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7 Reasons why solar panels are the future of commercial energy production

A number of major corporations have recently begun basing most of their operations on renewable energy, and there’s been a sharp, year-after-year increase in the number of commercial solar installations being commissioned.

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Energy production and expenditure are always important topics for business owners and managers to consider due to the fact that every company requires a certain amount of power or fuel to operate. As a result, entrepreneurs and CEOs are always looking for ways to reduce their companies’ utility bills. Of course, one obvious way to do that is to install a solar panel system that will completely eliminate your company’s monthly electricity expenses in the long-term. 

Despite the fact that installing solar panels makes a lot of common sense and is just the right thing to do overall – both ethically and financially in most cases – the vast majority of the world’s companies still operate using conventionally produced power supplied by their local grid. However, a number of major corporations have recently begun basing most of their operations on renewable energy, and there’s been a sharp, year-after-year increase in the number of commercial solar installations being commissioned. 

With that said, here are seven reasons why solar panels are definitely the future of commercial energy production:

1. General Cost-Effectiveness

Companies can exist for decades or even hundreds of years, continually consuming electricity throughout the length of numerous human generations consecutively. Solar panel systems can be purchased and installed using lines of credit or financing options, which means that the upfront cost for installing solar is becoming cheaper as the market becomes more competitive and more alternative lenders enter the funding space as investors. 

These factors combine to form a scenario in which it makes perfect long-term financial sense for companies to upgrade to solar as soon as possible. In fact, according to Semper Solaris, which is one of California’s leading providers of solar panels, the state has seen a boom in the number of businesses that are ditching the grid and switching to full solar setups. They’ve been able to stand at the forefront of the commercial solar trend in their region by offering a full catalog of solar panel installation configurations that precisely accommodate the energy needs of any business. 

A number of major corporations have recently begun basing most of their operations on renewable energy, and there’s been a sharp, year-after-year increase in the number of commercial solar installations being commissioned.

2. Business Owners are More Progressive Than Typical Consumers

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Since businesses have an undeniable incentive to continually search for refinements that will increase their bottom lines, it stands to reason that entrepreneurs would be more savvy and progressive than the average consumer. 

As such, the rate of technological adoption is much higher among business owners than it is among the general population. After all, the amount that you stand to save as a business is much greater than the small savings that a homeowner would enjoy by making energy-efficient adjustments.

3. Limiting Third-Party Dependence

The concept of corporate self-sufficiency is really taking off because business owners are learning about the dangers of building a home on someone else’s property. Essentially, that means you shouldn’t rely too heavily on any service provider, partner, supplier, or other entity. 

While it’s impossible to stand alone as an island in business, there are certain expenses and risks that you can mitigate or eliminate altogether, and having to pay for electricity for the duration of your company’s existence is one of those unnecessary factors that can be crossed off of the list. 

As entrepreneurs continue to realize the inherent benefits of freeing themselves from grid dependency, it is inevitable that a growing percentage of entrepreneurs will use some of their initial seed funding to pay a solar company for the installation of free and clean energy production systems. 

4. Environmental Responsibilities

Every business has to consider the impact it is having on the environment, not only for moral and ethical reasons, but also for the sake of positive PR. Did you know that Apple is now 100% powered by renewable energy? In fact, many of their customers are attracted not only by the existing popularity of their iPhone and MacBook device lines, but also because they’re one of the only tech manufacturers that can make such a bold claim. 

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Likewise, Google has taken the more indirect approach of buying enough solar energy to offset their annual electricity usage. Since businesses try to emulate the success of their highest-ranking competitors, we’ve seen a wave of other tech companies following suit in switching their manufacturing and distribution practices to rely to fully solar-powered processes. 

5. Solar Radiation is the Most Abundant Form of Available Energy

The sun’s rays are constantly washing over more than 50% of the Earth’s surface at any given time. Mathematicians have calculated the total solar power generating capacity of the entire planet and just a few years of collecting solar energy at a maximum rate would give us enough stored energy to power a civilization the size of our current global society for a span of hundreds or thousands of years. 

