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Weaving Webs

We know how hard it is to not get bored at home. We also know how hard it is to find stuff to do. And since we care, here's stuff you could do with your PC. Our tech savvy writer Emil, manages to bring together the best of the web, and the best software to make that PC that much better... without spending money so please read on...
Illustration by Emil

The vast and wide world of the web. The coolest wonder of the world. It truly is amazing what the Internet has brought us. Or what we've brought to the Internet. Anything you want? You got it. Whatever you wanna try out with the internet? Someone already did. It's big. It's so big that big doesn't even cut it. You think 10TB of HDD space, and you go WOWwackamoly. Think how much data's flowing around the spindle of the web. Mind boggling, is it not?

And kids these days go, “I'm bored, and have nothing to do at home.”

Admittedly, we don't really have the best available connections possible. Admittedly, not everyone's allowed to waste his or her eyes in front of a monitor long enough to discover the beauty of it. Admittedly, it's not really that simple.

But, it remains true that you can still do wonders with what you've got. If you were fighting a war against an enemy with hi-tech weaponry, while you're at the other end of the timeline, what would you do? Wait for a miracle to drop from the sky? Roll over and die? Or make a spear out of a stone and a piece of stick? If you chose the first option, your faith better be able to literally move mountains. Second option? Wear mascara and get to uploading pictures of you in pain. Third? I know. The red pill tastes bitter, but it's so much fun this way.

Youtube: Probably one of the most popular sites in the WWW. Not really a thrill waiting for videos to start rolling every few seconds. Here's something you can do. Copy the link of a video you wanna see, go to www.keepvid.com, and paste the link there. The site'll provide a download URL, which you can take onto your download manager, who'll do the rest. Queue-up a handful of links, and go off to school. Voila. You can come home to a few hours of good videos you didn't have the patience to wait for. Err… Who would, yeah?

Artsy: If you're the artsy type, then you won't find a better place than the Internet to get critiques, show off, or just hone your skills. There's not an end to the list of sites that provide you the spotlight for any of those things. The increasingly popular www.deviantArt.com has everything from contests to tutorials and just a helluva lot of stuff for you to check out. Just google in “how to draw cars” and you'll see this- Results 1 - 10 of about 12,600,000 for how to draw cars. (0.15 seconds). Admittedly, not all of them are useful, but that says a lot. You can find tutorials to stuff like illustrating a nebula star system to making your very own website with an ubercoolz layout. I liked the nebula tutorials…

Tribal knowledge hunter: Take out your favorite loincloth, and pack your gear, because you won't be back till you've filled to the brim. The amount of knowledge at any given time is invariably infinite. There's a variable and definite fraction of that available for your learning pleasure in the Internet. Just a few types away await you a world of wonderful knowledge. www.wikipedia.org has almost anything you'd want to wish to read up on. Be it your physics homework, that rare disease that's killing you, or that hyped game you wonder if it's worth playing.

You can even learn to play the guitar, or the piano, a whole new different language, or even how to juggle! There's no end to the things you can learn and have fun with if you just have that little bit of patience and the 'want to'. It's not really the schoolwork or the homework that's boring and annoying, it's just because someone else told you to do them, to do something you don't really feel like doing. Nobody likes to be bossed around.When in doubt, Google. The Internet is a puppet where you're the master, and you're pulling all the strings. Now… fight the power!

AEssential additionals

PDF Readers:
Having a PDF reader installed is vital to your daily computer use. You have two primary choices. Adobe's own Acrobat Reader, for one. Or Foxit Reader for another. Unless you've got resources to burn Acrobat Reader is a real pain to use, hogging up a lot of your memory, frequently freezing in browsers and other things. Foxit, on the other hand, is efficient, fast and takes little to no time to load those documents.

Compression/Archive: There's nothing like compressing a bunch of files down to 30% of its actual size and sending it to a buddy. Or something like that. WinRAR, WinZip, and 7z are three of the more widely used archiving softwares. The latest WinZip is supposed to be able to compress even JPEG files (which're already compressed), so it's a good choice. But, 7z's simplicity is attractive.

Java: A lot of applications use the Java platform. And a lot of websites, too. It's not a must-need, but it's good to have installed on to avoid annoyances later.

Virtual driver managers: Used to create, and access .iso files (image files of discs), virtual drives can be very useful. There's Alcohol 120% and Daemon Tools. But, one particularly handy tool is UltraISO- it's small, efficient, and fast. Even kicks whatever Nero has to offer as disc writing software.

TuneUp Utilities: A must have for everyone. This nifty little tool can help you optimize your windows really well. Whether it's freeing up disk space, defragging your drive, changing the way your windows looks, editing your registry, managing your processes or whatever. It's a Grade A power tool for your everyday Power User.

Browser: Internet Explorer, Opera, Mozilla Firefox or Chrome. Make your choice. All of them have pros and cons, but they're all good in their own way. Chrome has a few bugs to work out, but it's nifty and fast. Mozilla and Opera are highly customizable. IE is… IE.

Messengers: Apart from the usual MSN, Yahoo, and GoogleTalk, there are other clients that offer good all-in-one services. Pidgin is one, and Trillian is another. Pidgin is simple, zero blingbling and kinda sleek in its own small way. Trillian uses some more resources, has slightly more blingbling and a certain amount of customizability.

Download Managers: For those who do not prefer Download Accelerator, there's Flashget or Free Download Manager. With FDM, you can directly download youtube videos and download through torrents even if you usually can't, among other things. That's saying a lot. For P2P, LimeWire works pretty good, but it takes up more resources and yields spam results to an extreme. Ares on the other hand has little to no spam, and quite fast.

Flash: Flash is popular. Flash is widely used. Everybody knows what Flash is. You have to have downloaded flash players for all the browsers. Note though, 64bit Flash players aren't out yet.

Media Player: With so many media players out there, it's kinda hard to know which the best one is. Windows Media Player has always worked great for me, and the latest ones are kinda really cool. There's Winamp, with the ever-useful Global Shortcuts keys, and there's the great VLC Player, which runs almost any and all files formats out there. And it's only 15MB. No additional codec installations necessary. You can also run DVDs with it.

Editing: If you're into editing, you probably know what you need. Ulead Video Studio, Sony Vegas Adobe Premiere or AfterEffects, Apple's Final Cut Pro, and if it's just a small project with simple editing, Windows Movie Maker. For sound, you can try Propellerhead Software's Reason, Adobe's Audition, or Sony's Sound Forge.

If you want to personalize your desktop, try out ObjectDock, WindowBlinds, and IconPackager. Object dock creates a stack on your screen where you can keep application shortcuts. WindowBlinds can change the way your windows looks, IconPackager helps you change all the icons you want.

And there you have it. A small list of useful things you could use for your computer. All of them have pros and cons, some more than others, but read up on the softwares.

www.filehippo.com is a good website where you can get most of these softwares for free, and a whole lot more that aren't listed here. And there's always, Google, if you're in need of elaborations.


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