We spend a lot of time using computers and the internet,
and are always on the lookout for good quality software
that helps us be more productive.
Here are the some of the programs that we use and/or
We regard a current virus checking program and a firewall
as essential for all computers that are connected to
the internet. If you don't use them, you are risking
damage to your own computer, and to your email contacts.
Recommended Anti Virus Programs
How Easily Could a Hacker Take Over Your Computer?
Test the effectiveness of your
current computer firewall protection, visit www.grc.com.
Steve Gibson, (founder of Gibson Research) is an internationally
recognised technical journalist and programmer who
has done extensive work in the security field.
When you get to his site, click on the "Shields
Up" link to give your security systems
A firewall is like a solid barrier around your computer,
that only admits information that you have asked for.
It blocks everything else.
If you don't have a firewall,
you were probably shocked at the results of the Shields
Firewalls can be either a program that runs on your
computer, or a piece of hardware that is installed
on your incoming data line. Firewalls are often built
into routers or modems.
Software Firewall. Before our hardware firewall
was installed, we used the very effective Zone Alarm
Pro, which passed every "Shields
Download a free trial at www.zonealarm.com
We don't use Internet Explorer unless absolutely
Alternative Web Browsers:
Mozilla Firefox Available
free from http://www.mozilla.org/products/firefox/
(This is a fast, fully featured web browser, that has
rapidly become our favorite. the download is is under
5 megabytes, it installs easily, and with one click
you can import
existing IE bookmarks, cookies, history, etc.
Mozilla -available from www.mozilla.org
complete replacement for Outlook and Internet Explorer.
Available at http://www.opera.com
Another excellent browser. The free version will show you adverts, which you
can get rid of by paying the $US39 registration fee.
Download version 7.1 at
Almost all harmful programs target the users of Microsoft
products. We recommend that you try alternatives
that are faster and safer.
far superior to Outlook in our opinion. It has
the advantage of being immune to the email borne viruses
that are specially written for Outlook.
We have used Eudora for years, and it is available
free at www.eudora.com.
(The paid version will eliminate the advertisement
Thunderbird. Available at http://mozilla.org/products/thunderbird/
A new, totally free email program from Mozilla. It has
many features, including very effective
There is no advertising in this very efficient
Free Microsoft Office Alternatives
Open Office - www.openoffice.org
Microsoft Office just keeps getting more bloated and
more expensive. This is a free alternative which contains
a word processor, spreadsheet, database, etc and the
files it produces are fully compatible with Microsoft
Office. We used this program for a couple of months,
and it did everything we asked of it.
Easy Office - www.e-press.com/
If you want a whole range of Microsoft compatible
applications without paying the high cost, check out
Easy Office. It comes complete with many
additional applications. It even
creates PDF files!
Easy Office is
available free for home users, and
to register. We tried it for a couple
of weeks, and experienced no problems swapping programs
Office, Easy Office, and Open Office. (The splash
screen that comes up each time you open a program is
annoying, and obviously designed to encourage regular
users to cough up the registration cost)
The user interfaces of these programs are a bit different
to Office, but are easy to use and learn.
Obtaining the functionality of Microsoft products at
the price makes products like these very attractive
to many people.
If you are on a dial up connection, try to look for
these programs on one of the CD's that are given away
with computer magazines - they are big downloads -
over 50 megabytes.
Power Desk Pro 5. This file management program
runs rings around Windows Explorer.
A couple of advantages are increased speed, colour coded
folders, and multiple windows which make copying and
moving files much easier.
Free trial from http://www.v-com.com/product/pd_ind.html
This program is makes it a breeze to retrieve the
web pages that you have stored as favorites. Just type
in the keyword you want to use to find the pages, or
accept the defaults. This is SO much better than the
"Favorites" system used by Internet Explorer.
NoteTab Pro. We've tried lots of other text
editors, and kept coming back to this one because of
its speed, ease of use, and range of features. We use
the powerful outlining features to keep track of hundreds
of fragments of information, and the pasteboard feature
alone is worth the cost of the program.
