Software World

Symbian moves to a 6 month release schedule

Posted on March 14, 2009. Filed under: Software World | Tags: , |

By Brad Linder, Downloadsquad


The Symbian Foundation is planning to move to twice a year release schedule, which means user — and more importantly, cellphone makers — will be able to plan for updates. The Symbian operating system is found on millions of cellphones.
Symbian won’t be the first operating system to be released on a regular schedule, as opposed to “when it’s ready.” The folks at Canonical have been releasing a new version of Ubuntu Linux every six months for the last few years. It’s true, that not every new build is loaded with dramatic changes from earlier versions. But that’s a good thing. Can you imagine using a cellphone or desktop operating system that launched an entirely new interface every six months? There’s a reason Windows has been using some form of the Start Menu for years, while Apple has adopted the Dock. It makes the learning curve a lot simpler when users simply have to get used to minor tweaks and changes and not a whole new paradigm.

That’s not to say that Symbian, Canonical, or any other groups putting out software on a regular schedule won’t occasionally have releases that proide a major shakeup. Those are important too. But when you’re shooting for a six month release schedule, the most important thing is to make sure that all the features work by the time a new version is unleashed on the public.

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Twitter IM support coming to Adium

Posted on March 14, 2009. Filed under: Software World | Tags: , , |

By Jay Hathaway, Downloadsquad


What a joy to see the two apps I have open all day coming together! I’m an IM and Twitter junkie, and Twitter hasn’t had IM support in some time. Fortunately, the developers behind my IM client of choice, Adium, are working to put together their own version of a Twitter IM service.

Your Twitter contacts would show up in your Adium list, and you can follow, unfollow and presumably group them from there. Opening a new chat will allow you to exchange direct messages. Displaying your timeline will be handled through Adium’s existing group chat interface, with @replies to you highlighted. All in all, this looks like a promising project to restore a Twitter feature that a lot of people found useful. Now, if only they could figure out how to bring back tracking …

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Tree: slick outlining app for OS X

Posted on March 10, 2009. Filed under: Software World, Tech News | Tags: , |

By Jay Hathaway,


Tree is a novel, lightweight outlining and organizing app for OS X. It’s similar to apps like OmniOutliner, but with an important twist: the “Treeview” mode turns your outline horizontal, so new lower-level items branch out to the right instead of down. Tree handles traditional outlines, too, with customizable labels, fonts and numbering.

Aside from the main selling point — the horizontal Treeview — Tree can also open and export outlines in OPML format, which means you won’t have any trouble sharing with people who use most other outline apps, and you can also check out your favorite existing outlines in Treeview. Because Tree is meant to be lightweight, it doesn’t have a lot of frills: custom fonts, colors and numbering are available, but that’s about it.

All in all, it’s a well-done app, but it also sports the same $40 pricetag as OmniOutliner, which I think is still the dominant Mac app in this category. Do you have another favorite outline app? Let me know in the comments.

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Firefox Has Got a 100% Market Share…In Antarctica

Posted on March 10, 2009. Filed under: Internet, Software World, Tech News | Tags: , , |

By Stan Schroeder,

firefoxlogoAnd they say it’s hard to conquer the browser market. Despite Microsoft’s global domination, there are some places where Firefox is a vastly dominant browser. One of them is Antarctica; according to StatCounter’s recently added feature, GlobalStats, in 2009, only one browser was used there.

I’m guessing the data comes from one user – and he’s using Firefox.

Don’t believe me? Check out the graph below. If you go a bit further back in time, you’ll find that Internet Explorer also came on top at times, perhaps because of those pesky Windows Updates. But, this year, it’s all about open source, baby!


Looking at the operating systems used, Windows 2003 stands at 80 percent, with Windows XP holding the other 20 percent. Unsurprisingly, Google is the only search engine used. As far as the mobile browser market is concerned, Antarctica is still virgin territory. So, if you have an iPhone, and you don’t mind the coldish weather…

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PlayOn adds Amazon VoD and Revision3 content

Posted on March 8, 2009. Filed under: Music, Software World | Tags: , , |

By Dave Freeman,

playonIf you haven’t heard about PlayOn, MediaMall’s PC-to-console video streaming software, you will soon. Moving to become a major player in the streaming content world, PlayOn has grabbed some major wins lately, and it doesn’t look like they’re planning on slowing down. In a software update hitting today, PlayOn has added streaming support for Amazon’s Video on Demand service along with content from Revision3.

PlayOn is available for $40, and currently compatible with the PS3 and Xbox 360. You just install the server software on your PC, then stream the content over your network back to your console of choice. It’s well known that PlayOn is working on adding Wii compatibility, which ought to make it the dominant force in the console streaming market.

This news comes just days after the announcement that Roku has added Amazon VoD support to their $99 player, and the service has found its way to TiVo boxes and Sony Bravia TVs as well. It’s quickly becoming a must-have feature for anything that plugs in to your TV and has a net connection. If you’ve already got a compatible console and aren’t looking to add a new box to your AV set, PlayOn seems like a fairly solid alternative.

