Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Free software you cannot miss

First, if you're sick of Adobe Reader bloat, with the huge installer to download, mysterious services running in the background and long, long loading times, then the free Foxit PDF reader is for you. I uninstalled Adobe and bunged this nice light (under 3mb) program onto my machine instead. PDFs open so quickly it's almost like the golden days of Adobe 3 & 4.

Second, the giant killing web browser Firefox 3.0 is out today. I've been running the beta on my laptop, where it was noticeably faster than Firefox 2.x, but I've now upgraded my desktop PC to the stable release and it's lightning quick. Be sure to install the Adblock Plus and NoScript extensions and your browsing will be safe and pleasurable. (With adblock plus you select the subscription option at the top of the list. With NoScript, you'll need to enable Javascript for each of your regular websites - online banking, news sites, blogs, etc - but none of the other websites you might come across.)

Third, OpenOffice 2.4.1 is out. This fully-featured office suite is a large download (around 120 megs), and while it's not all that nippy to start up it's still a pleasure to use. I gave up on MS Office after using the '97 edition for years, and OO does everything I need - you get a word processor, spreadsheet, database, presentation app (similar to Powerpoint) and a DTP program for brochures, flyers, etc.

Finally, if you're looking for an antivirus solution, try AVG 8. There's an unrestricted free edition for personal use, although the first thing I'd do is switch off the safesearch browser plugin, since it's a drain on your bandwidth.

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)


KenP said...

Well, I've got and will go with 3 out of the 4. That foxit is a whole other bag of worms. I guess we aren't on the same page with 'free'...

Simon Haynes said...

It's not open source, but it's zero cost. Otherwise I'd have called it Free.