BOOT CAMP 211 (05/02/02)
SHAREWARE AND FREEWARE, part 1
The idea of an individual or a company, giving away computer
software or charging only a nominal sum for it still makes a lot of PC users
suspicious. Nevertheless, the fact remains that for little more than the cost of
an Internet download, or a PC magazine, you can get professionally written
programs that rival the best commercial software; sometimes they’re a lot
better! Added to that are the countless utilities and patches that fill the
gaps, fix the bugs and make the big-name applications and operating systems more
useable and friendly.
We’re talking about shareware and freeware, zero or low-cost
software that might just restore your faith in human nature, and PCs. Mind you
there’s also a fair amount of dross out there, and a few programs are laced with
advertisements and hidden ‘spyware’ features, not to mention the odd virus, so
you have to keep your wits about you, but if you take sensible precautions you
are fairly safe.
There’s nothing sinister about shareware and freeware, for
the most part it is small specialist programs that would be difficult, or
uneconomic to market through normal channels. Doing away with expensive
packaging and advertising and distributing the software via the internet and
computer magazine cover discs allows the author to charge a realistic price,
some give their programs away through simple altruism.
A lot of shareware programs only operates for a ‘trial’
period – usually 30 days -- or have some functions disabled. They are normally
unlocked by entering a registration code, sent to you by email, soon after
you’ve paid a modest licence fee. Most companies accept credit card payment on
line so the registration process usually only take a few minutes. Registration
usually entitles you to updates and upgrades, a full user manual and technical
support. Many shareware programs are fully functional and the author relies on
the users good faith to pay up. If you find a shareware program genuinely useful
I urge you to pay, to help keep this vibrant and innovative segment of the
software market alive and healthy.
Over the next three weeks we’ll be looking at some useful and
popular shareware and freeware titles. I make no apologies for including some
old favourites, without which no self-respecting PC would be complete. This week
we will begin with the basics, to assist downloads, and keep your PC safe so
without more ado, here’s the first batch.
WINZIP 8.1, 1.8Mb, Windows 9x/SE/ME/NT/2000/XP, shareware www.winzip.com
If you haven’t already got WinZip get it now! You’ll need it
to ‘decompress’ many shareware and freeware programs that are ‘zipped’ to speed
up the download. WinZip can handle most file formats, including ‘zip’, ‘TAR’,
‘Uuencode’ etc., but it does a whole lot more. It can compress large files to a
fraction of their normal size, so they can be sent over the Internet, or
archived on single or multiple floppies and files can be password protected.
This latest version is compatible with all versions of Windows; it’s very easy
to use and integrates seamlessly with most Internet browsers.
PARABEN DOWNLOAD MANAGER, 760k, Windows 9x/SE/ME/NT/2000,
Absolutely essential if you have a dial-up connection and
routinely download large files and are frustrated by long delays and
interruptions. By automatically splitting files in segments it can greatly
reduce download times, and even resume where it left off if the connection is
broken. Incredibly easy to use and lots of useful features, it should pay for
itself in no time at all.
AD-AWARE, 834kb, Windows 9x/SE/ME/NT/2000/XP, freeware www.lavasoftusa.com/
This program could give you a nasty shock the first time you
use it! AdAware scans your hard disc looking for ‘Spyware’ programs, these are
little nasties left behind by some Internet sites that can report back to their
masters on your web-surfing habits. AdAware seeks them out, destroys them and
prevents new ones infecting your system. If you are concerned about privacy you
should definitely check your PC now!
ZONEALARM, 2.8Mb, Windows 9x/SE/ME/NT/2000/XP, freeware,
Next to a virus scanner a firewall could be the most
important security program that you have on your PC. A firewall blocks access to
your computer from hackers, and if you doubt there is a threat, there’s a good
chance that within minutes of installing ZoneAlarm you will receive your first
‘alert’. The problem is bad enough with dial-up connection but it is vital that
you are protected if you have an ‘always-on’ or broadband connection. ZoneAlarm
also stops programs on your PC from connecting to the Internet without your
say-so, and again you will be surprised how many applications, some of which you
may not even know about, send data from your PC without your knowledge.
ZoneAlarm is completely free to personal users, there are no strings and it
works on all versions, though read the FAQs (frequently asked questions) on the
ZoneLabs web site if you’re using Windows XP.
AVG ANTIVIRUS, 5.0Mb, Windows 9x/ME/2000/XP, freeware,
If you haven’t got an up to date virus scanner on your PC you
really are asking for trouble. It’s no good hoping the program that came with
your PC is going to protect you – probably a ‘lite’ version of a commercial
package -- unless it is regularly updated with new virus signatures. Good virus
scanner software can be expensive, but you don’t have to spend a fortune. AVG
Antivirus is free – to home users and it will provide you with good level of
protection. AVG operates in the background, monitoring incoming data and emails
for viruses and infected macros. It can be scheduled to automatically update its
virus database and check for threats.
Next week – Shareware and freeware, part 2
A technique used to reduce the size of a file, making it
smaller, more manageable and quicker to send over the Internet
Program, usually put onto your PC after visiting a web site,
that makes use of your internet connection – without your knowledge or
permission -- to send data back to its parent site
A distinctive section of code within a virus program that
scanner software uses to identify them
Here’s an extra bonus freeware program, for anyone who
listens to music on their PC and has scrabbled around with the mouse, trying to
mute the sound or lower the volume when the phone rings. Global Audio Control
(900kb) assigns simple keyboard shortcuts to all of your PC’s audio controls,
it’s a real time-saver, you’ll wonder how you ever managed without it. Suitable
for Windows 9x/NT/2000 it can be found at: http://www.globalaudiocontrol.cjb.net/