Skype versus Google Voice: Prizefight!

Skype or Google Voice? Both are communication powerhouses that bring you free or cheap phone calls over VoIP services, but only one can win this Prizefight.

Will it be Skype, the longtime superstar of video chatting, or Google Voice, Google's upstart that can replace your mobile phone number?

Find out in this week's battle extraordinaire!

Power Downloader never forgets a Wi-Fi password

Power Downloader often uses his friends' Wi-Fi hot spots all over the world, but he doesn't visit each friend as regularly as he'd like. Months or even years go by before he sees them again. Whether they use a WEP key or a WPA, he never has to worry about keeping a password database with WirelessKeyView.

WirelessKeyView is a simple utility. The main feature lets Power D view the passwords his Wi-Fi manager has stored, but it offers more than just that. The spreadsheet-style main window shows the properties on any stored network name. Users can view not … Read more

WikiTaxi keeps Power Downloader in the know

As you might have noticed, Power Downloader hasn't been around for the past few weeks. Even on vacation and out of range of a Wi-Fi signal, Power D's been able to look up any question he has on Wikipedia. He managed that little superheroic feat with a sharp program called WikiTaxi.

WikiTaxi compresses all of Wikipedia into a database that's searchable, fully usable, and small enough to fit on an 8 GB USB drive. Power D knew not to be skeptical about the entries getting old because WikiTaxi grabs the Wikipedia database dump every few weeks. There'… Read more

Fun flying with Power Downloader

Kitty Kilobyte is off to Europe for her annual vacation abroad. Like many of us, she loves travel but hates flying. When she asked Power Downloader if he had any advice--such as a program that was so boring it would put her to sleep for 10 hours--he came back with an alternative plan.

Instead of boring herself to sleep, Power Downloader suggested Kitty try a brain challenge--an engaging game that would take her mind off the pre-flight horrors of the TSA and the in-flight trauma of getting stuck with the middle seat. Power D's recommendation this week is MahJong Suite 2008. … Read more

Power Downloader's task master

When Power Downloader needs to set a schedule for his computer to do basic tasks when he's not around, he needs to rely on a robust scheduler that can handle not only shutting down the computer, but also launching programs, leave him reminder notes, and cleaning directories. For all that and--cliched as it sounds--more, Power D relies on the freeware Z-Cron.

Similar to the Unix Cron scheduler, and far more powerful than the native Windows task scheduler, Z-Cron is an aggressive sergeant-at-arms, able to tell your computer what to do and when to do it, leaving you to get … Read more

Power Downloader resurrects your dead (files)

The name Pandora originates in Greek mythology, and it means "all-giving." It's an appropriate name for the program that Power Downloader recommends for you this week, too. Pandora Recovery is a well-designed freeware program that can restore files you've deleted or thought lost because of a hard-disk failure.

Accidentally permanently deleting a file is a fact of computing life, but as long as the hard drive is NTFS-formated, Power D happily recommends Pandora to all of his friends. Whether Kitty Kilobyte needs to recover an old spreadsheet long since gone, or Francois Foto didn't realize … Read more

Power Downloader accelerates OpenOffice

As you might imagine, Power Downloader is a big fan of open-source software, and of OpenOffice in particular. The free productivity suite gives users all the tools of Microsoft Office for free, with only minor features lacking support. Notably, OOo, as it's affectionately known, supports the OpenDocument movement's attempt to standardize file formats.

However, Power D knows that OpenOffice can be a slothful bear of a program. Running the Quickstarter can make firing up the app you need faster, but for busy software superheroes like Power D, that means having it load on start-up, which extends his computer'… Read more

Power Downloader makes screenshots Jing-le

One of the most effective computer crime-fighting tools in Power Downloader's arsenal is the screen capture. When Power D grabs a cap and uploads it to the Web for the world to see, he knows he's presenting advice to computer users in a very unimpeachable way. Effective screen-capping used to be a tedious multistep process, but the Jing Project streamlines it all for both Windows and Mac users.

From the team behind the screen-recording utility Camtasia, Jing is able to capture still images as well as videos. Once you've downloaded and installed the program, click the Capture … Read more

Power Downloader revitalizes old add-ons

Whenever Firefox gets a major update, Power Downloader gets asked the inevitable question: what do I do if my favorite extension hasn't been updated yet? This time, Power D was asked by Kitty Kilobyte's cousin's sister's best friend forever, Tessa Terabyte. In her office, Tessa said, she has to copy text from Web sites and paste them into e-mails, and she used the extension called AutoCopy to help her do that.

AutoCopy is a highly useful extension. By simply highlighting a string of text, it would copy to the clipboard, and open a small menu asking … Read more

Power Downloader e-mails large files

Summer is fast approaching, and Power Downloader is fielding lots of vacation-related questions. Kitty Kilobyte wants to know what's the best way to send her friends and family photos and video of her upcoming trip to South America. Pando for Windows and Mac is the way to go, says Power D.

Power then explains that with Pando installed, Kitty can drag and drop her large folder of images and WMVs into the Pando interface, which lets her send Power D, Francois Foto, and virtually anybody else in her address book a message with a link. When Power clicks that … Read more