You'll never go back to "notepad"
once you've tried this. Trial versions are available
(Other excellent programs from Fookes software
are available there too!)
Wheel Pro - a unique software program
that allows you to see color theory in action.
With Color Wheel Pro, you can create harmonious
color schemes and preview them on real-world examples.
A free 30 day trial is available from http://www.color-wheel-pro.com and
there's some fantastic tutorials available on how
to use colour on your website.
Irfan View www.irfanview.com
Irfan View is an amazing program that allows you to
view, modify, and print virtually any kind of graphics
image. It's easy to use, but you'll need to read the
documentation if you want to fully explore the wide
range of options. Free for personal use, and commercial
registration costs only $US10.
VikarPlus JPEG Resizer. http://www.vikarplus.com/english-index.html
Resizing a load of digital images for use on the web
is normally a real pain. This freeware program makes
the job quick and easy. The site also has other programs
for renaming lots of files at once, creating a web gallery
of photos, and making a screensaver with your own photos.
"Easy Thumbnails" www.fookes.com
Will optimise, convert, multiple images in a directory
and save the result into another directory. An excellent
piece of software from Fookes, who also wrote NoteTab
Pro. There's lots of other great graphics and other
software available on their site.
ULEAD PhotoImpact. www.ulead.com
We have been using PhotoImpact as our main image editor
for several years. It is not shareware, but demos are
available from time to time on Magazine CD-ROMs.
This program does pretty well everything you can do
with market leader Photoshop, at a fraction of the cost.
JASC Paint Shop Pro www.jasc.com
Paint Shop Pro is another great low cost graphics editing
package. We used it extensively before moving across
ExpPrint from www.jddesign.co.uk
This program just prints out a listing of the files
that are on your hard disk, or in any folder. Believe
it or not, this basic feature is not possible in Windows
Explorer. The free version works well, but you can't
save your customised settings. It's worth paying for
the registered one. There are also several other useful
utilities on this site.
Identifies and optionally disables all of the spyware
and adware "features" that some programs install
on your computer, with or without your knowledge.
The paid version has additional features.
Clickcat -P2H (PDF-to-HTML converter): www.pdf-to-html.com
Converts Adobe Acrobat pdf format files into a HTML
files that you can edit. Works with tables, indexes,
Basic version is free, but you'll need the $US39 Professional
version if you want graphic conversion to be high quality.
Prevent email addresses being lifted from your website
and put onto CD's that are sold to spammer. This little
utility converts your email addresses into Unicode,
which is very difficult for SPAM harvesters to read
- so they ignore it. Just put your email address into
this program, and paste the unicode text into your web
Lots of other nifty utilities are available on links
from this site.
Xenu Link Sleuth http://home.snafu.de/tilman/xenulink.html
Check your web site for broken links. If you have
a lot of links from your web site, it's very tedious
make sure that they are all working.
This program will do it for you, as well as checking
the availability of all the images and files on your
site. A report is generated when it finishes.
WS-FTP Pro. This is the workhorse that we use
to move files on and off the internet, and for some
of the management work on our server. Even the free
version is very powerful. Available at http://www.ipswitch.com
If you are using Firefox, I recommend a wonderful
free Extension called FireFTP.
Sources of Software
We generally use the following sites when looking
for software. However, we always try to do the actual
from the developer's own site to ensure that we are
getting the latest version of the software.
This site provides valuable comments from users. some
are contradictory for a given piece of software, but
you can generally work out whether a program is worthwile
One of the original sources of shareware programs. They
provide ratings for the software they have listed.
If you are on a modem, downloading software and upgrades
can take several hours. (We've heard of people spending
over 12 hours downloading the latest version of Internet
A good solution to this is to go to your newsagent
and find a computer magazine with a CD-Rom that contains
the programs you want . As a bonus, they often include
full versions of slightly outdated commercial programs.
Australian PC User, PC Authority, and PC World are
some that provide a free CD. They cost under $A10 a
copy, and are well worth getting every now and then.