Utilities and drivers

How to accelerate downloads in Android

Many users don't notice download speed on their mobile device, because most of the files we get are pretty small: 1MB or so. Some users work with larger files, and for them, faster downloads are essential, as is control over the download process. It's nice to be able to stop, restart, and reorder the download queue, and the free AndroGET app does all that while speeding up large downloads. Here's how to use it:

Install the AndroGET app from the Android Market. Launch it and tap the gear-shaped Settings icon in the top right. The simple settings … Read more

Troubleshooting toolkit recommendations for Mac users

When troubleshooting OS X it helps to be prepared with an arsenal of tools that can help narrow down what exactly is contributing to the problems at hand. Having tools that help you investigate files, monitor system events and input or output, and control aspects of the hardware is very useful to have when trying to perform troubleshooting tasks.

If you want--or need--to troubleshoot a problem with your Mac, here are some recommended tools. You don't need to keep these on your system at all times, but knowing they're available makes them easy to access in the event … Read more

Mac EFI firmware updates enable OS X Lion Internet recovery

Apple has made a few EFI firmware updates available this week for Mac users who own a MacBook, 13-inch MacBook Pro, or Mac Mini system from mid 2010, which give these computers the capability to start up the Lion recovery routine via the Internet. In addition, the Mac Mini update fixes a problem with the setting for restarting after a power failure not being retained.

The updates are small downloads of about 3MB in size that should be available via Software Update for relevant systems, but can also be downloaded from the following Apple Support Web pages:

Mac Mini (Mid 2010) EFI Firmware Update 1.5Read more

How to start Windows 7 faster

High-performance PC hardware doesn't always deliver the speed users expect. But you probably shouldn't blame the hardware. The slowdown may be due to a software conflict.

A reader named Abe Ibrahim contacted me last week to ask about his slow Windows 7 PC:

My system: Asus Rampage III Extreme MB, Intel i7 980x CPU, 12GB Tri-Bus Memory, 128GB SSD (OS), and 9TB RAID-5 storage. One would think no matter what you ran, the system would scream through it. That is not the case with my system: Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit boots in 51 seconds... [When] I use it … Read more

How to open files without proprietary software in Windows

It can be frustrating to receive an attachment or find a file online that you can't open. Maybe you don't have the latest version of MS Office, or maybe you just don't know what program is required. Open Freely is a great, free tool that lets you peek inside many popular file types. Here's how to use it: 

Download and install Open Freely here. When confronted with a file you can't open, launch Open Freely and click the open icon in the top left, then browse and select your file. (You may want … Read more

Got 'banned' on Android? There's an app store for that

As CyanogenMod skates past 1 million active users, making it by far the most popular custom flavor of Android around, one of its main developers has asked the Android community if there's interest in creating an app store for Android modders and their fans.

Koushik Datta suggested a marketplace designed for apps, ROMs, and emulators that Google refuses to host and carriers refuse to allow. Not surprisingly, the answer he got was resoundingly positive.

Dutta, also known as Koush, said in a Google Plus post earlier this month that the time was coming for an app store that specialized in rooted Androids. … Read more

Apple releases Brother printer driver updates

Apple has released an update to its Brother printer drivers for OS X, which include fixes and enhancements to currently supported models along with drivers for new products from Brother.

The update is a 149MB download from the Apple support downloads site, but this download includes the entire set of printer drivers that Apple offers. If you have a Brother printer configured on your system and a new driver is available for it, then you can update just that driver by using Apple's Software Update utility in the Apple menu. The update requires OS X 10.6.1 or … Read more

Does Kinect for Windows warrant a new hacker bounty?

When Microsoft's mega-hit Kinect motion controller for the Xbox was released in 2010, its closed nature inspired a hefty bounty to hack it and come up with open-source drivers.

But now that Microsoft has released an official version of Kinect for Windows, the team that offered that payout is wondering whether they might have to do it again.

Microsoft eventually realized that there was an insatiable thirst for developing open-source Kinect projects and released a software development kit of its own. But now the folks at open-source hardware purveyors Adafruit are wondering if the new Kinect for Windows platform … Read more

Best apps for Mac

Were you lucky enough to receive a new Mac laptop or desktop this holiday season?

Once you've booted up that shiny new Mac for the first time and have had a chance to look around, check out our Best apps for Mac to get the lowdown on great apps you can download. We feature both free and paid software in our collection and there's something from just about every category.

Whether you want a different browser than Safari, want to discover and listen to new music, or just need a multiservice chat client, this collection has got you … Read more

Best apps for iPad

If somebody was nice enough to get you an iPad for the holidays, make them proud by decking it out with all the best apps.

We've rounded up our favorites so you don't have to wade through hundreds of thousands of apps in the iTunes App Store.

There's no question that the iPad is a great entertainment device, but there's more to it than just games if you know which apps to get. In this collection of Best apps for iPad, we've got several categories of apps to choose from, including productivity, entertainment, social networking, … Read more