Category Archives: Computer Bytes

Free and Clear

by Bill Scobie

Free Video Editors

There are some good free video editors on the Mac — you don’t have to pay for high-end software if your needs are mostly to trim clips, assemble clips into a storyline, lay over music or other audio, correct colors or insert transitions between clips. Various ones to look at include: Davinci Resolve 12.5 atblackmagicdesign.com/products/davinciresolve (the Studio version costs nearly $1,000 so go for the free one); OpenShot at openshot.org, which has a PC version also; Shotcut at shotcutapp.com, also with a PC version; and there is always Blender at blender.org, which, though geared towards 3D creation, can also handle video editing.

Free Office Suites

If you don’t have to have Office or don’t want to get caught on the subscription treadmill called Office 365, you might want to check out a few other free office suites. Anyone with a google account should try Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides to see if their word processing, spreadsheet, or presentation needs can be met right there. It works best if you have an internet connection. If you would rather run the software on your computer, install LibreOffice from libreoffice.org. There are Mac and Windows versions reminiscent of the layout of older editions of Microsoft Office. A final online collaboration oriented suite is Zoho Docs at zoho.com/docs, and if you are careful you should be able to find their free plan, good for up to 25 users.

No Banners, Please

On a Mac, you might decide you want to hide that big banner of an OS update to Sierra. Simply right-click or hold down the Ctrl key and clicking anywhere in that banner and regular click or left-click on Hide Update.

You Don’t Know Me … Oh, You Do

Someday you might want to see how much information a site can collect from you and your mouse pointer. When you are ready, visit clickclickclick.click (yes, that domain really does end with “dot click”; it is one of the many top-level domains other than the dot com). Run it for a bit, switch away to something else, move your pointer around, and read what they are finding out using JavaScript. The only real way to stop this data gathering is to block scripts, and then you may find out how many sites lose functionality.

In Windows 10 there are many privacy-related settings scattered around in different settings panes. Luckily, there are some third party apps to help manage them. Spybot makes Anti-Beacon at safer-networking.org/spybot-anti-beacon, good on Windows 7 through 10, to pull many settings together. If you want to work with XP or Vista you should look at Windows Privacy Tweaker from phrozensoft.com/2015/09/windows-privacy-tweaker-4.

Questions? Call Bill Scobie of Scobie.Net, fixing computers and networks for small businesses and home. 628-2354 or bill@scobie.net.