The Download Blog

Featured Freeware: FastStone Image Viewer

The FastStone Image Viewer is a good find for a multipurpose image tool. Although the main interface looks too cluttered with buttons at first glance, the three main windows are intuitive enough once get your bearings and several included skins make it easy on the eyes.

Clicking a thumbnail puts a larger view of the shot in the lower-left pane, and you zoom in simply by dragging the mouse around. You can resize, crop, remove red-eye, and adjust color, brightness, and contrast. You'll also find a few simple effects and filters, including Lens, Waves, and Morphs. Other nifty features … Read more

Power Downloader caffeinates his HTML with CoffeeCup

With the advent of blogs and blog-tool plug-ins, the burning need for Web design at home has dulled somewhat. Power Downloader knows that good custom design is still appreciated, though, and this week he brings you a program that excels at helping home users achieve their Web design desires. CoffeeCup HTML Editor 2008 is suitable for design newbies, HTML hotshots, and everyone in between. The latest version introduces a new CSS and HTML autocompletion tool to join CoffeeCup's well-known WYSIWYG and standard HTML editors.

It continues to offer powerful features melded to a straightforward and compact interface that is … Read more

Your cell phone: More than a jukebox

Got a few minutes to kill? Sure, you could flip through your tunes, but when the same songs get old, and when you tire of your headphones winding from your ears like some extraterrestrial umbilical cord, check out the worlds of communication, learning, and game-playing applications to discover beyond the beats. Or, dare we say, while listening to them. Check out your burgeoning options for cell phone entertainment in the slide show.

Featured Freeware: Comodo Firewall Pro

Don't let the name fool you, Comodo Firewall Pro is one of the best freeware programs around that can also hold its own against other pay firewalls. Previous user complaints about resource hogging and a confusing interface have been addressed and this application has never been easier to use.

It still provides a smorgasbord of information and options for advanced users, but it's simple enough for beginners, and runs smoothly and silently in the background. When you first install it, the Comodo pop-ups come often as the program "learns" your online behavior, but those soon stop. … Read more

AT&T launches its own browser, Pogo. Surprise: It doesn't suck.

The obvious first question one asks the AT&T execs when beginning a discussion of Pogo, the company's new Web browser, is "What is AT&T doing getting into the browser market?" The answer you get is, at first, amusing. It's a chance to build "another relationship with the customer," they say. They also tell you it could be a great conduit for AT&T messages (e.g., brand or product advertising). Sounds like the makings for a truly awful product, does it not?

Video demo is embedded at the end … Read more

Collect iTunes cover art with CoverScout

When Cover Flow for iTunes was first introduced, I was initially pretty excited. After all, who wouldn't want to browse through their music and movies by flipping through covers? It's almost like flipping through records or CDs at a music store. But once I got Cover Flow up on screen with iTunes, I was faced with something I'm sure a lot of people experienced--there were so few album covers associated with my music library, Cover Flow was almost useless. I've been able to add many covers to my library since, but I still had gaping sections … Read more

All-in-one tune-up from Auslogics

For fans of Auslogics Disk Defrag--and who isn't?--Auslogics offers up BoostSpeed, a utility suite that'll set you back 30 clams in your quest for a computer that runs like a cheetah.

Disk Defrag is a massively popular piece of freeware, and with good reason. It runs faster and provides more information both during the defrag process and afterwards than the native Windows defragger, and it's free. Effective and providing an essential function, there's no question that your computer runs better for it.

BoostSpeed, while effective, isn't necessarily what every user needs. It bundles … Read more

Grooveshark's stunning music service goes on a software diet

Yesterday Grooveshark launched the newest iteration of its music service, Grooveshark Lite. It's a big step forward for the company, ditching the need to download anything and creating a cleaner, tighter version of its player that runs right in your browser.

The core of the service is still retained in the Lite version. You can track what's popular, get recommendations, and listen to your saved library of tracks. The big change is the interface. Built in Adobe Flex, it's snappy, beautiful, and incredibly intuitive. It definitely takes a hint from the iPod with simple hierarchical menus that … Read more

Patches for Firefox and Flock

The past 24 hours have seen Mozilla Firefox (download from CNET for Windows and Mac) getting another security hole plugged, while its social-networking derivative Flock (also at CNET for Windows and Mac) earns a minor behavioral bug fix.

Firefox's most recent safety snafu is another JavaScript engine security problem that was causing the browser to crash during JavaScript garbage collection. Although there was no indication that this error was exploitable, says Mozilla, other similar errors in the past were. Not to mention the benefit of not having your browser randomly going kablooey.

Flock's fixRead more

Featured Freeware: Simplify Media

Although it hasn't exactly exploded into the mainstream music-listening population, the music-sharing application Simplify Media has a growing network of fans--in no small part because it's available for Windows, Mac, and soon the iPhone. When you install it, you must choose to sync with either Winamp or iTunes playlists, although you can change your preferred program after installation. After setup and restarting your music player, you'll see a "Simplify Media" selection in your left-hand navigation. Expand it, and you can browse all of the music available from you and your friends.

Claims of resource hogging … Read more