Merchandise Billboard

Several months ago, I featured the sound card selector from Kelly's Music and Computers. At the time, the layout was a little rough, overwhelming you with too many selections. Still, it contained outstanding details for anyone needing to do comparison shopping. The sound card selection wizard is now completely revamped, including a great series of interview questions to help narrow your focus to two or three products. In addition to sound card shopping, a collection of other shopping wizards help find the audio tools you need, from instruments to ear training lessons and everything in between.

The Microsoft Plus! packs are a tradition dating back to Windows 95. Windows XP saw the release of two separate packs. One is similar to the previous versions, with themes, screensavers, and other desktop modifications. The other one, Plus! Digital Media Edition, is a great collection of useful apps. Old news at this point, I realize, but worth another mention because Amazon is currently offering the bundle for 50% off the regular price of $19.99. For ten bucks, Photo Story is single-handedly worth the price of the collection. This is by far the easiest way to create slideshows with still images. Add software for converting cassettes and records to digital formats, a slick audio conversion tool, and the Party Mode enhancement for Windows Media Player, and you've got a great collection of tools for practically free. Every Windows XP user should have this bundle installed on their system. Get it cheap, before the sale ends.

I like free stuff as much as the next geek. In fact, if you want free advertising for your company, send me logo merchandise and I'll wear it. I'm a walking product billboard for everything from Microsoft Windows Media, to WinZip, to Version Tracker, to Creative Labs, to... you get the idea. I digress. Digital Media Thoughts is giving away tons of cool software and hardware, to the tune of $15,000 in prizes. How do you get in on this motherlode of digital goodness? Sign up for a free account in their forums. Who is giving stuff away? How about Microsoft, ATI, Adobe, Crucial, and Roxio, just name a few of the contributors. Get all the details straight from the media geek's mouth.