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One ringy-dingy…

There are a plethora of pay and free ringtones available for your choosing, but what you might not know is that you can easily create your own.

These days, everyone has a cell phone and, more and more, the phones are coming with the capability to customize how they ring. You can even choose a specific ringtone for all the various people in your address book–the theme from “2001” for your wife, maybe, or “Take This Job and Shove It” for your boss.

There are a plethora of pay and free ringtones available for your choosing, but what you might not know is that by using your Windows PC and a terrific little program called Xingtone, you can easily create your own.

This month, we’ll explore not only Xingtone but the various Web sites dedicated to integrating your Windows PC and cell phone via different programs that help the two to interact.

If you’re seriously into ringtones and want to create your own, Xingtone is the way to go. Xingtone’s desktop software is easy-to-use, legal, and allows you to create mobile phone ringtones using digital audio files on your computer–music clips, sound effects, your child’s laugh, your dog’s bark, or any sound you like. You can even use the cackle of your mother-in-law to announce her calls, if you’re so inclined.

The program not only supports MIDI and polyphonic (a scheme capable of producing more than one note at a time) but also allows you to make your own real music ringtones from any MP3/WAV file or CD track. Just pick a favorite part of your favorite song and after a few steps, it’s your ringtone.

The software is intuitive and has a very shallow learning curve, so even if you’ve never worked with sound-editing software before, you can be transferring your choice of tones to your cell phone in no time.

One caveat: Xingtone may not be compatible with your phone or network (see Xingtone’s Web site for a list of phones and networks that work with the program) and even if your phone is listed, your service provider may not allow you to use ringtones not purchased directly from them. (Virgin Mobile is one example of this; if you want to use ringtones that didn’t come with your phone, you must buy them directly from Virgin at two dollars a pop.)

Most ringtone-capable phones running on AT&T, Cellular One, Cingular, Sprint, T-Mobile, Rogers AT&T, US Cellular, and FIDO networks, however, should work fine with the utility.

If you want to add a little personalization to your phone without spending a fortune to do it, Xingtone just might be the program for you. Xingtone requires a computer that runs on one of the following PC-based operating systems: Windows 98, 98SE, ME, NT4.0, Win2000, or XP, has Internet Explorer installed (Version 5.5 or higher), and a sound card.

Xingtone costs $15 to register, and can be downloaded from Xingtone’s Web site.

Give me a ring

Want to add ringtones to your phone but don’t want to have to pay for them or create them yourself? There’s a multitude of free ringtone sites on the Web with all the ringers you could ever hope to use in a lifetime, and then some:

— Ringtone-a-Day

— Ringtones Galore

— Free Ringtones

— Mr. Tones

— Ringtones4All

— Universal Ringtones

— TotalGSM

— Cellringtones

— Free Polyphonic

— Absolutely Free Ringtones

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