Saturday, November 14, 2015

Microsoft Decimates Free Cloud Storage

Last week, Microsoft changed its policies regarding free storage in its OneDrive account.  Until last week, customers could enjoy free accounts with up to 30 GB of online storage.  Changes now reduce that to 5 GB, even for existing customers.

A few months ago, I recommended Microsoft's OneDrive solution.  After these changes, I say stick with Google Drive.  The last thing you want to do is become dependent on a service and then have the terms change and get stuck with a large bill.

This action proves that Microsoft simply is not comfortable in the free services business model. Google is and will likely remain so.  Google Drive is now clearly the better option and will likely remain so.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Free Home Phone

A couple of months ago, I wrote another post about setting up a free phone number using Google Voice.  This can be handy, but perhaps you don't want to make and receive calls from your computer.  You want to use a real phone.  Today I'll explain how to do that.  You can even replace your existing home phone with this and never pay a phone bill again.

This system still uses Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP).  In other words, you will still need to have a good Internet connection.  It's also not completely free since you will need to buy a piece of equipment to make it all work.  But dumping phone bills forever means it pays for itself, usually within a month or two.

This is the same concept as Vonage phone service, which offers a similar service for a low monthly fee.  The difference with this system is that after the one time purchase of the adapter,  your calls are completely free forever - at least until Google decides to dump this service.  But I think it has been available for nearly ten years.  It does not appear to be going away.

The service works like this: If you don't have one already, set up a phone number with Google Voice. Create or sign into your free Gmail account, then open  Follow the steps to create a new phone number and pick one.  You can also assign an existing number you have to your Google Voice account.  You can now make or receive phone calls through Google Voice without paying a penny.

But today we are taking that one step further.  Say you want to add a second phone line in your house, or even completely replace the current landline in your home (or anywhere else).  You can connect your Google Voice number to you home phone system quite easily with a device from Obihai Technology.  This device connects to your home internet and then provide a port to connect a phone.  You can connect a single phone, multiple phones, or connect it into any phone jack in your home network to make it work with all the phones in your house.  Once connected to a normal phone, you can make or as many calls as you like.  All calls in the US or Canada are free.  Long distance calls are dirt cheap (e.g. calling Britain in one cent per minute).

I purchased an Obi100 adapter for about $50.  I set up an account and connected a regular 30 year old phone to it and have been using it as a second line in my home.  It has worked great with no problems.  You need to have a good internet connection for things to work properly.  A poor internet connection will distort the voice and make the conversation hard to hear.  Your adapter must connect into an Ethernet port on your network, not just WiFi.  Of course, you can plug a wireless phone into the adapter for a wireless experience.

I can take my adapter and phone with me and plug them in wherever I go.  I always have my phone and phone number with me.  It is usually easier just to use the Google Voice feature to forward calls to another phone or use my tablet when on the road.  But if you are going somewhere else, and want your landline phone with you, there is no problem, as long as you have Internet access and an Ethernet port.

I find this system particularly helpful with teenagers in my house.  I won't let them have a cell phone yet, or more specifically I won't pay for the cell service.  They can use this second line for phone calls without tying up our main line.  At some point, I'm considering moving my main home phone number over to this system, though I have not had the nerve yet.  My main number already uses Comcast VoIP technology, so it is not that big a leap.

The other issue is that Obihai does not work with 911 emergency services.  If you intend to use this as your only phone, and try to call 911, it does not know where you are and cannot connect you to  your local emergency services.  Please keep that in mind.

All that said, I have used this system as a second line in my home for several months now.  I have no complaints with it and recommend it to all.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Still Watch DVD?

Windows 10 recently released to relatively positive reviews.  One big drawback for me, however, was Microsoft's decision to drop support for playing movies on DVD.  Yes, we all know the future of video is in streaming.  But I still like the ease and simplicity of watching a movie at times when I am not connected to the Internet.

