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>> You my friend, are wasting money. Do you know for just about everything you do on your computer, you can find free software? What's the catch? I'm Tom Merritt, editor from CNET.com. On this edition of Insider Secrets I'll show you how this all works, and give you the names of some of my favorite free programs.
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For everything from word processing to image editing, to 3D zombie strategy games, you can find a free piece of software on the web. These are usually open source programs, programs where groups of people work together to create good software that the world can use for free. You're probably familiar with the Firefox web browser. It's one of the most famous examples. So is the Linux operating system. The downside is there's no company to call if the programs don't work. But you can go to forums on the web where you can ask questions, and sometimes get the programmers to get the features you want. As an example, let me show you some of my favorite free software titles. We'll start with Open Office. Admittedly, it's a little bloated, but I use it everyday. Without spending a dime you can edit Word files, manipulate Excel spreadsheets, create PowerPoint style presentations, and more. That's right, it's absolutely free. Great for students and others on a budget. Now what about something like Photoshop. Certainly you can't get a great photo image manipulator without plopping down some cash, right? Not so. Bring out the Gimp. Gimp Shop. This image manipulator has come a long way over the years. Gimp Shop is a more user friendly version of Gimp, the high powered image manipulation program. This is no Microsoft Paint imitator. You can do almost anything you can do in Photoshop in this thing. Plus if you're really into it you can add your own features. Okay, what about editing sound. You're gonna have to pony up some big bucks for something like Pro Tools, right? Not exactly. Introducing Audacity. This free audio editor gives you the ability to edit multiple tracks of audio, and apply audio effects like compression, echo, and more. It can export as wav, mp3, and other file formats, and can import audio as well. I use it myself to do my podcasting. It's amazing that something like this is free. And how about one of the holy grails of digital video, converting video files from one format into another, like DVD into avi. The simply named Media Coder. This free tool rips CDs and DVDs, and converts between tons of video formats. Great for manipulating home movies, posting video podcasts, and other legal video manipulation. You heard me right, legal. I could go on all day. There's also Notepad Two, Turbo Cash for finances, Blender, the 3D modeling software, not to mention open source alternatives for free software like the game instant messenger, and the VLC video player. Oh and the zombies? Codenotics.com/zombies [assumed spelling]. You can find all the programs I named, plus thousands more, at CNETdownload.com. Another good place for open source software is sourceforge.net. One last thing. If you enjoy these programs and you can code, why not give back to the community? Join in and start making them better yourself. That's it for this edition of Insider Secrets. I'm Tom Merritt for CNET.com. Live free or pay.
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