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!
Organic light-emitting diodes, or OLEDs, are often touted as the next big thing in display technology, offering brighter colors, true black, lower power consumption, and better off-axis viewing than traditional LCD screens. They’ve popped up in gadgets from high-concept to mundane: The infamous Optimus Maximus keyboard, for example, utilizes many tiny OLED screens in its programmable and customizable keycaps, and both Sony’s new X-series Walkman and Microsoft’s new Zune HD have OLED screens. OLED technology has made great strides in the past 10 years, and cheaper and better manufacturing processes mean they’ve started appearing in everything from media players to phones to high-definition televisions—even keyboards. But what are OLEDs?
It’s been a while since we’ve posted a Parts and Price Guide on the site—okay, it’s been a long time. Now we’re back and better than ever, and so are the system specs we’re pairing you up with this month. We’re starting you off with a $1000 PC, which is a happy mid-way price point between the $700 recession special and $1500 budget surplus found in this year's Dream Machine roundup. $1000 may not seem like a steal for the truly frugal, but in a world of fluctuating economies and ever-changing technologies, getting the most “bang for your buck” is more important than getting rock bottom prices at the expense of performance. And in the time since we last posted a buyer's guide, new awesome technologies like Intel's Core i5 and ATI's Evergreen series of GPUs (which powers the Radeon 5870) have redefined our expectations of budget PC performance. With these computing advances in mind, we've carefully pieced together a sub-$1000 spec that doesn't break the bank or compromise performance.
Follow along for the secret to a hearty, healthy computer, for only a grand!
Are you stuck using Outlook at work? We feel your pain. Compared to the alternatives, like Mozilla's light-weight and customizable Thunderbird client, Outlook is slow, bloaty, and downright unwieldy. Add to the fact that it isn't free and Outlook doesn't appear to have much going for it.
But whether you use Outlook because you have to or have grown accustomed to its interface and are reluctant to switch (or maybe you just want to justify the cost of Microsoft Office), we have some tricks to help you manage your email and contacts like a pro. After all, if you're going to use Outlook, no matter what the reason, you might as well get the most out of it, and we're here to help you do just that.
Windows 7 is out, and many of you have gone through the process of upgrading to the new OS with a clean install. And while you'll enjoy the new features like Aero Snap and an ISO burner (finally!), Windows 7 still lacks some basic functionality that we've come to expect from using PCs on a daily basis. For example, cloud storage file syncing and wide compression format compatibility are things we've taken for granted from essential freeware and open-source applications. Here's our list of five utilities that we really wish Microsoft bundled with Windows 7. And if you agree with us, use one of our recommended user-friendly auto-installers to get these apps.
On October 29, Canonical is set to release Ubuntu 9.10 (codenamed “Karmic Koala”), the newest installment in the Ubuntu product line. In anticipation of this release, we took the release candidate (RC) for a test drive. Ubuntu 9.10 RC comes on a LiveCD just like its predecessors and allows you to test a fully-functional installation of the operating system without installing it. The boot process looks very different from previous versions, especially since the old progress bar has been replaced with one that just moves from left to right while providing very little useful boot progress information. However, the boot process is still extremely fast compared to many other distros and you always have the option of disabling the boot splash screen if you want to see detailed boot information.
Additionally, the installation process now automatically sets your system time from an online time server and now includes a slideshow to introduce you to the features of Ubuntu as the system installs. And for the first time, Ubuntu now allows you to encrypt your home directory out of the box by providing a new option for it during the setup process.
I feel as if we just crossed this path the other day. But that's okay. On the grand scale of "pony-themed games" to "extremely useful freeware applications," automatic application installers--or package mangers--tend to fall toward the latter end of the spectrum.
I wouldn't be broaching this topic so close to a previous, similar roundup were it not critically important for you to check out some of the apps that I've recently found. Although a few package managers might slip into the mix, the freeware programs I'm about to profile today... aren't really programs at all. At least, they aren't installation packages in the way you're typically used to seeing them.
Unlike package managers, which require you to install a separate application that contains some fancy list of other applications to download, some of the apps I'm investigating today remove this extra step from the equation. When stumbling into the official Web site of said programs, you're given the opportunity to customize a list of programs you want to install before you have to download anything. Once you're ready, the site creates a single executable that--if all goes well--downloads and spits the applications onto your hard drive without so much as an extra mouse click of your time.
Of course, that's the best-case scenario. There are still a number of helpful "application packages" that are a wee less automated but still worth looking into. I'll be exploring a host of automated installation offerings below, so click the link to get started! And if you need any further encouragement, one such tool cut my typical post-installation software installation time from around 30-45 minutes to a grand total of five--five hassle-free minutes, mind you.
By now, many of you will have a fresh copy of Windows 7 in your hands, ready to load up onto your PC (we show you the right way to do it). But while that stock Windows install may be OK for your mom, but is it good enough for you? Never! You deserve a Windows that soars above the clouds, swift and strong. That’s why we collected our team of Windows experts and spent countless hours mucking around in the registry, downloading little-known tools, and searching for new keyboard shortcuts to bring you this, our finest Windows tips guide of all time.
Dig it: we give you the definitive list of kick-ass, Maximum PC–approved tips and tweaks for Windows, whether you run XP, Vista, or Windows 7. While some are specific to Microsoft’s latest OS (you’ve upgraded, right?), many will work on XP and Vista, as well. So sit back, relax, and get ready to make Windows better.
Do you have fond memories of Window's 3.1's retro graphics? Do you remember the wonder you felt the first time you used thetaskbar?Well we do, and that's why we're using Windows 7 Week as an excuse to take a moment for a quick, visual tour of Windows’ constantly-changing GUI. From 1.01 to Windows 7, we’ll show you how the operating system has gradually evolved from an ugly duckling to snazzy, Aero-powered swan.
Read on, and bask in the warm glow of Windows nostalgia.
Since the dawn of Windows, power-user tipsters (us included) have proffered hundreds of suggestions with the promise of improving your PC’s performance or streamlining its operation. The tip-givers have the best of intentions, but do all of those tweaks, registry hacks, utilities, and “undocumented secrets” really make any difference? To our surprise, in a number of cases, it turns out that tips that sound great on the surface don’t actually do anything when you put the screws to them. And some of those complicated registry hacks are more easily done with tools like TweakUI, saving you a lot of hassle.
We put 25 of the most commonly published XP and Vista performance tips and registry hacks to the test. Do the speed tweaks yield dividends? We clocked performance with PCMark and timed boots and shutdowns repeatedly after making the changes suggested in the tips. In the end, we found that many tips were right on the money, but some were outright wrong or just a waste of time. Some tips fell into the gray area in between, offering some improvement but perhaps not enough to merit the trouble of the hack to begin with.
Read on for our results. You’ll never tweak the same way again!