The Download Blog

iPhone showdown: Picasa versus Photobucket

Photo-sharing and -storage sites Picasa Web (click for Picasa's PC download) and Photobucket announced new mobile interfaces this week. While m.photobucket.com and picasaweb.google.com/mobile (or via Google's new mobile interface: mobile.google.com) grant access to online albums from any mobile browser, the interface on iPhone's full Safari browser is still a special case. iPhone's large, sharp screen is ideal for viewing slide shows, but bars users from directly uploading iPhone photos to Web sites.

While this essentially leaves Picasa handcuffed as a mobile photo viewer, Photobucket's site provides an account-linked … Read more

Better your Gmail, again

Better Gmail 2 is a Firefox extension that collects a bunch of Gmail customization scripts from Greasemonkey under one control panel. The latest update, to Version 0.3, brings Better Gmail 2 mostly up to speed with features that were in the original Better Gmail, but had to be abandoned when Google rewrote Gmail's code last November.

The biggest of the latest additions include a revamped insertion of Google Reader into the Gmail user interface. This is not merely a rehash of what came before, but a better-looking, faster-loading UI that makes switching between Gmail and Reader seamless.

Read more

Counting links the easy way

So I've been meaning to do some write-ups on some browser toolbars and plug-ins that may be useful for SEO purposes...and leave it to Rand at SEOmoz.org to remind me of this with his review of 12 popular browser toolbars.

Link Counter (download) is one that I absolutely love both for what it does and its simplicity. Links play a very important part in SEO, both internal links as well as external links. Are they live or broken, 301 redirected, HTML or JavaScript based? Unfortunately the one thing it doesn't seem to manage is showing "nofollow" links, but there are plenty other tools out there that do that.

The best way to get a feel for Link Counter is to see it in action, and one of the best places to see it in action is on an e-commerce site. E-commerce sites are often rather complex with many links on a page, links out to external sites, to product pages, JavaScript windows, and more. Let's use Onlineshoes.com for our demo.… Read more

Three for Thursday: Opera, Orb, LogMeIn updates

Three programs with big names have recently released some minor updates. Take a look at what's changed in the Opera Web browser, the remote access app LogMeIn, and Orb, which gives you the power to stream your music just about anywhere.

Read more

Miro improves search and torrenting

The open-source, DRM-free video platform called Miro (download for Windows and Mac) has just released an upgrade with two small but useful improvements. A new search feature lets you search all available sites simultaneously, and torrent support has been greatly improved.

Read more

Top 5 download updates from Macworld

With Macworld in full swing, throngs of people are flooding the streets of San Francisco to check out the latest offerings from Apple and all the other vendors exhibiting their wares at the expo. But some Mac-related stuff is only indirectly related to what's happening on the showroom floor or how thin the new MacBook Air is.

One thing I've noticed as a Mac software editor is how, when Apple has its biggest show of the year, the majority of Mac software developers figure it is the best time to release an update for their apps. I've … Read more

Do you have a license to drive that browser?

Published by Al, Port Alberni, Canada

I'm a 57-year-old retired truck driver with three stepdaughters, two of whom don't think the old man knows a thing about computers. Little do they know that I have a BA in computer science and can run circles around all of their friends. One time, the oldest girl's computer got so clogged up it would freeze, and the only way out was to hard-boot it. I cleaned it up, but there was so much damage done to the OS that I had to reformat the drive and do a fresh install … Read more

Flock adding e-mail and Picasa integration with next update

Flock's set to release its first big update since going 1.0 back in November (note: you can download that version here). The new version (1.1) will feature a handful of useful updates to some of the built-in services, along with integration for Web mail and Google's Picasa.

Between the two, I'm most interested in Web mail integration. For folks who aren't using a software e-mail client like Outlook, Thunderbird, or Apple Mail, the only other options are to keep a browser tab open and keep an eye on things or use a standalone software … Read more

uTipu's new screencasting tool takes on TechSmith's Jing Project

Screencasting is not for everyone. Most of the options out there are fairly full featured, but it's hard to find a good, free solution that can do as much as some of the pricey professional tools such as TechSmith's Camtasia Studio (download) or Adobe's Captivate (download). A new service that launched this week called uTipu (download TipCam for Windows) is stepping into the ring and offering up a Windows-only (for now) one-stop screencasting service that combines both a software tool to grab your onscreen action, along with an uploader that will send it off to uTipu's server farm for YouTube-like Web hosting. The hope is that anyone who wants to make a screencast or two will be able to download the app and get going without too much of a hassle, similar to what TechSmith's been up to with its Jing Project (download for Windows or Mac).

Like other software-based screencasting tools, uTipu's got a few tricks to get your screencasts looking right. You can set it to record your entire screen, or just a small section. It can also follow your cursor, and highlight what you're doing with a little translucent yellow circle. There are recording controls to pause and stop the action, as well as an annotation shortcut in case you feel like drawing on the screen John Madden-style. For audio and voiceovers, there's no post-production workspace, so you have to record your narration at the same time as the video and hope you don't make any mistakes.

Advanced users get some nice tweaks, such as VNC server setup to record screens on remote computers, and frame-rate quality controls to bump up how smooth your videos look. The one caveat is that higher frame rates also increase your file size, and uTipu's only serving up 250MB of free hosting for the time being, but about a minute of medium size video at 15 frames per second runs at about 3MB, which means you'll be able to create and send about 16 videos at the five-minute time cap. If you're close to running out of space, you can also skip the option to upload to uTipu's servers entirely by uploading them to any video hosting service that accepts the FLV Flash format.

On the whole, uTipu's off to a good start, but by not providing some post-processing tools to clean up your work, it's not offering a whole lot more than what you can get from its formidable competition, such as the zero-install Screencast-o-matic, and the cross-platform Jing from TechSmith.

I've embedded a sample of a user-created uTipu video after the break. As you can see, it's nice and big, and you can actually read the onscreen text. My less informative one can be found here.

Read more

On Adobe's Lightroom radar: panoramas, HDR

Good news for photo enthusiasts who wish they could they could use Photoshop Lightroom for high dynamic range photography and panorama stitching: support is on Adobe Systems' radar screen, if not necessarily its roadmap.

That's the word from Kevin Connor, Adobe's senior director of professional digital imaging product management and the executive who oversees Lightroom, Photoshop, and the Digital Negative (DNG) format. I spoke with him Wednesday during the Macworld trade show here in San Francisco.

Connor is intimately familiar with these two fast-changing domains in digital photography. High dynamic range (HDR) photography combines multiple exposures of a … Read more