Windows and now Mac OS X only: The beta NY Times reader application which Adam gave the full screenshot walk-through treatment is now available for your Mac. The application definitely provides a better reading experience than the web site only; there are fewer ads, more ways to customise the page's layout (headlines only, headlines with excerpts, different photo sizes), and it helpfully grays out articles you've already read. (Click the image to see a full-size screenshot, where the American Idol article I read is grayed out.) The NY Times beta reader is a free download, and it requires (ugh) Silverlight to run on your Mac, as well as login details to NYTimes.com (free registration).
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Windows/Mac/Linux (OpenOffice): The Sun Wiki Publisher, a free extension for the OpenOffice.org office suite, lets you edit and contribute to any MediaWiki-based page on the web, assuming it accepts anonymous editing or you have credentials. The real benefit lies in being able to use OpenOffice's styling tools—bolding, lists, tables, and the like—instead of having to remember the MediaWiki markup style. Creating a new page is relatively simple, but editing an existing page requires, at least with this version, copying and pasting an article in Writer, then sending it to the wiki for updating. For those rocking their own wiki web pages (or thumb drives), this extension might make a nice go-between. The Sun Wiki Publisher is a free download, works wherever OpenOffice.org does.
Windows/Mac/Linux: When you want to create a large poster but don't have access to a wide-format printer, you want printing utility PosteRazor, which produces PDFs of your large image across several pieces of regular printer-sized paper. Load up your large image in PosteRazor, and tell it how many sheets of paper you want it to span, and PosteRazor will spit out the appropriate number of PDF file pages. Print out the resulting sheets and put them together to make your large poster. Just make sure your image is super high resolution. Great to make posters for the next office roast or maybe the kids' room, PosteRazor is a free download for Mac, Windows, and Linux.
Windows/Mac/Linux: Freeware Adobe Air application Snackr runs a news ticker of your RSS feeds at the bottom or top of your monitor, or as a scrolling sidebar. The application is very customisable, allowing you to add feeds individually or import an OPML file of feeds from your current reader of choice. If you like to keep an eye on all the latest updates to your newsfeeds, Snackr is an excellent option. The attractive Snackr is freeware, cross-platform, and requires Adobe Air.
Windows with Office 2007 or Mac with Office 2008: Spruce up your presentations, spreadsheets, invoices, letterhead and business cards with a set of free office templates from Microsoft. Everyone knows the default template choice in Office can be limiting, so this selection widens your range. These templates aren't the most hip designs in the world, but they'll at least separate your stuff from the default looks that ship with the office suite. The templates are a free download, and work in Office 2007 (and some in Office 2008 for Mac). Free Office Templates
Add email, calendar updates, RSS feeds, and more to your "Slide to unlock" home screen with IntelliScreen, a free application for jailbroken iPhones and iPod touches. Similar to the widgets of Windows Mobile's "Today" screen, the app lets you order and customise what info, and how much of it, you see on your wake-up screen, including new SMS messages and local weather conditions. Better still, you can bring up that email message or check out that feed item in Safari by swiping over the widget and pressing the button that pops up. The app's makers warn that IntelliScreen has run into restoration-required conflicts with a few other third-party apps, so back up anything you can't afford to wipe clean. Intrigued enough to try unlocking your iPhone/touch? Check out our guide to unlocking with ZiPhone. IntelliScreen
Windows/Mac/Linux (Adobe AIR): Free, open source application ReadAir syncs your Google Reader feeds to the comfort of your desktop. ReadAir—whose three-pane interface looks and feels much more like a desktop newsreader than Reader—also retains a lot of Google Reader features, like starring items and adding and tagging feeds. The biggest missing feature in ReadAir is its lack of keyboard shortcuts; you won't be j/k-ing your way through your unread items in ReadAir the same way you can on the web—at least not in this version. That said, the app's to-do list includes offline mode and keyboard shortcuts, so if you'd prefer Reader had that desktop look and feel plus a killer web interface when you need it, ReadAir is a great option. ReadAir is free, all platforms, requires Adobe AIR. Thanks StevieB!
The latest version 9 of the Fedora Linux distribution is now available for your downloading and installation pleasure. The Fedora-lovers at Ars Technica report:Fedora 9 delivers a cutting edge desktop stack with the latest software and version 2.6.25 of the Linux kernel. This release includes GNOME 2.22, which has some significant improvements like the GVFS virtual filesystem abstraction layer.
Firefox and Internet Explorer only: The Surf Canyon browser extension embeds extra search results at Google, Yahoo, and MSN. With Surf Canyon installed, search the web with your favourite engine as usual. A bull's-eye icon will appear next to results—click it to expand another level of links related to the single result. My test for a "lifehacker" Google search was promising: Surf Canyon included links to the official Lifehacker book, Upgrade Your Life, and a life hacks site search engine at Google Coop. Surf Canyon is a free download, and it's available as both a Firefox extension and IE add-on.
Windows/Mac/Linux (All platforms): Alliance, a free, open-source, cross-platform peer-to-peer application, takes nearly all of the security and privacy concerns out of peer-to-peer file sharing by putting you in charge of your own network. The dead-simple interface lets you add Alliance-using friends to your network and files on your system to share, and you can search, chat, and download like any other peer-to-peer app. The traffic between clients is encrypted at a low level, but you can apply an experimental SSL layer if you'd like a bit more protection from snooping. For trading files with co-workers or friends, it's a nice no-overhead solution. Alliance is a free download for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux systems.
