Customize your phone's ring.
By Terry Maxon
For those of us who like
distinctive ringtones, there are two major drawbacks. First, each ringtone costs
money, generally $2 to $2.50. Second, we have to accept the ringtones that
someone has developed for us, not necessarily the ones we'd like to have.
Ring Factory from San Francisco-based ToneThis seeks to remove those
impediments. It promises to let users create their own ringtones and send them
to their cellphones. By golly, it does just that, and it's relatively simple --
if you have your sound source in the proper MP3, CDA or WAV format. More on that
Each ringtone is free, after you exclude the costs of the software, the data
download fees from your cellular company and the source material. You can turn a
snippet of music off a compact disc into a ringtone, for example. But first you
have to own the CD.
In Ring Factory, you pick the sound file that you want to convert into a
ringtone. Then, the software lets you pick the short snippet that will actually
become the ring.
Ring Factory then converts the sound file. You hit the upload button and send it
to your phone. Next, you download and install it.
The Ring Factory part of the process is actually the easy part. The tough part
is getting a usable sound file, and my test wasn't helped when the CD drive in
my Windows computer quit reading all CDs immediately after I installed Ring
So I had to create a Rube Goldberg process to get the sounds to Ring Factory. I
imported sounds into my Macintosh through iMic, saved the files in AIFF format,
e-mailed them to my Windows computer, converted the file to MP3 and then opened
The payoff? From an excerpt from Young Frankenstein, my cellphone now screams
"Alive! It's Alive! IT'S ALIVE!" when I have a caller.
I also loaded the Meow Mix commercial (meow, meow, meow, meow, etc.), the Ken-L
Ration commercial (my dog's bigger than your dog, etc.), Dinah Shore's "See the
U.S.A. in your Chevrolet" commercial and other tidbits.
Forget any ideas about using your copy of Ring Factory to send cool ringtones to
all your friends, though. Users must register their software for use with only
one phone number. You can add numbers, but you'll have to pay a fee for each.
--Pros: Fairly simple to use.
--Cons: Must have sound files in right format.
--Bottom line: Ringtone junkies will like it.