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05 January 2005

Nerd Factor X



Essentials for Windows

So at this point you may be thinking that has jumped the shark. First a best-of list, and now an essential-apps list! What next, pictures of my cat?

Well anyway I always like reading them from other people. So therefore you must enjoy reading my list of Essential Applications for Windows (MacOS X list forthcoming):

A cool freeware archiving utility. Supports everything, integrates nicely with Windows Explorer, great stuff.
Acrobat Reader
Yep, essential, but I didn't say great now did I? It's slow to start, the Firefox plugin works maybe 10% of the time, and good luck copy'n'pasting out of it without getting a bunch of wierd "formatting" as well. But there's too many PDFs floating around out there, you just gotta have it.
Ad-Aware SE Personal
Oh boy. Where would I be without this one? I'm ashamed to say that the other day I infected myself with spyware. Fortunately realised within seconds and cleaned it up with Ad-Aware. My advice: running this is even more important than an anti-virus scanner. Don't bother with the alternatives, ars reports that the competition doesn't even come close.
Lightweight freeware DivX/Xvid/WTF codec. Plays almost everything.
I think iTunes has changed my music listening habits more so than the original WinAmp did, and not just because of the iPod connection. A superb interface that lets you do all sorts of slicing and dicing on your collection. Makes you want to spend time categorising and sorting and preening. Only complaint is that it doesn't really like you spreading your music over different machines at once, though thank Dog for the Rendezvous sharing.
cmd.exe? What's that? Cygwin is sooo cool, it deserves a separate blog entry.
Nice freeware image viewer. XP's built-in one is almost up to scratch, but this one does image captures, full screen slideshows, and supports every format known to man.
Symantec SystemWorks 2003 Professional
Erk! Payware! I bought this as a raw OEM CD for like $10 a couple of years ago, and mainly use it for Ghost (disk imaging) and AntiVirus protection. It requires a fresh XP install to renew the subscription, but hey I do that pretty regularly anyway (in fact this list was based on some notes on what apps to reinstall after one of my regular XP purges). Word on the street is that later versions of SystemWorks are memory hogs, but this one seems OK.
GNU Emacs
I used to favour XEmacs, but have migrated over (back?) to the GNU side for two reasons. Firstly to support nXML mode, but also because it just works a little nicer on both Windows and MacOS X. Get the latest binaries from the nqmacs project.
I use IE for two things: a) accessing brain-dead corporate intranet sites which, due to nothing other than pagemaster incompetence, require it; and b) downloading Firefox for the first time. Also deserves a separate blog entry.
I have some backup scripts that are written in Python. Hence it is usually installed pretty soon after acquiring a new machine.
FTP client, very powerful. Its* installer has an installer! Can't beat that.

Obviously there are other apps that need to be on my various boxen, but this is the core. What’s yours?

* Happy, Matt?</a>


Posted by
2005-01-05 21:46:41 -0600

Oh I’m as happy as a pig in shit!

Posted by
2005-01-05 21:46:41 -0600

I’m also hooked on Skype, Opera, the new Microsoft anti-spyware, AVG anti-virus (free!), and GVIM, and completely echo on cygwin and iTunes and Python. Deem plugs for iPodder and podcasting in general included.