Free Software Utilities

Is it possible to get something for nothing? If so is it worth having?

Well a couple of years ago when money was tight, I asked my self the same question. We needed to make some cutbacks, so one area I looked at was how much money was being spent on computer software. There was the yearly anti virus subscription, spyware subscription as well as purchasing software that had lots of unused functions.

I then began to look at what free software was available. I found three pieces of free software that have performed well over a period of three years.

Avast antivirus

Initially I was a bit skeptical about using a free antivirus, as I had religiously stuck to a yearly subscription package. However three years on and it has dealt with everything the net threw at it. It has saved me from several Trojans, spyware plus the odd piece of malware.

The interface has recently been updated in 2010 and now is far more user friendly. Updates to the virus definitions are done daily, at least once sometimes twice when you connect to the net. When the definitions have been updated, a voice will inform you and a screen notification pops up. Another advantage is the software has a small footprint, so will not use up lots of valuable memory.

Izarc file extractor

When people send you files in email, you need to extract them. This is a great free utility and can extract virtually any file. Before Izarc we had three different extractors for different files. One to extract.zip files, one for.rar files and another for.Ace files. This program now handles all of these and many more.

The setup allows the program to run with your anti virus software, so the files being extracted are scanned, for viruses and spyware. Files are easily compressed for sending to other people. These can be sent as self extracting, and are easily opened with a double click by the recipient.

Mailwasher

When you open your email, you will probably find some spam. This piece of software works with your email program, so that you can check email before you actually receive it. When checking your mail first with Mailwasher, you can choose to delete an email, or bounce an email back to the sender from your server. Bouncing an email back, says to the sender that the address they sent it too is not valid. I found this actually stopped spam, which is a major advantage over some programs, which just catch spam.

Free Software for Writers

The search continues for the ‘holy grail’ of writing software. If you ask 100 writers what the best writing software on the market is, you’ll get at least 50 different answers. Why? Because ever writer has his or her own favorite software and their own style of writing.

The truth is, all you really need to write is a pen and a notebook.

But, if you want to share documents, format your book for e-publishing or write a blockbuster screenplay and send it off to Hollywood then you’ll need some sort of software that will do most of the heavy work for you.

If you’re like most writers, just starting out, you have little experience with writing software and even less money to spend; so you may want to start out with freeware. Yes, I said free. The favorite word of every wannabe freelance writer in the industry. No one likes free software more than I do, but you have to be careful to choose software that will do what you need it to do.

Apache OpenOffice

Every writer needs a good word processor for at least some tasks, and OpenOffice has one of the best free offerings around.

OpenOffice is the leading open-source office software suite for word processing. It’s a free alternative to Microsoft Office and does pretty much everything that MS Office does including: word processing, graphics, databases, spreadsheets, presentations and more. It’s available in many languages and works on any type of computer OS. It also stores all your data in an international open standard format and can read and write files from other office software packages. It can be downloaded and used completely free of charge for any purpose.

Storybook

Storybook is a versatile tool which helps you to properly structure a novel, screenplay or other complex written work.

Storybook allows you to organize all the elements of your book or screenplay, namely characters, locations and different plots, including main story and secondary threads. Storybook defines and configures each element on their own, which makes the whole job much easier because it gives you a clearer view of your book’s structure. Plus, it lets you have multiple active projects working at the same time.

Keep in mind that Storybook is not a word processor. It’s more of an organized database where you keep small bits of information which, once properly developed and linked together, will produce a book. So, if organization isn’t one of your strong points then Storybook may be worth trying.

Evernote

Evernote is one of those applications that you either get or struggle to understand. Evernote has a text editor, photo upload tool, and voice recording device, and you can use any of these components separately or in combination, to upload content to your account. Yes, unfortunately Evernote requires and account with a username and password.

