The Download Blog

Songbird taxis to the runway

Music jukebox and Web browser mash-up Songbird has begun to pull away from the beta gate. In its first release candidate for Windows, Mac, and Linux, the Gecko-powered browser aimed at audio junkies locks down a final list of features.

The improvements over the previous release, version 0.7, make changes both important and minor. Absolutely the most noticeable is that the program runs and feels faster. Responsiveness had been an issue, too, but this release candidate marks a strong improvement in that area as well.

The overall look of Songbird hasn't changed, but a lot of the must-have … Read more

CNET TV: See which tab you're switching to

One of the most useful hot-key commands in Firefox is Ctrl+Tab. Unlike the Alt+Tab hot-key combo for Windows, which lets you jump from program to program in an interface based on the program's icon, the browsing tab switcher has never had a graphic interface--until now.

In this CNET TV Quick Tip, Molly Wood shows you the new tab switching GUI (graphical user interface) that's coming in Firefox 3.1. It's only in beta now, so if you're not comfortable installing unstable software, I recommend holding off for the official release.

After playing around with … Read more

First Look video: Path Finder

The Mac OS X Finder works great on its own for finding and managing your files and folders, but what if there was something better? Path Finder offers a slew of options for organizing files and folders, giving you more control over your file system. You can use Cover Flow, split-screen, and icon views, and there are several preview options for finding out more about files before you open them. It also allows you to compress and decompress folders from within the program when you need more space on your hard drive.

For a quick overview of Path Finder for … Read more

Opera patches again

If you're an Opera user, the Norwegian browser has upgraded to version 9.62 to plug two potential security breaches that could be used to execute arbitrary code.

Available for Windows, Mac, and Linux, Opera labeled the History Search security hole as "extremely severe." The exploit could be used to execute arbitrary code through the search results page. The second problem, noted as "highly severe," stops the links panel from allowing cross-site scripting. This potential breach could have occurred via unrelated frames appearing on the same page. You can read the Opera changelog here.

Add election results into Firefox with RSS Ticker

Yesterday, Jessica Dolcourt provided four great applications for tracking U.S. election results online. I wanted to quickly follow up with a short word about my favorite RSS ticker tool, the simply named Mozilla Firefox add-on RSS Ticker, currently at version 2.0.3.

If you want to work, chat, watch videos, listen to music, or do any other fun Internet stuff instead of tracking election results constantly on news sites, RSS Ticker provides a nifty way of keeping up with breaking election news via a nonintrusive ticker that runs across the bottom of Firefox's interface, below your status … Read more

VoxOx goes gunning for Skype, Digsby

What if Digsby and Skype merged into one seemingly all-powerful VoIP and messaging communications tool? It's a question which, according to San Diego-based telephone company TelCentris, can be answered by VoxOx.

VoxOx, currently for Windows and Intel-based Macs with plans for Linux and PowerPC Mac versions to be released within six months, incorporates features that have not yet been seen all rolled into one package. It's got multi-protocol chat abilities, bolstered by messaging support on the most popular social-networking sites and support for short Web mail reading and writing. It offers a telephony service that includes call encryption; … Read more

Featured Freeware: SMARTReporter

You can't predict every hard-drive failure. But when a drive goes down because certain hardware components are slowly degrading, then Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology, aka S.M.A.R.T., can help warn you of an impending crash so you have time to run a backup.

Mac OS X already uses S.M.A.R.T. to track the health of drives, but it only runs whenever you use Disk Utility to verify a disk. SMARTReporter is an open-source tool that checks the S.M.A.R.T. status of drives hourly, or at any interval you set. … Read more

Featured Freeware: AirRadar

AirRadar is a free utility that can help you scan for, track information on, and join wireless networks. Like similar apps, AirRadar provides much more information than you'd otherwise get through the Mac OS Airport status menu.

Whether you're testing your signal strength at home or trying to find free Wi-Fi on the road, AirRadar will list all open and closed networks in range, along with information such as signal strength (current, average, and max), type of encryption, MAC address, and channel. AirRadar can keep scanning at any interval you set, automatically join the best open network (or … Read more

iPhone apps of the week

You may have noticed a trend in my iPhone apps of the week posts: I mostly download games. To offer a little balance to my posts, this week I have a couple of useful iPhone apps that aren't just for when you want to waste some time. Both are free so you can take advantage of these useful tools right away.

Free Translator is a language translator that lets you send e-mails in different languages. The concept is fairly simple: choose a source language, choose a target language, and then hit translate. When you're finished, you can send … Read more

First Look video: Art Text

This low-cost graphics app makes creating Web buttons, banners, and stylized text easy. With tons of premade templates and samples to get you started, Art Text lets you spend your time fine-tuning your work instead of starting from scratch. When you're done, you can export your work in several formats, letting you put the final touches on your design in your favorite graphics or image-editing program.

Still not convinced? Then check out this First Look video of Art Text for Mac to get a quick overview.