The Download Blog

New Firefox beta even faster than FF3

Mozilla fans can now play with the anticipated speedier JavaScript engine in the first beta for Firefox 3.1, as well as explore improvements to the Smart Location Bar and a slick interface for hotkey tab switching. Now available for Windows, Mac, and Linux users, the new JavaScript engine, called TraceMonkey, is not turned on by default.

To activate it, type "about:config" into the Smart Bar, then type "javascript.options.jit.content" into the filter. Double-click on the preference listed to change the boolean setting from "false" to "true." Close the … Read more

OpenOffice 3: Faster, uninspired interface

Demand for OpenOffice.org 3 has been so high on its first day of out of beta that the official Web site crashed.

In the meantime, users can also download it for Windows and Mac from Download.com, and there are a couple of torrents being shared as well on the usual big-name trackers.

After using OpenOffice's MS Word analog, Writer, all day, I can confirm that this update is worth it for the improvement in response and load times, if nothing else. The installation is still enormous, with an installer about 130MB for Windows users and 160MB for … Read more

iPhone apps of the week

Before I unveil this week's iPhone apps, I wanted to see if anyone else had the same iPhone problem I have. I keep having this issue with iPhone app updates that won't finish downloading and demand that I connect to iTunes to finish the update. But even when connected to iTunes, not all of the apps update and I'm left with that number on my home screen saying I need to update when I've done everything I can to complete the process. I also get some update notices dated before I downloaded the app, which clearly … Read more

OpenOffice's 3.0 release temporarily closes site

If you go to OpenOffice's Web site right now, you will be greeted with this:

Apologies - our website is struggling to cope with the unprecedented demand for the new release 3.0 of OpenOffice.org. The technical teams are trying to come up with a solution.

Fortunately, however, you will also find links to download the latest version of the well-known, well-loved, and open-source OpenOffice.org suite, the alternative to the notoriously overpriced Microsoft Office.

After a lengthy development time, the company finally released its new 3.0 version of the software suite on Monday, and the download … Read more

Featured Freeware: iMacros for Firefox

Automating repetitive Firefox tasks is one way to save your fingers from undue stress, and iMacros for Firefox is a great way to do it. From a sidebar you can toggle on and off, and you can run, record, and edit macros. Recording is as simple as pressing a button before starting and clicking another to stop. For more advanced tasks you can turn to a set of demos, but the Web site wiki and step-by-step tutorials were easy enough to follow.

While iMacros can theoretically be used to input passwords, best security practices dictate that you shouldn't. Being … Read more

ChunkIt for search clarity

For some people, Web searches are second nature. They're comfortable jumping from a basic text search to using Boolean terminology to navigating a minefield of open-ended results. It's hard not to appreciates the depth of material available on the Internet, but parsing 75,000 results can be daunting to even seasoned searchers.

ChunkIt for Firefox and Internet Explorer aims to streamline your query results into a manageable list by surfacing the relevant blocks of content directly below the appropriate link. This may sound like CoolPreviews, which opens a mini-window to preview a link before you click on it, … Read more

Google fine-tunes Gmail's IMAP access options

Some of the tweaks that arrived with the launch of Gmail Labs are fairly silly (Mail Goggles and Old Snakey spring to mind), but a new option that arrived Thursday makes it increasingly apparent that Google is doing something right with the e-mail service.

The company launched Advanced IMAP Controls in Gmail Labs, a feature that lets users fine-tune the behavior of the IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) technology that outside e-mail services or software can use to access Gmail accounts.

For example, you can limit which of your mail labels are exposed as folders to outside e-mail clients to … Read more

Featured Freeware: Last.fm

Last.fm is a top-notch music player plug-in for music discovery, sharing, and tracking. Compatible with iTunes, MediaMonkey, Winamp, and many other players, and available for Windows, Mac, and the iPhone, it "scrobbles" your music when you play it, keeping track of what you're listening to. Once you've created an account, you can set your musical likes, favorite bands, and tag tracks as it plays them back to you. The tagging option is customizable, so you can create your own tags on the fly or use the same ones that other users have chosen. When you … Read more

Opera 9.6 focuses on neglected features

UPDATED: Corrected Opera's country of origin.

E-mail and RSS feed improvements top the list of changes for Opera 9.60, moved out of beta today for Windows and Mac. As noted when the 9.60 beta came out last month, this version of the free browser offers up a multifaceted ''low-bandwidth mode'' for Opera Mail and tweaks to the RSS reader.

The feed preview rolls into Opera's RSS management a standalone RSS app feature so that users can preview feeds before subscribing to them. The low bandwidth option for Opera Mail, also called M2, does different things for … Read more

Featured Freeware: CustomizeGoogle

Google has long been one of the most useful tools on the Net, but frequent search engine users may find that they can make it even more efficient. CustomizeGoogle is a Firefox extension that adds options to an ordinary Google search, providing additional links to sources such as Yahoo, Wikipedia, or MSN. Depending on the specifics of the search, results might also include links to movie, music, or book search engines.

It's hard not to like the link to the Wayback Machine, which enables users to see pages that have vanished from the Net. The software filters out advertisements, … Read more