Getting a new laptop is fun and exciting with all the new software the manufacturer loads. The excitement soon gives way to an understanding that two weeks of McAfee Anti Virus or one month of Earthlink does not really serve any purpose. Most of the programs may not be useful and can even slow down the computer. Who needs them?A wise thing would be to uninstall whatever is not required and clean up the hard drive and start installing stuff that is useful. Most people are under the opinion that installing new software means spending more money. However, it does not have to be that way.A lot of applications are available free of charge and are open source, which means that people have the option to alter the program to suit their needs it they possess the skill or have the inclination to.
Here are a few things that many people find useful and all of them can be installed without spending a penny.
Firefox – The Firefox web browser is what most people use on their laptops. Many people are of the opinion that it is better than Internet Explorer; however, it is a personal preference. Firefox gives the option of adding new features with the use of extensions, which are add-ons to Firefox that allow the user to do anything they wish to, such as saving chunks of any website to their Google Notebook. One of the most favorite extensions are, PicLens, which gives any photo site the feel of Flickr or even MySpace, and makes scanning and scrolling photos fun and easy. There is a whole lot more to Firefox, which can only be experienced.
AVG – Every computer needs a good anti-virus software to be protected from spyware and malware, which can steal information, corrupt files or even bring the computer to a complete stop. McAfee and Norton are expensive and why bother with them, when there is free software available, such as AVG, which is as good as the best out there and gets the job done as perfectly as the expensive options.
Zone Alarm – A good firewall is needed by every computer, for tracking incoming and outgoing data. Windows comes with a built-in firewall, but it is not really great for protecting the computer as well as a dedicated firewall can. For people that will be accessing through Wi-Fi networks, then a strong firewall becomes a necessity. Zone Alarm offers free firewall products which are really good.
Pidgin or Adium (Adium is For Mac’s only) – They help keep in touch with family and friends online. With these, there is no need of running instant messaging programs on the computer. They work with any instant messaging platform and also work with AIM, Yahoo, Google Talk, ICQ, MySpace IM, Skype and many more. They allow the user to log in to all their IM accounts at once and manage the conversations from one window, so that the desktop is not filled with numerous chat boxes. Since these are considered to be better than any single instant messaging program, they are worth checking out.
AbiWord and Open Office – Although Microsoft Office is excellent, it is on the expensive side and for many users, they really do not need it. Many people do not use Excel, Access and many of the other programs. AbiWord is an open source and free word processor that contains all of Microsoft Word’s useful features, without the unnecessary extras that slow down a PC.
However, for users looking for a complete office suite with presentation software and a spreadsheet application, then Open Office can be a great option, which is also free and open source. Although, Open Office’s spreadsheet cannot be compared to Excel, it works fine. Open Office’s Word Processor is as good as Microsoft Word. The best part is that whatever is created on AbiWord or Open Office will work on Microsoft Office and the other way round too.
Orb – For users who collect huge amount of media on their desktop PC and work on a laptop when away from home, it can be a pain not to be able to access their favorite music and movies. This is where Orb helps. Once this program is loaded, as long as the desktop PC at home is connected to the internet and is kept switched on, it will provide access to all the files, including spreadsheets, music, movies, etc. using a highly secure web page. These can be accessed using any device with an internet connection, even from a smart phone. If the PC at home has a TV tuner card, even live television can be watched. The only requirement is that the desktop PC should run Windows.
There are several other such free and open source applications available online and they work as well as the expensive and well-known options. Users just have to deviate from the mind-set that looks for popular names they are used to or the feeling that the more expensive the better. This just does not hold true and many of the free applications are superior to the pricey ones, in terms of performance.
Owning a new computer can be a pleasurable experience if one is not bogged down by the software expenses involved. All one needs to do is use the above mentioned tried and tested free stuff, to get hooked.