LMMS is comparable to Audacity, but more for editing and not recording. It’s available Windows, MacOS and Linux.
GarageBand is for Apple devices only, and is a digital audio workstation, like LMMS. You can get it for your Apple computer or iOS device, but it is not available for Windows computers. If you encounter anyone offering GarageBand for PCs, beware, it is likely a scam or a virus!
WaveShop is like Audacity, but old-school. Try this one if you like the retro feel, or if you have a very old Windows computer that can’t handle newer software.
Mixxx is more for DJs and mixing together audio tracks. It works on Windows, MacOS and Linux.
If you’re looking to create digital drawings and other graphics, you’ll need to find a suitable software. Adobe Illustrator is the professional mainstay for this. But the pricetag for that is considerable, and I like to promote free software choices. Here are some fantastic free illustration software offerings, for you to try!
Krita is highly regarded as a professional-grade painting program. You’re welcome to install it on Windows, MacOS or linux.
Inkscape is a similar full-featured software, and is also downloadable for Windows, MacOS and Linux systems.
Sumo Paint allows you to draw and create in your browser, so it’s largely OS-independent. Use on your Chromebook, if you like!
ArtWeaver has a free version that you may install on Windows only.
Sketchbook is available for Windows, MacOS, Android and iOS. It has a $20 pricetag if you want it for your computer, but is free to download onto any mobile device.
Microsoft offers two apps for digital art creation, one is Paint 3D and the other is Fresh Paint. These are both free, but also only for Windows.
Adobe Fresco is a freemium offering, for iOS and Windows devices. By freemium, I mean that it starts out free, but as you bump into the limitations of the app, Adobe is ready to sell you the extra features they have locked up. Adobe Fresco is not (yet) available for Android or MacOS.
You’ll find that some photo-editing apps also help with drawing projects, but what I’ve listed here are focused on art creation and likely offer the best tools for that. Enjoy!
PS: Adobe Express is a new free web-based tool to consider. It’s trying to do a lot of things, ranging from photo-editing to graphics creation to helping with your social media posts and videos. It could be a great freebie for any of your graphic design pursuits!
Need help installing a new font? Microsoft offers these steps for Windows computers. Apple has instructions for your Mac here. Chromebook users: Sorry, I don’t see that you can add fonts easily to your devices.
Previously, I have blogged about and discouraged the use of “snake oil software”. These programs promise to work miracles on your computer, but are generally about as useful as the Close Door button in an elevator. But Microsoft has surprised me. They’ve devised a helpful system cleanup tool, containing 0% Snake Oil! Check out Microsoft PC Manager.
This free utility lives in your taskbar. You can pop it open at any time. Its primary function is a small Boost button that quickly clears temporary files and resolves any memory leak (wasted RAM) issues.
You’ll also notice a variety of options for checking for viruses, disabling Startup apps and reviewing your security/updates. These are things you could always access through the Settings Panel or Task Manager. But here in Microsoft PC Manager, they are far easier to locate and understand.
If you try out the Microsoft PC Manager app, please keep your expectations modest. There is no silver bullet out there that resolves all computer slowness. (Give me a call for serious slowness issues!) But this app might make your computer-maintenance duties a little easier, and I can see that it puts very little burden on the computer’s resources.
If you’re installing Adobe Reader to handle your PDFs, you’ll want the free download for Adobe Acrobat Reader DC. But please be aware that even the renowned Adobe company tries to put bundleware on your computer when you get this software. If you are not careful, you’ll install Adobe Reader and a few completely unnecessary apps!
But slow your roll, because this page is designed so you’ll miss the bundleware. If you use that first blue button, you’ll install lots of extras you won’t enjoy.
Make sure to scroll down past that friendly blue button (on smaller screens, you may not have any idea there’s more below!). You’ll soon see the checkboxes for the bundleware that you need to dodge:
The Adobe Genuine Service is unnecessary and uses your computer resources to phone home to Adobe about your software and its licensing. And the McAfee software is shallow shovelware, designed more to advertise their brand rather than protect anything.