As finite natural resources like fossil fuels continue to become increasingly expensive and competitively pollutive relative to the other green products and technologies on the market, it won’t be long before the race to occupy optimal solar-harvesting land begins. When that happens, companies will look for ways to create innovative solar arrays that can gather sunlight from multiple angles within multi-story structures. Companies will also start developing satellite based solar arrays that are able to collect solar energy from more spots in Earth’s orbit because sunlight extends beyond the horizon, which brings us to our next point. 

6. Solar Energy is Available Everywhere, Even in Space

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Most forms of energy production take place under very specific circumstances and in locations that have been specifically designed to carry out complex process. For example, to generate unclear energy, you need a nuclear power plant; to generate hydro-electric energy, you need a dam. Solar panels utilize the sun’s ubiquitous energy without the requirement for any significant building or infrastructure projects beyond the assembly and installation processes. There are very few locational limitations on solar energy, and as it doesn’t require massive investments to establish, utility providers of the future may see the value in establishing regional solar arrays rather than building more power plants. Plus, since many of the world’s richest people are heavily invested in the development of space travel and exploration, eventually we may see the need for space-bound solar power stations or even planetary solar arrays. 

As finite natural resources like fossil fuels continue to become increasingly expensive and competitively pollutive relative to the other green products and technologies on the market, it won’t be long before the race to occupy optimal solar-harvesting land begins.

7. Subsidization Programs and the Collective Effort to Save the Planet

It has been said many times that we are the only species that can destroy the planet, but it’s worth noting that we are also the only species capable of saving it with the power of minds alone. Many politicians and regulators aren’t exactly the most progressive or empathetic people, but they still need to align with public opinion in order to receive votes and support. 

That means that, gradually, as more voters start to hold environmental issues with higher regard, more politicians and regulators will have to appeal to this growing audience to win elections and continue their careers. As a result, we’ve seen many subsidization programs launched to create positive environmental and economic effects, which are goals that every politician wants to deliver on, or at least promise. 

The Bottom Line is: Businesses Want Lower Bottom Lines

In business, the term “bottom line” means the amount of profit you’re making after all expenses, investments and other costs have been taken into account. Energy bills create a huge dent in every company’s bottom line, which can be corrected in the long-term by switching to solar power. 

Technology

4 Best apps and tools that have made our lives easier

If you are here to learn about the best apps and tools that can actually make your daily tasks more manageable, then you have come to the right place.

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Photo by Neil Soni from Unsplash.com

We are always looking for tools and software that will make our daily grind a bit easier. Fortunately, every day, different tools and apps are launched in the market to facilitate our daily tasks. However, with an overwhelming number of applications available out there, sometimes it can become tough to choose a few that are really helpful for you.

But don’t worry, we have got you covered. If you are here to learn about the best apps and tools that can actually make your daily tasks more manageable, then you have come to the right place. Below in this article, we’ve mentioned our tops picks that you need to know about too. So, to learn about these amazing tools and apps, be sure to read this article till the end! 

Grammarly

Whether you are a student, entrepreneur, or a professional writer, you want to make sure that your writing is easy to read and error-free, right? Let’s be real, despite being English our native language sometimes we make silly grammatical and spelling mistakes. An online grammar checker and free Chrome plug-in help you fix punctuation, critical grammar, and spelling errors. With Grammarly’s premium version, you can even check for plagiarism, wordiness, and much more. The premium version costs between $11.66 and $29.95 per month, depending on how you pay. 

Soda PDF

Soda PDF is software that offers users both an online and desktop PDF solution with a range of useful PDF tools. When it comes to the online version of the soda pdf, it enables you to use features on any web browser and device. The desktop version, on the other hand, let you work on your files online by allowing you to download the application. Whether you’re a student or running a business, this application will enable you to convert, create, edit, split, merge, secure, review, and sign your PDFs on any of your devices. 

