Utilities and drivers

Soluto update socializes solving crashes

Crashes and their potential to harm productivity and personal data are the bane of many computer users, but the ability to diagnose and prevent them has arrived in the latest version of Soluto (download), available exclusively today from CNET Download.com. Soluto 1.12.113 beta sees two major new features, crash protection and browser add-on management, form a tripartite attack on problematic computer performance with the program's original feature, boot time management.

Called "Heal Crashes" within the program's main interface, the crash prevention feature takes information that Windows logs but ignores, and uses it to … Read more

Soluto: Cashing in on Windows crashes

Soluto makes a nice Windows system optimizer, which the team over at Download.com has secured early access to. I've found it useful and encourage you to check it out. But Soluto also might have an interesting angle on the business of PC utility software.

The latest version of the app features a Windows crash logging and advice component. When Soluto is running, and your PC or an app on your PCcrashes, Soluto gathers system data surrounding the crash and tries to determine what caused the problem. This is what Windows should do itself but doesn't.

Microsoft does actually collects a trove of crash data and makes it available to developers, but according to Soluto CEO Tomer Dvir, the data is not parsed to make analyzing it cost-effective for developers.

Soluto does the analysis, and Dvir says the company can make determinations about app and hardware reliability that Microsoft wouldn't release even if it had the data. "We can tell which machines are best for hardcore Photoshop users," Dvir says. Or which laptops are the crashiest after sleep/wake cycles. Or which software combinations system vendors should never install. Also, if certain apps cause undesirable behavior that's short of a crash, Soluto can help track it down. Say your computer suffers from occasional five-second hangs. "We know why," says Dvir.

The project to collect these crash signatures is called the PC Genome, and Soluto could probably make it into a revenue stream by selling it to hardware and software vendors, but Dvir tells me that the main business model will be selling professional, versions the free single-user Soluto app. (Pro versions will offer capabilities to manage multiple machines--possibly very useful for the "family CIO" as well as in business.)

That's a standard way to make money from a product like this. Soluto also plans to give the crash data away to vendors, so they can make more reliable products. I talked to folks from Soluto about this idea back in November, at which time the plan was to sell this information to the hardware and software companies. The Soluto execs of course know their business better than I do, but this still seems like a solid revenue stream. For the business' sake, I'd at least like to see a paid analysis service for manufacturers on top of a free version of the PC Genome data Soluto is going to make available.

As of the beginning of this year, Soluto had reportedly recorded data from twelve million blue-screen crashes. There should be more than one way to turn that frustration into revenue. … Read more

How to change Firefox channels

Just a few weeks after the first release of Firefox Aurora, Mozilla's "developer's" build of Firefox, the browser maker debuted a switch that lets users switch on the fly among Aurora, Beta, and Release versions of the browser.

Released in today's Aurora update (download for Windows | Mac | Linux), the benefit of the built-in channel changer is that users who want to see what's coming in future versions of Firefox can now do so without having to download a separate installer. Change the channel and restart the browser, and the version that opens ought to … Read more

Recover lost, damaged, or deleted files with free Recuva

The other day my awesome cousin Rachel and her equally awesome boyfriend Marc related an all-too-common tale of woe: several years' worth of home movies recorded on their hard-disk camcorder had suddenly and inexplicably disappeared. The sad part? They'd never taken the time to offload the videos from the camcorder to a PC.

If you've ever lost personal data--photos, documents, or whatever--you know how devastating this can be. (And take it from me: this is not the moment to say, "You should have made a backup!" You can't kick a person harder than he's … Read more

New PdaNet 3 masks tethering from carriers

The latest version of connection-tethering app PdaNet masks its tether from your phone service provider, just as major carriers move to block tethered connections that bypass their services and hide unapproved tethering apps from the Android marketplace when viewed over certain carriers' networks. Released on April 30, the major feature update in PdaNet 3.0 (download for Windows x86 | x64 | Mac | Android) is the tethering mask. Additionally, publisher June Fabrics Technologies noted unspecific performance and connection quality improvements.

In addition to supporting wired USB tethering, PdaNet 3.0 also includes support for Bluetooth DUN tethers, and offers an SMS agent … Read more

Tethering apps 'blocked' in Android Market

Some of the nation's biggest wireless carriers are trying to put the kibosh on free apps that let Google Android users use their smartphones as modems without paying the carriers' extra fee.

Several blogs have reported in recent days that free Android phone tethering apps that are typically found in the Android Market are not available for Android phones on AT&T, Verizon Wireless, and T-Mobile USA.

Sprint customers apparently are still able to access many of these tethering apps from the Android Market.

Reports first surfaced from the blog DroidLife that the free tethering app Wireless Tether … Read more

Root, ROM, restore: How to hack your Android OS

In this first video, we show you how to gain root access on your Android phone or tablet using the program SuperOneClick (and we give a shout to Unrevoked for HTC phones). If you're not able to watch the video, check out our written instructions on how to root your Android device.

So you've rooted your phone. Now what? How to install a custom Android ROM video and instructions details how to install a custom ROM, which is a heavily customized version of Android. Using a custom ROM can give you super-Android powers, such as better battery life, … Read more

TechTracker Plus for Mac: Package deal offer

As an editor at Download.com, I can't really state an opinion on software made in-house for obvious reasons. But with that said, I can't help but think this latest promotion for TechTracker Plus is a pretty good deal. Starting today, for a limited time, you can get TechTracker Plus for Mac for $19.99 (down from $29.99) and receive a free copy of MacPilot as part of the deal.

MacPilot (usually $19.95) is one of our favorite apps for fiddling around with your Mac, optimizing it to run better and unlocking the hidden potential of … Read more

How to restore Android factory settings

You've rooted your Android device, flashed a custom ROM, and reaped the benefits of better power management, extra features, and the radiant glow that comes from treating that phone like you own it. Because you do own it, right? Now it's time to get a new phone. How can you make your old Android-powered hardware resalable?

We've got a way for you to restore the stock version of Android, thanks to the rescue guides at DroidForums.net. The procedure requires caution, because just like when you rooted your phone and installed a custom ROM, there's a … Read more

How to install a custom Android ROM

Congratulations, you've successfully gained root access to your Android device, maybe even using CNET's how to root your Android video as a guide. Now comes the hard part: installing a customized version of Android. We've got that covered in a video, but be careful: this one's for advanced users only.

Before we begin, let's review some of the reasons you might want to install and run a custom Android ROM. It's highly likely that there are Android features your phone company or hardware manufacturer has decided won't get pushed to your device, and … Read more