TMCnet Feature
April 30, 2020

The Unsung Heroes of the Work-From Home Lock Down Menace

 Along comes another global pandemic, which seems to occur on a big scale every ten years,(although never on the scale of the COVID-19 virus) and you are stuck at home on lock down. You decide you are going to write the novel you always planned, or dictate your memoirs, or create a new song, or craft your own videos. However, you will be darned if you are going to pay those massive Adobe (News - Alert) subscriptions, so what do you do? You go to openware and open source programs for suitable (and free) alternatives. Here are some of the pandemic’s unsung heroes for people who are stuck at home.

LibreOffice - Writing and Office Software

Many people say that LibreOffice is better than Microsoft (News - Alert) office. There are many reasons why people believe this to be the case, but the primary two are thus: Firstly, it gives you every tool and function that Microsoft Office gives (plus a few extra). Secondly, the software can be added to, extended and modified by both amateurs and professional programmers. As a result, you get a high quality office set that you can tinker with until it meets your every need. - Video Making, Animating and Video Editing

Possibly one of the most powerful 3D and 2D animators, it also has a slew of functions which includes a very sophisticated video editor. Blender was originally created and used by the people who created Toy Story One, and in 2019, the software had a massive update that has made it more accessible and powerful than ever. The only downside to Blender is that it takes a lot of learning before you can use it to its full potential, but as with most things, if you take it one step at a time and only learn what you need, then you can learn as you go and quickly become a professional video creator and editor.

Audacity - Sound and Music Editing, Sound Production

Definitely an unsung hero because it has evolved into something that serves professionals before it serves amateurs, and this is rather off-putting for most people. Yet, the editing tools and the effects are above and beyond what many professional programs can achieve. The only downside when compared to highly expensive systems is workability. In other words, the more complex your sound/music design, then the more faffing about is needed. Yet, do not let this put you off, especially since Audacity has one of the best noise reduction algorithms in the world. Just make sure you know how to use it correctly first, otherwise your noise reduction effects may go from making your voice crisp and clear, to making it tinny and vacant.

GIMP - An Image Editor

The GIMP program takes some getting used to, especially if you are coming over from Paint 3D, InkScape, or an Adobe product. Yet, it has two massive selling points. The first is that this program has some very sophisticated tools that are almost hidden under the surface. For example, its ability to turn an SVG file into a perfect PNG with no anti-aliasing is a work of brilliance. The second biggest selling point is that the program enables you to achieve very high levels of excellence because it doesn't restrict your working operation. To put it simply, none of its tools have a limit. Do you want to turn the brightness up to the point where everything is white? Or magically select whatever margin of error you wish? Then this tool enables it.

InkScape - A Vector Drawing Program

If you are not used to vector drawing programs, then learning how to become skilled with Inkscape will be as fun as scraping off layers of your skin with a potato peeler. Yet, this free program is easily the equal of every professional vector drawing program on the market. In fact, the only thing that paid programs have over Inkscape is that paid programs are often easier to use and learn. For those of you who are unaware of the power of these drawing programs, they enable images to be shrunk, enlarged, and manipulated without losing a single pixel of quality.

VLC - A Video Player, A Video Recorder

Few people know that VLC also has a slew of record features, but that is because VLC is best known as the world’s most powerful video player. It is the world’s most powerful because it will play almost any file on earth, be it one you illegally downloaded, or a video you pulled from a 50 years old CCTV system. VLC is especially helpful for people who are creating videos, especially videos for console/PC games. It is also handy for watching stuff you have downloaded (legally hopefully, because there is plenty of legal stuff out there to download from torrent websites).

Honorable Mentions

As a final note, during the 2020 there were plenty of companies that helped people by giving things away for free. Verizon Fios updates its promotions every month and gave away some great deals according to Darren Tatch of MyDealsClub, and Pornhub famously gave away free subscriptions to people all over the world. Sega gave away Shogun 2, and Bandai Namco gave away Pac-Man Championship Edition 2. David Williams (from UK TV series, Little Britain) also gave away some of his audio books for kids, and several universities started giving away online courses for free, including the team at

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