PlayOn has long supported Hulu,,,, YouTube, and Netflix, and these latest additions are rounding things out nicely. Next up on PlayOn’s plate is content, for which they’re currently in talks with ABC. It’s beginning to look more and more like the average joe won’t actually need cable or an antenna in order to stay entertained in their living room.

We’ve just started putting PlayOn through the paces, but we like what we see so far – if you want to check it out for yourself, a 2 week trial is <a href=”; target=”_blank”>available at their site</a>.

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Linux screenshot app GScrot reborn as Shutter

Posted on March 8, 2009. Filed under: Software World, Tech News | Tags: , , , |

By Lee Mathews,


With my triple-boot setup finally somewhat set in stone (or very firm clay, at any rate) I’ve finally been able to start installing Linux apps that I need to use it as an everyday operating system. Due in no small part to my duties here at DS, the first item on my list was a good screenshot application.

Serendipitously, we just received a tip that GScrot (which should have appeared on my list of badly-named applications) has been re-launched with new features and a less anatomical-sounding name: Shutter.

Shutter supports a good array of features including basic editing and annotation and it’s extensible through the use of plugins, a number of which come pre-installed to add effects to your images. There’s also a censor tool to quickly obscure private information like email addresses from your images. Captures can be full screen, windows, regions, and full web pages, and can be directly saved in multiple format or uploaded to a number of image hosts with minimal fuss.

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Mozilla rethinks the behavior of new browser tabs

Posted on March 7, 2009. Filed under: Internet, Software World | Tags: , , |

By Brad Linder,


A few months ago Mozilla embarked on a quest to determine a way to make new browser tabs more useful. Right now, when you open a new tab in Firefox you get a blank page. Compare that with Google Chrome, Safari, or Opera, which show you a list of shortcuts to your bookmarked or frequently visited pages.

Today Mozilla’s Aza Raskin shared some of the team’s conclusions, based on user feedback. Basically, most of the time when you open a new tab it’s because you’re going to load a web page or conduct a search. The image above shows a screen that tries to help you accomplish these things without getting in your way or requiring much user interaction.

Along the right side of the window you’ll find a list of frequently visited web sites. The list is generated automatically, much like the shortcuts that pop up when you launch a new tab in Google Chrome. So there’s nothing too new there. But the cooler stuff takes place on the left side of the screen.

When you open a new tab to start a search, there’s a decent chance that you’ve highlighted and copied some text from another tab. So if you’ve already copied some text to your clipboard, you should be able to conduct a search in the new tab with a single click. Ultimately this action would be tied to your default search engine. Likewise, if you’ve selected URL, you’ll be able to open it in a new tab with a single click.

You can take this new tab feature for a spin by installing the latest development build of Firefox 3.1 and then installing the New Tab proptype plugin.

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Mozilla ships Firefox 3.0.7, renames next version 3.5

Posted on March 6, 2009. Filed under: Software World |

By Jose Vilches,

mozilla-firefoxMozilla has released an update to the Firefox web browser that its developers say fixes a number of stability and security issues found in version 3.0.6 – three of which were rated critical. One of the most serious vulnerabilities fixed in Firefox 3.0.7 relates to crashes with evidence of memory corruption that could potentially be exploited to run arbitrary code.

Other critical flaws addressed in this update include one within the browser’s garbage collection process, involving improper memory management of a set of cloned XUL DOM elements, as well as bugs in the PNG library used by Firefox that could also create a possible way for hackers to inject malware onto vulnerable systems. Malware exploiting these bugs is yet to be seen in the wild but users are still advised to get the latest Firefox release. You can read a complete list of changes here.

In other Firefox-related news, Mozilla today said that the next major release will be known as Firefox 3.5, rather than 3.1 as originally planned, in order to better reflect the number of changes and new features in the often delayed update. The next beta release, which is due to arrive on March 12, will remain at 3.1 but the final release will become Firefox 3.5.

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Nvidia ponders x86 CPUs for low-cost computers

Posted on March 6, 2009. Filed under: Software World, Tech News | Tags: , , , , |

By Jose Vilches,

nvidia22It’s been a long time coming but Nvidia has finally voiced their intentions to license or develop its very own x86-compatible processor core, saying it is not a question of ‘if’ but ‘when.’ During a Q&A session at a technology conference this week, the company’s senior vice president of investor relations and communications, Michael Hara, revealed this along with plans to specifically target low-cost PCs and mobile devices.

The company would focus on system-on-chip (SoC) solutions, like Tegra, but this time combining a GeForce graphics chip with an x86 core rather than using an ARM based processor. Hara didn’t discuss specific details but said such a move might make sense in two to three years – putting them in even more direct competition with rivals Intel and AMD. Currently the graphics firm does not have the rights to produce x86 chips, though, which means they would need to either settle on a licensing agreement with Intel or form a partnership with a company that already has one.

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Sunbelt rolls out virtualized antimalware and antivirus defense

Posted on March 5, 2009. Filed under: Software World | Tags: , , , |

By Lee Mathews –


Sunbelt Software announced today the release of MX-V, a virtualization-based anti-malware defense app. MX-V protects systems by performing behavioral analysis of potential malware in a virtualized environment that mimics core Windows functions.

