Electric Itlog

An archive of what was and what will be...

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The World is Better with Free Stuff (Part 1)

As I posted before, this blog is gonna get a new theme soon. But before releasing the new Electric Itlog edition, I would just like post something for everyone.

A Little Dash of Introduction..

As you know, I'm a Web Applications Developer (Designer + Programmer), so I spend all day in front of my computer. Through the years of using Rebornskee (el nombre de mi computador), I have installed and used many software products. Some of them were for business reasons, some for work and others for plain fun.

Of course, most software come with price tags. For those of us who buy authentic software (for legal reasons), we could spend thousands of pesos for a license or two--which makes buying really good and legal software is a real pain in the wallet. So for most people, piracy is the way to go. Need Photoshop for your laptop? Here's one for a hundred pesos. Need the entire Adobe CS3? Make that two hundred pesos (or perhaps 250 for a DVD). Oh, you have a Mac? No problem--iLife 2007 for 300 bucks..

But of course, piracy comes with its hidden cost. Aside from the fact that it's illegal, some keygens and cracks contain hidden viruses, trojans and other nasties that will effectively render you computer into an electricity consuming piece of crap.

So what's the solution? Well, unknown to many computer users, there are thousands of free software scattered all over the internet. For a few years now, the Open Source community has been spurting out all kinds of free and legal software that you can use, without paying a single centavo. Go to their website, download the software, install and bang! Free software baby!

For almost every commercial software, there is a free, open-source alternative. So instead of shelling out thousands of pesos on commercial software (or worst, buying illegal pirated copies), try out these free alternatives instead.

Enough Babble! Where's the Free Stuff?

Okay, so I'll stop talking now and present you my list of recommended free software. I categorized them according to use and I included links on where you can download them.

Disclaimer: I guarantee that I personally tried and tested all software here, and I am happy with using all of them. What I don't guarantee is that they'll be as you expected, or that they'll be suitable for your needs. Everyone's unique of course! Also, I am not part of any of these software companies, and I was not paid to do this; I just love this software, and I'm giving them back the publicity they deserve.

Surf's Up Dude!: Mozilla Firefox and Thunderbird.
Platforms: Windows, Linux, Mac
These two are the grand-daddies of all free software. Firefox is a web browser, while Thunderbird is an email client.

Mozilla Firefox

I stopped using Internet Explorer for almost a year now, and I use Firefox instead. If you're as tech-savvy as I am, you'd probably know that Firefox is a better browser than IE. First, it renders web pages as they should really look like. Secondly, it has tons of great features (tab browser, security features, live bookmarks, etc.). Plus, it's much less prone to viruses, unlike IE which can easily be targetted by bad software through its ActiveX controls. Plus, it really looks better. And if there's something you want in your browser (like the ability to create pictures from webpages or save entire websites), Firefox has hundreds of extensions that you can install (also freely) to improve web browsing.

Mozilla Thunderbird

Thunderbird is the Email Client and brother of Firefox. Like Firefox, it has a nice clean look. It also supports RSS feeds and News feeds, has built-in security features and has hundreds of extensions for those who want a little more.

You can download both Firefox and Thunderbird at the Mozilla Site.

Computer Rubber: Comodo Antivirus, Firewall Pro and BoClean.
Platforms: Windows
Everyone knows that a good computer is a safe computer. But unless you rarely open computer files or don't have an internet connection, your computer will always be bombared by viruses and spyware--unless of course you're running a Mac.

So for those of us who use PCs, I recommend using a good and free antivirus, firewall and anti-spyware: Comodo Antivirus, Comodo Firewall Pro and Comodo BoClean.

I guess there's no need for me to explain about an antivirus program. It suffices to say that Comodo Antivirus is a great, free antivirus program. It's not a secret that I don't use commercial antivirus programs like Norton or McAffee. Why? Because they both suck bigtime. For some time now, both of these antivirus software (as well as a handful other commercial software) have began to lose their customer base because of the amount of harddisk space they use and the fact that they miss several high-risk viruses. Comodo Antivirus is free and it performs well. And that's that.

The Comodo Firewall Pro is a free and effective firewall program. A firewall is a special software (or hardware) that keeps your computer safe while you're connected to the net by ensuring that no program can connect to the net--unless you trust it. It keeps hackers and intruder at bay, blocking them from accessing your files and your system. While Windows XP includes a firewall program, it's not as sophisticated as Comodo's.

