Free Software Does It

Loading up the R51

It has been fun to get the IBM R51 laptop working smoothly. This has involved installing a lot of free software on my IBM R51 laptop that I purchased on eBay recently.

On Windows XP I set up two user accounts. One account, I use regularly for most everything, including the Internet. The other user account is my “quiet account.”

I talked recently about setting up my Windows wall of protection. That wall covers both user accounts. I keep the one account empty beyond my basic programs.

The programs in my “quiet” user account have been loaded with passwords and personal preferences. This account is on stand-by, and I seldom use it.

I run more “risky” traffic, like Internet browsers and file sharing, through my active user account. My anti-virus and firewall software watch all this activity for problems.

The quiet account becomes my desktop back-up for now. I am moving to a dual boot system where I use Windows XP and Ubuntu (Hardy Heron) on the system. When the installation disk arrives, that will be a new adventure to share.

I have loaded the following software on both of my user accounts.

Remember, this is all free software, not shareware or free trials. Enjoy!

I am using Real Player, Winamp, and iTunes to play and manage my music collection.

Picasa 2 and Irfan View handle my basic graphics needs. Adobe Reader, Foxit, and PDF Creator handle my PDF and ebook needs.

Power DVD and InterVideo Win DVD allow me to avoid Windows Media Player for video. I also run Nero 7 Ultra Edition.

This software is all very simple to install, and it is all free software! Windows XP Pro as your operating system does cost, but mine came with my laptop.

Many Adobe Programs, and PDF Creator, work only on the Windows platform. These are great programs that I use regularly and must have Windows to enjoy them.

Soon Ubuntu with provide my gateway to the Internet, and Windows will do my music and graphics. Graphics design is an area Open Source is still behind the curve on. They are catching up, but Windows leads that area for now.

And that is how I meet my computing software needs on Windows XP with free software. These are great programs. Give them a try!

Smiles. ET

Published in: on June 18, 2008 at 5:38 pm  Comments (2)  
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Bringing the IBM R51 Up To Speed

Occasionally I find something in my life that just won’t work. It usually has to do with computers, or more precisely, computer software.

Sometimes the difficulties have had to do with hardware/software compatibility issues.

Three years ago I bought an iPod nano for my travels. My computer didn’t have USB 2.0, so I had to have someone else load my music. After I did this several times, my iPod became very confused.

When I upgraded to a laptop that could handle both the iPod and iTunes, Windows XP said someone else owned the computer. ITunes agreed, and wouldn’t recognize my iPod. I was foiled again.

Don’t dismay, I am having more success now. I have been installing new software on my R51 laptop. My new (used) laptop came with Windows XP and Office Pro, and that was about it.

To get up to speed I set up Windows Internet Explorer and Internet Download Manager. That is a great combination for fast downloads, and your downloads aren’t lost due to a broken connection.

The first software I downloaded was Sygate’s Personal Firewall Pro. Sygate’s basic screen allows you to monitor your download speeds, while you watch your computer’s traffic.

Your Internet security begins with closing the open ports on your computer, and there are many. Managing fewer open ports allows you to control what goes in and out of your computer. Your firewall does this very simply. It is your first wall of defense against hacker attack.

I next downloaded Avast anti-virus software. For managing cookies and spyware I installed Ad-ware. These programs completed my basic Windows wall of protection.

It takes awhile to put your wall of protection in place, and to learn to use it. When you do, you will feel much more comfortable using Windows as your operating system on the Internet.

With my downloads completed, I removed the Internet Explorer icon from my desktop. I use Internet Explorer for downloads only. It does seem most compatible with Internet Download Manager, though Firefox can use IDM as well.

For my main browser I use FireFox 3.0 beta. It is stable and fast. I don’t know what they did to it, but it excels at quick page loads.

I also use the Opera browser for fast access to pages I visit regularly. Their Speed Dial feature makes this a snap. Opera also works very well for reading ebooks. It seems to have a softer presentation that is easier on my eyes for reading.

I was able to cover every basic software requirement I described with free software. It is possible to manage in the Windows environment inexpensively, providing you at least have a copy of Windows XP.

And let me add in closing, that tonight I had success. I completed the synchronization of my iPod, with iTunes, on my own computer. I can now create playlists for my iPod. I have success after three years.

Smiles. ET

Blogging from Guatemala

Six months ago, I began blogging with a laptop and a seat at a local Internet Cafe. WordPress made the blogging simple enough, but learning how to blog took serious time.

Then, I was literally gifted with the equipment needed for an satellite Internet connection at my home.

What makes my Internet connection so special is that I live in rural Guatemala on Lake Atitlan. My town is San Pedro Laguna, which is located several hours travel Northwest from Guatemala City. Travelers get here by chicken bus, shuttle, or boat from Pannachel.

Pannachel is connected to the Pan American Highway. The town handles, the in one day and out the next style tourists. The people that find San Pedro are on a different pace. They find us when they need to take a break.

The tourists who come to San Pedro are worldwide travelers, and they don’t carry suitcases. They carry most everything they need on their backs. Many have literally been on the road for months, and they find once here, it is hard to leave.

I have been in San Pedro almost two years, and until last month, I was never able to get an Internet connection in my home. Many hours of my day are now spent writing and blogging. I am learning how it works more quickly.

In the my first four months of blogging, I wrote my posts at home, and dropped them on to my blog when I could. The past two months have been quite different. I now spend as much time learning how to manage my blog, as I do writing.

When I began, I didn’t know what I wished to say. It is getting clearer. I am also learning how to better present what I do say. It is a fun process.

I learned that many of you are interested in used IBM laptops. I wrote several posts about how I upgraded my laptop with a purchase on eBay. I am happy to announce I will pick up my IBM R51 in Pannachel on Tuesday. Yea!

Yes, I know I won the auction the first week of April. It just took awhile to get my laptop through Guatemala customs and on to me. It has been a lesson in patience.

Smiles. ET