! The second instance was a song for both DH and myself, and we could only sing the lyrics out, but not remembering the chorus! I had people on chat racking their brains, and friends and family through text trying to help. I swore after his brother in law told us the title and artist I wouldn't forget it. You know what? I have, but luckily I have it on Limewire. Little quiz here though. I gave out then information that went like this. It's a female singer, throaty voice, like a slow rock ballad. Lyrics... "It was a rainy night when he came into sight standing by the road, no umberella, no coat so I pulled alongside and offered him a ride......... I didn't ask him his name the lonely boy in the rain....... He brought the woman outta me so many times easily and in the morning when he awoke all I left him was a note I told him I am the flower ...."
After a few short text messages, and mindless, tuneless singing from us both, we arrived at the right song, woohoo!!!
*Accessing my material. Once you begin downloading the file will show up in a box at the bottom of the screen. From here you can preview it to check the quality and content. If you don't like what you see or hear, you can kill it. Alternatively if you do like it and it stops downloading, either because you have turned your pc off, or the file holder has scarpered, you can click resume and hopefully find someone else who has it for you to access. Once your download is complete it moves over to the "Library" tab, and here you can listen and watch it, on or offline.
*File Sharing. Obviously the way Limewire works best is when everyone who downloads, shares! Under the "Monitor" tab you can see who is downloading what from you. Apart from the occasional Chesney Hawkes ballad most people access my Simpsons archive or my adult material. It allows you to boot people off from accessing your files, I have no idea would want to, but I do it sometimes for the sheer heck of it!! If they have a yellow smilie face next to their number you can chat with them too, something I have never been able to figure out! You can also browse their files by selecting "Browse Host" .
*How does it compete with Kazaa and others? Unlike many others around, it's file sharing, so the biggest benefit is the price. It costs nothing to download the software, nothing to buy a piece of music, video or picture, but basically it's the same quality. Obviously there are dodgy copies on Limewire as you are accessing what people have on their system, which can be removed easily if you don't like it. I used Kazaa for quite some time until I was told about Limewire, I ended up with Trojan's and Worms galore. Not to say that Kazaa is bad, but my pc was so riddled with virus' it was on penicillin for months!
*Friends on Limewire. It isn't an active community like Ciao, but if you have a friend who uses Limewire you can use the "Direct Connect" tab at the bottom of the search engine. Here you are given a unique number which your friend types into their search box. (Be warned, it allows them to see all files you allow to be shared!!) I found this very useful lately when a file was too large to be copied to CDRW, my friend downloaded it and copied it to DVD for me. I think for the 790.9MB file it took a little over 6 hours, I opened up my bandwidth and we both carried on browsing and chatting online while Limewire ran alongside us.
***Overview? Well, anything free isn't all bad. There are no monthly subscriptions, no maximum downloads, no fees whatsoever. With music and video's alike becoming more and more expensive why should it be impossible to sample something free? With the days of CD burners, MP3 players, monitors as big as TV screens it's a natural progression. We don't have a TV or a radio in my dining room which is where my PC is. Whenever the front room TV is occupied my kids have something to watch, or listen to as we complete our daily routines.
I still buy The Simpsons box sets for my kids, but seeing as Limewire allows me to access Season 15, and box set number 5 isn't even out on DVD yet…? I still buy albums by my favourite artists, but I no longer have to buy the "Out-of-date-before-it-hits-the-CD-player single" from the latest Big Fun, Sonia, Chesney Hawkes or Tiffany wannabe. Both DH and I can Laugh Out Very Loud at custom made Mastercard images, bloopers and never released adverts whilst still reliving our youth downloading Neneh Cherry, Bros and New Kids On The Block. (Okay, so that's just me!!)
With the right use Limewire is an invaluable part of our family life. I can select what I want to listen to while I do my Ciao without disturbing DH sleeping upstairs without the need for headphones. Of course when DJ Sammy and "Heaven" is playing I have to disturb him a little!