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Top 5 Cool Free Programs (You Haven’t Heard of)

22 Mar

There are a few programs that I think everyone should check out for one reason or another. You may have heard of some of these, but I’m willing to bet there’s at least a couple that you don’t know about.

1. F.lux

It’s widely known that staring at a computer screen makes it hard to fall asleep, but in this day and age it’s pretty unavoidable.  Flux is a program that changes the color temperature (tint) of your screen based on the time of day (sunset), eliminating the color wavelengths of light that are the culprits. These wavelengths are mostly in the blue range, and flux turns your monitor more of an orange and dims it a bit. You might think it would be annoying to look at an orange screen, but the thing is you don’t notice. Our eyes are really good at white-balancing, so even though the screen is pretty orange, it will look almost totally normal. In fact, when you disable flux in the middle of the night, you’ll be pretty much blinded, and wonder how you ever used a computer at night at such an obnoxious brightness.

2. Rainmeter

Rainmeter is a powerful desktop theme and customization program that lets you add widget-like tools to your desktop. For example, I have a clock widget, weather, computer resource monitor and others. Now that windows no longer includes the “gadgets” feature, you might be interested in this software.  Creating your own widget is pretty difficult, but luckily there are sites that have pre-made ones for basically every purpose.

3. Puush

Have you ever wanted to quickly share what you see on the screen with a friend, or save a screenshot instantly? Puush is a program that allows you to quickly select a portion of your screen, and it automatically uploads the image and copies the link to your clipboard. This allows you to send screenshots to people faster than any other program I know of.  You can also use it to upload other types of files too, such as music, videos, anything. The behavior is the same for any file type: it automatically uploads and puts the link to your clipboard. You can delete previous uploads through the icon in the taskbar or on the site itself.

4. Universal Media Server

I like to watch content on my Xbox because I can sit on the couch instead of my computer chair. However, it’s a pain to have to put files on a thumb drive and carry it over to the xbox. Sure, windows supports streaming videos from your computer to the Xbox, but only if it’s the right file format. For example, mkv files are one of the most popular downloadable video formats you’ll come across, but can’t be played on the xbox or streamed with windows. However, UMS does allow you to stream these files because it can transcode them. So no matter what type of video file you have, you can stream it to your Xbox as long as you have the codec on your computer.

5. WinDirStat

Have you ever seen your hard drive space slowly shrink, and not know why? WinDirStat is a program that will analyse your hard drive, and visually represent the space on your Hard Drive using boxes. The larger the box, the bigger the file, so it will be immediately obvious if you have any huge unknown files taking up all your space.  It also color codes them based on location and file type, so if there’s a certain folder or group of files taking up a bunch of space, that will be obvious too.