It's been a little while since we've done a hodgepodge roundup of awesome freeware and open-source software. So brace yourself. The following free software applications have absolutely nothing in common with each other, save for them all being free and beneficial to your geek life in some capacity. We're looking at version-tracking applications that help keep all of the different installed software on your PC as up-to-date as it can be, as well as an easy-to-use display calibration app and a whole hodgepodge of must-have PC utilities (arranged neatly via a single installer application, to note).
But that's not all! To check out all of the other helpful applications we've got our dirty little fingers on, you're just going to have to click through to the full article. That's right. In Hollywood, we would call this a "teaser." But really, these apps are useful enough that you should have already scrolled past this introductory rambling to get to the good stuff--the apps. Well, let's not waste any more time then, shall we?
What it does: This free application is infinite in its usefulness. It comes in an installable or standalone package--we recommend the latter, as you're then but a single, double-click away from a comprehensive scan of your PC's installed applications. Once the application is done (it took me less than a minute), you're taken to a Web page that lists all the outdated software on your PC as well as the links for where you can grab the most recent version of your software. It's just that easy!
What it does: Getting your monitor to look perfect can be a total pain in the butt. But since very few of us are sporting the Windows 7 retail build that comes with built-in display calibration, try using Calibrize to achieve a similar effect. The program isn't quite as detailed as it could be -- you only edit two windows' worth of options -- but it's a lot better than eyeballing what looks right, right? This is as simple as color calibration gets, although your personal mileage with the program may vary.
What it does: The company NirSoft makes a variety of useful utilities for your PC, everything from password recovery tools, to network monitoring applications, to tools that replace default functions in Windows with souped-up, high-powered alternatives. But NirSoft makes a lot of these utilities. It would be rather annoying to have to go through and install these one-by-one. You'd probably give up halfway through, and we don't blame you for that in the slightest. But now, thanks to NirSoft Installer, you can use a one-shot application to grab and install all the utilities you want. That's it! You've just saved yourself an hour of time.
What it does: Tired of the boring ol' Windows Console? Well, the aptly named "Console" open-source application brings a host of new features to this otherwise dull environment. You can now open up multiple console environments in a tabbed interface, and work effortlessly between the two using Console's built-in copy and pasting functionality. Edit the colors and fonts of the console to make it more pleasing to the eye, and save your favorite folders and environments into tabs that you can pull up at any time! Console is the ultimate time-saving... console... utility.
What it does: This freeware application is the ultimate eBook library manager. Use this application to catalogue your extensive eBook collection (featuring support for similarly extensive metadata). From there, you can convert your files to a variety of supported formats, depending on which reader you're using to actually view your eBooks. And don't worry, you can use Calibre to synchronize your information and files straight to your device. Take that, extraneous applications.
Oh, and did we mention that Calibre can convert RSS feeds into "eBooks," perfect for reading your day's news without the need for an Internet connection. Thumbs-up, Calibre.