I don't care what you use BitTorrent for. I don't even want to know. What you download is your own business. That said, don't even think about coming in the comments with a "omg check out this awesome freeware Pirate Bay scanning app it helped me download all the copies of My Little Pony in like no time whatsoever." Not cool.
Now that the semi-useful disclaimer is out of the way, let's get down to business. There's no denying that BitTorrent is a powerful tool for downloading (legal) files of all kinds. It can run faster than a straight one-to-one transfer from a Web site and, more importantly, it allows you to preserve files online when you would otherwise have no direct way to host them.
That sounds a little weird, so hear me out: Suppose you have an awesome recording of you playing piano in eight grade and you want everyone to hear it, only you don't really have access to a direct host for these files. Nor do you want your files to be dependent on a Web host that could theoretically go down at any time. No worries--just find a place to stash a .torrent link to your information and let everyone connect (and subsequently share) your information with the world. Your files will live in perpetuity provided others are as willing to share your data as you.
Got it? Good. Now click the jump and check out five different ways to take your downloading to the next level... with a particular emphasis on one of the best BitTorrent clients around, uTorrent!
One of Mozilla Firefox's bigger advantages over Google Chrome has just been wiped away and, dare we say, Google Chrome has actually one-upped its rival in terms of overall usability and ease-of-installation. We're referring, of course, to Greasemonkey. You might have heard this name echoed across tech and tweak sites far and wide. As well you should have--the functionality you can achieve by this upgrade to your surfing experience is simply unsurpassed in its depth or scope by any conventional add-on or extension.
Sound good? Because now, Google Chrome users have the ability to tap into Greasemonkey scripts as much as any other browser user. You don't even have to install a separate add-on, since scripts work natively in the browser!
But here's the catch: not all Greasemonkey scripts work perfectly in Google Chrome. The running estimation is that roughly 20 percent of what's out there is currently broken for Google's browser. That's not great news for a person who's easily frustrated by failure. However, here's where Maximum PC comes into the picture. We've run through a large swath of awesome Google Greasemonkey scripts to achieve two key goals: to see what works and to see which scripts, of the 40,000+ available, are awesome tweaks for your browser. Click the jump for a look at some of the top Greasemonkey scripts you could (or should) be slapping into your Google Chrome browser right now.
Optical drives aren't potatoes. You can't boil them, mash them, or stick 'em in a stew. And by that, I mean there's simply not that much you can do with your average digital coffee holder. Optical drives read CDs. Optical drives write CDs. And... well, unless you have your drive hooked up to some kind of crazy Rube Goldberg device that feeds your guinea pig whenever you eject the tray, there's simply not much else you're going to be able to do with this essential part of your PC. CD goes in; CD goes out--end of story.
Of course, I'm being a little tongue-in-cheek with this description. There's a great deal you can do with your optical drive on the software side of things. Here's the problem: There are a ton of different programs out there for ripping, burning, and mounting images, amongst other behaviors. Finding the best-in-class application for your device can be like trying to find a tiny scratch on the bottom of the disc itself--a mind-numbing task that's sure to frustrate you as you sift through the 30 different utilities you've pulled down onto your desktop.
Allow me ease the pain a bit. In this week's freeware files, I'll be taking a look at some of the must-have software to supplement your CD drive. With these five apps, you'll be covered for a wide range of uses--ripping all different kinds of media to your (presumably) terabytes of storage space, burning your own custom discs and presentations based on preexisting files, and converting physical media to digital images that you can pull up off of your hard drive instead of ever having to fiddle with a disc again.
Grab a CD-R coaster for your drink and join me after the jump for all the software goodies!
It's difficult to envision a life without email. I'm not sure if that's a good or a bad thing. Suffice, digital messaging is just a fact of geek life that we all have to deal with on a daily basis. Whether your inbox gets flooded with messages like the Nile during rainy season, or it's barren as one of those outback wastelands that Bear Grylls likes to visit, you probably aren't using your email client of choice to its fullest potential.
That's ok. Neither was I before undertaking the research for this week's open-source and freeware roundup. But now that I have seen the light, as it were, I would never go back to the ol' vanilla installations of Outlook, Thunderbird, Gmail, or whatever one's particular email utility of choice happens to be. There are just too many interesting ways to tweak and alter the normal email experience to better enhance your ability to read, organize, and shuffle your messages.
That's kind of "the big point" of the roundup this week--making your email work better for you. Click the jump, and I'll show you five apps and utilities for taking your email processing to the next level!
In our last router roundup, way back in November 2007, we wrote, “We’re months away from a final IEEE 802.11n standard.” We never imagined that months would stretch into nearly two years before that standards body would finally finish ironing out all the details. But now that the spec has been ratified, 802.11n routers abound—and their prices have dropped dramatically.
