Category Archives: Free Software

You Want Free Antivirus? You GOT IT!

Yesterday, in How To Choose The Best Free Virus Protection, I talked about a method to evaluate free virus scan products by comparing the commercial versions to the free versions. I know that only the geekiest of you got through the whole thing, and the rest fell asleep at the halfway point because I failed to mention anything about chicken monkey donkey porn. For those who simply want a recommendation for a good, free virus scanner, I applied yesterday’s method to 5 of the free virus scanners to find out if they really are recommendable.

5. ClamWin

Despite a badly stripped down UI, Clamwin has a cool factor because it’s one of the few (if not the only) open source virus scanners out there. Unfortunately, the detection rates are lower than other available free products, and the product lacks an on-access component. Without an on-access scanner, this program is only able to clean your PC after it has become infected, and really offers no protection against virus threats.

Rating: Not recommended
Continue reading

How To Choose The Best Free Virus Protection

I used to run a virus protection system for a large multinational corporation, so every once and a while someone will ask me for advice on what the best free antivirus program is. Corporations have no problem spending the money for reliable virus protection because they need immediate support and someone to blame when something goes wrong. For the home user, the question tends to be more along the lines of “What virus protection program can you recommend, and can I get it for free?”

For the personal user, virus protection has gone from a software purchase to a protection racket, with consumers paying between $40 and $80 per year to have adequate virus protection on their PC’s. Once those consumers stop subscribing, they no longer get updates and their virus protection becomes ineffective in a matter of days. Don’t get me wrong. $40 a year is a small amount to ask for all the research and testing goes into keeping PC’s protected against the latest threats, but for a lot of people, a recurring $40 payment is a lot of dough.

Wouldn’t it be nice to get something that works as well as a commercial product, and get it for free? Well, you can. There are several products on the market that offer virus protection for no cost, but they vary widely in the amount of protection they offer. If you’re not a security expert, how do you pick the product that gives you the best protection? You don’t need to be a computer wizard to find the answer, but you do need to know who to look to for accurate information.
Continue reading

How To Erase Your Hard Drive Like A Secret Agent

If you’re going to retire your old PC, it’s only natural that you’d want to delete all of your personal data from it. Most people will search out what personal files they can, and delete them with a simple push of the delete key. Unfortunately, when you delete a file in Windows, the operating system only removes the reference from the master file table, leaving the actual data on the drive.

If your PC were a book and your files were chapter 9, Windows delete is like removing chapter 9 from the index, but leaving the pages in tact. The data may not look like it’s there to the average user, but until you write over that space, anyone with a free file recovery tool and access to your PC has a chance of recovering your files. That’s why if you’re going to retire a PC, the best thing that you can do is to completely scrub your hard drives by overwriting every last block with multiple passes of random data. Governments, corporations, and paranoid geeks have done this for years, and in this age of identity theft, there’s no reason that you shouldn’t either.

Don’t start sweating now. You don’t have to have a room full of mainframes or know anything about Star Trek to scrub your drives clean. With a free piece of open source software and the short set of instructions below, you can ensure that your private data will be banished to the land of wind and ghosts, which is way beyond the reach of anyone without a clean forensics lab and some incredibly skilled data recovery personnel.
Continue reading

How To Make Any Picture Look Like A Polaroid

If you’ve ever wanted a fake Polaroid for your site, but never had an easy way to make one, I may have come up with a simple solution for you. I put together a template that you can import into your favorite art program (like the GIMP) and lay on top of your favorite picture to make it look like it was taken with an old Polaroid camera. The template conforms to the size of an actual Polaroid and will work with pictures that are scaled to 314 pixels tall by 302 pixels wide. No shaking required.

fake polaroid

If you’re ready to get started, download the Free Polaroid Template to your PC by right clicking and selecting Save Link As.

For people who need a little bit of guidance, instructions on how to make a Polaroid with this template in GIMP are included below.

Enjoy!
Continue reading

How To Add New Drum Kits To The Hydrogen Drum Sequencer (Without Tearing Your Hair Out)

hydrogen advanced drum machine screenshotThe Hydrogen Advanced Drum Machine is a really great (and really free) drum sequencer that was made for Linux and ported to Windows. It’s easy to get used to and comes pre-loaded with a couple of drum kits (including the Roland TR-808 for all you b-boys and b-girls), but you’ll eventually want to add more kits to support your beat making needs.

And that’s where the fun ends. Nearly every time I tried to add a new drum kit, Hydrogen would crash with the following error:

Microsoft visual C++ Runtime Library

Assertion Failed
Program: hydrogen.exe
File: instrument.cpp
Line 122
Expression pDrumkitInfo

Continue reading

10 Tips To Get You Started With Google Sketchup

Considering an architect can cost up to $250 an hour, having professional renovation plans drawn up can get expensive fast. While there is no replacement for a professional when determining your final plans, creating a 3D model of your renovation can save you some cash by presenting the architect a general idea of what you’re looking for.

Google Sketchup is a free 3D modeling program that I’ve been using for a couple of weeks to do just that. It allows me plan the renovations to scale and then walk around the house as if I were in it, giving me a better idea of where what works on paper and what works in the real world coincide. I did this once with a kitchen renovation, and it worked out extremely well.

In my short time working with the product, I’ve compiled a number of tips and resources to help minimize your frustration and get you up to speed faster with your own project.
Continue reading

66+ Free Fonts for Your Halloween Projects

Halloween is bearing down on us fast, and I know you’re going to need some ultra-scary fonts for all that Halloween art. Here are 66 frighteningly free Halloween fonts broken down into categories to help you execute your monstrous masterpieces this season.

66 free fonts and two angry dragons

    Scary Band Fonts

  1. Cannibal Corpse (band)
  2. Cramps
  3. Danzing
  4. Amped for Evil (Dystempa)
  5. Misfits
  6. Samdan (Samhain)
  7. Slayer
  8. Scary Movie Fonts

  9. 28 Days Later
  10. Ben Witch Project (Blair Witch Project)
  11. Bewitched
  12. Burton’s Nightmare (Nightmare Before Christmas)
  13. Continue reading

How to Make a Ringtone From Your Favorite Song

Here’s a question: If a song costs you about $.83 to buy on CD, and $.99 from iTunes, how can you justify buying only a fraction of a song as a ringtone for $3 a pop? If your cell phone is capable of playing MP3 ringtones, it makes sense to replace that boring default ringtone with a snippet from your favorite song, but there’s no way that you should have to pay $3 to do it.

Here’s how you can create a ringtone from one of your MP3s for free.
Continue reading