Monday, March 20, 2006

Free Stuff, Revisited

Note: This entry appeared in my original blog, "Home|Work"

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the various pieces of free software that you can get out on the Web. I included a variety of titles with which I have personal experience.

Since that time, in the course of my usual Web surfing, I've come upon a great site who's owner keeps track of and reviews a ton of free and for-pay software, websites, support options, you name it. He maintains a variety of "Best" lists which he updates periodically. He also sends out a monthly newsletter with his most recent discoveries. The site is called Gizmo Richards' Tech Support Alert and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to make their computer work just a little (or a lot!) more like they want it to.

Through the resources on Gizmo's site I was able to locate the software package called "Hamachi", a third-party-mediated virtual private network (VPN) system for Windows and Linux. I had been wanting to set up a VPN for quite some time, but the difficulty of doing so always put me off. Every time I started looking at it, I would quickly become lost in the esoterica of the networking world. For those who've never considered doing something like this (or who said VPN? Huh?), the benefits of having this available to me would be that when I'm away from the home office, I could still connect with my desktop machine and retrieve information from there.

Hamachi cleared up the confusion. This software is as easy to install as any other piece of software -- just click and go! The help doesn't stop with the installation. The first time you start up the package, it takes you through a tutorial which should be sufficient to get this working for anyone. Now that I have this installed and working on my various computers, I can easily connect to my home computer even though it is sitting on my desk practically on the other side of the country. Now I am a truly mobile worker. I no longer have to make sure that I copy all of the necessary files to my laptop before I walk out of the house. Check it out if you ever have a need to connect back home when you are out on the road.

That's about all for tonight. Once again, I'd love to hear about any great free software you might find out on the Internet. Drop me a line to let me know.

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