Give us the tools and we will finish the job," Winston Churchill once said about the daunting task of subduing the enemy, and completing the task at hand. While my calling is not to save civilization, give me a hard drive full of software tools, and I will complete my tasks, as well.
If you were to look at my Windows desktop, you would see icons for numerous computer and software programs. In the words of the Kinks' Ray Davies, "some that you recognize, some that you've hardly even heard of." My purpose for this page is to sing the praises of those utilities that make my job, my work, and my life easier. And maybe, to encourage you to download or purchase some of these tools, too.
Ad-aware- If you are an Internet marketer, thinking of installing spyware on my computer system, Ad-aware will smite thee.
Adobe Reader- Free software that lets you read files created in Adobe's popular and easy-to-use Portable Document Format.
Ashampoo Uninstaller- I have a habit of downloading software I either try free for 30 days and then don't commit to, or try once, and then discard. I can think of parallels in my personal life. Since some software programs make it difficult to wipe off your hard drive, utilities like Ashampoo Uninstaller are a big help.
Copernic Desktop Search- Dude, where's my files? Windows XP's built-in search tool is non-iterative, to say the least. Download the free Copernic Desktop Search and let it hunt down those hard-to find files.
EasyOffice-A powerful, free-and easy to use office suite that in many ways is the functional equal of Microsoft Windows.
Google Desktop Search- Once you download this free utility, it will index your Outlook, Outlook Express, Word, AOL Instant Messenger, Excel, Internet Explorer, PowerPoint and text files. Amazingly fast, but I wish it could do the same for my archived PDF files and IncredImail messages.
Google Toolbar- As of this posting, Google Toolbar has smote 3,722 unwanted pop-ups!! What a joy it is to test it by going to a random "adult" site and see it quash those annoying pop-up windows. Google toolbar can also fill in forms with one click, or automatically spawn a link on my blog to the Web page I am visiting at the time.
Helix Producer Plus- The main tool I use to encode full-motion video I shoot into the RealMedia format.
HyperCam- An easy-to-learn screen recording utility that lets you record your voice, as well as what appears on your computer monitor. I have been using this tool to compose video instruction programs for a client.
IncrediMail- My e-mail utility of choice, IncrediMail offers rich graphic displays. Sometimes, I even turn on the typing sounds. I have to be careful, though. The coding sometimes marks messages I send using this utility as "spam." The solution is to send messages in plain text.
KaZaA Media Desktop- Forgive me copyright holder, for I have sinned.
McAfee VirusScan Online- The quickest, most efficient, and easiest-to-update suite of anti-viral tools I am aware of.
Microsoft Excel- I am not really fluent in Excel, but know enough about the utility to find it handy for project-related file organization and bookkeeping.
Microsoft Front Page- A flexible and handy HTML authoring tool. It does offer its share of garbage characters, though.
Microsoft Word- Ubiquitous and easy to use. At least in this instance, I surrender to the beast of Redmond.
Mozilla- Try their new, Netscape-like, open-source browser. It runs much smoother than Internet Explorer.
MUSICMATCH Jukebox-Of all the free-standing (as opposed to packaged-in) media jukeboxes, this one is my favorite.
Netscape- Yes, they still make a browser. I find the history and bookmarking functions rather clunky, but in terms of getting around Web sites, Netscape is still the best.
Openwave Mobile Browser- I like to fiddle with this product to look at the mobile Web on my PC. One of these days, I am going to get off my duff and build a site accessible on Web-enabled cell phones. Not that anyone would ever check it out, though.
Opera Software -The fat browser sings, and it is all over. Norwegian-based Opera is the fastest Web browser, hands-down. I need to upgrade from the ad-cluttered free version to the subscription-based paid version.
PestPatrol- The fastest and most powerful anti-spyware program I am aware of. The only thing is, though, I don't seem to have much luck turning off that cuckoo alarm that sounds when PestPatrol blocks some nasty spyware from infesting my hard drive.
Pinnacle Studio-Certainly not the most sophisticated video editing tool, but the easiest and quickest. I use Pinnacle Studio to transfer video files from my digital video camera to my PC, and then edit on my computer.
Pluck RSS Reader- RSS, or Really Simple Syndication, is a handy way to get live news feeds to your PC. I do news and blogs, and as a result, I find this new technology indispensable. Pluck is an RSS Reader that I've configured to download and display newly posted news in subjects I care about.
QuickTime Player- The fastest, easiest-to-use streaming media player. One of these days, I will encode video for the QuickTime format.
RealPlayer-Still the most popular streaming media player, RealOne comes with a built-in music library organizer and Web browser. Ironically, the browser is built "on top" of Internet Explorer - made, of course, by RealNetworks' archrival Microsoft.
Roxio Easy Media Creator- Let me explain something. I know that copyright should be protected. Yet in a world where five, lowest-common-denominator, bottom-line obsessed, pap culture record companies and an even smaller number of radio station ownership groups keep a tight rein on what you are able to hear, companies such as Roxio and their CD-burning solution are an answer to a crying need. I use Roxio's free-standing utility to back up files, and their version bundled into popular music library management tools to burn CDs as well as DVDs.
SnagIt -far and away the best screen capture utility I know of. I especially like their "Region" function. I use it to crop photos, capture portions of Web pages, as well as to, OK, "snag" visual elements from Adobe PDF files.
TextAloud MP3- Voice-recognition programs translate speech into words on a computer screen. TextAloud MP3 does the exact reverse, rendering on-screen text into spoken words you can either play aloud on your computer system, or transfer to your MP3 player or portable device. I think this would be a great program for the visually impaired.
Windows Media- In September, 2002, I went to Hollywood to attend a launch event for Windows Media 9. Windows Media Player 10 was released two years later. I must tell you, my streaming video files look better in Windows Media Player than they do in RealPlayer. There seems to be less lossy compression. Go to my multimedia page and see what I mean. With Windows Media, I get streaming media playback that roughly compares to the source files.
WinZip-Until we live in a world where all downloaded files self-execute, unzipping utilities such as WinZip will be necessary on most any PC.