The Download Blog

Make your own Valentine's Day cards

If you think you've got it tough on Valentine's Day, consider your poor, humble Download.com editor. My wife's birthday is on Valentine's Day! Luckily, we've been together long enough that I don't have to impress her with dozens of roses, buckets of chocolates, and the rest of the conventional commercial holiday paraphernalia. However, a homemade card is always a great way to demonstrate my love.

Creating your own Valentine's Day cards with commercial design software like Adobe Photoshop or CorelDRAW will provide you with a wide array of options for tweaking your … Read more

Rediscovering Identity Finder

Ask yourself this: Should a hacker leap over your firewall and duck your antivirus to successfully deliver a rootkit and poke around your system, what would the thieving perp find?

Unless you've painstakingly encrypted every instance of your driver's license, bank account, and mother's maiden name there's a good chance your privacy jig could be up were someone to apply the right kind of malicious script. Identity Finder seeks out, and shreds or encrypts personal data sprinkled throughout your computer files, Web tracks, e-mail, and registry. Ahem. That is, if you're a registered, paying customer.

If you're not, Identity Finder will constantly point to your deficiency with nag screens galore and crossed-out circles where interface functions should be ("Demo users--No outlet!"). Until you pony up the cash, Identity Finder won't let you undo your data show-and-tell, or even supply the location of those files which are overly inviting. However, even if scanning with the trial version is all you do, you'll get an idea of how often you hang on to sensitive data that's best hidden or removed.… Read more

Microsoft fixes 17 flaws in 11 patches; 6 are 'critical'

Microsoft on Tuesday released its February 2008 security bulletin, which includes 11 bulletins, six of which are deemed "critical" by Microsoft, while five are deemed "important." One bulletin, suggested in the advance notice posted Thursday, failed to be released Tuesday. A majority of the "critical" patches affect Microsoft Office, two critical patches include users of Office for Mac 2004, one affects Visual Basic 6.

The "important" patches are mostly Internet services-related. One patch is specific to the Windows Vista update, however, all the Windows Vista-related updates will be included with Windows Vista … Read more

Bored Stiff: Free MP3 of the Day

Formed in the mid-'90s, when groups like Tribe were doing an NYC take on vintage-vibed rap, Bored Stiff forged a San Francisco way. Early classics like "Explainin'" offer punchy beats and conversational consciousness. The new stuff is every bit as smart and as smooth.

Apple fights back with Aperture 2

Update 11:35 a.m.: I added information about Aperture 2.0's plug-in architecture, which could provide an advantage over Adobe Lightroom.

After pioneering a high-end photography software niche, then losing ground to Adobe Systems' Photoshop Lightroom, Apple on Tuesday counterattacked with Aperture 2.0.

The software, like Adobe's Lightroom, is aimed at enthusiasts and professionals who need to edit and catalog "raw" images, the unprocessed data from higher-end cameras' image sensors; raw files preserve more detail than JPEGs but require time and specialized software that can deal with the profusion of different proprietary raw formats. … Read more

MSN Direct now on Windows Mobile devices

At GSMA 2008 Mobile World Congress, Microsoft announced that its MSN Direct services is now available on Windows Mobile devices. A technology preview allows you to get instant, at-a-glance updates on weather, top news stories, stock updates, sports scores, and more. The service will also automatically refresh the content so you have the latest information. You can download the free technology preview in one of two ways: by pointing your mobile Web browser to http://phone.msndirect.com or by downloading the MSN Direct client to your PC, then synchronizing it with your mobile device. Just be aware that using … Read more

"Sort" your Gmail messages with filters and labels

There are lots of things to like about Google's Gmail service: It's free (unless you count the text ads at the top of each window; it is available on any device with Internet access, and it's easy to use as a central repository for multiple e-mail accounts.

Unfortunately, there are also many useful features of Microsoft Outlook, Mozilla Thunderbird, and other standalone e-mail programs that Gmail lacks. One of the features I miss most is the ability to sort messages by sender. I used to have to page through old mail 50 messages at a time to … Read more

Apple releases latest Leopard, 10.5.2

The latest update to Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard dropped Monday afternoon, with fixes for several different issues.

Apple posted a support document on its Web site and began informing Leopard users through the Software Update mechanism that Mac OS X 10.5.2 is now ready for public consumption. A combo update that includes some security patches is 343MB and can be downloaded immediately. The first update to Leopard, version 10.5.1, was released in November.

This time around, Apple has fixed some issues with Time Machine, the automatic backup software available in Leopard, as well as … Read more