Fast Forward's Help File: Taping Web radio; closing Facebook accounts

By Rob Pegoraro
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, September 18, 2010; 7:50 PM

Q: When listening to music from Web radio site on my MacBook, is there a way to tape that music on a cassette recorder?

A: Taping Web radio might seem the equivalent of using a photocopier to take a screengrab of a laptop's display. But if you don't own an MP3 player or smartphone but do have a car with only a tape deck, it will let you take Web radio on the road.

To do that, you need a Y-adapter patch cable with a 3.5 mm headphone jack on one end and a pair of red and white RCA stereo connectors on the other. You can pick one up for $5 or so, although some stores may only stock $20 models with gold-plated plugs.

Run the patch cable from the laptop's headphone jack to the audio inputs on your tape recorder, and then the fun begins: Getting the volume loud enough to ensure that quieter passages don't get lost in tape hiss, but not so loud that the recording exhibits "clipping" effects that can sound like your speakers just blew out. Try about two-thirds of the computer's peak, record a song and play it back to check the results.

If you have a smartphone, however, it's easier to take that in your car. Some Web-radio programs, such as Slacker's iPhone, Android and BlackBerry applications, can store broadcasts for offline listening, though that may require an extra subscription.

Q: A guy I used to work with was killed in a plane crash, but his Facebook account is still open. How do I get it closed?

A: Facebook has two ways to deal with this sad event (facebook.com/help/?faq=13941). It will "memorialize" the deceased person's profile - removing "more sensitive" data and letting only existing friends view the page - if you report the death through a form on its site (you'll have to cite a news story or obituary about the death). Immediate family members can also use that form to request the account be closed.

(Post Co. chief executive officer Donald E. Graham sites on Facebook's board of directors, and the Post and many Post staffers market themselves on the site.)

Rob Pegoraro attempts to untangle computing conundrums and errant electronics each week. Send questions to The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071 or robp@washpost.com. Visit voices.washingtonpost.com/fasterforward for his Faster Forward blog.

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