TOURING SOFTCITY

At first we thought this was a commercial web site masquerading as a public forum. It turns out that’s just what it is, but it’s really terrific, and lots of fun. The place is SoftCity.com, a place to go to try out software, buy it, make comments and learn about new programs.

For example, we clicked on the “SoftCity Café” button and found raging discussions on everything from the Apple iPad to Facebook’s “like” buttons and the new Opera web browser for the Mac. We clicked on a “Creativity” tab and discovered “FontStruct,” a neat little program for creating your own type fonts.

We learned about NexusRadio.com which lets you choose from 11,000 online radio stations and even record the music you hear.  To find out more, we clicked on the reviewer’s name and sent him a message. You can do this with any of their tech experts and reviewers.

The café techies also told us about a free file compression program from 7-Zip.org. We don’t do file compression much, since we use cheap flash drives for storage, and websites like yousendit.com for large files. But occasionally we need to open compressed files that Windows can’t handle; 7-Zip handled them with no problems.

You can earn “soft dollars” at SoftCity to get discounts on products. If you upload your picture to SoftCity and fill out a tiny bit of information about yourself, you get 2500 soft dollars, which can be redeemed at their store, once you earn 6000 points. You can also earn soft dollars for commenting on reviews or submitting one of your own, even if it’s just one sentence.

SoftCity has around 150 free trials of software for Windows, Mac and Linux machines, and some titles for mobile users. Right now, we’re trying out their video converter for iPods and iPads, their PowerPoint quiz creator, and a free website creator. By her second day, Joy earned enough softdollars to buy the video converter for $9, instead of $15.

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