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From the Tips Box: How Record Skype Calls, Rip YouTube MP3 Audio, and Properly Clean a Lens

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Once a week we round up some great tips from the HTG Tips Box and share them with everyone. This week we’re looking at recording Skype calls, grabbing MP3s from YouTube videos, and how to properly clean a camera lens.

Record Skype Calls with MP3 Skype Recorder

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Sam writes in with the following Skype tip:

I’ve recently started using Skype to conduct interviews. After messing around with all sorts of stop-gap measures and not-quite-right applications, I found the perfect solution to help me record the audio. MP3 Skype Recorder is a super simple app, you just install it, authorize it with Skype (it’ll ask you if the app has permission to record) and then just let it go. Whenever you start Skyping it will start recording (you can turn off the automatic feature if you wish).

We’ve been looking for something like this, Sam, so we promptly downloaded it and started playing with it. Works like a charm! Thanks!

Rip YouTube Audio to MP3 with HearYouTube

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Christine writes in with a tip for grabbing MP3 audio from YouTube:

There is a lot of interesting content on YouTube that I’d like to be able to listen on my commute (like TED Talks). I found a great site that makes it really easy to rip the audio and save it. You just got to HearYouTube and plug in the URL. It rips a 20 minute TED Talk in like a minute. It’s great!

Well we know what we’ll be doing for the rest of the afternoon: loading up our iPod for TED Talk commutes. Thanks Christine!

Clean Your Camera Lens like a Professional

Michael writes in with the following camera tip:

My buddy just got a new camera and he’s crazy paranoid about the lens. I sent him this handy video to watch and figured I’d pass it along to you too. You can never have a lens too clean! (That’s not true, you could waste a lot of time cleaning it and not taking pictures, but you get my drift.)

Given how thorough the video is, we imagine your friend will be satisfied. Nice find, Michael!


Have a tip to pass along? Shoot us an email at tips@howtogeek.com and look for your tip on the front page.

Jason Fitzpatrick is warranty-voiding DIYer and all around geek. When he's not documenting mods and hacks he's doing his best to make sure a generation of college students graduate knowing they should put their pants on one leg at a time and go on to greatness, just like Bruce Dickinson. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 02/16/12

Comments (9)

  1. Anonymous

    I would like to warn anyone that recording phone conversations without knowledge or consent of the other party may be opening yourself up to potential lawsuits. Recording interviews is probably not going to result in a lawsuit. Then again, it really depends on what’s actually happening in those interviews too. Therefore, a real simple thing you can do when using the record feature – on any phone connection – is to simply tell the other party that they will be recorded. Although it’s probably nicer to ask. Forget to do this, or just not do it and you can find yourself in a very gray world of endless legal red tape.

  2. Nathan

    There are lots of websites that can rip audio from youtube videos for you. You just have to google youtube to MP3 and a bunch of them will come up (Be careful though, some may contain viruses or may take an hour for a short youtube vid). I usually use youtube-MP3.org and as said in article, just copy url of youtube video and paste it into website and save downloaded file.

  3. LadyFitzgerald

    I was cringing through much of the video on cleaning camera lenses. Cleaning the lens cap was excellent advice but the video didn’t go quite far enough. I use “canned air” to blow dust out of the lens cap; that much pressure won’t hurt the cap. My lens cap can be taken apart to allow getting into all the little nooks and crannies that can harbor dust. Squeezing the catch release enough allows the catch mechanism to be lifted out. All dust must be removed. If a brush and air can’t get it all, take the alcohol and a microfiber cloth to it to carefully loosen the dust.

    Using the squeeze blower first to blow loose dust off the lens was also good advice. So was using the brush to further loosen dust. What first made me cringe was the person going directly to using the microfiber cloth on the lens without first blowing off any remaining dust after brushing. As much dust as possible must be removed from the lens before rubbing the lens with a cloth. Otherwise, it’s possible to scratch the lens coating or the lens itself by rubbing the dust around on the lens (watching the dust being shoved around on the lens by the cloth in the video was like listening to fingernails on a blackboard). It may take a bit of patience to get all the dust off with just the brush and blower (a gentle touch must be used with the brush) but it is time well spent. If I get a speck of dust that absolutely refuses to come loose with a brush, I use a wet cloth to carefully loosen it without rubbing it over the lens, then brush and blow it off (I rarely have to do that).

    Using two microfiber cloths, one for washing with the alcohol and the other for the final cleaning is good advice but one can also use one corner of one cloth to use with the alcohol and the dry part of the same cloth to finish cleaning. One should use the dry cloth as quickly as possible to avoid letting the alcohol dry on the lens, possibly leading to streaking. It is imperative that the cloth is clean and dust free. I keep one cloth in my purse in a plastic pouch and clean it frequently. I have other cloths at home.

    Good lighting is vital but a 250W bulb seems like overkill to me. If indoors, I use a small, bright flashlight and move it around to make sure I see every little speck of dust. Outdoors, it’s hard to beat direct sunlight. Indoors is better for cleaning since there will likely be less dust floating around in the air.

    Of course, keeping a lens clean in the first place is excellent advise. Using the squeeze bulb (and a brush if necessary) frequently will keep dust from establishing a homestead on the lens. Frequent cleaning will also help to avoid dust getting stuck on the lens. I thoroughly clean my lens before using my camera for the day and at the end of the day. Keeping a lens filter on the lens will keep crud away from the lens. I couldn’t believe the condition of the lens filter in the video. Imagine what the lens would have looked like if the filter hadn’t been there.

  4. don martino

    google phone has recording capabilities built in. You just press a key on the phone (#4, I believe), and it gives a recorded warning that the call is being recorded (this is only for calls that you receive).

    google phone also has built in voice mail and transcriptions of the message into text which is fairly accurate.

    All US, Canadian calls have always been free with google phone — unlike skype.

  5. Tip

    Instead of ripping poor quality music from YouTube, another option is to use the Groove Shredder plugin for Firefox which downloads Mp3′s from Groove Shark, or a little application called Silors groove shark downloader will download music from groove shark too…

  6. ThinkSoJoE

    For our podcasts, I run Skype on my laptop and connect an audio cable to my desktop, which is running Audacity. I set my mic to play through my headphones, and have it do nothing when another sound device is running (instead of dropping to 30% volume). Seems to work pretty well for me. Didn’t do so well with MP3 Skype Recorder.

  7. Andy

    I prefer using G-recorder, http://bit.ly/xAyYLU

    I like it because it allows me to record my Skype calls to my Gmail.
    It’s great to have recordings available anytime I’m in my Gmail no metter whether I’m at home or at work.

    It awesome and free.

  8. Frank

    There’s another good solution to record Skype calls. http://www.skype-record.com
    I have used it for a long time, and it helps a lot when I need to record conversations, interviews, and conference. I totally agree with Anonymous that the other side should be informed, when there is recording.

  9. boris

    this tool is a very good for recording skype calls. and its free http://www.skyperecorder911.com

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