Free paint program falling somewhere between paint and photoshop.Please note: You will need to have the Microsoft .NET Framework installed in order to run this program.
Mixxx continues to raise the bar for digital DJ software by being completely free, running on all major desktop OSes, and being constantly enhanced. Mixxx estimates the BPM of each song to help you beat match, lets you adjust the tempo of your tracks without changing their pitch, control Mixxx with your favorite MIDI devices and hardware like the Griffin Powermate, and visually see the dynamics of a track, just like with vinyl. Mixxx was designed by DJs, for DJs, and is distributed freely under the GPL. Mixxx is also completely free of spyware and adware.
Scratch is a new programming language that makes it easy to create your own interactive stories, animations, games, music, and art — and share your creations on the web.
Scratch is designed to help young people (ages 8 and up) develop 21st century learning skills. As they create Scratch projects, young people learn important mathematical and computational ideas, while also gaining a deeper understanding of the process of design. Scratch is available free of charge.
Universe at War: Earth Assault is this year's Rise of Nations: Rise of Legends. In other words, it's an attempt to deliver an old-school real-time strategy game that features three incredibly unique and distinct factions. And in that regard, Universe at War delivers because it does introduce three alien races, two of which feel like they haven't been seen before in RTS gaming. At the same time, Universe at War also sports some major flaws that hamper it quite a bit.
This is an alien invasion tale where, refreshingly, humanity takes a backseat. When a malevolent alien race known as the Hierarchy invades Earth to turn its inhabitants and belongings into raw material, all hope seems lost. Then, a crusading army of sentient machines called Novus arrives to battle the Hierarchy. Their fighting awakens a long-lost race that was hiding on Earth, the Masari. And, thus, the stage is set for an intergalactic war on Earth's surface.
The differences among the three factions are deep. The Novus build a network node that can encompass the map, which allows them to quickly shift forces around in the blink of an eye. The Hierarchy is like a destructive force of nature because their harvesters scour the map for raw materials while their lumbering walker war machines are like land battleships. Then there's the Masari, which might be the most conventional of the three because they center on the construction of a powerful base and defenses. However, the Masari have the most powerful and expensive units in the game. They can also alternate between two modes: light and dark. The former lets them move faster to inflict more damage, while the latter grounds all their air units to slow their enemies. When you drill down and get used to them, each faction has a lot to offer. For instance, if you're the Hierarchy, it's a lot of fun to just crush your enemies using walkers, but it's also fun watching those same walkers run headlong into your layered defenses if you're the Masari.
Universe at War's single-player campaign at first follows the traditional scripted campaigns of most RTS games. You begin as the Novus then move onto the Hierarchy as the game's tale of war and betrayal unfolds. When you pick up as the Masari in the third act, things change. Out goes the scripted storyline and in comes the global strategic metagame, which is like a big game of Risk. You decide which territory to invade next and then resolve the battles in real time. It's not a particularly deep strategic layer, but it does help shake up the formula a bit. When you're done with the campaign, there are various scenarios that let you play the global metagame different ways, or you can jump into regular skirmish mode against the system.
The game shines in the multiplayer realm, where a human opponent can exploit each faction's advantage to the maximum. The artificial intelligence in the single-player game can knock you around if you're not careful, but it generally doesn't vary tactics: a human does. Universe at War has the standard ranked and unranked skirmish modes that you'd expect; however, the game's most ambitious online feature is pretty neat. Conquer-the-world mode allows you to try to take over the world by yourself. You try to conquer the individual territories on the planet by battling someone in multiplayer. If you win, you seize that territory in your game. However, to partake in conquer the world, you have to have Games for Windows - Live Gold. This isn't an issue if you already have an Xbox Live Gold account and own an Xbox 360, but if you don't, then you'll have to pay up to become a Games for Windows - Live Gold member.
