The Download Blog

Featured Freeware: Blender

If you've ever thought about making professional-quality animations but decided not to because of the cost of the software, your excuse just got up and walked out the door. For Windows, Mac, and Linux, Blender is a free, open-source 3D rendering program that puts the power of the medium back into the hands of the artist.

Blender features a laundry list of animation essentials that can be broken down into categories: Interface, Modeling, Rigging, Rendering, Animation, UV Unwrapping, Shading, Physics and Particles, Imaging and Compositing, and Real Time 3D/Game Creation. The interface, though loaded with complicated tools, is … Read more

IE7Pro adds even more features to IE

The one must-have add-on for Internet Explorer is IE7Pro. It gives Microsoft's browser many of the features that Firefox aficionados consider essential, such as mouse gestures, ad blocking, user scripts, and other basic tweaks. Now IE7 users can add a session manager and prefetching to that list.

Using IE7Pro is a snap. The add-on installs an icon on your IE status bar at the bottom, and you right-click it to access the IE7Pro options. Think of it as a context menu for your plugins. The Settings panel is accessible from that menu or using CTRL+F7 hotkeys.

The session … Read more

Ad-Aware improves for 2008

This year's major update to user favorite Ad-Aware looks to be more of a course correction from some of the missteps in the 2007 version. The adware and malware detection engine has undergone a significant overhaul, resulting in faster scan times, and the interface has been changed.

The changes to the detection and removal engine will be noticeable to long-time Ad-Aware users, with Lavasoft touting faster scan times and better rootkit detection. New users should notice that the app performs faster than integrated antivirus and antimalware programs, and that's because only the paid version of Ad-Aware comes with … Read more

Spyware Horror Story: Would you fall for this IM scam?

Submitted by Scott, Vernon Hills, Ill.

This past April, a friend of mine, Jeff, called me on a Saturday afternoon, letting me know that I was instant messaging him right then. I obviously wasn't. He said that after some lines of basic text, I acted panicked and asked for money to be wired to an African bank account, which Jeff knew immediately was bad news for the real me.

I immediately changed some passwords in key accounts and found that my Hotmail account had been mysteriously compromised. The evildoers had got a ton of my contacts and sent out … Read more

Microsoft boosts support for rival formats in Office

Microsoft is opening up Office to other file formats, slowly but steadily.

On Wednesday, the company said it plans to add new formats to Office 2007, including the OpenDocument Format (ODF), Portable Document Format (PDF), and XML Paper Specification (XPS). The new formats will be added to Office as part of Service Pack 2 for Office 2007, due in the first half of next year.

ODF, a rival document format to Office's native format, has become popular with governments and schools. Microsoft, acknowledging requests for compatibility with ODF, released a converter to allow Word users to open documents saved … Read more

Mozilla: Final Firefox 3 expected in June

Firefox fans looking for a major update to the open-source Web browser probably will get a final version of it next month.

"We're looking for final ship sometime in June," said Mike Schroepfer, Mozilla's vice president of engineering, in an interview Wednesday. Mozilla, which was spun out of AOL more than 10 years ago, oversees the Firefox programming project.

One of the Firefox's strengths is the broad collection of hundreds of add-ons, but that also means things move more slowly when programmers must update their projects to be compatible with Firefox 3. And that's … Read more

Quick Tips: Color your BlackBerry trackball

There's a not-so-secret secret that BlackBerry Pearl owners in the know have been using to impress the socks off those astute enough to notice the glowing neon ball at the center of the handset. And that it isn't glowing white.

The trick is owed to a little software application called ColorPearl, which beams out multihued lights from RIM's famous navigation pearl by taking advantage of...well, we don't want to spoil the plot. Tune into this Quick Tip video from CNET Producer Randall Bennett to see the amazing Technicolor sphere in action.

Opera's new software kit beckons to widget developers

Wednesday's beta release of a software development kit for Opera widgets brings the Norwegian company one step closer to its lofty goal of world browser domination.

Opera Software if offering the SDK for widget authors to deploy their Web applications on the spectrum of devices that support the Opera browser.

The Opera widget SDK was designed on W3C standards to support CSS, JavaScript, Ajax, and HTML languages. The kit itself contains an emulator, libraries, and documentation full of nuggets on best development practices. Along with the emulator, developers may find the included Opera Dragonfly debugging tool most useful; though … Read more

Get the low-down on the sites you visit with CallingID

I used to think the last thing I needed was another browser toolbar. But now I gladly sacrifice a little screen real estate to find out who owns the sites I visit, where they're located, and whether they pass muster with the security checkers.

That's what you get with CallingID, an add-on for Internet Explorer and Firefox that adds a multi-hued toolbar to the browsers. Along with use of green, yellow, and red to signify the site's safety, the toolbar shows the owner and location of the site.

Whenever you attempt to enter a name and password … Read more

Featured Freeware: Free FLV Converter

Lightweight and effective, Free FLV Converter is a great way to convert video files from Flash formats into something more versatile. Specializing in formats meant for portable devices, Free FLV Converter also supports AVI and can download embedded SWF or FLV vids directly from the Internet when you punch in the URL.

The app can also perform local searches for vids as well as convert to FLV. Hitting either conversion tab will automatically open a file browser so you can choose your victim. From there, a conversion window opens, and you can change the basics such as settings, including output … Read more