Utilities and drivers

Chrome extension enables remote computer control

Months of work on "chromoting" have reached fruition with Google's release on Friday of a new Chrome extension to let a person on one computer remotely control another across the network.

The Chrome Remote Desktop beta version, which arrived Friday, is a browser-based equivalent of remote desktop software for conventional operating systems. Such software is handy for IT administrators managing employees' machines, people taking care of their relatives' computers, or individuals getting access to their own machines from afar.

"Chrome Remote Desktop BETA is the first installment on a capability allowing users to remotely access another … Read more

How to securely erase an SSD drive

Erasing an SSD (solid-state drive) not only sanitizes the drive, but recovers lost performance on systems with inefficient garbage collection. Utilities like CCleaner or DBAN are made for magnetic disk drives and won't work on SSDs. Fortunately, there are two free secure-erase utilities that do work with SSD drives.

The first utility is named Secure Erase (HDDErase.exe), and was developed by the Center for Magnetic Recording Research at the University of California, San Diego. It's free and effective, but requires DOS boot media. The biggest problem with Secure Erase, however, is that development ended in 2008, thus … Read more

Clean up your Windows hard drive with WinDirStat

At purchase, you probably thought your 250GB hard drive would suffice, but heavy use and months later, you get a "low disk space" alert.

Unfortunately, it's much easier to fill up your hard drive than it is to clean it. With so many folders and directories, how do you pinpoint what's taking up space?

WinDirStat, a freeware program for Windows, helps you do just that.

The program scans your hard drives and shows you a detailed summary of what's taking up space on your disk in the form of a colorful graphic. Each file type (… Read more

Hurricane-tracking apps for iOS

With Hurricane Irene making landfall in North Carolina, you're going to want up-to-the-minute information on the storm, especially if you live in the area or have relatives and friends who might be affected. Fortunately you can get an app for your iOS device that will give you all the latest information.

Note: Android users can find hurricane-tracking apps here.

There are several apps for iOS that let you track hurricanes around the globe. But the best hurricane-tracking apps give you up-to-the minute storm information, include radar and satellite images, and offer detailed push alerts for warnings and storm intensity changes. We found some very feature-rich apps for both iPhone and iPad and narrowed it down to one great app for each device.… Read more

Carbonite shares rise in first day of trading

Shares of Carbonite, a company that provides online backup services, are up today in their first day of trading.

The company's shares, which started the day at $10, hit a high of $13.40 today before leveling off at their current $11.88 per share. Although Carbonite might be happy with its first day of trading, the company's initial offering was substantially lower than it had originally projected. Rather than the initial $15 to $17 a share offering price, Carbonite said earlier this week that it had to reduce its opening range to $10 to $11 per share.… Read more

Handy weather apps for iOS

Across the United States, people are experiencing some of the hottest weather of the year. Many cities are topping out in the hundreds, and some are even getting close to 110. Even a quick glance at the current weather map tells the story: It is hot just about everywhere and if you don't have air conditioning or a body of water nearby, you're probably not feeling too happy about the sunny weather.

This week's collection of apps are all about checking the weather to see when you can get some relief. The first gives the most weather information on one screen so you can know everything at a glance. The second is a fairly simple weather app, but offers one very useful feature. The third is the most complex, with both viewable weather data and national radio updates for weather in your area. Hopefully, with these apps in hand, you'll be able to see some light at the end of a very hot tunnel.… Read more

Mac OS X Lion review: A worthy upgrade for the price

When Apple showed off Mac OS X Lion at the Worldwide Developers Conference keynote speech earlier this year, it was clear the company had paid attention to its successes with the popular iOS devices, and was now beginning to include successful iOS features in its flagship OS.

Also, with Apple laptops and tablets now far outpacing desktop sales, Apple has moved from a primarily desktop computer company to embrace mobile computing. This release of Mac OS X seems to be a reflection of Apple's successes in those categories.

With this eighth major release of the big-cat OS, Apple is … Read more

Plan your Fourth of July barbecue on iOS

Independence Day is coming on July 4th, and that means people will be getting together to light fireworks or watch fireworks shows, and--perhaps most importantly--cook great food.

Though this might seem early with the 4th of July more than a week away, we wanted to make sure everybody had time to figure out their menus and get their supplies ready before the mad rush to the grocery stores. With these apps, you can start planning for the perfect Independence Day feast.

This week's app collection is all about cooking apps for iOS. The first lets you browse recipes from famous chefs on the Food Network; the second gives you a giant database of recipes and cooking guidance for any time of year; and the third is perfect for planning and cooking outdoors on the barbecue.… Read more

First Take: Apple's iCloud service

The introduction of the iCloud at today's WWDC keynote symbolizes Apple's shift to cloud-based backups, syncing, and moving files seamlessly among all your devices, whether you have an iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Mac, or PC. Just like Google's offerings (Doc and Calendar syncing, and Picasa, as examples), iCloud lets you sync media, apps, music, documents, calendars, and more automatically. It's important to note that Android has had the download and sync features since February of this year.

As usual at Apple's keynote events, Steve Jobs was not the only person on the stage demonstrating the latest and greatest from Apple. Phil Schiller, senior vice president of worldwide product marketing, came up to talk about multitouch gestures on the Mac, for example. Craig Federighi, senior vice president of Apple software, then came up to demo some of the new features of full-screen apps. But when it was time to talk about iCloud, it was Steve Jobs who did the talking. In other words, however you feel about iCloud, it seemed to be the "main event" that Apple seemed to be most excited about.… Read more

SlimCleaner crowdsources power cleaning

Take an overpowered Windows cleaning utility and wed it to the crowd, and you've got the free SlimCleaner 1.6 (download). The cleaning utility can do just about anything you can think of, from deleting browsing tracks to uninstalling programs to cleaning up the assorted file detritus that daily use of your computer creates. What makes this particular program interesting is that, like Soluto, it draws on anonymously contributed data from its users to help keep your system running like a well-oiled machine. Unlike Soluto, SlimCleaner is really for advanced users, people comfortable mucking around in Windows system settings. … Read more