I primarily use freeware or open source software on my home computer, partly to avoid paying for expensive programs, and partly to encourage more software developers to take this route. Many of today's free and open-source programs are just as good as — and in some cases better than — the programs you pay for. Below are some of the programs I recommend.
• Mozilla Firefox (web browser) — Firefox screenshot •Though Internet Explorer has made great strides, it's still no Firefox. I've used a dozen different browsers in the past seven years, and Firefox is easily the best browser I've found, and is almost completely customizable. It works in Windows, Linux, and OSX (for Macs). For more information on Firefox, try the Wikipedia article.
• Google Chrome (web browser) — Chrome screenshot •Chrome, while still a baby compared to Firefox, has already surpassed Internet Explorer in usefulness and the ability to customize.
• PhotoFiltre (Photo editor) — PhotoFiltre screenshot •All the pros will tell you that Adobe Photoshop is the way to go if you want great results when editing photos. But that costs hundreds of dollars. It's $90 just for Photoshop Elements. If you want a free photo editor that's not only easy to use, but also has powerful editing tools, try PhotoFiltre. With a few plugins added, it can easily control levels, and it has built-in tools for precise control of sharpness, softness, saturation, hue, and more.
• EditPad Lite (Text editor) — EditPad Lite screenshot •If you never use plain text, don't write your own web pages, or think Windows' Notepad is just fine, then ignore this program. Everyone else will want it. EditPad Lite is a high-powered text editor, with quite a few options. It uses almost no system resources, handles multiple text files in a tabbed interface, and can handle documents of any size, unlike Notepad. All of my web pages were written using EditPad Lite (see the screenshot, which is an older version of the html of this page.
• xplorer2 lite (File browser) — xplorer2 lite screenshot •Not long after I got my first Windows computer, I became frustrated with Windows' file system and its limitations. xplorer2 lite is a free version of a very powerful, easily customizable file browser. It supports two-pane viewing, multiple tabs, image preview, two-pane synchronization, and many more features not found in Windows Explorer.
• WinAmp (media player) — Winamp screenshot •If you're like me, you got tired of Windows’ media player about six years ago. It didn't take long to realize that WinAmp was a much easier player to work with. It's free, small, easy to control, and has dozens of skins and themes to work with. Check it out.
• Launchy (file launcher) — Launchy screenshot •It's very simple. Click ALT and SPACEBAR at the same time, and Launchy appears (see screenshot). Type two or three letters from the name of the program, and the program will appear in Launchy's right side. Click ENTER, and the application launches. Keyboard shortcut artists will love it. The rest of you, if you try it, will soon realize that it's easier than searching through an extensive Start Menu to find an item.
BLOGS• My Life — My blog. I try to blog daily.
• Verily I Say Unto Thee — Less about my personal life, more like editorials.
• My Flickr — A photo blog, for the most part (sports, news, family, etc.)
• Giant Muh — Richard Barron's blogs