I am a proponent of doing many things well. I believe this to be a secret to success and it is the reason I write about tools that empower people in this direction. Each skill enhances the others and the result is a more productive, insightful and well-rounded individual. The exception to this is the individual who does only one thing but does it so well that he or she stands out as a towering example of virtue. These are the one-trick ponies that need no other trick in their resumes. And in the realm of software tools, these are the ones that make all of us look good and appear as though we actually have many talents. The first pony worthy of mention is Amazing Slow Downer ( www.ronimusic.com/amsldox.htm ; US$44.95). This application takes sound files and lets you listen to them at a slower speed without any distortion. This is handy if you are learning how to play a song or transcribing lyrics. Drag a music file to its window, press play and use the slider to speed up or slow down the song. Of course, doing this would typically make the tune sound like it was being sung by chipmunks or being played by someone high on molasses. But with Amazing Slow Downer the song doesn't change pitch and thus it sounds clear and is decipherable. I've also seen people use this application to listen to lectures for transcription. You just slow the lecture or interview down to your typing speed and away you go. This is much better than rewinding and re-rewinding to hear exactly what was said. Amazing Slow Downer has another useful feature wherein you can leave it at the normal speed but change the pitch up or down. This is useful if you like to play or sing along but your voice is in a different key, or you only know three chords on your guitar. Just process the tune to match what you have by moving a slider and harmony will prevail. Slowing down and changing pitch - I guess that actually makes it a two-trick pony. The next pony is Airfoil ( www.rogueamoeba.com/airfoil/mac/index.php ; US$25) and it simply transmits sound from any application to an Apple Airport Express module so it will play on your home stereo. Now, Airport Express was designed to receive Wi-fi signals from your Mac and pump those signals into a printer or your hi-fi stereo. Unfortunately, Airport Express only transmits sound from one application - iTunes. So what do you use if you want to stream internet radio or music from RealPlayer or Windows Media Player or any of the dozens of Mac input devices that create sound? Well, thank heaven for Airfoil. It's just the trick. Oh, and it can also broadcast to multiple Airport Express units throughout a house and synchronise them all to boot. Handy - and much cheaper than rewiring the whole place for sound. And once again it appears our pony has evolved to two tricks. Well, like I said, I'm a proponent of doing many things well except for those tools that do two things but do them so well that they stand out as towering examples of virtue.