As a result, Vipre doesn’t have to rely on constant definition updates – a good thing considering the preponderance of self-mutating malware. Despite the added layer of protection, the MX-V system is still very easy on system resources (it idles at about 12mb of memory on my test machine).

Vipre also includes a secure file eraser, history cleaner, and PC Explorer – which provides a quick way to look at your hosts file, LSPs, shell hooks, browers handlers, and more.

Current users of Vipre don’t have to do anything to get MX-V running, it’s included in the latest definition update. If you’d like to give it a try yourself, Sunbelt offers a free 15-day trial on their website.

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Asus Eee Keyboard to arive in mid-2009

Posted on March 4, 2009. Filed under: Software World, Tech News | Tags: , |

By Jose Vilches,

Remember Asus’ intriguing little computer stuffed inside a keyboard? Well, luckily for gadget lovers and home theater PC fans alike, it appears that the Eee Keyboard was more than just a concept device and in fact it is expected to launch in the second quarter of the year – tentatively around May or June.


Besides packing a 5-inch built-in display the forthcoming device will have a 1.6GHz Atom processor, 1GB of RAM and either a 16GB or 32GB solid state drive. The company’s CEO, Jerry Shen, said they will have a version with wireless HDMI to send HD images to TVs around the house and one sans the feature. The first will reportedly run about $600 while the less capable version should cost somewhere around $400.

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Skype to let competitors license speech codec for free

Posted on March 4, 2009. Filed under: Skype, Software World, Tech News | Tags: , , , |

By Brad Linder


Voice over IP company Skype is known for a couple things. One of them is annoying the #@&! out of telephone companies by offering cheap or free voice and video calls over the internet. But another thing that Skype does well is offer users the ability to communicate across long distances with excellent sound quality (assuming you’ve got an excellent microphone plugged into your computer).

That’s because typically telephones only transfers audio signals in a limited frequency range (from around 400Hz to 3.4kHz.. Skype, on the other hand, uses technology that can transmit audio up to 12kHz, which is higher than most of the frequencies in the human voice. In other words, if you’re using decent audio equipment you’ll sound like you’re in the same room.

The problem is it takes internet bandwidth to deliver that kind of voice quality. Skype uses a codec in Skype 4 for Windows called SILK to deliver high quality audio even over low bandwidth internet connections. And now Skype is making that codec available for other companies to use, with no royalties.

According to the company, SILK users 50% less bandwidth than other codecs. It can be scaled in real-time to adjust to network conditions. So what’s in it for Skype? The company wants its codec to be adopted as a standard that could be used in applications, electronic devices, and even phones.

Source: downloadsquad

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Xenocode lets you run Safari, Chrome, Internet Explorer from a flash drive

Posted on March 4, 2009. Filed under: Internet, Software World, Tech News | Tags: , , , , , |

By Brad Linder


There have been portable versions of web browsers including Firefox, Google Chrome, and Opera that you can run from a USB flash drive for a while. Basically these apps let you store your data to the flash drive allowing you to run these apps on Windows without installing anything or writing any data to the Windows registry.

Xenocode takes a different approach. And it works with other applications including Safari, Internet Explorer, and other desktop and web-based apps like Google Talk, Gimp, and Adobe Reader. That’s because Xenocode employs virtualization techniques that detache an app from the operating system it normally runs on. Xenocode apps can be run from a web browser if they’re deployed online. Or you can download a single executable file for some apps and run them from your hard drive or a USB flash drive.

Some of the web browsers are a bit on the old side. The version of Google Chrome available for download is out of date, and Xencode offers an executable version of Safari 3.2.1, not the newer and much cooler Safari 4 beta. But if you’re looking for a way to try out a browser or another app without installing it first, Xenocode is worth checking out.

Source: downloadsquad

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Skype To Give Away New SILK Audio Codec

Posted on March 4, 2009. Filed under: Skype, Software World, Tech News | Tags: , , , |

By Michael Arrington

skype_logoSkype’s new state of the art speech codec SILK will be made available to third party licensees for free, the company is announcing later today. Skype GM Jonathan Christensen will be speaking about the new program at the eComm event in San Francisco later today.

SILK has been highly regarded by the guys that follow this sort of thing and is included in the most recent version of Skype for Windows (the Mac version with SILK will be coming in April). If both sides of the call have a version of Skype that includes the new codec, the call quality increases dramatically.

Skype is now making the codec available for third party use on a royalty free basis. There are a number of speech codecs available on the market today, including iSac and AMRWideband, and an open source codec called Speex. Skype claims that SILK outperforms all of these.

So why give it away to competitors? Christensen says its about setting standards in the industry so that VoIP services can spread more quickly, particularly to hardware devices that today are not optimized for voice over the Internet.

It’s also a sign that Skype, with 400 million or so worldwide registered users, isn’t particularly concerned about the competition any more. They’re handing over a key piece of intellectual property to competitors that can reduce their costs and possibly improve voice quality. They wouldn’t do that unless they felt their pole position was fairly permanent for now.

