Tag Archives: computers

10 Free Programs Everyone Should Know About

1. 7-Zip

7-Zip: One of the best (and cheapest—free!) archive programs on the internet. It compresses, encrypts, and decompresses RAR and ZIP files along with dozens of other formats. [view website]

2. BackUp Maker

Set up BackUp Maker once and never worry about backing up data manually ever again! Not only does this utility allow you to schedule regular backups, but it also includes the ability to encrypt, split backups across multiple destination media (such as multiple discs), and much more. [view website]

3. Dropbox

Dropbox creates a folder on your computer that will sync (via internet or LAN) with any other computer signed into the same account, or you can simply share folders with other people with or without a dropbox account. Files can also be accessed via the web, along with previous and deleted versions. Dropbox also boasts some of the best encryption on the Internet. [view website]

4. OpenOffice or LibreOffice

While many people have heard of Open Office, much fewer have heard of Libre Office, an excellent alternative to costly Microsoft Office. [Open Office] [Libre Office]

5. Primo PDF

This popular free program allows you to convert any kind of document into PDF format. It also installs a virtual printer which allows you to “print” a file into a digital PDF file instead of a physical sheet of paper. [view website]

6. Recuva

Have you ever accidentally deleted a file and couldn’t get it back? Or worse, had your laptop hard drive crash, destroying your entire digital life along with it? Don’t be left out in the cold again! Use Recuva, an awesome (free) utility for recovering deleted, files, emails, and damaged hard drives. [view website]

7. Screen Hunter

Screen Hunter is a screen capture utility that gives you considerably more versatility than the built-in Windows or Mac screen capture capabilities. [view website]

8. Skype, Google Hangouts, or Facebook Videochat

Videochat is the best way to stay in touch with friends and family, no matter where they are. It’s also a simply way to hold meetings when participants aren’t able to be in the same place. Skype is standard free videochat program but doesn’t allow group videochat sessions in the free version. Google+ Hangouts and Facebook Videochat (available through the chat window) can be buggy but are included as free features of having an account on either social network. Both allow group videochat as well. All three services include instant messaging. [Skype] [Google Hangouts] [Facebook]

If you need to use screen sharing or share files in your meetings, try—

9. Team Viewer

This incredible program allows you to login to any connected computer (it must be turned on) and use it remotely. Not only does it allow file transfers between the two computers, but it also has built-in functionality for collaborate meetings, screen sharing, video chat, and much more. One of the best features of Team Viewer is the ability to login to Windows and Mac computers via smartphone or tablet. [view website]

10. VLC Player + CCCP

Hands down the best free media player around. VLC can handle practically any video format and has numerous viewing options, such as the ability to switch languages or subtitle tracks mid-stream. VLC is unstoppable when combined with the Combined Community Codec Pack—a collection of all the media codecs you could possibly need. [VLC Player] [CCCP]

A Problem Called ‘Mouse’

Leap Motion’s new interface is quite possibly the greatest evolution in user input devices since the invention of the mouse.  Based on the promo video, it appears to eliminate the primary problem of touch technology and other motion-sensing interfaces, which is that you don’t have to hold your fingers rigid, like in some of Microsoft’s PC motion technology and the movie Minority Report (more on this below).  This is a vast improvement over touch technology, which is frustratingly slow and taxing on your hands and fingers if used for any extended period of time.

But will Leap Motion be the tiger that kills the mouse?

Motion interface technology (the Leap included) has one significant remaining hurdle before it supersedes the traditional mouse as the de facto interface for end-users—hand fatigue.

The traditional mouse allows you to relax your hand by resting it on the top of the mouse or desk as needed and requires relatively little effort to manipulate.  Compare this to touch technology or motion sensing input devices like the Leap which force you to unconsciously tighten the muscles in your hands and fingers while keeping your arms raised and manipulating your digits into specific configurations.  These body parts quickly tire and become aggravated with continued use, leading to sore joints, inflamed arthritis and tendinitis, and outright muscle fatigue and pain for regular users in the 30+ range.

So yes the Leap Motion is intuitive, and yes it has the potential to be absurdly fast and revolutionize computing interfaces for users, but what about the 30+ demographic with the market’s prime buying power?

Three things will probably occur:

  1. They will be too intimidated to adopt it (as in the case of older folks who are intimidated by the rapid evolution of technology period).
  2. They won’t be willing to give up the beloved mouse they’ve been using for two or three decades.
  3. They won’t be able to adopt the new technology because it isn’t physically practicable for regular use.

In the end the question isn’t so much IF the Leap Motion will kill the mouse but HOW it will accommodate the demographic with all the buying power.

So what about the 30+ers?