Everything you do on your phone and on your computer or tablet gets synchronized to your Evernote account on the Web. Since it synchronizes as soon as you log on, and regularly thereafter, reinstalling the software or losing data because of a crash are not a problem. Keep in mind though that the Evernote text editor isn’t keystroke compatible with the PC-based editor. It makes switching between the two nearly impossible. The free version offers 40MB per month for uploading while $45 a year gets you a 500MB a month as well as security and tech support.

WordPad

If you’re running Windows OS then it came preloaded on your computer. Some people find all the extra bells and whistles of a full word processor distracting when writing. If you have trouble figuring out all of the different features that come with MS Word or OpenOffice, WordPad allows formatting (bold, italics, etc) and can be easier to use than Word.

WordPad can format and print text, including fonts, bold, italic, colored, and centered text, etc., but lacks the more advanced features such as a spell checker, thesaurus, and tables. However WordPad can read, render, and save many RTF features that it cannot create such as tables, superscript, subscript, colors, text background colors, numbered lists, right or left indent and URL linking, and various line spacing’s. Pasting into or from an HTML document such as from the internet or email typically will automatically convert most or all of it to RTF. As such, WordPad is well suited for taking notes, writing letters and stories, or for usage in various tablet PCs and smart phones. However, WordPad is underpowered for work that relies heavily on graphics or typesetting such as most publishing-industry requirements for rendering final hard copy.

Celtx

Celtx is the world’s first all-in-one media pre-production software. It’s designed for creating, organizing, and scheduling media projects such as film, video, documentary, theater, comics, advertising, video games, podcasts and more.

Celtx gives independent filmmakers and media creators an integrated and non-linear approach to pre-production work by providing support for industry standard scriptwriting, story development, storyboarding, breakdowns, production and scheduling. It also allows writers to attach images, videos and audio files to a project and provides features for collaborating with others team members online.

Remember, while freeware is a great option for those of us with small pocketbooks, it’s not always the best option. Paid software offers many options that freeware doesn’t such as tech support, tutorials, various formatting solutions, pre-loaded templates and many other features not available of the free versions.

When you get right down to the bare bones, it’s all about what you need and what you can afford. There’s no need to go out and spend several hundred dollars on writing software when freeware will do the job just fine.

Some Tips About Software

The term software is generally used for computer software that is an essential part of the computer system. It stores and process all encoded information or computer instructions on PC. Computer software has very vast scope in computer world.

According to computer science and software engineering computer software is all information that is processed by computer systems, programs and other data. Software is completely opposite to hardware, which is used to store or execute the software. Software is loaded into random access memory and then executed in central processing unit. It belongs to machine language that is not easy to understand for the users.

Every operating system has its own software that requires an individual processor. It understands machine language that consists of several groups of binary values, which gives processor instructions and data. Software converts machine language in simple language that enables the users to understand machine language.

Software generates a connection between electronic hardware and data. The user can operate the sequence of data instructions with the help of software. Software can use any type of data such as output/input. Sometimes the output of software can be input for another software. Software provides an interface between hardware, data and other software.

Software can be divided in three classes such as system software, application software and programming software. System software enables the users to run computer hardware and computer system including operating system, device drivers, diagnostic tools, servers, windowing systems and some more.

Users can perform one or more tasks simultaneously with the help of application software. With the help of application software, they can perform all applications like office suites, business software, databases and games. Whereas the programming software offers some functional tools that enables the programmer to write difficult computer programs. Programming software provides some useful tools like text editor, compiler, interpreter, linker and debugger etc.

After installing software a computer can operate that vary software. Application software passes the instructions to system software and then computer program executes on computer.

Determine the Online Lead Generation Software

The many benefits of having a reliable Internet connection cannot be more highlighted than when they are manifested in terms of running a business. When you have a strong Internet connection, everything seems to be possible-you can create interactive websites, post multimedia content, and be always accessible for your clients. This is why so many aspiring entrepreneurs turn to putting up online businesses instead of actually going for the traditional offline setup.

