Monday, March 03, 2008

The Best Free Software - Reviews by PC Magazine

from The Best Free Software - Reviews by PC Magazine:

157 software tools. No fees. No expiration dates. No problems. Sometimes even no downloads. No kidding.

Here are the ones I use or found interesting from the list (also at the end are some that didn't make this list - but are high on mine):

Firefox (though my primary browser of choice is IE)
Windows | MacOS | Linux This PC Mag Editors' Choice Web browser has been on top of the heap since version 1.5 came out in late 2005.

GIMP (I mainly use Photoshop - but when I dont have it I use either Paint.NET or GIMP)
Windows | MacOS | Linux The GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP) does most of what Photoshop does; the Gimpshop project ( even makes it look like Photoshop.

ajaxWindows (This sounds very cool)
Web A virtual operating system (aka Web OS), it uses Asynchronous Java-Script and XML (AJAX) programming to mimic the look and feel of a Windows desktop in Firefox or IE. It stores files (using Gmail) and runs its own applications, plus Web apps like Meebo and Google Maps. If you can launch a Web browser, you can get work done through ajaxWindows.

AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition (On machines where I cant install McAfee - this is my choice of AV)
Windows Its control center is awkward, but AVG scans files on demand, upon access, on a schedule, and in e-mail. Its rescue disks will help you recover from disaster.

HijackThis (A must have)
Windows Run HijackThis, save a log, and then post the log on sites that support the program. You'll quickly get personalized expert help to remove any malware.

EULAlyzer (another possibly cool software I might install)
Windows Wonder what you're agreeing to when you click "I Accept"? Don't worry; just drag EULAlyzer's target icon onto the EULA for a quick report on any troublesome language.

mint (This is already my favorite money management software - my post: Mint Refreshing Money Management)
Web Mint isn't like Quicken, where you enter in all your transactions. Instead, it syncs with your bank and credit card accounts online, checks your spending habits, and tells you how to improve to save money. If you're not paying attention to your spending, it'll send you regular alerts to inform you where your money has gone (nice for making sure you haven't been ripped off).

Google Docs (When I need to work on a document that needs constant shared access and collaboration - GDocs is what I use - though my primary office app is still MS Office)
Web | Mobile Google's slickly designed office suite offers online shared word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations-and best of all, finally a solid alternative in the office-suite space to the totally dominating Microsoft. Upload or e-mail your current documents for storage and editing.

Notepad++ (As a developer - I constantly use this tool)
Windows Notepad++ handles text--especially source code-in ways the basic Windows Notepad could only dream of, with embellishments like tabs and color coding.

Windows Live Mail (If you post to your blog constantly - this tool will make your life so much easier)
Windows Live Mail not only reads your Hotmail, but also can check POP, IMAP, or HTTP mail accounts. It works as an RSS feed reader and a newsreader.

SyncToy v2.0 (Another awesomely cool tool from Microsoft - keeps my life simple by doing all the back up and sync work between all my computers and the centralized backup disk).
Windows Make sure folders across your networked computers contain the same files, even on drives that change location and name.

CCleaner (I like this tool for how simple it makes it to clean the crap of your machine)
Windows The extra C is for crap, and that's what CCleaner gets rid of: all the detritus left behind in the course of using Windows.

FileZilla (Before I used to use SmartFTP - but who wants annoying ware - this works just as great and is completely free!)
Windows | MacOS | Linux Download this FTP client for accessing multiple sites or to use as an FTP server. In both cases, FileZilla has convenient drag-and-drop support.

NetStumbler (Useful for the laptop)
Windows Use it to detect any Wi-Fi network in your vicinity and see if it's open for use, or just use it to troubleshoot your own.

Google Reader (This is my favorite reader - as I can quickly move between any of the 3 machines I am working with and start of from where I left on another machine. Also you can access your reading list from your phone. One of the best online apps)
Web | Mobile Google Reader is arguably the best RSS/newsfeed reader on the Internet. Read feeds while off-line or on your mobile phone.

ooVoo (My main messenger style app is Live Messenger. But when I want to video chat with more than 1 person - this is the best. You can video chat with upto 5 other people).
Windows | MacOS ooVoo video chat is more P2P than Skype (no supernodes!), with a better picture. It supports up to six co-videoconferencers, file transfers, and group text chat.

Jing (This is the best free app to do screen captures. The interface is a little two simple and sometime annoying to work with - but its made on the platform of CamTasia - so its pretty good and fast)
Windows | MacOSx Jing shares what's showing on your monitor with others online, or records it for future viewing.

VLC media player (I constantly use this app - especially to play all the flv files I have. You can also convert your flv files to other formats)
Windows | MacOS | Linux Forget Windows Media Player. VideoLAN's open-source VLC can replace it, and nearly every other player, too. VLC supports almost every audio format and video codec imaginable and doubles as a server for streaming your music and video to other PCs. Change its skin to make it look like the player you want—even WMP.

Paint.NET (I use this app constantly. Especially when I dont need the muscle of PaintShop but need more control then Picasa - this is my go to graphics app)
Windows This program is probably the closest thing to Photoshop you can get free, courtesy of a student project.

Picasa (For browsing, cataloging your digital images this is my favorite. In addition I love how simple it makes it for me to post my images to the web using PicasaWeb. The only reason I dont use flickr is how easy it is for me to post images to PicasaWeb using Picasa.)
Windows | Linux Google's photo manager makes it easy to get pictures off a digital camera, organize them, and even edit and share them.

Google Toolbar (My favorite feature about G-Toolbar - is bookmarks. Bookmarking via this toolbar is easy and makes your book marks available on any computer - either via a web page or the toolbar. Also - I love the FireFox style search that it provides within IE. Another must have tool)
Windows | MacOS | Linux The toolbar brings Google's search and other functionality directly to IE or Firefox. It offers extras like auto fill, spell-checking, and one-click RSS feed subscriptions. (After I got most of my family subscribed to this site - its amazing how much our family tree has grown. Its easy - that even the oldest members in my family were able to get in on the action).
Web | Flash Share your genealogy with everyone in the family. They can contribute more individual profiles until your family tree is complete.

Google Earth (Just install it - enuff said. Also get the Virtual Earth control for your browser.)
Windows | MacOS | Linux Fly over familiar terrain or foreign lands with Google Earth, a searchable database of satellite images and geographical data—even images of the heavens. You can go a step further with all sorts of downloadable, gee-whiz applications from scientists, media outlets, and other third-party developers to trick out your Earth-moving experience.

Google Maps (I am constantly using Live Maps and Google Maps - dont have a clear favorite as yet - but sometimes find the Live Maps has better and more relevant search results)
Web | Mobile This interactive mapping tool goes beyond driving directions. View destinations in Street View, Satellite, or Terrain modes; check traffic updates; or look up info on nearby businesses.

Other apps I like and that didnt get a mention in the above list:

TrueCrypt: The easiest way to secure your important information. Provides you with an encrypted file which is mounted and acts like another disk drive. Simple and powerful.

OrbitDownloader: Makes it much easier to download media from web-pages. Especially useful to download a backup of YouTube videos.

Andrea Mosaic: Make cool mosaic images from many small thumbnails derived from images on your hard-disk.

WinDirStat: A very useful system utility - that shows you how your disk space is being used. Use it to quickly find those large files that you no longer need and delete them.

1 comment:

Brian said...

It's good to see so many Google products here. My on line life has resolved around Google since Gmail was introduced a few years ago. I hope they stay committed to their "do no evil" policy while I have so much of myself invested with them.