The Download Blog

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

Killer Download: My must-have free downloads

I download and review a lot of great software, but obviously I don't keep everything. Some programs don't make the cut simply because I have a better option on my computer already or I have no use for them at work. But other applications I've downloaded have withstood the test of time and remain useful on a day-to-day basis. I'm talking about my must-have applications.

I've already given you my Big Three free security applications which should be the first programs you download when setting up a computer. Clearly if you haven't downloaded software … Read more

Featured Freeware: Ashampoo ClipFinder

Programs that grab videos from Web sites such as YouTube aren't a dime a dozen--they're a dime for 200 dozen. Most of them aren't that good, either, which makes Ashampoo ClipFinder such a breath of fresh air in the video-grabbing game.

ClipFinder sports an atypical interface that's still simple to navigate. The main window holds a series of long filmstrips. Each of the 14 strips represents a video site, which are searchable either individually or globally. Unfortunately, you can't add new portals, but the ones available include all the major video sites: YouTube, Yahoo, iFilm, … Read more

VoiceCloud voice-to-text now open for beta

At the beginning of April, I met with VoiceCloud CEO Gerald Marolda to take a tour of the company's voice mail-to-SMS service. VoiceCloud, which relies on human translators instead of software to transcribe calls, competes with Spinvox, SimulScribe, and CallWave.

A month ago at CTIA Wireless, the hatchling service was just being introduced. Now everyone is invited to try. From the Web site, enter the invite code, "cloud," and your phone details to get started. Users will be able to test the application free of charge for about a month, Marolda says, before a pricing structure is … Read more

For a PDF reader, Foxit is hot

Fast to load and yet possessing robust features, Foxit PDF Reader is a strong freeware alternative to the dominance of the Adobe Reader. The new features in version 2.3 include two notable improvements, a slew of minor ones, and small tweak that goes a long way to put Foxit on nearly equal footing with its better-known competitors.

Foxit now supports tabbed PDF reading, porting the feature from Web browsers into the world of documents. This is a no-brainer, and makes it much easier for having multiple PDFs open simultaneously.

The other important improvement is that Foxit now supports multimedia … Read more

dBpoweramp for music file format conversion

I had a problem. Years ago, I bought Microsoft's now-discontinued Digital Media Plus Pack for converting my LP records into digital files. Because it's a Microsoft product from back in the day when Microsoft was gung-ho about Windows Media, it only rips to Windows Media Audio. And of course, it's Windows only. (Other than that, it's a great tool--very easy to use, never messes up line leveling, and has a good algorithm for removing pops and scratches.)

Back when I used iTunes and my iPod exclusively, I'd simply rip the album into WMA, then import … Read more