There are not many free programs that will provide you with the ability to watch DVDs on your computer.  But there is one that is extremely popular: VLC Media Player.  In addition to DVD, VLC will play a range of other video formats, including various MPEG versions, DivX, mp3, and ogg.

The interface itself is relatively feature rich and has a range of options.  You can even stream video across your network.

VLC is 100% free, no trial period or paying for a pro version.  It is great, works as promised and fills a great need for video lovers everywhere.  Give it a try!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Cleaning up your computer

Over time, Windows collects lots of little files that degrade performance.  These can include temporary Windows files, temporary Internet files, temp files associated with various programs, etc.  Cumulatively these files can start to degrade performance as Windows is required to search through all of them in order to find what it needs.  From time to time, you should clean out your computer as you notice things getting slower.

You can manually go into all the various temp folders around your computer and erase the unnecessary files, but this is time consuming and difficult.  Instead of that, I recommend a great little utility called ccleaner.  This program will scan all the known crevices on your computer where these temp files are known to hide.  It is pretty good about knowing what to delete and what to leave alone, but it does give you options on what you can choose to delete as well.

The basic version is free.  There are pay versions that can do a few more things, but I find the free version adequate for my needs.  I have used the Windows version for many years.  There is also a Mac and Android version which perform similar functions. However, I have not had the need to use those.

I don't find it needs to be run that often, but every three or four months will help to keep your PC running at top performance.

The same company also has a program called Defraggler, also free, which can defragment your hard drive.  This also improves performance.  I find the defrag program that comes with Windows to do an adequate job.  But Defraggler has a few extra functions if you care to give it a try.

Ccleaner, however, is a must-have for any Windows user.  I highly recommend it.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Free Phone Calls

Talking on the phone used to be terribly expensive for long distance calls.  Costs have certainly come down.  Most of us can make unlimited free nationwide calls for a small monthly fee. But making a completely free call has been difficult to do.

There are many options for free voice communications, such as MS Skype or Apple Facetime.  But to make those work, you need to have the other party using the same program and be online ready to receive the call.  That is great for some people, but there are a great many who don't want to be bothered setting up a new app or sitting by their computer waiting for a call.  There are also many people I don't know very well that I need to call.  They may use Skype, but I don't want to go through the bother of figuring all that out just for a quick call.

For this reason, I am a big fan of Google Voice.  Like Skype or Facetime, you can make computer to computer calls for video or audio chats, as well as instant messaging.  But there is also a dialer component.  You can call anyone on any phone by simply dialing their phone number and talking.  To the person being called, it is just like any other phone call.

The service is 100% free, at least for US and Canada calls.  For other countries, you may have to pay, although the rates are pretty good.

To set this up, you simply need a free Google account and use the free Google Chrome Web Browser.  Add the Hangouts App from the Chrome Web Store.  Dial a number and start have a phone call.  Of course, you will need a computer with microphone and speakers.  I prefer a USB headset myself for better quality.

Even better, if you have limited minutes on your phone, you can use the Hangouts App on your phone to make calls on the phone.  I have an old Android phone without any service on it at all.  I connect it to a Wifi connection and can make and receive calls (you can get a free phone number with your Google account).  I did my tests with Android, but Hangouts is available for iPhone as well.  Tablets of virtually any variety will also work fine.

Google Voice has many other benefits as well.  I can forward calls from my Google Voice to another number, or multiple numbers.  This means I can receive calls many different locations.  Google will also convert any voicemail messages to text and email the full message to me.

Monday, July 6, 2015

PDF Programs

While Adobe has made some wonderful products, I have never been a big fan of its business model.  Its products, aside from being wildly overpriced, come with highly restrictive licenses that make it almost impossible to reinstall the product on different computers.  As someone who is constantly using multiple computers, I just cannot deal with spending hours on the phone with support begging them to give me permission to use software I have already purchased on a different computer.

