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The Download Blog

First Look from Macworld: iTunes 7.6

Of the major announcements blasting out of Macworld (see coverage), the release of iTunes 7.6 for Windows and Mac touches more users most immediately. Unlike the ultrathin MacBook Air, you can get the iTunes update right now. Stick with us as CNET editor Donald Bell cruises through the new video rental features in this video shot from the show floor.

Plaxo inches further onto your desktop with new Mac application

It's no shock that contact management site Plaxo has been a fierce advocate of data portability. As a result, it's not particularly surprising that the service continues to expand browser-to-desktop application functions: on Wednesday, the company announced that the latest version of its downloadable Mac client will sync the Plaxo Pulse social network to Apple's Address Book software. This comes in the wake of an announcement that data from Pulse--which aggregates feeds from social media sites like Flickr and Twitter into a common profile--would also sync with Microsoft Outlook.

The new version of Plaxo's Mac client, … Read more

BlackBerry roundup: Mobile photo apps

Of the photo solutions mentioned in the BlackBerry forums I've been visiting lately, SplashPhoto and Ascendo Photos were the two most-often mentioned. That's just the kind of head-to-head challenge I like, and I threw in one more, ITookThisOnMyPhone, for flavor.

Ascendo Photos Desktop ($29.95) gathers JPEG, GIF, BMP, TIFF, and PNG photos on your PC in a crisp, smart interface. The photo organization is reminiscent of Picasa--sibling images in a folder are horizontally arranged, with folders scrolling vertically. Photos drag and drop into an emulator, which you use to center the photo and perform basic editing--rotation, flipping, and color correction. Three sizing choices determine if photos appear cropped, shrunken, or alarmingly large. A button click transfers photos from desktop to device.

On the BlackBerry, Ascendo Photos shows transfered images clearly, but not quite cogently. It requires a click too many to see your photos, and the app wastes an opportunity to corral snaps taken from the cell phone. However, there's good file information; options to save to phone or SD memory, add galleries, and assign icons; and the ability to e-mail photos.… Read more

Nuts and bolts of Vista SP1 RC Refresh

It's called the Vista Service Pack 1 Release Candidate Refresh. It's supposed to be a bug-fixin', feature-enhancin' behemoth that makes Windows Vista leaner, meaner, taller, and sexier.

It'll do your dishes and take out your garbage, too.

Microsoft released this "Release Candidate Refresh" late last week--just one month after the initial release candidate made its debut. The company asserted that it wants additional information from testers, which indicates that even more bugs need to be fixed. But what does RC Refresh really do? Is it really that large? Most importantly, do you need it?

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Stealing Macworld's thunder

Every year in early January, Apple aficionados gather together in San Francisco to celebrate the big Mac news of the year at the Macworld Conference and Exposition. Windows users, on the other hand, celebrate...Rubber Ducky? Or a public prerelease of the first service pack for Windows Vista? It doesn't seem fair.

However, except for the hardware news (the MacBook Air is very thin), this year's report from Steve Jobs wasn't nearly as exciting as last year's iPhone announcement. In fact, some of the news--and rumors--are old hat for Windows fans.

For example, Apple TV will … Read more

New iTunes now ready for download

Among the new product announcements at the Macworld 2008 keynote, iTunes received a brand new feature: movie rentals! With the latest version of iTunes for both Windows and Mac, you will be able to rent movies from all the major studios including Touchstone, MGM, Miramax, Lions Gate, Fox, WB, Walt Disney, Paramount, Universal, and Sony. Apple was able to strike a deal with studios which allowed iTunes to receive new releases 30 days after the DVD release. The first wave of movie rentals will launch by the end of February with over 1,000 titles.

Once you find a movie … Read more

Shh! FlipSilent for Symbian phones hushes incoming calls

There are awkward times to answer an incoming call, and equally awkward ways to silence it. I can think of a few scenarios where fumbling to locate the ringer or off button is as disruptive and stressful as the constant ringing.

Taking advantage of accelerometer technology, the very same used to reorient phone and camera displays horizontally or vertically, is FlipSilent. With FlipSilent, quieting a call is simple as flipping the phone from its back to its face.

FlipSilent currently works with Symbian S60 phones outfitted with motion-sensing accelerometers. Users willing to make a donation with PayPal can try out … Read more

OutSync puts Facebook faces in Outlook

This is sort of handy: OutSync is an app that will compare your Outlook and your Facebook address books, and then take the photos of people you know in Facebook who are also in Outlook, and copy them into your Outlook contacts.

It gets really cool if you use a Windows Mobile phone to connect to your Exchange server, because once it syncs the address book, the photos will then show up when people call you.

I'm not completely sure this app honors Facebook's terms of service, but it seems pretty innocuous. And it only applies to people … Read more

Tooble bridges the YouTube to iTunes to iPod divide

One thing iPhone and iPod Touch users have been enjoying over the past year has been a finger optimized version of YouTube that pulls in videos on demand. However, users of older video-enabled iPods have been left to fend for themselves using a bevy of services to pull down videos from popular hosting sites and reformat them to fit using third-party conversion apps. A new service called Tooble (download) that aims to streamline this process is showing off its wares on the Macworld Expo show floor tomorrow. We thought it would be a good idea to give it a spin, … Read more

Stick Google Calendar into your Firefox sidebar

Here's a quick way to make sure you never need to open your Google Calendar in a tab again: Open it in your Firefox sidebar instead. Discovered at Firefox Facts, it adapts some code from iGoogle and streamlines it down to just the calendar. This is a great hack if you can't or won't use the Google Desktop Sidebar.

Log in to your Google account first, and then load up this Google Calendar link in a regular tab.

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