Ali's Picks

There are many great free programs available on the web, and sometimes it can be difficult to decide which one is the best for your needs. Many have spyware, which tracks your surfing habits and causes ads to pop up on the screen. Others expire after a short time, and still other simply don't work. However, the links below will lead you to programs I personally have tested and know to be free of spyware, work well, and remain free (although most have the option of getting an enhanced version for a fee). Check them out, and hopefully you will find an indespensable tool for you!


MUST-HAVE SOFTWARE

AVG Anti-Virus - A very effective free virus scanner that monitors your files, scans incoming e-mails and file transfers.

Zone Alarm - This firewall protects your computer from hackers by making your computer "invisible" to them. It also prevents incoming attacks and stop programs from sending information out without your permission.

Ad-Aware - Keep spyware, malware, and data miners out of your computer with this scanner. The paid version will also constantly monitor your system for suspicious activity.


HANDY PROGRAMS TO HAVE

ieSpell - For the spelling-challenged! Use this program to spellcheck your e-mails, blog entries, message board postings, and anything else you type in Internet Explorer. Also works with many IE-based browsers.

Mailwasher - Read the text of your e-mails, find and delete spam, viruses, and unwanted attachments before downloading them to your hard drive. This program will also "bounce" spam back to the sender, making it look like your address doesn't exist. Works with all Hotmail and POP accounts.

Get Mail - Forward messages from multiple e-mail accounts into one account so you don't have to check in so many different places. Works with Hotmail and POP accounts, as well as Yahoo! Premium e-mail accounts.

Gmail Notifier - Gmail users can use this program to tell them when new mail has been received in their Gmail accounts.

BitTorrent - Download TV programs from around the world!

Webshots - Point this program to your favourite photos on your hard drive, and it will automatically change your wallpaper to a different photo as often as you specify.

Pidgin - Formerly known as GAIM, this program will run multiple accounts of MSN, ICQ, AOL, Yahoo!, and IRC chat simultaneously.

Jet Audio - This program plays many types of audio and video files, all without the spyware that RealPlayer comes with. Play, mix, and record music, make playlists, rip and burn CDs, and even broadcast your very own internet radio station! Supported file types include:

Peter's Ultimate Alarm Clock - Never forget anything again with this handy alarm clock and reminder program. I paid for the full version, and have been very happy with it for several years. I sleep through a regular alarm, so I've set the program to ring an alarm and then play a loud mp3 track so I don't miss it!


USEFUL ONLINE UTILITIES

Vistaprint - Get 250 free business cards, you just pay a few dollars for shipping! Design your own cards online in minutes. I've ordered from this company many times, and have been very happy with the results.

PC Pitstop - This site will run a series of tests and tells you how to improve your computer's performance. It will also tell you how your computer compares to other, similar computers.

Shields Up! - Test your computer's firewall and make sure your private information stays private.

Symantec Virus Database - If your virus scanner says you have a virus, search for it in this database to find out what it does, how to fix damage, and how to get rid of the virus for good.

Babelfish - Translate anything, from a word to a paragraph to a whole web page! This is not a perfect translator, but you are able to understand most of the translation easily enough.

WHOIS - Find out the ISP of the person who spammed you or tried to invade your computer by typing in their IP address. This service will tell you how to contact the administrator of the ISP so the offending user can be shut down.

Spam-Me-Not - A tool to disguise your e-mail address from web crawlers (spammers) but still make your address clickable on web sites.

Xanga Weblogs - If you want to keep an online journal, this is a great place to do it. you can customise the colours, receive feedback from readers, subscribe to other users' blogs, and post photos (photos must be hosted on another site, like Photobucket).

PhotoBucket - A basic host for your photos that will automatically resize them to 250kb on upload, and you get 100mb of storage space and 2500mb of bandwidth per month. If you make a one-time donation of US$5 or more, you get unlimited space and bandwidth, and your maximum file size increases to 500kb.

Webmonkey - If you want to build your own web site but don't know how to do it, read some articles at Webmonkey to get clear and simple instructions.

Help Fight Spam! - This web site generates page after page of random, bogus e-mail addresses for spammer's robots to find. These lists of fake addresses cause big headaches for spammers, who have to deal with all the bounced mail and the lists that are unsellable because the addreses don't work! Just add the link to your web page to join the fight.

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