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Boomerang for Gmail

This email tool was much needed and is very convenient for all who have their Gmail accounts. Before this Gmail update, we always wished to have a tool that allows us to schedule our mails. Well, it seems likes our wish came true. Boomerang for Gmail will enable you to schedule your emails for a future time and date. Plus, it also keeps your inbox more manageable by scheduling an email to disappear and come back later at a scheduled time and date. Amazing! Right? Now you do not have to worry about your email replies anymore because boomerang for Gmail has got you covered. 

Glympse

This fantastic free GPS locator application is helping friends and family all over the world check in with each other. This application goes far beyond static “check-ins” or a simple map showing your location. It allows both Android and iPhone users to update their status quickly so they can let their online friends know about their real-time movements on this dynamic map, but for a set period. Now your spouse can know what time you are expected to get back home from your work. Moreover, you can also request the location of your teenager kid without invading their privacy. 

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Technology

Gay social network Blued highlights U=U in #WAD2019 campaign

Blued has set out to combat stigma and discrimination of people living with HIV by highlighting the advocacy’s most revolutionary message to date: U=U.

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For this year’s World AIDS Day, the world’s leading gay social app Blued has set out to combat stigma and discrimination of people living with HIV by highlighting the advocacy’s most revolutionary message to date: U=U (Undetectable equals Untransmittable).

Presented in 2018 during the 22nd International AIDS Conference, in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, the PARTNER (Partners of People on ART: a New Evaluation of the Risks) 2 study, which tracked 783 gay male couples for 8 years, discovered that “no HIV-positive partner with an undetectable viral load infected his HIV-negative sex mate through 77,000 episodes of anal sex without condoms”.  

The report further discusses:

“The analysis involved 783 gay couples at 55 clinics in 14 European countries; 89% of initially HIV-negative men were white. When they entered the study, HIV-negative men had a median age of 38 years and had practiced condomless sex for a median of 1 year. During 1.6 years of follow-up, these men had a median of 43 condomless sex acts per year and an estimated total 76,940 sexual encounters without condoms. Initially HIV-positive men had a median baseline age of 40 years, had taken ART for a median of 4 years, and 98% reported at least 90% antiretroviral adherence. Only 2% of HIV-positive men said they missed ART for more than four consecutive days.”

This message continues to be relevant in the Philippines, with new infections exploding by 208% from 2010 to 2018, versus the global decline by 18%. The most vulnerable demographic are men who have sex with men, aged between 15-34. 

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With a lack of access to HIV resources and testing facilities, coupled with miseducation and stigma, the numbers to continue to rise among this segment of the population.

Blued is the world’s largest gay social network with more than 40 million users around the globe and over one million users in the Philippines. Blued positions itself as a social media mobile application that allows the LGBTQI community to discover and share geo-localized content (friends, events, news, talent shows, et cetera). Blued eyes to improve the quality of life of the community around the world through its strength in mobile technologies. 

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NEWSMAKERS

Race-based discrimination, stereotypes still ubiquitous in online communities and mobile apps

The degree to which racial and ethnic minorities perceive race-based partner selection as racist often gets overshadowed by “personal preference” narratives.

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Race-based discrimination and stereotypes are ubiquitous in the online communities and mobile apps that gay and bisexual men use to search for sexual and romantic partners, research indicates.

But because racialized sexual discrimination – also called sexual racism – is a relatively new area of study, researchers currently don’t have a tool for measuring its impact on the well-being of men of color who use these websites, according to University of Illinois social work professor Ryan Wade.

Wade and Gary W. Harper, a professor of health behavior and health education at the University of Michigan, have developed a scale to help researchers better understand how the psychological well-being of ethnic minorities is affected by RSD experiences.

Wade presented their latest research on the topic at the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association in Philadelphia on Nov. 6. He and Harper are the co-authors of a new study, a comprehensive review of prior research on RSD that was published recently in the American Journal of Community Psychology.

Wade and Harper found that RSD emerges in a variety of forms and contexts in these online communities and, less often, when men meet potential partners in person. These include prominent statements in users’ online profiles that express inclusionary or exclusionary racial preferences for potential partners.

