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The Download Blog

Dirty secret: I love Safari on Windows

After bashing Safari for Windows when it first came out, I have to confess something: lately I've begun to rely on Apple's browser. Not for everything, mind you. But the more I use it, the more I like it.

The biggest reason: It's fast. It's faster to start up than Firefox, Internet Explorer, or Flock. And it's fast to load pages. Blindingly fast. Fast enough to make the Web feel more inviting.

I also like how it displays text. Sure it's using a non-standard font smoothing technology, but I think it looks great.

I … Read more

Microsoft: Vista SP1 ready for download

Well, Amazon was at least half right. As the retailer predicted, Microsoft did make Windows Vista Service Pack 1 available for download on Tuesday via Windows Update and on its Web site.

Still unclear is when it will start being available on retail shelves. Amazon said it will start shipping boxed copies with SP1 included on Wednesday, while Microsoft said it will be at retailers "as soon as April." I've asked for further clarification on the disparity, but have yet to hear back.

Meanwhile, in a posting on the Windows Vista blog, Microsoft also went into a … Read more

Apple rolls out Safari 3.1 browser

Apple on Tuesday announced that version 3.1 of its Safari browser is available for both Mac and Windows users.

The Web browser now supports a number of new Web standards: HTML 5's latest audio and video tags, as well as CSS Animations. Apple claims that page load times in Safari 3.1 are 1.9 times faster than Microsoft's Internet Explorer 7 and 1.7 times faster than Mozilla's Firefox 2, and that JavaScript runs as much as six times faster in the new Safari than in other browsers.

Apple offers Safari as a free download. … Read more

Throw Me the Statue, 'About To Walk': Free MP3 of the Day

In the Secretly Canadian group's debut LP, Jeff Mangum's raw folk aesthetic meets, of all things, the sort of distortion fogs now obsessing the Magnetic Fields. Topped with a Vampire Weekend-esque interest in grammar and a Shins-y tragicomic touch, it amounts to sublimely blended indie rock.

LightPole turns on local services aggregator

LightPole doesn't think of itself as a search hub, an RSS reader, a mobile apps platform, or a maps source, even though the mobile app, publicly released on Tuesday, is all these things rolled into one.

LightPole's interface is a bit like Viigo's, but instead of hosting various news channels, LightPole (mostly) hosts channels for interactive services, targeting people on the move who are looking for activities around them.

People seeking a nearby hot spot, for example, would open the channel for Hotspotr, which sniffs out W-iFi cafes and other Internet gateways. MappyHour acts similarly for happy … Read more

MusicIP plug-in deejays your iTunes

Late Monday afternoon, music recommendation engine MusicIP released a beta of its MyDJ iTunes plug-in for Windows (available as a free download from the company site). I've spent the last few hours playing with the plug-in, and thus far I'm impressed. Like the company's standalone program, MusicIP Mixer 1.6, the MyDJ iTunes plug-in scans and analyzes your music library to ferret out similar songs and artists. But the standalone software requires you to organize music in MusicIP, then export the playlist to your media player software. The plug-in lets you automatically generate playlists without leaving iTunes. … Read more

Make those function keys work for you

While few keyboards have reached the high level of customization or the exorbitant price of the Optimus Maximus, not to be confused with Optimus Prime or Fortress Maximus, KeyboardLink is a great little open-source tool for turning your standard Windows keyboard into not just a program launcher, but also a program controller.

Compatible with Windows 2000, XP, 2003 Server, and Vista, and using a scant 3MB when in use, KeyboardLink gives you the power to set nearly any hot key combination for launching programs and controlling your media player.

To get started, once you've installed it, you need to … Read more

Pete Rock, 'Till I Retire': Free MP3 of the Day

A hip-hop student of the older-than-old-school radio jock Marley Marl, New York-proud Pete Rock has built a solid career on equally sturdy rhymes and decent beats that skate the line between thug rap and backpacker hip-hop. If Nas wasn't so militant or if Wu Tang were consolidated into one person, the result would be very Pete.

First Look: Avvenu Access 'n Share

This article was updated 6:00 pm on 3/16/08.

Let's get right to the point: Avvenu Access 'n Share is phone-to-PC remote access service with a strong base and a lot of good potential. With it, you can view and edit files stored on your PC from any smartphone. Provided your computer is running when you log in to your Avvenu account, you'll see your file system reproduced on the phone's screen. As long as your phone is outfitted with a third-party document viewer, you'll be able to remotely read and edit documents. Photos … Read more

USB flash drives need a condom

Many Windows users are annoyed by the Autoplay feature. But Leo Notenboom recently explained why it is dangerous, rather than annoying.

Many of us, when we run across an unknown USB flash drive (a.k.a. thumb drive, pen drive, memory stick, etc.) will stick it in a computer to see what's on the thing. It's at this point that Autoplay can screw you big time.

Unlike with CDs, Autoplay on a USB flash drive will run a program immediately, no questions asked. Quoting Leo "USB Thumbdrives or flash drives are a non-obvious but easy way to … Read more