Let’s face it. In this day and age of hackers running rampant on the web it is essential for everyone to do the best to
Let’s face it. In this day and age of hackers running rampant on the web it is essential for everyone to do the best to protect themselves and their computers. Surfing the internet without an anti-virus or any kind of protection is not only crazy, it is outright dangerous. In fact, doing so can be compared to you leaving your home or apartment doors wide open – without any locks – and then going to work or on vacation.
Still, anti-virus programs can be expensive to purchase. This is even more so if you have several computers or devices to protect. Luckily, there are many companies out there offering internet protection for no charge at all. These 7 top anti-virus programs for free are some of the very best out there. And they won’t cost you a dime to use on your device.
Free Comes With A Price
As we all know, there is hardly ever anything free in this world without any strings attached; especially programs such as anti-virus and computer protection. So what do these free anti-virus companies really mean then? Well in truth, all of them are in fact trying to make money. After all, that is what businesses and services are in the game for. The companies which give out free anti-virus and protection do so with a few strings attached. For one, most of them will constantly send you notices or messages about the benefits of upgrading. These messages will likely come via emails or pop-ups.Don’t miss reading these 12 Things To Do To Avoid Messing Up Your Computer
Other programs will ask you to install browser extensions and free toolbars. However, they are both not recommended and you should avoid doing so. For one, most anti-virus extensions never really offer any additional functions that you don’t already have. Secondly, the browser toolbars only serve to collect your personal information. In turn, the advertiser will sell that info to others. Lastly, these extensions and toolbars can end up slowing down your devices. Keep that in mind since this is the price you pay for something free.
Avast – Mac, Windows
With an easy to use interface and several useful tools to help you protect yourself from hackers, Avast is a great free anti-virus program to install. You can use for it either Windows or Mac. Avast Antivirus only uses a small level of system resources as well. This is very important since it will not slow down your PC, computer or laptop. Avast Antivirus also has a 99.6% protection rate which is pretty high for a free anti-virus program.
Zone Alarm – Windows
The ZoneAlarm Free Antivirus software comes with many of the features found on most paid programs. It also has a basic free firewall as extra protection. ZoneAlarm has been around for many years now helping deter hackers and other internet intruders from stealing your info. Unfortunately for Mac users, ZoneAlarm only works for Windows OS. ZoneAlarm Free Antivirus also has identity protection to help you protect your personal data. Although it is rather basic, it is still good to have.
Avira – Windows, Mac
Avira antivirus software has one of the highest protection rates on the market for most Anti-virus programs. At 99.9%, Avira antivirus program offers users solid and complete protection. However, those results came from the pro version of Avira. Still, the free version still delivers a great amount of firepower and protection. You can do scans on your devices to check if any virus or malware has infiltrated your computer.
Lavasoft Ad-Aware Free – Windows
Another solid performer in the world of internet protection is the Lavasoft Ad-Aware Free antivirus program. In the pro version testing, Lavasoft’s pro version scored 99.3%. It is only available for Windows users though. Lavasoft is primarily focused on protection from anti-spyware and anti-adware. If you are one of those that detest both of those, then Lavasoft is great option.
Bitdefender – Windows
With its anti-fraud and anti-phishing features to keep you safe on the web, Bitdefender is a great tool in the fight against hackers and malware. The pro version of Bitdefender garnished a 99.9% rate of protection. While the free version may not do as well, it is pretty impressive for a tool that won’t cost you a dime. Plus, the interface is user friendly and easy to use.
AVG – Mac, Windows
Although AVG antivirus has a few extra features you can do without, it still a great tool to add in the fight against malware. The pro version of AVG scored a 99.6% rate which is very impressive. It also only uses a very minimal amount of system resources. The mobile antivirus and system cleanup are some of the extras you can do without. The same goes for some annoying pop-ups asking you to upgrade. Nonetheless, it is a small price to pay – no pun intended – for a free antivirus such as AVG.You may also want to check out the Dangers Of Downloading Free Files From The Internet
Malwarebytes Anti-Malware – Windows, Mac
For surfers of the internet who hate malware – and who doesn’t? – the Malwarebytes Anti-Malware program is a must have. Malwarebytes has been around for many years now helping users defeat web annoying malware. The main focus of the program is getting rid of any adware you may have on your computer. One downside is that you will only get manual capabilities and no real time protection from Malwarebytes unless you upgrade. Yet they do offer you a free 14 day trial to see and use all of those extra functions.
