The Download Blog

What to do when updates fail

I received an e-mail this morning from Pearl, the source of whose frustration is the failure of a prompted update. She writes:

I have been using LimeWire Basic for about four years with no problem. This morning I was using it and a box came up telling me to download an update, which I did. Then it all disappeared from my screen, and also took with it my original LimeWire, too. So I tried to download it again only to be told it was a corrupt file. I did this a couple of times with no joy.

I have been … Read more

Featured Freeware: AVG Free 8.0

Exceedingly popular, AVG Free offers rock-solid protection, but only the bare necessities. The security features include a real-time shield to prevent infections, antivirus and antimalware wrapped up in one engine, and a link scanner for Web surfing with care.

By default, AVG is set to search for new virus definitions daily, but you can always use the scheduling tool to change this. Should a virus create serious system problems, AVG creates a rescue disk to scan your computer in MS-DOS mode. The program doesn't tax your system when scanning or when running in the background, and it always proved … Read more

Featured Freeware: Gadwin PrintScreen

Excellent screen capture apps aren't hard to come by, but excellent free ones are. With sophisticated features at no cost, it's hard to reach higher than Gadwin's PrintScreen. An attractive, easily navigated interface opens up a customization wonderland for users to decide default settings for shortcut key associations, capture preferences, and output.

For our purposes, the clicking and dragging regions is the clear choice. Misjudge your region's dimensions and Gadwin PrintScreen lets you readjust them without having to start over, something many commercial competitors don't do. Setting the app to automatically open each screen capture … Read more

Featured Freeware: PortableApps

Taking an old-school tack to an ages-old computer problem, the PortableApps Suite approach to mobile computing feels more Web 0.5 than 2.0. Instead of hosting programs online, PortableApps is a comprehensive application suite that fits onto and runs from almost any thumbdrive with at least 512MB of space, and can be shrunk down even further if need be.

The suite's flexibility is impressive. It manages some of the best freeware applications from a taskbar menu that runs instantly when clicked on. User-favorites Mozilla Firefox and Thunderbird are here, as well as the entire OpenOffice.org office suite, … Read more

Power Downloader, file format master

Power Downloader tries his best to help all, but recently his friend Francois Foto approached him with a tricky problem: is there a way to easily convert photos from one format to another? ''Ze emphasees,'' said Francois, ''eez on easy.'' Power had a simple solution, a freeware program called XnView.

XnView is a robust program, an image browser and viewer as well as a converter. For conversions, though, it can handle more than 400 formats from Camera RAW, JPG, GIF, TIFF, and other still image formats all the way through AVI, MOV, MPEG, and a multitude of movie formats. Metadata … Read more

Cure for Twitter spam: Worse than the disease?

Article updated on 4/28/08 with new information.

I've been very popular on Twitter lately. Too bad it's not personal. Many subscribers seem to be gaining more attention than they've earned, and probably a good deal more than they want.

This past month has seen a surge in Twitter spam, subscriptions from followers who have created faux accounts to advertise their links or wares. The noticeable uptick has alarmed the blogosphere enough to warrant journalistic notice, off the record in intra-office chatter and on it. The disingenuous among my own modest list of followers don't … Read more

Make flawless screencasts on your Mac

Have you ever made a screencast? A screencast is when you capture and record all the action that takes place on your desktop so you can view it as a movie. Many people use screencasts for presentations and instructional videos for software, though there are many other uses. Sometimes you probably wish you could make a screen recording for less computer-savvy friends and family so you wouldn't have to have those exhaustive phone calls: "No grandpa, I said Save the file...no...SAVE it."

I found a program for Mac today that makes creating screencasts easy. It'… Read more

First Look: Avira Antivir 8.0

Barely noticed before last summer, Avira Antivir has received an increasing amount of attention since garnering the highest score of any free security program on AV-Comparatives independent testing service for on-demand testing.

It fares a bit worse on the "Retrospective/ProActive" test, although still better than any of the other applications tested. However, it's hard to find anybody who finds the virus definition file update speed to be fast: it's notoriously slow. We put Antivir through the CNET Reviews Labs benchmarking process and came up with some unsurprising results.

When running alongside other high-drain processes, such … Read more

Featured Freeware: Flock

Flock is the first major browser geared toward social-networking addicts. Built on Firefox code and available for both Windows and Mac users, it will do absolutely nothing for you if you're looking to get away from MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, blogging, and other Web 2.0 mainstays. If, on the other hand, this is one addiction you're looking to feed with a shovel, Flock has everything you need to stay one step ahead of the bleeding edge.

Nine buttons at the top of the collapsible sidebar make accessing any of your social-networking or frequently used Web sites easier … Read more

AVG Free joins its siblings in the land of 8.0

AVG Technologies, formerly Grisoft, has updated AVG Free to Version 8.0. The other antivirus programs the company publishes updated in March, following AVG's pattern of updating the free version about a month after the paid editions get their new coats of paint.

As before, AVG Free 8.0 features all the essential functions of AVG Internet Security, but none of the bells and whistles. So the new engine is intact, with combined antivirus, antispyware, and the formerly independent LinkScanner technologies rolled into one. However, there's no antirootkit protection, and other features included in AVG Anti-Virus such as … Read more