My mother’s 2-year old PC remains almost in its pristine condition. Until now, the only files that got updated or added are pictures. And normally, it is always us who did the downloading every time we pay them a visit especially during December. The whole year round she uses it only to get connected to us through emails.
Having used it again for this week’s short vacation, I had mixed feelings when I discovered about its almost untouched state. I feel happy that at least she haven’t installed any bootleg software but at the same time I feel a bit frustrated as it still obviously lacks MS Office, photo editors, file compression and other tools that I need to post blog and also share pictures to my distant sister who always craves to see what’s happening back here. So instead of wishing I have another $100 to shed for a genuine MS Office installer, I checked the web for what might be legally free so I can proceed with my business of blogging, editing, and uploading of pics.
Fortunately, my web search became fruitful enough and with the help of my mother’s PLDT Vibe connection I diligently spent some time checking these freebies:
*OpenOffice. This is an underdog with a surprising package compared to Microsoft’s Office. I’ve heard about this before from a friend who is an OSS (Linux) fan. But since I have a genuine MS Office software back then, I ignored the existence of a free OpenOffice. Now, after downloading the 150MB plus file, I became a fan. I never knew that this free software will match that of its Microsoft counterpart. In fact, I’m now using its Writer for this blog post and I find the interface and features not so far apart from MS Word. It has all the basics such as spell checker, formatting buttons and what surprised me most is that it also has an autorecovery feature–no need to worry when the PC shutdowns after the baby has pressed on some buttons in.
*GIMP 2. It’s short for GNU Image Manipulation Program. I downloaded this free photo editor with the intention of just resizing the large image files for an easy Flickr.com upload. It came as a surprise when I saw that this one is almost the same with my Canon photo editor. One cool feature I find is its ability to scale an image just by selecting the scale button and then dragging the corners of the picture. During the process, a window shows the aspect ratio of the file so that one can stop at the desired size. The downside of this software though is that it’s a bit slow and cannot accommodate multiple files in an instant. File size: 15MB.
*VSO Image resizer. Now this one means business when the job is just about resizing. VSO resizes multiple files in a jiffy. Period. This one is highly recommended. File size: 6MB.
With these files I now feel that I’m getting hooked to legit online freewares. I’m now looking for a free screen grabber but so far the one that I’ve downloaded (sreengrabberinstall.zip) seems to be a disappointment as its installation requires another file. Anyway, the three files that I have mentioned may be enough for now. Somehow, this just proves the cliché the best things in life are free.
I said to mark the word diligently when using PLDT Vibe’s connection. Why? That’s because it did not perform to my expectation. My mother has a P999 plan and it’s supposed to have at least 500kbps (or even more) connection speed but upon using speedtest.net’s tester it only yields 196kbps download speed. My Digitel connection at home can even match that at some point and my subscription plan is just for 128kbps. I have doubts now if I’ll change DSL provider next year. Ti abi.