One of the benefits of running an online business is that the marketing strategies that you can use are varied and cost-efficient. You can put up advertisements for lesser costs than you usually pay for the traditional tri-media campaigns. Also, the marketing strategies may come in little packages to better target the different segments of your audience. This is a known principle on which lead generation is based.

Online lead generation has indeed become a useful marketing strategy that companies use to gather potential clients. Aside from being an effective way to enhance your business’ sales potential, online lead generation is also considered by many business owners because it is easy and convenient to implement. The strategy is not at all expensive. Hence, the funds of the business would be saved. Plus, there are many lead generation software readily available for easier gathering of sales leads.

However, when conducting online lead generation, using working lead generation software is not the only requirement. You must also know the different tools that you can use like your blog or website and a systemic database. Not only that, you must also be familiar about which of these tools are best for the kind of business that you are running.

To help you out, here are some tips on how to know the best online lead generation tool for your business:

1. Identify the range of target market that you want your business to reach.

Always, determining what marketing strategy you would use for your business depends on the kind of target audience that you want to reach. This is especially true when you are running an online business. You must be able to identify the particular market segments that you want to tap. Will you be particular on the geographic location of your potential clients? Are you targeting people who speak a particular language? Or are you going for market segments pre-determined by the trends you can detect through your blog’s traffic? When you already know the kind of market your business caters to, you can use online lead generation tools that can help you reach them.

2. Assess the pros and cons of using the tools.

Lead generation software and other tools all have their pros and cons. One will be more cost-efficient than the other. Some tools will help you identify with your market easily while others may give your business a more general approach. You must weigh all of these pros and cons. Make a list if you need to. After listing all the pros and comparing them with the cons, you can already figure out why one tool would be more beneficial to use than others of its kind.

3. Research about other companies that have used the same tools for their own online lead generation campaign.

Probably a better way of concluding your own feasibility study would be to gather data from other companies that have utilized the lead generation tool that you are planning to use. Carefully assess how these companies used the tool-in what economic condition, for which market segment, and how it complements the other marketing strategies that work alongside it. This would help you gain a perspective on how the lead generation tool would likely affect your own business if you operate under the same conditions or if you deviate from them.

You must always remember that any online lead generation software and tools would only work if your business is compatible with it. Therefore, you must devote time and effort in studying and assessing the why’s and why not’s of using these tools. After all, you would not want to use any marketing tools and strategies that would cost your business a lot of resources without generating the expected results.

Mac Security Tips

So, you’ve bought a new Macintosh, and now you may be wondering how to make it safer. There are several things that you can do which will protect your Mac from viruses and hackers. Macs are already very difficult to hack, but don’t let that fact allow you to become lenient with your security.

1. Download all of the software updates available. This seems like a no-brainer, but some Mac users forget to download the newest updates. You can even set your computer to automatically download new updates. However, some dial-up users encounter trouble when trying to downloaded updates. If you are a dial-up user, the best suggestion is to leave your Mac on overnight and let it download. Apple releases many programs that fix bugs in iLife applications, and in Mac OS X. Probably the most important of these updates are the security updates. Apple periodically offers security updates for its operating systems (Panther and Tiger).

2. Be careful what you download. Some people use P2P downloads for Macintosh (I.E. Poisoned). Be careful when downloading using a P2P because you do not know where the music or file is coming from. Some P2P users specifically make corrupted files to send via music downloading programs. Generally, it is a good idea to stick to iTunes, because those files are ACC Protected and offered through Apple so they certainly won’t have viruses.

3. Choose the best and safest Internet Browser. Safari comes standard on all new Macs as part of iLife. However, some people do not enjoy Safari as much as others. Some say that Safari is not as safe from hackers as other browsers. Safari can also be a problem if you are going to a web page that requires a version of Internet Explorer or Netscape to view it. You can download Internet Explorer and Netscape for Mac, but again, some believe that these browsers are not as safe from hackers. Many people believe that Mozilla Firefox (my personal favorite) is the safest browser to use because of its customizable features. Firefox is available for downloading on the Macintosh.

