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My Christmas Gift to You

Well it is getting close to 10 days left for Christmas and I suspect some of you might be struggling for last-minute gift ideas. Some of the best gifts that you can give are free and I thought I would highlight three for you that make wonderful gifts for you or your loved ones.

Spyware Protection
Your computer is likely infected with a form of program called spyware. According to a recent GartnerG2, more than 20 million people have installed applications that report back to a company about your online activity. In all likelihood you willingly installed much of your spyware yourself when you downloaded an application from the Internet. That is how some companies make money while not charging for their products. In a sense you are paying, but the coin is privacy, not money.

Fortunately, there is an easy, free solution that will remove this nasty software from your computer and it is called Spybot, which is a program you can download . Once downloaded you will need to find the program and execute it. Hint: Just remember the folder location that you download it to.

After you click the file it installs itself onto your computer, but you will need to go to your program folder and find it to execute it. Once it is executed it will need to go online and download an updated version with the latest information. Finally after this lengthy process you can scan your entire computer for infections and then immunize your computer against future ones. It is a slight pain, but I believe it is worth it for the added protection you will receive.

Google Toolbar
One of the best free utilities you can get for your Windows program and Explorer browser is the Google toolbar. It is by far the easiest way to avoid those nasty pop-up ads you are constantly bothered with.

Explorer Alternative--Firebird Browser
Nearly a year ago I gave up using Explorer (IE) as my primary browser and switched to the open source Mozilla browser called Firebird. You can read my early experience with the program for more details, but I have been very pleased overall. It is a much faster and more elegant browser. I particularly enjoy the favorites toolbar that saves me loads of time. Flash does not work in this browser and secure Web sites like banks don't support it, so you will still have to fire up IE occasionally as you traverse the Web. You can get Firebird at the Mozilla Web site.

Some great features are:

  • Tabbed-Browsing--Open links in the background while you read a Web page, then continue to the links when you're done--pages are available when you need them, making the Web feel faster even over slow connections.
  • Popup Blocking--Popup advertising is one of the most annoying things to hit the Web in recent years. Mozilla Firebird shields you from unwanted popup advertising. It also gives you control to allow certain sites to open popup windows, if required to operate.
  • Integrated Search--The built in Google bar provides convenient access to the best search engine on the Web. Simply click in the Google bar or press Ctrl+K, type some words and press Enter.
  • Efficient Navigation--Mozilla Firebird lets you open links by simply typing some of the text in the link--no mouse necessary.
  • AutoDownload--Downloading becomes much simpler without windows popping up asking you where to save, etc.

Merry Christmas

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