Categories
Featured Software

Essential Software

I just got a new laptop (this Toshiba, if you are curious) and as such, have a blank slate for new software to install.  In case it’s helpful, here’s what I put on any new PC:

System Tools:

  • Daemon Tools – No, not for pirated software.  I have, over the years, lost or damaged a lot of game discs.  I end up having to download a replacement, and this lets the computer read it as if it were the real deal.  Also nice if you want to leave your discs at home while travelling but still have access to the software.
  • Avast! – Everyone needs anti-virus software, and this one is free, doesn’t nag you much at all, and is well reviewed.  I supplement with spyware removers and Hijack This when needed.
  • 7-Zip – Once upon a time, there was Winzip, and we all used it.  But then you started seeing downloads in other formats, and needed more than what Winzip provided.  7-Zip covers all the relevant bases (.7z, zip, arj, rar).
  • MyDefrag – Not simple to use, but a powerful and customizable disk defragmenter.  Currently set to do daily tidying up at 4am, and a detailed cleanup every month.
  • TeraCopy – Seems mundane, but if you move large files around a lot, whether they are pictures, videos, disc images, whatever, getting it done faster would be a no brainer.  TeraCopy does that.  Love it.

Games and gaming:

  • Steam – It has some detractors, but I honestly love being able to install one program, and have access to a whole library of my games in one place.  No longer worry about where your damn CD key is or those lost discs like I mentioned.  Pretty freaking awesome sales, too.
  • DOSBox and D-Fend Reloaded – If you’ve read this site, you know I love old games, so DOSbox is essential.  D-Fend Reloaded is a front end that makes DOSbox a lot easier to use.  Handy if you lost – or never had – your DOS chops.
  • FRAPS – Most games have a screenshot feature, but FRAPS is much more customizable, and it lets you see your framerate.  If you ever wanted to capture videos, go for it.  I always forget to start it, though…

Everything else:

  • Inkscape – I’m not a great artist, but I like to dabble, and Inkscape is a great vector art program that’s free.
  • Tweetdeck – Great if you manage more than one Twitter account, though I’ve never used it for Facebook or any of the other stuff it can do.
  • Picasa – Just a simple way to manage and do basic photo editing.  Lifesaver, as long as all my pictures are dated properly.  I’m looking at family that don’t know how to set the time on the cameras.

If you want more stuff, I can go deeper, but these are the apps that are must have for me.  Got any other suggestions?  Comment ’em.

Categories
Sci/Tech

Solar Upgrades

Researchers at MIT have figured out a way to increase the effectiveness of existing solar panels (or create solar power from windows). Here’s a description from the article on just what is happening:

The dye-based organic solar concentrator functions without the use of tracking or cooling systems, greatly reducing the overall cost compared to other concentrator technologies. Dye molecules coated on glass absorb sunlight, and re-emit it at a different wavelengths. The light is trapped and transported within the glass until it is captured by solar cells at the edge. Some light passes through the concentrator and can be absorbed by lower voltage solar cells underneath.

It really seems like alternative energy stuff is picking up speed, which is fantastic. Very cool. H/T to Gizmodo.

Batch Rename Digital Photos by Date

Lifehacker posted a note about Namexif, a quick and dirty tool to rename your digicam photos based on EXIF date info. It’s a feature that you can get via other means (Irfanview and Picasa have ways to do it) buf if you don’t use either of those, you can try this. The comments on that post have a bunch more options, too.

GIMP Plugins

TechZilo has a post with links to more than 40 very useful GIMP plugins. There’s a good mix of things, for example new filters, anti-aliasing plugins, the ability to stitch together panoramic images, and a Save For Web plugin. Some links at the bottom as well for folks who may wish to author their own plugin.

Lifehacker: Update Windows, Linux Style

Appupdater is a executable that lets you run command line updates for a wide range of applications, going as far back as Windows 98. If you have used the apt or yum package management available in many Linux distros, it works in much the same way. Looks like it could be a real help to those of us who are a bit forgetful about making sure our software is fully up to date.

Free MS Software…Cost: Your Soul

Spotted this at Gizmodo. You can get a free copy of Windows Vista Ultimate, Office Ultimate, Money Plus Premium, or other software, all for the price of letting MS track your computer usage for 3 months. That includes surveys every 2 weeks. It all stems from Microsoft’s Windows Feedback Program. To be honest, I am in for this as I wanted a legal copy of Vista. All MS will find out from the PC they track is that my wife loves Diablo II.

edit: Looks like they are all done with this…supplies didn’t last thanks to /. and Gizmodo.

Categories
Media

Lifehacker's Top 10 Video Rippers, Encoders and Converters

Lifehacker has posted a Top 10 list for Video ripping, encoding and converting. Mostly freeware and open source software, some of which work for Linux and Mac along with Windows. If you wanted some new software to convert your pr0n–er, instructional videos to a format that fits on your iPod or PSP, take a look.