The Download Blog

Three free desktop-search alternatives face off

You've got your pick of free desktop-search utilities, nearly any of which are faster and less processor-intensive than Windows' built-in file-search feature. I've used at least a half-dozen different file-search tools in the last few years, but three have stood the test of time: Google Desktop Search, Microsoft's Windows Desktop Search (or simply Windows Search in Vista, where it replaces the old Indexing Service), and the oldest and best of the bunch, Copernic Desktop Search. After bouncing between the three, I've settled on Copernic for its speed, ease of use, and relatively small footprint.

That's … Read more

Play back your FLVs, fast and free

Sometimes, you just don't need the whole enchilada. Freeware video players like The KMPlayer, GOM Player, VLC Player, and others are excellent at what they do and are generally lightweight, but they look like top-heavy refrigerators compared with these nimble and zippy yet similarly named Flash players. But are Free FLV Player, FLV Player, Riva FLV Player, and BitComet FLV Player all the same, or does one pull ahead of the pack?

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The many flavors of Twitter

Pedestrians repeatedly thumbing their cell phones could be playing the latest mobile game, but it's just as likely they're microblogging addicts updating their Twitter accounts. Twitter's short-form service makes it ideal for two-sentence contributions from mobile phones, IM services, browsers, and desktop apps. Here are a few ultraconvenient third-party Twitter-updating apps.

From the phone

Twitter's mobile site,, offers simple cell phone tweeting, and it's easy to set Twitter updates to your phone or IM. But on a BlackBerry, nothing is simpler than updating your feed than TwitterBerry, a bare-bones app that nevertheless … Read more

Lock up your files and hide the key

It's said that everyone's got something to hide, but not everyone needs top-notch encryption to do it. My Lockbox is a free privacy app for Windows XP and Vista that password-protects any folder of your choosing and then, poof!, can make it disappear from view.

The fairly simple interface has you setting up a password, with a hint. Keep it strong and different from your other passwords, or you're leaving yourself vulnerable to a forced lock. Passwords protect both the control panel and the folder path you've decided to conceal from Window Explorer's sights, for … Read more

Jason Collett, "Out of Time": Free MP3 of the Day

Jason Collett seems to do no wrong. Not only is he a member of one of the breakout indie bands of 2004, Broken Social Scene, he also holds his own in the acoustic singer-songwriter camp, producing a fine collection of intimate, desolate acoustic songs. Some musicians make it seem so easy.

Send video mail without the hassles, or the cost

When e-mail was young (and dinosaurs ruled the earth), no doubt some IT managers swore that there was no way the people in their organization were ever going to have access to that time-waster. "Haven't we already provided them with telephones?" Same for Web browsers, which some workplaces still ban, or at least restrict severely.

I'm sure they have their reasons, but for most workers it would be difficult to deny the productivity boost these new technologies provide. Now the same restrictive IT mentality may be blocking the playback and recording of video. Yes, much corporate … Read more

Killer Download: Bring the news to you

Whenever I'm setting up on a new computer or test machine at work, or even after I've downloaded my must-have programs on a new home machine, one of the first things I do is grab an RSS newsreader. Though you can use Web browser favorites to hit and save your most visited sites, newsreaders have a few advantages that make getting all the latest updates even easier.

With a good newsreader on your machine, anytime you see an available RSS feed at a Web site (usually with an orange RSS or XML label), you can have all the … Read more

Security patch closes holes in Thunderbird

Following the early February Firefox update comes a Mozilla Foundation security patch for its popular Thunderbird e-mail client. Download it for Windows and Mac.

The fix addresses one critical flaw that could've potentially allowed an attacker to run arbitrary code, and closed up three other holes that only posed moderate risks, according to Mozilla. One of those included addressing persistent albeit minor crashes caused by memory corruption. More substantial fixes are expected when Mozilla releases Thunderbird 3.0, due later this year.

Mobile users, look forward to more free videos

Mobile users who haven't made the jump to watching videos on their cell phones and smartphones may see a juicy, dangling carrot on the horizon. A paper submitted by John Barrett of Parks Associates and David Wertheimer of USC's Entertainment Technology Center (PDF), summarizes that mobile phone users will watch more videos on their phones if they can get them for free. Well, duh. Who doesn't want free?

The study found that only a fraction of users with video-capable phones take advantage of them to watch movies and TV. Many of the reasons boil down to price, … Read more

Dilated Peoples, 'Back Again': Free MP3 of the Day

The Los Angeles hip-hop pioneers embody what every great hip-hop group should consist of: skilled lyricists, dope production, and a DJ with skills to match. Emcee Rakaa Iriscience and emcee/producer Evidence hold it down on the mic, while DJ Babu of the World Famous Beat Junkies not only provides funky cuts on the turntables, but also produces tracks as well. Incredibly, Dilated has managed to juggle the difficult task of expanding musically, yet still staying true to its original fan base.