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Free Software. From the Internet. Rosemary Lloyd Big Bear Computer Club June 6, 2010. Freebies Safety Considerations. Consult tech savvy people Search reputable web sites carefully Read user reviews Not integrated into Windows Less popular can translate to smaller target. RocketDock.

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Free software l.jpg

Free Software

From the Internet

Rosemary Lloyd

Big Bear Computer Club

June 6, 2010

Freebies safety considerations l.jpg
Freebies Safety Considerations

  • Consult tech savvy people

  • Search reputable web sites carefully

  • Read user reviews

  • Not integrated into Windows

  • Less popular can translate to smaller target

Rocketdock l.jpg

If you have purchased a computer from Dell in the last year or so, you may have seen the Dell Dock. It is a stand alone ‘toolbar’ that contains program icons.

RocketDock is a similar application launcher. It is very easy to add or remove icons, change the look and behavior of the dock and relocate it to another area on the screen. All of these attributes are in ‘Dock Settings…’.

I like RocketDock because it reminds me of the Windows Quick Launch bar that used to live at the bottom of the screen. In Windows 7, the Taskbar has some cool, new features. However, Quick Launch is not available. The new Taskbar will not accept all of the application launching icons that I want to use. Hence, we found RocketDock.

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Some RocketDock Features

What does RocketDock do? It gives you a fast way to open programs that are used often. Instead of filling the desktop with program icons, drag them to the dock.

Move the mouse over an icon and it enlarges for easier viewing

Open programs have an arrow pointing to their icons. (That is very Mac-like)

The right side of the dock shows minimized programs

Open the ‘Dock Settings…’ to change RocketDock’s look and behavior

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Created by Punk Labs

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Security Essentials

  • Microsoft’s Security Essentials is an anti-malware program.

  • Download from

  • Security Essentials is not included with Windows 7 (or any previous version)

  • It is easy to install and configure

  • The default is to schedule a weekly scan. The user interface is pretty basic.

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Foxit PDF Reader

  • Foxit is an alternative to Adobe’s free PDF reader.

  • It is not constantly phoning home looking for updates

  • Not as vulnerable to potential exploits

  • Current version is available

  • From Foxit Corporation. They have other pay for software.

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  • CutePDF is essentially a PDF printer.

  • Installs as a printer

  • Shows up in the list of available printers

  • Asks the user to select where to save the file (about to be created), and to give it a name

  • The file created is in PDF format

  • Use CutePDF to save electronic ‘prints’ of invoices, receipts, web pages, documents, etc.

  • If you can print it on paper, you can ‘print’ (save) it with CutePDF

  • It is from Acro Software, which also offers pay for programs.

Synctoy l.jpg

  • SyncToy 2.1 is from

  • Synchronizes files and folders between locations

  • SyncToy helps to manage file synchronization

  • After initial setup, it monitors

    • new files created

    • changes to file content

    • changes to file names

    • file deletions

  • Whatever happens to files on the original drive is replicated on the backup drive

  • Synchronization may be done manually, or run automatically via Windows Task Scheduler

  • SyncToy does not have a built-in scheduler.

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  • Firefox is the open source web browser from Mozilla.

  • Microsoft’s Internet Explorer has about 60% of world-wide market share

  • Firefox is number 2 with approximately 25% - 30%

  • Remaining web use is mostly shared by Google’s Chrome, Apple’s Safari and Opera

  • May be less vulnerable to malware exploits that Internet Explorer

  • Keep Firefox up to date

  • The user is the first line of defense against receiving malware on their computer.

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A Few Firefox Features

  • Open a number of web sites in one window

  • Click on the tabs across the top to quickly move between web pages

  • Open multiple windows

  • Many available plug-ins and add-ons

  • Themes

  • Automatic updates

  • Manage and protect passwords

  • The browser is highly customizable

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  • Thunderbird is another open source product from Mozilla.

  • Email client that installs on your computer.Alternative to Microsoft‘s Outlook, Live Mail or Outlook Express email programs

  • Manages multiple email accounts

  • Each message opens in its own tab

  • Under the ‘Sent’ folder, each mail account is listed separately

  • The ‘Search all messages’ looks in all of the mailboxes

  • Thunderbird has an address book

  • Create ‘Mailing Lists’ to send messages to groups of contacts

  • Thunderbird does not have a calendar or task list.

