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||Sound and Music:
and Freeware for download
Software can be found all over the World Wide Web. It is
possible to purchase and install many packages without handling a disk, going to
a store, or even receiving something in the mail. The process is so easy, and so
cheap from the supplier's point of view, that software developers often offer a
lot of things for free. What follows is some general categories of
free-for-download software, and their respective shortcomings and advantages.
You need to be careful loading any free software. Freeware
(see below) can have problems, and can, in rare cases, mess up your computer
configuration. If you find an interesting title, see if there are any reviews of
it on line - they may give warnings.
All the other titles are commercial. Downloading and
installing free commercial software is, in a matter of speaking, inviting
a stranger into your living room. That stranger may prove to be more intrusive
than you intended. A few hints . . .
1) Don't use the "default" install - select
"Custom" rather than "Standard" or
"Automatic" when asked what sort of install will be done. One of the
screens of a custom install is the assigning of file associations. If you still
want Media Player or other title to handle WAV or MP3 files (for example), make
sure those boxes are un-checked in your new install so that it doesn't
take over those responsibilities. This is particularly irritating with
player/utility installations like QuickTime, Music Match or Real Player.
2) Don't download software unless you're going to use
it! If Windows Media Player covers your needs, why junk up your
computer and risk problems with a new program? Adolescents are constantly
downloading and installing stuff, and usually their computers are messed up
enough to testify to that fact.
Categories of free software . . .
||Demos are not really free software, since
they are intended just to demonstrate the capability of a software title,
without actually giving the consumer anything to work with. Demos are
useful if you just want a peak before you buy, but if your intent is to
get free use of software, demos aren't it.
||Shareware is software which is offered free
for download as a way to try software before purchase. It is either not fully-functioning (limits saves, or not all features are enabled), or it
ceases to work after a certain amount of time ("times out"). Such
software is not free - if you use it in a lab setting for
many users, or use it past its "time out," you have violated the
||Freeware is actually free - it is software
that is offered by a single individual or non-profit entity, and is
completely free of commercial attachments. Since there is no commercial
interest, sometimes the software is buggy and otherwise not constructed
very well, or the help files are in another language, or absent. However, if you are willing to take a chance and experiment, it can
be worth the trouble. True freeware is marked as such.
||"Free Software" should not be
confused with "Freeware," which is a separate category. Free
software is generally offered by a commercial concern with a vested
interest in your using their product - most commonly a foot in your door
for massive amounts of Internet advertising. Browsers themselves (Internet
Explorer and Netscape) are good examples, as is AOL Instant Messenger.
Since the Internet is dotted with teens and pre-teens with entertainment
dollars to spend, there are hundreds of music software titles that fall
into this category, in an attempt to leverage these consumers (and
their parents) out of their money. Be wary -see Warnings
||This category enjoyed some popularity a few years ago,
beginning to wane, and most of the titles are games. Adware is commercial
but free software - generally fully-functional, but providing a constant
stream of advertisements embedded directly in the software which you cannot turn
off unless money changes hands.
Again - this is by no means a comprehensive
list, and all links are provided without endorsement. A general search will
produce many sites, but general searches for free software often produce a lot
of advertising for the seedier side of the 'Net, so it's not a good idea to turn
students loose on such a project.
||CNET bought out shareware.com a few years
ago, one of the earliest and most active of the download sites. As a
result of its new corporate home, most of the freeware is gone. CNET also
maintains it's download-for-sale big brother http://download.cnet.com/
||Tucows is the stuff of Internet legend.
Unfortunately, like most such ventures, it's pretty commercial now, but
they still have a lot of good free titles.
||zdnet made its name through "The
Computer Shopper," the largest and most popular hard-copy computer
hardware catalog (now defunct). They provide free downloads, but require your email
address for membership - a ruse to get you on a mailing list.
||Completely Free has genuine freeware, and
some commercial shareware titles. Not an extensive library, but less
buried in hype and ads than the others. It has an apparent religious
affiliation - hence the awful MIDI on the splash screen!
||Another commercial download site - probably
not as large as the big guys, but the layout is good.