Essential Free Software Downloads

6 September, 2012 Life No comments
Essential Free Software Downloads

If you use the Internet in any capacity, then you’ve probably noticed  by now that it has a lot of cool stuff. And some of that cool stuff is easily accessible, even though you’re technically supposed to pay money for it. Wow! What’ll they think of next? Of course, you really shouldn’t download stuff without paying for it, because 1) Stealing is wrong, and  2) The sites that let you download said content for free can be kind of skeevy and might do bad things to your computer. There’s good news, though: there are tons of useful programs on the Internet that can be downloaded freely and safely. 

Here are five of the best free software downloads that should be on your PC. 

Avast! Anti-VirusArr. If ye be surfin’ the web, ye need a shipworthy anti-virus. Avast! is one of the most popular free anti-viruses on the Internet, and its fame is well-earned. The program is easy to use, it downloads updates automatically, and even makes surfing the web safer by letting you know about suspicious sites before you even click on them. It’s all yours for zero dollars. 

OpenOffice – If your PC doesn’t have a legitimate version of Microsoft Office installed on it, you should definitely consider OpenOffice, an opensource alternative. It’s extremely lightweight, and it can do almost anything that Office can—for free. If you’re familiar with Word, you shouldn’t have a problem making the switch to OpenOffice’s word processor. 

Nuke Anything – No, Nuke Anything will not let you download a functional “Big Red Button.” It’s actually a FireFox extension that allows you to be very specific about the text and images you want to print from a webpage. Given how much ink and paper gets wasted even when you want to print a simple text email, Nuke Anything is a must-have for the environmentally-conscious PC owner. 

AudacityAudacity is a simple but extremely useful sound editing program. If you like to record podcasts, or if you just like to mess around with sound files, you’ll get a lot of use out of this little guy. 

GimpPhotoshop is the gold standard for image editors, and a legitimate copy can cost hundreds of dollars. If that’s out your range, consider Gimp. It’s free to download, and many of its functions are on par with Adobe’s series. Whether you need to do some professional editing or a simple resize, Gimp is a good program to have on-hand. 

Looking for more great free stuff (who isn’t)? Visit: 

112 Best Free Downloads at PCWorld

Nine Sources for Free Downloads at About.com

30 Best Free Mac Programs to Download at TechRadar

10 Business Technology Trends

21 August, 2012 Work No comments
10 Business Technology Trends

Although it’s doubtful he knew about cloud computing or tablet computers, Heraclitus was really on to something nearly 2500 years ago when he realized that there is nothing as constant as change.  And that old axiom continues to ring true for today’s entrepreneurs and enterprises. Below are 10 business technology trends working professionals need to stay on top of to remain competitive.

Tablet PCs – Tablet PCs and computers are changing nearly everything about the way business is done.  From pitch presentations to quarterly reports, client meetings to weekly internal pow-wows, company website design to marketing and advertising banners, nearly every aspect of business must now involve and embrace the ubiquity of tablet computers.

Wireless Integration – Offices and workspaces must no longer be defined by standard cubicles and workstations with bundles of wires popping through holes in the desk.  The use of reliability of wireless network means that PCs, tablets and smartphones can be connected anywhere, so the only reason to settle on one place any more is to make sure your device is charging – so make sure you’ve got plenty of electrical outlets in your conference room.

Telecommuting Evolved – With constant contact, access and reachability, the lines between work and home life continue to be blurred.  When does the work day really start and end when you check e-mails just before going to bed and just after waking up?  While telecommuting used to mean hassle for business setting up remote users, it now actually means that employees are spending more and more time on work tasks, even away from the office.

Online Video – Although it makes it tougher to get away with doodling your way through an international conference call, video conferencing allows for greater collaboration among multiple offices and individuals, and is an easy way to visually share ideas.

