The Download Blog

Snowy screensavers

Though days have become short, dark, and cold here in the Northern Hemisphere; winter has a way of casting its own idyllic spell.

If you can't resist appreciating crystalline icicles, endless banks of soft snow, and intricate snowflakes, you're not alone. Celebrate the season by transforming your desktop into a winter wonderland with this collection of snowy screensavers.

Yule Log comes to the iPhone

For those without a fireplace and/or an ability to carry a tune, TV stations have for decades offered the Yule Log, an on-screen fireplace crackling as Christmas Carols play in the background.

According to "The Holiday Yule Log" book, the first televised fireplace was in 1966 on New York's WPIX-TV. With carols on in the background and no commercials, it was an instant hit and was adopted by other stations around the country.

But what if the holiday season takes you even further afield, so that you don't even have a plasma TV to keep … Read more

Featured Freeware: Instant Memory Cleaner

If you need to free up system memory or if you think you do but aren't sure, this little tool will provide the help you need.

Instant Memory Cleaner provides an easy-to-use front-end interface for Microsoft's command-line ClearMem and FreeMem commands (for XP and Vista, respectively). It installs an icon to your system tray, and its color provides a handy clue about your system's memory use. When the icon is green, the system's free memory is more than 30 percent of the total physical memory; yellow means less is available; and red means its time for … Read more

Turning the iPod Touch into a phone

Updated at 2:45 p.m. PST with Fring details.

Apple may have a new mobile phone to compete with--one that runs on its iPod Touch.

The MP3 player can be transformed into a mobile phone with the help of a free application from Internet telephone company Truphone.

The Truphone application allows users with a Wi-Fi connection to make and receive phone calls via voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, with other iPod Touch owners, users of the Google Talk's messaging service, and customers of Truphone's Internet telephone service. The company said it expects to add the ability … Read more

Featured Freeware: RegAssassin

It requires care when using, but this portable executable eliminates unwanted Registry keys. RegAssassin's business-like interface sports only a text entry box, a pair of check boxes, and a function button. Using it requires experience editing the Registry, but for some pernicious malicious software, deleting their registry entries is part of the cleaning process. The program does display warning messages, but inexperienced users could easily crash their system by deleting an important Registry key.

Operating RegAssassin is simple and quick. Users merely enter a Registry key name and delete the key with a single button click. The application includes … Read more

Featured Freeware: Process Terminator

Greatly improve your process-killing ability with Process Terminator, a utility with a simple list-and-button interface that is immediately operable by intermediate to advanced users. You probably won't even crack open the simple four-paragraph Help screen.

Operating Process Terminator is intuitive and simple. On start, the app loads the list of running processes. Selecting a process displays its start time, total CPU time utilized, maximum physical memory used and amount allocated, thread count, handle count, and whether the Process UI is responding. Double-clicking a listed name opens the folder where the process is located. Any process is easily killed with … 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

Featured Freeware: 'ESPN Cameraman'

This fun, free game for the iPhone requires fast fingers and judicious judgment. In ESPN Cameraman, you try to quickly find five differences between two nearly identical sports photos. Gameplay here is similar to popular electronic bar games like Photo Finder, albeit minus the scantily clad subjects. This one is definitely safe for children, although you might become a victim of the economy if you play it at work.

Touch the screen wherever you spot a difference on either photo while beating a countdown timer to keep from losing a life. You have three lives per game, as well as … 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

Handy app bypasses AT&T's ridiculous iPhone Wi-Fi sign-up process

"They wrote this for you," Josh said in IM to me about Devicescape's Easy Wi-Fi for AT&T, an app that directly addresses my complaints about the free Wi-Fi that AT&T now provides to iPhone users at Starbucks and various airports.

As I wrote, I dislike the Safari/SMS two-step required to authorize the iPhone to use the AT&T free Wi-Fi. Yes, it's looking a gift horse in the mouth. But I am a professional crank. I really do get paid for this.

Anyway, the Easy Wi-Fi app bypasses the SMS … Read more