The Download Blog

Photos: Yahoo Messenger for Vista Beta

After months of incubation as a mere preview download, Yahoo Messenger for Vista is now a full-fledged...beta. No matter, let the feedback loop continue with this dark and gleaming desktop chat application that elevates certain aspects of the instant messaging experience while falling a step behind in others. The new look and feel is certainly impressive, and beloved avatar and emoticons take center stage alongside the tinted display. But the multiprotocol IM client Digsby is snapping up a loyal following, and its adoption of Facebook chat adds strength to strength. Is Yahoo's effort strong enough to win back … Read more

Digsby makes Facebook chat work like it should

Do-it-all communication app Digsby (download) put out an important update yesterday that's made this blogger's life easier. It took Facebook's Web-only chat service and integrated it into a desktop application, something that Gabtastik (which I looked at yesterday) did to a limited degree by loading it in a standalone Webkit-powered mini browser.

While residing outside of people's primary browsers, Gabtastik's efforts were still running the pop-out version of normal FB chat. Digsby's solution is far more powerful. Despite the fact there are no API plugs for chat (for now), you can maintain conversations with … Read more

The fastest way to open a word processor

Faster is almost always better, at least when it comes to computers. So what's the fastest way to open a word processor?

You can create a keyboard shortcut to open Notepad, WordPad, Word, or any other word processor on your PC by right-clicking the program's shortcut on the Start menu, choosing Properties > Shortcut > Shortcut key, entering your keystroke combination of choice (be sure not to overwrite one that's already in use), and pressing Enter. I described how to get fast access to all your keyboard shortcuts in a post from last week.

Now press the … Read more

Featured Freeware: PrimoPDF

PrimoPDF converts just about any file type to a PDF, using the source program the file was created with and its print command. Two new changes make the program easier to use and more useful. The interface redesign is definitely easier to navigate, and users can now choose to e-mail the PDF instantly after its creation.

The conversion process from whatever document is on your screen to PDF is quick and efficient. Other features include secure formatting that allows the user to wrap the PDF in 40-bit or 128-bit encryption, PDF merging, and password protection. The user also can restrict … Read more

Ape eats Apple: Why MediaMonkey is an iTunes killer

At least on the PC, iTunes' performance has been less than stellar. Sure, it set the standard for jukeboxes early on, but most of that was probably tied to its then-exclusive ability to sync with the ubiquitous iPod. Now that device syncing, and especially iPod syncing, is a must-have feature, iTunes' other flaws are standing out like a mohawk in Mecca.

Swinging in to the rescue on one heck of a lengthy vine is MediaMonkey 3. The latest free version of this Windows stalwart, which has been beating its chest since the beginning of the decade, showcases some great new … Read more

Quick Fix: Put your paging file to work

The all-singing, all-dancing embodiment of frustration is when my computer acts sluggish for no good reason. I know I've got plenty of RAM and a decent processor, so why won't the blasted contraption do as it's told? RAM boosting programs just never seem to work as well as they should, and so a few weeks ago I began digging into other possible sources of those embarrassing and annoying computus interruptus moments.

One possible solution is to manually adjust your virtual memory, stored in a paging file.

Why do this? Isn't your onboard RAM enough? Well, don'… Read more

Skyfire mobile browser updates, gets predictive

Article updated 5/2/08 at 8:00am with additional information.

The youngest mobile browser to hit the scene can do quite a few more tricks after this week's feature-enhancement and bug-fixing release.

At the request of testers enrolled in Skyfire's closed beta program, version 0.6 has included several housekeeping functions. There are the basics of pasting a URL or search term, deleting bookmarks, and beefing up the soft-key menu with a shortcut to search the current Web page. There's also the highly demanded security nod that disguises passwords as you type. Though this hasn't … Read more

Featured Freeware: Process Explorer

If you've ever tried tracking down a process in Windows Task Manager, you know it's like looking for a needle in a haystack. Process Explorer makes the job a lot easier. This utility displays running processes in an intuitive tree format that includes not only process names, but also program icons and other data, such as description, image, and processor time.

It also can identify the process for a given application window or look up a process name in Google--a handy way to spot spyware or just to drill deeper into what your computer's really doing when … Read more

Delicious beta arrives for Firefox 3

Well, it took a few months, but Yahoo on Wednesday caught up to Firefox 3 with a beta plug-in for its Delicious bookmarking service.

The Firefox add-on for Delicious "now has full Firefox 3 support while retaining Firefox 2 compatibility," said Nick Nguyen, senior product manager for Delicious, in a blog posting.

Delicious lets people save their bookmarks online, tag them with descriptive keywords, and share them with other Delicious members.

It's only one plug-in, I know, but since I'd griped about its absence before, it's only fair for me to call out its availability for downloadRead more

Yahoo IM for Vista beta--now with voice calls

Update 4:30 p.m. PT May 1: I corrected the download link and a reference to the Messenger 9 beta for Windows XP, a separate product from the Messenger for Vista beta.

Yahoo has released its Windows Vista beta of its instant-messaging software, adding support for voice chat and cell phone text messages that were missing from the preview version that's been out since December.

The Yahoo Messenger for Vista beta software supports computer-to-computer calls as well as calls to and from phones, Yahoo said Wednesday. It also can communicate with cell phone text messages sent with SMS (… Read more