The Download Blog

Crystal Castles, 'AirWar': Free MP3 of the Day

The Canadian duo's electronic-pop-meets-Nintendo-core sends '80s babies into a nostalgic hyper state. They've have steadily amassed a cult following over the last several years, and considering that hipsters lean more toward electronica these days, we're sure it will only increase.

Extend your Office apps via Live Workspace

I spent Wednesday afternoon getting to know Microsoft's new Office Live Workspace, a free service that lets you store Office files online for easy access and sharing.

Once I got used to what the service isn't--it isn't a way to actually work on the files in a browser--I came to appreciate how easy the service makes it to save Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files on the Web, and open them in their original app on any PC with an Internet link.

The biggest downside is how difficult it is to get the service working on a Vista machine running Office 2007. I was uploading and downloading Office 2003 documents on my XP machine in just a few minutes, but I had to jump through a series of hoops to do the same in their Office 2007 equivalents on my newer Vista PC.

I decided to start from scratch by creating a new Windows Live account rather than using my existing Hotmail account. Signing up for the account was a breeze, though I opted out of most of the options the installer presented. For example, I had no interest in downloading Messenger, the Windows Live Toolbar (my browser's cluttered enough already), or anything having to do with OneCare, which single-handedly destroyed my home network when I tried out the beta last summer. Be sure to uncheck the option to make MSN your home page, and you may want to avoid sending Microsoft any more data than the company already helps itself to.

Once the Windows Live installation completed, it took just a few more clicks to get started with Office Live Workspace. You're prompted to give the generic workspace a name and description, which you can change later simply by mousing over the name in the left pane and choosing one of the options that appears.

Of course, there's not much you can do with the service until you get some files uploaded. You can add files from inside the workspace one at a time or in batches, though the batch approach uses an ActiveX control, and thus requires Internet Explorer 6 or higher. Since I normally use Firefox (and had used that browser to create the workspace), switching to IE just to upload a bunch of files at once would have been a major inconvenience. Still, I never intended to use this method to add files to the workspace. Instead, I downloaded the Office Live Add-in, which lets you upload files to and download them from the workspace directly inside Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.

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Is Safari versus Firefox a fair fight?

Apple's Safari browser took a big step toward cross-platform competitiveness last year when it introduced a beta version for Windows, but there are legitimate questions as to whether it can really hold its own against Mozilla's Firefox. Safari dropped the beta from its name earlier this week, but is there anything more to it other than a developer's tool with a Mac interface?

If you're looking for features, the answer is a resounding no. Firefox's open source code and ever-growing army of extensions and themes make it the leader when it comes to customization. Also, … Read more

SugarSync: Most useful sync tool ever. But you'll pay for it.

Today, Sharpcast is launching the public beta of its new file synchronization product, SugarSync (download it from Download.com). Like other sync tools (FolderShare [recently updated] and BeInSync), it performs the useful service of automatically keeping the data on one PC the same as on another. This is a great service for people who use more than one PC -- a laptop and a desktop, for example. It can also be used as a crude workgroup file system (see Groove). I got a tour of the product recently from Sharpcast CEO Gibu Thomas and took some time to experiment with … Read more

Spyware Horror Story: Antispyware bog-down

Published by Jack; Brisbane, Australia

I run Windows 2000 Professional and ran Ad-Aware SE with great success. Ad-Aware stopped updating this year, so had to then get Ad-Aware 2007. This did not work. It kept seizing up while scanning, so I got rid of it and then downloaded McAfee VirusScan from Download.com. This is when my worries began.

My PC just virtually seized up. Every task took 10 times longer to do. If I wanted to open a window or go onto the Internet, I had to click on the icon and go away for 5 minutes before it … Read more

Opera Mini officially surfs Helio's Ocean

For mobile service Helio, it's a sure sign you're doing something wrong if the most popular app among your user community is a hack. For Opera Software, the fact that it's your app is a sure sign you're doing something right.

Since last August, users at the Helio community site Heliocity have been peddling a re-engineered version of the Opera Mini browser that was specially hacked with the Ocean smartphone in mind. Seven months later, Rod Hamlin, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Opera Software, got on the phone to confirm that starting Wednesday, … Read more

Set Internet Explorer and Firefox to maximize your security

Modern browsers are much better than their predecessors at keeping your Web activity private and your data safe. Still, you may not have your browser configured to provide optimum security. Take a few minutes to give Internet Explorer 7 and Firefox 2 a safety check.

Batten down IE7's hatches The version of IE7 for Vista adds the Protected Mode, which allows Web sites to access only the Temporary Internet Files folder on your PC. According to Microsoft, this feature is on by default for the Internet, Intranet, and Restricted zones, but disabled for the Trusted Sites and Local Machine … Read more

Download customizable NCAA tournament brackets

It's the big dilemma for the fantasy NCAA basketball tournament pool manager: paper brackets or digital? Whichever option you choose, I've got you covered.

When I was a kid, the announcement of the teams and seedings in the NCAA men's basketball tournament was always accompanied by furious scribbling as I tried to manually create an instant tournament bracket. I just couldn't wait until the newspaper arrived the next morning to start making my picks.

The advent of the VCR reduced the furious scribbling, and the Web eliminated the need to write down teams at all. Now … Read more

Get your hands on Vista SP1

Long gone are the days where Microsoft service pack releases such as Windows XP SP2 would deliver shocks measurable on the Richter scale. Redmond has returned to its old habits of including mostly security repairs and crash fixes, but nothing in the way of new features. That doesn't mean that Vista users should skip out on Vista Service Pack 1.

Downloading anything from Microsoft is never easy, in my experience, and Vista SP1 is no different. Microsoft has announced that it won't begin to roll out the service pack through its automatic updates until April, so you must … Read more