I had a particularly bad experience with my son's Photoshop license recently.  He broke the screen on his laptop.  Fortunately, I had an identical model computer available that I was not using.  I popped his hard drive into the new device and everything worked great, except Photoshop.  Photoshop apparently sensed that the computer was different and therefore violated the license.  It no longer permitted us to use it.  I now have to go through the hell of calling lots of automated recordings to find someone at Adobe who can help. Such strict licensing is a huge deterrent for me to buy anything from Adobe ever again.

That said, I used the free Adobe Reader for many years, but even it's free product was annoying. It constantly begged to be upgraded, and Adobe would not let me download the setup files to use on multiple computers.  Rather I got a small file that had to go the the Internet every time I did an install on a new computer.  For someone who sets up more than 100 computers per years, that can be a real nuisance.

So, I began a quest for better programs that would allow me to work with PDFs.  One tool that I have used for many years now is Bullzip PDF Printer.  There are many PDF printers out there, so if you already have one that works for you, great.  But for those unfamiliar, Bullzip operates as a virtual printer. Any program that has a print feature can print to the "Bullzip Printer".  But instead of generating a document on paper, Bullzip generates the printed document as a PDF to be saved on your computer.  Unlike PDF export features in some programs, Bullzip should work with just about any application on your computer.

Say you already have a PDF and want to mark it up for some reason.  For this, I used a program from Tracker Software called PDF Xchange Viewer.  Contrary to its name, you can do far more than simply view PDF documents.  You have a whole range of markup tools, to highly, underline, cross out, add notes, etc.  Use the typewriter function to add text.  Use the stamp function for insert other things.  I added a scanned copy of my signature as a stamp.  That way, I can "sign' a PDF document but stamping my signature right onto it.  Another great feature is OCR.  Say you have a scanned PDF document that does not allow you to search the text or do other things (such as highlight text).  OCR will recognize the text in the document and let you incorporate that information to make the document much more usable.

Tracker has recently also released PDF Xchange Editor which also allows full text editing of your PDF in its free version.  Editor is meant to replace Viewer eventually, so you are probably better off starting with Xchange Editor.

Alas, there are a few features unavailable in the free version that require you to pay for the Pro version.  One of the biggest is the ability to merge two or more PDF documents together into one, or to remove pages from a document.  If you want to do that for free, you will need to download a few more free programs.  XL Essential PDF Merger and Splitter are two programs that allow you to merge or split your PDF documents.  I find this very handy for large PDF e-books that I have downloaded, but just want to save a few pages.

With these tools, you should be able to do just about anything you need with your PDF documents, all without paying a penny!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Free Cloud Storage

Big hard drives are dirt cheap and always getting cheaper.  But storing your info online has real advantages too.  You can access your data from anywhere, on multiple computers, even computers that are not yours.  It also makes sharing your files and collaboration with others much easier.


One of the most famous free services is Dropbox.  It allows you to store and share information with others online.  Personally, I'm not a big fan of Dropbox.  Many features require you to install the Dropbox program on your computer, rather than just using a browser.  Also, the free account provides a measly 2 GB of online storage.  That's fine for a few documents or an occasional stored file.  But if you've got lots of music or pictures, forget it.  There are better options.

Google Drive

My favorite storage location for years has been Google Drive.  With Drive, you get 15 GB of free storage space, although this space is shared with your email as well.  You can upload files, share them with specific people, or even make them public.  Everything can be done through your browser, although Google also has a program to let you sync your files with a PC or tablet.  Shared access is easy across Windows, Android, Apple, or pretty much any OS that will support a standard internet browser.

Most common file types can be viewed on the site, as well as downloaded.  You also have the ability to create files directly in Drive (which don't count toward your 15 GB limit) but since we're just talking about shared storage today, I won't get into Drive's many great online editing features.  For me, Drive is quick, clean, and easy to use.

