||Over the years while creating
content for the CyberBee Website and constructing workshops for educators,
invariably needed a software program to complete a specific task or
solve a particular problem. While there are hundreds of freeware and
shareware programs to download from the Internet, how do you know which
ones are stable, free from adware, and supported. Downloading demos,
reading the fine print and trial and error have generally been the
means by which I have determined the usefulness of the product. Some
have been duds while others have been extraordinary. One audio editing
program, Cool Edit 2000, was purchased by Adobe and is now titled Adobe
Audition. Another program that has improved from version to version
is TechSmith’s SnagIt, an all purpose screen capture program.
It is now offered in many educational software catalogs. The programs
described in this article are CyberBee’s favorites for work and
Adaware (Windows 98/ME/2000/XP/7/8)
Ad-Aware Standard (free for non commercial use) scans your computer
memory, registry, and hard drives for aggressive advertising and
tracking components and allows you to select which ones to remove.
The SE Plus version ($26.95) adds real time monitoring and blocking
to prevent a first time invasion. The SE Professional version ($39.95)
gives the end user customizable control over how Ad-Aware deals with
other programs and processes on their system. Eradicate spyware quickly
with this indispensable software.
Audacity (Windows 98/ME/2000/XP/Vista/7/8, Macintosh OS X 10.4 to 10.9.x, GNU/Linux)
Free – Open Source
Audacity is a solid audio recording and editing program for the
budget minded teacher. Record 16-bit, 24-bit, and 32-bit (floating
point) samples from a microphone, line input, or other sources. Import,
edit, and export wav, aiff, au, and mp3 files. In order to export
mp3 files, you will also need to download the LAME mp3 encoder. Complete
directions are provided in the Help menu. Create multi-track recordings
by dubbing over existing tracks or add a variety of special effects
such as echo, phaser, and wahwah. Since Audacity is open-source,
there are all sorts of free plugins available. Download this program
and you will be making music in minutes.
Wizard ( Windows® 8, 7, Vista® or XP)
One, two, three that’s how easy it is to format
an Avery product in Microsoft Word. Mail merge is also simple to
complete from a
new or existing list. In addition, several languages are supported.
is a must have wizard for making labels.
CDBurnerXP Pro (Windows 98/ME/2000/XP)
You just bought a CD or DVD burner and the Windows
XP burning software doesn’t detect CD or DVD media when inserted into the drive.
It’s CDBurnerXP Pro to the rescue. Imagine finding a free
program on the Web that performs the basic functions for burning
DVD+R/RW DVD-R/RW discs. Launch the program, title the new compilation,
add files, and burn. You can create bootable discs, burn on the
fly, erase, and save compilations. The written data is automatically
at the end of each burn. This is a great tool for basic CD burning.
ieSpell (Windows 9x/ME/NT/2000/XP, Internet Explorer 5+)
Spell check text input boxes on Web pages with this
practical extension for Internet Explorer. You can even add your
own word list. It’s
great for spell checking Web mail, blogs, forums, and other Web
applications that utilize text forms. Launch ieSpell via the right
the toolbar or the menu bar. This is a must have program for anyone
who publishes blogs or sends Web based email.
(Windows & Mac
Turn sheet music
into midi files with this nifty piece of software for Windows and
Mac. Start with the lite version ($24), which scans
and reads common musical markings and plays back the music. You can
then edit the file in a midi-sequencing program, such as Cakewalk,
Cubase, or Logic, to achieve better results. Once you have mastered
the lite version, move up to PhotoScore
Ultimate 6 ($249). It has many more features that allow a wider
character recognition and editing capabilities. In addition,
PhotoScore Ultimate 6 transfers scanned music directly to Sibelius,
a music notation program that many music teachers use in their classrooms.
Find old sheet music in the attic or at the American Memory Web site
and create an archive of music files. When students research various
eras in history, they can listen to period music.
Photo Organizer (Windows and Mac)
Google has produced another outstanding program for
managing large collections of photographs. Launch Picassa and your
instantly organized into recognizable folders by year. Scan thumbnails
in seconds to find your favorite pictures. Edit folder properties
to add or change the name, date, place taken, or caption. Print
wallets, 4×6, 5×7, full pages, more sizes and even more than one
picture on a page. Advanced photo editing is a snap with one click
fixes for color, contrast, and redeye plus you can choose from twelve
lighting and color effects to add the perfect touch to your final
masterpiece. Picassa makes it easy to share your pictures via email,
gift CDs, Hello™, and even on your own blog. Picassa deserves
five stars for its sleek design.
Spybot Search and Destroy
Spybot is a free program that scans your hard drive for adbots.
These pesky modules are responsible for displaying ads that can appear
in the background, in the top window, or pop up unexpectedly every
few seconds. Spybot removes adware, spyware, keyloggers, Trojans,
and usage tracks. It also blocks ActiveX downloads, tracking cookies,
and threatening downloads. It zapped Xupiter with no problem. Two
user modes are available: easy, for beginners, and advanced, for
the professional who wants more control. Spybot runs on Windows 95/98/ME/NT/2000/XP
and is available in many languages.
SnagIt (Windows or Mac )
Want a slick screen shot program that allows you to add arrows,
callouts, and text? SnagIt delivers these features and much more
for a very reasonable price. Quickly perform a screen shot using
hot keys. Then, crop, resize, and add special effects. Finally, save
the image in one of over twenty different file formats or copy and
paste it into your favorite productivity software. Capturing an entire
Web page is a click away in Internet Explorer with the SnagIt toolbar.
Once you choose the page to capture, SnagIt automatically does the
rest. Using this tool will save you time in creating step-by-step
tutorials, adding screen shots to your presentation programs, and
organizing your images for future reference. SnagIt is highly recommended.
SWISHmax (Windows 2000/XP/VISTA, 1024 x 768, 16-bit display (32-bit recommended)
Want to create
interactive multimedia for your Website on a budget? SWISHmax2
is the answer. Create slide shows, Web pages, or interactive
presentations without the learning curve of other programs. Insert
photographs, clip art, and text onto the stage. Transform these
static elements into dancing animations. Mix in some sound (wav
to jazz it up. Then, export your project as a flash (swf), avi
or html file. The step-by-step tutorials under the Help menu are
of the best CyberBee has seen in software programs. The technical
support forum at the Swishzone Website is superb. Download a free
trial version and take it for a spin. With a little practice you
and your students will be creating animated works in a flash!