Tagged With free software

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There is not shortage of free mobile and desktop applications available on the internet. Unfortunately, most of them are either rubbish or trick you into parting with your cash via in-app purchases. But if you take the time to sort the wheat from the chaff, you'll find plenty of excellent apps that truly are free.

We're thankful every day for all the free apps out there that improve our lives (and the developers that make them!). Here are 50 our favourites.

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The Lifehacker staff sifts through a ton of apps on a regular basis, but a few have stuck with us over the years. Some apps are simply nice to have, while others have become essential in our daily lives. From dealing with irate dragons to counting our mindfulness minutes, each app on this list has a special place in our hearts (and our homescreens). Best of all, they're completely free to download!

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Avid is well known to those involved in video editing. It's the preferred tool of many in Hollywood and has been used to edit many of the biggest movies made. While pro level tools aren't very cheap, Avid is providing a new gateway to those looking to boost their video-editing power. Media Composer | First is an application that brings powerful video editing capability to everyone for the grand price of free.

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If you're paying for premium software, chances are there's a free alternative out there you could use instead, with features just as good as the ones you've become accustomed to. Whether you fancy a change from your usual application-of-choice, or you're just on a tight budget, these are the free software apps you need to know about.

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CryEngine, the next-gen video game engine behind Crysis, Far Cry and Ryse is moving to a "pay what you want" model in a bid to make game creation more accessible to cash-strapped coders. This grants users unrestricted access to the engine and source code for free. (In other words, you now have no excuse not to make that game you keep talking about.)

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Across the Pacific, our US bretheren are stuffing themselves with turkey. We don't do Thanksgiving down under, but we can still be thankful for the huge bounty of free software we can enjoy every day of the year.

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When finishing up a re-install, or helping out a friend, it stinks to find out your favourite free app is now a paid-for affair. The Last Freeware Version website can help. The site has one of those names that ruins our Lifehacker-style headlines, because it just does what you'd think it does. The organisation could use a little work, being a series of pages organised by an app's last update, but you can quickly scan or Control+F search the All LFV page to grab links to apps like IsoBuster, RegCleaner, FastStone Capture, and other apps that exist in the dual realms of free and licence-based. We've used LFV in our own features before to track down apps, and it's pretty handy when you just know a certain app is available gratis somewhere. Free to use, no sign-up required. Last Freeware Version

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Windows only: Free software site Donation Coder challenged its code-savvy users in November to write small, simple programs that help users better manage their time and tasks. The results are in, they're free, and some of them look really darn useful. Evaluweight, for instance, helps make decisions by providing a customizable grid with weighted factors. AnotherOneDone is a tiny window that simply keeps track of how much of anything you have to do, how much you've done, and how many remain, while Interruptron helps you track when and why you get distracted from your work. All of the programs are free downloads for Windows 98 and later, and each requests that you consider throwing a few bucks the author's way.
Getting Organized Experiment Programs 2007

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Zen Habits had a thought provoking post on the differences between habits and tasks, and how and when you might include habits (or tasks-you-want-to-become-habits) on your to do list.
The thing I really appreciated about this post was the idea of identifying or choosing 'triggers' for habitual behaviour:

"I wake up at 4 a.m., after being triggered by an alarm clock. My getting up triggers my habit of starting my coffee and drinking water. Now, I’m using the drinking water as a trigger to exercise."

That gave me a "lightbulb over the head" moment, and an idea for training myself to exercise every day, rather than just three days a week. Yay!

6 Rules for Dealing With Habits vs. Tasks

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At some point in your career as a student or professional, you're going to have to give a presentation—and when you do, you want to be prepared with the right content and applications. Whether your demo'ing software or explicating Melville, a computer hooked up to a projector can either give an audience a great audio/visual experience, or a bullet-studded snoozer. Whether you're using a Mac or Windows, PowerPoint or Keynote, or simply presenting straight from your web browser, there are a few power tips, apps, and tools that can make your slideshow or demonstration smooth, entertaining and memorable. Photo by jurvetson.

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Windows only: Freeware application Screenshot Captor is an advanced, full-featured screenshot application boasting an impressive feature set that rivals the paid-for favourite, SnagIt. For example, Screenshot Captor has tonnes of options for capturing your full screen, specific regions or selected windows; it has excellent callout functions, like standard arrows and highlighting tools along with the excellent blur effect you see in the screenshot above; and it can automatically open screenshots in your favourite image editor or email screenshots as soon as you take them. In all, Screenshot Captor may be the most full-featured screenshot app I've seen, freeware or otherwise. On the other hand, it does have a slightly steeper learning curve, so if there's a downside, that may be it. Screenshot Captor is donationware, Windows only.
Screenshot Captor

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The CyberNet weblog details a reliable Windows standard: How to map an FTP drive in Windows Explorer using the Map Network Drive dialog. It's a very simple process provided you've already either got a hosted FTP server or set one up yourself, and when you're finished you'll be able to access your remote FTP server like you're browsing any other drive on your computer. The one thing you won't get is the ability to mount the FTP site with a drive letter that shows up in My Computer, so if you need that for some reason you might want to try out NetDrive instead. If not, this is a very simple, useful solution.
CyberNotes: Map a FTP to a Drive in Windows

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The Freelance Switch had a really interesting piece on freelance networking and "co-working" today. Matt Soniak interviewed Jason Hillman on the development of a freelance network which now operates from a central office in Philadelphia called "Independents Hall":

"On September 1, Philadelphia’s first dedicated co-working opened its doors for business. Picture the hippest coffee shop you know. Now add broadband internet, a kitchenette, a shower, an air hockey table, a conference room, a mini-fridge for your beer, your own workspace and a handful of other like-minded creative folks. That’s Independents Hall. On one level, it’s a community of freelancers interested in getting out of the house while still independently doing what they love to do, as well as meeting, supporting and encouraging others like them. On another level, it’s a physical place for this community to do all that and more."

I read about it this morning, felt really inspired and mailed off a link to a freelance writers mailing list I read. Then I noticed on the Whirlpool forums that a few readers over there had been similarly enthused. Thought it was worth sharing with Lifehacker, since it tackles a few of the thorny issues of freelance working - namely, how do you network with others in your profession, how do you promote your own business and stay abreast with potential business partners, and how can you afford office space while freelancing if you don't wish to work from home.

Independents Hall

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Last time we mentioned the search-as-you-type service SurfWax we lamented not being included in its blog and RSS index. Happily that's all changed! Lifehacker's site search isn't always—what's the word I'm looking for?—adequate, so head over to SurfWax LookAhead's Lifehacker search, which comes in two flavours: one which searches just recent RSS headlines, the other, headlines and post bodies. Only the last couple of weeks worth of posts are available in the SurfWax interface, but it's a super-fast way to get to the recent good stuff. Thanks, Tom!
Lifehacker Blog Post Headline/Body LookAhead SearchLifehacker Feed Headline LookAhead Search

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Screwing up at work doesn't have to be a career-ender, and the Life Learning Today weblog runs through how you can quickly recover from your mistakes and save face. Most of the tips involve sucking it up and taking responsibility. The important thing to remember is that mistakes can not simply be ignored. They must be dealt with. How you deal with and recover from your mistakes can say lot about your character and your work ethic. Is honesty (and acceptance) really the best policy? Let us know how you handle workplace mistakes in the comments.
Recover from a Fumble at Work