I’m amazed you’re even reading this. Not because the quality of the prose is lacking in this week’s roundup of open-source and freeware applications, mind you. Rather, if you haven’t noticed by the coverage (and advertising) permeating just about every known tech site in the universe right now, Starcraft 2 just came out. It’s a miracle I’ve been able to tear myself away from defending humanity to write this but, well, my heart for free software is just too strong.
While it would be awesome to give you some kind of “Top 5 ways to get Starcraft 2 for free” article or something like that, it’s just not happening. And no, before you ask, there really aren’t any launchers or applications specifically designed for the game that can give you some kind of competitive edge or awesome third-party tie-in just yet. Wishful, if not silly thinking, no?
However, that’s not to say that applications don’t exist that could otherwise enhance your Starcraft 2 gaming experience in some capacity. Like I said, nothing’s been written specifically for the title, but there are a number of useful, free apps that you can use to otherwise bolster your gaming-life-that-just-so-happens-to-be-Blizzard’s-latest-title. I apologize for the tongue-twistedness of it all; simply put, you can use the following 5 apps to make Starcraft 2—or any game—rock just a little bit more.
Microsoft Office: Can’t live with it, can’t live with… ok, so that’s not entirely true. A number of you likely live without the Microsoft Office suite and, for that, I commend you. That’s not because there’s anything wrong with Office per se; it’s a pricing thing. I don’t always have the money to fork out for a new Office license for whatever systems I acquire, especially when compelling freeware alternatives present themselves in an easy-to-use (and easy-to-download) kind of fashion. Same goes for you.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. “But Dave,” you ask, “why not just install OpenOffice.org and be done with it?” That is certainly a solution for your Office woes. However, that doesn’t mean that the OpenOffice.org suite is the end-all be-all alternative to Microsoft Office Insert-Year-Here. From Web apps to downloadable programs, it’s entirely possible to recreate some of the best parts of this paid-for hunk of apps without resorting to the tried-and-true OpenOffice.org open-source bundle.
And guess what? By going the piecemeal route, you’ll be able to find some new features that simply don’t exist in either aforementioned bundle! So, that said, click the jump to check out some of the best freeware and open-source Microsoft Office replacement apps for your system!
I'm a pretty avid college football fan, which has absolutely nothing to do with the world of open source or freeware. Or does it? I just made my yearly donation to Electronic Arts in the form of a cash gift, of which they happily accepted and used, in part, to bestow me with a copy of their latest carbon-copy of last year's sports title of choice.
I'm referring, of course, to NCAA Football 2011.
As it turns out, Electronic Arts--in an effort to thwart used game sales--has made it so that you actually have to enter a physical code to unlock portions of the game (many of the multiplayer options) that have previously been part and parcel for any of its sports titles under the sun, if not "video gaming" as a general concept. If you want to access these parts of the game, but find that your code has already been used by another, you have to pony up a small fee to, you know, play what you purchased.
Obviously, the closest we have to microtransactions in this environment is good ol' shareware--I don't often see many programs saying, for example, "for 500 uses the paint bucket tool, please pay $3 to..."
Google Voice. Situation: It's a pretty awesome competitor to good ol' Skype, especially when you use its crazy powers to forward calls from your magical number to physical locations all over the world. I, for one, use Google voice to get into my own apartment. Ringing me up on the ol' call box in front of my condo complex calls my Google Voice number (local calls only!), which in turn buzzes up my cell phone which, in turn, lets me go home.
That's just one interesting use of an otherwise awesome service. There are many more. Problem: There are not nearly as many apps--Web-based or downloadable--that allow you to interact with Google Voice in unique, cool ways. I've scrounged together five for your enjoyment but, honestly, we're scraping the barrel this week in terms of available software.
So, that said, go register a Google Voice number. And while you're doing that, start skimming this article for awesome new ways to use the service!
Are you ready to rock? I should hope so. I'm giving your hands a rest and your ears a workout this week, for none of the apps in the ol' "freeware roundup" this time around are actually downloadable. That's right. Zero. After you read this, you will spend the course of your week installing absolutely nothing.
So what, then, am I profiling in this roundup? Dust? Nope. Rock. Every single Web app in this collection is specifically geared toward an audio pursuit of some kind. I'll show you apps you can use--through the comfort of whatever browser you'd like--to both create music and find new music to jam to. If you want to go worldly, I'll show you how to find the latest music streams from all over the world.
That's not all, however, for not everything audio-related has to involve music. The other two cool Web apps in this week's roundup center on audio usability. One lets you edit files online as if you were rocking an offline audio editor, and the other lets you craft up a message to your friends that will be read by one of those lovely, synthetic computer voices we've all come to know and love.
