Five minutes here, a lunch break there, the urge to procrastinate. The free browser-based Flash game has evolved with the technology, producing some high-quality time-killers that can interrupt the most productive of days. With volume comes choices. But you don’t want to waste time browsing—you need the definitive go-to guide to the best of what’s out there. We did the leg (hand and mouse) work for you. Many sites collect hundreds of these free games—check out Kongregate.com, Armorgames.com, Gamebrew.com, as examples—but scan our list and you’ll be on the road to fun, free entertainment in no time. Plus, for a hint of nostalgia, or to get your feet wet with casual gaming, spend some quality time with classics of the genre, collected in our list of all-time favorites.
Does your favorite time-wasting game make the list?
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.
The games are played, the votes are tallied, and our crack team of vote tabulators has tabulated the results. We’ve played literally hundreds of games this year—big games, small games, good games, and games that just plain sucked—solely for the purpose of presenting you, our adoring audience, with the undisputed list of the finest moments, experiences, and surprises in gaming for the year 2009. Without further ado, we now commence Maximum PC’s Gaming Awards!
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!
I'll preface: not that kind of hardcore file management. And I'll promise: I will do my best to not make some kind of witty reflection about how it's the new year, and you should really use this time to finish that big resolution of getting your computer's file system all tidy and organized, et cetera. Only, I just said that. And that's exactly what this first Freeware Files of the 2010 is about. Enclosed within the bits and bytes of this post are five killer applications that are designed to help out your cluttered, aging file system by hunting down junk, helping you organize, and giving you new ways to tackle issues that bugged you in 2009.
There's no freeware app that's going to get me to stop with this extended metaphor, unfortunately. But don't let that keep you away from the helpful programs found within the bowels of this very post. Need an app that better manages your Windows 7 libraries? Got it. Need a way to recover deleted files from a USB key? Fear not. Want to catalog and delete the duplicate files taking up unnecessary space on your system? Get ready to itch that trigger finger.
Those are but mere snippets of the full assortment of apps in this week's roundup. If frustrating file issues and a steadily decreasing amount of hard drive space makes you mad, then angrily click the jump with all your might--solutions are but mere moments away!
In the Intel galaxy, the CPU is an inexorable black hole. A gravity well so strong that nothing can escape it as it consumes every function of the PC.
Don’t believe us? Witness add-in MPEG-2 decoders, hardware modems, hardware-accelerated soundcards, and Ethernet controllers, all of which have been swallowed by the all-powerful CPU. With Intel’s last CPU, the Lynnfield LGA1156 processor, the memory controller and even PCI-E functions were eaten by the CPU, too.
Now with Intel’s new Clarkdale (and its mobile equivalent, Arrandale) the company is taking the first step in trying to eat a gas-giant of functionality by moving a GPU core directly inside of the CPU.
But not only is Clarkdale the first Intel chip with graphics, it’s also our first glimpse at a CPU using Intel’s new, smaller-process technology. Current Core i7 and Core i5 CPUs are based on the original 45nm Nehalem design that Intel introduced more than a year ago. Clarkdale uses a newer 32nm process that is part of the Westmere family. For the most part, Westmere is an evolutionary step forward and a simple die-shrink of Nehalem, but Intel did add some interesting performance enhancements.
Read on for details about what makes Clarkdale unique.
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!
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!
In many respects, it’s more difficult to build a great cheap PC than it is to build a more expensive one. In fact, the less money you have to spend, the more vital it is that every dollar delivers measurable value. With that in mind, we sat down with one simple goal: to build the best inexpensive, multipurpose PC that we would want to use ourselves. We didn’t start with any particular budget, but at every turn we shaved as much from the cost as we could—trimming the fancy case, ditching an unnecessary 800W PSU, and scuttling the spendy Core i5 CPU.
The result is an incredibly lean, but still powerful machine featuring a quad-core CPU, a GPU capable of playing anything on a 22-inch panel, and… well, you’ll have to hit the jump to see the rest. Rest assured, though, this is a machine that would be welcome in any of our homes, whether we’re playing games, editing video, touching up photos, ripping movies, or simply surfing the Internet. Oh yeah, we’ll also show you how to assemble the components like a pro, one easy-to-follow step at a time.
And just to keep the whole thing good and honest, we stopped by our local Best Buy and bought the best comparably priced system they had, which we pitted against our ultra-budget machine in a steel-cage match to the death. Want to see who wins? Read on to find out.