Saturday, November 17, 2007

Land Of The Free

Heard or read lately of any pernicious virus/Trojan Horse/etc going crazily viral in the Web lately?

Maybe not. Maybe because the devilish sprites in the virtual world have simmered down, or simply grew up and matured.

But still, it is best to be protected from them 24/7. Like those inscrutable jihadist/ terrorists, who knows when they will see fit to strike again?

It is easy to imagine why we could let our guards down. Most of the tools and measures we need to give us some sense of security still cost more than a pretty penny.

Take anti-virus software for example. True, companies like Comcast offer free anti-virus protection (McAfee) to their subscribers, but it still costs more than a pretty penny connecting to Comcast’s broadband Internet. Have you asked lately how much to get the latest of Norton’s anti-virus?

But for those desirous of owning their own free-standing anti-virus software, but one that could be had for FREE, that is still a reality. AVG Free offers one ample protection and has been popular with many users. Home users can download the software free and can use it in as many PCs at home that they have.

And there are still loads of free software out there for different purposes, with many of them being “open source” software.

Even the seemingly unchallenged but dearly-priced Microsoft Office suite has a rival that can be had for free – The Star Office. And this is not a new kid on the block. I still have on file the version that came in about 5 floppy disks which I downloaded for free many years ago. The proprietary owner, Sun Microsystems, had this available many, many years ago, and it has undergone countless revisions and/or enhancements. Now you can even get this as part of the Google Pack – as a free bonus. And guess what, it is not only compatible with Microsoft Office, it can do most anything MS Office can do, and more. It is open-source.

And there are many more freebies, as multi-media software, media players, and image editing software.

There is Picasa which comes with the Google Pack, one of many photo-editing software out there.

There is Audacity if one is into recording and editing sounds. And it works across many different platforms – Windows, Mac, Linux, etc. Much like the commercial software, this can record live audio and convert tapes into different formats like from .wav files to mp3s.

And if you want to try a media player other than Windows Media Player or QuickTime or Real, you may want to try another open-source, VideoLAN.

It seems there is a glut of freeware and shareware out there to satisfy the most discriminating computer users.

One just needs to be selective and cautious about the credibility and reliability of each one. Fortunately the web itself does provide the information necessary to learn about these free software.


  1. Do you know if Bots are detectable by these anti-virus, anti-spyware programs, either free or not?

    Bot planting seems to be the priority now for the malicious jerks out there up to no good.

  2. Phil, I doubt if anti-virus or anti-spyware do a good job of protecting against all Bots.

    I read that some bots are spread by anti-virus.

    But not all bots are bad. They are easy to create, many claim, and most of the time they are an aid to productivity.

    But you can count on us humans to abuse and misuse.

  3. I have GIMP, which an open-source image manipulator just like Photoshop. GIMP can also create GIFs, but I'm still learning how to use this free blessing from the l33t gods.

    I don't know about Star Office. What I am familiar with is OpenOffice. Can Star Office create PDF files?

  4. You know what, Dave, though I secured a copy of Star Office I never had the opportunity to install and use it, since I always had access to the commercial version, MS Office.

    Over the years, I have secured a lot of software, some still on floppy disks, with the plan that someday I would learn about each one of them.

    Believe it or not, I still have a copy of Windows 3.1 which came in 4-5 floppy disks. And Windows 95 which came in 12/14 floppies.

    Does anybody remember PCAnywhere?


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