Occasionally Google offers incentives that permit you to increase the limits on your free account.  Be alert for these and take advantage of them.  Try out a new product and get a permanent increase in your storage limit.  As a result of special deals, I have 25 GB of space on my fee account.

Google also has a separate site for photos, which tend to take up much of your online space.  Google Photos allows you to store and share your photos.  The great benefit of this is that you get unlimited free space for photos and video.

Some have criticized Google from limiting the size of photos that you can store there.  But the limit of 16 megapixels (and 1080 for HD video) is actually a higher quality than most people can take on their phones.  The limit really just prevents professionals from storing super high quality photos online at full size.  If you need that, try flickr which gives up 1 TB (about 1000 GB) of space which you can use for storing photos of any size.  But most of us will be happy with Google's unlimited storage for reasonably sized photos.

Microsoft Onedrive

Microsoft is starting to become a serious player in free online storage as well.  It's free Onedrive account (formerly known as Skydrive) provides you with 15 GB of online storage.  This quickly doubles to 30 GB if you install an App on your phone to upload photos.  Keep in mind you don't need to use that extra space for photos, just sign up for the app, and use the space however you like.  You can get another 5 GB by recommending other users to sign up, at 1/2 GB per user that signs up under your recommendation. Again, keep a lookout for other special deals that occasionally let you expand your free space permanently.

Another reason I like OneDrive is the ability to map a drive letter on your computer to your OneDrive account.  If you are interested in doing this, follow this link.  I find this to be a great convenience for many programs and utilities that required a drive letter, as opposed to some network connection without a letter.  It makes it easy to use LibreOffice directly with your online files.

There is also a way to add a drive letter to Google Drive, which you can find here, but it really is a little convoluted.  It's also not really mapping to the drive.  It syncs your data to your hard drive and maps to that.  The MS OneDrive option is much better, although it only works with Windows 7 and higher.

Expanding your space

I find the shared storage space more than adequate for my needs.  I don't want to store everything online anyway.  But there are ways to increase your space without paying.  First, as I already mentioned, stay alert for incentives that give you permanent increases in space.  As the MS-Google competition heats up, there may be more of these. Second, you can always create a second or third free account.  Upload your data in that account, then share it with your main account.  You have access to all those files from your main account, but they don't count toward your limit.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Antivirus & Malware

No matter how careful you are, you will inevitably need antivirus and malware protection. Threats from viruses, malware, ransomware, etc are just too common.  But I find that no one service provides perfect protection, and buying multiple packages can run into real money.  Fortunately there are some good free options.


For many years now I have been a fan of the free version of AVG Antivirus.  The free version provides most of the protection you need from virus and other attacks. AVG does have more comprehensive pay versions, but I find the free one meets my needs.  Another highly rated free one is Panda Antivirus.  Either of these will serve you well for basic protection.  They block most viruses and provide other basic protection, with minimal drain on your computer resources.

Getting cleanup help

What happens though when something gets through and infects your computer?  If your antivirus did not stop the infection, it's probably not going to be much help cleaning it.  You also have to be careful in where you go looking for help.  Some tricky malware makers have their own web sites that have free software, or even worse, sell you programs that only make your situation worse.  It may remove your existing infection but add others that you don't notice right away.   Be sure to trust the sites you are visiting to help with clean up.  Be wary of sites that just say download our product.  Sites that give more information on the infection and manual removal are more trustworthy, even if they also offer programs to help.

As a computer professional, I am constantly looking for new removal tips for the latest malware.  One of my favorite site for advice is  They have great tips from users and professionals to deal with the latest malware.  I find the site trustworthy and helpful.

Anti-Malware tools

 My go to program for clean ups in Malwarebytes.  This program is very helpful to scan for and remove most malware infections.  When you install it, just make sure to select the free version.  By default, it installs a free 30 day trial of the pay version.  If you select the free version, you can keep using it forever for future scans or clean up needs.