Universe at War suffers from some key issues. The most noticeable is the zoom level, which is almost nonexistent. If you can imagine playing a game with your face just inches from the screen, that's what Universe at War feels like at times. It's annoying to see a single Hierarchy walker fill up more than half the screen and realize that you can't pull the camera back any farther. It's such an artificial and painful limitation not being able to actually see the battlefield. The controls are also clumsy. If you try to click on a unit, at times, it won't register. Or if you try to double-click on a unit to select all of its type on the screen, it won't register at times. Meanwhile, there's no basic RTS functionality, such as waypoints, so you've got to micromanage every movement of your units.
Graphically, Universe at War has some pretty units, like the aforementioned walkers. They look almost organic in nature, with their glistening skin and bulbous curves. However, the rest of the game's visuals are a bit dated, from the blocky, polygonal look of many of the characters to the generally bland textures. The game does feature support for DirectX 10, but DX10 performance comes to an absolute crawl, even on a high-end PC that can run Crysis at maximum detail. This occurred even when all the graphical settings were dropped to the absolute lowest. Performance in DirectX 9, on the other hand, is excellent and smooth, even at the highest graphical settings. There's very little noticeable difference in image quality between the two.
Upon load, the game starts with a chilling and brutal cinematic scene that wouldn't be out of place in Spielberg's War of the Worlds movie. The scene shows human infantry brutally and mercilessly cut down by relentless, unstoppable alien war machines. Unfortunately, the tone of that scene is quickly lost because the game features corny dialogue that seems taken from a cartoon. The cigar-chewing human protagonist is all macho bravado. Meanwhile, the sentient machines of Novus sound like Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation trying to be cute, the Hierarchy leaders talk like they're dripping evil, and the Masari are haughty nobles. The music can be pretty engaging, but because each faction has its own distinct theme, the rest of the audio is also inconsistent. The background sound effects of civilians fleeing in terror are neat, until you realize they're the same for every single map. So whether you're battling in the Sahara or South America or Siberia, they all sound like Middle Americans.Aside from the unique races, Universe at War doesn't really introduce anything new to the genre. If anything, this is a very traditional real-time strategy game in the vein of Command & Conquer. Given that Petroglyph was formed by many veterans of the original C&C, that's not too surprising. What's perplexing is that the game seems to miss a lot of the innovations that have rolled into the genre since C&C. These include basic features, such as movement waypoints. But it also includes newer concepts, such as the ability to zoom the camera back and see broad swaths of the battlefield. So while there's stuff to like in Universe at War, there's also stuff to dislike
We're not quite done our first week (of 3 weeks total) of preparation for our upcoming shoot week, and already we have 39 of 45 guest slots booked.
This is the most ahead we've ever been at this point in a shoot cycle, so spirits are high.
We'll need to keep up our momentum, as we have a very quick 2 week turnaround (instead of the usual 3 week) in December, so we want to start booking a cycle ahead starting now, so that we can keep up the quality and quantity of guests heading into our last shoot of the year in December.
The good: Firefox has a tabbed interface; includes a pop-up blocker; built-in, multiple search tools; and built-in RSS reader. It is stable and free.
The bad: No ActiveX support, so not all sites work in Firefox.
The bottom line: Firefox's tabbed browsing, RSS support, security features, and overall cool factor make it more attractive than Internet Explorer.
Mozilla Firefox is the dream Internet browser you've been looking for. Featuring a host of small technical improvements, including tabbed browsing, built-in and customizable search bars, and a built-in RSS reader, Mozilla's Firefox browser is the one that should finally put a dent in Microsoft Internet Explorer's unrivaled market dominance. While its lack of ActiveX support might prevent some sites from working properly, after more than three weeks of use in our tests, Firefox remained fast and stable and displayed an impressive range of cutting-edge browsing options. We were able to view every Web site just fine, thank you. If you're fed up with the latest Internet Explorer security patch issued from Microsoft or with the latest virus to capitalize on some flaw in IE, you should switch to Firefox--now.
