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The Download Blog

Mozilla releases third Firefox 3 beta

Mozilla has released a third beta version of Firefox 3, bringing about 1,300 changes to the widely used open-source Web browser.

Firefox 3 Beta 3 should be more stable, perform faster, use memory more efficiently, and fit in better on various operating systems than its predecessors, Mozilla said.

Having tried the new version out for a while this morning, my top impression hasn't changed since beta 2: the best thing about the new version is faster performance. Pages load faster.

Other improvements, according to the Firefox 3 release notes, include a better tool for seeing who owns a … Read more

Jenny Lewis with the Watson Twins: Free MP3 of the Day

During a break from her duties as frontwoman for Rilo Kiley, Jenny Lewis indulges in a mix of vintage country and soul on her '06 solo offering. With the crystal-clear vocals of the Watson Twins backing her, Lewis shines as a bewitching, modern-day chanteuse.

Watch DVDs on your iPod, iPhone, PSP, etc. with HandBrake

So you just bought an iPod touch or iPhone and want to stock it with movies from your DVD library. There are countless commercial utilities that promise to rip DVDs, but I recommend trying HandBrake. This open-source (read: free) utility for Windows (download), Mac (download), and Linux converts your DVDs for viewing on iPods, iPhones, Sony PSPs, and other portable media players. It's by no means new, but I just had to share my newfound appreciation for it.

I recently picked up the hilarious Flight of the Conchords on DVD. I also just acquired an iPod touch (quite simply … Read more

Make your own Valentine's Day cards

If you think you've got it tough on Valentine's Day, consider your poor, humble editor. My wife's birthday is on Valentine's Day! Luckily, we've been together long enough that I don't have to impress her with dozens of roses, buckets of chocolates, and the rest of the conventional commercial holiday paraphernalia. However, a homemade card is always a great way to demonstrate my love.

Creating your own Valentine's Day cards with commercial design software like Adobe Photoshop or CorelDRAW will provide you with a wide array of options for tweaking your … Read more

Rediscovering Identity Finder

Ask yourself this: Should a hacker leap over your firewall and duck your antivirus to successfully deliver a rootkit and poke around your system, what would the thieving perp find?

Unless you've painstakingly encrypted every instance of your driver's license, bank account, and mother's maiden name there's a good chance your privacy jig could be up were someone to apply the right kind of malicious script. Identity Finder seeks out, and shreds or encrypts personal data sprinkled throughout your computer files, Web tracks, e-mail, and registry. Ahem. That is, if you're a registered, paying customer.

If you're not, Identity Finder will constantly point to your deficiency with nag screens galore and crossed-out circles where interface functions should be ("Demo users--No outlet!"). Until you pony up the cash, Identity Finder won't let you undo your data show-and-tell, or even supply the location of those files which are overly inviting. However, even if scanning with the trial version is all you do, you'll get an idea of how often you hang on to sensitive data that's best hidden or removed.… Read more

Microsoft fixes 17 flaws in 11 patches; 6 are 'critical'

Microsoft on Tuesday released its February 2008 security bulletin, which includes 11 bulletins, six of which are deemed "critical" by Microsoft, while five are deemed "important." One bulletin, suggested in the advance notice posted Thursday, failed to be released Tuesday. A majority of the "critical" patches affect Microsoft Office, two critical patches include users of Office for Mac 2004, one affects Visual Basic 6.

The "important" patches are mostly Internet services-related. One patch is specific to the Windows Vista update, however, all the Windows Vista-related updates will be included with Windows Vista … Read more

Bored Stiff: Free MP3 of the Day

Formed in the mid-'90s, when groups like Tribe were doing an NYC take on vintage-vibed rap, Bored Stiff forged a San Francisco way. Early classics like "Explainin'" offer punchy beats and conversational consciousness. The new stuff is every bit as smart and as smooth.

Apple fights back with Aperture 2

Update 11:35 a.m.: I added information about Aperture 2.0's plug-in architecture, which could provide an advantage over Adobe Lightroom.

After pioneering a high-end photography software niche, then losing ground to Adobe Systems' Photoshop Lightroom, Apple on Tuesday counterattacked with Aperture 2.0.

The software, like Adobe's Lightroom, is aimed at enthusiasts and professionals who need to edit and catalog "raw" images, the unprocessed data from higher-end cameras' image sensors; raw files preserve more detail than JPEGs but require time and specialized software that can deal with the profusion of different proprietary raw formats. … Read more