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Various applications and tools help with surfing the Internet. Some of these are fundamental, allowing the user to send and receive E-mail or to browse the Web. Others make accessing Web pages quicker. And others provide information not otherwise available. Some of my favorite Internet software is listed below. All of these are available as freeware or shareware and can be downloaded through the links at the software names or from secondary sources found with a good search engine. Links to the sources are for home pages. (For some freeware or shareware, the download pages cannot be readily found through the home pages.)
Note that I am using this software on a PC with Windows 7. Some of this software comes in versions for the Macintosh.
I have mixed feelings about paying for software. I resent paying for shareware that others use for free, and I question buying "purchase-ware" when the capabilities of the related freeware are sufficient for me. However, as a software engineer, I must recognize the need of software developers to earn a living. In any case, read the license. In most situations, freeware and shareware are licensed only for personal, non-commercial use. Personal use does not include use at work. Depending on where the software was created and where you are using it, commercial or work-related use of software contrary to its license might result in civil or even criminal penalties.
[On this Web page (and on some of my other pages), I use certain technical terms that appear as links to their definitions. If you select any of those links, the page of definitions will appear in a separate browser window so that you will not have to keep going back and forth between pages. Once the window with the definitions has opened, selecting a link for a different term will reposition the definitions to that term. However, if that window was in the background when the link was selected, it will remain in the background. In that case, you merely need to bring the definitions widow forward.]
DNS Bench is a tool that scans a large list of DNSs to determine which ones provide the quickest and most accurate results. It also flags those that redirect on errors (something you might want to avoid). Since the quality of DNSs changes with time, I run this every few months. The results allow me to update my Internet setup to use different DNSs. NOTE: Such updates should be done only by experienced Internet users.
Source: Gibson Research Corp
Source: Northwest Performance Software
After releasing several versions of its renamed Mozilla Suite (browser, E-mail and newsgroup client, and other tools), the Mozilla Foundation started unbundling its product. Firefox became a browser-only product, while Thunderbird became the E-mail and newsgroup client. The combined Mozilla Suite was relegated to an internal-only base for the unbundled products.
Although I had experienced the use of Internet Explorer (IE), as a software engineer I much preferred the capabilities of Netscape and the subsequent Mozilla products. The Mozilla browser was especially superior to IE. However, I found that the user interface for Firefox was not as good as the interface of the prior Mozilla browser. Thus, I was happy to learn that a group of Mozilla Suite fans had received permission from the Mozilla Foundation to take the open-source code of the internal-only base and release it to the public under a different name: SeaMonkey.
While not perfect, SeaMonkey is indeed quite good. However, that is true only through version 2.49.5. Thereafter, the development of SeaMonkey followed Firefox in removing the interface for .xpi extensions, of which I use 28. Some of those extensions add capabilities, and others restore capabilities that were removed from the basic browser. For now, I am not updating SeaMonkey to newer versions.
Source: The SeaMonkey Project
Note: Once you install Skype, it will insist on updating automatically whenever a new version becomes available. I am testing a workaround to prevent this, but I do not yet know if it will indeed work.
SocketWatch is the only item on this list of software for which I paid to register. It was available as shareware, but in that form it would synchronize my clock not more than three times in one day. The developer was based in Canada, and the price was quoted in dollars. When I inquired, I was informed that foreign payments had to be in U.S. dollars but that the same number of dollars would be accepted if Canadian dollars were remitted. Since the exchange rate was about $0.65US to $1.00Canada at that time, I got about a one-third discount by having my daughter (then living in Toronto) pay for this and then reimbursing her.
Originally named Locutus Codeware, the developer changed its name to Robomagic Corporation, which evetually went out of business. I archived the installer for the last version of SocketWatch. If anyone wants a copy, send me E-mail.
Many of the bugs in Thunderbird that made me not recommend this application have been fixed. While not perfect, Thunderbird is indeed quite good. However, that is true only through version 52.9.1. Thereafter, the development of Thunderbird followed Firefox in removing the interface for .xpi extensions, of which I use 14. Some of those extensions add capabilities, and others restore capabilities that were removed from the basic Thunderbird. Now, Thunderbird interfaces with Webextensions, for which not all the .xpi extensions I use have equivalent replacements. For now, I am not updating Thunderbird to newer versions.
Apparently, freeware versions of WS_FTP are no longer available. I am still using a "light edition" — WS_FTP LE — that I downloaded in 2000.
Source: Ipswitch, Inc.
Source: Zoom Video Communications, Inc.
I do not list a spam-filtering application. I use a combination of SpamAssassin installed at my ISP's mail server (not on my computer) and an internal filtering system within Thunderbird.
Note that no Web filtering software is listed. For several reasons, however, I most definitely reject the very concept of a Web filter:
For more information on this topic, see my Unrated.
Also note that I do not list AOL Instant Messenger, Facebook, Twitter, or any similar tool. See "E-Mail" and "What's Missing Here" under Surfing the Internet for explanations.
Last updated 12 December 2021
"Internet" Table of Contents
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