Archive for May 2010

Do You Like Free Software?

Hey, everybody likes free software – just be careful what you get. Enter anything you want into a Google search with the word FREE and all kinds of things will show up. If you’re not careful, you can download a FREE VIRUS – how’s that for a deal?

For you readers, here are a few of my favorite free software choices that won’t get you into trouble:

For Windows machines, I like Picasa for doing simple editing and cleanup of photos. It’s from the folks at Google and you can find it just by going to www.Picasa.com (note that it’s Picasa ending with an “a” and not Picasso like the painter with the additional “s””. Do you shop online and like to keep the receipts? Rather than printing them out and storing them in a filing cabinet, use CutePDF to “print” your receipts (or anything else that can be sent to a printer) into a PDF file that you can save on your hard drive. I buy a lot online and CutePDF lets me store all the receipts into a folder on my hard drive that makes life much easier at tax time for my accountant (which is this month if my calendar is correct.) You can download CutePDF at www.CutePDF.com, just download the CutePDF Writer. It installs as if it were a printer and you’re ready to go.

For the Mac, Anxiety is a useful to-do list manager to (hopefully) reduce the stress in your life in getting all the things you need to get done, done. It works with iCal and Mail. You can download it at http://www.anxietyapp.com/. Carbon Copy Cloner lets you backup your entire hard drive to another, allowing you to boot to the 2nd drive should the first one fail completely (and it happens more often than you know.) Download it at http://www.bombich.com/.

Stay away from sites offering free music or movies (like LimeWire), this is an excellent way to contract a virus. If you think you’re getting something that costs money in a store for free online, it’s probably going to cost you more than you know by the time you get your computer cleaned up.

Be skeptical and be safe. One of the best places to go for free software is http://sourceforge.net/. You’re not going to find Microsoft Office for free, but you might find a program that does something close. Want Photoshop but don’t have $400 to spend, then check out Gimp. There are a lot of genuinely nice people developing programs because they enjoy doing it. Some will ask for but not require a donation, that’s only fair. If you like a program, throw a few dollars their way to encourage them to keep improving their program. If you can say “I wish I had a program that ……..”, then you’ll probably find something at SourceForge.net that meets your needs.

Until next time….

Laurie Scott / Tek-Chic Systems

“Because Everybody Needs a Geek in Their Life”®

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