The Download Blog

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

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