4. Don’t be afraid to buy anti-virus software. If you have to download files from the internet as part of a job or hobby, then it is probably a good idea to have some sort of anti-virus software on your Macintosh. Apple provides a wide-variety of anti-virus software that is constantly updated.

5. Finally, keep an eye on those e-mail attachments and instant messages. Some hackers have programmed viruses to IM you from one of your friends’ screen names. Don’t click on any link without knowing what it is first. Most e-mail providers use virus scans automatically, but you should always be extra careful when downloading an attachment. If it is from someone you do not know, don’t trust it.

Apple computers are very safe from hackers, but they can always be improved. Keeping a computer safe, and running well requires a great amount of time and energy. Just remember that if your computer is safe, your Apple experience will be much more rewarding.

Mac Repairs

So to be able to address and resolves these types of issues you’ll either need to be knowledgeable with Mac repairs, or if you are local you can take it to a mac repairs center they’ll be more than happy to assist.

If you aren’t knowledgeable in repairing computers, we’d recommend taking it to a mac centre, because it’s best to have a professional take a look at your computer rather than tinkering around because it’s possible you could cause even further damage to it.

We’ll give you some common tips and pointers to help trouble shoot certain issues.

Let’s say it’s time to fire up your computer and get to work. You hit the on button and… nothing happens.

It doesn’t turn on.

Why does this happen?

The reason could be because of a malfunction in the power supply, issue with the battery, or problem with the logic board. If you are experienced with dealing with these technical issues, than it’ll be an easy fix for you. If it’s a busted power supply, you can just run to your local electronics store and pick up a new power supply to see if that takes care of the problem.

If you aren’t familiar with how to repair Mac computers, your option is going to a professional that specializes in Macs to have the problem diagnosed and fixed.

Moving on, Mac computers are known to be super-fast and effective, however, that doesn’t mean they aren’t prone to the occasional slow down. If you experience a slowdown in your computer speed which is due to insufficient ram on your computer, the answer is easy, simply add in more ram and your problem is solved. Another thing you may to consider doing is upgrading your system software if that’s an option, which can help improve the speed on your Mac.

If you find for some reason that there’s an issue with your Mac that you just aren’t able to fix, there’s no shame in taking it to a repair shop, but just make sure you find the right shop that will do a good job repairing your Mac so that you don’t have to keep on coming back and back for the same problem.

Things you should look for when searching for Mac specialist in your local area is the experience and knowledge of their staff, give them a call to get a feel of their knowledge about Mac computers, you may also want to head online to search for reviews and you should be able to distinguish the good shops from the bad ones by sifting through the reviews.

Windows Maintenance Tips

Although Windows 7 is the most advanced and well-used operating system ever created, it’s still got a lot of problems which can often be fixed by using a ‘registry cleaner’. Registry programs are popular software tools which can continually help improve the speed and reliability of your Windows 7 PC by fixing various problems that are inside your system. Many people recommend using these tools to fix a wide array of problems – but what do these programs do and how do they help your PC?

Here are the top 4 reasons why registry cleaners are used widely by Windows 7 to help your computer:

Registry Cleaners Help Speed Up Your System

Registry software can help speed up Windows by fixing all the damaged settings that often causes your system to run slow. All registry tools scan through the “registry database” which is a large central storage facility for the files and settings your computer requires to run. Unfortunately, many of the registry settings that Windows has inside the registry often become corrupt and damaged, leading your system to take longer to read the files it needs, slowing it down. Registry cleaners can fix this problem by scanning through the registry database and fixing any of the damaged settings that are inside it, allowing Windows to run extremely quickly again.

