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Published 30-Nov-2000
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web•Column for 30-Nov-2000


  Free Software  

webWiz has been trying two new free pieces of software lately. Although a keen supporter of InnoculateIT Personal Edition as an antivirus scanner, he found it slowing down his ageing computer. So, after visiting Download.com, he's found Grisoft's free antivirus program, AVG 6.

AVG has all the functions you want from an antivirus scanner but doesn't overuse system resources while it's working in the background checking your files. If you decide to download it (about a 5Mb size), when you first run it, AVG will do a complete scan of your hard disk. The only change webWiz made to AVG was to disable the scheduler, preferring instead to manually start a complete test. Updates to the virus data file are freely available and AVG can check for you and do the download and installation; an update is about 1.5Mb in size.

The second application to talk about is AceHTML Freeware, an HTML editor that's not overly complicated, has useful features, and in particular provides a HTML reference for those starting out. There are a number of template designs to help you with your first pages or a a new layout for your present site. As you learn more and want to try new HTML features, AceHTML has scripting and style sheet support waiting in the wings.

AceHTML Freeware can be downloaded from http://freeware.acehtml.com (about 3.6Mb). While you're online, register so you get the product code and you're ready to go after downloading and installing.

  Holiday Mail  

To avoid email withdrawal symptoms while away from your computer, get a free Hotmail account (if you haven't already) and use it to keep in touch. Anyway, a Hotmail account comes in very handy when you decide to change ISPs - it saves emailing everybody with a new email address and avoids the hassle of updating the details for any newsletters you subscribe to.

Once you've got your Hotmail email address, you can access your mail using any browser from any computer. As well, if your relatives or friends give you time on their computer, you can log into Messenger with your Hotmail account and password to chat with relatives and friends, as you normally would at home.

  Games Good for Maths  

Looking for an excuse to spend more time playing Minesweeper? Well, it just so happens that Minesweeper involves some fairly complicated maths to solve, especially for large grids. Another game of the same type is Connect4.

If you're interested in writing your own computer programs for games, start by visiting some of the many Visual Basic sites that offer free source code (look through those listed in the webDirectory). Look for games where the human player competes against the computer and the game has a set of rules to play by. Even a game as simple as Noughts and Crosses can be cleverly programmed using some good maths.

  Download Sites  

Who was it? You? Someone just a couple of weeks ago made the billionth download from Download.com; and the site is just five years old!

You can see how popular download sites are on the 'Net and they've made the distribution of software, especially freeware, so convenient and widely available. CNET's Download.com is just one of many such sites and they all have their benefits and are worth visiting. If a site has a weekly newsletter, as Download.com has, it's worth subscribing to keep an eye out on what's the latest and most popular.

  Making Music  

It's now quite possible to produce your own music with the computing speed available in newer computers, even those two years old. But, firstly, if you've an older machine and haven't tried Winamp to play MP3s or your audio CDs, it's worth downloading the latest version (V2.7). After installation, remember to check the preferences section to switch on half-sampling if MP3 playback is stuttering.

As well, take advantage of the Winamp locker free service where you can store up 3Gb of music files and then webcast your choices via your own internet radio station.

If you'd like to more creative in producing your own music, there are plenty of software packages available - one such as Pro Audio Tool is free - and numerous sites to learn how to use sequencers and editors. If this is an area of interest, the coming holiday period is just the occasion for delving into using your computer for musical production.

  webWiz in Brief  

In the days remaining before Christmas, visit SantaClaus.com which continues its tradition of dedicating each day of Decemeber to a favourite charity and an advent celebration. Another Christmas site you might like to show the children is Santa's Village. If you're making your own Christmas cards, check out the variety of clipart that's available at Clip Gallery Live.

The construction of the International Space Station has been an item in the news bulletins so here are some space sites to visit. With the warmer night weather and our extremely clear skies, and a reasonably good pair of binoculars if you have them, many objects can be observed in our night sky - visit Melbourne Planetarium for information.

Heavens Above is a very professional site. Choose your location (country then town - yes, Rushworth is in their database) and a graphic is rendered in real-time to display the current position of various objects, such as the ISS.

Space.com has news of launches, plenty of photos and some games. There's a link to the SETI@Home site. A recent poll conducted on the site asked whether parents were prepared to send their children to Mars! Space Weather gives details on the solar weather, solar flares and auroras, along with other information and links.

Time now to relax! Elf Bowling 2: Elves in Paradise is an arcade-style game and is a sequel to last Christmas' game from NStorm (not a big download - just 1.5Mb).

This week's online column has a variety of other sites worth visiting or remembering for next year. Of course, there's a wide choice organised into different categories you can access through the webDirectory.

 
 
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