Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 Professional review

Microsoft's Visual Studio 2010 Professional is an integrated solution for developing, debugging, and deploying all kinds of applications. It takes up several gigabytes and costs $799, but you can try it free for 30 days.


Easy ins: Visual Studio's compact download manager greatly eases the process of downloading and installing this 3389.6MB package. We like being able to specify which tools and programming languages to install and the individual disk space requirements for all of our drives.

Executive suite: Visual Studio has specific settings for different areas of development work, starting with General Development and including … Read more

Review: File easy with H&R Block's 2013 Basic Webware

H&R Block's Basic Webware for 2013 taxes is an online alternative to tax prep software and a great choice if your taxes aren't complex but you need more than free services offers. The second level in H&R Block's four online tax prep options, the Basic service has everything the Free tool offers plus free technical support, online storage, and access for three years -- and the ability to import W2 and other forms as well as returns from previous years. H&R Block has discounted the Basic service, so it's a … Read more

Review: File easy with support with H&R Block 2013 Basic

H&R Block's 2013 Basic online service offers reliable no-frills income tax preparation at a bargain price. As the least expensive of H&R Block's 2013 filing options, Basic offers everything in the free service, like free tax preparation and filing, expert advice, and support if audited -- plus free tech support, online returns storage for three years, and the ability to import tax documents and data from most popular tax software. For an additional fee, you can file your state taxes at the same time. Best of all, you can start for free and see … Read more

Review: Eyewatch Basic gives you a nifty panic button to get help

Eyewatch Basic is a nice, easy-to-use emergency app, even if its looks leave a lot to be desired. It's an excellent way to contact a friend, family member, or emergency service in a time of crisis. If you feel like you need it, you'll appreciate this app and the peace of mind it gives you.

Eyewatch Basic lets you set all sorts of emergency contacts and give them your information with the touch of a button. You can set three different contacts: a personal contact like a friend or family member, a doctor, and an emergency contact -- … Read more

Petulant and passionate: New play imagines Bill Gates at 20

There's Bill Gates the inventor, Bill Gates the philanthropist, Bill Gates the business magnate.

Then there's the 20-year-old Bill Gates who argues with his mom via pay phone and can't stop yelling about people stealing his software. That's the Bill Gates at the center of "First," a fictional retelling of the people and events that launched the PC revolution.

The play by Evelyn Jean Pine -- now having its world premiere at Stage Werx Theatre in San Francisco -- takes place on March 26, 1976, on the eve of the first Altair computer conference in Albuquerque, N.M.

Gates is poised to speak to major players in the computer industry -- including Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and the late Ed Roberts, a pioneering engineer who built the first widely available home computer -- and he knows he has to give the speech of his life.

The young Gates is passionate, idealistic, a little cocky, and a lot stressed out. … Read more

Review: Now hear this (and any text) with Panopreter Basic

As text-to-speech freeware goes, Panopreter Basic isn't fancy, but it does a good job. Actually, the fact that you can download a good, basic text-to-speech program for free shows how far such tools have come. Panopreter Basic can turn text, Word, RTF, and other document types into audio files you can listen to or save as MP3s or WAVs. It comes with Microsoft Anna as a default speaking voice, but you can download many other voices online, including many free choices. Panopreter Basic also has many language options and supports batch conversion and UNICODE fonts, and a wide range … Read more

Review: Practice playback skills with Disco XT Basic

Disco XT Basic for Mac offers some fundamental tools for mixing audio, supports most popular audio formats, and easily integrates with iTunes. While slightly complicated to navigate, the program offers most of the features one would need for quick DJ use.

This download offers a basic edition of Disco XT, which is a professional audio playback and mixing application. The program installs quickly and contains a number of documents, including an extensive user manual. The easy-to-read tutorial is helpful considering how complex the program menu appears. After linking to iTunes to load songs and playlists, the menu takes up an … Read more

Get an Urge Basics portable Bluetooth speaker for $33.99

Headed to the beach? The campground? The shower? Gotta love a battery-powered Bluetooth speaker for those and other destinations.

But which one? Jawbone's Jambox is arguably the best-known, but at $129.99 (down from $179.99), it feels a little pricey. Thankfully, there are more affordable alternatives.

Like this one: Today only, and while supplies last, Tanga has the Urge Basics Soundbrick portable Bluetooth speaker for $33.99, plus $2.99 for shipping. It's available in your choice of colors: white, blue, red, and pink.

Urge Basics? Nope, I never heard of 'em either. But check this out: … Read more

GameStop to recall 8GB Wii U Basic -- but why?

Gaming retailer GameStop has initiated a recall on the 8GB Wii U Basic set, CNET has confirmed.

On Tuesday, gaming blog Kotaku cited a source who claimed that GameStop had requested its stores around the U.S. to return all new and unopened Wii U Basic sets still on store shelves. The return is expected to take place on June 18 -- a week after the big E3 gaming expo.

CNET on Wednesday called several GameStop stores to confirm the Kotaku report. All of those stores confirmed that the corporate office had initiated a recall, but they weren't sure … Read more

Home networking Part 7: Power line connections explained

Editors' note: This post is part of an ongoing series. For the other parts, check out the related stories section below.

Power line networking basically turns a building's existing electrical wiring -- the wires that carry electricity to different outlets in the house -- into network cables, meaning they also carry data signals for a computer network. And this means virtually all households, in the U.S at least, are "wired for" power line networking. It doesn't replace a regular network, so you'll still need a router, but it's a good way to extend … Read more