Tip o’ the Week #93 – Ring the changes with Mango


Windows Phone 7.5 – aka Mango – is here! (Find out what’s new).

I’m publishing this tip out of sequence as I think it is relatively topical and rather than wait until the end of January 2012 – when it would be scheduled to go – I figured it would be useful to share it now.

If your Windows Phone 7 hasn’t already prompted you to update, then it should do so soon. If you’re super-desperately-laser-focused-excited, you might want to follow the steps taken by some enterprising types who have figured out how to force the update to get downloaded.

One of the nice changes that’s been a while coming is the ability to set your own ringtones, so you can pick your phone out from everyone else’s when it starts to ring, after you’ve left it on your desk on the other side of the open-plan office. Choose an appropriate ditty like “The Birdy Song” or “Agadoo” to amuse your colleagues. Or maybe not.

Create your own Ringtones

There are a few rules to follow when making your own Ringtones. Firstly, the music/sound must be MP3 or WMA in format and not copy protected (eg not downloaded with a Zune pass), and it needs to be less than 40 seconds in length and less than 1Mb in size. Finally, it has to have the genre “Ringtone” set within the Zune software, then be synced to the phone.

clip_image004All of this means it’s unlikely that your existing music will be suitable – you’re probably going to need to chop the sounds down in length so you can use them as a ringtone. You could use a variety of software to edit the waveform of a sound file, but a free and simple-to-use download called AVCWare Ringtone Maker* does the trick nicely. Just load up the sound file, mark the start & finish points you want and set the properties of the tune to make sure the clip is small in size (might as well make it mono, and you could probably lower the bitrate to 64). Click on the “Convert” button and in a few seconds you’ll have a neatly trimmed tune.

clip_image002Save the sound file in one of your Music folders, and in the desktop Zune software, you should be able to locate the new file (probably without any of the artist information, but you can edit its title so you know it’s a Ringtone), and set the Genre to be “Ringtone” so when you sync it to the phone, it shows up in the correct place.

Save your changes, now right-click on the song and choose to sync it with your phone. Once that’s completed, go into the Settings on the phone, choose ringtones+sounds and the “Custom” tones should be at the very top of the list. If your new one doesn’t show, then either it doesn’t meet the requirements on size & format, or it hasn’t been tagged properly with the right Genre. The “Ringtone” Genre setting means that your custom ringtones don’t appear within the Music & Videos hub on the phone.

*NB: Internet Explorer identified the AVCWare setup file as potentially suspicious, but it appears to be clean.

Reading Microsoft Tag

Microsoft Tag has been covered in previous Tips o’ the Week, so it’s good to see the Tag reader (and QR Code clip_image005scanner) being built into Mango rather than having to download it separately.

clip_image007To read a tag, simply press the magnifying glass symbol on the front of the phone – this has now changed behaviour so instead of searching within an application, it always launches the Bing search app, which itself has received numerous tweaks. If you tap on the eye icon on the bottom of the Bing app, it will switch to scan mode.

Now, just point the phone at the Tag and if it is recognised then you should see the detail of the Tag appear on the screen – tap on that to action it (eg follow the URL or open the contact information etc). To create tags of your own, check out http://tag.microsoft.com

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