NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article, October 2009
The Best Things In Life Are Free
Written by Lou Torraca, President, The TUG, HI
AF06HI(at)gmail.com (click to email author)

This article has been obtained from APCUG with the author’s permission for publication by APCUG member groups; all other uses require the permission of the author (see e-mail address above).

The moon belongs to everyone,
The best things in life are free.
The stars belong to everyone,
They gleam there for you and me.
The flowers in spring, the robins that sing,
The moonbeams that shine, they're yours, they're mine.
And love can come to everyone,
The best things in life are free.

So goes the song, written in 1927, way before PCs were all the rage! Well, guess what, some of the best programs and utilities for your PC are also free, yup, I said free! I have been asked a lot of questions recently about some of them so I decided to do a list of the ones I use plus others I know about and have been tried and recommended.

Thinking about a new computer? Are you a bit techie? If so, you could save yourself some money as well as have the satisfaction of putting your own together by yourself. Not so inclined? You can still save on programs and utilities. Without further ado, here is a list for you to consider.

First for the techie who wants to put together their own PC…an operating system that is totally free.

What is Ubuntu?
Ubuntu is a community developed operating system that is perfect for laptops, desktops and servers. Whether you use it at home, at school or at work Ubuntu contains all the applications you'll ever need, from word processing and email applications, to web server software and programming tools.

Ubuntu is and always will be free of charge. You do not pay any licensing fees. You can download, use and share Ubuntu with your friends, family, school or business for absolutely nothing.

New versions are released every six months. That means you'll always have the latest and greatest applications that the open source world has to offer.

Ubuntu is designed with security in mind. You get free security updates for at least 18 months on the desktop and server. With the Long Term Support (LTS) version you get three years support on the desktop, and five years on the server. There is no extra fee for the LTS version, we make our very best work available to everyone on the same free terms. Upgrades to new versions of Ubuntu are and always will be free of charge.

Everything you need comes on one CD, providing a complete working environment. Additional software is available online.

The graphical installer enables you to get up and running quickly and easily. A standard installation should take less than 25 minutes.

Once installed your system is immediately ready-to-use. On the desktop you have a full set of productivity, internet, drawing and graphics applications, and games. Pretty neat isn’t it? Download: http://www.ubuntu.com/

Now for everyone else, here are some really excellent programs and utilities you can have at no cost. (BTW, many of these free programs and utilities have a donation button where you can voluntarily help the developer with updates, new apps, etc. I suggest you try the app first and then if you really like it and decide to keep it, you can make a donation, however this is strictly a voluntary thing.)

First is the number one priority…anti virus. I’ve used both AVG and Avast for a long time and, knock on wood, have never had a problem. Both also have pay versions that include lots of other stuff, but I’ll be listing all those types of apps as we go along.

To download AVG: http://free.avg.com/download-avg-anti-virus-free-edition

To download Avast!: http://www.avast.com/eng/download-avast-home.html

Both of these work well and provide you with protection from viruses, but do yourself a favor and read the information that both provide and follow the instructions…this applies, of course, to all programs, apps and utilities!

Next, you need a firewall and the most popular and the one I use is Zone Alarm which for a free app, provides a lot of flexibility and prevents the bad guys from getting into your computer as well as making your computer invisible to anyone on the internet. To download the free version: http://www.zonealarm.com/security/en-us/zonealarm-pc-security-free-firewall.htm

10 years of malware experience combined in one dynamic application. Ad-Aware - Anniversary Edition offers radically improved performance and efficiency, along with comprehensive malware protection. With real-time monitoring, threat alerts, and automatic updates you can rest easy knowing that you are protected. Download: http://www.lavasoft.com/products/ad_aware_free.php

SpyBot-Search and Destroy complements adaware.

...if you see new toolbars in Internet Explorer that you didn't install, or you experience other problems, you may have spyware. This program helps prevent marketing companies from gathering information about your Web surfing and purchasing habits, and selling it to advertisers. Download: http://download.cnet.com/Spybot-Search-amp-Destroy/3000-8022_4-10122137.html

Windows Defender is a free program that helps you stay productive by protecting your computer against pop-ups, slow performance and security threats caused by spyware and other potentially unwanted software. All 3 of these programs work to keep your PC running smoothly. I use them and they definitely make a difference.

Now you have your PC pretty well protected, how about productivity apps? No problem; OpenOffice.org 3 is the leading open-source office software suite for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, databases and more.

It is available in many languages and works on all common computers. It stores all your data in an international open standard format and can also read and write files from other common office software packages. It can be downloaded and used completely free of charge for any purpose. Sounds like the big guys Office? It does and it also does pretty much everything that other guy does! Download: http://download.openoffice.org/

Next, a free program that rivals Adobe Photoshop…and we know what that costs!

The name is a bit misleading but the program is spectacular! GIMP can be used to process digital graphics and photographs. Typical uses include creating graphics and logos, resizing and cropping photos, changing colors, combining images using a layer paradigm, removing unwanted image features, and converting between different image formats. GIMP can also be used to create animated images using an improved layers method. The full capabilities of the GIMP extend much further, however, and include advanced image editing, manipulation, and professional graphics creation. It is often used as a free software replacement for Adobe Photoshop, which is the dominant bitmap editor in the printing and graphics industries. Download: http://www.dphotojournal.com/download-gimp-photo-software/

To keep your system running at its best, CCleaner is a freeware system optimization, privacy and cleaning tool.

It removes unused files from your system - allowing Windows to run faster and freeing up valuable hard disk space. It also cleans traces of your online activities such as your Internet history. Additionally it contains a fully featured registry cleaner. But the best part is that it's fast (normally taking less than a second to run) and contains NO Spyware or Adware! :) Download: http://www.ccleaner.com While you’re there, I’d also recommend downloading their defraggler, another app which will help keep your system running smoothly. You can schedule daily, weekly or just manual defrags…it’s pretty easy to use and does an excellent job.

Last, but not least, a program I can't live without. Yankee Clipper III, a powerful Windows clipboard extender/memory-now in its third generation. Handles Pictures, Richtext, URLs, etc-any size. Features printing, drag and drop, optional permanent storage of clippings. Familiar "Outlook" interface. Just a couple of its features: Saves past 200 text and RTF, 20 BMP and Metafile, and 200 URL clipboard entries. Has the ability to save and re-use "boilerplate" clippings. Simply right-click on the item and select "send to boilerplate". Unlimited boilerplate collections can be created. Download: http://www.intelexual.com/products/YC3

That's it until next time.If you like the freebies on this list, login at the top of the page and let me know; there are lots more out there. Enjoy all the goodies, but remember to be careful as the bad guys are lurking!

Aloha, Lou

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