The Download Blog

Featured Freeware: IrfanView

This image viewer and editor is a longtime favorite, and with good reason: IrfanView is simple, fast, and free for individual use.

The program lets you make basic edits to images, as well as multiple media formats. You can cut and crop, apply batch conversions, add, sharpen, or blur effects, create panoramas, and change color modes easily. The program continues to add support for an array of file formats and has plug-in support for most image, video, and sound formats, including MP3, AVI, audio CD, and WMA. An IrfanView Thumbnails shortcut on the desktop offers an Explorer-like file … Read more

Yahoo Messenger goes big with new beta

On Friday, Yahoo released a new 9.0 beta version of the popular Yahoo Messenger chat client. The company may not have changed the version number at all, but it did add a boatload of new features and changes for those of us who like to play with software on the edge.

The most obvious change in the new release is an additional status message at the top of Messenger. Along with the conventional "Available," "Busy," and the like, there's now an additional line for Facebook-style status updates, such as "Surfing YouTube for Andy Rooney Game videos."

The other big change is larger emoticons. Since the Yahoo emoticons are likely the only reason I actually use Messenger instead of multiservice clients such as Trillian, Pidgin, or Digsby, I was very curious to see what these new emoticons looked like...and to learn if there are there any new ones!… Read more

Flock brings more under its wing

The latest Flock update for Windows and Mac introduces more services to its ever-growing list of options, as well as a battery of performance and stability enhancements.

Most notably, Pownce and Digg have been integrated as people services. If you're not familiar with the self-styled "social browser," this means that you can perform all Digg- and Pownce-related chores--sorry, that should be "tasks"--from within the browser's social-networking features. Support for AOL Webmail has also been added, letting you check that account as easily as your Gmail account.

There's still a long list of known bugsRead more

First Look video: IE7Pro

It may seem as if the whole world is using Firefox, but surveys indicate that nearly 75 percent of Netizens still use Internet Explorer. If you're part of that 75 percent, you need to check out this First Look video for the one plug-in you absolutely must have: IE7Pro.

IE7Pro powers up Internet Explorer with many of the features and functions that were once limited to other browsers, including a session manager, prefetching, and mouse gestures.

'Second Life' enters the world of mobile phones

Demanding a better-than-average processor, a 1024x768 screen resolution, a boatload of RAM, and a strong video card just to take part, it's hard to believe that Second Life, the virtual world developed by Linden Lab (download for Windows and Mac), could ever survive on a mobile phone.

Yet on Tuesday, Vollee, a 3G streaming services provider, began offering the free, open beta version of Second Life for 40 Wi-Fi-enabled and 3G cell phones with more handset compatibility coming soon. That means you, iPhone.

In Second Life Mobile, users will be able to fly and teleport all over the virtual … Read more

Featured Freeware: CCleaner

Although it lacks a few of the bells and whistles found in other PC-cleaning applications, this free program offers more than enough features to make it a worthy download. CCleaner's interface is logically designed and makes it easy to wipe away your tracks from Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Opera, from various Windows system areas, and from some third-party applications.

CCleaner doesn't support the large number of extraneous programs that some competitors do, but it can erase traces from such popular programs as Spybot - Search & Destroy and WinZip. CCleaner now offers secure file erasing along with a … Read more

Capture NX 2 takes aim at Adobe

There are a lot of image editors out there, but few of them are designed with professional photographers in mind, and even fewer are designed by photographers themselves. Capture NX 2 for Windows and Mac is one of those rare editors designed by professionals but is easy enough for hobbyists to use, and Nikon has just given it a major overhaul.

Available for purchase at $179.95 or upgrade at $109.95, the program introduces a revamped interface, closer integration with other Nikon programs such as View NX, and a battery of new tools that simplify and enhance the photo-editing … Read more

First Look video: SolSuite Solitaire

As unexotic as it may sound, I really do enjoy a good game of digital solitaire from time to time. But once you've got the basics down, doesn't it get old? Probably not if SolSuite Solitaire is laying down the deck. A list of games nearing 500 tests luck and skill, and ranges from easy to difficult play. The game has a fair amount of customization, as well as automated tutors and ways to look up rules. High scores are also posted from around the globe. SolSuite Solitaire is thick with statistics that track how many points you … Read more

Quick Tip: Mini links for your Windows phone

When you want to convert a long link to a short one from your computer, all it takes is a visit to one of these 10 link-shrinking sites. From a Windows Mobile phone, prospects are much more limited. Thank goodness for ceSnipURL, a free, basic mobile application that threads your gargantuan URL through SnipURL's service and quickly returns a much shorter, more manageable bite. There are a few time-saving tricks packed into this link-swapping puppy, and they're all laid out in the video above.

Simplify your writing project with Storyist for Mac

Are you a writer? Do you dream about writing the next great novel? Whether you're an accomplished novelist or just want to get an idea for what it takes to pull elaborate settings, characters, and plot lines together for a book, I came across a program for Mac you should definitely check out.

Storyist for Mac ($59) attempts to take some of the confusion out of writing by offering a Web browser-like interface that's easy to navigate and organizes the many parts that go into writing a novel. While your creativity is still the key to success, Storyist … Read more