Ira Wilsker's archive

Some time ago, I wrote about sources of free academic classes and free college textbooks. Since writing that column, the selection of free courses and textbooks have grown exponentially. Three of the major providers of free academic resources are Khan Academy, Flat World Knowledge, and Apple’s iTunes University.

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Microsoft is one of those companies that many of us have a love-hate relationship with. Despite some possible ill will toward Microsoft based on our experiences with Vista, BOB and a myriad of other software issues, Microsoft does have a kind and generous side when it comes to producing and releasing numerous pieces of useful software for free.

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 For a few years now, there has been a dramatic increase in online “deal” Web sites where subscribers can get bargains on a variety of products and services. These “deal a day” Web sites typically offer (for a fee) localized coupons or gift certificates good for dining, beauty services, auto repair, cosmetics, cosmetic dentistry and a variety of other goods and services. The defacto standard is “half price,” but I have seen discounts offered in excess of 90 percent.

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I get a lot of requests from individuals on how to accomplish a myriad of tasks using popular software. I also get requests from individuals asking for help creating Web pages, or writing computer programs in a variety of computer languages. Now there is an unusual free resource that can give everyone detailed instructions on how to complete his selected tasks. While there are many free online help and tutorial services, what makes this one unusual is that it is mostly based on still images (screen captures), with only a small amount of text explaining each image.

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Just as the automakers announce their new offerings every fall, so do the major security software publishers. In recent days, I have seen announcements and promotions for the 2012 offerings from Kaspersky, AVG, Panda, and TrendMicro. 2012 editions from McAfee and Norton may be available by the time that you read this. With each new model year, just like the automakers, the computer security software companies typically offer more features and improved performance.

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