More Free and Low-Cost Software


Posted by Matt Postiff June 6, 2014 on Matt Postiff's Blog under GeneralĀ 

Last year, I wrote briefly about several software packages that are great tools for a small church or church plant. This is an update, so I won't discuss some of the programs.

Software Icons

Skype

Skype continues to be a very helpful tool for calling free over the Internet as well as using the Skype credit to call landlines and cell phones throughout the world. One thing that I was disappointed to learn is that Microsoft has added (or was forced to add) features to make it easier for the government to have a backdoor into the communications being shared over Skype. That may not bother some of us since we don't have anything to hide, but a backdoor here in the U.S. means there is a a backdoor in closed countries, and our Christian friends using Skype could be found out.

Office Software

OpenOffice is upgraded to 4.1.0. FileZilla and GIMP also continue to see updates, as does Scribus. I have not had great luck using Scribus to do some simple one-page layouts, but it has been helpful on other occasions. Ghostscript 9.14 is the latest release of the postscript and PDF tools that Scribus uses under the hood. Thunderbird is well maintained and with the Nostalgy plugin helps me file and find emails very quickly.

TeamViewer

Occasionally someone in the church will ask help to fix a computer problem. OK, I can do that, but not too often! TeamViewer allows you to connect remotely and see the screen of the computer you are working on.

GoldWave

This is the one program on this list that is not entirely free, but it is worth the modest registration cost. We use Goldwave to record sermon audio and do edits on it afterward to clean up the audio. Top notch.

ImgBurn

ImgBurn can take a DVD and create a .ISO image from it, and then turn around and put that .ISO image onto a new DVD. I have used it to make backups of important DVD material that we have at the church.

Password Safe

Finally, I add Password Safe 3.33 to this list. With all the websites for banking, shopping, utilities, healthcare, etc. the list of passwords you have is probably quite long. If you don't some kind of secure password management tool, you are opening yourself up for trouble. For each website you use, you should have a unique password. And it should be hard, because about 70% of passwords you think are pretty good are actually fairly easy to crack. I can't show you a really good example here because it has so many strange characters the blog software or RSS reader will be unhappy.

Since it is hard to create and remember such passwords, Password Safe helps you to to do it. It has a generator function for good passwords, and an easy way to copy them to the clipboard and paste them into the website you are visiting. It stores the passwords in a database that is encrypted, protected by one password that you remember that is very long, complicated, and never written down! It organizes the database according to categories so that your passwords are easy to find.

With all the crooks out there and government snoopers (total depravity is a real problem, isn't it?), a good password program is a must.

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