I thought I’d try something new and summarize the software that I use on a regular basis. I have been thinking about this, as I have recently switched from one software program to another in a couple of areas, and have been thinking about the evolution of the programs I have used over the years. This may become an annual (or occasional) update, or this may be the only installment. I also note which items have Portable Apps alternatives, as I use these a great deal.
Here they are:
- Operating Systems : Windows XP is still my primary day-to-day system at home, on my notebook, and at work. I use Ubuntu linux on a regular basis (I am set up to dual-boot both at home and on my notebook computer), but haven’t yet made the jump. Yet. I use Mac OS-X (Leopard) occasionally on my wife’s computer (usually when setting something up for her).
- Web Browsers : Firefox (PortableApps) is my preferred browser (and has been since it was at version 0.6 or so). I occasionally use Google Chrome, which is definitely faster, but my habitual use of certain add-ons (see below) keeps me from getting comfortable. I use Internet Explorer 7 when I want to run Windows Update. My only complaints are occasional memory hog problems with Firefox.
- Firefox Add-Ons : Zotero, Groowe Search Toolbar, Web Developer Toolbar, Operator, Cooliris, Add to Search Bar. Learn them, use them, love them.
- E-Mail : Thunderbird (PortableApps) is my primary e-mail client, although I feel it needs a good updating (version 3, anyone?). I use Microsoft Outlook 2003 at work, mainly because we use the calendar features quite a bit. An add-on that makes Outlook worth using, however, is Xobni (“inbox” spelled backwards). If you use Outlook, get Xobni – you will not be disappointed. I am eagerly awaiting a Thunderbird version.
- Office Suites : I recently switched to Go-Oo from OpenOffice 3 (PortableApps). It wasn’t too hard of a change, as it is an implementation of OpenOffice with some very intelligent add-ons and configuration. It is very smooth and easy to use, and hasn’t given me any problems yet. I still use Microsoft Office 2003 at work, but am rapidly switching to Go-Oo for everything but Access. Even that may change, as MS Access lacks some desired report functionality that exists in the Sun Report Builder.
- Text Editors : I recently switched from SciTE to Notepad++ (PortableApp) when I needed better control over the encoding of the text. Both are excellent for editing HTML and CSS, as well as editing a variety of text files.
- Web Design : I primarily use a text editor (see above), but when I want something more powerful, I use Amaya, or sometimes Aptana. If you need a basic WYSIWYG designer, I recommend Komposer (PortableApps). I use FileZilla (PortableApps) as my FTP client.
- Photo Software : I currently use IrfanView, but suspect that this may change in the near future, as my needs are changing.
- Online Software : I use WordPress for blogging; Gregarius as a blog reader; Gallery for photo storage and viewing; I am trying out OpenGoo for online applications (calendar, tasks, contacts, basic word processing); OpenBiblio for my church’s ILS; Scriblio and Drupal for OPAC replacements (just playing around with them); and TextPattern as a Content Managment System.
- Security : ZoneAlarm firewall; AVG Free anti-virus; Clean-Up!; and HijackThis.
- CD Authoring : I switched from CDBurnerXP to InfraRecorder (PortableApps) earlier this year. I haven’t tried the newest version of CDBurnerXP, so there may be some switching back in the future.
- Odds and Ends : 7-Zip (PortableApps) for compressing and decompressing all sorts of files; PDF Creator; MarcEdit.
If you are looking for a common thread, there is this: all of these, except for two of the operating systems, and the software on my work PC, don’t cost anything. Much of it is Open Source (of which I am an advocate). You can do a lot with an internet-connected computer, a sub-$100 per year web hosting service, and some trial-and-error experimentation.
I hope this list helps to inform, and perhaps even connects someone else with software that I have grown to enjoy using for everyday tasks. It has been interesting to see just how much software becomes part of my daily routines, and how much value I get from the above programs.