If you thought you could never get something for nothing, think again. Jack Kenny finds the best freeware around
They say "There's no such thing as a free lunch," but that's not true in the ICT world. Freeware is the official name for some very interesting offerings, and the quality of these programs can be astonishing.
Photo Story 3 for Windows
This is amazing software. For a couple of years, Microsoft has been selling earlier versions of this. Now it has vastly improved it and made it free.
The work you can produce will be reminiscent of director Ken Burns, an American documentary maker specialising in subjects where there is a lack of film material. Burns zooms in and out and pans across images. You can use Photo Story to import a succession of photos and arrange and edit them on a timeline, add narration, music, motion animation and transitions, and then save and share the finished product. For classroom use across the curriculum, it is a splendid creative way of presenting material.
In ICT, some questions occur over and over again. Why not record the answers once, then store them and point the questioners to the part of the network where the answers are? CamStudio records screen activity into standard video (AVI) files. You can record the steps of any complex task, create movies for user training or your presentation needs. Programs like this have transformed the way that some students learn and some teachers teach.
You can use this text-to-speech program to hear almost any text on your computer. The program has numerous uses in the classroom: students can be encouraged to use it as a final check before work is submitted. Errors that are missed by the eye will be picked up by the ear. Students who have difficulty with reading can use the program as an access device.
The computer is now a multimedia centre and sound is a vital part of this.
Radio stations are broadcasting and streaming across the world, and sometimes you will want to capture a program. Freecorder will do that. It will record anything that goes through the sound card of your computer including any system sounds. Files can be a maximum of 30 minutes and are saved as MP3s. www.freecorder.com
AVG Anti-virus Free edition
It's not difficult to understand why people resent having to pay for anti-virus software to defeat the efforts of demented hobbyists. AVG will provide you with protection, and you can program it to examine your machine at set intervals as well as getting regular updates as soon as new viruses appear. It is an excellent way of protecting your PC.
The open source world produces a great deal, and this free audio editor is one of the best. You can record sounds, play sounds, import and export WAV, AIFF and MP3 files, and more. It looks intimidating at first, but it is a beautifully constructed program. The website has good tutorials, so that you can learn the program quickly. It also works on Linux and Apple machines.