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Utilities and drivers

Best apps for iPhone

Did you get an iPhone or iPod Touch as a gift this holiday season?

Now that you've got your account set up, the first thing you'll want to do is check out some of the great apps in the iTunes App Store.

The question is, with more than 500,000 apps, which ones should you choose?

We rounded up our favorite apps across several categories so you can get started right away. In this collection of Best apps for iPhone, we've got everything from alternative browsers to the hottest games; they all have reviews you can read … Read more

SlimCleaner 2.0 crams in even more social tools

A bucket-load of community data, Facebook-styled "like" and "dislike" of user comments, and a pile of interface tweaks that make the program easier to use capstone SlimCleaner 2.0 (download), available exclusively today from Download.com.

The update to its sophomore version makes some big changes from version 1.6's collection of robust tools. There's a registry cleaner, for sweeping up all the detritus left by unruly programs after you uninstall them, a faster scanning engine, and recommendations for similar programs. The recommendation engine appears to be accurate, so if you're looking at … Read more

How to test your RAM in Windows

A bad memory module (RAM) can cause unpredictable behavior in a Windows system, including the dreaded blue screen of death. If you suspect that your RAM may be faulty, you can run a memory test to confirm that you have a bad memory module.

Laptop and desktop PC makers occasionally provide preinstalled utilities that sometimes include a memory test. Feel free to try out those utilities, especially if your computer is under warranty and you want to make a warranty claim. Manufacturers will often require you to run their support utilities first, before agreeing to replace hardware or move forward … Read more

iTunes 10.5.2 and Thunderbolt Display firmware updates available

Apple has released an update to iTunes, bringing the latest public release of the software to version 10.5.2. This update contains small fixes for an audio distortion problem that may happen when playing or importing audio from some compact discs. Beyond this fix, the program contains some undocumented iTunes Match refinements.

The update should be available via Software Update for most users, but can also be downloaded directly from the iTunes 10.5.2 download page. (Note: some browsers are currently still showing the page for version 10.5.1, but Apple's link will still direct you … Read more

How to access your Windows Media Center from any browser

Your Windows Media Center makes organizing and enjoying your music, videos, movies and other media incredibly easy--but if you want to listen or watch remotely, you've been out of luck. The free, wonderfully named Remote Potato steps in to let you use that media from any Web browser. Here's how to use it: 

Download and install Remote Potato Server on your Windows computer. While installing, you'll need to set up a user name and password to access your media remotely.  Remote Potato should launch once it's installed, and guide you through a wizard to … Read more

Originally posted at How To

By Rob Lightner

Free DNSCrypt tool enhances Mac Web security

When you connect to a Web site on the Internet, your computer uses the Domain Name System (DNS) to convert URLs like "www.macfixit.com" to the IP address for the server where that Web site resides.

This system is a hierarchical network of computers throughout the world that distributes a database of domains and subdomains, allowing the system to resolve the components of the URL ("com," "macfixit," and "www") to a specific IP address out of millions of publicly available ones. This system is used for Web browsing, but also for … Read more

A look at Intego Internet Security Barrier X6 for OS X

When it comes to anti-malware utilities, a few prominent names stand out, including Norton, Kaspersky, and Sophos, in addition to some smaller and perhaps Mac-only tools like iAntiVirus and MacScan. Among the popular options for OS X is VirusBarrier from Intego, which I recently gave a spin.

VirusBarrier is offered in two versions: the basic VirusBarrier X6 package and the extended Internet Security Barrier suite that includes VirusBarrier and a number of additional utilities. I chose the latter to see what advantages it may offer over the basic VirusBarrier antivirus scanner, especially given recent malware developments on the Mac and people's interest in keeping their systems safe.… Read more

Thunderbolt update 1.1 fixes black screens

Apple recently issued an update for Thunderbolt-equipped Mac systems that addresses the intermittent black screens some people have been seeing when using Apple's external Thunderbolt display.

The 53.23MB update is for systems running Snow Leopard, and should be available via Software Update (in the Apple menu), but can also be downloaded from the update's Web site.

The update includes new drivers for all supported graphics controllers from Intel, Nvidia, and AMD, but it also includes components of Apple's OpenCL framework that are specific to the AMD graphics chipset, which suggests this issue stems from a poor … Read more

VMware Fusion update offers graphics and compatibility improvements

When it comes to virtualization on OS X there are three basic solutions: Parallels Desktop, VMware Fusion, and VirtualBox from Oracle. While VirtualBox is developed more as a free hobby and experiment package by Oracle, the other two are commercial packages that have been neck-and-neck in competition in the areas of speed, stability, and compatibility.

In its past few versions, Parallels Desktop has been significantly faster than VMware Fusion for a few tasks, which Parallels has regularly blogged about.

Today VMware released a new version of its Fusion virtualization software (available through its built-in updater) that in part offers a … Read more

ThinkUp 1.0: Reclaim your tweets and Facebook posts

Expert Labs has released version 1.0 of ThinkUp, a program that lets people archive, search, and analyze their activity on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.

And if you ask me, this is a big deal.

ThinkUp, the free, open-source brainchild of programmer and Lifehacker founder Gina Trapani, keeps track of what you've done online. It extracts the data from the walled gardens that house more and more of people's digital lives then replants it in your own garden.

The app isn't simple to install, unfortunately. You need some server administration skills so you can host ThinkUp on … Read more