DON'S FREEWARE CORNER - JUL 2016
SOURCES AND REVIEWS OF FREEWARE - PART 2

2016 Donald R. Snow -- This page was last updated 2016-10-25.
These Freeware Corner notes are published in TAGGology, our Utah Valley Technology and Genealogy Group (UVTAGG) monthly newsletter.  They are also posted on my Freeware Corner Notes page on  http://uvtagg.org/classes/dons/dons-classes.html  where the links are active and there may be corrections, updates, and additional information about the topic in other class notes

WEBSITES ABOUT FREEWARE

Where do you find freeware on the Internet?  How do you know if it is any good?  Are there any websites with reviews and recommendations to see if it really does what you want?  There are many sources of freeware, shareware, and open-source software on the Internet and last month in this column, Part 1, I discussed the programs or websites Glary Utilites, dotTech, Give Away of the Day, and AlternativeTo.  We also discussed some definitions that relate to freeware and shareware.  This month I will discuss three more websites with and about freeware.

GIZMO'S FREEWARE -- http://www.techsupportalert.com/

This website has tabs for lists of freeware for Windows, Max, Linux, Android, etc., and then several categories in each of those.  Also under each they have New, Currently Popular, and Freeware lists.  When you click on a format, they have categories for that format.  For Windows, there are 22 categories including Audio & Video, Cleanup & Tuning, Desktop & GUI, Education, Home & Office, and Photos & Graphics.  There are also categories such as Best Free Windows Desktop Software - Editors Choice Selection.  Many of the categories have articles titled, "The Best..." and "How To...", so you can really get lots of good information from this website.  An easy way to get particular information from their site is to use a Google site search.  For example, if you want information about the audio/video player VLC, do a Google search for "site:http://www.techsupportalert.com/ vlc" (without the quotes).  (Remember that caps are ignored in Google searches.)  This limits the search results to just those on the website and you will find many pages of Google results about VLC there.  If you want information about VLC for Windows only, include "windows" as an additional search term.  Another example is "site:http://www.techsupportalert.com/ best windows media player" (without the quotes).  This will give you what they think is the best windows media player freeware and why.  This is a good website for information about freeware programs and their descriptions and recommendations are usually clear, to the point, and helpful.  There are also comments from users about the programs, so you get "crowd sourcing" about them, as well, and can see what others think about them.

MAJOR GEEKS -- http://www.majorgeeks.com/

This is another good website for freeware and recommendations.  Clicking on the Home button gives you all their comments in chronological order, presently more than 800 pages.  The earliest page contains comments made on 16 Jan 2002, 14 years ago, so that must have been the day they started.  There are 25 or more comments every day about freeware and shareware programs, so it is a good annotated list.  The whole website is easy to search with the search box at the top right.  Entering "vlc windows" there gives 10 pages of about 10 comments each with information and versions of VLC and Windows.  On the left side of the screen is a menu with sections such as Files, Site Info, and Latest Files.  The Files section lists 15-20 categories of freeware.  The Site Info section has buttons for things like New? Start Here; Top Freeware Picks; and How To's.  The Top Freeware Picks are listed in categories, so it makes it easy to find programs of the type you are looking for and you see why they think those are the best. The How To's section includes many articles about computers, software, and problems, even things like How To Buy A Laptop on a Budget.  The Latest Files section shows the programs they have reviewed or mentioned in the last day or two.  This is a very helpful site for computer and software information, not just for freeware.

KIM KOMANDO -- https://www.komando.com/downloads

Kim Komando is a computer guru woman in Phoenix, AZ, married to a man surnamed Komando, which is a Hungarian name, if I remember correctly.  She writes columns in USA Today and other newspapers, and has a 3-hour weekly radio show answering questions about computers and software, and has free newsletters.  She has a staff of people that help her review and write articles and she also has a commercial computer club that gives you discounts and other helps and allows you to listen to podcasts of all previous shows.  When she is doing a radio show, anyone can phone in with computer and software questions.  To subscribe to any of her newsletter you set up a free account with your email address.  I have subscribed to several of her daily newsletters for many years and have found them helpful, but have never joined her commercial club, due to the cost.  I have only listened to her 3-hour radio show a couple of times and that was when I was driving somewhere.

The link above is directly to her download webpage where she lists articles and freeware which anyone can read or download.  The programs and articles are listed in 10-12 categories such as Office and School, Desktop Tools, E-books and reading, Utilities, and Web and Internet.  The Office and School section has 6 pages of about 20 articles each about freeware and how to's about office and school tasks.  The Desktop Tools section has 11 pages of articles.  You see only the title and a couple of lines and have to click on that to see the full article.

There is a search box in the upper right corner of her webpage and searching for vlc yielded 17 articles.  When I added the search term Windows, I got 1459 articles, many having nothing to do with VLC, just about Windows.  I tried "vlc AND Windows" (no quotes) and got just 11 articles, so her search engine seems to need AND to give results containing both terms, unlike Google searches where AND is assumed by just including a space.  When I tried OR I got the same number of results as with just a space, so a space in Komando's search box seems to mean OR.  I couldn't find anything explaining her search syntax, but there probably is an explanation somewhere on her site.  There are buttons to sort the resulting articles by Relevance, Newest first, or Oldest first and also filters to show only Videos, Columns, Downloads, Apps, Tips, Buying Guides, and more.  Those help a lot in finding what you are looking for.  Under the Read button she has some Comparison Charts that are helpful to compare properties of programs, websites, etc., for example comparing smart phones, tablets, computers, and online storage sites.

One complaint I have about the way she and her staff write their articles is that they just put teasers in the first few lines and you don't even know what program they will be discussing until you click on the link.  I'm sure they do that to get you to click, but I frequently don't take time and just ignore that article, so I'm sure I miss many things that would be helpful.  Doing a site search for my interests, as I explained above for other websites, would probably help, but I don't usually take the time.  Other websites put the crucial information near the start of the article so you know if you want to take time to read it or not.  For that reason, when I do find a Kim Komando article I might want to use later, I clip and save a copy in my EVERNOTE file, along with the URL.  Then I have the full article and it is completely searchable on my own computers.  To save copies in my EVERNOTE account I sometimes use a readability program first such as Clearly or Read or Pocket.  There is much more that could be said about the Kim Komando website and I may write a further review and recommendations in a future Freeware Corner note.

CONCLUSION

There is a wealth of freeware available on the Internet and many places to look for it.  The problem is getting a vision of what you want to do; then you can find programs that will do it.  I will probably write more articles of such sources.
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