Free Software To Improve Your Life

Free Software That Will Improve Your Life

There is something about free software that is beautifully amazing. The concept of spending the time to craft something and then giving it away for free in the hopes that it will make you money is a concept that has been amplified by the information age. Imagine a shoe maker spending hours working away on a nice pair of black handmade Italian leather boots and then once he finishes he says to someone “Here try these out, if you like them you can donate money to me, but you don’t have to. And, if you don’t like them throw them out.” This would of course be an absurd business model for most manufacturers however, this is what some software developers do every day.

The biggest difference between the two professions is that once the software is made it is easily duplicated. The shoe maker has to spend just as much time to create a second pair of shoes as he did on the first, all the software engineer has to do is put his software online so that anyone with a computer can duplicate it and download it to their machine to be used. This is one of the amazing benefits we have of living in the current information age and I am constantly grateful for my easy inexpensive access to quality technology.

Dropbox

I’ve been using Dropbox for years and it has improved my life in plenty of ways. Transferring files from one computer to another used to always be a pain, you had to fiddle with a flash drive or attaching the file to an email (hoping that it wasn’t too big). Dropbox is a software that stores all your files in the mysterious cloud and then you can log on to their website and download the file onto any machine you want. If you have the program installed on your computer then you will have a folder that is called Dropbox which stores all the files permanently on your machine. When I used to be a TA in college I would store my grade books on Dropbox which made it easy for me to access them anywhere and I could share them, and other documents, with my TA colleagues. It also gave me peace of mind knowing that if my computer was lost, stolen, or the memory was mysteriously wiped my student’s grades would not be lost. I would hope that everyone who has more than one computer uses this software and if you don’t you’re missing out. If you want to quit missing out go to dropbox.com and sign up.

f.lux

This software is awesome! So, all screens with a backlight give off this awful blue light. Since the backlight is blue your body thinks that it’s daytime. This is fine when it is daytime, but when you stay up late playing video games, watching Netflix, or writing on your blog[1] the brightness of the screen makes it hard for your body to fall asleep. What f.lux does is once the sun goes down the color of your computer screen transitions to a warmer color. This allegedly helps you sleep better and is probably better for your eyes. I put this on every computer that I work on, it has the added benefit of letting me know when I’m at work after dark. You can go to their website justgetflux.com to get the software for you computer. If you have an Android phone you can download a f.lux app to do this to your phone. If you have an iPhone, the software update iOS 9.3.1 implemented a feature called Night Shift which does the same thing as f.lux. Just navigate to Settings->Display & Brightness -> Night Shift and you can set up the scheduling of the transition there. The tint takes a little bit of getting used to so you should try it out for awhile before you determine if you love or hate it.

On a side note I’ve recently setup my monitors at work to use the lowest brightness to help out the strain on my eyes. This takes some getting used to so I just decremented the brightness a little bit, once I got used to that brightness I lowered it a smidgen more and used it until I get used to it again. I repeated this process until my monitor is at the lowest brightness.

Apparently I have a lot of thoughts on free software, who would have thought me being a programmer and all, in order to keep this post to a reasonable length I am going to break it up into multiple parts. Have you used either of these softwares? If so let me know what you think about them. If there are other better free options out there let me know too, although I am very happy with these so far. Also, in case this is something that maters to you, I am not getting any money for advocating these products, I am just a fan of them and figured I would share them with you.

Afterwards

[1] From my recent post history you can see that 2 of these 3 things is a more common reason than the other, I’ll let you come to your own conclusions though.

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