The Download Blog

Azureus is dead, long live... Vuze?

The torrent client Azureus changed its name and added some nifty social-networking features with the release of its latest upgrade. Now called Vuze, after the name of desktop video player it launched last year, the new client bundles the two together and throws in some new features.

The two most notable things about Vuze 3.1 are the search engine and the social networking. It's rejiggered but still open source; users can spider across multiple torrent-tracking Web sites such as MiniNova while looking for content. The social-networking features let you share your favorite torrents directly with friends and create … Read more

Digsby promises IM performance fixes

Digsby said Monday that the next version of its multi-network instant-messaging software will be better. That's none too soon for those of us desperate for a better multi-protocol IM program.

I'm a very active IM user, and I've been trying Digsby as the latest possible solution to my problem of incompatible instant-messaging networks. However, a brief honeymoon period was quickly replaced by frustration as my computer began freezing up for literally 30 seconds on some occasions upon arrival of a message from a new chat buddy.

According to Digsby, though, a new version could make me happier. … Read more

Flock catches up with Firefox 3 in sophomore release

Sequels aren't always as good as what comes before them (see Indiana Jones 2) but when it comes to technology and software, newer usually means better.

Flock, the self-proclaimed social browser, is catching up with the times this week with a new version for brave Windows and Mac beta testers that employs technology from the upcoming Firefox 3. Dubbed version 2.0, the new Flock is largely a behind-the-scenes operation, including such FF3 niceties as the controversial "awesome bar", improved render speeds, and the new bookmarking system, along with in-browser security notifications--which should keep the phishing sites … Read more

Google Docs gets limited PDF support

Google Docs, the online office suite from the search giant, now has some limited but still useful support for PDF files.

People using the service now can upload and view documents encoded with the widely used and now standardized Portable Document Format initially created by Adobe Systems. People also can transfer PDFs stored on the Web. (Look below for a screenshot showing the two-pane PDF view.)

The move, announced on the Google Docs blog Friday, isn't much of a surprise. In addition to the fact that it makes eminent sense, close observers already had begun seeing signs that hinted … Read more

Featured Freeware: WinDirStat

WinDirStat identifies how much disk space you're using and what it's being used for. Based on the Linux application KDirStat, and also available in a portable version, this great piece of freeware offers you an informative visual display of your hard-drive usage. It can also analyze local devices. Depending on the size of your disk, the initial WinDirStat scan may take quite a while, so be prepared to go grab a cup of coffee for 5 to 10 minutes.

When you return, you'll see all of your files for the selected drive or directory displayed in a … Read more

Featured Freeware: Better Gmail

Web-based email clients tend to evoke passions not dissimilar to those that govern which browser you use to check them. If Gmail is your fave, and you use Firefox to check it, Better Gmail is must-have extension.

Properly called Better Gmail 2 to distinguish itself from the previous version of the plug-in which had been designed for the older version of Gmail, Better Gmail introduces a highly useful collection of Greasemonkey scripts bundled into one convenient package.

The features come fast and furious, but should appeal to users looking for everything from skins to keyboard shortcuts. It can force an … Read more

Featured Freeware: Orbit Downloader

Downloading videos, Flash games, and large batches of files is greatly simplified with Orbit Downloader manager, but it's been known to give Firefox users headaches.

Orbit's interface is bland, but the basic toolbar and info boxes guarantee everything is easy to find. Orbit shines with Internet Explorer integration. To get a media file, simply right-click a video or photo and choose Download from your context menu. Grabbing a Flash game is even easier. Hover over a Flash file, and Orbit displays a button for a fast download. It uses a bare minimum of memory, and downloads are much … Read more

First Look video: Opera 9.5

Long considered a cult favorite, Opera 9.5 for Windows and Mac has introduced some compelling features that make it the first salvo in the 2008 browser wars. With improvements to security, speed, and synchronization--yes, syncing in a browser!--is there enough here to make you a convert?

Check out this First Look video and let us know.

Songbird cracks 10,000 songs

As the Songbird-produced cartoon to the left shows, even though the browser is still in beta it's getting stronger all the time.

The latest update, version 0.6 for Windows, Power PC Macs, Intel Macs, and Linux, includes the ability to handle turkey-size music collections greater than 10,000 songs, improved memory management, a metadata editor, improved portable player syncing, support for SHOUTcast, and more.

The code improvements have allowed for smoother scrolling, faster filtering, and just overall better management of music collections of any size. Songbird is well on its way to being a serious jukebox. Other … Read more

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