A time to give

A time to give

The Internet has percolated into every segment of our lives, making it imperative for us to be Internet-savvy or risk being out of tune with the latest happenings and trends. Our list of bookmarks keeps growing as we discover new software tools on the Web that have the potential to enhance the quality of our lives.


A malware attack is every PC user’s worst nightmare. But many of us are often forced to forgo the protection because antivirus systems cost a bomb. However, there is now an alternative for users who wish to save their hard-earned money while doing something to protect their system from sudden attacks. Spybot is a free and efficient tool to protect your PC. No one is obliged to give anything to Spybot; however, you can contribute to the cause by making small donations. This is how a Spybot punch line goes, “If you don’t feel like donating for software, think of it as buying us a drink!" If anything, you have to give these guys credit not just for creating world-class software, but also for their superb sense of humour.


If you are into music, then it is time you had your own music server. Enter Sockso—the free Java-based application, which will create a home music server for you in just a few steps, enabling you to stream music through your PC, allowing others to tune in by using myriad Web-based technologies. The system can also prove beneficial when you have too many computer systems working at your home or office—you can have all the music files stored in one computer, while the other PCs and laptops can connect to it, whenever they need to groove to a tune. That way you end up saving valuable disk space. The system will support music files such as MP3, OGG Vorbis, Flac and WMA.


This is a website dedicated to helping others. Here you can do some micro-lending and help alleviate poverty. There are so many people around the world in need of sums as small as $25 (around Rs1,170), and Kiva introduces you to them. As of now the website claims to have a default rate of less than 3%. In 97% of the cases, the lenders have got their money back. Kiva is a charity-based website and not a broker, so you don’t get any interest on the money you have lent; what you do get is the satisfaction of having done something to help a fellow human being. Kiva, which started in 2005, had, till November, facilitated loans of more than $100 million.


For many of us blogging has become a way of life. But regularly coming up with coherent, informative posts, embellished with images and links, can be quite cumbersome. How about having your own assistant to help you with your blogging activities? Zemanta is what you’re looking for. This software is compatible with some of the world’s most popular blogging platforms, including Wordpress, Flickr, etc. Once it has been installed as a plug-in to your favourite browser, Zemanta will work quietly in the background to ensure that you get easy access to relevant information pertaining to the blog post you are creating. Even if the software is free, you can always pitch in with a donation.


Stressed? MoodTurn might just be what you need to help calm you down. This website promises some soothing music while visuals of a natural scene play on the screen. Developed by 24-year-old Ramunas Geciauskas, a Lithuania-based computer programmer, MoodTurn has already become a source of succour to thousands of stressed-out employees. Once you have soaked in the soothing visuals and sounds, don’t forget to reward the efforts of Geciauskas by making a donation.


Now you can create some animated cartoons, small video games or other interactive artworks even if you don’t know Flash or coding. Just log on to Scratch.mit.edu. Scratch has a set of innovative tools through which people without any computer programming skills, and that means the majority of us, can create animations. Just download the free software to get started. With its comprehensible menu-based system, Scratch is easy to use. You can either upload images from your own computer or you can make use of images from the site’s library.


Are you a shutterbug? How many of your images are of really good quality? You may not be able to shoot like a pro, but there are other ways by which you can enhance the quality of your pictures. For instance, there is FastStone, which does just about everything you would expect from an image viewer. You can crop, resize, fix red eyes, adjust image tone and a lot more. Although the software is free, you may donate any sum that you can afford to spare.

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