NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article, March 2010
The Best Free Software According to Gizmo
By Ira Wilsker, APCUG Director;
Columnist, The Examiner, Beaumont, TX; Radio & TV Show Host

(click to email author)

http://www.techsupportalert.com/content/easily-find- powerpoint-slides-and-presentations-using-site.htm

In these tough economic times, many of us are finding it difficult to afford new software for our computers. Locally and on line we can shop and sometimes find some deals on software, but if money is especially tight, some of us would choose to do without. Alternatively, there has always been a huge assortment of free software or “freeware” available that can adequately accomplish almost all computing tasks. While there are some mega-sites such as download.com and tucows.com that each carry thousands of software titles, many of which are freeware, there are also some lesser known websites that provide comprehensive information and reviews about freeware. One recent find that has now become one of my favorites is Gizmo’s Freeware Reviews, at techsupportalert.com.

Upon accessing the Gizmo website, the user is greeted with a graphical menu containing 20 categories of software, including cleanup, educational, games, Linux, security, programming, security, system tools, and a dozen others. In addition to free software, Gizmo offers additional categories of information in its navigation window on the left side of the main page. These additional categories include the Best Tech Websites, How-to Guides and Tutorials, Freeware Updates, Security Advice Wizard, and Video Tutorials, as well as some housekeeping functions.

Since I am very concerned about cyber security, I chose to open the Security link from the front page graphical menu, one of the 20 possible selections. I was greeted with a listing of about two dozen Gizmo articles on security software and related topics. Ranked in order of number of hits, and indication of the popularity of each topic, the first security article is “Best Free Antivirus Software”, which has had nearly 1.4 million hits. Opening the antivirus article, the user is greeted with a non-technical explanation of antivirus software, followed by a discussion of what Gizmo has determined as the best of the many free antivirus utilities. Gizmo awarded Avira AntiVir Personal Edition its top pick, narrowly beating out Microsoft Security Essentials, which is actually Gizmo’s personal choice. Each review is hyperlinked to a section farther down on the webpage, called the “Quick Selection Guide” which summarizes the pros and cons of each recommended product, download links, file size, latest version, 32 and 64 bit compatibility, installation tips, a discussion forum, and online help. The other recommended antivirus products are Avast!, and a-squared Free.

For those who might need help in deciding which security products would be most appropriate for their personal circumstances, Gizmo offers a “Security Advice Wizard” at techsupportalert.com/secwiz where the user selects his operating system, and answers some simple questions about internet habits and personal computer skills. Upon completing the wizard, Gizmo makes a recommendation of an antivirus product and a firewall. I tried the wizard using a variety of operating systems and levels of experience, and the wizard arrived at reasonable recommendations for each. The user who follows the wizard’s recommendations will likely be well served by its picks.

In addition to having information and reviews on software products, Gizmo also offers a wide selection of other helpful services and information. One that I found exceptionally useful and interesting was a listing of PowerPoint slides and presentations, under the heading “Easily Find PowerPoint Slides and Presentations Using This Site” at techsupportalert.com/content/easily-find-powerpoint-slides-and-presentations-using-site.htm. I do a lot of PowerPoint presentations in a variety of settings and to different audiences, and often have some difficulties coming up with material. Gizmo may be of great help locating material, and one such resource linked on Gizmo is Slidefinder, at http://www.slidefinder.net. Available in 23 languages, Slidefinder has proven to be an outstanding resource, capable of locating individual slides and complete presentations on thousands of topics. One of the most frequent PowerPoint presentations that I do is on identity theft; entering the term “identity theft” in the search box displayed Slidefinder’s limit of 1000 items. Scrolling over the displayed slides (20 per page), opens a larger image of the selected slide and also displays any notes integrated with the slide. A link to the full PowerPoint file is also displayed, and a simple right-click on the file name and selecting “Save Link As” will download the complete file. The primary source of the PowerPoint slides and files are hundreds of universities from all over the globe, as well as government agencies, organizations, trade associations, and other sources.

Another very beneficial section of the Gizmo website is the “Hot Finds” at techsupportalert.com/view/hot. This selection displays software deals, mostly free, offered by the commercial software publishers for a limited time. As I type this, some of the commercial software being offered for free includes PC performance enhancing utilities, anti-malware utilities, backup utilities, graphics editors, and many others. Frequently checking this list may provide the user with an occasional gem of commercial software either for free, or at a ridiculous low price, such as a recent offer (now expired) for a top rated $30 anti-malware product available for the paltry sum of 99 cents (I purchased 6 copies).

Many users sometimes need some help with accomplishing some computer tasks, or may even find some tasks that may need to be performed that they may have been unaware of. Gizmo has a “How-to Guides and Tutorials” section at http://www.techsupportalert.com/tutorials, with over 50 topics listed. The most widely used tutorial “How to Make Vista Run Faster” has been viewed over 300 thousand times. Other tutorials cover different browsers, backing up critical files, improving performance, creating a bootable rescue CD, how to reduce spam, and many other helpful and useful subjects. The Gizmo tutorials are presented in a readable non-technical fashion that is easy to follow and implement,

Gizmo has a wealth of information available, including free software that has been reviewed and evaluated, as well as tutorials and other valuable information. I subscribed to both the RSS feed and email alerts so I can always be promptly informed of any new articles and software added to Gizmo. Stop by http://www.techsupportalert.com and see what treasures that you might find.

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