It took us about 2 minutes to download the Firefox installer, and we had our browser up and running in less than 10 minutes. The Mozilla Organization offers a number of tools to ease the transition from Internet Explorer. For example, the application asked us if we wanted to import our bookmarks from IE, then did so with aplomb.
Most of the Firefox interface labels are intuitive, although users may need to learn a few different menu terms from those in IE: Options instead of Internet Options, Cache instead of Internet Files. In fact, at a glance, Firefox looks and works almost exactly like Internet Explorer.
Perhaps the most noticeable interface difference from IE is the addition of a customizable search bar built into the Firefox menu bar. Although Google, Yahoo, and others offer plug-in search bars for Internet Explorer, the Firefox search bar is much more flexible, allowing you to add not only other search engines but Amazon.com, eBay.com, Dictionary.com, and even IMDB.com.
One major interface difference is Firefox's tabbed browsing feature, which lets you open several Web pages within a single browser window. Quickly move among pages by clicking the tabs at the top of the window. Compare that to IE, in which you must open several instances of the Microsoft browser, each requiring system resources. So viewing multiple Internet pages in IE can tax your computer, while tabbing through multiple pages within Firefox will not. Tabbed browsing is also available in the Apple Safari and Opera browsers, but not in Internet Explorer.
Another nice feature is a built-in RSS reader. In other words, Firefox delivers automated updates of news or blog content from sites that you subscribe to in advance. Internet Explorer offers no such beast. Mozilla calls these RSS feeds Live Bookmarks because the content is dynamic. With Live Bookmarks in place, we were able to read the latest headlines from sites such as News.com, Slate.com, and Slashdot.org. There are third-party RSS readers that work with IE 6.0, but it's nice to have this functionality built into your browser.
Firefox is more secure than Internet Explorer, in part because most criminal hackers look for holes in the industry leader--that's just efficient business. But there are also several structural differences that make Firefox an inherently more secure browser. First, Firefox doesn't support VBScript and ActiveX Controls, which are often the source of attacks and vulnerabilities within IE. Unfortunately, the lack of ActiveX support also affects the performance of some Web sites. For example, the pop-up menu at Slate.com, a Microsoft site, didn't work within Firefox, but we were still able to navigate the site. Also, while Outlook Web Access did work, some of its features were missing or rendered differently. But at most sites, Firefox worked just as well as IE 6.0.
Another difference from Internet Explorer is in how Firefox handles secure Web sites, such as e-commerce or online banking sites. When visiting a secure site, Firefox highlights the address bar's URL in yellow and shows the Lock icon. If you click the Lock icon, you can review the site's security information and decide whether to continue. The domain name of the site you are visiting is also listed in the right-hand corner of secure windows, so you know the true source of every page. A criminal hacker might be able to spoof the location bar address, but he or she won't be able to spoof this secondary address display. Given all this security, we were still able to log on to secure financial sites, including Citibank.com and Fidelity.com, without any problems.
Like Microsoft, Mozilla has developers building helper applications for Firefox. While there are more plug-ins available for Internet Explorer, the Firefox plug-ins, called extensions, are much more varied in nature. For example, Chatzilla is an IRC chat client, Adblock blocks flash advertising from Web sites, and Mouse Gestures lets you navigate using simple mouse movements. There are currently 170 extensions available for Firefox, compared to several hundred plug-ins currently available for Internet Explorer.
Keybreeze is a small, command-line toolbar that’s only visible when you are using it. You can activate it by pressing a hotkey on your keyboard. Then you can type keywords to open files, folders, and websites. Keybreeze comes with over a hundred preset keywords, and you can easily make your own. You can also type commands to search the Internet, look up a word in a dictionary, check the weather, activate the screensaver, create a note, or shut down your computer. Keybreeze commands can be configured to perform more advanced options, such as automating your repetitive computer tasks, inserting custom text into a document, or changing the display settings of a window.