No program is perfect. Some malware can avoid Malwarebytes.  For a second opinion, I turn to Hitman Pro.  This can often find malware missed by Malwarebytes, including some tricky root kits.  Hitman Pro is trialware, meaning it is free for 30 days.  But you don't have to register it until it finds something and you need it cleaned.  You can use it free forever, as long as it does not have to clean anything.  To clean something, you need to register for the free 30 days.  After that time, you can still use it to check your computer, but will have to pay if you need to clean again.  Sometimes I cheat, using Hitman Pro to find things, then remove them manually rather than letting Hitman do it.

Some more aggressive viruses mess with your Internet connection and prevent you from going to certain web sites that give you the tools to kill it.  Some may also prevent you from installing programs to kill it.  In some cases, I have found Vipre Rescue to be helpful. Vipre Rescue is a free download that you can save to a flash drive, then run on the infected computer.  Don't confuse Vipre Rescue with Vipre's main program which is a good, but pay, anti malware program that runs resident on your computer.  Vipre Rescue is a separate stand-alone program for removing troublesome malware.

Good Luck!

Using a combination of these tools and manual efforts is sometimes needed for removal.  Sometimes ripping out this stuff can be a long and painful slog.  It's always good to have a backup of your system that you can restore.  But I know many don't do this until it is too late.  If you do get your system working again, consider it a wake up call and remember to make back ups from time to time.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015


Microsoft Office has dominated the Office Productivity Suite market for years.  MS Word, Excel and PowerPoint have become industry standards.  But MS Office can be expensive, many hundreds of dollars depending on the version you want.  The less expensive versions also come with onerous licensing restrictions and burdensome registration requirements.  Fortunately, there is a good alternative that should meet all of your needs: LibreOffice.

LibreOffice has a complicated and long history. Back in 1999, Sun Microsystems bought a company called StarDivision.  It included a product called StarOffice, an office suite in direct competition with Microsoft Office.  Microsoft, of course, dominated the market at the time and most people had not even heard of StarOffice.  Rather than try to compete, Sun made the program free and open source, so anyone could work on it.  The name changed to OpenOffice.  It remained a free download but continued to be developed and improved.  Sun did not seem to have any business model for the program, as it did not even try to collect advertising revenue or use it as a loss leader for other product.   Personally, I think they just liked having a thorn in Microsoft's side.

In 2010, Oracle acquired Sun.  Oracle really had no interest paying to maintain and improve OpenOffice.  It saw no financial benefit and liked remaining on good terms with Microsoft.  It did not kill OpenOffice, but rather in 2011, donated it to the Apache Foundation, a nonprofit group.

Many OpenOffice users grew frustrated at this point because Apache really didn't put the money and resources into improving and upgrading the project.  Because it remained open source, anyone could take the code and improve it themselves.  A group of volunteers who had been working on OpenOffice for years, took the source code and started the Documents Foundation to continue work on the software.  This derivation was called LibreOffice which continues to be developed and upgraded to this day.  OpenOffice also still exists, but by the time it started development again, many people had already moved to Libre and saw no need to go back.  OpenOffice source code  is still freely available to all.  Other companies use it as well.  IBM Lotus Symphony Office suite is based on OpenOffice.  If you are so inclined, you could also download the source code and make your own variant.

Just because Libre is free does not mean it is substandard in any way.  It is a feature rich fully functioning office suite which can do virtually anything you want.  In the unlikely event you need it to do something it cannot, there are free downloadable add-ons available, or you can work with other online developers to build your own customizations or improvements.

Of  course, most of us are not coders or developers.  We just want a great program that works right way.  Libre absolutely delivers on this front.  The Suite includes Writer, a top of the line word processor. Calc, is its spreadsheet. Impress handles presentations.  Draw is used for graphics and diagrams,  The Base database program works great on its own or as a front end for other more complex databases such as the also free MySQL.  Math is great for developing formulas.  If you are a mathematician, scientist, economist, etc. you have got to try this.  Finally there is Charts for easy creation of charts.  People used to having a Mail program included in their office suite will be disappointed.  There is no program the corresponds to MS Outlook.  Of course, there are other very good mail programs available to replace Outlook.  They just aren't part of LibreOffice.

