Maximedia Recommends


Free programs

For word processing

Try LibreOffice, an offshoot of OpenOffice.org, forked away from it in 2010. It reads Microsoft word formats (usually very faithfully) and really is integrated. You don't even have to pay extra for something that does Access-type databases. You can create presentations and edit HTML documents as well. It works on Macs and Linux as well as Windows platforms, and its document format is xml.

For text editing/HTML

I like NoteTab. It comes in a free version (Lite), but the Standard or Pro is worth paying for, just to support its development. It has lots of great facilities (including a tiny freeform database system: title plus separate text). From Switzerland.

Downloads

I'm a fan of Download Accelerator Plus, which comes in free and paid-for versions.

Exchanging large files

I presume most people these days use Dropbox or Microsoft's SkyDrive, or Google Drive.

For Website design and e-browsing

In fact, there is no single program to recommend, but you should try these:

Aptana Studio

The specialty about this free editor is that it does html with code hints if you want, has a built-in browser and WC3 validation of your markup PLUS running Python with output in a program window if you have this superstar of the web scene installed. Which is how I came across it.

It does lots of other coding intuitively with prompts. But it might seem overpowering to start with. So do allow time to read the documentation. It bills itself as "the world's most powerful open-source web development IDE" and I find it hard to argue with that. It has recorded over six million downloads. It works on both Mac and PC and will grow with you as you learn Ruby, Rails, JavaScript and PHP as well as Python.

BlueGriffon

This noses ahead of the others below because it does editing in Design and Code view. Others make it easier to know what code you should be using (Visual Studio Express) and will beautify your code (HTML-Kit Tools) or check it against HTML Tidy (HTML-Kit 292). Others have better code checking for errors (WebMatrix). But all these have serious drawbacks: no preview (WebMatrix, unless you run Windows IIS Server), or no editing in Design View (HTML.Kit Tools), and none are really accurate in their preview. Blue Griffon doesn't manage files either, and it is klunky with some bugs (particularly in handling CSS). But it does warn you when your code is going astray (though not how). So you may find yourself hopping from one to the other. See why I didn't recommend others.

Anti-spamming

The Website 0Spam.com gives you the chance to block spam more effectively than anything else. It used to be free for one address but now has to be paid for. You can still try it for free.

Other free software

Giveawayoftheday is a site I visit almost daily. It gives away a screensaver at the weekend. But the rest of the time it offers commercial software for free. The users are tough: the majority give a thumbs-down to lots of products, but someone usually adds a link to a freeware and better alternative -- so it is worth checking out the comments as well. Here's their link with the latest offer:

Blogs

Google runs the free Blogger service. Easy to use and flexible and integrated more and more into Google's other services such as GoogleDocs, Google Mail and the like. Most of the time I use the free version of wordpress, which has lots of automatic free themes to choose from, in addition to paid ones.

Twitter

Tweetdeck and Twhirl offer desktop facilities to manage your twitter accounts. Tweetdeck links with FaceBook, MySpace and Linked-In. Twhirl has a built-in address shortener and ability to share videos on Twitter immediately.

TweetBubbles

TweetBubbles live feeds Twitter during events or seminars. Opinions and questions posted by participants are over-layed on top of the presentation as tweets in bubbles.