The Download Blog

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

Firefox 3? Not yet

Mozilla surprised us a bit with an unexpected release of the first release candidate for Firefox 3 last weekend. It's a likely sign that the official release is nigh.

When will that be? You already know the answer: "When it's ready." My best guess is sometime in the late afternoon, either this month or next.

That said, Release Candidate 1 is going to be close enough to the final version of Firefox 3 that you won't notice any significant differences...until of course, you check your add-ons--extensions and themes. A large number might be incompatible with RC1.

However, let's cut the developers some slack. If an extension is compatible with Firefox 3 beta 5, it will be compatible with RC1 shortly. There's some frantic updating that's likely happening right now. However, if you like Tab Mix Plus a lot (which I do), you might be waiting a bit.

The lack of a few of your favorite extensions and likely all of your favorite themes doesn't mean you shouldn't upgrade to Firefox 3 right now, especially if you're a Web developer (duh), or if you regularly use Web-based Javascript applications such as Gmail frequently.… Read more

First Look video: Dream Aquarium Screensaver

If you're the kind of clenched-up stresser who finds it hard to relax, invest in an aquarium. Watching the fishies swim by is a peaceful, soothing pastime, experts say. But are you really going to cart the whole operation into the office? Roll up your sleeves to siphon mucky water into your garbage can? Heft the tank to your coworkers' desk when your office is locked over vacation? Yeah, right. Undersea observation may do the trick at home, but for the office, a screensaver like Dream Aquarium Screensaver is a heck of a lot more practical. It works, too. … Read more

Quick Tip: Make VoIP calls on the iPhone

Shiny and glossy just like the iPhone itself is Fring, a relative newcomer to the VoIP-plus-IM communicator scene. Crowning itself the first true mobile VoIP solution for Apple's dream phone, Fring works with Skype, SIP, MSN Messenger (Windows Live Messenger), ICQ, Google Talk, Twitter, and Yahoo, though some of those services are clearly chat-only. CNET Executive Editor Tom Merritt shows you how to get started with Fring on your jailbroken iPhone in this Quick Tip video. If you like the program, you can still recommend Fring to friends who have to make do with merely Symbian, UIQ, and Windows MobileRead more

Next Photoshop widget-happy?

Users of the next Adobe Creative Suite may be able to mix and mash up the applications with online content and third-party tools.

In a bid to make workspaces more nimble, Adobe Systems is considering making parts of Photoshop and other Creative Suite applications available for users to manipulate within Flash widgets, according to a blog post Monday by John Nack, product manager of Photoshop.

The capability to bring tools from the Creative Suite to the desktop or the Web with Flash or Flex could lead to novel ways of exploring Adobe's expensive, hulking software. Users have mashed up … Read more

Palm opens its Virtual Developer Lab

It's one thing to bang out a quick third-party program for a single phone model, and quite another to develop a mobile application that works as predicted on a battalion of cell phone models, each with their own set of finely cultured specs.

For numerous reasons, developers may not have all those phones at the ready, and when it comes time for final testing, emulators that live on the screen and mimic device behavior just aren't good enough.

If you're Palm, a mobile platform and device manufacturer that's fighting for its slimmed-down market share, you'd … Read more

Featured Freeware: Pidgin

Your mother uses AOL Instant Messenger. Your spouse prefers MSN. Your office insists on Yahoo. Your ex is on MySpaceIM (shudder). What are you going to do? You could run all those chat clients at once, or you could use the multichat protocol app formerly known as Gaim: Pidgin, available for Windows, Linux, and in a portable Windows version. Like Trillian, Fire, and other third-party IM clients, this open-source messaging application lets you access multiple IM networks from one window, including Google Talk and ICQ as well as lesser-known protocols such as Jabber and Gadu-Gadu.

Pidgin's IM features are … Read more

First Look video: Auslogics BoostSpeed

If you're already familiar with the excellent Auslogics Disk Defrag, a freeware application that logically rearranges file data and free space, you might be intrigued by Auslogics BoostSpeed. The all-in-one optimizing suite groups together an uninstaller, startup manager, file shredder, and more than 10 other tools to coax your operating system to top performance. Get a tour of BoostSpeed's easy quick-launching interface in the First Look video above and find out why it's an editor favorite.

>>See all First Look videos

A Vista theme for iPhone? Yes, really

The latest third-party iPhone app to draw blogosphere buzz this morning is most definitely not Apple-approved.

The object of hilarity and defamation is VistaPerfection 2.0, a theme by developer Spec-Works that plops the Windows Vista GUI onto the iPhone. To run it, you'll need a jailbroken iPhone (see video), the SummerBoard app, and a wicked sense of humor.

Spec-Works reports that the application took "a couple days" to create and includes more than 90 icons, wallpaper, and sounds, including the Vista log-in and log-off chime and a revamped taskbar.

Quite a few tech bloggers have been … Read more