The Download Blog

Which tax-prep service is right for you?

A correction was made to this story. Read below for details.

The prices for Intuit TurboTax and H&R Block TaxCut have shifted significantly, making it tough to tell how much you'll actually pay to file 2008 returns using their software or online services.

Among the good news is that both brands now offer free federal electronic filing, which has cost up to an additional $20 in the past. But some users of the market-leading TurboTax desktop software are venting bitterly on online forums about Intuit's new charge of $9.95 for each federal return prepared beyond … Read more

Picasa's Mac uploader now downloads too

Google's latest version of its software-based Picasa uploader for Mac has a handy new trick up its sleeve. It now lets you download entire albums back to your computer, making it a simple tool for backing up large photo libraries.

The Windows and Linux version of Picasa have allowed you to do this for some time, but seeing as Mac users do not (yet) have a version of Picasa to call their own, this is a far better option than downloading the originals one at a time from the Web, or having to use third-party programs.

I gave it … Read more

Appcelerator Titanium puts more Web apps on your desktop

The line between Web and desktop apps is getting fuzzier Tuesday, with the preview release of Appcelerator Titanium, platform designed to turn Web app developers into desktop and mobile phone developers.

Appcelerator, which makes an open source Web app framework, is targeting Titanium at Web developers who want to bite off a chunk of the desktop market while still using their HTML, CSS and JavaScript skills. Titanium will be going head-to-head against Adobe AIR, letting developers using Appcelerator's SDK compile installable versions of their apps for PCs and Macs (a Linux version is coming later).

Titanium apps are more … Read more

Firefox 3.1 gets some privacy

The much-anticipated Firefox 3.1 beta 2 is out and about for Windows and Mac users, incorporating the faster JavaScript engine TraceMonkey as the default setting and introducing Private Browsing, which has been in development for years. There are other improvements, of course, but the big one is the ability to turn off the cache and other private data settings with a single click.

Private Browsing works similarly to Google Chrome's Incognito, or Safari's setting of the same name. Go into Tools on the Menubar and click Private Browsing, and all your movements on the Internet will not … Read more

iPhone apps of the week

Now that the holiday shopping season is in full swing, maybe it's time to let Santa know he can always get you a gift certificate to the iTunes store so you can buy more apps! While there are plenty of great free offerings available, I've come across a couple of fun games in the paid section that might be perfect as a stocking stuffer. But just so you have something to download today, I discovered a great free game for those who don't want to fork over their hard cold cash.

TouchGrind ($4.99) is a high-quality … Read more

Second Firefox 3.1 beta due 'very shortly'

Update 6:15 p.m. PST: An earlier version of this story said the second beta version of Firefox 3.1 would likely be the last. Firefox is planning a third beta version. Also, added a comment from Paul Rouget about when the second beta version will likely be released.

The second beta version of Firefox 3.1 is "due out very shortly," Mozilla programmer Ben Turner said Thursday.

One big change in the 3.1b2 is the addition of "Web workers," a feature that lets the browser process tasks in the background. That feature, part … Read more

This Kraken fights for good

If you're up on your pirate lore, or perhaps have your Pirates of the Caribbean plot flow-chart handy, you'll know that sea-faring criminals are no friends of Johnny Depp-devouring monsters. As it goes on the high CGI seas, so follow the stormy waters of the Firefox add-on world. Yesterday's Pirates of the Amazon plug-in, which adds torrent links to songs and movies in the Amazon.com store, is met today by The Kraken, a plug-in that adds Amazon.com links to torrent Web sites.

The Kraken is extremely simple and there's no configuration required. When you … Read more

Boxee gets support for Netflix streaming

Boxee is releasing on Thursday a new version of its media center software that adds support for Netflix Watch Instantly streaming movies.

Unlike streaming solutions from Roku and Microsoft's Xbox 360, Boxee's effort includes the option to both browse and search through Netflix's library. Roku's box and the Xbox are currently limited to showing users the videos from their saved queues. The two also require special hardware (and in the Xbox's case a paid Xbox Live Gold membership), whereas Boxee works on any Intel-Mac or Linux PC. Boxee's service is not yet available for … Read more

Opera 10 alpha claims Acid3 perfection

Thirteen-year-old Opera has been the perennial underdog in the browser wars, but Opera 10 alpha brings some unexpected firepower to the field. Unlike Google Chrome, Firefox 3, or any other browser on the market except for Safari 4 Developer Preview, Opera 10 will comply fully with the Acid3 test, according to the Norwegian publisher.

Expected to be available now for public testing, Opera 10 is powered by an update to its proprietary rendering engine. Presto 2.2 is supposed to be 30 percent faster than Presto 2.1, the engine driving Opera 9.5. Presto 2.2, says the company, … Read more

Featured Freeware: StumbleUpon

StumbleUpon wears a lot of hats: random Web site surfer, social networker, social bookmarker, site reviewer. It's a powerful little add-on for Firefox and Internet Explorer.

One click is all it takes to get going with this toolbar, which encourages random discovery on the Internet based on your interests. The "Stumble!" logo whips you around the Net, but at the your pace, based on categories you choose during installation. Hundreds of topics are available and can be updated at will, with no selection limit. Other StumbleUpon functions are just as user-friendly. A click on the toolbar's &… Read more