The Download Blog

Take note of these Notepad replacements

Loved for its simplicity, Notepad has long been a staple for serious coders. Fast to load and possessing a tiny footprint, it's a great way to handle chunks of text large or small. Beyond word wrapping, though, it's bereft of many basic and useful features. There are easily a dozen decent freeware applications vying to replace it. Here are three of them: NoteTab Light, Notepad ++, AkelPad.

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Killer Download: Top free screen capture utilities

Every computer user needs a good screen capture utility at one time or another. Whether doing a Web research project, getting a slick new desktop background, or just adding to an image collection, the flexibility of these utilities make them much more useful than the full-screen capture in Windows. As a reviewer of software, I often need to take screenshots of programs I'm reviewing. A screen capture utility lets me capture the whole program, or just a section of the screen depending on what I want to call out.

Windows comes with the Print Screen function which saves a … Read more

Collect the Web with Ript

Ript is a new, free software application in beta development that lets you collect images and text from the Web, then compile and arrange them into pages you can print or share with friends and family. It's a simple freeware idea that makes sense...and it's from Oprah? Well, sort of. The publisher is the Oprah Winfrey-founded Oxygen Media, recently acquired by Universal.

Ript works via an overlay "Pile"--representing by a stack of documents--that sits on a layer on top of all your applications. You can work with your programs as you normally would, and … Read more

ooVoo adds screen sharing, free conference calling

Remember ooVoo, that iChat-like video conferencing and chat tool we took a look at back in June? Today they've launched a new version that has got a handful of useful, powerful tools that make it a viable alternative for small workgroups using conference calls and screen-sharing applications, such as WebEx.

First up is a new recording feature that lets users tape video chats with other participants. Since the video and audio are being recorded to the hard drive, the only time limit is how much free space the computer has. In testing, I managed to get a nearly 15 minute, four-way video conversation down to 95 MB file. The application took about 10 minutes to convert my conversation into workable FLV file that was at a full 1MB/S quality. It can also step it down to 256kb/s or 512kb/s if the file needs to be smaller.

The other really useful feature is a new conference calling tool that gives host and participants a landline number to call. Other ooVoo users who call this conference line get plugged right into the audio that's a part of the video chat, and just like the video recordings, this audio gets archived too. The new call in lines support up to six people, meaning users can have up to a dozen participants--including those on the video side. The call in service is free this month, but it is moving to a by-the-minute model in March.

Besides the video recording, the other new feature that I think people are going to like is an optional piece of software that's a companion for ooVoo's video player. The companion has two main uses. The first is a screen sharing application that lets users show off an entire screen, or certain zoom levels, to other video chat participants. Users can also drop media files, such as music, pictures, or video into the stream for other users to view. Secondly, it's got a built-in facial overlay tool, like Fix8, that applies digital overlays either to users faces or to replace backgrounds. It's great fun.… Read more

ControlC turns clipboards into social networking tool

Sick of installing bookmarklets or browser plug-ins to save and share links with other people? Want to simply want to keep a record of all the text, links, or pictures copied to a computer's clipboard? Then check out ControlC. ControlC is a new service that's halfway between a social bookmarking tool, and an archive utility.

Mac, Linux, and PC users can install this small application that will keep a record of their computer's clipboard content and automatically upload it to a feed. Uploaded items remain private until the user manually "unlocks" them for public viewing. … Read more

What's eating Microsoft? Everything

Business, finance, and tech worlds are abuzz with news of Microsoft's sudden proposal to Yahoo. It's not the first time Seattle's best has courted the Sunnyvale, Calif., company once touted as Silicon Valley's hottest Internet portal. To many, the buyout offer signals Microsoft's continuing woes in a playing field now dominated by freeware competitors and other rivals that have done Microsoft's end-user businesses longer or better.

See which products and companies are eating into which of Microsoft's potentially profitable businesses in this slide show.

Vent election frustrations

It's Super Tuesday, the day when 24 states hold primaries to choose their party's candidate for president. Voted by mail weeks ago? Just want all the ads and sloganeering to be over? Get so frustrated you just want to shoot them all?

Now you can, with the Space Invaders spoof called Political Invaders, where you fire pies from your ship to destroy advancing politician headshots.

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Video: Best downloads of 2007

To every sweet there is a sour; to every storm cloud, there is a silver lining. We took care of the sour storm clouds first with a demonstration of the worst downloads of 2007 on CNET I reiterate editor Peter Butler's disclaimer that the absolute worst downloads, stuffed with spyware or adware, never make it near our site.

The amusing mudslinging for misdirected software aside, may we now present Tom Merritt's ever-humorous take on the five most awesome downloads to break out in 2007. These applications that will save you time, and possibly a whole lot … Read more

Stop svchost.exe from stealing CPU cycles

The situation is familiar to countless Windows users: They're in a groove at work, firing off e-mails, crafting documentation, and even blogging on their personal site during breaktime, when suddenly, something takes over 99 percent of the CPU, slowing it to a virtual standstill. A quick look at the invaluable Process Explorer (or the standard Windows Task Manager) indicates that a process called svchost.exe is using all that CPU. What's more, there's one main CPU offender. Multiple versions of svchost.exe are running in the background and hogging CPU cycles. What is it? Is it spyware? Hackers? Terrorists?

Although there are historical cases of malware using svchost.exe, because of its common presence, it's most likely just Windows being Windows. Svchost.exe is a generic process name for Windows services that run from Microsoft DLLs (dynamically linked libraries). Each of those instances of svchost.exe in the process lists actually represents a group of services that each process is managing. With Process Explorer, it's easy to see which services each process manages, and stop them one by one to see which is the CPU culprit.

In the spring of 2007, a major problem arose with a Windows update that caused svchost.exe to use 100 percent of CPU because of an issue with Automatic Updates. To correct that bug, be sure that Windows is fully patched with the most recent updates.

The first thing to do is to determine which of the active svchost.exe processes is causing the slowdown. Fire up Process Explorer, and click on the CPU column header to sort the list of processes by processor usage. A list of processes, sorted from most processor intensive to least intensive, is displayed. When the computer stalls, switch over to Process Explorer and see which running process is causing the crunch.… Read more