App and Software News

Echoes of 'Geometry Wars'

Echoes of 'Geometry Wars'

If anyone knows me, they know one thing: I love free PC shooters. The developers at Binary Zoo have made me very happy in recent years with their excellent releases Duo and Mono, and it seems like they've done it yet again. Their new game, Echoes, combines Asteroids and Geometry Wars to create another entertaining and addictive shoot-em-up.

The game menu is very similar to Duo and Mono, and easy for anyone to quickly understand and start playing. If you've never... Read More »

Tags: Windows software

Master your Windows processes

Master your Windows processes

By now, most users know all about antispyware software, antivirus apps, firewalls, and other essential tools for keeping your Windows machine lean and mean. (If you don't, be sure to check out the Security section of our PC Starter Kit.)

However, when your PC slows down and the Windows Task Manager says that a process named lsass.exe or svchost.exe is using 99 percent of your system resources, how do you know whether it's a legitimate task or something more insidious? When in... Read More »

Tags: Windows , Windows software

Tweak Windows XP with Pitaschio

Tweak Windows XP with Pitaschio

No, that's not a typo. The software is spelled Pitaschio, and it's not the only odd bit of English you'll find in the freeware utility. Initially developed in Japanese by a programmer known as ARA, Pitaschio was only recently released in English.

Pitaschio lets you tweak Windows XP or Windows 2000 in a variety of different ways to eliminate certain annoying functions, add keyboard or mouse shortcuts, customize your windows, and perform other similar system tricks.

Once you download the tiny 55K... Read More »

Tags: Windows , Windows software , XP

Give your surfing a soundtrack

Give your surfing a soundtrack

Although Power Downloader spends a considerable amount of time in the field chasing down bad guys, part of his job is not quite so glamorous. For all the time traveling around the globe, he still ends up putting more time into research on the Web, hoping he'll find the leads he needs to capture sneaky criminals. To make the job of Web research a little less tedious, Power listens to his favorite music.

To help him stay focused on the research... Read More »

Tags: Firefox , iTunes , extensions , Windows software , Power Downloader

New Skype for Mac

New Skype for Mac

One of the best choices for online telephony for Mac just got better. The latest Skype update pushes the program to version 2.6, adding a call transfer feature and some new chat options so you can stay in touch with friends and family around the world. Skype has always been one of my favorite apps for its familiar chat-like interface and the ability to talk to users around the world for free (provided they're also using Skype). For a little... Read More »

Topics: Mac Software

Tags: Apple , Chat

Nothing faked in iClone's animation

Do you want to be the next John Lasseter? Is Hayao Miyazaki your hero? iClone Studio Edition 2.0 updates the feature-heavy, template-based 3D animation studio aimed at the amateur animator. It's a must-see app if you're trying to break into the camera side of movies and animation, or if you just want to play around with 3D animation without having to draw everything from scratch.

The installation is a bit of a drag, with a mandatory registration that also scans your... Read More »

Tags: Windows software , movies , design

Google's malware witch hunt

Ten percent of the 4.5 million URLs Google researchers analyzed for a malware expos? harbored malicious code. The code executes through widgets, ads, compromised downloads, server vulnerabilities, browser holes, phishing lures, and links, making infection possible for even ordinarily safe users.'s Robert Vamosi has the full story, and CNET has programs to add muscle to your antivirus armor. Netcraft Toolbar (for Internet Explorer and Firefox), is an antiphishing browser extension that sniffs out suspicious hosting locations common in spoofed... Read More »

Tags: Google , malware , spyware , Windows software , McAfee

Scratch: Programming from the playpen, almost

When we want children to grasp structures and shapes, we let them play with Legos. When we want them to understand programming, we'll let them play with Scratch, the latest child-oriented program to poke its beak from MIT's prolific Media Lab.

Scratch is a free animation-development program for kids that converts the main elements of programming--like objects, actions, rules, and conditions--into simple blocks you can drag from the menu list and drop into the scripting area. Snap a few of... Read More »

Topics: Mac Software

Tags: Windows software , developer

Which digital music software sounds the best?

Last week, I had an opportunity to sit down with the developers of MXPlay, beta jukebox software that lets you mash up your music with streaming movies, letting you create your own virtual music videos.

More interesting than the mashup features, however, is MXPlay's unique playback interface. A graphical interface lets you control the location of the listening audience and the position and direction of your speakers. Letting you tweak your own "room" does create better-sounding tunes. The MXPlay folks were... Read More »

Tags: music , iTunes , Windows software , Winamp

Dark Room isolates you and your text

Dark Room isolates you and your text

You are standing in an open field west of a white house, with a boarded front door.

There is a small mailbox here.

OK, not really, but the freeware Windows app Dark Room (based off the Mac OS X 10.4 software WriteRoom) looks a heck of a lot like the classic text-adventure game Zork.

The idea behind Dark Room and WriteRoom is simple: offer a distraction-free application for writing text. Both apps throw out the bells and whistles and provide... Read More »

Topics: Mac Software

Tags: freeware , Windows software