The Download Blog

Killer Download: Top apps to track bandwidth

Just about everybody who uses the Internet these days has broadband access. Whether it's DSL, cable, or a direct high-speed LAN connection, most people choose a faster connection to make files download faster, videos stream smoother, and online gaming much more enjoyable. But what if something is eating up bandwidth that you don't know about? Particularly when you have a superfast connection or Wi-Fi, how do you know there isn't something or someone leeching off your bandwidth when everything seems to be working smoothly?

Though I have my Big Three security apps running on every Windows machine … Read more

First Look: Viigo for Windows Mobile, BlackBerry

If you think of your typical RSS reader or widget as a stream, Viigo is a river delta.

Unlike many services that feed headline news from a from a preselected widget or manually-entered URL, Viigo--available for BlackBerry and Windows Mobile--gathers news channels into a dedicated client that looks great on your phone. With some saving and functions similar to e-mail, and an extensive library of additional news sources, the free application is the most complete RSS-reading environment for smartphones I've seen so far. Tune in to the video below to get a taste of how Viigo can simplify … Read more

RealPlayer vulnerable in Internet Explorer

If you use the RealPlayer on Internet Explorer, watch out. Researcher Elazar Broad has posted to the Full Disclosure mailing list a so-called heap overflow vulnerability that makes it possible for an attacker to modify heap blocks after they are freed and overwrite certain registers. This could allow code execution on a compromised machine. The vulnerability affects all versions of RealPlayer running under Internet Explorer.

Exploit code for this flaw has not yet been made public.

Without a patch from RealPlayer, security experts recommend disabling the killbit for the following ActiveX ClassIDs:

2F542A2E-EDC9-4BF7-8CB1-87C9919F7F93 CFCDAA03-8BE4-11CF-B84B-0020AFBBCCFA Please note that disabling the killbits … Read more

Whigs, 'Right Hand on My Heart': Free MP3 of the Day

It's fitting that one of the country's great young rock bands comes from one of our longtime great rock towns: Athens, GA. The trio follow up their winning self-made debut with an equally addictive set on ATO. Guitars are gutty, drums thrill, and a pro studio doesn't soften the Southern rock grit.

Print-to-PDF battle: Primo versus Do

Creating your own PDFs used to require purchasing a PDF-creator like Adobe Acrobat. With PrimoPDF and doPDF, though, all that's required is a program with a print function. Interestingly, while both Do and Primo do the same thing, one is stripped-down and simple, while the other adds an extra step and some extra features to attract users.

DoPDF is the more basic of the two programs. It's utterly bereft of features beyond its main function: to let users create PDF documents from within any program using the native Print option. Along with whatever printer you've got hooked … Read more

Bold, stylish Zune themes are a knockout

Microsoft started it. And this time we can all give thanks.

The Seattle giant's search for a sleek, cool iPod competitor produced the Zune, and the Zune's youth culture appeal produced Microsoft's Zune-flavored desktop theme. Couple that with the Firefox Zune theme created by the prolific theme meister Brett Bodine--also known as Bodizzle--and you've got yourself a bold, sleek screenscape in orange and black gradations, with just enough strokes of white for emphasis.

YouSendIt gets desktop help

I've found that I frequently use the large file transfer service YouSendIt to send big files, videos, scans, and pictures. And I've taken to recommending the service to others when I hear about a problem getting a file from one place to another. That's rare--usually the Web services I like the most are a bit too rickety to recommend to people with real lives and jobs.

But one thing about YouSendIt has always bugged me: the need to go to the browser to upload a file for transfer. I hate browser uploaders. Fortunately, the company just released … Read more

Connect to your PC from anywhere with LogMeIn Free

A perennial Cheapskate favorite, LogMeIn Free lets you connect to your PC from any other PC. This comes in impossibly handy when you're working offsite and need to access files, run programs, check your e-mail, and so on. It's like sitting at your PC when you're not actually sitting at your PC.

All you do is download and install the free LogMeIn utility on your primary PC; it runs quietly in the background until needed. When you want to connect to your system from somewhere else, just fire up that PC's browser (Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, … Read more

Rahsaan Patterson, 'Burnin'': Free MP3 of the Day

Patterson describes the title of his latest, "Wines & Spirits," as sounding "biblical," but it's the songs that really belong in church. Rich vocal harmonies and sermon-strength lyrics point straight to gospel, while funked-out bass lines and biting synths earn their own believers.

A better way to defrag your hard disk

In the long list of odious chores, defragmenting your hard drive is right up there with flossing your teeth and washing your dog--or flossing your dog's teeth, for that matter.

There is little agreement on how much--or even whether--defragmenting improves your PC's performance, but having files closer together on the disk reduces the amount of movement required by the drive's mechanical parts. This should make it last longer, though such factors as operating environment and the quality of its components probably have a greater impact on its life span.

Regardless of whether it will actually improve your … Read more