Add Anti-Virus Policy Exceptions
A fun option that occasionally works is creating custom exceptions to the anti-virus solution’s policy. For example, an end user could create an exception that would allow all files with the “.exe” extension to run on the system. As a result, most malware and “hacker tools” would not get blocked or deleted.
This is less common in recent years, but historically non-administrative users had the privileges to disable many anti-virus solutions via the GUI interface. It used to be as simple as right-clicking the taskbar icon and choosing disable. As you can imagine, the skill level required to execute this bypass is low, but the risk to an organization is high.
Terminate Anti-Virus Processes
Some anti-virus solutions consist of multiple services that like to continuously restart each other. That’s when terminating the process before disabling a service can come in handy. Usually the taskkill command can be used. That’s essentially what the Metasploit post module “killav” does.
Stop and Disable Anti-Virus Services
In some cases users don’t have the privileges to disable anti-virus via the GUI, but they do have control over the associated services. If that is the case, then anti-virus services can usually be stopped and disabled. This can be accomplished via services.msc, the “sc” command, or the “net stop” command. However, always make sure to be a good little pentester and restore the services to their original state before logging out of the system. To stop a Windows service issue the following command:
net stop “service name”
To disable a Windows service issue the following command:
sc config "service name" start= disabled
The services.msc console can be also be used to stop and disabled services via a GUI interface. It can be accessed by navigating to start->run, and typing “services.msc”.
Disable Anti-Virus via Debugger Setting
This is a very cool trick that Khai Tran told me about. The original article he referenced can be found at http://blogs.msdn.com/b/greggm/archive/2005/02/21/377663.aspx. I recommend taking a look at it. In short, it says that users have the ability to prevent anti-virus from running by setting a custom debugger in the registry. When the operating system or user attempts to execute anti-virus the specified debugger is executed instead. Very clever, Internet, very clever. Apparently this has been used by malware developers for years. The basic steps for conducting the attack have been provided below. Please note that these were taken from the link above.
- Run regedit.exe
- Go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftWindows NTCurrentVersionImage File Execution Options
- Create a new key (example: calc.exe)
- Create a new string value under your exe. The name of the string value is ‘Debugger’, and the value is svchost.exe (or anything)
Uninstall Anti-Virus Software
Although I don’t recommend uninstalling anti-virus during a penetration test, it can still be considered a valid bypass method. Some solutions may require a password before the uninstall process can begin. In those instances, the password can usually be found in the registry or an ini file on the system. However, other bypass methods are available like the one described within the article link below. It recommends simply terminating the “msiexec.exe” process when prompted for the uninstall password. http://helpdeskgeek.com/help-desk/uninstall-symantec-endpoint-protection-without-a-password/
Execute from a UNC Path or Removable Media
Some solutions are not configured to scan or prevent the execution of malicious binaries from SMB or WebDAV when accessed via the UNC path. It’s strange, but true. As a result, attackers can simply map an evil share containing backdoors, hacker tools etc., and execute malware to their hearts’ content. I guess some people are under the impression that malware can’t be stored on network drives. Similarly, some solutions are not configured to scan or prevent the execution of binaries from removable media such as an SD card, iPod, or USB drive. It’s pretty common to drop evil USB drives during onsite social engineering engagements, so this one scares me a little.
What is antivirus software for a small business in terms of the impact on end results – profits? While we all know that the Internet is still the wild west in many ways as it relates to threats, how does antivirus software actually save money for an organization?
Antivirus software defends against known threats through what are called signatures or against suspicious behavior. It is ultimately about repelling malicious attacks which may result in slow computer performance, lost data, system downtime or other negative outcomes. How does this really affect a small business?
Let’s take the example of a small business with a $1.5M annual payroll. This results in a $750.00 hourly rate across the employee base assuming 50 work weeks. If there is an hour per month on average of productivity lost across the employee base due to a poorly protected network, it would cost the company $9,000.00 per year. It is best for the small business owner to make the assessment of exposure, there is clearly ample motivation to make sure that good protection is in place and always updated.
There are a number of options to making sure that profitability is not impacted in this way. There are on-premise products for antivirus protection from a number of vendors or it can be provided as part of IT Managed Services. The benefit to the latter is not only ensuring that licenses and signatures are up to date, but also having professional services experts in place who know what to do in case of attack.
