Ahh, the new year is nearly upon us. And, naturally, it's that time to start making a list of all the things that you'll likely end up putting off in 2010. The dreaded "New Year's Resolution" list is really just a fancy way of saying, "I'll get to it." Right? But it doesn't have to be. Post-it notes can be ignored and shopping lists can be misplaced, but there's no stopping a concrete digital solution from reminding you of all the things you promised yourself come the drop of the ball January 1.
That said, you don't have to use this week's batch of friendly to-do and reminder tools to just keep track of your resolutions. These various free and open-source software programs do much more than just that. From integrating with existing online tasks lists, to delivering GUI-free methods for organizing tasks, to tracking your online auctions (no less), these apps deliver a virtual smorgasbord of options for keeping your life in check. You'll never look at another Outlook calendar or Google reminder the same way again.
Make reading this post your first big resolution of 2010, and then click the jump to get a head-start on organizing next year's big projects!
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!
This week's edition of the Freeware Files may seem a little unusual, but hear me out. A number of you faithful Freeware Files readers are going to be receiving (or have received) awesome gifts from Santa/your parents/Best Buy this holiday season. Trust me--I checked the list myself. Caught up in the frenzy of new toys, phones, and gaming devices to play with, you've probably neglected your poor ol' PC for the time being.
A number of the goodies you're playing with actually have unique little third-party tricks for interfacing directly with your desktop or laptop. Yes, that's right. You can actually use the non-computer components and devices from your living room or pocket to enhance your normal PC use. And these aren't just little remote desktop hacks that let you see your PC's screen on your phone or something. I'm talking about hacks that blur the line between your PC and your game controllers or phones, unlocking new usefulness for your desktop system with devices that are anything but.
So, if you're the proud owner of one of these products, click the jump and see how you can use them to enhance your PC experience:
Ahh, batteries. The bane of any laptop user. It always feels like you just never have enough juice to finish whatever it is you're trying to do on your portable PC. And as the minutes count down on you notebook's battery estimation, you do everything you can to squeeze working time out of your laptop. You crank down the brightness to a near-dusk level. You disable the Wi-Fi in the hope that the Web pages you've physically downloaded will be enough to allow you to finish your work. You even quit out of as many applications and extra processes as you can think of to terminate--maybe a more idle CPU will make for an extra minute or three.
While doing the "Battery Dance" is an unavoidable part of portable computing, you don't always have to be caught off-guard by the ol' low battery warning. Not only are there a handful of applications that give you more details about your remaining battery life than Windows' default notifications, but there are also a bunch of utilities that you can use to squeak as much time out of your laptop battery as possible. Even better, a few of these utilities even automate this process in the background--you won't have to click a single button to reap the benefits of their tweaks.
Provided you still have some juice left in your laptop, click the jump. With luck, we'll be able to get you some extra battery life so you can finish the article...
You wouldn't be an average Maximum PC reader if you didn't have 30 different windows, tabs, and applications open at once. After all, what's the point of having a computer that's dressed to the nines if you aren't using up every available resource each time you sit at your desk? Although it's been said that multitasking actually does much to impair your focus and efficiency in dealing with tasks versus a methodical, one-at-a-time approach, all the science know-how in the world isn't going to stop the average geek from using his or her computer to do a billion things at once. That's just how it goes.
So now that we're all candidates for the 12-step multitasking program, how can we go about making the actual act of multitasking more efficient? And no, I'm not talking about those applications that you can use to tell you just how much time you're spending in each open window--if anything, knowing that one spends 95% of one's day looking at cuteoverload.com might be discouraging if nothing else. No, there are ways to quicken and improve your multitasking without resorting to needless shaming.
Minimize your windows, click the jump, and I'll show you five apps that will make your multitasking even better. No. Really. Minimize some windows already..
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!
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.
Mozilla just launched the official gallery for this new framework last week. As you might expect, there aren't a ton of browser add-ons to play with. However, I'm going to take a look at five of the more innovative, interesting, and downright install-worthy of the Jetpack add-ons that are currently available in this week's freeware roundup. And remember--you can install and uninstall these add-ons without mucking up your browser session whatsoever, so feel free to be a Firefox Rocketeer and grab as many as you want to try out!
There's nothing wrong with the Windows 7 desktop per se. But for freeware developers, that's no excuse not to tweak, hack, and otherwise modify every possible piece of your screen. And it's not that difficult to add new functionality to your desktop that doesn't otherwise exist in the operating system. The hardest part is finding software that makes a substantive change to what you already have. After all, the last thing you want to do is install a ton of different freeware apps and find your desktop in even worse shape than it was before (if you do, take a quick trip to Revo Uninstaller).
Generalities aside, what exactly can you do with all these desktop add-ons? The choices are near-limitless. I won't spoil all of what's in store, but here are a few tidbits. With the apps featured in this week's freeware roundup, you can re-skin your entire Windows 7 desktop with a brand-new UI, transform normal desktop links into start menu-like item browsers, and build new functionality like middle-click focusing to standard taskbar icons.
It's time to take your desktop to the next level--join me after the jump!
There's one thing I think of when Daylight Savings Time hits: zombies. Seriously. All that extra time in the dark just fuels the undead flames for an eventual takeover by our semi-bulletproof, plant-hating masters. It only makes sense, then, that I use this weekly freeware roundup column to provide you with some kind of effective training for fending off the gruesome hordes. And beyond that, you'll also find a few more fun freeware games to busy yourself with as the angry, moaning masses slowly overwhelm your pitiful human defenses.
Now that we've established the plot, let's check out the titles. A hearty mix of retro throwbacks, MMOs, and crazy puzzle games await your attention after the jump!