The Download Blog

Enough with 'boss buttons,' let them watch basketball in the office

Friday morning, I walked past a colleague's desk and--I swear--saw a basketball game on her computer screen. When I got closer, however, all I could see were a bunch of very official-looking bars and charts.

She was working hard. Real hard. Then she laughed, hit a key, and flipped back to the basketball game in a clear indication that I'm either a boss people can be honest with or a boss who doesn't exactly strike fear into the rank and file. Or both.

The "boss button" and silly office decorum strike again. For those of … Read more

The Explorer's Club, 'Do You Love Me?': Free MP3 of the Day

This jangle-pop bunch follows the Beach Boys in sentiment and style, but it has new ends in mind. Put differently, the group wishes they all could be South Carolina girls. Musically, this means plenty of tambourines and twee harmonies, but with orchestration that's more psychedelic than sandy.

Exercise your brain with this freeware game

There's little doubt that this new free Sudoku game sports an atrociously decorated interface, bedecked with smileys and butterflies. However, the game play itself in Free Sudoku 2008 is unimpaired, and the three levels of difficulty and timer actually make this a reasonable experience if you're looking to fret over number patterns for a while.

The game provides the timer, the difficulty level, a solution checker, and an "I-give-up" option on the right-hand side of the panel. The main panel is taken up by the game board, and has an interesting feature: players can enter up … Read more

Power Downloader restarts Firefox fast

It's no secret that Power Downloader's favorite Web browser is Firefox, for both Windows and Mac. Judging from the Mozilla browser's growing market share, it's not just Power's favorite, but the preferred browser of many of his fans, too. So, he's happy to recommend one of the most useful Firefox extensions he's ever come across: MR Tech Local Install.

It's a mouthful of a name, but it's got features for beginners and power users. Basically, it's the extension's extension, giving users added control over add-on behavior as well as … Read more

SplashMoney financial manager comes to Windows Mobile phones

Windows Mobile users looking for a way to manage their personal finance from their phones ought to take a look at SplashMoney for Windows Mobile smartphones and PocketPCs, which just became available this week. The two-way app synchronizes with a desktop companion (included in the mobile download) to keep information current between the phone and computer, though SplashMoney also works as a standalone app on the phone as well as the Mac or PC.

Similar to most mobile money managers, SplashMoney lets you store and track financial data such as credit card details, account balances, budgets, and expenses. You'll … Read more

The B-52s, 'Hot Corner': Free MP3 of the Day

For most bands, taking a decade off from recording can mean risking the permanent loss of the musical thread. Not so for the inimitable Kate Pierson and Fred Schneider, who will always sound just like themselves. Long-awaited new LP "Funplex" is electric, irreverent, and clever.

Digsby open to all, adds Twitter

Digsby, the application that lets you view your instant-message, e-mail, and social-network accounts through one interface, opened up to the public on Thursday. Download Digsby for Windows from CNET

The application also has support for popular micro-blogging application Twitter and allows real-time audio and video chat across IM networks through a partnership with TokBox. Oh, and it now offers inline spell check. WooHoo!

Digsby first hit the scene in early February. It's still in beta, but now you don't need an invitation to use it.

Other applications that enable you to manage multiple IM accounts include … Read more

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.

Read more

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