Clear all of those checkboxes, and then click the big blue Download button to enjoy a junk-free installation!
Remote-control scammers are dreadful. They get inside your head and your computer, and do whatever it takes to get into your bank accounts. I really hope you can avoid being tricked by these awful people. But in case you find yourself in a jackpot with these jokers, I need to tell you about one of their worst tactics: Locking your computer against you. I frequently get calls for help from my customers that start off with, “A Scammer Locked My Computer!”
If you’ve been tricked into allowing a bad guy into your PC, your screen may look like the above graphic. That means that they have put a password on your computer, blocking your access to everything! Then the crook tries to ransom your computer back to you. I know this situation feels awful, but if this is where you’re at, don’t lose hope. I’ll explain more and describe your escape plan!
First, Some History
Scammers have doing this for a long time now. They usually surprise their victims with this technique when they sense that their spell is wearing off. Their scams usually start with lies and hypnotism, but they resort to brute force and cruelty as a last resort.
Many years ago, this password-locking tactic was extra-easy for a scammer to use. There was a small hidden feature in Windows (called Syskey) that they could turn on with a quick DOS command. And once enabled, only the scammer knew the password to make the computer usable again.
As news of this spread, though, Microsoft assessed the situation. They looked into that particular Windows feature and realized: Hey, what is that file in there for anyway? It’s no longer needed for Windows to run! So they did the right thing: They crafted a Windows Update to remove it, and nowadays, Syskey is no longer usable to lock any computer.
This just caused the scammers to scrounge for another tool, though. Locking a computer against its owner was too effective to give up. And they happened upon a piece of freeware called Lock My PC. Scammers began using this app to continue their extortions.
This App Has Locked My Computer, What Do I Do?
If you are confronted with the above graphic, then your computer comes second. What comes first?
Get off the phone with the scammer.
Turn off or reboot your computer
Contact your bank(s), if you were tricked into paying any money.
Talk to the police, if any large sums of money were stolen from you.
After all of that, we can resolve the Lock issue on your system.
There’s a small bright side to this tool being used to lock computers. The developers of this app are good people, and they do not like that their work is being used for evil. So they have made a way for you to defeat this lock!
Visit this site for their recovery steps. Follow the instructions, submit the number as shown, and wait for them to email you back. When they send you a code, it should work on the locked-up PC to let back you in.
And after you can access the computer again, uninstall Lock My PC from the Apps or Programs list, so you won’t have to ever deal with it again!
I hope this will get you out of a jam, but if you have any troubles with this, or just want help with the process, give me a call and we’ll get through this together.
Need to keep your computer awake? You could adjust your power and screensaver settings, to keep the computer from going into Sleep mode and showing the Lock screen. Or you might try Caffeine.
Caffeine is a small program that you can toggle on and off easily. Its icon lives in your taskbar or menu bar. Double-click it to fill it up with coffee, and then your computer will stay on and lit, until you double-click that icon again.
For some situations, this is a whole lot easier than tweaking your settings in the Settings/Control Panel or System Preferences. If this gadget seems useful, you can download it for free for your PC or your Mac.
If you’re looking to do a bit of design or layout yourself, you do not have to spend big bucks on subscription software. Adobe Indesign & Microsoft Publisher are not the only games in town. There are a lot of free graphic design tools for you to try. Check out these software and apps:
Canva, usable in your browser & available as a download for Windows, MacOS & mobile devices
Here’s another freebie that can do a one-time virus scan on your Windows computer: the Kaspersky Virus Removal Tool. It’s similar to others I’ve mentioned (ADWCleaner, Norton Power Eraser, and McAfee Stinger), and I can recommend it if you want a second or third opinion on how clean your computer is.
Kaspersky Virus Removal Tool can be downloaded from this site. Install the downloaded file and run its scan. Remove anything it finds, or simply close it if it reports nothing suspicious was found. This tool will not interfere with your full-time antivirus.