Registry Programs Stop Errors

Because your software likes to use a lot of settings from the registry, many of the errors that are shown when you use your PC are actually caused by the registry being damaged. This is a big problem because many registry settings are being damaged every time you use your PC, increasing the number of errors on your system. To fix this, registry cleaners scan through the registry database and repair any of the damaged and corrupt settings that cause many errors, including DLL errors and Runtime errors.

Registry Utilities Allow You To Run More Programs & Get More Done

Registry tools make your computer smoother and more versatile, allowing you to run more programs and do more with your system. Using a good registry cleaner will fix all the errors and issues inside your PC, allowing your computer to run more programs, giving you the ability to make the most of your system, no matter how old it is.

Registry Tools Relinquish The Need For Constant Upgrades

Not many people realize this – but the ‘registry’ is actually the biggest reason why computers run slower over time. This means that instead of upgrading your PC, one of the best ways you can ensure your system is able to run as fast and reliably as possible is to use a ‘registry cleaner’ to scan through the registry and repair any of the damaged settings that are inside. This will basically act like a “detox” for your PC and relinquish the need for you to continually upgrade your system.

Windows Recovery Tips

You probably have been in this situation not too long ago. You turn on your PC expecting the familiar BIOS screen and Windows logo, but suddenly you see a cryptic error message or a blue screen. Or even worse, the PC just beeps and doesn’t do anything at all!

What do do? Don’t panic. Over 80% of problems with Windows not starting properly, or a PC not booting, can be resolved without any hardware repairs. In this article, we will give you 5 highly effective tips for handling a broken Windows system.

The first tip to do is to identify the source of the problem. If you have recently added new hardware or new software to the system, such as a new HD, a new graphics card, new drivers, or something similar, try removing the hardware and booting again. If that works alright, there is something amiss with the configuration for the new hardware. Read the manual and try again 🙂

If you have installed new software and it brought the system down, things are a little trickier. The second tip is to try and boot in Safe Mode (a mode where Windows does not load any unnecessary drivers and programs). To do that, press F8 when the Windows boot logo appears, and then select “Safe Mode” from the menu. If safe mode works, you can uninstall the new software and things should be fine again at the next reboot.

Now, if you haven’t recently changed anything, and the system still fails to boot, we need to get more technical. The third tip is to check whether there is any error message and Google it on the net. Chances are, many people have had the same problem, and the solution for it is posted out there. This worked for me lots of times.

Fourth tip: if you don’t even get an error message and the BIOS screen, and only some beeps instead (or when the PC doesn’t even power up), it is a clear indicator of a hardware problem. We have a listing of all beep codes for various BIOS versions on Windows Recovery Toolbox, and instructions on what to do. If the PC doesn’t power up (coolers not running, no lamps, etc) – something is wrong with the power supply. Check cables and connectors. If everything is plugged in alright, chances are that the power supply is down – which is easy and not too costly to replace.

If the PC powers up, but nothing of the above works, or you don’t see any error message, the fifth tip is to use a boot CD and run a filesystem check. Hard drives are the most strained component of any PC, with millions of physical accesses to them, and tend to fail first. However, most harddrive failures can be repaired with appropriate tools. Check out Windows Recovery Toolbox data recovery section below to see some great utilities which can do that, and lots more.

Choose the Best Graphics Card

If you’re trying to build a new computer, or simply looking to upgrade your current configuration, you’ll eventually want to get a graphics card. Now it’s pretty easy to simply forget about it and settle for an onboard video card. But this simply won’t do if your software or games rely heavily upon the visual power of your desktop.

You have to get a few things straight before getting to choose a graphics card. First and foremost, you’ll have to think about what you’ll be using your computer for.

If you simply want a decent computer to surf the web, then even an onboard video card should do, but it’s still recommended you use a dedicated video card since most websites have videos nowadays and most of those videos can be watched in HD resolutions.

Now for a gamer, it is imperative they use a dedicated graphics card. An integrated GPU simply cannot face modern demanding games. Dedicated video cards have their own RAM, or VRAM. The amount of memory they carry will determine how well applications which rely on the video card work.