Antivirus is only one example of information technology that can impact the bottom line of a small business. There are other threats (e.g. Spam, data loss, etc.) and other opportunities such as having the right technology to drive sales, increase productivity and improve efficiency. While each individual area of IT may seem small in terms of impact, taken together they quickly add up and are often hidden. How much time has your company lost from virus issues?
- Antivirus software defends against known threats as well as suspicious behavior
- Without proper defenses, slow performance, lost data and other consequences may cause thousands in lost employee productivity
- Managed antivirus software has the benefit of real-time updating and expertise availability in case of attack
It is not for nothing that you spend huge amount of money to buy a PDA. You get a gamut of applications already installed in it. They allow you to manage contacts, appointments and tasks. They include a name and address database, calendar, to-do list and note taker. Wireless PDAs offer e-mail, Web browsing and mobile phone service. What more, it gives you the leverage to download a number of software to enrich the device with more functionalities.
Among the plethora of software programs available for the PDA, a good number belongs to medical software. Many of these software have corporate sponsorship, hence they are available free of cost. Being free does not mean that they are not of high standard. This medical PDA software is really of high quality and even very easy to use. However, all packages cannot be of high quality if the variety offered by medical PDA software is considered.
Among the endless options available in medical software, mention must be made of ARTbeat that includes current medical news, Archimedes, a medical calculator and Diagnosaurus that helps build differential diagnosis list. In addition to these software, there are a host of free medical dictionaries, pharmacy guides, and “medical Spanish” software packages available for the PDAs.
Some of the free PDA software comes with games and utilities. PassBuilder is one such software that helps you to create unique passwords on your Windows PC for all your needs! You can specify length, letter case, and several options thereby to make it easy to remember your new passwords. DockWare is a popular freeware that includes Desk calendar, clock and picture viewer for your PDA phone. You can stylise your PDA phone with flashy accessories. Some of them are sold at nominal price; even at times they are available free of cost with other things.
Darlene Kaitlene is a renowned business writer who has years of experience in writing technical reviews, product descriptions and product feature analysis of technical gadgets and gizmos. He has won appreciation especially for enlightening people about the latest communication gizmos…the PDA software
PDA medical software is used by those in the medical world to keep track of their patients, schedule their time, and perform a number of other activities. The system basically acts as a small miniature computer that can be placed in the back pocket and used when needed. Doctors can no longer complain that they have an appointment on their day off, when their day off is clearly labeled in the system. Of course there are a number of other reasons to use PDA medical software.
The most obvious reason to use PDA software is that it makes life much easier for those in the medical world, especially students studying the practice. In the past the students were required to carry several volumes of medical information with them at all times. These volumes were available in handheld or pocket versions, but they were still quite large and bulky. The print in the books was also very small, making it extremely hard to read. When they did need to look up specific information, they had to thumb through the volume to find that one specific bit of information. Today the same students can use PDA medical software, and find it much easier to look for those answers.
Doctors are also finding that the use of PDA medical software has made their lives easier, but for the same reasons. When an issue arose with a patient, such as the patient who presented with a variety of unusual symptoms, the doctor may have been at a loss as to what their condition was, or how to treat them. To find the proper diagnosis, they needed to look through the multitude of volumes in their own office. They can now find that information quickly and easily by using PDA medical software.
PDA medical software has also made it easier to schedule appointments, and keep track of patients’ medical files. Certain software allows doctors to upload all of their patient files onto their PDA where they can access it when needed. This also allows the doctor to keep track of their notes, and even file those notes directly onto the device. Certain software programs have the option of adding notes and other pieces of information onto the file during the appointment. This cuts down on the amount of paperwork needed, and also helps cut back on the amount of time the doctor spends in the office everyday.
Medical software is quite popular, and rightly so. The use of these programs can make life much easier for the doctors, professionals, and students involved. They now have access to a multitude of information, and it is right there whenever they need it, all by using PDA medical software.
PDA barcode software is a data collection software package that controls and enhances the performance of a PDA?type barcode scanner/reader. It allows you to scan and count all the items that have barcodes – a series of black and white bars and stripes.
PDAs (personal digital assistant), a sort of handheld barcode reader, can do more than just the normal reading and decoding of barcodes. Today, the PDA maintains its place as an indispensable tool of many businesses the world over. It is ideal for use in workflow automation, route accounting, healthcare, retail, or any industry where professionals need convenient data access at the point of activity.