The most popular applications are Writer and Calc.  By default, both use an open document format that is compatible with a great many other programs.  But if you are working with others who have MS Office, you can set the defaults to save in Word or Excel format.  As far as features, I have yet to find anything that I can't do in LibreOffice that I can do in MS Office.

The program is updated every few weeks, but most updates are quite minor.  I like this method as it allows me to get used to changes over time, rather than a single major upgrade like the pay programs do.  But it is also not necessary to have the latest version.   Most changes are quite minor and often deal with issues that never impact you.  So don't feel like you must download new versions constantly.

I have only used the Windows version of LibreOffice, but there are also versions for Linux and Mac.  There is also a portable version which you can stick on a flash drive and use without having to install.

One nice thing about freeware such as LibreOffice, is that you don't have to spend a long time researching the product or reading here how everything works before you buy it.  It is a free download that you can install and immediately start using without cost.  If you are interested, download it from this link.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Google Apps

I figure that since my blog is being hosted on Google, it's only fair that my first review should be about Google Apps.  Sure, Google Apps in not exactly a secret discovery.  It is among the most popular and commonly used email systems in the world today.  Still, for anyone who has not yet given it a try, I heartily recommend it.

My History with Google
I started using Google in late 1998, shortly after it went live. I was amazed by the search results and never looked back.  In early 2005, I signed up for my first gmail account while it was still in beta.  I still use that account to this day.  I have watched Google and its products grow and evolve almost from the beginning.


Over the last decade, Gmail has evolved into Google Apps, providing a host of free online services.  Anyone can sign up for a free account, providing 15 GB of free online storage space, effective anti-spam filters, and easy to use email software, all online.

The easiest way to access your email is via the web browser.  Just go to and sign in.  Gmail and all other apps are designed to work online without any special software installed.  This is the way I use it almost always.

However, when I originally started with Gmail, I was still using a mail program to download mail mail offline.  At that time, I used a (free) program called Pegasus Mail.  Later I moved on to another free one called Mozilla Thunderbird.  Many folks not as faithfully tied to freeware may have used MS Outlook. The great thing about Gmail is that it has always worked with all of these programs.  Most free mail at the time Gmail first arrived did not support offline readers.  If you use a mail read r with POP3 or IMAP to access your mail, Gmail will work seamlessly with whatever program you use.

If you have a phone or tablet, connecting to Gmail is not a problem.  Virtually all mail programs use the POP3 or IMAP standard described above.  Most are set up to allow a connnection simply by entering your name and password, although there are ways to set up manually if needed.  Even better, download the free Gmail app, which is available for IOS or Android, or even for Windows phones and Blackberries.  Just sign into your account from the App and you are all set.

Google Drive

In addition to Gmail, I am a big fan of Google Drive, which is included with your free Gmail account.  It allows you to work on documents, spreadsheets and presentations all using free online software.  You an upload files, or create new ones through your browsers.  New documents you create in Google Docs do not count against your total 15 GB limit on data, so you essentially have unlimited space.  You can also share documents with other users, or with the public

While you can use Google Drive entirely online, there is a Windows app (free download) that lets you sync your online drive documents to your computer.  There are similar Drive Apps for your phone or tablet (also free).  These are great if you need to save documents for offline viewing or editing.   The downloads may also be needed if you want to edit documents originally created in MS Office format.

More Google Apps

There are also a host of other Google applications available as part of your account, including a great calendar, Picasa for online photo storage and display, Google Sites for creating your own websites and Blogspot, which hosts this blog.   I may address the details of many of these other benefits in future posts. Suffice it to say that when you sign up for your Gmail account,  you open open up a whole ecosystem of services available to you.

