Sunday, September 30, 2007

Must Download Programs for New PCs...

One of the more cathartic experiences in this technological age is getting that brand new computer. It's a hopeful time - we're giddy with how many music and video files we can store on our 200 GB hard drive, and envision becoming a hard-core gamer with all that sparkling new RAM. But a funny thing happens once we boot up for the first time - the machine is basically empty and we don't know what to do with ourselves. How can you make your computer your own, for free and in under an hour? Here's a list of must download programs for new PCs.

  • Pidgin - formerly called GAIM, it's an instant messaging client that allows you to connect to your AIM, MSN, Yahoo, and other IM accounts all at the same time, and minus any annoying ads or spyware.

  • Ad-Aware - great utility to occasionally scan your PC for adware programs which slow down your computer's processing speed and take all the fun out of having a new machine.

  • Limewire - a peer-to-peer application that lets you download content from all over the internet. Though it's often used to illegally download music and movies, not to mention pornography, it also has very legitimate uses like sharing files and documents.

  • Skype - if you're new machine has a webcam (or if not, than for an extra $20 you can get one), this program lets you use your computer for free video conferencing and to make free telephone calls to any other Skype user on the planet. Definitely essential for anyone with long-distance contacts.

  • iTunes - the most common music player out there. Personally, I have serious issues with iTunes and prefer to use Songbird instead, but begrudgingly I always end up installing it on friends' computers as requested. If you're going to use it though, make sure you keep backup copies of all your music files BEFORE putting them into iTunes, and never buy music from the iTunes store if it is DRM encrypted.

  • Firefox - the open source web browser that's an alternative to Internet Explorer. And better.

  • Spyware Guard - perform an occasional scan of your hard drive to delete malicious spyware files.

  • Registry Mechanic - perform an occasional scan to fix your registry, which will seriously boost your computer's performance when it's been slowing to a crawl.

  • OpenOffice - only needed if you do not have Microsoft Office, but if that's the case then OpenOffice will provide you with a word processor, spreadsheet and other essential common applications. It's also free, as compared to the several hundred dollars that Microsoft charges.

Feel free to offer some other recommendations by leaving a comment.
  

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