PDA software programs for barcodes are fast, accurate, and efficient means to collect, process, transmit, record, and handle data in organizations. With these programs, one can create customized data collection applications in minutes. They provide truly straightforward configuration, database, and reporting abilities. No programming knowledge is needed. Just load PDA software for barcodes on your handheld barcode terminal (PDA) and start collecting the data that you need.
Currently, many PDA barcode software programs are available for inventory, fixed assets, document tracking, and computer asset tracking. Some features include patch-page detection for document separation, multiple job streams, and user and job level security. Many software programs available on the market offer tool tips. These are basically quick hints that help in handling the software.
PDA software programs for barcodes offering powerful and flexible capabilities in high-volume scanning environments are now out on the market. Selecting the right program depends on how comprehensive you want to get. Many websites provide PDA barcode software downloads, which help you to try a trial version before choosing your PDA code software solution.
Programming is a very useful and rewarding hobby. There are few better feelings than when someone sees you using a program you lashed together to make your life easier and says that it looks really useful. Most people have, at some point in their lives, really wanted to be able to do something on their computer or phone and been unable to. If you know a programming language, then there is often a fair chance that you can write a program to accomplish that task yourself. While there are a huge number of programming languages, many of them have a lot of similarities; this means that once you learn one language quite well, in most cases you will be able to pick up a new one far quicker.
One thing that all new programmers must come to term with is the amount of time learning a programming language takes. Although when you have become an expert you will be able to write many programs quickly, you must remember that many programs have taken whole teams of expert developers years to create. So it is important to understand that knowing a programming language or even several is not enough to write some of the more complex programs you have seen. Don’t look upon this new hobby as a way to save yourself a lot of money, as writing your own version of most of the programs that you need to pay for now will be out of your reach.
The most important thing that a new programmer needs to know is that the “Learn Programming in 24 hours” sort of books are simply not true. A more accurate title would be “Learn Programming in 10,000 hours”. If you put 24 hours or a week into learning a language you will not be creating the next Windows or a new, state of the art game. It is possible to learn to write a program in 10 minutes, and really all you need to learn a new language is your favourite search engine, but you will not be an expert. The only way to become an expert is much like learning the violin; the answer is practice, practice and practice some more.
Selecting Your First Language
Now that we have examined the limitations and handled some of the more unrealistic expectations, those of you still wanting to learn to code will be happy to know that programming is not a hard thing to start learning and will not require you to pay out huge sums of money. If you are reading this article on-line, you already have the resources to start with some languages, so let us consider what your first language ought to be.
Traditionally the first language a programming newcomer learns is either Visual Basic or Python. The first thing to understand is that these two languages are very different. The simplest difference is one of price. Python is totally free; you can start writing python now with just a text editor on your computer, though if you are on Windows, you will probably need to install it first. However Visual Basic, often abbreviated to VB, is both free and not free. On the upside, VB can be simpler for newcomers to learn because it allows you to build the interfaces (the part of the program the user will see) by dragging and dropping the different parts much like designing it in some basic art application. The version of VB newcomers learn is usually Visual Basic 6, but this is rather outdated and has been discontinued. So these days the version learned is often VB.NET which can be considerably less simple for newcomers.
VB.NET must be developed inside what we call an IDE (Integrated Development Environment); this is basically a special program you use to write other programs. They also exist for Python, but their use is totally optional. The free VB.NET IDE is called Visual Studio Express. At the time of writing, the latest version is Visual Studio Express 2010. Unfortunately, by using the free version of the IDE you are restricted with what you can do, and any programs you create cannot be commercially sold on. Regretfully, the full paid version of the IDE is not cheap, and probably not appropriate for a hobbyist, but fortunately to learn VB the free version is enough. In practice, very few commercial programs are developed in VB these days, but the Visual Studio IDE allows you to use many other languages. The familiarity you will develop by using it will also allow you to use the power of the IDE for development in many other languages. Some will argue that almost every language can be developed in a text editor and that they are by far the most flexible way in which to code. While this is technically true (and I do suggest trying development in a text editor to compare once you get a little better), I would strongly advise learning your first language with a proper IDE.
While traditionally, people learn Python or VB first and these are generally what is taught at schools, I would not suggest either of these. I am of the opinion that your first language should continue to be useful to you one it has served the purpose of helping you learn the fundamentals of programming. If I had to recommend one of these for newcomers, it would be VB.NET as often the most complex part of programming is the graphical side of things and in VB.NET this is very simple due to the drag and drop interface. These two languages are often used as introductions as they are very tolerant of mistakes, and allow you to become confident in programming principles without worrying about a lot of the more complex matters.