Windows/Linux only: Freeware application Tobu is a tag-based note-taking tool with an emphasis on efficiency and keyboard shortcuts. Like most capture applications of this kind, Tobu may take some time to fully understand and integrate into your workflow, but you'll likely be rewarded once you do. I haven't spent enough of that time with Tobu, but after FreewareGenius' rave review, it looks like a strong alternative to shareware-only, previously mentioned Evernote (though it's lacking the multimedia element). Tobu is freeware, currently in beta, Windows and Linux only.
Windows/Mac/Linux (Adobe Air): Klok, a free time and project-tracking app for the Adobe Air platform, is a great time-tracking solution for multi-platform users, as well as anyone who likes to keep it simple. Simple projects allow you to simply create and describe time entries on a drag-and-adjust grid, or use a template like "Web project" to automatically create sub-categories of HTML, design, text, and the like. You can also use Klok as a work timer using the "Work On" button, and export reports and invoices for clients. Klok is a free download for any system running the Adobe Air platform.
Mac OS X and Linux: Now that you're dual booting Windows on your Mac, you want to save files to your Windows partition while you're booted up in OS X. By default, NTFS-formatted disks are read-only in OS X, but the NTFS-3G driver makes it writable. Download NTFS-3G, then use the following command to save and edit files on your Boot Camp partition:
The latest release of the popular Linux Distribution Ubuntu, numbered 8.04 and code-named "Hardy Heron," is available for download and upgrading. We pointed out most of the new features and improvements in our screenshot tour of Hardy, including a nifty Windows-based installer, file-handling improvements and upgraded applications, but you can check it all out for yourself hassle-free with a live CD. Ubuntu 8.04 is a free download for any system with a 32- or 64-bit Intel or AMD processor, but you can also request to have free CDs shipped to you. How stable and smooth have you found Hardy Heron to be? What feature or change are you still waiting to see included? Let's hear it in the comments.
Windows/Mac/Linux: Free, open source application BananaSplit divides DivX or Xvid AVI videos into user-defined chunks. There are plenty of reasons you might want to split a video using this app, but the two most obvious that come to mind are to highlight a small section of a long video or to share a large video over the internet when you're limited by filesize constraints. BananaSplit is free, cross-platform, requires Java. For a quick howto, head over to Simplehelp's step-by-step tutorial for BananaSplit.
Windows/Mac/Linux: Google Earth has updated and integrated Google Maps Street View, meaning that not only can you soar over the globe with Google Earth—you can also hit the streets and look around when you get tired of flying. In addition to Street View, Google Earth 4.3 promises time-lapse videos of sunrises and sunsets, improved speed, and better 3D graphics. It's also added new first-person controls so using the software feels closer to what it feels like to play a video game. Google Earth is freeware for all platforms.
Windows/Mac/Linux (All Systems): One fine day in the future, Google will release a Picasa client for Mac OS X, making it possible for anyone to upload or download a Picasa Web Album from any system. Until then, tools like Bradley Beach's PicasaWebalbumsAssistant will help a great deal. Beach's Java-based tool lets ou grab either public albums by entering a username, or private albums from an emailed invitation link. Better still, it offers thumbnail previews of the album you're about to download, and you can skip shots you don't need. Combined with the previously-posted, OS X-only Picasa Web Albums Uploader and Exporter (original post), Mac users can easily use Picasa's web features without a long series of file choosing and uploads. PicasaWebalbumsAssistant is a free download that works with any system running Java 5.5 or higher. Picasa Webalbums Assistant
Windows/Mac/Linux with Adobe AIR: Keep updates on all your friends' social network activities with Alert Thingy, an application for Adobe's AIR platform that brings FriendFeed functionality to the desktop. We've shown that social aggregator site FriendFeed can make it faster and easier to keep tabs on friends, and while you could track those updates with a private RSS feed, Alert Thingy lets you keep it in an buddy-list-like window, available for quick browsing and, best of all, searching. If you can't keep yourself from digging through your various social memberships to see what's new, Alert Thingy might at least make it quicker to do so. Alert Thingy is a free download for Adobe's AIR platform, which runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux.
iPhone/iPod touch: Freeware application Simplify Media streams music from any shared iTunes library over the internet, effectively giving your limited-space iPhone or iPod touch access to your entire music library—no matter what the size. To use it, you'll need to install previously mentioned Simplify Media on your Windows or Mac desktop. Then, using a jailbroken iPhone, install the Simplify Media app for the iPhone from Installer.app. (Not yet jailbroken? Here's how.) You're limited to using Simplify Media to a Wi-Fi connection, and it's a bit buggy in the beta version, but as you can see from the video, it's got tons of potential. Ooh la la
Windows/Mac: Freeware application Desktoptopia automatically loads and rotates handpicked, designer desktop wallpapers on your Windows or Mac desktop. Once you've installed Desktoptopia (not to be confused with previously mentioned Desktopia), you can set rotation speed, multiple monitor options (e.g., same or different wallpaper on different monitors), and include your own feed of images you'd like to work in with the handpicked Desktoptopia themes. The Mac version is polished and robust, but the Windows version is still in beta (requiring .NET 3.5). Both versions are freeware, so give it a try and let us know what you think of Desktoptopia's designer wallpapers in the comments. Yet another cool way to trick out your desktop. Desktoptopia