Hi my name is Jay.
And I'm addicted to freeware and Open Source software.
I used to think it wasn't a problem. That I was on a budget. That I was just being part of the counterculture against corporate software. That I was an adventurer, searching for the new and the exciting.
Then I looked at the file where I keep my downloaded files. The dozens of downloads that I had no idea what they even were any more. Then looking them up again on the Web and wondering why I'd decided to download THAT?!?!?
I looked at my program folder and discovered dozens more programs that I'd never used after that first time right after I'd unzipped the files. I discovered multiple versions of some and multiple programs that all do basically the same thing.
It became obvious that I had a problem.
Astoundingly there is no twelve step program for me. No support group to turn to in those darks hours when yet another graphics program sings its siren song through my monitor. I must face the legions of DTP software, the armies of registry utilities, the hordes of anti-virus programs alone.
But I shall prevail.
First anything that I couldn't identify immediately I simply deleted. If I really need it I'll find it again. Then a quick sweep through Program folder ruthlessly deleting programs that I never use.
I freed up a rather amazing amount of space on the ole hard drive.
Now I begin with just the best stuff. And I thought I'd share with you. I promise you're not enabling my problem.
Open Office - I've been using this Office replacement now for about 5 years and I'd never go back. This is a great freeware, open source and cross platform productivity suite. Which means it has a word processor, presentation, database, spreadsheet and graphics applications. I've found it very easy to use, it's updated regularly and it has a good looking and easy to use interface. Look at what Microsoft's Office costs then compare.
Irfanview - when it comes time to look at your graphics and photos and do very simple changes (optimize, convert, size changes, some other basic but common functions) I've never found anything I liked better than this. And I'm not alone. It's got a huge following.
Firefox and Thunderbird These have become so mainstream it's almost strange to include them. I've tried most of the other web browsers and none impress me to the point of giving up on Firefox. I've used Thunderbird at home for two years and love it as well.
Audacity Freeware, open source, cross platform and just amazing. I haven't even scratched the surface of this audio recording and editing software. With all kinds of whiz bang effects available to download too. Everything you could need right up to professional usages.
Those are pretty well known ones. They show up on all the "Best..." lists every year. Here's a couple that may not be so well known:
Screen Monkey - This is show and presentation control software out of England. The ability to run videos, graphics, song lyrics, live video all that seamlessly through your computer's second monitor option. The big name software costs hundreds if not over a thousand bucks. This one? Free. Still being updated and works very nicely. PC only.
Free Serif Software Discovering this site was almost too good to be true. Another European company they offer older versions of their software for free. The older versions are still quite excellent. DTP, graphics (photo and paint), web publishing and 3D. All free. All very good. I've used PagePlus and PhotoPlus the most.
Artweaver This one's from Germany I believe. A really outstanding graphics program with lots of options and capabilities.
Coffee Cup software This is another for profit software company (an exceedingly cool one in my estimation) that also offers some software for free. Some of it is pretty basic but they are fully functional and very useful. And usually have their very own quirky personality. My two favorites here are the Free Zip Wizard (I haven't used anything else for years) and the DHTML menu builder. Very nice.
Hmmm, I haven't even scratched the whole anti-virus/internet security field. Maybe next time.