More importantly, it signals that Skype may be preparing to open up their service in the future. Skype has long been derided for being a closed service (by people like me, who continue, however, to use it daily). Their API allows developers to access limited features of the service, but a call requires the opening of the Skype client. If Skype were to open its core calling functions as a service, the number of applications that would build it in would explode. Skype would benefit from a surge in paid calls to traditional and mobile phones (Skype Out). Our guess is that the debate to open these core functions through the API is still raging within Skype, but that the proponents of openness are slowly starting to turn the tide.

Source: techcrunch

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Convert PDF and HTML to .mobi to read on your Kindle

Posted on March 3, 2009. Filed under: Software World, Tech News | Tags: , , , , |

By Lee Mathews

kindle1So you’re in love with your Kindle, but you wish you had a way to view PDF or HTML files on it? A quick run through Auto Kindle, and they’re painlessly converted to the reader’s native .mobi format.

I haven’t posted a screenshot of the app, because there’s really not a lot to see. When you launch Auto Kindle, you’ll be immediately asked to browse for a source file. Once you’ve done that, a prompt asks you to specify the location to save your newly converted file. A progress indicator appears, fills, then disappears, and your conversion is done.

Create a shortcut to the program on your desktop, and you can convert by dragging-and-dropping files onto it. Auto Kindle does a very good job of converting files, though you may notice a quirk or two.

Sure, there are online services that do this as well, and Amazon provides email conversions, but maybe you’d rather take care of things from the privacy of your own desktop.

Auto Kindle is a free download for Windows only.

Source: downloadsquad

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Skype To Go phone numbers now available for all paying users

Posted on February 26, 2009. Filed under: Skype, Software World | Tags: , , |

By Brad Linder

skype-to-goSkype To Go is a service that lets you make cheap phone calls over Skype from a regular phone. Here’s how it works. You sign up for a Skype To Go phone number that’s linked to your Skype account. You can then dial that number from any phone to initiate a phone call to another phone at the same rates that you would pay if you were using Skype on your computer. In other words, if your mobile carrier charges $.99 per minute to call New Zealand and Skype charges $.02, you can just call a local number and pay the Skype rate.

Skype has been offering this service for a few years, but it was previously part of the Skype Pro plan. Now Skype is making Skype To Go available as a free service for all paying users. OK, I guess that means it’s not technically free. But if you already have some credit in your account for making long distance phone calls, you can sign up for a Skype To Go number for no additional cost.

Source: downloadsquad

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European versions of Windows to include multiple web browsers?

Posted on February 25, 2009. Filed under: Software World, Tech News, Windows | Tags: , , , , , , |

By Brad Linder


The European Commission appears to be a few steps closer to forcing Microsoft to provide customers with a choice of web browsers as part of an antitrust measure. European regulators took similar measures a while back by requiring Microsoft to offer a version of Windows sans Windows Media Player. But simply unbundling Internet Explorer is a bit more complicated, since, as many readers pointed out when we first mentioned the possibility – it’s a lot easier to download an alternative browser if you have a browser to start with.

But a spokesperson for the European Commission says that it’s likely regulators will require Microsoft to offer customers a choice of competing web browsers in addition to Internet Explorer. So basically, when you run Windows for the first time, you may be asked if you want to install Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Opera, Google Chrome, or another browser as part of the setup process. Presumably the browsers you don’t install would be erased from your storage or wouldn’t be downloaded in the first place, which is a much better solution than installing each 5 browsers when most users will only need one.

It’s also possible that the decision could be left to computer makers. For example, Dell could decide to install Firefox, while Lenovo goes with Internet Explorer.

There’s still another round or two of negotiations to go, but it sounds like the European Commission is already pretty close to requiring Microsoft to do something to make it easier for customers to use competing web browsers.

Source: downloadsquad

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Pixlr plugin for Firefox turns your browser into an image editor

Posted on February 25, 2009. Filed under: Software World, Tech News | Tags: , , , , , |

By Brad Linder


Pixlr is a web-based image editing application. We first discovered the site a few months ago, and it compares favorably to other web based graphics apps like Picnik and Fotoflexer. You can crop, resize, add effects, or paint your images. And now thanks to a Firefox plugin, importing images to Pixlr is even easier.

Once the plugin is installed, you’ll notice a little icon in the Firefox status bar that you can click to automatically import any web page you’re on to Pixlr for editing. Just want to edit an image from the web? No problem. Just right click and select Edit in Pixlr. The image editor will open in a new tab and load the picture automatically.

Source: downloadsquad

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Red Hat VP explains software patent threat at Linux Expo

Posted on February 24, 2009. Filed under: Software World | Tags: , , |

By Ryan Paul

Red Hat VP Rob Tiller discussed the need for patent reform during a presentation at the Southern California Linux Expo. He spoke about the detrimental impact that patents are having on the technology industry and explained how the recent Bislki decision could impact the future of software patents.

Rob Tiller, Vice President and Assistant General Counsel at Red Hat, explained the need for patent reform and discussed the implications of the recent Bilski decision during a presentation on Saturday at the Southern Cailfornia Linux Expo (SCALE).no-patents

The patent system, which was originally conceived as an instrument for promoting progress by encouraging disclosure of inventions, is poorly suited to accommodate the complexities of modern innovation. The Patent Office isn’t equipped to process the rapidly growing volume of technical patent filings and the boundaries of patentability aren’t drawn clearly enough to block excessively broad patents.

