Franciscan Computing


How to do Useful Stuff on a Computer without Spending Any Money

Updated 2009.09.03

Security Essentials


Virus Hoaxes


You must have a firewall program. A firewall monitors all Internet traffic both coming in to and going out of your computer.

·        Firewall definition

·        Zone Alarm. Keep the bad guys out of your computer.

·        Jetico

·        Outpost

·        More firewalls at PC World

Spyware removal

You must have a spyware removal program. Run it once a week to check for and remove spyware.

Other security

·        ShieldsUp! Check to see how secure your computer really is.

·        McAfee Site Advisor

·        Startup. Monitor your startup programs with Autoruns from Microsoft. For more info on what the many startup programs do, check this startup applications list.

·        Drivers. Check at Driver Agent (for free) to see if you have any out-of-date drivers. But you’ll have to pay to get them downloaded automatically.


·        Spam definition

·        Matador: a commercial spam-removal tool:

·        Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial Email


Awesome utility

·        Download and install multiple free apps in one step:

Office applications

·        Word processor that does everything Word does, even creates PDF files (something Word 2003 doesn't do, but Word 2007 will do if you download an add-on from Microsoft).

·        Spreadsheet that does everything Excel does

·        PowerPoint-compatible presentation program

·        Word processor: AbiWord

·        Online office suite: ThinkFree

·        Online spreadsheets: AjaxXLS, Google

·        Online word processors: AjaxWrite

·        Office Accounting Express from Microsoft.


·        Split and merge PDF documents

·        A PDF creator for Macs

·        Convert PDF files to Word documents


There are better browsers than MS Internet Explorer.

Pages for Teachers


·        Online photo sharing, printing, etc.: Shutterfly, Flickr

·        Editors: GIMP, very powerful photo editor; Paint.Net, replacement for Windows Paint; Picnik, online photo editor

·        Irfanview and Multiple Photo Resizer. Graphics utilities. Can resize/reformat an entire folder of pics at a time.

·        Picasa. A photo organizer from Google

·        Classroom Clip Art.

·        Corel Photo Album Starter Edition

·        Yahoo free radio. Others:,,

·        Apple iTunes. Download music (99 cents) and videos, rip songs, burn CDs, organize your music

·        Audacity. A sound recorder and editor

·        BonkEnc. Translates audio files from one format to another.

·        Mega MP3 Splitter. If your MP3 files are too big to email, you can split them with this tool.

· Free sounds

·        Orb. "MyCasting"

·        Juice. Free podcast receiver.

·        Video

·        Online sharing: YouTube.

·        MovieMaker. A video editor from Microsoft

·        Photo Story. This makes PowerPoint slide shows look like the work of amateurs!

·        Producer. Turns PowerPoint presentations into movies

·        Quintessential Player. Multimedia viewer.

·        Windows Media Player. Multimedia viewer.

·        Codecs are programs that allow you to view video (and hear audio). Here is a collection of them.

·        Misc

·        Omniformat. Graphics utility.

·        TV (from Kim Komando email)

·        Hulu DesktopHulu is the go-to site for on-demand television.

·        BoxeeBoxee can pull a lot of multimedia content into one place.

·        Cooliris—Find shows and movies from across the Web.

·        LivestationLivestation lets you watch live TV from other countries.

·        Miro—It will play nearly any file type. And you can find and download new shows right from the program. You can also subscribe to online content for easy viewing.

·        HandBrakeHandBrake will help you rip personal DVDs and convert video files.


Free tools for finding people online (Kim Komando)

·        Yahoo! People SearchYou find listed phone numbers and addresses. If you already have a phone number, you can do a reverse lookup. You can even search for e-mail addresses using a first and last name.

·        PeekYou—Here you can search social networking sites all at once. You'll also get results from blogs, news stories and Wikipedia.

·        CVgadget—It'll search Google for images, video, documents, blogs and more. It will also search most popular social-networking sites.  

·        Pipl—This site claims to be the most comprehensive people search available.

·        Radaris—This finds accurate results from Google and Facebook.

Desktop search


Instant Messaging

Zip Utilities


Web page editor

·        Nvu

Books & Reference

·        Project Gutenberg. Project to put thousands of books online.

·        Columbia Encyclopedia

·        American Heritage Dictionary

·        Roget's Thesaurus

·        Quotations

·        American Heritage Book of English usage

Elements of Style




·        Darwin Awards. Stupid dead people.

·        Scrappleface. Political humor.

Intellectual property

·        Computer ethics 10 commandments

·        Copyright issues: Fair use: ,

·        Freeware:

·        Shareware:

·        Copyright law currently before Congress:

·        Alternative operating systems: (You don’t have to use Windows for everything) Macintosh, Linux, Lindows, and alternatives to standard computer tools

General Security and Maintenance info (these are NOT programs – just web resources):

·        Tips for solving common driver problems

·        Optimize your computer for peak performance

·        Speed Up Your Computer's Performance

·        Speed up your computer's performance: eliminate visual effects

·        Speed up your computer's performance: adding memory

·        Remove programs you no longer use

·        Back up your computer

·        Organize your files

·        Home Network Security. Security info from CERT.

·        The Ten Immutable Laws of Security. How your machine can be made vulnerable.