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The Download Blog

TrueCrypt now available for Mac OS X

Anyone who has shared a computer with a roommate, family member, or co-worker knows it's pretty hard to keep everything organized. But beyond having separate user accounts or personal folders, some data you have on your hard drive just isn't meant to be seen by other users. Whether it's your personal account numbers, journal entries, or other private files, a secure place to store items on your shared computer is necessary for your privacy.

A while ago I found a great Windows app for creating secure volumes called TrueCrypt. This open-source (free) program offers up multiple levels … Read more

BBC's iPlayer getting Mac version in 2008, Web version continues to dominate usage

If there are lessons to be learned about the need for big companies to create platform-agnostic services, the BBC's iPlayer project may be one of the most shining examples.

Since the launch of the iPlayer, the BBC has been under fire not only from its viewers, but also members of the British Parliament. Parliament members have come down on the broadcasting corporation for its lack of support for open standards, and soaring costs in the development of the Windows-only software whose cost is estimated to be close to ?6 million pounds (nearly $11 million dollars).

We've blogged about … Read more

First Look: PhotoContacts for Windows Mobile

Oh sure, anyone can assign a photo face to a contact on their Windows Mobile phone. But how many can also resize images, associate tasks with a contact, and send text messages from their digital black book?

If you guessed "anyone using the application named above," give yourself a gold star. For about twenty bucks, PhotoContacts for WindowsMobile and Pocket PC rolls your contact list into a stylish wrapper with better people skills than your default address book. Could this application be for you? Check out pros and, yes, a few cons, in this First Look video before … Read more

Will Opera Mobile perform for free?

Opera should be bracing for impact.

Quite possibly for the first time, Opera Software will receive real pressure in the mobile-browser space from Firefox Mobile and Skyfire.

Like Opera's cell phone browser, Opera Mini (video), both newcomers are free. However, Opera Mobile, which serves Windows Mobile and Symbian S60 phones, is a commercial product that smartphone users may not want to pay for when handed alternatives gratis.

How does Opera plan to keep current customers and attract new ones when consumers face a choice between paying $24 and $0? I asked the Opera folks if they would consider making Opera Mobile free in anticipation of or in response to oncoming competition.

"The mobile Web is blossoming, and we are strongly positioned to take advantage of its growth," Tatsuki Tomita, Opera's senior vice president of consumer products, responded. "While we watch the industry closely, we have not yet determined the end-user model for Opera Mobile."

What a nicely toned, safely vague statement! It's one any company would be expected to make when challenged on two fronts by a competitive freeware surge. Yet with actual working, marketable products for a range of devices and a business plan that reaches into corporate pockets, Opera is well-positioned. For now.… Read more

Digsby links all IMs with e-mail, Facebook, MySpace

If you're the type of person who communicates with friends, co-workers, relatives, and such via several different IM services, e-mail, and Facebook--and you know you are--software could soon offer you one of the cleanest ways ever to link them all together.

The software, called Digsby, went into private beta Tuesday, and its goal is to give people a way to organize their contacts from Yahoo Messenger, AOL IM, ICQ, Google Talk, Jabber, and Windows Live Messenger, as well as e-mail, Facebook, and MySpace.com into a single client.

According to Jeff Hester, who runs instant message community site BigBlueBall.… Read more

Take note of these Notepad replacements

Loved for its simplicity, Notepad has long been a staple for serious coders. Fast to load and possessing a tiny footprint, it's a great way to handle chunks of text large or small. Beyond word wrapping, though, it's bereft of many basic and useful features. There are easily a dozen decent freeware applications vying to replace it. Here are three of them: NoteTab Light, Notepad ++, AkelPad.

Read more

Killer Download: Top free screen capture utilities

Every computer user needs a good screen capture utility at one time or another. Whether doing a Web research project, getting a slick new desktop background, or just adding to an image collection, the flexibility of these utilities make them much more useful than the full-screen capture in Windows. As a reviewer of software, I often need to take screenshots of programs I'm reviewing. A screen capture utility lets me capture the whole program, or just a section of the screen depending on what I want to call out.

Windows comes with the Print Screen function which saves a … Read more

Collect the Web with Ript

Ript is a new, free software application in beta development that lets you collect images and text from the Web, then compile and arrange them into pages you can print or share with friends and family. It's a simple freeware idea that makes sense...and it's from Oprah? Well, sort of. The publisher is the Oprah Winfrey-founded Oxygen Media, recently acquired by Universal.

Ript works via an overlay "Pile"--representing by a stack of documents--that sits on a layer on top of all your applications. You can work with your programs as you normally would, and … Read more

ooVoo adds screen sharing, free conference calling

Remember ooVoo, that iChat-like video conferencing and chat tool we took a look at back in June? Today they've launched a new version that has got a handful of useful, powerful tools that make it a viable alternative for small workgroups using conference calls and screen-sharing applications, such as WebEx.

First up is a new recording feature that lets users tape video chats with other participants. Since the video and audio are being recorded to the hard drive, the only time limit is how much free space the computer has. In testing, I managed to get a nearly 15 minute, four-way video conversation down to 95 MB file. The application took about 10 minutes to convert my conversation into workable FLV file that was at a full 1MB/S quality. It can also step it down to 256kb/s or 512kb/s if the file needs to be smaller.

The other really useful feature is a new conference calling tool that gives host and participants a landline number to call. Other ooVoo users who call this conference line get plugged right into the audio that's a part of the video chat, and just like the video recordings, this audio gets archived too. The new call in lines support up to six people, meaning users can have up to a dozen participants--including those on the video side. The call in service is free this month, but it is moving to a by-the-minute model in March.

Besides the video recording, the other new feature that I think people are going to like is an optional piece of software that's a companion for ooVoo's video player. The companion has two main uses. The first is a screen sharing application that lets users show off an entire screen, or certain zoom levels, to other video chat participants. Users can also drop media files, such as music, pictures, or video into the stream for other users to view. Secondly, it's got a built-in facial overlay tool, like Fix8, that applies digital overlays either to users faces or to replace backgrounds. It's great fun.… Read more