For those of us who download applications, programs, extensions, or really anything off the Internet in great frequency, what's the best way to keep a computer completely protected from external threats? I'm talking about locking down your system tighter than a Supermax prison--not impacting your ability to carry out your everyday tasks, rather, making sure that you're protected from attack at your PC's primary entry points.
That's exactly what I'll be exploring in this week's freeware roundup: The five best free applications for keeping your computer as secure as can be. If you aren't running some combination of these freeware and open-source apps, well, you only have yourself to blame if your system gets infected with something unpleasant!
If you're a true geek, then you love experimenting with and comparing all the different Web browsers on the market today. You might have a default browser of choice for rendering most Web pages, but you still keep a number of other browsers available for their usefulness, their speed, or their compatibility in synchronizing to devices you already own (cough the iPhone cough). It's fun to surf the net in different ways. And, depending on the Web site, you might also need to have other options on hand in case a site fails to work in one rendering engine.
So how, then, do you toggle between these browsers? Sure, you could assign each to your right-click context menu and scroll through the "open with..." choices each time you need to switch to a new app. That's kind of ugly and tedious, don't you think? A fun little application called Browser Chooser improves this process by giving you a pretty little GUI for selecting your browser of choice whenever you want to pull up a page. It's a lightweight utility that's as easy to configure as it is to use, giving you the flexibility to pull up a number of different rendering engines at the touch of a button.
Cisco set out to put defense capabilities of Cisco Security Intelligence Operations (SIO) in the hands (literally) of IT managers, and has done so with the availability of Cisco SIO To Go, an Apple iPhone app.
The software gives IT pros real-time access to various actionable global security information, while also serving up several customization options for security information that could potentially help protect a business network.
Cisco's app includes real-time alerts and threat mitigation solutions from sources that include more than 700,000 globally deployed Cisco secuirty devices. It also includes Cisco IntelliShield, a historical-threat database of 40,000 vulnerabilities and 3,300 IPS signatures, and more than 600 third-party threat intelligence sources capable of tracking more than 500 third-party data feeds and 100 security news feeds 24/7, the company said.
Widescreen monitors are, in a word, awesome, and not just because they offer some kind of enhanced quality over their four-by-three ratio brethren. Depending on what you're using them for, like movie-watching, you'll simply see more of a given scene than you otherwise would on a standard display. The increased screen real estate (on the horizontal plane) also allows you to make more effective use of your desktop... provided you have the right software tools to create this enhanced productivity.
In fact, one of the biggest complaints surrounding the use of widescreen monitors is just that--the elongated desktop space is just too hard to navigate, and applications frequently don't make the best use of this additional room. I can't promise that everything out-of-the-box (or out-of-the-browser window) will look great on your widescreen display. However, what I can do is offer you a suite of tools designed to make your 16-by-9 or 16-by-10 experience as great as it can be. I've been using widescreen monitors for quite some time now. I know how it feels. That extra background space on the sides of every Web page you load? Maddening.
Let's take care of that issue, and more, with some awesome widescreen monitor apps.
Better late than never, and while it took a long time, iPhone and iPod touch users can now download Trillian, the multiprotocol IM client, through Apple's App Store.
The $4.99 app comes with many of the same features as its desktop counterpart, including grouped and sorted contacts. Tabbed chat windows also find their way onto the iPhone and iPod touch version, and so does the ability to copy and paste, which is more a credit to Apple than Cerulean Studios, the company responsible for Trillian.
Users can also synchronize content across multiple IM clients, so that changes made on the iPhone version will appear in real-time on the Windows client.
In a nod towards cloud computing, Cerulean Studios says that all chats are stored on the company's server, which means they won't be lost if you suffer a dropped connection. The app can also be set up to send IM alerts when Trillian is shut down.
It's been a little over a year since Google first unveiled its Google Earth app for the iPhone and iPod touch, and it took just six months for the app to become the most-downloaded free application overall. Now there's a new version available -- Google Earth 2.0 -- with a few new features, improved icon selection, and better performance, Google says.