The researchers note that these race-based preferences – usually expressed by the white majority seeking to exclude people of color – are a common part of the narrative within these online spaces.

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However, the degree to which racial and ethnic minorities perceive race-based partner selection as racist gets overshadowed by these personal preference narratives, Wade said.

Whiteness is the hallmark of desirability for some participants in these networks, and some researchers have called race-based partner selection “the new face of racism in online sexual and dating networks of gay/bisexual men,” according to Wade and Harper’s study.

RSD also emerges in statements that reject, erotically objectify or denigrate men of color and perpetuate stereotypes about their perceived sexual prowess, sexual roles or physical attributes.

Wade and Harper hypothesize that exposure to these experiences may foment feelings of shame, humiliation and inferiority, negatively impacting the self-esteem and overall psychological health of racial and ethnic minorities.

“We ran a series of focus groups to talk about this phenomenon, to determine the different domains it includes and to identify RSD-related experiences that could be measured,” Wade said.

Using information gathered from focus group participants, Wade and Harper developed a scale of RSD that categorized men’s experiences into four domains – exclusion, rejection, degradation and erotic objectification.

The scale consists of 60 items that assess a broad scope of unique RSD experiences across all four of the hypothesized domains, accounting for the effect and frequency of these experiences and the perpetrator’s race.

“RSD perpetrated by in-group members – people of their same race – came up as a major point in our focus group discussions,” Wade said. “Participants discussed how being discriminated against by people of their own racial or ethnic group hurt in a unique way, so we wanted to account for that too when developing the scale.”

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The overall impact of any given RSD experience is measured by multiplying the frequency and effect scores for each domain, Wade said.

To test the scale, Wade and Harper launched a project called ProfileD, in which they recruited young gay and bisexual black men ages 18-29 through social media to participate in an online survey about their RSD experiences.

Data from more than 2,000 participants who consented to be in that project were used in preliminary analyses of the scale.

Discrimination among apps users is not exactly new.

In October 2019, for instance, a study found that Grindr, the most popular dating app for gay, bisexual, two-spirit and queer men, had a negative effect on men’s body image, especially when it came to weight. The study also found that apart from weight stigma, body dissatisfaction stemmed from sexual objectification and appearance comparison.

Three out of four gay men are reported to have used Grindr.

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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

Is Lara Croft an LGBTQ+ icon?

Lara Croft paved the way for female representation in action games and movies, and in doing so created an icon and ally for the LGBTQ+ community. While her tomb raiding days are still ongoing, the wealth of other games means that so many more people can find characters that resonate with who they are.

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Screencap from "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider" (2001)

Lara Croft is one of the most recognizable and popular characters to ever be created. Whether fans know her from the classic PlayStation games, from the Angelina Jolie films, or even from the remake with Alicia Vikander, Lara Croft is an icon. While female gamers are more aplenty today, back in the early days of gaming, every corner was nearly entirely male-dominated. So Lara Croft was created to appeal to every gamer. As such, she fell between the two demographics and became a broad church to many, but a very niche fandom for some.

While the tomb raiding heroine offers some much-needed female representation in the action genre, is she also an LGBTQ+ icon?

Who becomes and who doesn’t become a queer icon is unpredictable, but since her debut in 1996, Lara Croft has proven she has the mettle to do more than just raid tombs. Action games are coded with high masculinity, so offering a female counterpart helps to take some of the testosterone out of the equation and offer a different kind of character. It has been well documented that LGBTQ+ identifying people are more likely to choose the female character in games – from Princess Peach to Coco Bandicoot and Eevee.

Women in games are often underappreciated, which helps the LGBTQ+ community identify with them. The disregarding of traditional femininity to be an adventurer also bridges the gap towards androgyny. Lara Croft eschews what is expected of her to do what she really wants to do – a trait that is both admirable and holds a deeper meaning for a lot of LGBTQ+ members of society.