Back then, the average price of the 802.11n Draft 2.0 routers that we reviewed—all of which had single-band radios—was $130. The average street price of the six single-band 802.11n routers in this batch has dropped to less than half that. The even better news is that the cheapest router in this roundup also delivered the best real-world performance.
You’ll want to consider features as well as benchmark numbers, of course. If you have complex routing requirements, you’ll want a model with tweaker-friendly firmware. And if you rely on VoIP for telephone service, play online games, or stream video over your wireless network while downloading files using BitTorrent, you’ll want a router with robust quality-of-service features. One of the models we tested allows you to share a printer over your network; another boasts advanced parental-control features.
And then there’s the certification issue to consider: Each of the routers in this roundup implements features of the IEEE 802.11n standard, but not all of them carry the Wi-Fi Alliance’s 802.11n certification logo. We’ll go into more detail about this in our buyers guide.
Read on for our full review of six of the latest mainstream 802.11n routers on the market.
I've been a stalwart user of TweetDeck for all my 140-character messaging needs for quite some time now. But that's the problem with having a favorite freeware program: Your devotion to a tried-and-true application could be preventing you from reaching out and discovering a program that does an even better job. I mean, TweetDeck--awesome as can be--sure isn't perfect. There are a few features I wish I could get my hands on and, conversely, a few features I wish I could excise from the program with one almighty keystroke.
So all this got me thinking. I cover a lot of apps in these weekly Freeware Files roundups. But apps typically go through a number of changes throughout their lifespans. For better or worse, not every app is always going to look like it does when it's been profiled in a Freeware Files column. And with new programs entering the freeware fray at all times, what's a great recommendation one day might turn out to be an average or dull recommendation the next.
So, instead of just profiling five different Twitter apps this week, I'm going to make this more of a challenge. TweetDeck has been a top Twitter application on the market for some time now. What has it been up to since we last took a look at the software. More importantly, what other apps have risen the occasion to challenge--or topple--this killer program?
Ripping a CD or DVD is one of the most basic tasks for a PC user. But you need the right tools if you want to automate the process. Current ripping programs incorporate video encoding, tagging, and subtitles management. There's no single app that will do everything, so here are our picks for the best Linux apps for ripping audio CDs and video DVDs.
There are also a few things you'll need to do before downloading these apps.
It's been exactly a month since we last visited the topic of Google Chrome. With both Windows and OSX beta versions of the browser now supporting add-ons, and with nearly 1,500 possible extensions flooding the Chrome Extensions "marketplace" since December 8, 2009, it's about time to take another look at the overflowing mass of Chrome add-ons. Why? To build the perfect browser, of course. Allow me a moment to monologue:
I've been a Mozilla Firefox user for a long, long time. Simply put, I love extensions. Being able to build new elements into my browsing experience, from Cloud-based bookmark synchronization to Sudoku puzzles, has been one of the more awesome elements of using this piece of software. If only it was that easy to enhance or extend the usefulness of any program one installed!
I've been hesitant to switch to Chrome for this very reason--without add-on support, I'm missing out on 50- to 75-percent of the awesomeness I've build into my admittedly slower and more memory-hogging browser, Firefox. But that's an argument that's slowly dying away. A number of Firefox's best add-ons have made the conversion over to Google Chrome, and that's exactly what I'll be exploring in this Freeware Files roundup.
These extensions are the crème de la crème. The best. The add-ons you should rush to pack into any new installation of Google Chrome, period. But that's not all--I'm also going to take a look at some apps that interact with Google Chrome or, in some cases, replace Google Chrome entirely... you'll see what I mean when it comes to interesting alternatives!
There are a lot of weird little applications and utilities out there. They aren't programs that will win a spot on anyone's top-ten list of yearly freeware or anything like that, but that doesn't mean that they are any less deserving than their peers for a spot on your desktop or laptop computer. They're just, well, small. Small and simple-minded. A number of them aspire to solve individual problems or issues with your system, and some even attempt to bolster your interactions with your computer in some newfound way. These aren't huge applications--no Firefoxes of the freeware world--but they're every bit as interesting and important to know about as the next greatest Web browser.
That said, I've taken a grand look through all instances of my Freeware Files weekly roundup over the past year, and I've pulled out some tidbits that might have flown under your radar for whatever reason. They cover a hodgepodge of scenarios, but that doesn't mean that I've just reached into the freeware sack and pulled out a random pile of apps. No, these little programs represent the best of the forgotten--apps that might not be as well-spoken in your freeware vocabulary as the more popular entities on the Internet, but ones that are nevertheless important for whatever services they provide.
Get your downloading finger ready and click the jump, for 10 of last year's most underappreciated apps await!
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!