Free handy software?

nath

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Ello there :)

I'm starting up a mini business - offering taylor made cheapo pc's to grannies and other not so knowledgable people in the local area. I've managed to put together a machine on ebuyer for £230 including a monitor and a legit copy of Windows XP home.

I just realised people are going to need office, and that really puts the price up quite a bit and remembered that OpenOffice is free and a good replica. Basically the point of this thread is to ask you lot (if you'd be so kind) to brain storm legally free applications that would be handy to stuff on a new pc for someone. Things like a decent bit of Anti-Virus software, some good spyware (I'll install the MS one) etc.

Any ideas related to this in any way shape or form would be gratefully accepted :)

Nath

p.s. In advance - thanks Jonty, I've no doubt your post will have tonnes of useful stuff :D
 

Ch3tan

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What Emb said, I would remove the MS anti-spyware the two linked above are easier to use and do a better job. Don't forget to install MSN Messenger for them, rather than the shitty windows messeneger that comes as standard.

Stick firefox on there and convert them :p

Things like quicktime, realplayer and shockwave so they can use all the content thats around
 

nath

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Good idea - but it's also been suggest that I should take a more cynical approach - install enough, but leave a bit so that they call me when they try to install stuff and screw it up. Not sure if that's how I want to play it though :\

The reason I wanted to go for the MS AntiSpyware software is because it has that realtime protection thing going on which the others don't, do they?
 

KevinUK

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The list so far presumes they will be on the internet, maybe best to ask if they will connect to the net? Would save you time and be less confusing for them wondering what all these applications do that they will never use.

I havent got any free things that havent been listed already. :(
 

nath

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That's a good point - the whole idea is to get an idea of what they'll be using it for and build a PC that's satisfactory but not over the top. If they're not on the net then spyware/av is pointless. I'm trying to put myself in the mindset of your average joe who doesn't surf the web/play games etc. Other than office apps - what do average people use computers for?
 

Cask

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Decent graphics program would be good for resizing and editing images from digital cameras. The standard viewers that you get with WindowsXP are pretty lame. I used to know the names of good free ones but Photoshop CS has made me forget them :/
 

Trem

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Possibly not legal, but I found it on another forum and couldn't be arsed to read - http://www.freeware-guide.com/

Edit - After a quick read it all seems perfectly legal, and actually pretty fucking sexy. Jesus, I just can't stop giving to Nath today. Tart :eek:
 

Dommers

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Programs to watch dvds with and so on, maybe cd burning apps.
 

nath

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CD Burning apps I figure I'll let windows handle that. DVD player is a good idea, though doesn't windows media player do that?

Yuo aer teh win trem :D
 

Dommers

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Windows ones are plain shit. Like watching paint dry tbh.
 

MKJ

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Well for one thing jump on Avast anti virus. This is still available for free which amazes me because I have used it for at least 2 years. Also get a good firewall on for sure. This really is essential. Zone Alarm is great and FREE! Spend a little time showing them how Zone Alarm works cos the risk from hacking now is immense.

Zone Alarm

Avast

I use to sell pc's and many people have access to software either legally or otherwise. If you put something that is different from the 'normal' type of software such as Microsoft Office etc then it will only confuse em. Just means they have to relearn something or other when they finally get their hands on the 'proper' stuff. Really you need to make the system rock solid and reliable with good backup. Should really be enough to install the Avast and leave it at that. The more you install the more problems that can occur. Better for them to ruin the system and you charge them for sorting it!

I used to create a reinstallation disk using Norton Ghost. I rewrote the Windows 98 startup floppy disk so that it automated the process of putting back all the files should they knacker it off a cd. And they will believe me. Took me a few months to work it out so that it was as good as the reinstallation discs from the big boys. Now though there must be loads of software that can do the same thing. If not and you want details I will post it cos I still have working copies of the stuff lieing around. Used to take just a few minutes to put everything back on. Was bloody wonderful for them and for me. Infact there was a business of backing up systems and reinstalling there for the asking.

Good luck on making dosh from selling computers cos there is plenty of money to be made but there is also hassle to go with it!

MKJ
Website
 

Jonty

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nath said:
p.s. In advance - thanks Jonty, I've no doubt your post will have tonnes of useful stuf :D
Hi nath

I wasn't actually going to reply as everyone is doing a good job thus far, but since you requested ... :)

Before I begin, I should just say 'Don't do a Dell' (although many others do this too) and load so much stuff that it becomes unweildy or overlaps exist. I wouldn't install everything below, for example, as much of it may not be needed (and things which are may have been omitted, it is late at night after all :))

Anyway, just some thoughts below, in no particular order. You could also include a folder(s) of bookmarks preinstalled which would allow users to check for updates etc. by visiting the software supplier's website.

Drivers

Make sure you have the latest ATI/nVidia display drivers, motherboard INF drivers (GART, AGP etc.), motherboard integrated device drivers (LAN, RAID, audio etc.) and that Windows is fully patched, even post-SP2.

