It goes without saying that Chrome, Skype, Mozilla, VLC Media Player, Picasa and many others are the absolute essential programs for any computer, yet there are some programs out there that could very well tick some extra boxes for you.
To that end, we’ve put together a short list of free programs that compete for geeky supremacy in an all-star battle of tech whizz wits. We like to call them the good, the bad, the ugly and the pretty, because we simply couldn’t leave visuals out of it.
SlimWare Utilities SlimCleaner is as versatile as system maintenance utilities go, and you can use it on as many PCs as you like. It aggregates data from numerous SlimWare customers to optimize its performance on your PC. Additionally, it includes a disk analyzer to allow you to see your hard drive’s contents, a defrag, a duplicate file finder and a wiper to make sure all the data you thought you deleted is really gone. Finally, you can run it from a USB Drive and transfer it from one PC to another without re-installing it.
VPN Books is the perfect program for when you feel like listening to some music on Pandora- which is sadly restricted to the USA-, you need to know that your data is safe when you hop on to a public wireless hotspot or someone else’s network, and you don’t mind bypassing government censors. In fact, you could even say that you’d be deliberately ignoring them.
Microsoft freeware isn’t necessarily the most visually appealing software you can find, but if that’s what you’re looking for, you can always check out the latest Miss World contestants. Kodu Game Lab is a free Microsoft app designed to allow children or over-excitable adults to design their own game from scratch with a simple point-and-click interface. Microsoft Image Composite Editor is another free Microsoft program that will overlap images to create a widescreen, panoramic photo. Microsoft Touch Pack for Windows 7 will make a collage of your photos and allow you to set it as desktop background, among others. Insomnia will make sure your computer doesn’t fall asleep when you’re downloading a massive file or doing anything else that requires you to leave your computer unsupervised for a long time.
Haiku Deck is a web or iPad app that creates stupendous presentation slides. It’s a great tool for designers because it gives you access to 35 million free stock images that you can use to create any of 6 themes. You can embed the decks into sites or export them into formats from Powerpoint and Keynote or simply publish them online in the Haiku Deck Gallery for public access. As it all happens online, though, make sure your fibre optic internet connection is up to speed.
Finally, the Blender 3D modeller is an open-source computer graphics program that renders 3D models for CG movies and games, and allows you to apply compositing, texturing and rigging to intricate models.
But don’t take our word for it. Try these out for yourselves and see which of them has the ‘loaded guns’.