The Download Blog

Easy backups for Mac: Backblaze

Just about everyone who works with a computer knows they should perform regular backups, but only a very small percentage actually do. While people's intentions are good, most simply think backing up their computer is too much trouble or software is too complex to figure out. Unfortunately, when the big crash finally does occur or a laptop is stolen, for example, the resulting loss of important data has us pulling our hair out wondering why we didn't take the plunge on backup software.

Today, a front-runner in backup software on Windows machines released a strong backup solution for … Read more

15 Firefox add-ons for Web developers

I've been working on a new Web site for the past few weeks. But instead of doing it alone, I decided to get some help from Firefox extensions. They've made my work a lot easier, and they all can be downloaded in just a few seconds.

Aardvark: Aardvark lets you select elements from a Web page and perform various actions on them. I use it to analyze the structure of a page. You can also remove and isolate elements or generate DOM code. I highly recommend it.

ColorZilla: If there's a color on a Web page that you like, ColorZilla will find the precise code for it and allow you to paste it into your coding program. You can also create custom colors with its built-in palette browser. It saves the most-used colors for easy access later on. It's powerful, it's simple, it's a must-have.

CSS Validator: CSS Validator adds a right-click option in your browser, sending the CSS to the W3C CSS Validator. It opens the results in a new tab. CSS Validator is a nice tool that will come in handy often.

CSSViewer: No Web designer should be working without CSSViewer. The add-on informs you of all the CSS information you'll need from a site. Simply click on the page you want, open it in the Tools menu, and it will display CSS information. I use it almost every day.

FireBug: Firebug is one of those extensions that you simply can't be without. It lets you edit, debug, and view CSS, HTML, and JavaScript. Once you make a change to the HTML on the site, Firebug automatically displays it in the same pane. It's extremely powerful.

FirePHP: FireBug is a fine tool for CSS, HTML, and JavaScript, but FirePHP, which only works when you have the FireBug extension installed, creates a full-featured development experience. With the help of both add-ons, you can view the quality of your PHP and find errors. It's a great aid.

Font Finder: Font Finder allows you to highlight a font you like on any site, right-click on the selection, and after choosing "Font Finder", view the full CSS text styling of the selection. You can then paste that into your own Web page.

HTML Validator: HTML Validator is an extremely powerful tool available to Windows users only. The add-on gives you feedback about errors on the page. It also lets you know where problems need to be addressed. But unless you're an advanced Web designer, stay away from this tool. It's very complicated.

IE View: As long as you're running Windows, IE View is a helpful tool. The extension adds an "Open in IE" option in the right-click menu, allowing you to quickly open a site in Internet Explorer. It's a great way to check how a page looks in both browsers.… Read more

Get Twitter in Adium

Mac users: are you a Twitter user who also uses Adium? If you are, you'll appreciate third-party plug-in, TwitterIM. With this plug-in installed, you'll be able to receive Twitter messages in a chat client window. Though the developers of Adium have promised Twitter support in upcoming version 1.4, Twitter users can get started early with this third-party plug-in.

You will need an account at Twitter to get started. Once you're registered, download and install the TwitterIM plug-in (above) and launch Adium (make sure to update to the latest version). With Adium running, open the Adium Preferences … Read more

NBA playoffs info and an excellent golf game: iPhone apps of the week

To go along with my obsession with software, games, and all things iPhone-related, I also have a healthy(?) obsession for basketball. March Madness is over, but there's still the NBA playoffs coming up on April 19. A few teams are still in the playoff race, even with only a few games to go in the regular season. While my team didn't even come close to making the playoffs (Hint: We Believed), I will still be watching a few of the playoff matchups and can't wait to see who makes the NBA Finals.

This week's apps include … Read more

Hawkscope gets the drop on your files

Hawkscope is a cross-platform, open-source project that provides alternative navigation through your files for Windows, Mac, and Linux. Still in beta, it's also extensible, so not only can you jump folders in a zippy, context menu-style tree, but you can search Google, check your Gmail, and post to your Twitter account from the Hawkscope interface.

Hawkscope appears as a hawk icon just next to your clock, so that's the system tray for Windows and the menu bar for Macs. For users with dark themes, the icon might be hard to see--look for an empty spot in between other … Read more

VoxOx offers points deal to CNET readers

Update: VoxOx has extended the deal from Thursday, April 9, at 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. PDT. Also, $5 normally buys 500 VoxOx points, not 250 as previously stated.

Multiprotocol chat client VoxOx is offering a deal to CNET readers until 2:30 p.m. PST on Thursday, April 9. If you buy $5 worth of VoxPoints, instead of the usual 500 points, CNET readers will get 1,500 points. This is triple the number of points VoxOx is offering readers who sign on through VoxOx's own site. Each point converts to 1 minute's worth … Read more

Twhirl's successor unveiled: Seesmic Desktop

Popular desktop Twitter client Twhirl has a new sibling. Seesmic CEO Loic Le Meur, who acquired the Adobe AIR-based application about a year ago, has dubbed the new service "Seesmic Desktop," which is being launched in preview as a separate product from Twhirl.

Some of the new features include the capability to monitor multiple feeds side-by-side in a similar fashion to TweetDeck, create custom user lists, and post from multiple accounts while the application keeps track of which ones are which to keep duplicates at bay. You can also drag and drop photos from your computer to post straight to Twitter, making use of the fact that it's running off of Adobe's AIR platform.

However, not all of this functionality will be available from the get-go. The service is being launched in "preview" and will support only Twitter, however Le Meur said his team is on track to release support for other services in about a month. He also said that there's a pro version on the way that should fill in the company's business model, since this version--just like Twhirl, will not contain advertising.

One thing is clear though--Twhirl's life cycle may be at an end. While Le Meur said that development will continue on it, that could simply mean bug fixes. Considering Seesmic Desktop is launching as a Twitter client from the get-go should tell you something.

Seesmic Desktop preview is available for download right now, although you've got to sign up to be a member of "Team Seesmic," the company's new community site.

You can catch the whole live blog after the break.… Read more

HD video rentals now in iTunes

iTunes 8.1.1 for Windows and Mac introduces HD video rentals to the iTunes Store, but almost more importantly also fixes some synchronization problems that the program had been having. Apple says that the improvements fix problems with VoiceOver, the built-in screen reader for the visually impaired, and lingering issues with syncing the iPhone and iPod Touch to iTunes.

Full changelogs can be read at the following links, for Windows and Mac.

Get nine Mac apps for $39 and help charity

Calling all Mac users! Now's your chance to score some first-class software on the cheap and help charity at the same time.

It's called the MacHeist 3 bundle, and here's how it works: For $39, you get nine full, unlocked, commercial Mac apps (which have a combined value of $621.75).

At the same time, you get to a choose a charity to receive 25 percent of that $39. Action Against Hunger, Humane Society International, Save the Children, and Save Darfur are among the 10 available charities.

Already, it's a win-win proposition. But wait, there's … Read more

Free calls and air traffic control: iPhone apps of the week

Do you have an app that you wish was on the iPhone, but hasn't been developed or ported over yet? Certainly we all have our wish lists when it comes to apps, but one that I've been waiting for since the beginning is the chat and VoIP program, Skype (Mac or Windows). Fortunately, the folks over at Skype have finally put together a great app for iPhone, and if you've never used Skype, I'm here to tell you why you will be soon.

This week's apps include Skype for iPhone and a simple game that … Read more