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But, while there has been wider representation as of late and a more welcoming eye on all communities since 1996, Lara Croft and the strength she embodies still pervades in all forms of gaming today. As the Lara Croft Tomb Raider slot game at LeoVegas Casino shows, that utilises popular themes, artwork, and motifs from the franchise, the theme is still a popular one, still succeeding in offering something different for players. The fact that so long after her debut, and with so many more options available, Lara Croft is still the go-to franchise for many people, helps to prove her appeal.

While some of the marketing may look at Lara Croft through a male lens and focus on her physicality, for queer people, the adventurous nature that contrasts with this image helped cement her as a heroine. The 2013 reboot, written by Rhianna Pratchett, strands Lara on an island with nobody else except Samantha. Her mission becomes to keep Samantha safe and illustrates the true power in their sisterhood.

Lara Croft paved the way for female representation in action games and movies, and in doing so created an icon and ally for the LGBTQ+ community. While her tomb raiding days are still ongoing, the wealth of other games means that so many more people can find characters that resonate with who they are. There wouldn’t be as much representation across gaming had it not being for Lara Croft and the temples she raided, and the doors she unlocked.

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NEWSMAKERS

Facial recognition software has a gender problem

A study found that facial analysis services performed consistently worse on transgender individuals, and were universally unable to classify non-binary genders.

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Photo by Pierrick VAN-TROOST from Unsplash.com

With a brief glance at a single face, emerging facial recognition software can now categorize the gender of many men and women with remarkable accuracy.

But if that face belongs to a transgender person, such systems get it wrong more than one third of the time, according to new University of Colorado Boulder research.

“We found that facial analysis services performed consistently worse on transgender individuals, and were universally unable to classify non-binary genders,” said lead author Morgan Klaus Scheuerman, a PhD student in the Information Science department. “While there are many different types of people out there, these systems have an extremely limited view of what gender looks like.”

The study comes at a time when facial analysis technologies – which use hidden cameras to assess and characterize certain features about an individual – are becoming increasingly prevalent, embedded in everything from smartphone dating apps and digital kiosks at malls to airport security and law enforcement surveillance systems.

Previous research suggests they tend to be most accurate when assessing the gender of white men, but misidentify women of color as much as one-third of the time.

“We knew there were inherent biases in these systems around race and ethnicity and we suspected there would also be problems around gender,” said senior author Jed Brubaker, an assistant professor of Information Science. “We set out to test this in the real world.”

Researchers collected 2,450 images of faces from Instagram, each of which had been labeled by its owner with a hashtag indicating their gender identity. The pictures were then divided into seven groups of 350 images (#women, #man, #transwoman, #transman, #agender, #agenderqueer, #nonbinary) and analyzed by four of the largest providers of facial analysis services (IBM, Amazon, Microsoft and Clarifai).

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Notably, Google was not included because it does not offer gender recognition services.

On average, the systems were most accurate with photos of cisgender women (those born female and identifying as female), getting their gender right 98.3% of the time. They categorized cisgender men accurately 97.6% of the time.

But trans men were wrongly identified as women up to 38% of the time.

And those who identified as agender, genderqueer or nonbinary – indicating that they identify as neither male or female – were mischaracterized 100 percent of the time.

“These systems don’t know any other language but male or female, so for many gender identities it is not possible for them to be correct,” says Brubaker.

The study also suggests that such services identify gender based on outdated stereotypes.

When Scheuerman, who is male and has long hair, submitted his own picture, half categorized him as female.

The researchers could not get access to the training data, or image inputs used to “teach” the system what male and female looks like, but previous research suggests they assess things like eye position, lip fullness, hair length and even clothing.

“These systems run the risk of reinforcing stereotypes of what you should look like if you want to be recognized as a man or a woman. And that impacts everyone,” said Scheuerman.

The market for facial recognition services is projected to double by 2024, as tech developers work to improve human-robot interaction and more carefully target ads to shoppers. Already, Brubaker notes, people engage with facial recognition technology every day to gain access to their smartphones or log into their computers.

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If it has a tendency to misgender certain, already vulnerable, populations that could have grave consequences.

