The Download Blog

OpenOffice 3 bumps from beta to RC

OpenOffice has pushed their popular Microsoft Office freeware alternative into release candidate territory. Available for Windows, Mac, and Linux, open-source OpenOffice is a productivity suite analogous to and compatible with Microsoft's near-ubiquitous tool. There is more to recommend OpenOffice 3 than the price tag, though.

New features you can test out now include Microsoft Access database support and a multipage view in Writer, the Word analog, nearly unlimited character support in sheet names, Google Doc-style collaborative editing of a single spreadsheet simultaneously, and much-needed support for Office 2007 file types.

Empirically, OpenOffice 3 seems to start marginally faster than … Read more

Firefox 3.1 alpha 2 available to developers

Firefox 3.1 alpha 2, code-named Shiretoko, adds functionality for Web developers with very little eye candy for users.

Johnathan Nightingale of Mozilla described Firefox 3.1 as having more refinement than new features. This alpha release is intended for developers and testers only and should not yet be for general-purpose use.

The most visible enhancement in this alpha release is a feature that allows you to drag and drop tabs between two open Firefox browsers.

There are considerable under-the-hood enhancements here. Built on a pre-release version of the Gecko 1.9.1 rendering engine, Firefox 3.1 alpha 2 … Read more

Google fixes Chrome vulnerabilities--but won't say which

Updated 1:44 p.m. PDT with details that Chrome automatically updates itself with no notification or choice for the user.

Google has quietly begun releasing a hastily prepared update to its Chrome browser to fix some security problems.

The new version,, replaces the that was released when Google launched the Chrome beta version last week. Google started releasing the update Friday, initially to a small number of users, but didn't make much of an announcement about the change.

"149.29 is a security update and we released it as … Read more

McAfee brings nearly instant malware updates

What if your desktop security application could detect and remove a new threat that was only minutes old? That's the impetus behind McAfee Artemis Technology, announced on Monday.

Artemis, which McAfee plans to market within its 2009 consumer products as "Active Protection," is not focused on hourly updates, or even 15-minute updates, as rival Symantec has. It means instant detection, said Dave Marcus, director of security research and communications for McAfee Avert Labs.

McAfee's use of Artemis is similar to Trend Micro's use of cloud-based computing to analyze and produce new signature files within 15 … Read more

Featured Freeware: DAZ Studio

From the makers of the popular scene-rendering program Bryce comes DAZ Studio, a powerful 3D-modeling and CAD program for Windows and Mac that looks great but is a resource hog and can be sluggish for the average user.

The publisher recommends having at least 256MB of RAM, but that's wishful thinking. The program runs choppily on anything less than 1GB, although some of the more complex rendering was processed more slowly than others. It also requires an OpenGL-compatible graphics card with at least 128MB of RAM onboard, so machines built before 2003 will certainly struggle. This isn't unusual … Read more

Featured Freeware: BitMeter

It's not going to win any design awards, but this handy program for monitoring your PC's bandwidth usage offers a nice set of features. BitMeter is easy to follow, and stars a floating graph with simple text displays for real-time downloads and uploads. You can customize the display's color and transparency.

Considering its small size, BitMeter provides an impressive amount of options and information. You can view summaries of network activity with hourly, daily, and monthly breakdowns, or receive audio notifications that can be set by transfer size and direction. The built-in calculator is useful for computing … Read more

Security firm spots Chrome 'SaveAs' flaw

It's been only a few days since Google released its Chrome browser, and security researchers are still digging into the software in search of the first few flaws.

A company in Vietnam has turned up the latest vulnerability in Chrome, according to a story posted to Information Week's Web site. Bach Khoa Internet Security says that the Chrome release is susceptible to a critical buffer-overflow flaw, which could allow a remote attacker to take control of a PC. BKIS says it has reported the vulnerability to Google.

Here's how BKIS describes the vulnerabilityRead more

Featured Freeware: FlashGet

FlashGet looks and feels like a download accelerator worth paying for, which makes it all the more appealing since it's free. (But you knew that, this being the Featured Freeware and all.)

After installation, a small, dark icon with three lightly-colored triangles will appear in the upper right corner of your monitor. Until you drag it elsewhere, the FlashGet icon will live there permanently, and is always "on top" of whatever program you're using at the time. Simply drag the link you want to download onto the FlashGet icon, drop it and hit the Okay button; … Read more

Jarte injects form and function to WordPad

It's hard not to be a big fan of Notepad alternatives. Just a little extra effort brings some exceptionally useful tools to that utility, and what NoteTab Light and others do for Notepad, freeware Jarte does for WordPad.

Pronounced "JAR-tay", the first thing users will notice about it is the unusual interface. I liked it, although if I go the rest of my life without seeing a brushed-metal skin again, I'd somehow manage to live. Otherwise, it's a simple layout, and perhaps too minimalist for some. Where the Toolbar and Menubar would usually live, there'… Read more

iPhone apps of the week: Poker edition

With a continuous stream of cable TV Poker events, online Poker sites, and endless videos, books, and Web sites devoted to Poker strategy, it is no secret that Poker is incredibly popular all over the world. This week, I'm taking a look at Poker games for the iPhone. But instead of covering three similar games, I decided to give you some options for getting your poker fix, with three very different styles of Poker.

I should warn you in advance, only one of these games is free (with an optional paid version), but the other two are pretty affordable … Read more