The Download Blog

E-mail while you walk and the new Star Trek game: iPhone apps of the week

The new "Star Trek" movie hit theaters last weekend and by the time the numbers rolled in Monday, it's become clear that apparently being a Trekkie isn't as nerdy as we thought. Though I'm not a costume-wearing, conference-going "Star Trek" devotee, I've been a fan since I was kid and watched all the movies and most of the TV shows surrounding the "Star Trek" universe.

This week, I decided to check out the Star Trek game for the iPhone, thinking it would probably be a cheap, simple game to provide … Read more

CrossLoop now offers Mac version

CrossLoop is a smooth, free, and lightweight screen- and file-sharing program, formerly available only for Windows users. Earlier this month, a Mac beta version debuted offering the same features. Besides extending the feature set to Macs, the PC and Mac versions can talk to each other and share across platforms.

For those unfamiliar with the program, which uses 128-bit encryption, you're given a unique and random 12-digit access code each time you start the program. You can then share your username and code to allow somebody else to access your computer, or input another user's info to access … Read more

OpenOffice gets anti-aliasing, better commenting

OpenOffice 3.1 for Windows, Mac, and Linux introduces several new improvements that should make the programs within the open-source suite function a bit better.

The biggest change is that graphics viewed in OpenOffice are now anti-aliased, meaning graphics will appear smoother, especially when you place one shape over another. It's kind of surprising that OpenOffice hasn't supported this until now. File-locking has been improved, so if you're using the suite for cross-platform document sharing you should notice fewer glitches.

Writer, the OpenOffice MS Word analog and the one I use the most, is notably changed in … Read more

Windows 7 on your Intel Mac - for free!

Most people who read The Download Blog are probably familiar with the coming release of Windows 7. For a full rundown of new features, check out Seth Rosenblatt's hands on post here, but there's plenty of Windows 7 content to pore over.

Judging from many of the comments, people who have used Windows 7 are saying it's the OS everyone hoped Vista would be. So when I read this week that you can easily setup and run Windows 7 in a virtual environment on an Intel Mac, I had to try it out. I can't advise … Read more

FeedDemon, Postbox bump up their betas

RSS aggregator FeedDemon and e-mail client Postbox both have released recent updates to their not-quite-ready for prime-time programs.

FeedDemon 3.0.0.20 beta 5a continues to build out the feature set of the popular RSS and Atom feed manager. FeedDemon 3 is shaping up to be a must-grab improvement on the last stable release, version 2.7.

FeedDemon 3 is able to synchronize feeds not only with FeedDemon's own Web site, NewsGator, for online news reading, but it can also talk to Google Reader. I jumped away from Google Reader because at the time it was sluggish and … Read more

Shiretoko makes Firefox 3.5 speedy for the Mac

Reports (like this one on The Apple Blog) persist that beta releases of the Mozilla Firefox 3 browser have rendered it a "perplexingly sluggish performer" on the Mac. Despite Mozilla's speed improvements in Minefield, those tweaks haven't seemed to make it into beta releases of Firefox 3.

Until now.

As an open-source Web browser, Firefox is, of course, open to community tinkering. One member of that Firefox community, Chris Latko, has developed his own version of Firefox 3.5 beta, dubbed Shiretoko, and my informal tests confirm what The Apple Blog and others have been saying: … Read more

Chrome-on-Mac precursor rough but workable

Update 9:19 a.m. PDT: I redid the benchmarks, and Firefox fared better.

I spent the better part of Monday trying out the Mac OS X version of Chromium, the open-source project on which Google Chrome is based, and I'm favorably impressed.

The software, available for download from the Chromium Web site, is incomplete and definitely buggy, as one would expect for a developer version that reflects all the latest changes programmers are making with the project. But for Mac users who've been clamoring for the software, I can tell you that overall, it works, and it … Read more

Countrywide police scanner and Top Gun: iPhone apps of the week

When I was a wee lad my family used to drive an hour north of the San Francisco Bay Area to visit my grandparents in Santa Rosa, Calif. My sister and I were at the age where we needed something to keep us busy at all times, so my grandparents often had to come up with things for us to do once the toys we brought along no longer held our interest. In one room of my grandparent's place, my grandfather had set up a recliner chair right next to a table with an emergency scanner on it. He … Read more

Hands on Zimbra Desktop, Yahoo's Outlook sub

If you could collect your Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo Mail, and corporate messages into a single in-box, would you switch?

The convenience of a universal e-mail in-box is what gives Yahoo's offline, open-source, cross-platform Zimbra Desktop its appeal (Windows | Mac).

Then there are the other tools to tag and search messages that elevate the Web mail experience beyond what your POP and IMAP services may offer on their own. However, for many, Zimbra's ambitions, abilities, and the sticky tangle of its distribution will keep it an interesting experiment, but not yet a standalone replacement.

While Zimbra Desktop is available … Read more

FileMaker unpacks a Bento database for iPhone

You don't have to own a Mac to use FileMaker's new Bento for iPhone and iPod Touch--released Tuesday in the iTunes App Store--but if you do, wireless sync adds extra incentive to take your personal databases to go.

Bento ($4.99) offers non-Mac users a portable personal database for storing everything from birthdays and home expenses to recipes and an exercise log, with 25 templates to start. Integration with the address book, dialer, Safari browser, e-mail in-box, and Google Maps make Bento a useful iPhone app offering that could become a master storehouse for your separate lists; and … Read more