This is particularly troublesome in the fast-moving software industry which has become increasingly bogged down by patent litigation. Some of the most fundamental principles of computer science are now covered by patents, Tiller says, and it’s almost impossible to develop original and innovative software without fear of infringing on patents. Patent litigation is also costly and highly unpredictable, which has made it easy for companies to use junk patents to extort out-of-court settlements.

These conditions, which largely undermine the purpose that the patent system was created to serve, pose what Tiller characterizes as a systemic problem for the United States as a whole. Since 1994, he says, the cost of litigation has vastly exceeded the profits generated from patent licensing in virtually all industries with the exception of chemical and pharmaceutical companies. According to some studies, over $11.4 billion every year is spent on software patent litigation alone. Congress has been struggling to fix the problem for years but hasn’t been able to build consensus around meaningful reforms.

Software patents raise some particularly difficult questions about patentability and also pose some challenges for open source software. Most patent licensing models conflict with the principles of unencumbered downstream redistribution that is at the core of the open source development model. Several initiatives, such as the Open Invention Network, have been launched to create a vehicle for conducting patent cross-licensing agreements and building a defensive patent portfolio in a manner that is conducive to open source development. Such solutions are a band-aid rather than a cure, however.

Patent law technically defines algorithms and mathematical concepts as being outside the scope of what is patentable. Software patents were originally not permitted and have no legislative foundation, but they were permitted on the basis of a legal precedent established in the 1981 from the Supreme Court decision in Diamond v. Diehr which concluded that a physical process that is controlled by software is patentable. This created a loophole that has been broadly abused by software companies.

Many critics believe that Diamond v. Diehr was poorly decided. The federal circuit recently decided to revisit that the issue of methods patents in the landmark Bilski case. The final decision in Bilski dealt a major blow to business methods patents, but left significant ambiguity about the status of software patents.

Tiller says that the federal circuit declined to address software patents specifically because the court did not want to apply broad patent exclusions to specific areas of industry. He explains that this leaves many unanswered questions about the future of software patents and how the court will interpret the association between software and the underlying machine with respect to patentability.

Red Hat is currently fighting back against a patent litigation lawsuit filed by IP Innovation, one of the most litigious patent-holding companies in the United States. The patent in question originated at Xerox/PARC in the late 80s.

Red Hat only negotiates licensing agreements when it can secure broad downstream redistribution privileges that are consistent with open source principles, as it did in its settlement with Firestar last year. As I correctly predicted at the time, the Firestar patent was later invalidated. It seems unlikely that Red Hat will be able to achieve a similar agreement when facing a stronger patent.

Red Hat is currently looking for help finding prior art that could be used to defend against the IP Innovation patent. The Linux distributor is calling for the open source community to submit potential prior art at the Peer to Patent website.

Tiller is hopeful that patent reform legislation will be passed this year. There are several improvements that he thinks could contribute to repairing the system. Specifically, he suggests better patent review practices, requiring a higher burden of proof for willful infringement claims, more consistent rules to govern how damages are decided, and shorter patent duration. He also sees a clear need to educate the public and bring greater awareness of the issue to citizens and lawmakers.

Although the vast majority of software companies acknowledge a need for reform, their is very little consensus about how the system should be improved. The patent problem has been a source of considerable controversy for years, so it’s unlikely that we will see a complete solution any time in the near future.

Source: arstechnica

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9 free antivirus programs for Windows

Posted on February 24, 2009. Filed under: Software World, Windows | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

By Lee Mathews


Keeping your Windows computer virus-free doesn’t have to cost you a lot of money. Heck, it doesn’t need to cost you any money. There are plenty of good options available for those of you on the hunt for free antivirus software.

Wait – free? Don’t companies like Norton make a good business out of selling antivirus protection? Why would someone give it away? Developers of free antivirus solutions like Avast and AVG are counting on a couple of things. First, that you’ll like the free offering enough to want to buy an upgraded version of their product. Second, that if enough home users talk about how much they love it that their “computer guy” at work might want to use it on the company’s systems.

The free options listed after the break offer the same kind of protection as the boxed software you can buy at the store.

Two things to keep in mind:

First, as with other free software, some of the developers ask for support in the form of a toolbar install. They’re all optional, so make sure to un-tick the checkboxes during the install if you don’t want the toolbar.

Second, a number of the developers offer a non-free version on the free version’s download page via a service called TrialPay. The totally free version is normally on the left, the TrialPay offer on the right – make sure you’re clicking the link you actually want.

Avast Home Free

I see Avast’s little blue sphere in a lot of system trays, and with good reason: it’s one of the most recommended free Windows antivirus options. One nice thing about Avast is that the installer only installs the antivirus program – there’s no toolbar or anything else to dodge. Definitions update automatically, scans can be scheduled, and the boot-time scan tool does a good job at uprooting even stubborn infections.

You do need to register for a product key, though Avast will never email you anything other than the confirmation message.