A modern game can require a video card with at least 512 MB of dedicated memory for instance. But if you simply want every video setting at the maximum, you’ll have to dig a little deeper in your pocket for a high end graphics card.

Also, mid to high end video cards can be used by people working in video editing or graphic design. The GPU can take in lots of visual calculations needed, so a card with a strong GPU is required here. You shouldn’t settle for anything less if your work depends on it.

If one piece of software requires a graphics card with at least 512 MB memory, then you should aim at getting one with at least 1GB of dedicated memory, just to make sure that future software updates will be covered.

If you’re still unsure how to choose the best video card for your computer, one method always works. Get a list of all your software and games you want to use and look up their system requirements. You’ll end up with two lists. The first one should be the one containing the minimum system requirements list and the second one should contain the recommended system requirements list, so you’ll have two options in the end really.

To choose the best video card, all you have to do is determine which software or games are the most demanding one in terms of hardware resources and build your computer around that. If you choose to stay on the safe side with your budget, you’ll most likely choose the minimum system requirements list.

Getting a graphics card according to a minimum system requirements list won’t guarantee you’ll play the latest game at the highest graphics settings, but at least the game will run on your system.

You have to figure out your budget limits before jumping in and purchasing a new video card.

How to Clean Computer

This guide discusses how to clean computer to ensure that you get the most out of your system and your system does not fall ‘ill’ too often. These steps range from regularly updating windows to cleaning your registry to staying clear of malware.

Keep Windows updated

Many Windows updates are critical in nature and it is generally wise to keep Windows as updated as possible. However, some updates are not required and just take unnecessary space and downloading time. So, it is best to manually look into Windows update and choose what updates you want to download and install.

If you do not have time to perform manual updates, it is best that you keep the Automatic Update feature on your computer always enabled.

Keep away from viruses and other malware

Viruses are very easily the root cause of most problems to do with a computer. It is therefore essential to keep your system as free from viruses and other malware as possible. To achieve this, it is important to have good anti-virus and anti-spyware applications on your computer.

You must ensure that these applications are updated regularly, especially the virus an spyware definitions.
Anti-virus and anti-spyware applications basically have two main functions:

o Scanning and removing malware that is installed on the computer before they were installed
o Constantly monitoring the status and offering real-time protection against threats that might exist on
external hard disk drives, flash drives or may get downloaded from the internet.

Keep the registry clean

The registry in Windows is a centralized database that contains configuration settings related to hardware and software on your computer. Anything you do with your computer leaves an imprint on the registry. Over time, some of these entries lose their links and associations and become redundant. Also some programs might not uninstall correctly leaving their registry entry behind. All these obsolete registry entries create unnecessary clutter and hamper performance of the system.

It is therefore, advised that a good reputed registry cleaner is used to clean the registry once in a while. However, choosing a registry cleaner must be done with some caution because if the cleaner is not compatible with your Windows or makes incorrect changes, damage done might be irreversible. It is best that you opt for a registry tool that provides automatic backup feature. This way if anything goes wrong with the fixes, you have an option to revert back to your old registry.

Defragmenting your hard disk

As more and more files are stored, the disk gets separated into fragments. Using a good Windows approved disk defragmenter once every two months help place files in contiguous locations and speed up the system.

Perform Disk Cleanup once in a while

Disk cleanup helps remove unnecessary temporary files and other files that occupy unnecessary space on your computer. You can easily clean your hard disk using the Disk Cleanup tool available in Windows. You must clean your hard disk at least once a month.

Remove cookies

These are imprints that websites you visit leave on your computer. Often, these might contain malicious code or code that may cause harm to your computer. So, it is best to remove these cookies as they are installed. You may also configure your web browser to prevent cookies from being saved on your computer.

It is important to keep your computer clean to get the best performance out of it. Use the tips given here to maintain a clean and high performance computer.