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DECEMBER 2004
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Some Freebies Worth Having
By Trish Thompson

  In my experience in surfing the web and working with computers, I have always thought of it as neutral ground, and the people behind the programs and sites are the ones with the agendas. On the web, you can find plenty of the good, the bad, and the downright ugly. There is, however, a core group of people who exemplify the best of what the Internet community has to offer. I have no idea whether they are Christians or not, their beliefs are not part of the public information we are given, but when their sites or programs utilize Christian principles, it is something to be celebrated! In that spirit, I would like to share with you some of the "good" I have found.

  We are all inundated by email offers every day for every kind of conceivable product, and we could spend a fortune on things that we might be able to do just as well by taking advantage of some good products that are out in cyberspace, free for the taking.

The first two I would like to tell you about are called "Spy-Bot – Search and Destroy" and "Ad-aware", two free programs that will search your computer’s hard drive(s) for spyware that has been deposited there by some sites you may have passed thru as you surf the web.

These little programs can gather information about you that is stored on your hard drive, and either use that information to pop up targeted ads in your browser (adware), or to send the information about you to someone else (spyware). Most of the time this is just a major annoyance, but even so, you didn’t ask for it, so it’s best to just get rid of it!

You can download "Spy-Bot – Search and Destroy" from their website at http://www.safer-networking.org. It is freeware, meaning that it is free to use. You can make a donation, but it isn’t required in order to have the program.

You can download the free version of "Ad-Aware SE-Personal Edition" from the Lavasoft website at http://www.lavasoftusa.com. Just click on the link to Download.com on their homepage.

The installation of both these programs is easy, and once installed, run them. The initial scans will discover just how many of these little "parasites" are residing on your hard drive, and then will delete them with just a click. Run the programs about once a week, and soon you will no longer have any problems with this particular annoyance!

  The other major annoyance I find while I am wandering around on the web are pop-up ads. Sometimes it seems that you arrive at a website and then spend the next five minutes closing all the ads that have exploded all over your browser screen!

There is a neat little program called "Pop-up Stopper" made by Panicware that will eliminate 99% of these ads from ever showing up again. You can find the free version at their website at http://www.panicware.com. They also make a ‘fee’ version, so you will have to click on the "Products" link at the top of the page, and scroll down to find the free version, then follow the link to download it. The only downside of this freebie that I have found is that it is so efficient that it will block some pop-ups that I WANT to see! But, there is a work-around – just hold down the "Control" key, then click on the link to the pop-up you do want … or else temporarily disable the program.

  These three programs have made my online experience safer and more enjoyable, and best of all – they didn’t cost me a cent!

  The final thing I wanted to share with everyone is a resource for any and all kinds of problems that you may run into while using your computer. There is help available, and the help is free! This resource site is at http://www.protonic.com.

This site is where to go with any kind of computer problem, from hardware to software, from programming to the most basic "how-do-I-do-this" questions. You type in your question, give them a reply email address, and within hours (sometimes quicker), there will be either an answer in your email inbox, a request for more information, or a clarification. I have asked them a variety of questions over time, and have never been disappointed in the response. They can be an invaluable resource, for both the novice and the expert computer user.

So as surprising as it may seem, some of the best things online really are free.

Note From the Editor: All software mentioned here has been researched by the editor and was free at the time of publication. Faith Writers and the editors take no responsibility for any changes, damages or problems for any software mentioned in this publication. All enquires or complaints are to be made directly to the software companies.
Trish Thompson lives in Chesapeake, Virginia, and shares in her beloved husband, Lucian’s, ministry at Trinity Christian Fellowship. Although officially "retired", Trish is busier than ever with her church, family, crafts and freelance web design business. Trish has won a faithful following of readers who have grown to love her beautiful and heart-warming daily postings at FaithWriters.com. Trish is the first to say that she is truly having the time of her life in this time of her life!


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