Get it from: Avast | FileHippo | Softpedia


AVG Free

AVG has been a popular free antivirus option for Windows users for a number of years. It provides solid protection against viruses and other malware, and there’s no registration required. Virus definition updates are automatic, and scheduled scanning is supported. Version 8 ships with the optional AVG Security Toolbar, which may be a good idea for some users. It provides security ratings for known websites and provides a little added protection in your browser – a place some users desperately need it.

Be sure to watch for the toolbar install and opt out if you don’t want it. Also pay attention on the download page: free link on the left, TrialPay on the right.

Get it from: | FileHippo | Softpedia

Avira AntiVir

Avira’s offering is third on the list alphabetically and that’s where it falls popularity wise on, just behind AVG and Avast. It’s rated highly for fast and accurate scanning, and is easy on system resources. AntiVir’s simple interface and solid protection make it a good choice for novice users.

One bothersome aspect is the nag screen that appears periodically to remind you about Avira’s paid product. Also, on Avira’s download page look on the left side for the completely free link – the right side is a TrialPay offer.

Get it from: Avira | FileHippo | Softpedia


Another lesser-known (but solid) option is BitDefender. In addition to virus and malware defense, BitDefender also includes a privacy protection feature that monitors web traffic and outbound mail for possible breaches. Its scanning engine is fairly speedy and detection rates are on par with more well-known software.

The download page is a bit like Avira’s, so make sure you don’t use the TrialPay offer on the right unless you really want to. The free download is on the left side.

Get it from: BitDefender | FileHippo | Softpedia


Unlike other programs on this list, Clam is not a realtime virus scanner, meaning it won’t notify you the instant an infected file gets saved to your hard drive. Because of this shortcoming, ClamWin is probably not a good choice for novice users. It does, however, support scheduled scans and integrates with Windows Explorer so you can manually right-click and scan files. It also integrates with Microsoft Outlook and can remove infected attachments automatically.

You can get on-access protection with ClamWin by integrating it with WinPatrol or Spyware Terminator.

Get it from: ClamWin | FileHippo | Snapfiles


Comodo Internet Security

Comodo’s free antivirus application comes as part of their Internet Security suite. Comodo’s firewall software has always been very well-respected, but you can choose to only install the antivirus during the install if you prefer. It’s a solid performer, with good scanning speed and detection rates, and few false positives.

Like AVG, Comodo packages a toolbar (called safe surf). It’ll also prompt you to change your homepage, so just make sure to uncheck the boxes if you want to opt out.

Get it from: Comodo | | Softpedia

PC Tools Antivirus

PC Tools are the same people that produce Spyware Doctor, one of the most popular anti-spyware applications around (though not my personal choice). Its interface is simple and easy to understand for novice users, though advanced users are likely to be frustrated by the lack of more sophisticated options that are available in other free programs. Scheduled scanning is supported, as are automatic definition updates.

Get it from: PC Tools


Rising Antivirus

Even with the regal lion face logo, Rising hasn’t garnered a lot of respect yet. Still, those who do use it seem very pleased with the protection it provides and also report that it’s easy on system resources. A complete scan with Rising is a bit more sluggish than with more popular options, but most of you probably run scheduled scans when you’re AFK anyway – so it’s not a big downside.

It’s regarded as a good choice for non-technical users.

Get it from: Rising AV | Snapfiles | Softpedia

Spyware Terminator

Spyware Terminator isn’t an antivirus program on its own, but you can choose to integrate ClamWin during the setup process. Unlike installing Clam on its own, pairing the two applications provides realtime virus protection. It’s regarded as a very good anti-spyware application, though reviews are mixed on its ability to handle antivirus duties.

As with AVG and Comodo, a toolbar install will be offered during the setup process.

Get it from: Spyware Terminator | FileHippo | Softpedia

If you’re not sold on the idea of free antivirus and are looking to test drive some paid options, there are plenty available for download. Just about every major developer of antivirus software offers at least a 30 day trial of their product. Here are three solid choices you can take for a test drive.


Eset NOD32

NOD32 is the choice of a number of Download Squad crew members. It’s very well-respected by system admins and technicians and one of the best programs available to protect your PC from infection. Downloading the current version gets you 30 days to try it out.

If you’re so inclined, you can download beta versions or release candidates as well – and you’ll get up to 6 months of free protection.


Another option held in high regard by experienced users, the Kaspersky scanning engine is licensed by a number of other companies that provide antivirus software. Trial versions last 30 days.

Trend Micro

Trend has been a truster choice in coporate environments for a long time, though their PC Cillin software for consumers isn’t as popular as some other tites. It’s still a solid choice and provides good protection. Again, 30 days to try it out.

Source: downloadsquad

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Free Twitter Designer offers custom Twitter backgrounds

Posted on February 24, 2009. Filed under: Software World, Tech News | Tags: , , , , |

By Jay Hathaway


If you’ve been on Twitter for a while, you’ve probably seen someone with an elaborate background that’s designed to work around the text elements of the Twitter layout. Maybe it’s got a photo and some contact information on the side, or maybe it just frames the main text field in some creative way. When you want to make your own, though, how do you work around the layout and get the spacing right? That’s where Free Twitter Designer comes in.

