To make sure that your computer is not compromised and to minimize computer lock-ups or slow-downs, you should only install trusted, well-written software. You should never install software that could compromise the security of your system. One example is Peer-to-Peer file sharing applications (LimeWire, BitTorrent). If not configured properly, you could inadvertently share files that you did not want to be shared, use a large part of the office's bandwidth, or compromise your computer's security. Also, many of these applications include ads or, depending on the source where you download them, may be infected with trojans or spyware. If you need to install software and you are not sure if the software should be trusted, contact your AIT, your department IT, or the Ag Help Desk.
Below is a list of suggested software tools that you can install on your computer to augment the software that comes pre-installed. All of the software and services on the list have been tested and used by AHNR-IT staff. These products are not fully supported by AHNR-IT, but some assistance can be provided. All of the items listed below are free unless otherwise noted.
- Drop.io (web based, http://www.drop.io) You are limited to 5MB for sending and receiving email attachments. This will allow you to transfer files up to 100MB for free. This creates a temporary web link that you can send to others that will allow them to download files that are too large to send through email. Note: Do not use this to send sensitive data.
- Picasa (Windows or Mac, http://www.google.com/picasa) A photo viewer and touchup tool. Picasa is a very fast picture viewer/organizer with some image editing tools. You can remove red-eye and adjust the brightness and contrast of your images.
- Pixlr (web based, http://www.pixlr.com) This is a good Photoshop replacement. It offers high-end image editing tools and is good for those who want to be more artistic with their pictures. No registration is needed. Requires Flash.
- Snipping Tool (Windows Vista or 7, built into Windows) An easy-to-use screen capture tool that is built into Windows Vista and Windows 7. Allows you to draw a box around what you want to capture. Can be found under Accessories on the Start Menu.
- Ctrl-PrtScn or Alt-PrtScn (Windows XP) Ctrl-PrtScn will capture the entire desktop and Alt-PrtScn will capture the active window. The image is place on the clipboard, so it will need to be "pasted" (ctrl-v) into an application such as Paint or PowerPoint to be seen.
- Command+shift+4 (OS 10.x, built into OS 10.x) This is the keyboard shortcut to start the screen capture tool. Use the crosshairs to draw a box around what you want to capture. The image will be saved to your desktop.
- Jing (Windows, http://www.techsmith.com/jing) A free screen capture tool for Windows and Mac. Note that you must create an account (free) with TechSmith to use this software.
- Server Storage (T:) (Windows or Mac, user needs to be part of the Ag Domain) You can store and share files on the AHNR-IT File server. Most will access it by clicking on the T: drive under My Computer. Everyone can read and write to the t:\workgroups\VCE Field Offices folders. Contact the Ag Help Desk for custom storage options.
- Dropbox (Windows or Mac, http://www.dropbox.com) This allows you to keep a folder synchronized between any number of computers. Put a file in the dropbox folder and it automatically copies to the dropbox server and any computers you have installed Dropbox on. Free for up to 2GB of storage.
- Windows Live Mesh (Windows or Mac, http://explore.live.com/windows-live-essentials) Similar to Dropbox, it allows you to synchronize folders between computers. You get 5GB of storage for free, and can choose not to use the cloud for storage. You can also choose any folder and more than one folder to keep sync'ed.
- ZAR (Windows, http://www.z-a-recovery.com/download.htm) Zero Assumption Recovery, attempts to recover files that have been deleted and then emptied out of the recycle bin. Free for image recovery, limited for any other file type.
- Recuva (Windows, http://www.piriform.com/recuva) File recovery tool, freeware, to recover files that have been removed from the recycle bin or from a flash drive/SD card
- CutePDF (Windows, http://www.cutepdf.com) This installs a new printer that will convert anything that you can print to a PDF. You cannot further edit the PDF’s once created.
- Adobe Acrobat Professional (Windows or Mac, VT Software Distribution)This will allow you to edit PDF documents, and create more complex PDF files (forms that a user can fill out). You will need to purchase a license to install this software. You can do so through software distribution.
- Windows Media Player (Windows, built into Windows) It can play back audio and video in a variety of formats; decoders are available for other formats.
- iTunes (Mac, built into OS 10.x) It can play back audio and video in a variety of formats; decoders are available for other formats.
- Quicktime (Windows or Mac, http://www.quicktime.com) Needed to play back Quicktime formatted videos (.MOV files) note: This is usually already installed on your computer.
- Windows Movie Maker (Windows, built into Windows XP SP2 or greater, Vista or Windows 7: Microsoft Update: Live Essentials) Simple video editing. You can create DVD or web sized videos.
- iMovie (Mac, built into OS 10.x) Simple video editing. You can create DVD or web sized videos.
- Handbrake (Windows or Mac, http://handbrake.fr) A video transcoder. It can convert one video format to another.
- KeePass (Windows or Mac, http://keepass.info) A secure way to keep all your passwords in one place. note: Make sure to set a very hard password to open the database, 20+ characters, and make sure not to lose the master password. If you forget the password to open your database, there is no other way to recover the items stored there.
- LastPass (Any browser for Windows or Mac, https://lastpass.com/) Installs as a plug-in for your web browser, and will automatically save any password as you enter them on websites. The next time you visit the site, LastPass will autofill the login boxes for you. Your passwords are encrypted and stored in the cloud. Your passwords are kept in sync across different computers.
Web Browser Toolbar & Plugins
- Google Toolbar (Windows or Mac, http://toolbar.google.com) Good for adding spell checking to web forms (ex. eFARS). Otherwise, there's no real need for any web toolbar.
- Java (Windows or Mac, http://www.java.com) Popular tool used to provide enhancements to web pages. Required to use the Ensemble CMS and Banner. note: This is usually already installed on your computer.
- Flash (Windows or Mac, http://www.adobe.com) Popular tools used to provide enhancements to web pages (animations, some online tools). note: This is usually already installed on your computer.
There are software tools available at http://computing.vt.edu, http://software.vt.edu, and http://security.vt.edu. All of the products listed at those sites are fine to install and use. Please read the documentation before using any of the software.