The Download Blog

Fun with the Mac motion sensor

If you have a Mac laptop beginning with the PowerBook G4, one feature you may or may not know about is the Sudden Motion Sensor. If you drop your computer or it is suddenly exposed to strong vibrations, the Sudden Motion Sensor will park the hard drive to reduce disk damage--even before your laptop hits the ground. When the sensor detects your computer has returned to a stable state, it "unparks" your hard drive and you can continue computing.

What's fun about this feature is that some savvy developers have made apps that take advantage of the … Read more

Firefox add-on WOT crowdsources site-ratings

If you're the type to favor user opinions over editorials, the Firefox plug-in WOT may be the site-rating service for you.

Unlike Grisoft LinkScanner (Pro and Lite), McAfee Site Advisor (for Internet Explorer and Firefox), or the NetCraft Toolbar (for Firefox and Internet Explorer), this extension, published by Web of Trust (WOT), relies on user-generated ratings seconded by Web-gathered statistics to determine key factors of site safety. Trustworthiness, vendor reliability, privacy, and child safety are the four vectors of participant voting. A lengthened color gradient from green (safe) to red (unsafe) offers five shades of ratings levels instead of … Read more

Gabtastik takes Facebook IM and Google Talk off the browser

If you insist on chatting with Facebook and Gmail buddies outside a browser window, then it's worth taking Gabtastik for a spin, though as far as instant messaging applications go, the most interesting thing about Gabtastik is the technology.

As a Site Specific Browser (SSB) app based on Mozilla's Prism project, Gabtastik, which released a Windows beta this week, tethers the Web chat ecosystem to a desktop application. From this standpoint, Gabtastik is a success. The Facebook chat and Google Talk GUIs are spot-on. The essential problem is that the chatting isn't very interesting, and the program … Read more

Featured Freeware: IE7Pro

IE7 Pro adds a lot of showmanship to the Internet Explorer browser. The freeware add-on has some smart solutions for tabbing, including default settings to open URLs in new tabs and let double-clicking close a tab down.

Here's another pleasant surprise: "Dragging" and "dropping" an in-text link into white space opens the link in a new tab without any mouse work. IE7Pro also borrows from several software concepts to help raise IE7's appeal, including Firefox's, to save and fill forms, and insert user scripts a la Greasemonkey. The MiniDM download manager adds a … Read more

Get under the hood of Opera 9.50

The browser wars are heating up again, and the first major browser update of 2008 is Opera 9.50. Available for Windows and Mac, there are some impressive new features worked into this release, even though it's not listed as a major-point update.

There's no reason to repeat the basics of why Opera is such an excellent browser to use. Suffice to say that it covers the essentials with built-in tabbed browsing, mouse-over previews, a customizable search bar, advanced bookmarking tools, simple e-mail and chat integration, mouse gestures, keyboard shortcuts, and drag-and-drop functionality.

Truly, it's Opera's … Read more

Grab BitTorrent files in your browser with Torrent Relay

BitTorrent, one of the more useful file-sharing mediums out there is not without its complications. Software applications have come a long way, but there are still times when you want one less application running on your machine or simply want to grab a file without having to install anything.

Torrent Relay's got the same thing on its mind, with a browser-based BitTorrent downloader. Like Bitlet, which I checked out last year, Torrent Relay lets you plug in a download URL from any tracker site or a link from a friend, and it will convert it into a link you can simply click on to begin downloading it using your browser's download manager. This means the tool works on nonsoftware-friendly platforms too, such as game consoles (Wii and PS3) and mobile devices like the iPhone.

If a torrent file has multiple files in it, the tool will split them up. You can then click on the ones you want and download them one at a time. This works especially well for music albums where you might only want to grab a track or two (note: You could also just stream the music using this tool). One thing to note however, is that any single file is capped at 400MB, meaning you're going to have to rely on a software-based tool for those giant files.

[via TorrentFreak and Lifehacker]… Read more

Firefox 3 to set download record on June 17?

Correction on June 13: The spelling of Johnathan Nightingale has been fixed.

On Wednesday, Mozilla announced next Tuesday, June 17, as "Download Day" for Firefox 3. The company also released Firefox 3 release candidate 3 as a final step toward full release.

With Firefox 3, Mozilla is attempting to set a Guinness Book of World Records for the largest number of software downloads within a 24-hour period. There is currently no Guinness Book record for that accomplishment.

Firefox 3 includes a new rendering engine, so pages load faster. It also uses fewer system resources, addressing a complaint in … Read more

Newly released Opera 9.5 bundles more protection

Opera 9.5, code-named Kestrel, on Thursday became available for download for Windows and Mac.

The new version of the browser, whose release candidate was released earlier this week, is a security-enhanced version of Opera 9. It includes antiphishing protection from Netcraft and malware protection from Haute Secure, as well as support for Extended Validation Secure Sockets Layer (EV SSL).

The browser also has a new "eurotechno" look and feel, a QuickFind address bar feature, better synchronization with its mobile cousin, and a Speed Dial feature for visually bookmarking nine of your favorite sites.

Scandinavia-based Opera Software still … Read more

Featured Freeware: Auslogics Registry Defragger

The Auslogics Registry Defragger looks good, but it's hard to tell if this or any Registry defragger or cleaner works. What's the challenge? Simple: It's not easy to gauge if these programs are effective because you'd need to benchmark your CPU against a range of programs before and after the Registry cleaning to properly test for any improvement, and that's an extremely time-intensive process.

Still, Auslogics is known for making effective Windows utilities, so perhaps we should give them the benefit of the doubt until more conclusive evidence is in. In any event, when you … Read more

Avidemux cuts out video editing stress

Making simple edits to videos of all formats shouldn't be tricky business, but most tools out there either do way too much or are so belabored with ads that who knows what evil lurks within their code.

Originally written by a French programmer known as Mean, and gloriously open-source on the GNU license, Avidemux is a breath of fresh air and available for both Windows and Mac. Cropping a video is as simple as selecting the section you want to remove and then hitting the Delete key. Re-encoding a video is equally painless: Merely select the output format from … Read more