It’s a web-based image editor that lets you view the basic layout of a Twitter page transparently, so you can figure out where to position any photos or text you want to add. You can import photos into Free Twitter Designer, and add some predesigned shapes, shadow or blur effects to your design. The text tool has a handful of different fonts to choose from, and of course you can customize the colors. While I take issue with a site that claims to produce the same results as a professional designer — pay your designers well, guys! — it’s a simple way to get around some of the challenges of making a Twitter background.

Source: downloadsquad

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Mozilla demos impressive Firefox 3.1 features at SCALE

Posted on February 24, 2009. Filed under: Internet, Software World, Tech News | Tags: , , , |

By Ryan Paul

Mozilla evangelist Chris Blizzard demonstrated the latest innovations in standards-based Web development technology during a presentation at the Southern California Linux Expo.

During a presentation on Saturday at the Southern California Linux Expo (SCALE), Mozilla evangelist Chris Blizzard discussed some of new features that will be included in the next version of the Firefox Web browser. He demonstrated how several emerging standards-based Web technologies can be used together to produce impressively sophisticated Web applications.blizzard

The Firefox Web browser got a massive overhaul for version 3 with a multitude of significant improvements and useful new features. Mozilla is currently preparing to ship Firefox 3.1, an incremental release that builds on the strengths of 3.0 and delivers valuable enhancements for Web developers. Some of the experimental new capabilities that are going to be introduced in 3.1 could someday redefine the way that Web applications are used and designed.

Web applications are increasingly adopting JSON as a format for data interchange instead of conventional XML. Because JSON is syntactically identical to conventional JavaScript data structures, Web developers often parse it with the eval function. This approach is plagued with security problems and also suffers from mediocre performance.

Firefox 3.1 will include a native JSON parser that can be used by Web applications instead of eval. Preliminary testing has indicated that the native JSON parser in Firefox delivers significant performance gains. This feature could soon be broadly used by Web application developers because Microsoft intends to include its own fully compatible implementation in Internet Explorer 8.

Another impressive feature that Web application developers will be able to take advantage of in Firefox 3.1 is support for worker threads, which provide support for concurrent execution in JavaScript. Worker threads will make it possible to perform complex computations in the background, so that the browser and Web application don’t hang or become unresponsive.

The HTML 5 video element will also arrive in Firefox 3.1. This will allow video content to be embedded directly in Web pages, controlled with JavaScript, and manipulated through the DOM. It’s a major step forward for rich media content on the Web. Firefox 3.1 will ship with built-in support for the Ogg Vorbis and Theora formats—open audio and video codecs that are believed to be unencumbered by patents. The actual codec implementations are integrated directly into the browser itself, so content in those formats will be playable without requiring any external components or plugins.

Blizzard says that Mozilla aims to encourage an explosion of creativity around video that will mirror the kind of uninhibited innovation that has flourished in the Web’s inclusive standards-base ecosystem. Mozilla is actively contributing funding to Ogg development efforts to help accelerate the process. He says that Theora, which is used by Wikipedia, has the potential to achieve quality comparable to MPEG4. High definition video, however, will require the Dirac format, which could eventually be included in future versions of Firefox when it matures.

To illuminate the possibilities that are unlocked by these new features, Blizzard showed several technical demos. One of the demos used the HTML 5 video element to display a space shuttle launch. As the video played, JavaScript code running on the page used the video time index to retrieve launch data from a JavaScript array and draw graphs that show the shuttle’s speed and altitude increasing during the launch. You can check out the demo yourself, if you are running a Firefox nightly build.

The most impressive demo that he showed during his presentation used JavaScript in worker threads to programmatically detect motion in a playing video. This one has to be seen to be believed:

The presentation also discussed several other new features, including SVG filters for HTML, cross-site XMLHttpRequest, DNS prefetching, and embedded font support. For a complete overview of the presentation and some instructive source code examples, you can read Blizzard’s slides, which are available from his personal blog.

Source: arstechnica

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Mix Twitter and Digg, add jokes, get Popjam

Posted on February 20, 2009. Filed under: Software World, Tech News | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

PopjamPopjam is a new ’social humour’ site which has launched using the Twitter ‘friend/follow’ model of social networking. If fact – but for the images of LOLcats and videos – it is so similar to Twitter in appearance and operation that it could be mistaken for a pure Twitter clone. But what we have here is a kind of Twitter-meets-Digg-meets-b3ta. And the more you think about it, the more it makes sense.

The key is that it is aiming to be universal in appeal and not niche or focussed around one demographic, which sites like College Humour and eBaumsworld effectively are. The thing is, you might hit YouTube or get an email from a friend about a niche-humour site like Icanhascheezburger. But how often do you really think to visit? Usually when some viral is being passed around. It’s PopJam’s aim to effectively ’sit above’ all of these sources and provide an easy way for people to share and enjoy the best of the web’s funny content through one centralised channel. In aiming to be sit above all these funny links, PopJam aims to ape YouTube’s platform for video model, with ‘a platform for funny’, if that’s conceivable.


