A Column by Andy Anderson
Special Collections, Ekstrom Library

Free and Easy

Now that you have taken the plunge and bought a new PC system, your budget is probably shot, so how are you going to afford software with which to do all the nifty things you've been dreaming of. Even with the lower hardware prices available recently, most of us don't have much left over for acquiring new software titles, so we limp along with whatever office suite or other goodies came bundled with our systems.

It doesn't have to be that way, and you don't have to contemplate software piracy to change the situation. The answer for you may well be "freeware," software which can be downloaded to your PC and whose use does not require fees or registration.

The web contains many lists which point to freeware sites. On of the best is Freeware Plus, which can be found at http://www.freewareplus.com/. Their listing is more comprehensive than most, but there are dozens of other lists. If you don't find what you need here, try one of the search services using the string "freeware."

Freeware Now, at http://www.freewarenow.com/ has links to several categories of free software and also allows you to subscribe to a free newsletter which describes new freeware offerings. "Best Links to Free Stuff," a site located at http://www.soprano.com/frees.html has links to over 25 sites which are rated by users and you, too, can cast a vote for your favorite.

Other sites are direct sources of freeware. One of the best calls itself "Nonags," since it offers software whose creators won't nag you to register or send money. Point your browser to http://nonags.com and pick a mirror site. Their site offers three categories of software for Windows 95 and Windows NT platforms: Internet Applications, General Applications and "Coolware" (screen savers, icons, wallpaper, fonts, etc.)

Several computer magazines offer free software developed by their editors and consultants. Windows magazine has web and Windows 95 utilities, editors and other useful software at http://www.winmag.com/win95/software.htm. One helpful program is HTMLdrv.exe which can output as a web-ready HTML file almost anything which can be sent to a printer, including files created with programs which don't have a "Save as HTML" option.

PC magazine offers a free utility each month and its site at http://search.zdnet.com/pcmag/pctech/download/index.html has hundreds of additional freeware and shareware offerings.

Individual and corporate creators of freeware also have sites from which free offerings may be downloaded.

Arachnophillia is an excellent code-based HTML editor. It is offered by its creator, Paul Lutus, as "careware." He allows anyone to use his software free of charge, asking only that you demonstrate that you care about something by, for example, offering help to a young person or going for a month without complaining about anything. You can find his site at http://www.arachnoid.com.

Ulead Systems is the creator of many commercial graphics software packages and web utilities. All of their software is available in free trial versions. Best of all, though, they make available entirely free the fine graphics viewer which is packaged with their PhotoImpact graphics editor. Go to their "Free Stuff" site at http://www.ulead.com/webutilities/index.htm to get the viewer. Trial versions of their other software can be found by browsing at http://www.ulead.com/.

Here's a list of favorite freeware sites or programs.