Help me think of fun freeware for a gift computer
October 4, 2008 12:47 AM   Subscribe

I won a computer at work. I'm giving it to Mr. Mustachio tommorrow night. What are some fun freeware prorams and Firefox add-ons I can install before I give it to him?

So, we had a retired computer lottery at work, and I won an HP Compaq nx9030 laptop. My BF's computer went kablooey several months ago, so I'm giving this computer to him. I've already downloaded Firefox and set the theme to Red Cats (because they look like his much beloved kitty) and now I'm trying to think of other cool add-ons and freeware programs to install to make the machine less nekkid and more fun. I'm pretty broke, so it's going to have to be freeware, Firefox extensions, and fun bookmarks (which I'm already working on, along with trying to decide if I should make the desktop wallpaper a picture of his cat or a crude MS Paint drawing of a penis.)

Any thoughts? I have all night tonight and tommorrow afternoon. He's not very confident with his computer skills, so anything I download should have a nice, intuitive interface. If it makes any difference, he likes all kinds of music, international politics and history, science fiction, and cats. Oh, and crude drawings of phalluses, but I've got that covered.
posted by louche mustachio to Computers & Internet (19 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
I'm giving this computer to him.
I should make the desktop wallpaper a picture of his cat or a crude MS Paint drawing of a penis.

I think I'm in love, but don't tell my wife. He should be pretty stoked on the package so far, here's a few of my recommendations selected from my desktop:

Mozilla Thunderbird (Email Client)
Google Earth
Instant Messenger Client like AIM/MSN/Yahoo Messenger?
Winamp (or music player of choice)
OpenOffice, maybe? Free Microsoft Office clone.

Man, the list could go on and on, and I'm sure you'll get a lot more recommendations. And I don't know about your BF, but the MS paint drawing would crack me up.
posted by empyrean at 1:07 AM on October 4, 2008

Best answer: -CCleaner - temporary files/registry cleaner
-Foxit Reader - million times quicker than Adobe Reader
-K-Lite Mega Codec Pack - lots of video/audio codecs to play movie files

Also see MR Tech's News Page for tons of links to good freeware.

Firefox Plugins:
- Adblock Plus
- Adblock Filterset.G Updater
- Forecastfox
- IE Tab
posted by NeoLeo at 2:34 AM on October 4, 2008

Best answer: I've thrown some non-fun stuff in that could help him be more secure on the machine, although you may already have put these on...just couldn't envision making recommendations without making sure those bases were covered.

If you set him up with a personalised Google homepage, you can put on loads of modules and even divide them up between tabs of your own determination along with applying themes (even custom themes) to each tab.

Firefox extensions I've found very useful:
AdBlock Plus
Image Zoom - allows him to zoom images that may otherwise appear to small compared to the pixel-y penii
McAfee SiteAdvisor - provides a colour-coded rating system for a site's safety when it turns up in a search
StumbleUpon - heck of a way to waste hours and hours and hours...and learn stuff at the same time.

More protection:
Spybot S&D
Lavasoft Ad-Aware
Avira Antivirus

Links to other cool things:
The SF Site
Online Mythology
posted by batmonkey at 2:36 AM on October 4, 2008

hah! i should have previewed, since that took me so long. d'oh!
posted by batmonkey at 2:36 AM on October 4, 2008

Response by poster: OooOOo thanks guise! Keep 'em coming, this is great. It's cutting into my wang-drawing time, but I can deal.
posted by louche mustachio at 2:45 AM on October 4, 2008

Block all sorts of unwanted crap by installing the MVPS hosts file.
posted by dance at 3:47 AM on October 4, 2008

A cat lover? Make sure that this is bookmarked!
SpaceMonger is a simple, visual program that tells you where and how the hard disk is being used.
Foxit pdf reader.
posted by ceri richard at 4:43 AM on October 4, 2008

Best answer: Inkscape if he draws. I use it for eeeeeverything! Editing PDFs, vinyl stickers, CAD drawings, CNC cutouts...and of course 2nding GIMP, cause it's free and it is teh rulez0rx.

VLC will play damn near any audio/video format and convert between them. Same with Media Player Classic. Then go and download a bunch of videos from youtube with keepvid. I suggest this to start.

WinAmp and is (are?) a winning combination. And with StreamRipper32 he can rip music all night from those Shoutcast stations and burn CDs in the morning. Radio Nigel has a direct stream too if you're into New Wave Old Wave Retro Alternative whatever the kids are calling it these days.

Various emulators and ROMs if he plays video games. And old warez.

As for bookmarks maybe icanhascheezburger and cuteoverload? Homestar Runner, specifically SBEmails and Teen Girl Squad? Flash movies like Xiao Xiao and Drum Machine?

PDFCreator for sharing documents. Inkscape opens PDFs too.
posted by ostranenie at 6:19 AM on October 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

And if you've got a huge pipe you can download WikiPedia. That ought to keep him busy for a while.
posted by ostranenie at 6:22 AM on October 4, 2008

I don't know, if I had a new computer I'd sort of hate if it was jam-packed with things I didn't put there myself... but maybe that's just me? If not, I'd focus on the cute/funny stuff that's easy to remove, and not install a billion programs and utilities that may cause him problems and/or get in the way later.

(Crude penises are always good, you're aces on that one.)
posted by rokusan at 6:55 AM on October 4, 2008

Seconding VLC or Media Player Classic. Install one of those and skip the K-Lite Codec Pack. Those codec packs can cause as many problems as they solve IME.

I'd also recommend Launchy and Avast! (the best of the free AV software IMO).
posted by jluce50 at 7:19 AM on October 4, 2008

Most of mine have already been mentioned but I also suggest SmartDefrag, which is a million times better than the Windows default.

If you've already got a Netflix subscription make sure its bookmarked and show him how to watch shows/movies instantly with it.

Also, in case you didn't know, you can easily export your bookmarks to an html file and install them if you want to give him yours (minus your supersecret ms paint crude penis archive).
posted by melissa may at 7:31 AM on October 4, 2008

Google Toolbar for Firefox.
posted by Neiltupper at 7:44 AM on October 4, 2008

Don't forget the boring bits -- something to read PDFs and something to play Quicktime movies.
posted by Idcoytco at 1:40 PM on October 4, 2008

Irfanview for photo editing.
posted by Miko at 5:15 PM on October 4, 2008

Response by poster: OK, I got quite a few of these loaded; I did take care of the security and media needs (VLC rules; I almost forgot to load that one up, thank you for the reminder.) Foxit PDF is great! I had never heard of that, somehow. Inkscape is also much appreciated, I stuck GIMP on there too, but I think he'll like Inkscape better. He doesn't use graphics programs a whole lot, but he does use them.

I'll give youse guys an update a bit later. I can't wait until he sees this.
posted by louche mustachio at 6:27 PM on October 4, 2008

Bridge Builder with the unlocked BB configuration file.
posted by whatisish at 6:29 PM on October 4, 2008

Ooops, I posted too quickly. You want the original (free) 2000 version and replace the installed bridge.cfg file with the one linked above to unlock all levels.
posted by whatisish at 6:39 PM on October 4, 2008

Response by poster: Well, as predicted, he is stoked indeed. I would even go so far as to say wicked stoked.

He did, however, end up changing the wallpaper, as he has to do some computery wi-fi stuff with his neighbor later and was a bit embarrassed to show him this. (NSFW, unless you work in the stall of a junior high school boys' bathroom.)
posted by louche mustachio at 12:33 PM on October 5, 2008

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