BoClean on the other hand, is an anti-spyware application. Spyware are nasty little software programs that record your actions while using your computer. Some spyware are key-loggers that record everything you type--including your passwords, personal information and other sensitive data. Others record your movements through the net (Beware porn viewers!). BoClean makes sure that your computer stays spyware free by removing known spyware programs and blocking other applications that install them.

You can download the Antivirus, Firewall and Anti-Spyware programs at the Comodo Free Products page.

Ei, Work?: OpenOffice.org Suite
Platforms: Windows, Linux, Mac
Microsoft Office is great, but it's not free. This is where OpenOffice.org comes into play. It's a MSOffice alternative that provides the same features at a better pricetag (which is free).

OpenOffice features a full office suite: Writer for wordprocessing, Impress for presentations and Calc for spreadsheets. It also features Math for creating equations, Draw for creating nifty graphics and Base for your databases.

OpenOffice.org Writer

The programs have a very similar interface with the MSOffice programs, making them easier for your use. Plus, they support open standars (which is the future of your documents) and they are very easy to install.

You can get them through the OpenOffice.org Website.

Sweeter Jams: musikCube
Platforms: Windows
While I'm writing this post, I'm listening to my Paboritos playlist. Nope, not on Windows MediaPlayer (I trashed that a few weeks ago!) but on musikCube, a free and open source music player.


Like Windows MP, musikCube supports the usual MP3s that we all love. But aside from that, you can install other extensions that will make it play other audio formats, like ogg, wav, wma and even aac files (yup, iTunes and iPod music files!). It can rip directly from your cds and it has a very nice and minimal user interface.

There are other great features too, like being able to connect to a FreeDB server to retrieve music information. When I needed to rip my Kami nAPO Muna cd, I just clicked on the Lookup CD Info button and wallah! My mp3s got tagged with the correct artist, title, album info and other information. Even Spongecola had a listing.

Also, aside from your Music Library, there's also a Collected Library, where new music files will appear, in case you don't want them to be in your Library immediately. Makes it easier to preview downloaded files without them being added immediately to your music library--one of my pet peeves with Windows MP.

There's a lot more cool features and a dozen cool plugins to extend musikCube (like a nifty plugin that will automatically update your YM status message with the title of the track you're currently listening to.). You can find out more about musikCube and download the program from the musikCube Website.

I'm Sooo Artistic: The GIMP, Scribus and Inkscape
Platforms: Windows, Linux and Mac
For those of us who are more in touch with the left sides of our brains, there's the GIMP (Photoshop alternative), Scribus (InDesign/Publisher/Pagemaker alternative) and Inkscape (Illustrator alternative).


The GIMP (which stands for GNU Image Manipulation Program) is a program for digital image editing. Like Photoshop, it supports layers, custom shapes, brushes and a host of other image editing tools. Although it's not as robust as Ps, it is certainly a good program that almost anyone can use. If you want something free to edit those new pictures you took of you and your new (again?) hubby, the GIMP is certainly a good choice. You can download the GIMP at the GIMP.org website.


Scribus is a desktop publishing software, for those who want to create newsletters, magazines, posters and other nifty printed materials. I've personally used Scribus for two of my client's projects, and I'm very happy with it. Again, not as robust as InDesign, but is certainly better than using Pagemaker or Publisher--or worst, Microsoft Powerpoint or Word--for creating your printed stuff. You can download it at the official Scribus website.


And finally, there's Inkscape, a vector illustration software. If you're into drawing and nice vector illustration, then you'll certainly going to fall in love with Inkscape. And unlike the GIMP and Scribus, Inkscape is just as robust as Illustrator. It's great for illustration work, and is certainly one of those free apps that should be on every creative person's computer. You can grab your free copy at the Inkscape Website.

More, More, More!

Well that wraps it up--the first page of course! If you're a bit "bitin" with the list, then grab my feed and check out Part Two in a few days. I guarantee that the second part would be tastier.. ^_^

Okay, start those installers! Try out these apps and see for yourself how good it feels to get things free. Don't forget to post your comments!



At 10:56 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, i think i'll try dat inkscape ... :)


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