The Download Blog

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

Security hole in VLC Player

Torrent-watching Web site TorrentFreak is reporting a major security hole in the popular open-source media player VideoLAN, also known as the VLC Player (download for Windows and Mac. "The reported vulnerability makes it possible for a malicious user to run arbitrary code, potentially taking remote control of the host machine," according to TorrentFreak.

The hole gets exploited from a subtitle file buffer overflow, and it's platform independent--meaning it could strike users of Mac and Linux operating systems, as well as Windows fans. VLC users who avoid subtitle files won't face any problems. Another solution is to … Read more

Safari 3.1 update fixes 13 security flaws

Apple on Tuesday released Safari 3.1 for users on Mac OS X and Windows. Along with new features are 13 security updates for the Safari browser, WebCore, and WebKit. Most of the vulnerabilities address cross-site scripting flaws. A cross-site scripting attack can inject malicious code onto a victim's computer usually via a script tag appended to a specially formed URL. The Security Update APPLE-SA-2008-03-18 can be downloaded and installed from Apple Downloads, or you can simply download the new version of Safari 3.1 directly.

Safari--certificate validation This patch only affects users of Safari on Windows XP or … Read more

Dirty secret: I love Safari on Windows

After bashing Safari for Windows when it first came out, I have to confess something: lately I've begun to rely on Apple's browser. Not for everything, mind you. But the more I use it, the more I like it.

The biggest reason: It's fast. It's faster to start up than Firefox, Internet Explorer, or Flock. And it's fast to load pages. Blindingly fast. Fast enough to make the Web feel more inviting.

I also like how it displays text. Sure it's using a non-standard font smoothing technology, but I think it looks great.

I … Read more

Microsoft: Vista SP1 ready for download

Well, Amazon was at least half right. As the retailer predicted, Microsoft did make Windows Vista Service Pack 1 available for download on Tuesday via Windows Update and on its Web site.

Still unclear is when it will start being available on retail shelves. Amazon said it will start shipping boxed copies with SP1 included on Wednesday, while Microsoft said it will be at retailers "as soon as April." I've asked for further clarification on the disparity, but have yet to hear back.

Meanwhile, in a posting on the Windows Vista blog, Microsoft also went into a … Read more

Apple rolls out Safari 3.1 browser

Apple on Tuesday announced that version 3.1 of its Safari browser is available for both Mac and Windows users.

The Web browser now supports a number of new Web standards: HTML 5's latest audio and video tags, as well as CSS Animations. Apple claims that page load times in Safari 3.1 are 1.9 times faster than Microsoft's Internet Explorer 7 and 1.7 times faster than Mozilla's Firefox 2, and that JavaScript runs as much as six times faster in the new Safari than in other browsers.

Apple offers Safari as a free download. … Read more

Throw Me the Statue, 'About To Walk': Free MP3 of the Day

In the Secretly Canadian group's debut LP, Jeff Mangum's raw folk aesthetic meets, of all things, the sort of distortion fogs now obsessing the Magnetic Fields. Topped with a Vampire Weekend-esque interest in grammar and a Shins-y tragicomic touch, it amounts to sublimely blended indie rock.

LightPole turns on local services aggregator

LightPole doesn't think of itself as a search hub, an RSS reader, a mobile apps platform, or a maps source, even though the mobile app, publicly released on Tuesday, is all these things rolled into one.

LightPole's interface is a bit like Viigo's, but instead of hosting various news channels, LightPole (mostly) hosts channels for interactive services, targeting people on the move who are looking for activities around them.

People seeking a nearby hot spot, for example, would open the channel for Hotspotr, which sniffs out W-iFi cafes and other Internet gateways. MappyHour acts similarly for happy … Read more