The Download Blog

Power Downloader's fishy solution for system sluggishness

When Power Downloader returned to the Powerlair after finishing up a case, he knew he would have plenty of e-mails to go through before he could have any downtime. Powering up his computer, Power waited while his computer went through its normal startup routine and then proceeded to open his e-mail client to see how many new messages he had. To his delight, several of the e-mails were easily deleted and only simple confirmations or answers were required of his usual global contacts.

Close to the end of his list of new e-mail, Power Downloader found a message from Kitty … Read more

Fresh off the press: NewsGator, now freeware

Checking Web sites by typing in the URL feels like firing up a rickety 56k baud modem and logging on to CompuServe. It gets the job done, but really should only be used under extreme duress or nostalgia. Syndicated feeds bring the Web site to you, and when NewsGator made all its RSS clients free on Wednesday, they suddenly made a top-notch suite with tools for Windows, Mac, mobile, the Web, a podcast manager, and a Microsoft Outlook extension incredibly appealing. And by appealing, I mean you might not be able to imagine feeds the same way afterwards. It's that good.

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Countdown to Macworld

With the new year under way and the holidays on the back burner, CNET's first big coverage extravaganza of 2008 was CES. The annual Consumer Electronics Show, which runs through the end of this week, was predictably brimming with cool gadgets and new technology. Many of our editors were on hand to give their take on all the sleek new products. Check out our extensive coverage of CES here. Though I was jealous to see all of the cool new items coming out of Las Vegas while I remained in San Francisco, I knew the next week would be … Read more

Google's sky gets podcasting, maps with dragons

While computer monitors and TV screens continue to become the size of small stars, there's no beating the real thing short of visiting a planetarium, or lately--Google Earth. Yesterday Google unveiled the second iteration of Google Sky for Google Earth at the Astronomical Society's annual conference in Austin, Texas. Among the more notable additions is podcasting that's been integrated into the Earth and Sky layer. These short 90-second podcasts will tell you anything that's coming up this week (or that's historically taken place), and you can listen to them right from the app via … Read more

Rain and shine hit Google Maps and Google Earth

Two of the most useful online services have got to be maps and weather.

With this in mind, The Weather Channel Interactive is offering a new mapplet for Google Maps that lets people add customizable weather layers to maps and see weather data on Google Earth (download it for Windows or Mac OS X).

One click and you can see the clouds over San Francisco on Google Maps. Pop-up bubbles provide more detailed information like current conditions including temperature, humidity, wind speed and UV Index. You can also find links to forecasts and track storms.

The weather information combines data … Read more

FlyTunes makes your iPhone into an Internet radio

I got a demo at CES of FlyTunes, an Internet radio aggregator whose CEO, Roy Smith, is pitching as an alternative to Sirius Satellite Radio.

It's a stretch to compare it with Sirius, but FlyTunes is a worthwhile idea. A service designed for Safari on the iPhone and iPod Touch, it displays a curated list of Internet radio stations, and, over Wi-Fi, streams and records the stations you listen to. What's cool is that it can work when you're not online. It will record streams for your favorite stations. Then you can dock your iPhone or iPod … Read more

NewsGator drops fees for news readers

NewsGator is making its latest consumer news readers available for free.

The updated products are FeedDemon 2.6, NetNewsWire 3.1 for the Mac, NewsGator InBox 3.0 beta, NewsGator Online, and NewsGator Go for mobile gadgets. Premium subscriptions formerly cost $19.95 or $29.95 per product.

The tools synchronize content fed to the Web, as well as to desktop and handheld devices including the iPhone, BlackBerrys, and those running Windows Mobile.

Each account will include features that were formerly offered only in premium editions. Users who have paid for NewsGator products on or after December 9 can request … Read more

Power up GIMP with plug-ins and GIMPshop

So you've been convinced to make the leap from Photoshop to GIMP. You've downloaded the program, run the executable, figured out that old instructions decrying the difficult installation are outdated for the current version, but now what? Now, my GIMP Padawan, is when you start treating GIMP like it's Firefox and you get your plug-ins on.

What about GIMPshop, you say? No worries, as my Australian friends would say. We're going to take a look at the GIMP-plus-Photoshop mash-up, too.

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Killer Download: Top free image editors

Once I've taken care of installing security software on a new a PC, one of the first programs I end up downloading is an image editor. Whether I'm using it to make a quick edit to a screenshot, convert a digital photo to a more Web-friendly image format, or even something as mundane as cropping an image for a desktop background, an easy-to-use image editor is a must have. Those of you with recently acquired computers probably have a lot of holiday photos you've resolved to go through, so this little collection will definitely come in handy.… Read more

New year, new PC

Computing hope springs eternal every new year. Certainly 2008 will be the year we finally get our ducks in a row, right? No more in-boxes filled with hundreds of unread messages. No more junk files from apps uninstalled long ago. We'll keep adequate free space on our hard drives, and even defragment them regularly! (Well, at least for a month or two.)

For those of you who scored new PCs for Christmas or your year-end holiday of choice, it's literally a year of new computing. Your top-of-the-line, screaming-fast, quad-core machine is only as good as what you can do with it, however, and that requires quality software.

Luckily for you, we've collected some of our favorite downloadable software for Windows in two collections perfect for new PC owners. Our Security Starter Kit ensures that your pricey investment is properly protected, and the Windows Starter Kit provides a bevy of top-rated products from a wide range of categories that are free or free to try. Start editing pictures, chatting online, swapping files, or burning music mixes with this collection of essential apps for new PC owners.… Read more