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Free & Nearly Free Software : Geeks2020

Free & Nearly Free Software

Life online is simply better if you have great tools. Everyone has their favorites, and my favorites are cheap (or free), simple to use, and effective. The software below should save any frequent online user gobs of time as well as endless headaches.

But first — a message from our webmaster. Many of the programs and services below are “free” as in no charge, no cost. That said, you can often contribute to the author with a link or a contribution through PayPal. Support the developer community. If you find software and services you like tell other people and throw some money into the till or buy an upgraded “professional” version.

  1. The Open Office suite of FREE software products includes an advanced word processor, spreadsheet, and other programs, It can be obtained for Windows, Linux, and other operating systems at: openoffice.org. Even better, get the program on a CD-ROM for a few dollars. Go to AlternativeSoftware.com. The package includes a word processing, spreadsheet, e-mail, graphics, web publishing, scheduling, database, and management applications.
  2. IBM’s Lotus Symphony is similar to Open Office but with a better presentation program. Both are free. (IBM makes this program available for Windows, Mac, etc. Be certain to pick the right download.)
  3. Everyone uses e-mail, and the best e-mail program is Pegasus. It’s free, has great address books, works easily, can be used for mailing lists, and generally will not be bothered by computer viruses. Why? Because most viruses (but not all) are designed to interact with better-known mailing systems. Another top choice, GMail.
  4. If you have your own site and get a lot of mail that you don’t want — you know the kind — then you want Mailwasher. This program identifies blacklisted addresses you select while the mail is on the server and before it is downloaded to your computer. In effect, it lists your mail and allows you to get rid of mail you don’t want before downloading. Is this good? You bet because a lot of virus-ladened mail will not reach your computer. As an alternative, consider K-9, an e-mail filtering system.
  5. If you want a good anti-virus program, try such options as Grisoft, Avast 4 Home Edition, Clamwin, Comodo, Kasperski Labs Anti-Virus Software, NOD32 Anti-Virus Software, Antivir PE, NOD32 Anti-Virus Software and Vintage Solutions.
  6. For those who build their own web sites you may find that a coding error makes the page seem strange. Sometimes such errors are hard to find, thus the need for an HTML validator. The best I’ve seen is HTML Power Tools by TaliCom. The program works wonderfully, it’s easy to use, and the company has actual people who promptly read and answer e-mail. This is the way products should be sold online, and it’s refreshing to find a site that offers responsive customer service.
  7. If you work with art online, you want to get a copy of Paint Shop Pro. This program handles a variety of graphic formats, and allows you to make or edit your own art. Entirely worth the money.
  8. Need a calculator for your website? Go to HughChou.Org, Hugh has a huge number of calculators and they’re available for the price of a charitable contribution. Hugh’s site also contains a lot of common-sense financial advice.
  9. If you need to back-up your computer to an external hard disk or to floppies, then try EZ-Back-up. This is a great little program — and it’s free.
  10. There are now a number of online back-up sites that will automatically copy and store your content. The best of these synchronize files among different machines so that you are always working with the latest files. Also, these systems can be used to share files with others. As examples, try: Syncplicity and Dropbox.
  11. Ever wonder how web designers build sites with moving banners, signs that seem to teletype messages, and other tricks? The secret is a fascinating program called the “Gif Construction Set” from Alchemy Mindworks. This is another company that "get’s it." The have a great product, charge a fair price, and are helpful with questions sent by e-mail.
  12. If you have a web site you need a way to move files online, delete them, and generally manage a site. You can’t do better than WS_FTP Pro. I have more than 1,000 pages online, and this is the program I use to manage such content.
  13. If you want to send or receive large numbers of files — but cut down their bulk — the best approach is to “ZIP” the files with PK ZIP. This is a wonderful set of programs that I’ve used for years with great success. The program can bundle files together, and also undo ZIP files you receive. Free unzipping programs include numerous options from SnapFiles.
  14. To pack or unpack files sent in a MIME format, use the free Mpack program. Get the one which is right for your system at PCWorld.com. There are Mac, Linux and Windows versions.
  15. Files are often distributed in an “Adobe” format — material that looks and prints out as though it was printed. For a free reader, go to the Adobe site.
  16. Speaking of searches…. You would think there would be a quick and easy way to find files and words on your own computer. Good luck. However, there is a wonderful — and free — program that does this without creating massive files, reporting back to a website, or keeping a log (the history can be deleted). Agent Ransack is simply great — it’s the free version of FileLocator.Pro. Desktop search systems to try include Copernic and Google.
  17. If you do not want some of the new features associated with later editions of AOL, such as its dialer, companion and spyware scheduler, then review the disable information found in England. If you do not want the Windows messenger feature, then read about Shoot the Messenger.
  18. To find spyware, try such free programs as Ad-Aware SE (Personal) and Spybot.
  19. A number of sites offer free firewalls. Check out: Sygate Personal Firewall, Avast, Jetico, 8Signs and The Tiny Personal Firewall.
  20. If you want a user-friendly and sensible browser and e-mail system, try Mozilla. Mozilla provides free software that works with a variety of platforms. If you value competition and diversity in the marketplace, you want to support Mozilla. For other free browsers with many strong features, try the Opera and Avant browsers. Another great choice: Google Chrome.
  21. If you have a website it’s good to have an invisible counter to track usage. A problem with “free” counters is that they often pollute your site with unwanted ads. For a free, invisible counter with no ads, try StatCounter.com. For a free, visible counter with many good features, go to SiteMeter.c
  22. If for reasons of privacy, client confidentiality, etc. you want to remove all content on a disk before giving away a computer, try Kremlin, Kill Disk or Sure Delete. Both are free. Another choice is Darik’s Boot & Nuke, program. Darik also has a list of links to other free cleaning programs. In all cases, these are serious data-destroying programs to be used with care, so user beware.
  23. There are other approaches to privacy as. For instance, TOR programming allows one to build a website anonymously — not a bad idea for whistle-blowers or those who must live in oppressive countries. Anonymous surfing and communication is available through the Java Anonymous Proxy, Anonymizer.com and GhostSurf.
  24. Imagine if you had a word pad — a simple word processing program that is about all that most people need — which included a spell checker? There’s such a thing, the Cetus CWord Pad — and it’s free.
  25. Another excellent alternative to the word pad is Jarte — it allows you to work on several documents at once, save automatically, spell check, etc.
  26. Ever need to create PDF documents? Why pay hundreds of dollars for a conversion program? Instead, just get Open Office, a free program, or the equally-free Primo PDF. Both are open-source and excellent.
  27. For flash drives and such, try PortableApps.com. These are excellent FREE programs that you can stick on a flash drive and, essentially, have a portable computer on a stick. Visit this site — it is great.
  28. There is a lot of “freeware” available online, programs without licensing fees of any kind. Good places to locate such software include The Gizmo List, Snapfiles, Tucows, TheFreeCountry, SoftPicks and ZDNet.
  29. One more — many of today’s programs originally had freeware versions. You can find many early freeware programs that morphed into more-expensive applications at 321Download.com.

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