What is an uninstaller program and why do you sometimes need to use it?
Well, if you’re reading this article, you may know the answer already? Yes, to remove those pesky little programs, that does not appear in windows’ ADD/REMOVE utility. Or those sneaky spy ware programs, that, having installed itself on your computer, without your permission, proves almost impossible to remove via the conventional uninstall methods. As well as those programs, where the program manufacturer, after you got to uninstall the unwanted programs, intentionally left behind myriads of scattered files, which may either act as hidden spy ware, collecting data unobtrusively, or frequently causing pop-up messages, which warns you of virus infections, every 60 seconds and prompting you to download additional software, from a particular site. Aside from driving you crazy, these files can cause all sorts of problems, such as error messages popping up constantly i.e. runtime errors, rundll32 errors etc.
Now this is one of the reasons, that Stand Alone Third Party Uninstaller Programs exists. In a Perfect world, there shouldn’t be any reason for such programs to be around. However, there are those manufacturers, that creates great products ,with excellent features and properties, but sadly, the big let down comes with the uninstaller section. This is the section, that not enough development and testing resources are spend on. These manufacturer’s don’t always realize that there software causes major changes to the operating system, through file associations and / or file replacements, and if these changes are not logged in a log file, during the installation process, it may prove very difficult to reverse these changes , when you wish to uninstall or remove some unwanted program. It may even put you in a spot, where you have no other alternative, because of the instability of your operating system, caused by files which were deleted ( maybe accidentally, perhaps), to format your hard drive and re-install windows or whatever operating system you’re using. If , like me, you have a lot of files and programs, which you’ve accumulated over a long period of time, possibly years, and you have no backups, then it can really be a disaster which can set you back for some time.
There are ways and means to manually uninstall and remove unwanted programs, but let me emphatically stress : Do Not Simply Delete These Files From Your Computer’s Program files section, without having tried using the program’s uninstall function. You may unknowingly delete system files that are used by more than one program. If you cannot find an uninstall function, or if the program does not appear in the windows Add/Remove list,– and this is for advanced PC users only,– you may access the windows registry, where you will find data entries, related to the unwanted program. However, I suggest you stay away from the registry, even if you are an advance user, and rather make use of one of the many uninstaller programs out there. This type of program has been specifically developed to assist with the uninstallation of “hard to remove programs”.
Here are a few general guidelines, to what makes a good uninstaller.
A good third party uninstaller usually consist of the following parts :
A logger : This is simply a program that writes all installation changes to a log file – i.e. files that were added and /or changed, as well as registry entries etc. ( You may have tried to uninstall a program and getting and error” log not found”. The log referred to, is the log file entry of that particular program at the time of installation. Without that information, uninstallation of that program becomes quite a daunting task )
An Uninstaller : This program reads the log file (if there is a log), noting the system changes, and proceeds to reverse these changes during a program uninstallation, hence the uninstaller tag.
An Analyzer : Not all uninstall programs incorporate an analyzer. Basically what this program does, is, if no log file exists, it scans the windows registry for all entries and traces relating to the program in question, and then proceed to delete those files and remnants, which were found.
A Watcher : After installation of the uninstaller program, the watcher will automatically activate every time a program run its installer program. This is especially useful in cases of spy ware or browser hijacking software, which will start occasionally, to send information, or activate a pop-up banner. In this case the Watcher will log this and allow the computer user to uninstall such applications.
Very important : Always, and I cannot stress it enough–Select an uninstaller program, with a build-in logger module. That way, if you need to uninstall those dastardly unwanted program you’ve installed the day before, and which is causing your computer to behave like C-3PO ( LOL – the Star Wars Android robot ) , then you don’t need to panic, because getting rid of it, is now very easy.
Prior to 1992, when Jack Bicer, who worked for Symantec, created the original uninstall idea, computer users frequently, had to completely uninstall their computer operating system ( formatting the hard drive) and re-installing, to get rid of unwanted programs. Most of these programs were written when the idea of an uninstall program, were not even conceived at the time. Imagine still having to do that nowadays.
Now any good, uninstaller program, should be able to do most of the following :
Thoroughly scan the registry for any files related to the programs you wish to uninstall.
” Allow you the option to choose which files you want to delete.
” Forcibly remove programs that do not have an uninstall option-such as certain spy ware or pop-up banners ( such as browsers hijackers).
