The Download Blog

Killer Download: Art for the artless

Drawing has never been my strength. I love looking at art and can certainly appreciate an artist's skill and patience with creating something pleasing to the eye. But when it comes to putting a pen or brush to paper, I simply don't have the talent. I always admired my friends who had the gift of being able to draw, but it was a gift I never received. I'm sure there are many of us who have thought it would be nice to be able to draw at one time or another.

Fortunately artists (or maybe even just … Read more

Featured Freeware:

More than a mere rival to Microsoft Office, the open-source (for Windows and Mac) includes the powerful applications for creating text documents, spreadsheets, presentations, diagrams, and databases that make it a serious Office competitor. It lets you edit basic documents and save them in a variety of formats, it's robust enough to handle equations and complex multipart documents with bibliographies, reference tables, and indexes, and on top of all that, it's extensible and uses less RAM than MS Office. What's not to love?

Bluefire plans a new cell phone security app

Traditionally focused on securing mobile devices for corporations and even the U.S. Government, Bluefire Security plans to enter the consumer market with Mobile Defender.

Bluefire's bid joins them to the ranks of other security vendors who have created mobile versions of their desktop apps. I got a chance to preview Mobile Defender at CTIA 2008 in Las Vegas. The app, currently available in private beta for Windows Mobile phones, has a simple four-button interface, with each button corresponding to an element of protection--firewall, SMS and MMS spam-blocking, an application protection shield that guards against auto-installing malware, and a … Read more

Dashwire's new goodies make the most of your phone

Dashwire, a small Seattle start-up eleven employees strong, continues to impress with its growing service for managing and interacting with the contents of your cell phone online. To recap an earlier review, Dashwire synchronizes your cell phone to an online account, displaying on a flexible dashboard your call history, images, profile, texting history, photos, ring tones, videos, and contacts. You can roll up your sleeves and muck around with your phone from Dashwire, a much happier experience than crouching over your two-inch cell phone screen and tapping or clicking away through on-device management programs, particularly if you're not on … Read more

Opera Mini goes beta, gains speed

Opera, that plucky browser publisher that is neither Microsoft nor Mozilla, has released Opera Mini 4.1 beta with promises of 50 percent faster page loading, among other claimed improvements. The thing is, they might be right.

Mini 4.1b is definitely faster than Mini 4, although actual speeds depend on your wireless connection and the kind of phone you're using. The standard page view loads up what looks like a large thumbnail of the page with images small but discernible and strangely crisp for their size. The "mobile" view presents the URL's information in a … Read more

Hands-on: Yahoo oneSearch 2.0 with voice

Vioce technology is Yahoo's big news of the day. While vocal search is one aspect of an enhanced version of Yahoo's oneSearch tool for mobile phones, it's the only aspect of the service that has been made available as a preview today. And the implementation has only been rolled out for BlackBerry phones.

Luckily, I happen to have one of those here at the CTIA Wireless conference in Las Vegas, where I met with Yahoo's director of mobile product marketing, Adam Taggart to discuss oneSearch 2.0 (see video).

Like Yahoo Go 3.0, oneSearch 2.… Read more

Firefox 3 beta 5 released

Mozilla released its fifth beta version of Firefox 3 for Windows and the Mac on Wednesday, bringing a handful of improvements in ease of use to the open-source Web browser. A portable version is also available.

Overall, Firefox 3 beta 5 includes 750 changes from the previous beta, focusing on enhanced stability, Web site compatibility, and platform and user-interface improvements.

In the ease-of-use arena, Beta 5 is designed to offer improvements in integration with Windows, Mac, and Linux. The beta aims to show improvements to Windows icons, as well as native user interface widgets in Web forms and the browser. … Read more

WorldMate Live coming to Windows phones

Last November, MobiMate revealed WorldMate Live for BlackBerry. A large stride ahead of its traditional business-class travel software, WorldMate Live got some souped-up features, including online management tools and functionality to push flight status alerts and scheduling reminders to the phone.

In a few more weeks, WorldMate Live will come to Windows Mobile phones, the number two platform pick for businesses, and therefore frequent corporate jetsetters. I got a preview today at the CTIA Wireless conference, and it looks good. By "good" I mean nearly identical to the BlackBerry version of WorldMate Live, with perhaps one or two … Read more

Reclaim your RAM

Even in these days of cheap RAM, where you can get an extra gigabyte of the stuff for around $40 or so, there's not much you can do about must-have programs that leak memory short of seeking out an alternative. That doesn't mean you're tied to incessant program restarts and operating system reboots, though: a few useful programs such as RAM Idle LE, RAMBooster, and Instant Memory Cleaner make it their business to reclaim wasted bits.

RAMBooster is well-known to longtime Daily Download readers. We've featured it in our Windows Starter Kit and in a First … Read more

Simplify Media adds options

One of the most promising freeware programs of 2007 was Simplify Media, a plug-in for iTunes and Winamp on both Windows and Mac that lets users share their music collections with friends and themselves via the Internet. The application is expecting an official release in June, but until then you'll have to appease your appetite for music with these beta builds.

The program still eats a voluminous amount of virtual memory--near the 100MB range, on average--but if you're not using a lot of other system processes it makes for an attractive way to get your tunes across the … Read more