It’s hard to imagine that one could really tweak or improve iTunes in any particular fashion. I say that not because the software is perfect, rather, because it’s completely closed-source. Apple doesn’t have a list of extensions that you can just install into the application at a whim. If anything, iTunes is built for two purposes and two purposes alone: Buying stuff from Apple’s Store and transferring said stuff over to an Apple device of your choosing.
Yet, the more I looked into ways that one can extend the iTunes experience, the more I found that yes, Virginia, there are plenty of different tools, add-ons, and techniques you can employ to really make this music application shine. And before you start in the comments, yes, I know that there are better music players than iTunes. However, that’s not to say that iTunes itself is a poor program—with a little tender love and care, you can make it as welcome in your home as any other program you enjoy. Trust me.
Oh, Skype. We have you to thank for transforming thousands, of not hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people into cheapskates. I say that lovingly, for I, too, dream of a day when I can forever free myself from the confines of a monthly cell phone plan and run into the loving, warm embrace of no-monthly-cost, Skype-based chatting…
Okay, so maybe that’s a bit overdramatic. But it would be silly to think that Skype hasn’t radically transformed the way a lot of people go about their daily lives. In fact, some people do indeed subsist on this service, and this service alone, for all of their phone-based needs. And many more people use Skype to conduct business; to make podcasts; to call loved ones from afar, as is the case with Maximum PC dream date winner Magali and her French family.
In short, Skype is kind of a big deal. You know it, I know it, but… the one thing that you likely don’t know off the top of your head is all the different ways you can maximize your VoIP-chatting experience through the use of third-party Skype add-ons, software tweaks, and more! That’s what we’ll be covering in this comprehensive tips guide: Making Skype awesome.
What are you thankful for? It’s such a cliché statement, especially given that we’re barely past the brief period of time where we’re all allowed to indulge ourselves in vast quantities of food—leftover or otherwise.
Of course, the Thanksgiving break—if you had one—provides for a perfect time to get some home cleaning done. But I’m not just talking about dusting off your action figure collection. No, of course, all fingers point to your PC. That poor, neglected piece of equipment does nothing but provide for you, day in and day out. It’s become bloated to excess and you, realizing that there’s no time like the present, have decided to wipe it clean and start anew.
So what, pray tell, do you install first? It’s a simple question and, indeed, one with nearly a thousand answers. Look, as far as I’m concerned, you’re still on vacation. Allow me to do the work for you. For I present to you a five-course meal of applications that we should all be thankful for on some level—game-changers that, really, deserve to be installed on any system you touch, period.
If you’ve already heard of them, excellent. You’re just that ahead of the game. If not, consider this your chance to get caught up to all that is awesome in the world of freeware and open-source software.
Here at Maximum PC, we've always done our fair share of website recommendation articles--including a couple ofdoozies from the past few years. And of course we're not the only ones who do this sort of article either; it's a proven popular format. But this year, we thought we'd mix things up a little bit. Rather than just focusing on what's services are popular, or which web apps will make you the most productive, we wanted to take a look at what's fun on the Internet.
In that spirit, our February cover feature is going to be 100 Websites You Need to Visit Before You Die. These are sites that will either entertain you, educate you, or just plain blow your mind. They're not the kind of website you put in your bookmarks bar and come back to again and again--they're the kind that you email to your friends along with a note that says "holy s*** check this out."
So today we've got the first 50 of our 100 Websites You Need to See Before You Die. Where are the other 50? That's where you come in. Once you've read our picks, let us know your own. We'll be picking 50 of the best user submissions to round out our list for the magazine. Anyone who's submission we pick will be in the running to win a whole bunch of awesome prizes (stay tuned tomorrow for full contest rules, prizes and limitations).
Trying to track down a list of “five game mods you must download right now” is a lot like trying to choose your five top games of all time. Sure, your list might be impressive—maybe even awesome—but you’re still going to get a heap of contenders sobbing in the corner at your refusal to acknowledge their almost-noteworthy existences. And nobody likes bawling boxed titles.
