July 14, 2010

The World Is Your Marktplace!

I wanted to share with you some interesting Internet World Statistics.

If you were to open a convenience store, you would think long and hard about the store's location. It would not make much sense to open it in a remote area with few customers. When you start a website, every person with online access is a potential customer. Have you ever wondered how many people actually use the Internet? Is it a few hundred thousand, a few million or more?

According to the Internet World Stats website, out of a total 6.5 billion people on the planet, about 1/6th of them go online. That is a staggering 1 billion people! Obviously those who could potentially access your website is less than that since for example not everyone speaks the same language. If you are developing a website in English then you have access to at least 330 million people considering just North America. Of course there are many more English speaking countries so that number is much larger.

In addition, consider that there is still the other 5 billion of the population that does not have online access. Every year more people get access to the Internet as the infrastructure is improving worldwide while the cost of access is decreasing. It might be that growth in North America is slowing down but it is increasing rapidly in less developed countries.  Take a look at internet world stats.

July 1, 2010

Is Freeware Safe? How To Be A Smart Downloader.

More and more people are learning about the awesome resource on the Internet known as freeware. Freeware is the shorthand term used to describe free software. Yes, freeware is an amazing resource and I have been an enthusiastic user and promoter since I learned about it years ago.

What I found interesting, though, were the number of people I spoke to about freeware who said that they would never use it because they heard that free software contains viruses. My first thought was that this was just not a true statement. I have been using freeware for years and have never been infected.

However, after giving the idea more thought, I realized that such a concern is not without merit. But to a lot of people, downloading software from the Internet is a scary idea.

How does the average, non-technical person know what is safe and what isn’t? If you do a search on Google for the term freeware, more than 170 million pages are returned. The problem is that if you just start downloading software that looks good, you can get yourself into a lot of trouble.

Yes, freeware can contain spyware, adware, trojans, back doors, key loggers, bots or viruses. So, you should be concerned.

So how do we know how to avoid dangerous software? We can try freeware websites, but some sites will list any and all freeware that they can find just so they can say that they have the largest collection. Some sites list only a subset of freeware by sticking to the popular versions. But popular does not always mean the best and this still does not guarantee safety.

If you want to be a smart downloader, I have found that there is no substitution for old-fashioned research. There are two sources you need to find to gather enough information to be an informed consumer of freeware. The first source is message boards -- also known as forums or news groups.

Message boards are a great place to learn about people’s experience with a particular piece of software. Believe me when I say that if someone is unhappy, they will eagerly let everyone know about it. But be sure not to read only one or two people’s experiences. Some people just don’t know what they are doing and even though their own ignorance may be at fault, they are quick to blame the software.

The second source of information is websites that test a wide range of software themselves before posting and sharing it with the world. You would think that everyone posting software would do this. But as stated earlier, most are concerned with quantity of software and not quality. So how do you find a website that you can trust? Part of it is just knowing the history and the background of the different websites and this, again, is learned via research.

There is a lot of great freeware out there but you need to be a smart downloader. Do your research.
Personally, I download the majority of my freeware from C-Net. All software is tested and free of spyware, viruses, etc. I haven't had a problem in the many years I have been a C-Net user. Please leave a comment about your use and experience with freeware. Happy Downloading!
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