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5 Essential Desktop (and Laptop) Apps You Didn’t Know You Needed

5 Essential Desktop (and Laptop) Apps You Didn’t Know You Needed

It’s easy to forget in a world of Android and iOS, but most people are still rocking some sort of personal computer these days. Everyone should have a list of programs they regularly install on a new system, like a quality web browser and some sort of anti-virus protection. But what about the things you didn’t know you needed? Here’s a quick list of programs you should strongly consider installing, whether you have a massive gaming rig or an impossibly thin ultrabook. They’re there when you need them, and you’ll start to need them more than you might think.

1. VLC Media Player (free)

vlc player

    Forget everything you know about video players. Don’t even bother messing with finicky, bloated apps like Windows Media Player or iTunes. This is the one and only program you need. It plays everything you can possibly throw at it; the developers actually pride themselves at how many different codecs it can handle. You can snag it for pretty much any operating system, and it takes up almost no space. It’s the go-to application for obscure video and audio formats, but VLC’s lightweight nature makes it ideal for mainstream stuff as well.

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    Download VLC at the official website.

    2. XBMC (free)

    xbmc

      If having an all-in-one media center suite is more your style, you might want to go for XBMC. It works on almost every platform, and fully supports remote control (including Xbox controllers, if you have one). The developers are constantly throwing cool new features at the project. Want it to automatically tag and organize your movie library with box art, years, ratings, cast and crew listings, etc.? It can do that. Want it to grab subtitles from the internet for the foreign film you just put on? It can do that too. VLC is a bit better for spontaneous media consumption, but XBMC is the way to go for your established movie collection.

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      Grab the latest release of XBMC on the program’s website.

      3. Facebook Messenger for Windows (free, Windows only)

      Messenger for Windows

        The guys at Facebook don’t always make this perfectly clear, but there actually is a standalone first party desktop app for the site’s Messenger service. The program functions pretty similar to AOL Instant Messenger, and does the job you’d expect it to do. It’s a nice way to keep the chat interface open while being able to navigate away from the actual site on your browser. Facebook has a long ways to go in terms of fleshing out its features, but this is the best solution for the time being.

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        Head over to the Messenger for Windows website to download a copy.

        4. Stardock Start8 ($3.99, Windows 8 only)

        start8

          Those of you who have long bemoaned the loss of a traditional Start menu in Windows 8 should consider checking out Start8. It’s a fully functional Start menu clone that works almost identically to the official thing in Windows 7. No more convoluted paths to shut down the computer or haphazardly searching for the programs you need. In typical Stardock fashion, the program also includes a ton of customization options, and retains the ability to access the Metro UI if you still need to do so.

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          Purchase a copy or download the trial at the Start8 website.

          5. SpaceSniffer (free, Windows only)

          SpaceSniffer

            Over time, every computer tends to get bogged down with unnecessary files. Finding and tracking them down can be a daunting task, but SpaceSniffer makes it easy. This program scans your drive of choice and makes a “map” of its used and free space. You can see what’s taking up precious disk space, and delete it or move it to different drives right on the screen. A must-have for solid state drive users, and recommended still for those of you with normal hard drives.

            Download SpaceSniffer on the Uderzo website.

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            Last Updated on November 5, 2019

            5 Best Language Learning Apps to Master a New Language

            5 Best Language Learning Apps to Master a New Language

            Learning a new language is no easy feat. While a language instructor is irreplaceable, language learning apps have come to revolutionize a lot of things and it has made language learning much easier. Compared to language learning websites, apps offer a more interactive experience to learn a new language.

            The following language learning apps are the top recommended apps for your language learning needs:

            1. Duolingo

              Duolingo is a very successful app that merged gamification and language learning. According to Expanded Ramblings, the app now counts with 300 million users.

              Duolingo offers a unique concept, an easy-to-use app and is a great app to accompany your language acquisition journey. The courses are created by native speakers, so this is not data or algorithm-based.

              The app is free and has the upgrade options with Duolingo Plus for $9.99, which are add free lessons. The mobile app offers 25 languages and is popular for English-speaking learners learning other languages.

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              Download the app

              2. HelloTalk

                HelloTalk aims to facilitate speaking practice and eliminate the stresses of a real-time and life conversation. The app allows users to connect to native speakers and has a WhatsApp like chat that imitates its interface.

                There is a perk to this app. The same native speakers available also want to make an even exchange and learn your target language, so engagement is the name of the game.

                What’s more, the app has integrated translation function that bypasses the difficulties of sending a message with a missing word and instead fills in the gap.

                Download the app

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                3. Mindsnacks

                  Remember that Duolingo has integrated gamification in language learning? Well, Mindsnacks takes the concept to another level. There is an extensive list of languages available within the app comes with eight to nine games designed to learn grammar, vocabulary listening.

                  You will also be able to visualize your progress since the app integrates monitoring capabilities. The layout and interface is nothing short of enjoyable, cheerful and charming.

                  Download the app

                  4. Busuu

                    Bussu is a social language learning app. It is available on the web, Android, and iOS. It currently supports 12 languages and is free.

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                    The functionality allows users to learn words, simple dialogues and questions related to the conversations. In addition, the dialogues are recorded by native speakers, which brings you close to the language learning experience.

                    When you upgrade, you unlock important features including course materials. The subscription is $17 a month.

                    Download the app

                    5. Babbel

                      Babbel is a subscription-based service founded in 2008. According to LinguaLift, it is a paid cousing of Duolingo. The free version comes with 40 classes, and does not require you to invest any money.

                      Each of the classes starts with with a sequential teaching of vocabulary with the help of pictures. The courses are tailor made and adapted to the students’ level, allowing the learning to be adjusted accordingly.

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                      If you started learning a language and stopped, Babbel will help you pick up where you started.

                      Download the app

                      Takeaways

                      All the apps recommended are tailored for different needs, whether you’re beginning to learn a language or trying to pick back up one. All of them are designed by real-life native speakers and so provide you with a more concrete learning experience.

                      Since these apps are designed to adapt to different kinds of learning styles, do check out which one is the most suitable for you.

                      More About Language Learning

                      Featured photo credit: Yura Fresh via unsplash.com

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