"When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground."
If your a user of pirate software you should be aware that there are now plenty of decent, free alternatives available. In todays age it is quickly becoming unsafe to download and even just to possess pirate software. I'm going to keep updating this blog entry with the latest free and opensource alternative solutions.
The format is that the title will be the application you "might" be "trialing" at the moment, the content after that describes its free counterpart.
Microsoft Visual Studio
Microsoft themselves have provided a series of free alternatives called the express editions.
Well this alternative is already well established but its worth pointing out for those who dont know about it. Its called "Open Office" and its produced by Sun Microsystems, that's right the people who dish out Java.
Microsoft .net Framework
Ok so you got me with this one, its always been free! You'd be surprised how many people think you have to pay to develop with it though.
I've been using a package called GIMP. Its just a full featured graphics package, its not really a clone of Photoshop. Out of the free ones I've played with it seems to have the most support though. I'd be happy if anyone had any others they think are better though as I'm not 100% happy with this one.
Discreet 3D Studio Max
So this is the trickiest in my opinion. I loved using Max since v3. Now I dont work at any companies that have it I've had to search long and hard for a decent alternative. Nothing really compares to it. There are two that kind of stand out from the rest though, the first is GMax which was a free product from Discreet for game developers. Its almost a complete 3DS v4 but you cant render with it and it uses its own file format. "So whats the point of that then?" I hear you ask. Well it still lets you make complex geometry that you can capture with print screen and alter in GIMP ;¬) Plus if you just want to get some experience with using 3D Studio then you cant get much better than this. Discreet, well Autodesk now, have discontinued it but you can still get it from turbo squids site.
The second 3DS free alternative to stand out from the rest is Alias' Maya Personal Learning Edition. Its a full featured 3D package based on their award winning Maya package. This one lets you do everything including render but you cant save any to standard output formats and its got their branding all over the place. When I first read about this I thought it was too true to believe. I thought I could render still images with this and then print-screen it to be touched up in GIMP. By touched up I suppose I mean I could remove their branding from the rendered images which is just as good as pirating it almost. The branding just totally put me off. Its everwhere in the user interface. I couldnt concentrate on what I was doing. Thats just me though, I'm sure lots of people will find this really useful.
Winzip / Winrar
I stumbled across ZipGenius by accident, it supports most of the commonly used compression formats and has context menu support which I found a bunch of its free competitors lacked. The second links for Stuffit Expander. Thats a free compression tool thats bundled with a trial package. It handles a couple of formats that ZipGenius doesnt. I've only needed to use it once but its handy to know about.
Norton / Mcafee Virus Scanners
Theres loads of good free online scanners available now. Mcafee host one on their site. Personally I just use one of those for my "Complete Scan" option. If you want an ok virus scan that you can summon from your right click context menu then you can try out AVGs free home scanner.
So its not as cool or professional looking as Nortons or Mcafees but its one of those "run it once in a blue moon apps" so I dont think it has to look like the bees knees.
These are some of the free online scanners:
I stopped using the McAfee online scanner after someone contacted me to say that if it does detect a virus on your system it will not actually clean it. Instead it recommends that you purchase their scanning application to remove it. The F-Secure one definately cleans anything it finds which I have tested out on a badly infested machine at one of my companies. I've left the link to the McAfee scanner as its always handy for running checks from multiple companies since as we all know company As scanner may not detect something that company Bs does.
Like MS, Lavasoft provide a free alternative to their own product. Its on their main site and its called Adaware Personal.
I really like my recomendation for this one, its called "Spybot Search and Destroy". Its the quickest scanner I've seen and its regularly updated.
Yet another company that provide a free edition of their leading package. Its buried in the site but it is there. Its called Zonealarm Free Edition. It does all the basics that you expect from a firewall and it looks and acts like the full Pro edition. I always liked zonealarm with its warning popups.
I have to admit that I did switch over to InJoy firewall for a while. Its price and license beat everyone elses and its interface was quite cool. It did seam to give alot more control to the user then ZA did but their technical support department really dissapointed me when I "upgraded" to Windows XP 64bit.
For the curious out there heres what they said when I asked when they were going to release a Windows XP 64bit compatible version of their firewall:
"We haven't done any work on XP 64 and we have no immediate plans within that area. Are you sure btw that the InJoy Firewall won't work?
I would have thought that thunking layers in Windows would provide backwards compatibility for 32bit applications."
No I'm not sure it doesnt work, I just sit up for hours thinking of different companies I can email with problems I sit around imagining up! How does that strike you for "we couldnt be arsed". It wasnt really the fact that they didnt plan to support XP64. It was the fact that they hadnt tested it, didnt seem like they could be bothered testing it and then didnt even seem to have a clue as to why it didnt work. I think the main reason was that it wouldnt let the firewalls 32 bit drivers install. InJoy firewall installs some virtual hardware. XP64 requires 64bit drivers for all hardware even fake hardware. That's where it broke for me. Too much of my hardware/software still wasnt compatible with XP64 so I reverted back to normal XP which kinda sucked since I'd already fresh installed my system :¬) The only hardware I had that didnt support it was my new Wacom Volito 2 tablet. I've used a dual system for about 15 years now, its always been a tablet as my primary controller and a roller ball as a backup. I ditched my old Genius tablet for the Volito 2.
I never used it but I know you have to pay for it. I used to use Zonealarm Pro and really liked its ability to clean my temporary internet files folder. When I switched over to Zonealarm Free edition I missed its cleaning abilities. I checked out some other utilities in this area but "CleanUp" won as it let me add my own folders to the clean up queue.
One of the most popular system benchmarkers out there. Sisoftware provide a lite edition that covers a fair number of tests in the full version. They provide a comparison chart on the download page so you can see what your missing. I thought it was fine for what I needed.
Nero Burning Rom
CDBurner XP Pro is a definate winner. It looks quite like Nero but its free. I've used this a few times now.
FileZilla is a great opensource FTP utility. It has all of the features you'd expect to find in a graphical FTP program. I only really use the basic functionality of it such as the FTP address book.
hehe so you caught me again, this ones free already, its a really really good text editor. I use it when writing C#, ActionScript, HTML, PHP, ASP, Java well you name it I code it with this editor. It has full syntax highlighting, neato indenting, macro support and tabbed pages amongst many other features. I use it on a daily basis and always promote it to everyone I know.
Commercial games offically made freeware
Yep, you read it right. Games that were once commercial have now been made available for free at this site.