From the Tips Box: Extracting Audio from Any Video Using VLC, Sneaking Around Paywalls, and Delaying Windows Live Mesh During Boot.

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By Jason Fitzpatrick on June 16th, 2011

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Every week we dig into our reader mailbag and share the tips and tricks you email in. This week we’re highlighting a how to extract audio from any video file with VLC, sneaking around news site paywalls, and how to delay Windows Live Mesh from loading right away.

Extract the Audio from Any Video File with VLC

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Earlier this week we shared a guide with you on using VLC to resize videos for your Android phone. Reedip wrote in with his guide to using VLC to extract the audio from any video file and convert it to MP3 format. He writes:

VLC is not just a Media Player, it is a whole software in itself.This is just an experiment which I did to try and get an MP3 file from a video I downloaded from YouTube.

VLC has a very easy way to convert the FLV (or any other video file for that sake) to MP3

All you need to do is:

  1. Open VLC.
  2. Go to Media –> Convert/Save.
  3. When you click Convert/Save, it opens a dialog box where in you can select the file which you need to convert(i.e. the video/FLV file which you wish to convert to MP3).
  4. After selecting the file click on Convert/Save button located in the lower right hand side of the dialog box.
  5. After this,there would be a dialog box for Stream Output. Check the option ‘File’, and go to ‘Browse’ to locally save the file with the filename of your choosing. Whenever you enter the new file name and click Save, a “.ps” is appended at the end of the file name. Substitute the “.ps” extension with a “.mp3” extension.
  6. In the Settings section of the Convert dialog box there is Profile drop down menu. Within the Profile section pull the menu down and select MP3 (for MP3encoding).
  7. Click SAVE and let the data Stream. Once finished, open the MP3 file and enjoy.

Great tip Reedip; you’re right, VLC is a veritable Swiss Army knife of media tools. Thanks for writing in.

Sneak Around Paywalls with Google’s Help

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Charles writes in with his simple technique for gaining access to articles hidden behind paywalls:

I’m an admitted news junkie.  I use the Google Alert feature in G-mail to hone in on the subjects I’m interested in.  Most sites offer free content and some request a sign in… usually free.

But, there is a few sites that want you to pay for the privilege of reading their articles.  Two I can remember off hand is the “Wall Street Journal” and “Financial Times”.  Why they insist on paying customers while everyone else does not… I have no idea.  Generally the first paragraph is seen and that’s all.  A tease.

There is a work around.  At the bottom of each article Google has a link saying, “See all stories on this topic”.  By clicking that link you get all the related articles available.  You also get a new link to the site that was previously partially blocked.  This link however is the full article with no requirements!

Very clever; paywalls are such an odd strategy for companies attempting to compete in a medium of free and immediate information. Nice work finding a simple way to skirt around them.

Delaying the Start of Windows Live Mesh

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Reader Neutronstar21 writes in with his tip for delaying the start of Windows Live Mesh:

I have an easy fix to prevent Windows Live Mesh (WLM) from starting at logon (Windows 7) but still being able to sign-in automatically when started manually.  I needed this fix as I wanted to sync encrypted volumes that required a password after logon.  WLM would fail at login as it couldn’t find the volume specified to sync. 

WLM cannot be disabled to start at login if the option “sign-in automatically” is checked.  I found that with this option checked WLM would write the startup run registry key (as below) whenever it was executed. I found steps 2-5 here, to give credit where it’s due. Key written by WLM whenever it is executed (with option “sign-in automatically” checked):

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run]

“WLSync”=”\”C:\\Program Files (x86)\\Windows Live\\Mesh\\WLSync.exe\” /background”

Anyhow, fix is as follows.

1. To delete  the registry key, create a batch file that executes the command:

Reg Delete “HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run” /v WLSync /f

2. To run this script at Windows 7 Logoff:

Type “Gpedit.msc” in the Start Button Run box and press “Enter. This opens the Group Policy Editor.

3. Navigate to “User Configuration\Windows Settings\Scripts (Logon/Logoff)” on the left pane. Double-click “Logoff” on the right-pane to bring up the properties.

4. Click “Add.” This loads an Add a Script dialog. Click “Browse” and select the script you made. This places it in the “Script Name” field.

5.Click “OK” at the bottom of the Add a Script dialog to confirm. This takes you back to the properties window. Click “Apply” at the bottom and close your policy editor. The script will run when the user logs off.

If you’re in a similar situation it’s a great fix to the delayed-but-automatically-logged-in issue with Windows Live Mesh. Thanks for doing the legwork and figuring it out Neutronstar21!


Have a tip to share? Fire it our way via tips@howtogeek.com and you might just see it on the front page.

Jason Fitzpatrick is a warranty-voiding DIYer who spends his days cracking opening cases and wrestling with code so you don't have to. If it can be modded, optimized, repurposed, or torn apart for fun he's interested (and probably already at the workbench taking it apart). You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 06/16/11
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