PopJam users can post images, videos and links to their profile. Registration is not required to view the content. Is this “rich-media micro-blogging”? Perhaps let’s not get into that thorny issue…

It’s not a huge suprise that they are using the Twitter mechanic. Registered users ‘follow’ other people and are themselves ‘followed’. Already Twitter is growing like a weed because of this opt-out model, as opposed to Facebook’s opt-in. Since the people you follow are generally the best arbiters of the humour that will appeal to you, Popjam has hit on a good model. Meanwhile, expect many more site to start copying Twitter’s follow model…

Popjam users can comment; click the ‘LOL’ button (akin to Digging or ‘Liking’ stuff on FriendFeed); and ‘re-post’ content. It would seem the re-tweeting concept is here to stay. The most re-posted and LOL’d stuff will get put into the PopJam ‘Funny Stuff’ section of the site. Every piece of funny content on PopJam has a permalink page and related content, so virality is in-built.

Since users earn points for posting funny stuff, the site also has a gaming element to it, along the lines of the Karate belt system, ending in ‘PopJam Ninja’ status. There is a leaderboard for this:


As for the Twitter aspect, the site doesn’t yet integrate with Twitter, though that’s ‘in the plan’.

In their favour is a master of the populist hit, co-founder and CEO, Alex Tew, formely the wunder-kid behind The Million Dollar Home page and most recently the Sockandawe smash hit viral game.

The startup is backed by an undisclosed amount of angel funding from lead investor Paul Birch (a co-founder of Bebo with Brother Michael), while Michael Smith (of Mind Candy, Firebox) and Tom Boardman (also Firebox) also participated. In closed, stealth-mode alpha version since August last year, Tew is joined by co-founder and CTO Michael Halls-Moore and lead developer Matt Bennett.

Source: techcrunch

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Microsoft plans to issue non-update update for Win 7

Posted on February 20, 2009. Filed under: Microsoft, Software World | Tags: , , |

By Kelly Fiveash

windows 7Microsoft will spit out dummy updates for Windows 7 beta testers next week that will probe the forthcoming operating system’s updating abilities.

The software firm said no new features or bug fixes would be added via the updates that will be available from 24 February as manual downloads.

Microsoft’s Brandon LeBlanc said on the company’s corporate blog that up to five updates will be released to PCs running the Windows 7 beta (build 7000) via its Windows Update service.

“These updates allow us to test and verify our ability to deliver and manage the updating of Windows 7. We typically verify servicing scenarios during a beta,” he said.

LeBlanc was at pains to emphasise that the updates wouldn’t actually update anything. Instead they would “simply replace system files with the same version of the file currently on the system,” he said.

Meanwhile, later builds of Windows 7 have been spotted out in the wild. As we reported last week, screenshots of a 64-bit Enterprise edition of build 7032 can be found on the interwebs. It popped up just days after build 7022 was leaked to torrent sites.

Softpedia claimed on Wednesday that a select bunch of MS testers have already received Win 7 build 7048. However, it’s not clear at this stage if the build will carry the release candidate status.

Speculation has been rife that Win 7 would RC in April, a move that some beta testers have expressed concern about. However, Microsoft has declined to offer up a definitive date.

An MS flack gave The Register this statement last week: “We’re not aware of any planned announcements in the imminent future, and do not believe there is anything lined-up beyond what has been publically [sic] road-mapped.”

Last week Microsoft slammed the door shut on its Windows 7 beta download program, at least officially anyway. Anyone still keen to get their hands on the beta can simply amble along to a torrent tracker site for a copy of the build.


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GridIron Flow Takes Workflow Organization To A Whole New Level

Posted on February 20, 2009. Filed under: Software World | Tags: , , , , |

by Leena Rao

GridironGridIron Software, the provider of workflow tools for professional creative market, has launched a new workflow product for businesses, GridIron Flow. Flow tried to eliminate bottlenecks in a project, such as searching for files, for graphic designers, video editors, developers and other creative professionals. Users can track every move that is made in the creation and completion of a project. The software is also helpful coordinating workflow between multiple workers on a project; it helps gather all the files on a project together before a project is handed off to another worker.

The interface is clean and visually easy to use. Using a workflow map, the software tracks every file or software that is used in a creative project, from Adobe Flash to Microsoft Word to Apple Final Cut Studio. Flow also provides the user with instant access to every version of files created in a project. Key features of the product include the ability to track offline and online files in a workflow map, visual search options, and the ability to track how much time is spent on a file or a project.

GridIron’s CEO, Steve Forde, feels that the ability to measure time spent on a project could be particularly useful to freelancers in the creative world, who will need to measure hours spent on a project for billing purposes. Ideally, the SaaS company wants to sell to both freelances and enterprises that dabble in creative projects, such as studios, advertising agencies and graphic design businesses. GridIron’s software is priced at $249 (the price will go up to $299 in May) but users can download a free trial. And currently the software is only available for Mac computers; a Windows version should be released shortly, according to GridIron.

Forde said that GridIron worked with Adobe, Apple and other creative suite software makers to adjust its own software to meet the needs and specialties of these specific kinds of applications, like Final Cut and PhotoShop. Its pretty fascinating that big software makers are willing to work with smaller SaaS shops to help tailor offshoot operational applications. The organizational capacities of this product are pretty impressive; it’s definitely worth a demo for anyone in the creative professional business.



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