Users who log directly into their Google Maps account can now view the same maps that they or others have created, using the My Maps interface.
"Maybe you're on a trip and want to see where Tony Wheeler, the co-founder of Lonely Planet, most likes to travel," Google wrote on its blog. "Or perhaps you're walking around looking for a restaurant and you want to see where world-famous chef Ferran Adrià likes to eat. All you have to do is click 'Save to My Maps,' open Earth on the iPhone, log in with the same account information, and voilà, you have your same collection of My Maps right in your pocket."
Google says it's also easier to discover new parts of the globe. In version 2.0, just touch an icon and small glow appears under your finger to let you know which one you picked.
Any iPhone or iPod touch owners play with the latest update yet? Hit the jump and tell us what you think.
It's all fun and games, until that game you downloaded from the iTunes App Store turns out to be harvesting your cell phone number. That's what gaming developer Storm8 has been accused of doing.
"The wireless telephone numbers of users' phones are not used or necessary to play any of Storm8's games, yet Storm8 has written the software for all its games in such a way that it automatically accesses, collects, and transmits the wireless telephone number of each iPhone user who downloads any Storm8 game," states a lawsuit filed on behalf of Lynwood, Washington resident Michael Turner.
Storm8 first came under fire in late August when news reports pointed out that Storm8's apps appeared to be phoning home. Addressing the reports, the company said the system had a "bug" and that it has since been fixed. But Storm8's explanation isn't enough for Turner's lawyer, who says his goal is to ensure the company is no longer allowed to collect private data in the future.
"A public admission is not the same as a legal representation or legal injunction," Turner's lawyer said.
The recent release of Stardock's Fences tool (version 1.0) got me thinking about desktop organization. While Fences is certainly neat--the program lets you divide your desktop real estate into individual sections, surrounded by "fences," amongst other space-saving features--this freeware app isn't the only game in town by far. In fact, some of you expressed disgust at Stardock's latest release. Be it the fact that one needs to install Stardock's Impulse client just to access Fences, or your simple dislike of an application whose functionality is mirrored by other freeware apps, Fences was hardly a shot hit out of the park.
So, here we are. After the jump, I'll show you five different alternative desktop managers that will help you bring increased tidiness, prettier looks, and funer... er... more fun functionality to your typical workspace. Auto-arrange your icons one last time for nostalgia's sake, because I'm about to mix up your desktop crazy-style.
When did dating get so complicated? In the 'old' days, it was boy meets girl, boy meets girl's father, girl's father wields shotgun while interrogating boy, boy returns girl by agreed upon curfew. Simple, right?
Not anymore, but if you own an iPhone, you can weed out potentially bad dates before ever bringing them home to meet the 'rents. A new app called DateCheck runs a background check on a would-be Romeo to see if he's been hiding a criminal past, including sexual assaults, drug arrests, or drunken driving.
Players be warned - the app also exposes financial data, such as how big your house is, the home's price, and how much real estate tax is paid, TGDaily reports.
Do you hate Adobe AIR? I sometimes do. While the applications based on Adobe's framework can be pretty neat to use, there's something about their similar look and shared frameworks, not to mention features, that just can just drive me up the wall. Plus, every new Adobe AIR-based application has to be installed and run through Adobe AIR itself. While it's a handy way to make sure that you're running the most up-to-date version of the application, the Adobe AIR platform isn't very conducive to portable use. Actually, you can't stick AIR-based applications on a USB key and run them at all--the host computer would still need Adobe AIR for these apps to function.
That's but one minor complaint about the AIR platform. There are more, but this week's freeware roundup isn't intended to be a slam on these Adobe apps. Rather, I'll be taking a look at some of Adobe AIR's more popular applications and offering up unique freeware alternatives that don't require use of the AIR platform to work. Not all of the listed applications will support portable use out-of-the-box, but you can use the popular Mojopac Free program to store and access all of these apps on any USB device of your choosing.
Put your trigger-finger on the uninstaller button for Adobe AIR, then click the jump!