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!
How jacked up is your keyboard? Do you have one of those super-fancy, 800+ button, LCD-screen, lit-up, wheeled contraptions that's less an input device, more a control panel at a nuclear power plant? If so, you're probably the kind of person who doesn't need the apps I'm about to list out in this week's freeware roundup. Unless, that is, you're also one of those people (including yours truly) who have a ton of buttons and options to play with, yet no resolve to actually go about mapping this to that.
And if you're just rocking a plain ol' keyboard, I hope you're sitting down because you're in for a world of difference. The applications I'm profiling today are all keyboard-focused, and they all seek to add some kind of additional, awesome functionality to (or based on) your default button layouts. Launch programs! Use your keyboard media buttons to control all of your media players! Look up every Adobe-related shortcut within the span of seconds!
Suffice it to say, I have the keyboard krazies today. Join me after the jump to get your hands on some of the cooler keyboard-related freeware and open-source apps on the Internet!
Eh. Technology upgrades. You don't need the latest graphic, motherboard, and CPU combinations to have a good time on your PC. Sure, having realistic raindrops fall across your warrior's face is a nice touch. And you can never go wrong with all those fun volumetric shadows and such--you know, the ones that cripple your poor videocard whenever you try and crank your display's resolution to the max.
A good game is all about the fun it brings to the table absent of technical wizardry or flashy effects. I like to call this the Nethack effect. For those recently born, Nethack is that old-school ASCII game that's still beloved by many even though its graphics could easily be replicated by a graphing calculator. The game doesn't need top-shelf scenery or character models to be awesome. It just is--by virtue of its immersion, frustrations, and countless ways to die.
As you might guess, This week's freeware roundup is another gaming-focused edition, but I'm covering a wide range of graphical treatments with the racing, hack-and-slash, and building-creation games I feature (amongst other categories). You'll see games that look pretty good given their open-source and freeware roots; You'll also see games that are a bit less, er, polished... but still worth your time for their creative features and fun action. You might even see a game that involves ponies.
Once a week, I feel like I'm either finding or running a large batch of programs in an effort to keep my computer as crap-free as possible. It's a never-ending battle. I defrag, I delete, I shuffle, I organize, I optimize, I scan... and still, what I end up downloading and installing over the next six days almost always leads me back to the good ol' "Sunday Purge," as I've come to call it.
And you? I venture that your habits are pretty similar to mine, as you're a Maximum PC reader with a thirst--nay, need--for speed. But we both don't have to waste a ton of time poring over our hard drives and giving them digital equivalent of a good flossing. There are tools, wonderful tools, that will automate this process--and automate it for free!
You're probably aware of quite a few of these applications, in fact. That's why I've cast my net over a wide swath of sites to find two little tidbits that you probably haven't heard of before. Here's a sneak preview: These tools let you assign rules for clearing out a wide variety of files based on customized criteria you select. One of the apps works its wonders on your desktop and the other offers a similar service for any USB device you attach to your system.
Intrigued? Those are but two of the five awesome programs in this week's freeware roundup. The rest are waiting for your trigger-happy downloading fingers after the jump, as always.
Having just gotten off a plane, I'm now facing the difficulties that a West-to-East coast trip does to one's sleeping schedule. Thus, this week's freeware roundup has as much of a concrete theme as I have a coherent thought at the moment. But that's ok. Examples of killer freeware or open-source software don't always fall within a single bucket.
So what's on deck for right now? I won't give away too many details. Suffice, if you've ever lost data as a result of a scratched or scuffed CD, you'll want to click on the jump below. While the page loads, go dig though the trash to recover the media that you just tossed--it's not dead. It might be on life support, and you might stand a very good chance of losing parts of your data, but you might also be able to save a portion of the files located on said disc.
That's a great bit of lifesaving... and it's just one of the programs in this week's roundup. Even niftier applications lurk behind the cut below. Get your downloading finger ready.
I'm speaking, of course, of the privacy features that come native to the Windows operating system. Sure, you can tuck your special documents away in a private user folder, but that doesn't mean that your files have been secreted away forever. An industrious user with physical access to your machine can wreak havoc on your personal files, regardless of how much Windows tells you that they're safe from external abuse.
