The Download Blog

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

Featured Freeware: Avant Browser

There's a Web browser out there for everybody, and Avant should appeal to those users who like their customization in-house and built on an IE-rendering engine. Avant takes off in a different direction from Internet Explorer, though. It's IE if it were being produced by a small firm instead of Microsoft.

The browser is sufficiently zippy, preloaded with two dozen similar skins as well as tabbed browsing and modular toolbars. The Menu bar, though, is counterintuitively pinned to the upper-right corner, and icons for proprietary functions, such as an in-page search term highlighting toggle, aren't instantly comprehensible. … Read more

Featured Freeware: UltraExplorer

UltraExplorer overhauls the Windows file-browsing experience. Many things will seem similar, yet several key features have radically different work flows from the Microsoft file navigator. It also combines the best aspects of Windows Vista's Explorer with those from XP, and then throws in a few spices of its own to come up with a delicious meal of file management.

The UltraExplorer interface is entirely customizable, from the toolbar menu to the various icons, tools, and options that live below. You can permanently hide any of the 17 toolbars and nine windows that come with the program, so you never … Read more

Featured Freeware: Wubi

If you're looking for a safe and easy way to test out the switch from Windows to Linux, Wubi might be the program for you. Wubi's dialog interface requires users to select a mere six options to install Ubuntu, but don't expect direct help with this utility. Users are expected to have a basic understanding of Linux and booting into alternate operating systems, and you'll have to rely on the Wubi FAQ and forums for assistance.

Selecting the install drive, hard-drive space, language, username, and password is quick with pull-down selectors. The most difficult decision is … 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

Viigo 3.0 beta chases Yahoo Go 3.0 beta

Another Yahoo department has cause for concern. Up until last week, Yahoo Go was top dog in the mobile widget arena, pulling everything from weather, news, and finance to local listings, Flickr photos, and search onto Yahoo Go 3.0 beta, the company's rich application for smartphones. But Viigo 3.0 beta has added many of the same elements to what is essentially a faster-loading and more visually straightforward wrapper.

I've sung Viigo's praises when it was flexing new-found muscle as a superb RSS reader for Windows Mobile and BlackBerry devices. The new beta, released June 19, … Read more

Featured Freeware: GOM Media Player

Along with VLC and the KMPlayer, GOM Media Player's support for a wide range of file formats has helped it stand out as a firm favorite. A pop-out playlist can save and organize your various media files, though the limited sort modes--two--hardly makes it a champ.

More impressive are the customizable settings on the control panel. Here you can adjust a video's image brightness, hue, and saturation. There's no preview window, and changes occur as the video runs, so unless you care for a rousing session of trial and error, be sure to tweak the settings after … 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