Free (or almost free) Tools


For your pictures:  Ever take a picture and when you looked at it later, there was a fire hydrant or a satellite dish or a billboard that marred the beauty?  InPaint is a small free program which lets you remove unwanted objects.  I first experimented with removing a satellite dish that is on the lawn of my vacation cabin.  No, I didn’t post it that way on the website, I just wanted to see if I could do it.  And I could.  It worked perfectly.  The picture on the left is the “before” picture.  The new dish is on the roof; the old one is on the ground.  In the second picture, I have removed the one on the ground, because I plan to remove the actual dish in the near future.


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InPaint picks color values in the area around the object you are removing and fills the space with those values.  It works well where it is a simple background such as the grass and drive in this picture.  It did not work as successfully to remove a large blue and white ice chest from a picture of the kitchen where very different color values surrounded the ice chest, from the white of the sunlit window to the red, orange, green curtains to the brown table and chairs to the counter in another shade of brown—you get the picture.  So for simple changes, InPaint is a simple program to use and works well.  For more complex changes, spending time with Photoshop is the only answer.  As for me, I’ll just reshoot the picture that showed the ice chest and make sure before I do that there are no unwanted objects visible.

For education and organization:  MobileNoter is a note taking app that works on IPad, IPhone, and Android devices.  It will let you take written or typed notes which you can then sync to the web or to Microsoft OneNote on your computer.  I use OneNote extensively for research and non-publishable writing (journaling, recipe notes, etc.)  Here’s a screen shot of some of my OneNote open to my research for my novel about Elijah.  It’s like a file folder full of pages that I can easily search, copy, email, sync to the web. . . you get the idea.  It is what I consider the most useful Microsoft productivity program.image

For efficiency:  Fences is a useful and free program which separates your desktop clutter into useful categories.  Here are screenshots which give you examples.  The free version works fine for most people, so give it a try.

For fun and education:  Stellarium is a free planetarium for your computer.  You can learn more about the stars you see outside your window.  If you have wanted to explore the heavens, this is a good place to start.  You’ll need to take a little time to set it up after you download it, but once you do, you only need to click on it to see what’s going on in the sky near your locale. 

With the exception of MobileNoter, these are all programs, I have tried and used successfully.  All of them work with Windows 7, Vista, and XP; some also work with Mac.  Try them out and make your computer efficient, educational, and fun. 

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