Happy New Year! Well, almost. Before I can raise my glass and tip my columnist's hat to the one-year birthday of the Freeware Files (and Murphy's Law), it's time we get down to the time-honored tech tradition at this time of year: the awards list.
Unlike my brethren at Maximum PC, who have put together a fine list of general freeware applications that you should check out regardless of the time, I've sat down and gone through the hundreds of apps and utilities that I've covered throughout this year. Some, you might know. Some, you might have forgotten about. And some apps and utilities that I've used, but not covered, still deserve special mention in this general roundup of the year's best freeware.
So put on your party hat and get your downloading finger ready. For each winner, I'll give a little mention of why said app is worth its salt, why it differs from what you'll natively find in Windows, and whether it's a must-download or a maybe-consider. After all, it would be crazy to download 20 apps in any given setting, no? You just want the best. This list, friends, represents the best... and in some places, the unknown!
Say it with me now for one last time in 2009: Click the jump!
A lot has happened in the last 12 months. At the start of the year, iTunes was still peddling DRM, Yahoo and Microsoft were at bitter odds over the latter’s takeover attempts, Nvidia had the fastest consumer videocard, and the ”cloud” was still a burgeoning concept. Oh, how times have changed. Follow along as we relive and reflect upon some of the most memorable moments, products, and people to impact computer users over the last year.
What was your favorite tech product or event or 2009? Let us know in the comments!
Google's Wave platform is one of the more interesting technologies to see the light of day (to a select few) in 2009, but it's far from the only thing that happened this year. Memorable moments abound, from the Obama inauguration, to Kanye West's antics.
These and many more have been captured in a pretty cool Google Wave rendition of the year's most memorable moments. Perhaps not as cool as Samuel Jackson describing the technology in a Google Wave (Link - NSFW), but pretty groovy nonetheless.
Yeah! Another top-ten list for 2009. This one’s from Nielsen, the kindly folks who track our TV viewing habits, and now bless us with four lists for mobile phones: phone brand, web sites accessed, brands accessed, and video channels accessed.
It’s an odd top ten list, as it only covers the period January to September (October for cell phones), but the top mobile phone is the Apple iPhone, with 4 percent of the “embedded base of all subscribers.” RIM’s BlackBerry 8300 series comes in at number two, with 3.7%, followed by Motorola’s RAZR V3 series, with 2.3%. (Nielsen doesn’t report cumulative brand usage, so these rankings are misleading from that perspective.)
What web sites are all those cell phone users accessing? Would you be shocked that Google Search ranked number one? Me either. Following in second place is Yahoo! Mail, then Gmail, the Weather Channel, and Facebook. Only ordinal ranks are reported, so overall popularity is unknown.
The top brand--surprise--was Yahoo!. (You thought it was going to be Google, didn’t you?) Google came in second, followed by MSN/Windows Live/Bing, AOL Media Network, and the Weather Channel.
And lastly, video channels: the big ‘winner’ here is YouTube. The runners up are Fox Interactive Media, the Weather Channel, Comedy Central, and CBS. (What’s with the Weather Channel? Weather’s pretty obvious when you’re in it. Why do you need a channel to verify the experience?)
As each year draws to a close, we find ourselves looking back on it all. Facebook is doing much the same, but the difference is that that have a huge pile of data to comb through so they can figure out just what this last year was all about. They’re calling this “Facebook Memology”. By gauging how often a subject was mentioned in status updates, Facebook was able to rank the ideas, or memes, of 2009.
Some entries in the list are specific words, and some are topics that may be signified by multiple words. The first entry on the list is for “Facebook Applications”. Not too surprising that a lot of people were talking about Farmville this year. “Swine flu” was high on the list with terms like H1N1being thrown around in panicky status updates. “Celebrity Deaths” was also not much of a surprise after the summer the rich and famous had. The middle of the meme list is prey standard stuff: family, movies, sports. “Health Care” makes an appearance, as does “Lady Gaga” for some reason. The list ends with the always self-indulgent "I". Fitting, eh?
In a year when social networking became more commonplace than ever, this might have some real value. Have a look at the full list and detailed explanations of each entry at the story link above. Does this list describe your year?
We like you. We spend all year being nice to you—giving you the scoop on hardware, software, games, and news from the industry. We may not always be nice to companies or products, but we're always nice to our readers.
Well, nearly always. You see, every year the editors at Maximum PC get together in a big room with no windows or doors or air and hash out a series of questions for our annual Geek Quiz. Some are easy. Some are not. Some might have you pulling out your hair in frustration (those are our favorites).
But we're not doing this just to be cruel. See, if you do well, you get the satisfaction of showing us up, plus a standardized score that you can show people to prove how awesome you are. And if you don't do so well, hey, you get to learn stuff! Looking up answers on your favorite search engine, by the way, is strictly verboten.
So, whip out those #2 pencils and that slide rule, step away from the Google, and get ready to prove your mettle.
We computer nerds all have our favorite applications and utilities—you know, the software we absolutely cannot live without. You’re certainly already familiar with many of my personal faves (I always install Firefox, Digsby, and Dropbox), but developers are constantly releasing new software, so my list is always evolving. And so, without further delay, I give you my favorite apps and utilities, as selected during the first half of 2009.
See Will's favorite apps of early 2009 after the jump!
The new estimate will certainly please Apple, for it alone is expected to ship 3 million units. The very report further says that the penetration rate of all-in-one PCs – computers with the monitor and CPU bundled together in one console – will rise to 5% this year, 9% in 2009, and 12% in 2012.
The 2009 Webby awards have come and gone, and sadly, Maximum PC was mysteriously overlooked. We didn’t notice a category for “world’s most amazing technology website / magazine”, but that’s no excuse! For those of you who haven’t heard of them before today, the Webby’s are an international award honoring excellence on the Internet. They focus on everything from YouTube skits to innovative advertising, but one look at the list and you’ll wonder if they just snagged the first million URL’s from Google and ran with it.
Asustek is trying to further cash in on the huge success of its Eee PC netbook range. It has some very ambitious plans and innovative products up its sleeve. One of those innovations happens to be voice-controlled Eee PCs.
"The first Eee PC or Eee Top products implementing voice-recognition and features will be ready by Q3/Q4 2009 – with our dedicated development team working with third parties in both Japan and the US and reporting directly to me. So this is something we will see very soon, later this year." Shen told Tech Radar.
Asus will have to come up with a truly remarkable voice-recognition technology to even pose a threat to our beloved keyboard.