April 12th, 2010 Jamie
Maybe that’s a little bit of an exaggeration, but nonetheless, here are the 5 freebies that make my little geeky heart go pitter-pat.
Photo Editing and Beyond
Photoshop’s Younger (Freeware) Brother. I heard about the Gimp way back when I was in high school, and to be quite frank with you, I wasn’t impressed. Yes, it had most of the features that Photoshop had, but the usability was terrible. Several versions later, its almost unrecognizable. I downloaded it last week (my PS Elements didn’t have the features I needed) and I absolutely love it. You might have a little learning curve if you are switching from Photoshop, but remember–Photoshop is hundreds of dollars, and the Gimp is free, so a little extra tutorial skimming isn’t so bad.
Browsing, Google Style. If you’re still browsing on IE (which keeps having security issues–yikes!), its time to take a look at what else is out there. My two primary browsers are Firefox and Google Chrome–both great browsers–and I have to say Chrome is my fav. It is more streamlined (you can run a google search right in the address bar) and has all the features you need in a good browser. Word of warning, though: Chrome is still new on the scene, so every now and again it won’t be able to load all the features of a site. Which is why I have my handy dandy Firefox standing by. AND both of them focus on keeping your browsing secure.
Out of the Box. When I moved last summer from the jam-packed airwaves of San Diego to a quiet little spot on the east coast, I was a little disappointed at the slim pickings on the radio. Thank goodness for Pandora, which creates “stations” based on songs I like (and remembers what I dislike). Not only do I get to hear my old favorites, but it introduces me to new favs in the genres I’m interested in. Downsides? The occasional ad will play (and they have ads on their sidebar while you’re listening) and you can only play 40 hours of music per month for free.
Send it to Press. I’ve used lots of different blogging platforms, but Wordpress is by far my choice for free blogging software for anyone who will be blogging from their own domain. With tons of themes and plugins (and more every day), constant updates to make it better, and a user-friendly interface behind the scenes, it is the real deal, and it doesn’t cost you anything. One note, though–if you won’t be running your blog from your own website, I’d recommend using Blogger, which is easy to customize (there are whole blogs about customizing blogger!) and gets better with each update.
Video Chat & More
Share and Share Alike. I’ve mentioned Skype several times before, because I love it, but when they introduced free screen sharing, too, I really felt bitten by the love bug. Now I can video chat with friends (free!!!) anywhere AND use screen sharing to teach my dad how to work his iMovie without having to make a trip home. Oh Skype, you are just dreamy.
(Want more tips on great deals and freebies? Find out the 10 software freebies every student should know about, or learn how to get free food in college or how to trade books, DVDs, and video games online and get something new-to-you for just the price of postage!)
Are any of these freebies on your love/hate list? I’d love to hear your take–or find out which freebies YOU can’t live without–so fess up!