Now that you have your "productivity software" (Open Office), your antivirus and your firewall set up, all for free, let's look at some other freebies available online.
One thing that I caught sight of recently on the "tube" (I wonder if it's okay to still call it the "tube" since most of the new TVs don't have a tube at all!) is a new website known as Hulu.com. This website has streaming television content from NBC and most of the cable networks (even "oh!"). I found that many of the current shows listed offered only excerpts from various episodes, no doubt intended to get you to "tune in" to the show on a regular basis. If you are a fan of any older programs, like "Remington Steele," "The A-Team" or even "Johnny Soko and His Flying Robot" (who can forget that one?), you can catch many of their full episodes on Hulu.com.
You say you're not a big fan of TV but you really love the movies? Okay, check out the movie offerings at Hulu.com. How about Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, Ice Age, Going Overboard, Moonstruck, End of Days or Sideways? All these are available online in their full length.
Granted, you will not be watching these TV shows and movies on the big screen, but the picture can be expanded to full screen, which should make for a good viewing experience. Check out Hulu.com and see what you think.
Okay, enough entertainment. Remember when you got that brand-new PC and found it had all of those "free trial" programs mucking up your hard drive and your system as a whole? You can get rid of all of that mess by using PC Decrapifier. You can download this little freebie at PCDecrapifier.com/download. When you run PC Decrapifier, it will show you a list of all the files that it found to delete, then you select which ones you want it to actually delete. The program also will permit you to set a "Restore Point" before it begins deleting, just in case something critical is deleted. Give it a try, especially if you recently purchased a new computer. PC Decrapifier works with Windows XP and Vista.
Most PC users have heard of the Registry in Windows, but many don't really know what it does. The Registry first appeared in Windows 95 and continues on in Windows Vista. The Registry contains information about the computer's hardware, software and user preferences. The problem with the Registry is that, over time, useless information can build up in the Registry as software is installed then uninstalled. Not to mention that many computer viruses make changes to the Registry as part of their attack.
Many commercial PC security suites contain a utility to clean up the Registry but why buy when you can download for free?
One such program is TweakNow RegCleaner Standard from TweakNow.com. TweakNow will examine your PCs Registry and reveal problems. Once you select which items you want corrected, it will clean up the Registry for you. I should point out that TweakNow is a ShareWare program so, if you try it and you like the results, you are encouraged to send $19.95 to register the product.
Another Registry cleaner is Clean My Registry. This is not ShareWare but FreeWare and can be downloaded from SmartPCTools.com/clean_registry/index1.html. The end result is the same as using the TweakNow product but it does not show you as much information as TweakNow Registry Cleaner.
You should always remember to set a restore point before running any program that makes changes to the Registry.
That's it for now; have fun with your new tools.
If you have a computer-related problem or question that you would like answered in this column, please send it to the Cedar Key Beacon by email at editor@cedarkeybeacon or PCTech@islandcity.net.