” Back up your registry before activating any changes i.e uninstalling certain programs and then find finding your system becoming unstable after the installation. This will allow you to reverse these changes, by installing a saved version of your registry.
” Monitor running programs to detect start-up programs, such as auto dial spy ware, banner popup programs, pop up blocker and browsers dialers. These applications can then immediately be removed.
” Auto update function as well as excellent product support may often be lacking on the free software versions. You got it for free, didn’t you?
A quick word of advice.. .. An uninstaller program is what the name implies. It uninstalls or remove unwanted programs.. A registry cleaner is just that.–A program that mops up any loose and scattered orphan files, finding broken links and redundant registry entries. Although they may have similarities, the two utilities have totally different architectures, and are mostly suitable for one particular job.
As to my experience, at the time, while I was conducting my own research as to how to remove these annoying programs, I quickly found, that, instead of causing myself more hardship over and over again, by trying to do it myself ( these uninstallations), it was best to invest in a good uninstaller program. That way, if the software didn’t do what it was supposed to do, I could yell at someone else.
Reinvent the Wheel
A lot of times, you’ll hear programmers say, “Do not reinvent the wheel”. What they are usually referring to is when an algorithm or application exists for a common problem and there is no need to replicate this. However, when you are first starting to program this can be an insanely helpful task. Programs like “Hello World”, a simple calculator, a timer, and a clock are all relatively easy to complete and plenty of people have made these types of programs, so there are definitely resources online to help you if you get stuck.
If you are taking a programming course you are most likely being assigned programming problems as part of your course work. However, sometimes this is just is not quite enough. When I was learning how to program in Java, we only had six problems assigned all semester. Granted, these six were big projects, but there were no smaller assignments in between to help consolidate the knowledge we learned in class.
If you are not enrolled in any programming courses and are just learning how to program for fun, you could always try reaching out to a computer science professor and ask them for ideas of what to program, or what they assign in their classes. Also, you could ask any friends who are taking programming courses what they are working on.
Get a Textbook
Most programming or computer science textbooks have a multitude of programming problems and projects within. Along with these assignments also come explanations for the concepts used in each task. Not only will you get an idea of what to program, but you can also learn a thing or two about the programming language that you might not have otherwise. When I took a Visual Basic programming course in college we used a textbook that had about twenty small applications per chapter. At the time I hated how many applications we had to create, but ultimately it helped me become a better program through constant repetition of key concepts and use of the language. The good news is you can probably find some of these textbooks at a library, online, or by borrowing one from a friend.
Write a Program to Do Your Homework
When I took accounting classes, having to write all of our financial statements by hand got to be a grueling process. Eventually, I got tired of it and wrote a program that created income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements based off of a variety of inputs. If you are enrolled in a class that requires repetitive tasks, writing a program to help you complete some of these tasks not only saves you time while doing homework or studying, but it also helps you to understand how the concept works at a fundamental level. When I created my financial statement application I no longer made little mistakes when writing the statements on exams, because I had to understand every little part of each of them in order to successfully replicate the process. Any type of math class, physics, chemistry, and finance are also great subjects to write programs for class.
Ask Family and Friends
You would be surprised how many times my friends and family members have come to me with ideas of programs or applications they have come up with. Fortunately for me, they know I am a programmer and usually come to me with the ideas without me having to ask. If you are stuck on what to program, just ask them! It is similar to having writer’s block and asking for ideas on what to write. Usually people have very generic ideas which will help you as a programmer when you have to take a high level description of an application and build an entire foundation under it.
Browse the Internet
When in doubt, Google it. Just by typing in “What to program” into Google’s search bar I received a variety of links to discussion pages, forums, and blogs about what to program. Sometimes universities will post curriculum or assignments to the public, which are easily found using a Google search.
A lot of times when people get stuck on a program or application they turn to a development forum or StackOverflow for help. A good practice is to take their pleas for help and try to solve their issues. While some of these solutions can be extremely difficult to find, and sometimes they are impossible tasks, it is a good place to start. If you cannot figure out how to solve their issue, you have done no harm. If you are cunning enough to supply a solution, you have not only improved your own programming abilities but also helped out someone else!
With the growing trend of Hack-a-thons, more and more programming challenges have begun to surface. Some are for scholarships, some are for bragging rights, and some are actually for money. These challenges are another great way to find new ideas and to continue to improve your skills. Start off by finding the easier challenges that are meant for beginners and work your way to the more intermediate and eventually advanced challenges.