As a Christmas present to you all, I’ve compiled this list of 10 Free Softwares and Services for your computing needs. As an IT guy, I’ve tested and trusted these programs over the last year, so I can vouch for their non-evilness. (Just make sure you’re downloading them from the right site!)
Here they are, in no particular order:
#1 – Gmail ( www.gmail.com )
Ditch Microsoft Office! Gmail is a must-have. The mail program alone is awesome, allowing you 7GB of mail, built-in antivirus, excellent spam filtering, tagging and searching ability, auto responder, etc., but they keep adding features that make it an all-in-one replacement for Microsoft Office on your home computer. Google Docs gives you the ability to create, edit and save Word Documents, PowerPoint Presentations, and Excel Spreadsheets. Google Chat allows text, audio and now even video chats between people (much like Skype). The Calendar function can send you SMS or e-mail notices of events. It does Contacts and Tasks too. No software to install on your computer, all the data is kept online, so there’s no need to back-up, and it’s available from any internet-connected computer.
#2 – Evernote ( www.evernote.com )
Ditch OneNote! Evernote is a place to create your own database of information – store text, drawings, task lists, webpage clips, recipes, meeting notes, pictures and screenshots, random thoughts and have them all tagged, labeled, and easy to search. Those who already use Microsoft’s fabulous OneNote program will want to switch to Evernote. Why? Because instead of a file on your computer, your data lives on Evernote’s online servers, available through their website from any computer connected to the internet. Better yet, they have a local program that you can install on any computer, mobile phone or pocket pc, and use offline, and it can SYNCRONIZE with the online data.
#3 – Delicious (www.delicious.com )
Ditch bookmarks! Delicious allows you to save website bookmarks in an online account. Never lose your bookmarks again, and make them available from any computer. Share your bookmarks with others, and see how many people have bookmarked the same links. Check out their simple-to-install buttons for Internet Explorer and Firefox which makes saving bookmarks easy. Tip: Use igoogle.com as your homepage, and add the delicious bookmark gadget, and your bookmarks are available as soon as you open your browser.
#4 – CCleaner ( www.ccleaner.com )
Windows only. Ditch your virtual garbage! Formerly known as ‘Crap Cleaner’ this program does what it says, it cleans up unneeded files on your hard drive.
#5 – AVG AntiVirus (http://free.grisoft.com/ )
Ditch MacAfee and Norton! AVG is *FREE* AntiVirus Software. Nuff said. Windows only, apparently Mac and Linux don’t get viruses.
#6 – Spybot Search and Destroy (http://www.download.com/Spybot-Search-amp-Destroy/3000-8022_4-10122137.html?tag=mncol )
Ditch Spyware! A horribly named program, but it works really well. Gets rid of all the things AntiVirus does not. It always finds things, even on brand new computers, clears out junky programs and cookies. Takes forever to run, but can improve your computer’s performance. Install it Before you have problems. Windows only.
#7 – Jagged Spiral: Days From Evil ( www.jaggedspiral.com/merch.html )
Ditch Metallica! Jagged Spiral is way better.
Download their debut album Days From Evil for free; just follow this link and scroll down to “Days From Evil Downloadable Tracks” [Update Aug 2015 – Both Jagged Spiral albums are available for free here: Jagged Spiral on Bandcamp and Jagged Spiral On Souncloud.]
#8 – Songbird ( www.getsongbird.com )
Ditch I-tunes! Songbird works with all operating systems, your I-pod, other audio devices, and your existing music library. It’s a strange musicplayer/webbrowser hybrid, so it has a few tricks up its sleeve. It can display song lyrics, artist news, flickr pictures, and even concert info auto-magically as it changes songs! It even links to where you can purchase concert tickets. Songbird is open source software (by the same nice people who brought you Firefox) so there’s plenty of user-generated plugins and color themes for it. All operating systems.
#9 – AShampoo CD/DVD/BluRay Burning Software (http://www.download.com/Ashampoo-Burning-Studio-Free/3000-2646_4-10776287.html )
Ditch Roxio and Sonic! AShampoo is really easy to use, powerful, and most importantly; it’s FREE. Windows only.
#10 – Google Earth ( http://earth.google.com/ )
Ditch Google Maps! Google Earth is an amazing program that lets you scroll around the world with a camera’s eye view that you can mark up, add pictures, notes, reviews, and share them with the world. Download sightseeing tours, create and zoom through 3D models of cities, and make sure to Track Santa’s Progress on Christmas Eve! Note: Your computer will need some horsepower to run this application.
#11 – Rocketdock (http://rocketdock.com )
Ditch desktop shortcuts! Windows XP users who are jealous of the cool ‘dock’ launcher on Mac and Windows Vista can have their own using Rocketdock.
#12 – LClock (http://www.neowin.net/forum/index.php?showtopic=157465 )
It’s really simple. The Windows clock sits on the taskbar and when you put the cursor over it, you’re supposed to get the date. Amazingly this does not always happen. Windows 95/98/ME/2000/XP ALL have this problem. The problem was solved with Windows Vista, but thankfully, a Smart person created LClock so we don’t have to upgrade to a new operating system just to get a clock that works. Run LClock and you will actually get the date when you hover your cursor over the time, click the time and a calendar of the current month pops up. Scroll back and forth through the months. Configure the color, font and position of your clock, switch to military time, etc. Basically all the things Windows clock should have done 13 years ago.
So there you go, a virtual boatload of Christmas Free-Softwareness, tested and approved by yours truly. Check back next year for more. If I missed anything make sure to leave a comment below.