Cloud Computing – Thanks to cloud storage, data no longer needs to be stored on a central server, or live on a single office computer.  The rise of the cloud makes it imperative your business and employees can access any document or spreadsheet wherever they want, whenever they want.  Even if you’re running a one-man startup, make sure you utilize a cloud-based storage solution to ensure your data is not device-specific.

Online Security – With all this wireless networking and access to info in the cloud, the need to keep data secure is even more important, especially when confidential information is at stake.  Make sure you or your IT department is using the latest encryption and security measures to accommodate for data transmission over the air.

Social Media – While this is hardly a new trend, the fact is that many business and small business continue to figure out what it takes to make social media be successful for them.  For starters, it takes a time investment for someone to take charge of your company’s social media identity and engage with others.  But many companies are also finding that what keeps customers interested and coming back is more than just being there – you must add value to their lives, whether through helping them out or even providing coupons or discounts if your business offers products or services.

Data Tracking – Whether it’s through online surveys or geo-tagging data to find out information about how and where customers are using your products, the depth and detail of data is providing for unprecedented analysis and dissection of trends and techniques which can lead to better allocation of your business’s time and resources.

Gamification – Using techniques that have been refined and proven in the most successful video games, companies are using gamification to enhance their connections with customers by offering rewards, opportunities for sharing and small achievements which make using products seem like part of a much greater endeavor.  Principles of gamification are an important way that many small businesses continue to set themselves apart.

Part-Time Workers and Solopreneurs – Perhaps it’s a circumstance of the downturn in the economy, but many of the best and brightest minds are available on a part-time or freelance basis, and companies are taking advantage.  The upside is that many will offer their services at a very competitive rate, without the need for benefits or other costs-of-compensation.  More and more, businesses are relying on these non full-time employees for key elements of their business.

How To Stream Video From PC to TV

How To Stream Video From PC to TV

If you’ve ever wanted to share a funny cat video with friends or family, then you already know what a hassle it can be to gather everyone around a single tiny PC monitor. You think to yourself, “There has got to be an easier way to share hilarious internet cat antics with my kin.” As it turns out, you’re absolutely right. There are many ways to stream content from your PC or Mac computer to your TV set. 

Note that the methods mentioned below require, at the very least, an HDTV or 3D TV, a PC (which usually needs to be running Windows 7 or XP), and, in most cases, a broadband connection. If you can muster that much, here’s how to stream video from your desktop or laptop to your television. 

Use Windows Media Player – The Windows Media Player application, bundled with Windows 7, lets you stream videos, pictures, music, and more from your PC to your HDTV. If you’re interested in learning how to set up Windows Media Player for your television, visit Microsoft’s website for specific instructions. 

Consider using Netflix, Hulu Plus, and other paid streaming services – Streaming services like Netflix and Hulu Plus are simple to use, and are a great way to keep up with television shows, movies, and more. You typically need to pay a monthly fee to use them, but their ease of use and picture quality are unsurpassed as far as streaming technology goes. 

Plug your computer into your HDTV – Most HDTVs have connectors specifically for a computer. Of course, it’s much easier to plug in a laptop, if you have one! Once your computer is hooked up, watching PC-based videos on your TV is a breeze. This YouTube video has easy-to-follow instructions for hooking up your PC directly to your TV. 

Wi-Fi connections are an option – If you’re not big into the idea of wires criss-crossing your living room, keep in mind that there are ways to stream the contents of your PC to your television wirelessly. This can be a little tricky, though, so PC World has a write-up explaining how to engineer a wireless connection for your video streams. 

Use your PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 – Your Xbox 360 is more than a game console: it’s a veritable media hub. You can use the system to play content from your PC on your television. Microsoft’s Xbox website has detailed setup instructions if you need them. Note that Sony’s PlayStation 3 offers similar solutions as well.

Looking for more advice on how to stream content from your PC onto your TV? Visit: 

How to Stream Digital Media From Your Windows 7 PC at PCWorld

What Is UPnP and How Do I Use it to Stream Media to My TV? at LifeHacker

From PC to TV at Microsoft 

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