The Best Things in Life

Earlier this week, I distributed a cd of free software to my tech team. These are various applications that may be useful to teachers and students. It’s a little old-school to actually burn the discs and pass them out, but I find that they’re more likely to actually take a look at something if I hand it to them instead of just sending them a link to it.

You’re out of luck, though. I’m not going to give you a CD. Here’s the list of applications I gave them, along with links to the sites. All of these applications are free, at least for education users:
Audacity is audio recording and editing software. It allows you to use a microphone or other audio device with your computer to record. You can then edit the recordings, add effects, merge multiple sources of audio together, and then export the whole thing as an MP3 file.

Disks and stuffFIREFOX
Firefox is an alternative web browser to Internet Explorer. It provides a number of number of features, including tabbed browsing, live bookmarks, and better implementation of web standards. There is also a signficant number of add-ons available that can enhance and extend the web browsing experience.

Freemind is mind-mapping software that allows the user to visually link different ideas to one another. It may be compared to commercial products like Inspiration ™, though with a somewhat different feature set. Some teachers have claimed that this software is better than Inspiration.

Irfanview is a simple image editing tool. Use it to resize those enormous pictures that modern digital cameras create. You can also crop, enhance, and make minor adjustments to pictures. It’s very easy to use.

This is high-end video editing software. It allows you to edit video clips, create various visual effects, add music, and incorporate animation.

Juice is a podcast receiver. Just add podcast feeds from your favorite source (you can find lots of them on or The software checks the feeds for new podcast episodes, and downloads them automatically to your computer when they’re available. From there, you can listen to them on your computer, sync with an mp3 player, or burn them to CDs.

This is a free web-site development program, comparable to Frontpage or Dreamweaver. If you’ve decided that content managment solutions and blog software are not for you, here is a decent free alternative.

Open Office is designed to be a replacement for Microsoft Office. It has a word processor, a spreadsheet, and a presentation program. It’s file-compatible with MS Office, so you can easily open and edit files created with Word, Excel, and Powerpoint. Because it’s free, students and teachers can install it and use it at home.

Scribus is an open source desktop publishing application. It provides a powerful, professional page layout system for creating spectacular documents.

Connect a microphone and a pair of headphones to your computer, and talk to anyone, anywhere in the world, for free. This implementation of voice conferencing is easy to set up and use.

Truecrypt allows you to encrypt data on your computer in a virtual drive. It’s an easy-to-use way of ensuring that confidential information stays confidential, even if the computer on which it is stored is stolen or compromized. This software is highly recommended for people storing sensitive data on laptops.