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Open Office

  • Open Office is an open source ‘Productivity Suite’.

  • An alternative to Microsoft Office 2003

  • Open Office consists of 5 programs

  • Writer is the word processor, equivalent to Word

  • Calc mimics Excel

  • Impress does presentations like PowerPoint

  • Draw is roughly equivalent to Visio

  • Base is a database program like Access

  • Writer, Calc and Impress can open and save files with Microsoft format. Draw and Base are very powerful and can do most of what Visio and Access do. However, their files are not compatible with Microsoft.

  • Primarily sponsored by Oracle.

Gimp and gimpshop l.jpg

GIMP is open source photo editing software. The Windows operating system includes Paint (located under Accessories in the Start Menu). You can use paint for basic photo editing. At the other end of the spectrum is the pro standard, Adobe Photoshop. In between are many other photo editing programs. GIMP is very powerful. You can do basic photo manipulation and fancy effects (including one of my favorites, make the background transparent). Add GIMPShop if you want a Photoshop like interface.

GIMPShop has many editing tools available. ‘Levels’ and ‘Curves’ can be used to fine tune color, brightness, contrast, etc. These and other features are found in high end photo editing software.

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Peter’s Online Typing Course

If you want to hone your typing skills, Peter’s can help. There are other pay for programs available. Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing is one of the better known.

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  • Create web sites using Araneae, a text based editor.

  • Use Araneae to create and edit web pages

  • Supports HTML, CSS, XML, XHTML, PHP, etc.

  • It has a search function for locating specific words in a document

  • View the web page instantly in the default browser

  • Open multiple web pages in separate tabs

  • From OrangelineInteractive Incorporated.

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  • After you create and edit your web pages, they need to be uploaded to the web site host server. FileZilla is one way to do so.

  • It is an FTP program

  • Input the web host login information into the FileZilla ‘Site Manager’

  • Connect to the web host

  • Drag and drop files from your local computer to the remote server and vise versa

  • The web site is then updated on the Internet.

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  • Audacity is an audio recording and editing program.

  • Use to record audio (voice, music, etc.)

  • Convert records and tapes into digital recordings

  • Burn onto CD’s

  • Imports and exports MP3, WAV and other sound files

  • Remove noise

  • Add effects

  • Change pitch or speed

  • Record multiple tracks

  • Mix music

Audacity developed at

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Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor

  • If you have a relatively new PC running Windows XP or Vista, you may be considering updating to Microsoft’s latest Operating System. That is Windows 7.

  • The Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor takes most of the guesswork out

  • Download and install it

  • The Advisor checks hardware and software on the computer

  • It finishes with a report on potential problems with running Windows 7

  • The report makes recommendations for what to do before upgrading the OS

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Gibson Research Corporation

  • GRC is the brainchild of Steve Gibson, a longtime computer security expert. This web site has many useful tools to help users identify security holes in their computer systems. Then it offers ways to fix security problems.

  • ShieldsUP checks Internet security on your system.

  • It performs a reverse DNS lookup to discover your computer’s ‘machine name’ on the Internet.

  • Go through the series of services that it tests, looking for vulnerabilities on your PC.

  • Perfect Passwords is a password generator.

  • It creates 63 or 64 character passwords that are extremely random and safe.

  • Please note that SpinRite6 is not free. However, it is a great tool for recovering data from reluctant hard drives.

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  • Today we need to remember many passwords. You need a password for the Windows logon, your e-mail account, online passwords (like web site member accounts), etc. The list is endless. Also, you should use different passwords for each account. Why? If you use only one password everywhere and someone gets this password, you have a serious problem. The thief would have access to you’re a number of accounts. It could be a nightmare.KeePass is an open source password manager.

  • Manage passwords securely

  • Keep all passwords in one database

  • Locked with one master key or a key file

  • Store database on flash drive

  • So you only have to remember one single master password or select the key file to unlock the whole database. The databases are encrypted using the best and most secure encryption algorithms currently known.

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Please note that many of the web sites where freeware is offered will ask for donations. It is something to think about and perhaps act upon when you find a free program that you like.