The line between Web apps and desktop applications grows ever blurrier. Chrome OS, for example, puts the browser front and center and makes it the core of an entire operating system. Also, in recent years simple smartphone apps have really come into their own, with millions of users and developers in two thriving ecosystems (iOS and Android). And now, it's the desktop's turn: Pokki is a free Windows application that tries to make Web apps as easy to use as desktop apps and as discoverable and fun to install as smartphone apps.
A desktop app store is not a new concept: Mac OS X has had one for a while, and so has Ubuntu Linux. Windows 8 has one as well, for Windows-8-style apps. But unlike the Windows 8 Store, Pokki works on existing versions of Windows.
The Chinese zodiac is thousands of years old, so what better decoration for your glossy, state-of the-art PC? The twelve zodiac animals make a stately parade across your Windows 7 desktop with the Chinese Zodiac Windows 7 Theme. PCWorld editor Kim Saccio-Kent selected these wallpapers from the many available at deviantART, an online community showcasing user-created art and photography.
The wallpapers depict all the animal signs in the Chinese zodiac and follow the twelve-part cycle, beginning with user kacza-ino's image of a rat and ending with MPtribe's tattoo design of a pig. Each of the images is striking in its own way; many use contrast to show the beauty and power of the animals. Most impressive is a close-up of the piercing eye of a tiger. User fennecx's big cat is nestled in a fiery golden coat, with ripples of black and white. KalleVictor's snake has a sublime appeal, with its lush scales of varying green tones against a background of darkness.
If you're new to the indie game Botanicula, then this free Windows 7 themepack will serve as a visually splendid introduction to it. And if you've already played it…well, is that any reason to deprive yourself of the delightful visuals and quirky sounds that are such a big part of the game's charm? PCWorld has put together the Botanicula Windows 7 Theme to bring the distinctive feel of Botanicula to your desktop.
Botanicula comes to you from Amanita Design, the same folks who created Machinarium--although there's little family resemblance. This game is set in a colorful world of nature rather than a brown and beige steampunk universe. The story involves a team of five insectoid friends who travel through the branches of a tree--their homeland--to save it from energy-sucking parasitic enemies.
The wallpapers in this themepack give you a good feel for the game's eclectic spaces and inhabitants, from the ethereally beautiful domains of the enemy, to escapades on the moon and on glowing pastel branches, to encounters with giant tortoises and crabs, and worms hidden in vibrant green sprouts.
It's that time of year when mosts of the Northern Hemisphere is starting to warm up to the idea of being outside. Going for a run in the fresh air sounds appealing, but don't lace up your shoes just yet. Spending a few more minutes at your computer (or in some cases, your mobile device) can help you choose the best route and make the most of your workout.
Free (but ad-supported; ad-free paid versions available) cloud-based service MapMyRUNoffers a host of tools for runners of all levels. MapMyRUN lets you search for nearby running routes, or you can create your own on its embedded maps. Getting started with MapMyRUN is a breeze: Sign up for a free account, and you'll be good to go. Your options for planning and tracking workouts and nutrition are neatly laid out, in a tabbed interface across the top of the screen. From your Home screen, you can see your recent activity, including workouts you've completed and food you've logged.
ZoneAlarm is an old and trusted name in the field of computer security. Its free personal firewall has been popular for years, and now, it has decided to step up its game: Its latest product takes the solid foundation of the free firewall, and adds a free antivirus on top. With this move, ZoneAlarm Free Antivirus + Firewall competes directly against Microsoft Security Essentials and the built-in Windows firewall. PCWorld has not yet tested this product's effectiveness, but I sat down with the software to evaluate its features.
This isn't ZoneAlarm's first crack at creating an antivirus: PCWorld previously tested and reviewed ZoneAlarm Extreme Security 2012. Although we were impressed with the malware protection features of that product, we were disappointed with its scan speeds and impact on PC performance. ZoneAlarm Free Antivirus + Firewall may perform similarly, but we will know for sure only after PCWorld completes performance testing of this product.
Unfortunately, I can't say my first impression from ZoneAlarm Free Antivirus + Firewall was entirely positive: I picked the detailed installer option to see what the defaults are, and was surprised to discover that ZoneAlarm wants to install a browser toolbar, replace my default homepage and search engine with ZoneAlarm-branded pages, and not provide me with an easy way to undo those changes (even though such a feature exists--the checkbox is disabled by default). These options are collected on one step of the setup process, making them easy to spot and disable. Having done so, I continued with the setup with no incident.
If you have something great to share with the world, there's no better place than the Web to do it. But you need more than a website; you need the perfect domain name and all the other things that optimize your site for search engines. These three programs and suites help you harness the power of search engine optimization to make your website a highly-ranked hit. SEO software doesn't come cheap, so research these well to see which best suits your business.
Creating a money-making online venture is not a simple challenge. Market Samurai is a comprehensive suite of tools aimed at making the process easier by helping you track down lucrative keywords, buy the right domain for the job, and more.
Over the years, Lavasoft's Ad-Aware product line has made itself a name in the highly competitive anti-malware marketplace, and today's release of version 10 introduces a new UI, new pricing ($12 per year for Personal, $36 per year for Pro), and more features--and a new name--for the popular free edition. This blog item discusses only the new design and features. PCWorld has not tested yet tested Ad-Aware 10's effectiveness in fighting malware.
The work Lavasoft put into the UI shows right from the installation phase. Ad-Aware uses its own custom installer, which downloads the most recent definitions file as part of the installation process, so you don't have to update Ad-Aware immediately after installing it. Slick as this is, the installer does still require a system restart before Ad-Aware can start working.
As part of the installation process, Ad-Aware suggests installing its browser toolbar, and switching your default homepage and search engine to Blekko. These are enabled by default, but you can opt out of them if you wish.