spices.jpgIn a recent article I advised everyone to download a second web browser to try or just to have on their computer as a way to get on the Internet if anything should ever happen to their Internet Explorer web browser. In response to that column I received a fantastic email that led me to do this article on how to spice up your computer life.

Sandy: "I just wanted to thank you for your recent article on using two browsers. I downloaded Firefox and have been using it for just a couple of days and I LOVE IT! I've already made it my default browser, something I didn't intend to do at first. It feels like I got a brand new computer! The ways you can customize it are awesome. I've only had a computer for about 4 years (I'm 64 now), and I'm as excited by the new browser as I was when I got my first computer. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!"..... Roger

I wish that all of my readers could be so enthusiastic about using something new on their computer. Even more, I will that all of my readers would be open to trying something new on their computers.

The fact of the matter is that the relationship that you have with your computer is much like a marriage. After awhile things can grow a little stale. You do the same things on your computer everyday and the computer reacts in the same way every day. Checking email and browsing the web can become boring. Luckily, it is easy to put a little spark back in the relationship that you have with your computer. All you have to do is to try something new! The beauty of the current situation is that there are many free programs available. So while spicing up your marriage might mean purchasing a few baubles or dinners, spicing up your relationship with your computer can be cost-free.

Roger did it by simply installing, Firefox, a new web browser. If you would like to try Firefox, it is a free download at www.firefox.com. Firefox is a great browser that is capable of being customized to suit your needs. Another free web browser, Chrome is available at www.google.com/chrome. Choose Chrome if you want to speed up your web browsing. It launches quickly and loads web pages promptly. It also has a very simple and clean interface. Opera is another web browser that you can feel free to try. You can download it at: www.opera.com. Opera lets you easily share your computer files and content and it even lets you access your information from different computers. Because of its advanced features, you will put a little more time into learning to use Opera, but it may be worthwhile.

If you are happy with your web browsing, there are other free programs that you can use to spice up your computing. If you are into digital photography, try Picasa, a free program from Google that will help you edit, organize, and share your photos. (www.picasa.google.com). You can also get an online version of Photoshop for free at www.photoshop.com. Some of these free websites ask you to sign up to use the programs. For example, to get the most out of Picasa you will have to sign up for a Google account. To use the online Photoshop you will be asked to sign up for an Adobe ID. Don't be afraid to give your email address to companies like this that you know are reputable.

If you love music, try Pandora (www.pandora.com) or Screamer Radio (www.screamer.com). Both are free and both will bring the music you love to your computer for free. At Pandora you simply type in some of the songs or artists that you like and Pandora will create customized radio stations that you can listen to on your computer or mobile phone. Screamer Radio brings hundreds of radio stations to your fingertips. Just download the application, choose a station and start playing them on your computer. You can even record Screamer Radio to play back at your convenience or download to a portable music player.

There are many other free programs that you can use on your computer. There are craft programs, to-do lists, free television programs, calendars, home inventory programs, programs to help you print web pages, telescopes to view outer space, and many more. In the Free Stuff area of this website, I have over 75 free programs that I have personally tried and that are spyware and virus-free. These offerings might not be around forever. As companies are trying to figure out how to make money on the Internet, more and more are charging for their programs. So right now is a great time to find a free program.

If you just try one of these free programs every few weeks I guarantee that you will have a better and closer relationship with your computer and that means getting more enjoyment out of your computer investment. Now, as for your marriage - spicing that up may be a little more difficult!