The Download Blog

Find concerts easily and enter a boxing ring: iPhone apps of the week

I went to Portland, Oregon, to visit my parents last week and had a great time spending time with my family and checking out the local breakfast spots. I even found new places to explore (thanks to my trusty iPhone). One thing I knew going up there is that my father and his girlfriend had already bought two iPhone 3GS phones and I would not be hearing the end of how much better theirs were than my year-old iPhone 3G. But my mother and stepdad live up in Portland too, and once they saw how cool and fun my iPhone … Read more

Firefox: 1 billion downloads only part of the story

At about 8 a.m. PDT Friday, Firefox crossed the billion-download threshold--a notably large number for Mozilla's open-source Web browser but one that doesn't tell the whole story.

Firefox fans love their statistical milestones, and Mozilla enjoys fanning the flames by providing plenty of opportunities for self-congratulation. In 2008 was the Firefox Download Day, with more than 8 million downloads in 24 hours. Next came the Firefox 3.5 debut and its download tracker.

And now we have the billion-download figure on the Spread Firefox site. That includes updates people have fetched deliberately, not automatic updates, Mozilla said. … Read more

Newsgator goes all in with Google Reader

The publisher of popular RSS readers FeedDemon and NetNewsWire is ditching its proprietary online RSS synchronization in favor of Google Reader. Newsgator's eponymous online service will cease on August 31..

When the beta version of FeedDemon updated earlier this year with the ability to synchronize to either Newsgator or Google Reader, fans of the program rejoiced. Google Reader synchronization, the company says, was one of the most requested features for the Newsgator desktop clients. They have instructions for users who need to move their feeds to Google.

Google Reader may frustrate some, but it has far more users than … Read more

Themes support now lets you reskin Chrome

Google's Chrome tries to make a virtue out of its minimally intrusive browser interface, but that doesn't stop people from wanting to change its colors. So customization fans probably will be happy to learn that themes are now activated in the newest developer release of Google's browser.

Themes have been gradually getting simpler to activate in the browser, but they became enabled by default in the newest developer releases this week, version 3.0.195.3 and a hasty bug-fix release Wednesday night, version 3.0.195.4. No longer must you mess with pesky "--enable-extensions" command-line switches or other nitty-gritty options. … Read more

Safari plug-ins that improve your browsing

Many people who use Firefox know that there are some really great add-ons for the browser that help extend its functionality. But it's not the only browser that does that. Apple's Safari browser also works with plug-ins that, like Firefox's add-ons, make the browser a little more useful.

Before we get into those plug-ins, I should note that since combined Safari market share is only about 8 percent in the browser market, there aren't nearly as many plug-ins for Safari as there are for Firefox, which commands more than 20 percent of the browser market. That said, I've found some that are worth trying out.

Safari plug-ins

Cooliris Cooliris is a nice plug-in that displays videos and photos in Safari in a Cover Flow-like arrangement.

Aside from a beautiful design, Cooliris features a search box in the top right of the display that allows you to search for Google images, Hulu videos, Flickr pictures, and a variety of other multimedia content. You can bring one image to the front of the display or hold the left-click down and drag your way across the page. Cooliris helps you enjoy your browser in a different way. Check it out.

CosmoPod CosmoPod allows you to download videos from the Web, so you can view them in iTunes or on your iPhone and iPod.

CosmoPod's icon is placed in the Safari address bar. Whenever you get to a page containing Web video, you can click the CosmoPod button and the plug-in will automatically start downloading the video onto your desktop. You can even play the video while you download it. It couldn't be a simpler (or more useful) app, but be aware that it will set you back about $10 if you want to keep it after the free trial.… Read more

10 Adobe AIR apps that make you more productive

Adobe AIR apps are some of the best designed, most useful applications you can have on your desktop. Last month, I highlighted 10 applications to try out, if you're thinking about using AIR apps. This time around, I want to take a look at 10 apps that will make you more productive. Trust me, they will help you save some time.

Be more productive

Agile Agenda Agile Agenda is a project management tool that helps project managers keep their team on track.

Agile Agenda is quite impressive. You can add your team and input information about the tasks you need to perform. You can set priority, dependencies, when a task should be completed, and more. You can also edit milestones so you can track how the project is coming along. Most importantly, the app's fantastic design makes it easy to use.

Agile Agenda gives you the option of trying it for 3 days or 30 days, or buying a license. If you're buying one license, the software will set you back $70. More licenses reduce the price.

Doomi Doomi is an extremely simple to-do-list app that lets you quickly add items you need to complete. That list is displayed under the input box. You can set how long it should take to complete the task and mark the box next to it when it's complete. It's a simple app, but it's far more effective than writing your to-do list down.

File Furnace File Furnace is a unique app. Instead of impressing you with a nice design and several menus, the app displays a simple image of a fire. Over that, the app displays a message that reads, "Drop unwanted files here." It also features the sound of a crackling fire. As long as you follow the directions of File Furnace, and drag and drop unwanted files or directories into the fire, it permanently removes them from your computer. It's a slightly unusual app, but it's much easier to delete files with File Furnace than waste time with the Recycle Bin.… Read more

Postbox gets calendaring and pricing

Postbox's latest update builds on the add-on functionality that was introduced in the previous beta, supporting Thunderbird's calendar plug-in Lightning, among others, and also comes with an announcement that the days of Postbox-for-free are coming to a end.

Postbox beta 14 for Windows and Mac has its own build of Lightning, which should allow users to communicate with both local and networked calendars. While Lightning works perfectly for me in Thunderbird, it wasn't able to talk to CNET's Microsoft Exchange server in Postbox. The Provider for Google Calendar plug-in, which gives users bi-directional Google Calendar access, … Read more

Thanks for giving my pixels back, browser makers

I'd personally like to offer browser makers my gratitude for realizing that my screen isn't big enough.

I'm one of those people who wants every bit of display real estate I can get. The more I can see of the document I'm writing, the in-box I'm scanning, and the photo I'm editing, the happier and more productive I am.

The maximize button is my friend. Toolbars are my enemies.

So I'm happy to report that browser makers are paying new attention to the issue. It's important to me for reading Web sites, … Read more

Design ideas show Firefox 4.0 with a Chrome look

Mozilla has released mockups that show how Firefox 4.0 conceivably might look, and two words spring to my mind: Google Chrome.

Last week, Mozilla showed some mockups for the nearer-term Firefox 3.7 that eliminated the browser's title bar, replacing it with two drop-down menu buttons on the right, just like Chrome has had since its September 2008 debut. The Firefox 4.0 mockups show two options, one similar to the 3.7 ideas, and the other taking another step in the Chrome direction.

Specifically, the second Firefox 4.0 mockup shows the browser tabs on top where once there was a window title bar. That's the same approach that Google picked with Chrome, a view of which you can see below.

Mozilla is looking for comment on the designs, which, the browser developer takes pains to note, are "for brainstorming/exploration" and aren't final. … Read more

Miro gets faster database, audio podcasts

Open-source and cross-platform media jukebox Miro upgrades to version 2.5, and the improvements bring drastic changes to performance and useful tweaks to the interface. Available for Windows, Mac, and Linux, Miro 2.5 introduces a database overhaul so intensive that users with large collections of video and music might face a delay of more than 10 minutes when they first launch the new version. However, Miro states that the delay should be a one-time event.

Once you've installed the update and launched it once, subsequent restarts should find program launch speeds of two to four times faster than … Read more