Big brands dominate today's software market, making it terribly difficult for newcomers to gain a foothold. But a new breed of coder is winning users over by simply giving programs away--and that's where you stand to benefit. Freewareis neither crazy business thinking nor inadequate software that couldn't find buyers. Some freeware is excellent--and it will get the job done without costing you a penny.
Surf over to FerretSoft (http://www.ferretsoft.com), and take your pick from eight gems that make hunting for information on the Internet faster and more efficient. Top titles include EmailFerretPRO, which prowls various e-mail databases for addresses you want; PhoneFerretPRO, which does the same for phone numbers; InfoFerretPRO, which allows you to search for news from CNN, Time and more with just one click; and WebFerretPRO, which hunts in multiple search engines simultaneously for the information you want.
Or you can head to Conducent (http://www.conducent.com), for such goodies as Reuter Personal Stock Monitor for tracking ticker movements; Vulcan FinanceCalc97, which allows you to use 14 high-powered financial calculators; and Debt Relief, which helps you create a debt-elimination plan.
And don't miss Alexa (http://www.alexa.com), a plug-in that works with both Netscape Navigator and Microsoft Internet Explorer. It allows users to navigate the Web a bit faster, but more important, it offers "Site Stats," one-click information on how much traffic a site gets and how fast its servers are. Download it, then check out your competitor's sites--and your own. It even lets Alexa users vote on a site's value; those numbers will be yours to see with the download.
To contact Robert McGarvey, e-mail him at email@example.com.