So let that be a warning to you, fun-loving gamer who continues to read this article. I’m covering freeware game modifications this time around—freeware, obviously, because I doubt your average enthusiast is going to risk the wrath of a developer’s fury because he or she is selling blood, sweat, and tears in the form of a $5 game add-on. As well, I’m not just looking at maps, or other whip-dip little tweaks. I’m talking about huge transformations that range from, “making this game playable in the modern era” to “wow, I want to go back and revisit this title because it is now sweet.”
I’m paraphrasing, of course. But you get the idea.
But as I mentioned, narrowing down to a list of five is near-impossible. So if you don’t have an affinity for the Infinity Engine (including Baldur’s Gate and Planescape: Torment), Sins of a Solar Empire, Fallout 3, TIE Fighter/X-Wing Alliance, or Half-Life 2… you might want to sit this one out. Otherwise, let’s get real.
Digg versus Reddit; Reddit versus Digg. Much could be written about the unfolding war for your attention that’s taking place on the battlegrounds of news aggregates come and gone. That was pretty poetic, wasn’t it? Look, here’s the raw deal: Whether you’re a Digg enthusiast, Reddit convert, or vice versa, there’s no reason why you should have to live your online life using the simple, raw tools that either site has provided for you.
No, there are plenty of unique tweaks and twists that you can build into your conventional Reddit/Digg experience—provided, of course, you’re rocking either Firefox or Chrome as your browser of choice. And if you’re using something else or, for that matter, using another site on the Internet for your daily news updates… well, you’re out of luck in this week’s Freeware Files.
So, for those that are left, get ready to see how you can kick your Reddit or Digg surfing to new levels of awesomeness (really, usability!) We’ve split the extensions/add-ons up by browser and by site, with a special little bonus in the end for anyone who sticks around that far.
Are you a PC user? Good; you are likely annoyed. Because, let’s face it, there are some parts of the “master of your domain” experience that are downright annoying to do. Novice users have it easy—to them, a computer is merely a portable word processor, a fancy little device that allows them to watch cats frolic online, catch up on the most recent versions of The Office without paying for cable, and surf the web for hours on end.
You, however, are not a novice user. You are intermediate, to advanced, to hardcore, and you don’t like it when you have to expend precious hours fixing up your PC in a variety of different ways. You want a system that works perfectly and you want it yesterday. Well, to that, I offer five meager freeware apps (or free Web apps) that should help trim some of the annoying processes out of your normal system use.
In the wake of the quasi-departure of Xmarks (seriously; is it alive? Gone? Going somewhere? Dead? Fading out? What?), it’s nice to see that other enterprising developers have taken the idea of cross-computer Firefox synchronization and really ran with it. I’m speaking, of course, of a particular add-on called Siphon. It’s currently beta-testing, but it unlocks a whole pie full of usefulness for anyone who’s as add-on addicted as those of us over at Maximum PC.
The tech industry is a finicky business. Many brilliant companies have failed just because they launched a product too advanced for its time or lacked adequate marketing power. Even successful products can be left behind in the wake of new technological advancements. But a failed company can still affect the flow of technology. Here’s our list of 21 failed companies who paved the way for the technologies of the 21st century.
Read on for our list of 21 companies that failed but paved the way for greater things.
Just how popular are add-ons to Mozilla Firefox’s Web browser? A usage survey taken by Mozilla as of one year ago revealed that one-third of all Firefox users—at least—use add-ons in some capacity. That’s a pretty big deal, but not quite as eye-opening a number as the raw statistics from Mozilla’s official add-ons page.
According to the company, more than two billion add-ons have been downloaded since Firefox’s started tracking statistics back in August of 2007. There are currently 125 million add-ons in use as of this article’s writing, with more than 890,000 registered users attached to Mozilla’s official add-ons directory. I won’t bore you with any more statistics; suffice, there’s a lot of neat stuff you can install into your browser. And it appears that many are indeed doing so.
Where does one begin?
These are both questions that hit to the core of the Mozilla add-on experience. Simply put, your browser is only as good as the extensions you choose to install, and trying to get a handle on the ever-increasing world of Firefox add-ons can be as difficult for a first-timer as it is for an experienced add-on enthusiast. So we’ll make it simple. We’ve scoured the Web to come up with a listing of must-have add-ons for any Firefox installation, period.
And, even then, did we mention that we’ve found twenty?