The Download Blog

Featured Freeware: Google SketchUp

We all know that Google is more than capable of doing excellent webware for productivity, but isn't 3D design a bit of a stretch?

Google SketchUp for Windows and Mac is a 3D-modeling program of powerful drawing tools that boasts an intuitiveness many design programs fail to achieve. On first impression, SketchUp looks like it sacrificed function for simplicity, but that's not the case. Despite the extremely user-friendly interface, SketchUp offers a high-end range of powerful 3D-drawing tools that let you experiment and play with new designs.

Using basic shapes in 3D space for your outline, you can … Read more

Apple updates Leopard to 10.5.4

Apple has released Mac OS X 10.5.4, the fourth update to Leopard since it was released last October.

The new version contains the usual mix of bug fixes and security updates, with iCal getting the most attention. iCal won't delete events without telling you as a result of the latest update, for example, and Apple said the update "improves overall iCal reliability." Airport and Spaces & Expose also received some updates.

MacRumors.com notes that the update paves the way for Apple to release the MobileMe service, the successor to .Mac unveiled by Apple at … Read more

Power Downloader makes screenshots Jing-le

One of the most effective computer crime-fighting tools in Power Downloader's arsenal is the screen capture. When Power D grabs a cap and uploads it to the Web for the world to see, he knows he's presenting advice to computer users in a very unimpeachable way. Effective screen-capping used to be a tedious multistep process, but the Jing Project streamlines it all for both Windows and Mac users.

From the team behind the screen-recording utility Camtasia, Jing is able to capture still images as well as videos. Once you've downloaded and installed the program, click the Capture … Read more

Growl for Mac keeps you notified

When you're working on your Mac, sometimes things happen in the background that you would like to keep track of while working in another application, such as when a friend comes online in your chat client, you receive a new e-mail or Skype call, or your CD is finished burning.

Fortunately, there's a free notification system called Growl that has become a Mac favorite for its flexibility and elegant interface. You can configure Growl to notify you when a download is complete, when a DVD is finished ripping, when your FTP client is done uploading or downloading, or … Read more

Two quick fixes for Firefox 3

Just looking at the download count from Mozilla for the first 24 hours of Firefox 3, it looks like the browser upgrade is one of the fastest-adopted new program versions ever. Eight million downloads in the first 24 hours can't be wrong, right? Of course, no new program--even one as heavily beta-tested as FF3--is problem-free, and so I've got two fast course corrections for those struggling with incompatible plug-ins and Flash foul-ups.

Let's look at Flash first. Towards the end of my use of Firefox 2, before upgrading to Firefox 3, I noticed a peculiar Flash problem: … Read more

Featured Freeware: Yahoo Widgets

Although Google's Desktop is arguably the better-known miniapp desktop dock, the latest version of Yahoo Widgets--formerly known as the Widget Engine--is an excellent alternative for Windows and Mac users, making customization easier than before. It also comes with a revamped look.

The app has 22 default widgets, including a weather forecaster, a Yahoo Mail manager, a Wi-Fi signal checker, a calendar, and an iTunes remote. Though the true value of the app should be judged on the quality of the widgets developed, the platform itself is polished and easy to use.

A helpful tour introduces users to the basics … Read more

Dashwire 2.0 improves phone-management software

Dashwire (review), a dashboard for synchronizing and managing the contents of your mobile phone online, has let loose with Dashwire 2.0 for Windows Mobile 5 and 6. Tuesday's release enriches the syncing client application with photos and with Facebook and Twitter updates.

The previous version of the downloadable Dashwire app, which opens the syncing channels between the phone's content and the online dashboard, was pretty much a blank placeholder--all back-end functionality and very little front-end personality. Now the screen displays your primary photo, status message, and a media ribbon of the photos and videos stored on your … Read more

Evernote 3.0 now open to all, still awesome

Today, Evernote 3.0 (download), the note-taking application I raved about in March, opens to the public for Windows and Mac users. I highly recommend this product. It's functional and useful, and beyond that its architecture is also interesting. It's a true three-platform play: it works very well, and somewhat differently, on desktop computers, mobile phones, and over the Web.

On a PC, Evernote is a good note-taking application. The current version also fixes some issues I had with earlier betas, and I'm seriously considering finally dumping OneNote, the note-taking application I use now, for this new … Read more

Power Downloader revitalizes old add-ons

Whenever Firefox gets a major update, Power Downloader gets asked the inevitable question: what do I do if my favorite extension hasn't been updated yet? This time, Power D was asked by Kitty Kilobyte's cousin's sister's best friend forever, Tessa Terabyte. In her office, Tessa said, she has to copy text from Web sites and paste them into e-mails, and she used the extension called AutoCopy to help her do that.

AutoCopy is a highly useful extension. By simply highlighting a string of text, it would copy to the clipboard, and open a small menu asking … Read more

Browser bruiser: Opera 9.5 versus Firefox 3

Two of the four major browsers have undergone some big changes in the past two weeks. Firefox 3 is, of course, the big news of the week, pulling down eight million or so downloads in its first 24 hours in the wild. However, the Opera browser updated to its much-awaited version 9.5 last week. Since both of them have got game but for different reasons, let's take a look at how they match up.

Empirically, the two most-cited complaints about browsers are speed and memory. Now, I'm a big fan of Firefox because it's so easy … Read more