Are MP3-technology portable players only good for playing cool tunes downloaded from the net? Far from it. They offer an alternative and a convenient listening addition to audio books on tape or CD.

What used to take days or weeks of waiting for the mail carrier to deliver your audio books on tape or CD, now takes no more than a few minutes. You can be listening to your favorite MP3 books straight away. And it’s going to get even better, easier and quicker, judging from the advances in audio and web technologies in recent months.

The hard core audiobook listeners may take a while to “convert” from using tapes and CDs to an MP3 format. The sheer convenience, perfect control and the size choices MP3 players offer, the “changeo ver period” is likely going to be a short one. More »

It’s possible to have Vista and chow down on your XP cake, too, if you apply a free — for now — virtual machine.

If you’re stuck with a Vista PC, but you really prefer using XP, I’ll show you how to set up XP as a virtual machine on Vista, plus some tricks you can use to get the most out of this setup.

Why you should give virtual machines a free try

It’s unarguable: Windows XP operates more quickly than Vista (a fact that PC World recently demonstrated even with the new Service Pack 1 installed on Vista). Additionally, no one who’s independent of Microsoft’s payroll suggests that device drivers are just as easily available for Vista as they are for XP, or that Vista supports as many software applications that people own. More »

Windows Vista and Office 2007 are just over the horizon and are probably going to take a significant chunk out of most people is bank balances. If after buying these apps you find yourself a bit short of cash, then you should check out some of the great free software available for Windows.

The Simple Dollar have created a list of 30 Essential Free Programs For Windows. Listed are great programs like Firefox and Thunderbird that many people have heard of. But, did you know that Mozilla also offer Sunbird, which is a free calendaring application? More »

Stereo systems used to be collections of components that you maintained in the living room. Since the MP3 revolution, that’s no longer the case. Now it’s easier to collect all of your music in one place—your PC—and play it from there.

Of course, once you move away from CDs, you quickly run into a problem: How do you listen to music in different rooms?

With Microsoft’s new Windows Media Player 11 (WMP11) and its built-in Media Sharing feature, you can easily set up one computer as the server and have it stream music wirelessly to other devices around the house, such as a Microsoft Xbox 360 or a networked media hub. And starting with Windows Vista, you’ll also be able to stream music wirelessly between PCs from WMP11.

Unfortunately, WMP’s PC-to-PC streaming doesn’t work in Windows XP. For that scenario, here’s a solution that’s almost as easy—sharing your music library across your home network, so that any machine can access it. It’s not technically beautiful, but it’s practical and glitch-free. Regardless of what devices you have on your network, here’s how to centralize your music system around WMP11.—Jamie Lendino, editor of Ziff Davis Smart Device Central ( More »