Tech Tools

Most people agree that there’s “no such thing as a free lunch.” With software, that used to be true. If you wanted quality software, you would make your purchase from Microsoft or another designer.

But now, you can find free software that rivals paid versions. And by free, I don’t mean pirated. Free, as in open-source. Open-source software is developed by a community of volunteers that make continual improvements and make their programs available without cost. Go to Wikipedia for more information on open-source software.

Below is a collection of useful open-source programs that can be used at home:

  • OpenOffice. This is an office software suite very similar to Microsoft Office, except for the price tag. Download it and have access to a word processor, spreadsheet program, presentation software, and a drawing program.
  • Mozilla FireFox. This is an Internet browsing program that is faster and safer than  Microsoft Internet Explorer. To see why you should switch, visit the Browse Happy website.
  • Wikipedia. Wikipedia isn’t an open-source software program, it’s an open-content encyclopedia. With over a million articles, if you have a question about something, Wikipedia is a good place to start. For students, always check information you get in Wikipedia by trying to find the same information on another website.
  • GIMP. This is a powerful program that can be used to create, edit and enhance images, similar to PhotoShop. Images on this site, including the logo, have been enhanced using GIMP.
  • Adobe Reader. This is a free program that will open Portable Document Format (PDF) files. Most documents downloaded from the Web, and all documents on this site are PDFs.
  • Foxit Reader. This is another free program that will open PDF files. The difference is that this program is much smaller (only 1.65 MB) than Adobe Reader, so this would be a good fit for dialup connections.
  • Microsoft Photo Story 3. This is a free program that you can use to create movies and slideshows of pictures. It allows you to add effects to the pictures to create documentary-type motion, as well as sound and narration! Give it a try!
  • Tux Typing 2. This is a free typing tutor program for kids! It has modes for practicing finger placement, word exercises, short words and long words. Download it here for Windows, or visit the website to check on the lastest version.

This page last updated March 26, 2007 @ 6:00 pm.