Several of my recent posts have been about a $450 computer system I build for a client — a homeowner in need of a computer for general gaming, web surfing, word processing, paying bills, etc. So far I shown you the parts I purchased or similar ones (Part1, Part 2, Part 3), then I provided instructions for assembling the system and installing the Windows 7 operating system.
Now comes some recommended software for this new system. The software I am listing here is software I typically install on a new computer system. Most of the software I am listing here is free, and it all comes from reputable online sources.
My first stop after booting up a new computer is the Google Pack site. This site from Google has a dozen different programs you can download and install on your computer. I download and install 3 or 4 of the following programs:
- Picasa: You can use this program to find, edit, and share your photos stored on your computer; download pictures from your digital camera; remove red eye from your photos; and upload your photos to be shared with your friends on the www.picasa.com web site.
- Firefox: This is the next most popular browser after Internet Explorer. Though there are many browsers to choose from, Internet Explorer and Firefox are the most popular, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with having more than one on your computer. Think of it as having two cars in the driveway. use which ever one you want whenever you want.
- Adobe Reader: This program is useful for all the PDFs you’re bound to receive from friends or web site downloads, among other sources. The reader allows you to open and print Adobe Acrobat files. (PDF, by the way, stands for portable document format.)
- Google Apps: This one is optional. If they have Microsoft Word and Excel on their computer I typically don’t install this. Google Apps allows you to create and share documents and spreadsheets which can be stored in an online account on the Google Docs web site. This is a free alternative to Microsoft Office. (Alternately, you could also download and install Open Office from Sun Microsystems. It, too, is a free office software package. (Personally, I haven’t tried Open Office, but it’s been around for quite a while, and Sun is a very reputable company.)
There are 8 other programs you can add to your computer form the Google Pack web site, but the ones above are my favorites.
Come back later and I’ll share my antivirus and antispyware picks. If you’re a regular reader I’m sure you know which two programs I’m going to recommend.
Rob Pegoraro of The Washington Post has an excellent article, “Pre-Flight Instructions For Your New Computer”, for new computer owners. Whether you have a new PC or a new Mac he offers excellent advice for getting started with your new computer. Here are a few of the recommendations he’s made for users of Windows Vista and Mac OS X Leopard:
- Activate the pre-installed antivirus on a PC. (Skylarking note: Or download Avast at www.avast.com, and download the Home edition. It’s free if you only have it iusntalled on one PC in your household. Mac users can consider getting an antivirus program at the Apple Store online to spare your PC using friends from viruses you might accidentally pass on.)
- Turn on the firewall on your Mac: Click System Preferences >> Security>> Firewall >> “Set access for specific services and applications”. (Note: The firewall on Windows Vista PC is active out of the box.)
- Download system updates. Vista: Start >> Control Panel >> Check for updates. Mac: Apple-icon >> Software Update.
- Remove “trialware” and buy the $150 Home and Student Edition of Microsoft Office 2007, or download the free OpenOffice 3 at http://openoffice.org or use the free Google Docs Web-based software at http://docs.google.com. Uninstall software via Start >> Control Panel >> Uninstall a program.
- Declutter the desktop: Drag and drop unwanted icons into the Recycle Bin, or use right-click and delete on the icons.
- Declutter the Mac’s Dock: Drag unwanted icons off the Dock, and they’ll vanish.
- Backup: Use Windows Vista’s Backup and Restore Center with an external drive, or, if you have a broadband connection, use a free online backup via Mozy at http://mozy.com.
- Backup on a Mac: Get an external hard driveand use Apple’s Time Machine software.
- Surfing the Web? Get Mozilla Firefox, http://mozilla.com, for free. Many people prefer it over the Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and Mac’s Safari.
- Rest: Don’t rush to install your old programs, and “don’t go crazy trying out new ones.”
- For an old printer or scanner: Go to the manufacturer’s web site and download the updated drivers instad of using the ones on the original CDs. (Skylarking note: You might also find that the Windows drivers are sufficient for operationg these items.)
He makes additional suggestions regarding email applications (Thunderbird, Windows Mail, Windows Live Mail), music and video playing software (iTunes), and photo editing tools such as Picasa.
Check out Rob Pegoraro’s article in full and enjoy your new computer. Happy holidays!
Post Comments or Questions with the link below. Keep up-to-date with Skylarking: By Email or RSS Newsfeed or on Twitter. You can also send questions with my email form.