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Monday, February 21, 2011

Free Software

Free Software!  Or Is It?
I've seen countless pages where they say "Free Software!" only to find out it's only free because it's a trial.  That is the most annoying waste of time ever!  Therefore, I have compiled a list of free-for-life, no catch, the developers-just-want-some-recognition software.  Please see the licenses of each one before using it for non-personal uses.  I am a computer programmer by trade, so excuse the ones that are a little too techy.  I tried to list the ones that appeal to everyone the most.

Symantec Antivirus Alternative
Avira Antivirus - I have personally used Avira as my antivirus software.  They provide free updates, free scan scheduling and more.  It satisfies all my needs and seems to work fine (except for a malware that got through... see Malwarebytes).  The only problem is that it does pop up an Ad every so often asking you to buy the full version.  See the full CNET review here.

AVG Antivirus - I currently use AVG as my antivirus software.  I first switched because I wanted another antivirus to scan my computer to make sure it was clean.  It found a couple more things than Avira and also had a nicer user interface.  Of course Avira could have found some infections that AVG didn't, but for now I'm sticking with AVG.  Avira and AVG often fight for the #1 antivirus download spot on CNET.

Malwarebytes - This piece of free software is a lifesaver.  Along with this blog on how to remove the XP Total Security fake security program, I successfully removed an annoying program that hounds you to purchase their program.  Looking at the google search trends, it seems as this XP Total Security malware is on the rise as of March 2011.  It has been known to get past Avira, AVG, Spyware Terminator, ZoneAlarm, and AdAware anti-virus/malware programs.  You can read here for more information about XP Total Security.   You can read more about Malwarebytes on CNET.

Microsoft Office Alternative
 (Excel, Word, Visio, Powerpoint)

Google Docs -  Get a Google account and you can use their docs for free.  They have much of the same functionality as Microsoft Office.  It's not exactly the same, but it can open MS Office and is comparable.  Whatever Google Docs lacks in, it makes up in it's ability to share with others and being available anywhere you have internet access because your document is stored on their servers.

 Open Office - I admit, I haven't used Open Office for over 5 years now... Ever since Google Docs came out I haven't had the need or curiosity to use it.  However, it has been and still gets very good reviews.   It is very similar to MS Office in its functionality.

Magic Jack and Other Landline Phone Alternatives
Google Voice - I highly recommend getting Google Voice.  First of all, it's free.  Second of all, it can ring your mobile phone, computer, and second mobile, and read you your voicemail, and it's free! (through 2011 at least).  You can even use your iPod to replace your home phone.

Creating a PDF
If you own a mac, you should already know this is free and comes with OS X.  When you print a document, you can click on the button in the lower left and save as a PDF.

doPdf, cutePdf - There are a ton of free PDF creators where it allows you to print to a PDF.  These are just a couple that I have used and it suits my needs.

Photoshop Alternative

Gimp - Is a well known open source alternative to Adobe's Photoshop.  It can import Photoshop files and do vector graphics.  It has been around for a while and is very comparable to the competition.

Audio Editing Software

Audacity - This piece of open source software is a great tool when you need to edit audio files, change the volume, make a ring tone, etc.  Before I got an iPhone and started using iTunes for my ring tones, this was the goto software for me.

TrueCrypt - If you need to store some sensitive material online and need to have it encrypted, or just want your local files encrypted, TrueCrypt can do that.  It is on-the-fly encryption that is so convenient, you may not remember it's encrypted.

Almost every piece of software that you can buy has a free alternative.  The most complete listing that I have found is at the Open Source Alternative.  If you didn't see something here that you wanted for free, check out the Open Source Alternative or leave a comment.

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