For instance, a match-making app could set someone up on a date with the wrong gender, leading to a potentially dangerous situation. Or a mismatch between the gender a facial recognition program sees and the documentation a person carries could lead to problems getting through airport security, says Scheuerman.

He is most concerned that such systems reaffirm notions that transgender people don’t fit in.

“People think of computer vision as futuristic, but there are lots of people who could be left out of this so-called future,” he said.

The authors say they’d like to see tech companies move away from gender classification entirely and stick to more specific labels like “long hair” or “make-up” when assessing images.

“When you walk down the street you might look at someone and presume that you know what their gender is, but that is a really quaint idea from the ’90s and it is not what the world is like anymore,” said Brubaker. “As our vision and our cultural understanding of what gender is has evolved. The algorithms driving our technological future have not. That’s deeply problematic.”

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Technology

Are you trying to find a safe software site? Look no further than these

We have chosen five websites that host software on their servers and is available to download 24/7. This not only makes it easier to categorize them correctly and more comfortable to choose the exact software you need.

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All the computers we need software to meet various requirements. For years, many software businesses and many skilled developers have produced some excellent programs to make our lives easier.

Having said that, it isn’t always easy to find the right software that we need, even when you believe you have found the right fit. It comes with some caveat; it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find safe access to the software you need. As this process becomes more difficult, people tend to find one trustworthy source and stick with it.

We have chosen five websites that host software on their servers and is available to download 24/7. This not only makes it easier to categorize them correctly and more comfortable to choose the exact software you need.

There is another crucial aspect of those software download sites; they can scan all the software programs on their websites to ensure they have no spyware or viruses attached. Nearly all the suggested sites have an existing user community, who evaluate the software and give you their feedback. This information will allow you to make the most informed decisions possible you can make an informed decision before you download and files.

#1 Rocket Files

First on our list is a site called RocketFiles.com. They are among the most moderated sites on the internet. Despite the fact that they are relatively new to the market, they are quickly building a solid reputation for being a reliable and safe source for free software downloads. They offer software solutions for Mac, PC, and mobile phones. Rocket files base most of their recommendations on what software is most prevalent in any given category. The site provides a thorough review of each and every piece of software they recommend. The site also has many other useful features that include how-to articles and practical guides to other aspects of computing. Every review on the website is carefully vetted and verified, all software contained in this site will only include fully approved software ratings.

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#2 QPDownload

QPDownload is a new player on the market, even though they may not be as famous as some of the sites on this list. They are developing a solid name for producing some of the most reliable and safe software downloads on the market. All their software is thoroughly vetted, and they present it free of charge. The software database is extensive and still very well designed. They pledge to find a solution to what you are looking for, if you are unable to find the correct software, there are sure to be many practical options available. Do yourself a favor – check out one of the Internet’s fastest growing software portals, and you will not be disappointed.

#3 Download

Download.com is one of the original and biggest software download sites. It’s the most beloved of its kind and was built around 14 years ago. This site is maintained by CNet, one of the essential names in Tech News and reviews on the internet. It has an extensive repository of software for all kinds of platforms like Linux, Mac, and as Windows as well as Mobile Applications. They also incorporate web-based services and applications. Their Software segment boasts over 100,000, try-first, shareware, and freeware downloads.

Downloads are usually rated and evaluated by readers and contain a review of the file provided by the software developer. Designated users can also submit reviews and ratings of the products they have downloaded.

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#4 FileHippo

FileHippo.com is fast becoming a favorite freeware download websites for new users. They offer many freeware options and shareware. It additionally provides the FileHippos own Update Checker, a little program that examines your computer for any previously installed software from the FileHippos site, and they recommend possible updates for it. Keeping a computer’s software functionally up to date is an essential step in maintaining your computer’s security.

#5 ZDNet Download

ZDNet’s Directory claims to be the largest source of free downloadable software. Including software compatible for Mobile, Windows, Mac, and other systems, ZDNet’s Software portal is among the best around for the provision of specialized software. They have been busy over the last few years, they have focused on providing a better selection of software to their users. Thye now lists both shareware and freeware.

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