Use Google Chrome

Google Apps will work with just about any browser on the market, as long as it is up to date.  But the recommended browser is Google Chrome.  You will find there are a great many advanced features that you can only use in the Chrome Browser. If you don't already use Chrome (also a free product) you can download that too.

You "pay" by being subjected to Ads

The main criticism of Gmail is that computers scan all your emails for content and use that to present advertising to you.  Google assures use that no human beings read our mail, only a computer.  There is a small line of advertising above your inbox, but it is very subtle and unobtrusive compared to many other sites.

Google uses your information across platforms.  So if you mention in an email that you are looking to buy a new car, you will start seeing ads for cars on lots of websites you visit (since those sites use Google Ads).  It can sometimes be a little unnerving,

I find the advertising acceptable as the condition of using this great free product.  After all, Google has to make some money if we expect it to provide this service.  Google is up front about what it does and I accept this "cost."

Google for Work

Lately, Google has been pushing people to upgrade to Google for Work.   As you might guess from its name, it is primarily targeted at businesses.  This is essentially the same as the free Gmail account, although you get twice the storage space and don't have an ad banner above your inbox. The other big benefit is that you can use your own name.  So, for example, my gmail address would not have to be (if that were even available).  If I have my own domain registered, like, I could get mail at

Google for work is not free.  It costs $50 per year for each account.  I mention it in this "free" site only because you can get it for free, assuming you already own a domain.

When you sign up for Google for Work Google tries to get you to choose the business account which is $5 a month or $50 a year per user.  You do NOT need to sign up for the paid version.  Provided your will have 10 or fewer people using this domain, just click the blue Get Started button.  Enter your domain name.  If you already have a registered domain, you can use it with Google at no additional cost.  Otherwise, Google will help you register a domain through for $10/year.  Ok, so it's not completely free unless you already have a domain registured.  But $10 for 10 users is still better than $50 per user per year for the full Work account.

If you already have your own domain, you will need to change the MX records for your domain with whatever company you have it registered.  You just point them to Google’s Servers.  If you register your domain as part of the Gmail setup, this is all done for you.


As I said at the outset, I am a big fan of Google as a free provider of email and many other applications.  Unlike many other companies, Google does not cripple its free services in an attempt to get you to upgrade to a pay account.  It provides great interactivity with other programs and services.  It give generous storage space.  Finally, it works well with many other products and services.  If you need free email, I heartily recommend Gmail.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015


The Internet is full of amazing products and services.  Many of them are free.  Many people fear taking advantage of free software or services because it could be a scam, attempts to take personal information, or could just be a waste of time compared to tried and true paid products.

I have been using the Internet for decades, and have been a patron of "freeware" long before the public generally had access to the Internet.  While sometimes pay software is the way to go, I often find that freeware is just as good or even better than most of the payware that competes with it.

In this blog, I hope to pass along some of the best freeware that I have found and explain why you might want to give it a try.

First, a little about me.  In addition to being a home networking enthusiast, I am an IT Director for a mid-sized law firm.  I spend a great deal of time testing a wide range of products and services for work as well as personal use.

My first computer was an Apple II back in the mid 1980's.  I actually became rather soured with Apple and have a rather strong bias against it.  I soon moved to a Tandy 1000, an IBM clone running MS-DOS 2.0.  I soon started sending away for "freeware" and "shareware" that was mailed on floppy disks.  I the 1990's I got involved on local BBS clubs where people could swap messages via mode. Eventually this led to the Internet and the World Wide Web.

I have been a long time fan of Windows for my PC and laptop.  I never got into Linux, which I'll admit is a big part of things for people who like free and open source.  I focused more on Windows applications.  When mobile became popular, I was an early adopter of Android for my phone and later a tablet.

Please feel free to comment on my posts and provide feedback.  I hope that you will find my thoughts useful.