Archive for the ‘Software’ Category

Free Software that Makes My Life Easier Part 3: Odds and Ends

February 21, 2008
3-35-disk.jpg
This is the last post in this series for now. These applications and add-ons are in no particular category or order. Just a few of the programs and add-ons left after the previous two post.
Book Burro. This extension will recognize that you are shopping for books and give the prices for the same book from several different sites. I have saved as much as $12 on one book. Great tool for researching college books as well.
Audacity. This is a great free application that allows you to record and edit sound. Even if you are not a sound professional, this one can be fun to just tinker with.
Avery Design Pro. A handy tool if you do a lot of your own business printing. Has template and design from scratch options for most office needs. Business cards, labels, informative brochures,etc.
VLC Media Player. A great video player that plays most all video formats.
Claimwin anitvirus. A great free, open source virus scanner for your computer. It offers free updates,and a scheduling option among other options.
Turblister. This will of course only apply if you list items on Ebay regularly. It has a very user friendly interface with loads of options for editing and keeping up with your inventory.
Firefox Companion for Ebay. This is a great tool for both sellers and buyers on Ebay. It lets you keep track of all the items you are selling and watching within your browser.
Data Crow. This an awesome database application that is freeware. It is for those of us who have an extensive book, video, and music collection. It allows you to keep track of all these items by category, genre, and several other ways. You can also keep track of whom, if anybody, you have let borrow material as well as when they got it.
Celestia. If you are not a fan of astronomy, skip this one. This is one of the best celestial viewing programs out. It does not confine you to the surface of the earth, rather you can travel out into the heavens and actually circle planets and the like. Great for children who are enthralled by the solar system.
Since writing the first two post, we have been informed of other programs that people are using to simplify their lives, so as time permits we are going to install and review these programs, and once we have enough we shall post again on this topic.
If there are any free applications or add-ons that you use, feel free to leave a comment about them!
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Free Software that Makes My Life Easier Part 2: Mozilla Firefox Add-ons

February 18, 2008

Firefox add on symbol

Here we are going to list some of the Firefox add-ons that have been extremely helpful in saving us time and effort on a daily basis. There are too many add-ons available to count, just don’t get carried away and install too many (it will affect browser performance, I know!). My advice is to stick with only the add-ons that you will be using more than once a day. I look at them as ways to increase productivity, or to save time and money; they must meet one of these criteria before I will install them.

  1. Session Manager. This is the first add-on that I use when I open my browser. It probably saves me 10-15 minutes daily. You can create as many sessions as you wish and label them all. I have several, but my core session is the one that I use daily. It includes all the pages I visit daily. Be sure to create a master password before you save a session. It will open in tabs and log you in automatically after you enter your password. Try it out.
  2. Scribefire. This add-on will only appeal to you fellow bloggers out there. It opens an interface at the bottom of the page and allows you to post to your blog instantly.
  3. PDF Download. This is a great tool. How many times have you clicked on a link only to find it is a .pdf file that takes 5 minutes to download? This add-on stops that. Whenever you click on a link that is a .pdf, it automatically detects the file and lets you choose how you want to handle the file.
  4. No Script. If you visit sites that you are not familiar with often, this add-on is a great security feature. It will allow absolutely no script to run on the page without your permission. You only have to allow sites that you frequent often once, and there is a menu if you change your mind about certain scripts.
  5. Auto Shutdown. This allows your computer to automatically shutdown once all files have been downloaded. I usually grab any music, podcast, or videos before bed and let them download. Whenever they are finished, my PC automatically shuts down. At the time of this post, the add-on was not found. It is possible that an update is being processed.
  6. StumbleUpon. This will add a StumbleUpon toolbar. If you frequently use this application, this is a great tool. All of your stumble options can be managed from the toolbar.
  7. Twitterbar. If you use Twitter to let friends know what you are into, this allows you to post to Twitter directly from your address bar by clicking a little green circle.
  8. Answers. Provides one click information on words or phrases that you may encounter on the net.

These next two are for the Thunderbird email client developed by Mozilla.

  1. Lightning. Adds calendar functionality to Thunderbird.
  2. Provider for Google Calendar. Allows Lightning and Sunbird to sync with Google calendar.
I hope that you will find some of these useful! Have a great day and enjoy making your life a little easier!

Free Software that Makes My Life Easier Part 1

February 17, 2008
2 3.5 floppy disk
Over the last few years the amount of free, open source software has increased exponentially. Most of these programs work just as good, if not better than, their “name brand” competition. Here is a list of the 100% free software that I use on a daily basis.
  1. OpenOffice. This is by far the program that I use the most. It has all the features that MS Office has, and you can even save in Office format if you need to share the file widely or use it on a system that you cannot download OpenOffice on. You can get you free copy here.
  2. Gimp Shop. Same features as Adobe Photoshop, only loads cheaper. I will say that if you are not familiar with photo editing software, this may not be the best choice for you. The amount of editing this program allows you to complete is astronomical.
  3. Adobe PDF. This is a free pdf reader. I usually end up hitting one or two files online each day that are only available in .pdf format.
  4. Mozilla Firefox. This is a great web browser. The add ons are phenomenal, and it is a very smooth running browser that has rarely crashed on me. I will write another article on my favorite Firefox add-ons; way to many to list here!
  5. Mozilla Thunderbird. A very sleek email program that is similar to Outlook for sending and receiving emails. Also has add-ons available to add the calendar aspect as well.
  6. GnuCash. This is a program to rival MS Money, Quicken, and other financial software. It is not as easy to navigate, or set up as the others, but it has good built in help files to get you started. Be sure to download the last “stable” release.
  7. MusikCube. If you only listen to music on your PC, this is a very light media player. It has a wonderful customizable dynamic play list that lets you create your own dynamic list.
  8. Truecrypt. If you travel and use flash drives for sensitive information, this is a must have. Cutting edge encryption that actually makes the data invisible to those who do not know it is there. Website has more details.
  9. Sunbird. Another Mozilla application. A very user friendly calendar. I use it to schedule routine task. Also, you can download an add-on that will sync with Google calendar so you have access no matter where you are!
  10. Keypass. A password tool that keeps all your passwords encrypted and in one place. Allows drag and drop feature, and you can link to the sites inside the program.
Those are just a few, the rest will be revealed in later post. I think we will also do a post on Firefox add-ons only. They really make the functionality of my browser go through the roof.
What free software do you use? Ever had any massive failures while trying open source programs?