The Download Blog

TechSmith's screencast service Jing goes pro

On Tuesday, TechSmith released Jing Pro, a paid premium version of its free screen capture and casting software. The new service, which runs $14.95 a year, upgrades videos to H.264 encoding, takes off the Jing watermark in the bottom corner of recorded clips, and gives users the option to upload directly to several popular video hosting sites including Facebook, YouTube, Viddler, and Vimeo.

Of the news, one of the biggest changes is the move to the MPEG-4 AVC video format. It's the go-to format for iPods and iPhones, as well as set-top boxes like the Apple TV … Read more

Skype 2.8 for Mac to launch Tuesday

Skype 2.8 for Mac will ship on Tuesday, with new features including screen sharing and an integrated Wi-Fi hot spot connector.

Available only for Mac OS X at first, the new version will add screen-sharing capabilities to the app's voice, video, and chat communications features. Skype spokespeople told me that users will be able to run all four channels at once with acceptable performance.

Screen sharing is useful in business settings (I get a lot of demos over apps like Webex, for example), but it has personal applications as well: People could share photographs, and presumably videos as … Read more

SlingPlayer Mobile for iPhone announced

Updated at 10:00 AM Pacific.

Six months after announcing its intention to bring SlingPlayer to the iPhone 3G, Sling Media has another announcement to make--just not the one you're wishing for.

SlingPlayer Mobile for iPhone isn't ready yet, Sling said on Tuesday, but it is on its way.

Like SlingPlayer Mobile for Windows Mobile, Palm, Symbian, UIQ, and BlackBerry (beta) platforms, this iPhone version will let you access one or more Slingboxes from your mobile device, and watch your TV stations on-the-go. It will also be compatible with the iPod Touch.

You'll also be able to … Read more

Site Launcher turns bookmarks into shortcuts

Firefox extension Site Launcher (download) lets you replace your bookmarks toolbar with an overlay window of links that can be pulled up at any time using a simple keyboard shortcut. You pick which sites you want on the list, and a one-letter keyboard shortcut is given to each. When pulled up, you simply hit the key for the site you want and it goes straight to it. Once you've memorized which sites are on your list, you can make use of an alternate key combination that lets you skip to each site without having to view the menu at … Read more

Hands-on with Picasa for the Mac

I'm a somewhat dissatisfied owner of a new MacBook. One of the things I was looking forward to with the computer was the vaunted easy photo management I kept hearing about. But I found the Mac's free photo management app, iPhoto, frustrating to use, compared to the product I had become accustomed to on Windows: Google's Picasa. I didn't like the fact that I had to manually import photos into the product--even photos already on my Mac--and that the import process made duplicates of my photos when I did so. I much prefer Picasa, which simply … Read more

Google to release Picasa beta for Mac

Google plans to release on Monday a beta version of Picasa for Mac OS X, helping Apple fans catch up to Windows and Linux users already employing the free tool for editing, cataloging, and uploading photos.

The Mac version largely matches the features in Picasa 3 for Windows, said Jason Cook, Picasa's marketing manager. Though the company has been scrambling to include some secondary features such as geotagging and the ability to get photos printed, the core abilities of Picasa are present, he said.

Picasa lets people edit and print photos, create collages and movies, and add labels, star ratings, and tags. More significantly, given Google's cloud-computing focus, it also lets people upload their images to the company's online Picasa Web Albums site where images can be shared. Google acquired Picasa in 2004.

"We have many Mac users," Cook said, though declining to offer any estimates, "and we think they'll be excited about this. It makes the Picasa Web Albums experience better." … Read more

Browser add-on makes Flickr's galleries faster

Browser add-on Flickr Gallery Plus adds extended functionality to Flickr's set view, allowing users to click through to see full versions of each shot without having to reload the page. Once installed it will go out and pre-fetch the larger sized version of each shot, making big sets a cinch to speed through. This includes the addition of keyboard shortcuts (something you can't get in Flickr without a Greasemonkey script) which lets you go back and forth between shots using your arrow keys.

In addition to its thumbnail optimizer, the add-on includes a simple slideshow viewer that doesn'… Read more

Quickoffice brings simple Excel editing to iPhone

Despite the addition of Microsoft Exchange and the App Store with version 2.0 of the iPhone's firmware, the device is still a long way from competing with Windows Mobile handsets when it comes to the native editing of several popular file formats. Mobile-productivity software company Quickoffice is trying to change that with a new iPhone application that lets users edit their Microsoft Office Excel spreadsheets.

Called MobileFiles Pro, this $9.99 application can pull in Excel workbooks from any of your computers (over Wi-Fi) or on the Web through MobileMe's iDisk sharing. It supports editing over multiple … Read more

Three super Firefox add-ons

A big reason for the growing popularity of the Mozilla Foundation's Firefox browser is the amazingly creative and abundantly useful add-ons that are being created for Firefox. My three new favorites let you ax the ads on a site, see the tracking pixels on the current page, and gain a wealth of options when you select and right-click text in your browser.

Browse faster by blocking ads Wouldn't you like to watch TV and listen to the radio without having to sit through the ads that pay the freight? Or dismantle the billboards that line the freeways? I … Read more

Soonr launches killer document sync for iPhone

Soonr, a Webware 100 winner in 2007, has a fresh new look and a killer iPhone application.

Soonr's free service and accompanying App Store download allows users to store up to 500MB of files, which they can access on the go, from the iPhone or a standard Web browser.

New users create their account on their iPhone and then download a desktop application (available for PC or Mac) which handles the synchronization of files. In the same form of other desktop-syncing applications, the user only has to choose the directories that they want to keep updated, and any changes … Read more