All great online tools and resources cost money, right? Wrong.
If you look carefully, you’ll discover some great tools and resources that are free to the general public. Although we may all work in various businesses/industries and require precise technologies, there are a few online services that are useful to the average user.
Relating to digital media and security particularly, here are a few free tools and resources I picked out myself:
Cross-platform Multimedia Player -- VLC Media Player
While Windows and Mac computers customarily have Windows Media Player and QuickTime pre-installed, respectively, there are some video formats not supported by these media players. With a variety of both outdated and newly formatted video codecs and file types out there, having a video player that “plays it all” sounds too nice to be true. Fear not however, because VLC Media Player does just about that--plus most image and sound file types too! Check out their list of playback features.
VLC Media Player is a free and open source cross-platform multimedia player and framework that plays most multimedia files as well as DVDs, Audio CDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols. It’s quite simple, fast, and easy to use. VLC Media Player has versions for Windows, Mac OS X, Android, and iOS and their website also upload extensions that can be downloaded as add-ons to the program for niche purposes. A video not loading properly on your computer’s media player? Give this program a shot.
Your computer already contains a bunch of pre-installed text fonts. Unless your computer somehow doesn’t have this font, you should be reading this blog post in Myriad Pro font. There are plenty of fonts to choose from and for ordinary written documents, we know the favorites: Times New Roman, Arial, Calibri, etc.
But for graphic designs that ought to include text that you really want to stand out, are there other unique fonts you can use? Yes, indeed you can. There are actually several users that design their own custom fonts and share it online. Some sites contain downloadable fonts that come at a cost. Others don’t, thankfully. Most websites allow you to display the font of your choosing via sample text that you can type in. Search through these sites for fonts based off of existing popular ones (check out the Star Wars font or the Walt Disney one) or entirely custom-styled ones.
Keep in mind that if you use a downloaded font in textual format (such as an email, blog post, instant message), others can’t view the text in its custom font unless they too have it downloaded. Custom fonts should be used and exported into image/video formats or physically printed.
Here’s a few free font website resources I’ve come across:
HD Images with No Copyright
Ahh, copyright. It protects your images from be stolen but prevents you from “borrowing” others. Well instead of having to rummage through Google Image results or worse…Microsoft clip art…to find pictures for your blog post or PowerPoint presentation and worry about it being copyright-protected or watermarked, there are other solutions. There exist websites out there that offer various media for no charge, and for your own commercial use.
Here are a handful of resourceful websites that provide great quality, high definition images for free public use:
Audio Editor and Recorder -- Audacity
Most digital audio editing tools are either costly or limited in function. Audacity, on the other hand, is a free open source digital audio editor and recording computer software application with a variety of useful functions. It has versions for both Windows and Mac OS X.
With Audacity, you can perform tasks such as cutting, copying, splicing, and mixing audio pieces of various formats as well as changing the pitch, speed, or adding a variety of effects to alter the sound as you’d like. Audacity can be helpful in editing/combining audio bits before adding it to a video, making edits to podcasts before posting, censoring language with sound overlays, trimming music before burning a CD, making live recordings, or just about any basic to intermediate level of audio-related tasks. The Audacity team also constantly adds patches to the program for better performance and new features.
Virus/Adware Removal Program -- Malware Bytes
Popular virus scanning and adware removal programs such as McAfee and Norton are effective, but costly. Although it is no replacement for a full-security computer system, Malware Bytes does a great job of removing worms, trojans, rootkits, rogues, spyware, and other dangerous malware from your home PC. Downloading the newest version and running a full system scan every now and then can help remove any harmful files from your computer.
Website Safety Check -- McAfee SiteAdvisor
McAfee, a company bought by Intel in 2011, sells computer security software for protecting your computer from all forms of threats, especially via the internet. It also has a SiteAdvisor software for sale which provides safety/security-related information about websites as you browse the web.
There is also a specific McAfee SiteAdvisor webpage on the McAfee website that performs this task for free. Visit this page, simply paste in whatever sketchy website URL into the box, and hit “Go.” It’ll then take you to a page with a safety rating, user feedback if applicable, and other details such as downloads and links. Although it may not always give you a perfectly accurate rating, especially for newer undiscovered sites, it’s a great tool to use on websites that you suspect might be harmful to your computer before you browse through them, click any links, or download any files.
Online Media Converter -- Online-Convert
Whether it’s converting a Mac-compatible MOV video into a Windows-compatible WMV video, converting a PDF into a DOC for editing, converting a AVI video to a GIF file to upload to your webpage, switching a WAV recording into a compressed MP3, or changing an old cell phone’s 3GP video file into a MP4 type for viewing, the list of conversion possibilities and their purposes is continually growing, often annoyingly. Different technologies being created by competing companies can create this conundrum as well as simply outdated file types being replaced by better ones.
There is plenty of software for various file conversion purposes but they are often costly or even worse, a scam altogether. Online-convert is a site I’ve found to be useful for a large variety of conversion purposes. In addition to being able to search for supported file types on the website, you can also see from the homepage that there are 7 converter modules: audio, video, image, document, eBook, archive, and hash. Clicking any of the module category’s dropdown boxes will give you the list of conversion options and for video, it’ll even list out specific devices that certain video types are optimized for. You can upload the file you wish to convert from a drive or even paste in the URL of the file if it is on the web. Depending on the conversion type, you may also be given extra options for more customization such as screen size, audio quality, color type, etc.
Digital media and security are also core components of your website’s design and development. Contact us today to see how we can help you create a website and engage your target users!