The Download Blog

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

Bon Iver, 'Skinny Love': Free MP3 of the Day

Justin Vernon comes by this project name--sorta-French for "good winter"--honestly, having cut his LP in the snowy isolation of rural Wisconsin. There's a reason we mythologize such outings. This is pristine lo-fi, run through with icy acoustic guitar and fragile vocals.

J Dilla, 'Airworks': Free MP3 of the Day

A former Slum Village member, a beatsmith for Madlib, MF DOOM, Common, Busta and many more, an increasingly cherished solo artist--by the time of his recent death at age 32, Jay Dee had made the rap game his plaything. Jay's last LP "Donuts" finds new troves of soul inside taut hip-hop beats.

NewsFire RSS reader now free on the Mac

I regularly visit tons of Web sites every day for the latest software updates, blog posts about cool gadgets, and other news sites. But instead of clicking through bookmarks in my Web Browser, I like the ease and convenience of a RSS reader. I recently put together a collection of RSS readers for Windows, but I just found out only a few days ago the developer of one of the best RSS readers for Mac decided to release its product for free.

NewsFire is a full-featured RSS reader with an easy-to-use interface so you can get your news just how … Read more

Get your classic Tetris on

If you're looking for a fun and retro way to kill a few minutes this weekend, The Tetris Game offers up a simple freeware version of the classic game. There's no frills here, but anybody who's got a craving for that four-block goodness will probably find this rendition instantly satisfying.

The controls are mapped to your keyboard's arrow keys. Up rotates the piece, left and right shift it in one direction or another, and down accelerates the rate of descent. Pieces come in red, green, gray, yellow, and blue. You can save your high scores or … Read more