So that's that. It's audio week in the Freeware Files--even though you won't have to download a single executable to reap the benefits of these awesome finds!
There is little I enjoy more than coming to Maximum PC each week to dish out a new dose of freeware and open-source software for all to enjoy. But, I confess, it's been tough times as of late-I feel as if I've covered every inch of the ol' PC ad nauseum and, as such, am running low on witty or interesting themes with which to structure these freeware roundups.
But before I would work myself into a tizzy over my failure to compartmentalize this week's apps, I remembered something: You, the readers, are awesome. So much so, that you've actually gone and done a great job of coming up with some awesome applications all by yourselves. From games, to apps to utilities, you've left few stones unturned in your various replies to my weekly freeware roundups.
And, thus, I am writing this week's freeware roundup in your honor. Not only am I profiling some of the awesome programs you've recommended, but I'm profiling the recommenders as well! And by that I mean that you, too, could be enshrined in the hallowed halls of the weekly freeware roundup-just keep leaving program tips in the comments!
Apps, apps, apps. All we talk about is apps, it seems. Week and week out, I try to throw out a list of five different applications--usually themed around some particular scenario--that give you untold access to your system in new and exciting ways. Well, mostly exciting. Let's face it. Sometimes, an app is just an app. It's a useful, free utility, but nothing to throw a party or write home about.
So, that in mind, how about some games?
There's nothing more fun--and more detrimental to one's professional life--than sinking hours after countless hours of playtime into a persistent digital world. That's right, I'm talking about MMOs. The problem, however, is that there are simply too many free MMOs to choose from. If you're intending on spending a significant amount of your personal life in some digital dungeon or what-have-you, you don't want to do it for a crappy game that nobody is playing. You want an awesome game.
I have taken it upon myself to find five free MMOs with such a characteristic--awesome--and am happy to announce the results of my findings below. I wish you the best as you go forth in the grand tradition of surrendering your social life to slay digital... well, everything. Digital everythings. Right.
"Privacy" is the word that's on the lips of anyone even remotely connected to the Web 2.0 nowadays. But I don't care much about that. What you do on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, or whatever, is your own business--and, worse, there aren't really third-party applications that you can download and use to self-assess your potential privacy pitfalls. You're on your own there.
However, when it comes to Windows--oh, yes, there's much we can talk about when it comes to the Windows operating system. There are always newer and stronger ways to protect your PC from intrusion, from third-party access via an unscrupulous exploit or unintended network connection to the raw, physical tricks one can use to gain access to your protected information. Makes my skin crawl just thinking about it, it does.
So, without further ado, let's take a little joyride through some unique free and open-source applications that you can use to lock down your PC without removing all traces of usability from your operating system. For just about the only thing worse than a computer nobody else can get into is a computer that you, yourself, have to jump through 30 hoops just to get into. These apps aren't going to be that, you have my word.
There are a ton of apps out there that you can use to automate something you do on your PC. I mean, that's the central conceit of software development as a whole, correct? To somehow ease the time burden it takes one to do a particular task in what would otherwise be a manual, labor-intensive process?
Well, when a number of new apps each seek to automate some facet of your everyday computing life, it should come as little surprise that I'm going to cover them. However, I've also hand-selected a few interesting little freeware and open-source tools that are a bit more esoteric in their operations than what you might typically think of when you ponder the word, "automation."
Case in point: Want to find a way to find and delete all the credit card information you've accidentally left open on your system? Or would you like a method for discovering duplicate images on your system so you can nix unwanted (and space-consuming) shots you don't actually want to keep around?
These are but a few of the situations I'll be tackling in this week's Freeware Files. Click the jump and let's get started!
I'm often surprised by what people find popular in the world of freeware and open-source applications, let alone Web apps. It's tough to use the comments on Maximum PC's website as an official barometer, as they don't take page views, click-throughs, or raw downloads of whatever apps I/we recommend into account. Nevertheless, judging by the wrath, boundless joy, and heavy presence of spam-filter-nose-thumbing-signatures attached to the various weekly software articles, I can sometimes get a general vibe for what's appreciated... and what's not.
But I'm not about to dedicate the next 700 words or toward tooting my own horn--not unless there's an app for that. I do find it interesting, and a little bit funny, that a relatively innocuous application like last week's "Instant Elevator Music" received such an exuberant amount of interest via the blog comments. Of course, that's after weeks can go by with nothing but tumbleweeds greeting other applications that, honestly, I find much more useful.