06 December 2008

A practical and useful blog!

  • Dec 6, 2008

A practical and useful blog!

No ranting here.

It has come to my attention that a lot of people don't really know about these options.

Chances are, if you are reading this, you have a computer, and if you have a computer, you will probably find one or more of these things useful.
They are free.
And they are even legal.

The first are related to security. Internet relate hacking can be a big problem when someone cracks into your computer remotely and ID thefts you. A bad virus can permanently crash computer. A dialer can rack up 100s in unauthorized phone charges by using your fax line to dial 900 numbers. Mostly its just annoying software that hopes to entice you to buy some stupid crap.
While Norton and McAfee would like you to spend $60 plus a ongoing subscription charge, you can get equally good protection from viruses, spyware, and hackers, all for free.

For viruses, try AVG Free.
 For spyware (and a lot more under "advanced, if you so choose) install "SpyBot Search and Destroy"
For a software firewall, there is ZoneAlarm (A firewall keeps people from accessing your computer remotely.)
http://www.zonealarm.com/security/en-us/zonealarm-pc-security-free-firewall.htm (note: they want you to buy the pay version. Read carefully and keep clicking the free options. It is fully functional, and does everything you need)

There are plenty of other free security software out there, but not all are equal. In fact, there are some "spyware removal" programs which are actually spyware themselves, and "antivirus" programs which install their own viruses.
These 3 programs have been around for many many years, and are well known. They have been shown in tests to be as effective as the big brand name versions. I personally have been using them successfully for years.

Then there is plain old Mozilla Firefox. It seems most people already know about it. According to my data compiler, almost as many people access my website using it as use Internet Explorer. If you aren't among them: Firefox takes the place of Internet Explorer. It has fewer security flaws. It is easier to use, but at the same time has more options and is more configurable. The latest version of IE was basically them trying to catch up with the format Firefox has had all along (most obviously the "tabs" option, which allows you to have two subwindows open within the same main window.) There is the added bonus of not using Microsoft software.

Chances are that you are using Firefox to read this right now.
But within it, there is something called "add-ons" which a lot of people never notice. Its in the menu bar under "tools".
Some examples:
AdBlock Plus. It will block all of the annoying flashing and animated advertising boxes and bars on 1/2 of the websites you use.
IETab. There are some webpages that don't function right in Firefox (because they have a deal with microsoft - they are rare, but there are some). Allows you to open a page in a virtual Internet Explorer window, within Mozilla.
Download StatusBar. Puts the separate download window in a more convenient spot at the bottom of the browser window (the same place where the search bar pops up when you hit cntrl F)
GMail notifier tells you with a tiny icon in the corner when you have a new message, to eliminate the need to check 60 thousand times a day when you are expecting something. There are similar add-ons for yahoo or Hotmail. They can handle multiple accounts, and can be configured to tell you who a new message is from and the subject, and/or to make a tone so you know even if you aren't at the computer.
There are many more options, which may be useful depending on what sort of things you do on the internet. There are over 2000.
They are free, and couldn't be easier to install.
Go to "add-ons" (under tools)
Pick what you want, download, restart firefox, done!
Have you ever hit "copy" or cntrl C, and then a little later tried to paste what you copied into another place, only to discover that you accidentally copied something else more recently? Clipboard recorder remembers the last 100 things that you copied, so you can recall any of them, regardless of what you copied last. This may sound unnecessary right now, but believe me, after the first time you use it, you will wonder why it isn't built in to the operating system.
If I had to estimate, I would have to say I use it about 1 million times a day. 

All of these programs are genuinely free. There are no ads, no reminders begging you for money, and they are not illegal copies.
They are just free.
Some have pay versions, with more features.
Some simply were never made for the sake of profit.
If you like the software, I encourage you to donate to the people who created it.
Its a whole different outlook, creating things to share with the world, w/o attempting to extract as much as possible from it. But I said I wouldn't rant.


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