Change that. Beyond the cut of this week's freeware update are five applications that will enhance your ability to secret away that-which-you-don't-want-anyone-else-seeing. Does that involve encryption? Yes. But that's not the end-all be-all technique for hiding things on your computer. Depending on the amount of privacy you need, there are faster and easier solutions than merely locking down your entire drive using a 128-bit cipher.
Grab your Sherlock Holmes pipe. It's time to get cryptic.
I covered some awesome Firefox plugins a little bit ago, and it only seems fitting for Google Chrome to receive the same treatment. But as you're undoubtedly aware, Google Chrome doesn't feature built-in extension support like other popular browsers on the market. Or does it?
Actually, if you run the developer builds of Chrome, you can access the wonderful (beta) world of browser add-ons with but a few extra commands and tweaks. Seeing as very few people who use Chrome know or care about this little modification, it stands that the actual world of add-ons for the browser is pretty small right now. That said, there are still some neat extras that you can build into your browser--including some add-ons that mimic the best of what you'll find in Firefox's expansive database.
So what are you waiting for? Click the jump and I'll show you how to surf with add-ons, then give you a list of neat ones to try out!
We begin another trip through the freeware files with a focus on graphics this time around--graphics and zombies. While a majority of the free games in this roundup feature some kind of interesting graphical treatment, there's one straggler that looks a bit like the sprites from SimCopter. But this little gem, of all the games on said list, features a healthy dose of zombie-killing. So for that, I can forgive its less-than-ideal looks.
But enough about that. You want to get to the games. I don't blame you. In fact, just to make sure I'm appeasing your interests, I'm taking a look at a number of different genres this time around. If zombies aren't your thing, or you can't stand the thought of an 8-bit, FPS-style puzzle title, then you'll surely find a winner in one of the other titles on this week's list. From marble-smashing arcade games to awesome little racecar rallies, you're guaranteed to find at least one gem amongst these super-fun freeware titles.
Finish up your finger exercises and put on your wrist sweatbands. Then click the jump, 'cause it's time to game!
Hell hath no fury like an open-source developer scorned. In the red corner, we have Portable Apps and its developer, John Haller. In the blue corner, we have LiberKey and project manager Christophe Peuch. Both programs are suites of applications that can sit on your USB key for portable use. Both offer a number of open-source or freeware apps that assist you in your everyday PC tasks without costing you a single penny. At one point, it was argued that both shared an identical design, layout, and operation. But that's just one of the many charges being heaved across the battleground--its accuracy, along with the others, is subject to dispute.
I wrote a while back about the confusing issues surrounding open-source and freeware licensing. They haven't changed. The controversy over LiberKey is a perfect example of the confusion--enough so, that Maximum PC itself removed a mention of the suite from one of our freeware roundups after allegations of wrongdoing on the developer's part. But is this piece of software as guilty of the violations as the Internet chatter would have you believe? Or has LiberKey done its fair share to eliminate the liabilities caused by its inclusion of open-source and freeware apps into a large package manager?
Why should you care? That's the easiest answer of them all. Supporting applications that stick to the legal guidelines of trademark, permissions, and licensing ensures you're downloading stable, safe, and secure packages that foster the spirit of open source software. If you support software that flaunts the rules, you disrespect the work of those who contribute their works to the greater community. And I wouldn't want to lose these developers--nor their awesome (usually) free applications.
Click the jump to find out the full details on LiberKey!
As we close up yet another month of freeware goodies, it's important to look back and reflect on some of the awesome programs that received a version bump in the past 30 days. It was tough to nail down five free applications that not only upgraded themselves to a new iteration, but ones that successfully packed new and interesting features into their latest builds. There's no overarching theme this week save for that. It's a grab-bag of awesome new software to install; if the lack of a unifying concept horrifies you, don't worry. I'll list out all of this month's freeware roundups in the article below, which you can use as a guide of-sorts to travel back to safer downloading waters.
Click the upgrade button (okay, the jump) and check out the best of this month's updated freeware!