Entertainment

DivX Player (I'm not sure if this exactly is needed, nor have I yet to encounter many legal DivX files, but the option is there)
Media Player Classic (I don't use it personally but many like it's lightweight style in comparison to the more bulky, if more powerful, Windows Media Player 10)
WinAMP (an alternative to some of the other media players listed)

Internet

N.B. I'm only tentatively recommending Firefox/Thunderbird or Opera simply because these may create support headaches. That said, if you want these as the default web/mail applications then fair enough (we know they're more sophisticated but one has to remember the target audience may not be so au fait (the Internet is often considered synonymous with the 'blue 'e' icon' after all :))

Free Download Manager (how relevant these are nowadays with broadband I'm not sure, but this is a nice lightweight package that many people use)
Java 2 RE (although I personally dislike having the Java runtime environment installed just for the very rare occasion you'll need it, some people still insist on installing it)
Trillian (one of many IM clients out there which support all major IM networks and IRC, or you could just stick with MSN Messenger etc.)

Security

AVG (not very pretty but as a free anti-virus package it's well-established and well-respected).
Microsoft Antispyware (although in beta, still a very robust anti-spyware package based on Giant's market-leading software (should remain free too, although Spybot or AdAware are equally viable alternatives))
Zone Alarm (one of many reliable free firewall solutions available)

Utilities

7Zip (free and powerful ZIP utility, although many others are available)
Adobe Reader (much as I love/loathe PDF files, Adobe Reader/Acrobat is still fairly commonly installed)
Deep Burner (one of many optical drive burning utilities which also comes in a free version)
The GIMP (free image manipulation software)
InfranViewer (free graphics viewer with multiple file format support)
Notepad2 (a great little replacement for the standard Windows notepad, although admittedly targetted more towards coders)
OpenOffice (the sheer scale of Microsoft Office isn't really matched, but for free you can't really complain)
Picasa (find, edit, organise and share photos)
Microsoft TweakUI (handy little Windows tweaking utility)

Kind Regards
 

Tom

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Nath your first profits should go to Jonty tbh.
 

Jonty

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hehe, thanks Tom, but I'm only building upon what people had already suggested (I'm surprised it actually made sense, I was doing it in a bit of a rush late at night :)).

With regards Windows Media Payer and DVDs, nath, yes it will play DVDs but only if you install a codec first. You can either buy standalone DVD decoder software or install WinDVD/PowerDVD etc. (which come free with many DVD drives) and WMP will then use their codec to play DVDs.

Kind Regards
 

Embattle

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The 7Zip utility is quite powerful, as Jonty said, and seems to be the best at compressing when trying to getting the absolute smallest file size possible.



The image above shows the resulting file sizes from the three compression programs used. The original folder size can be seen on the properties box on the left with Winrar at the top, 7Zip on the right and finally Winzip on the bottom.
 

nath

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Thanks guys, loads of great stuff there :)

MKJ I know what you mean about putting on software that's different to what they expect, but I imagine a lot of them will want some sort of word processing software and maybe a spreadsheet program. I installed OpenOffice yesterday and I've gotta say, it really is very similar to MS Word. Jonty's right, it doesn't match the scale - but it's got a fairly standard layout and it's pretty simple to use. I figured unless they want to pay an extra 100 quid for Office, they can have Open Office. It's a more than capable alternative.

Cheers again, everyone :)
 

Escape

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The best thing you can do for new PC users is to give them some simple tutorials. Maybe make some HTML pages to cover topics like: opening/closing applications. Saving files and installing applications in regards to directory structure. Setting up email accounts on outlook. Changing desktop themes and so on. Sounds unnecessary, but if you've seen new users to Windows, they're as confused as a windows user at a linux command prompt! :p
 

nath

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Heh, that's a good idea - but I think tutoring is going to have to cost a little extra, as it is I'm charging around 60 quid for building and installing a pc with an hour of support if they need it. Plus, if I'm being honest, the main reason I don't want to do tutoring is that it's such a monumental pain in the arse :|. I'd rather just give their pc and fix the problems as they arise :)
 

Alliandre

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nath said:
Heh, that's a good idea - but I think tutoring is going to have to cost a little extra, as it is I'm charging around 60 quid for building and installing a pc with an hour of support if they need it. Plus, if I'm being honest, the main reason I don't want to do tutoring is that it's such a monumental pain in the arse :|. I'd rather just give their pc and fix the problems as they arise :)
All you'll have to do is build a one off tutorial for a few of the programs if you put a decent amount of work into it. They'll no doubt still have problems, but at least it should cut out the problems that take 5 minutes to fix.
 

Escape

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No one mentioned VLC Player?

It comes with its own codecs, so you can play DVDs, VCDs, xvids and so on without hassle.
 

Yaka

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only use vlcs for .ts files mpc dont like. vlc used to be nifty once but is a preety bitchy proggie now
 

nath

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I've never had a problem playing .ts files in MPC - do you have problems with all or just some of them?
 

JingleBells

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I mostly use Media Player Classic with Quicktime & Real alternative codecs, however if I have a buggered video, then I'll use VLC to play it as it seems to ignore errors and tries to play the video.
 

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