My Favourite Applications list

Posted by Happy Hippo on 8/30/2009 04:27:00 pm
Firefox: this is a web browser, that I think is the most reliable, most customizable and fastest out there. There are numerous Firefox "extensions" or "add-ons" that give additional functionality to this browser. The extensions I recommend to install are:

  • Adblock Plus: blocks ads, banners, etc on webpages, making them load faster.
  • Flashblock: disables flash animation on webpages (but still showing flash placeholders, which play flash on click). This again allows web-pages to load faster and more importantly reduces the processor load by all those flash animations.
  • Downthemall: a built in download accelerator, that creates many connections to the file you are trying to download and effectively increases the speed of your download and reducing the download time. Also allows to save multiple files from a webpage, e.g. download all pdf files or other specified extension files.
  • Fireftp: allows you to connect to ftp servers with your username and password and upload/delete/manage files or webpages. Alternative ftp programs usually cost money. This one is free and can do almost everything that commercial programs do.
  • Fasterfox: a tweak for firefox, that speeds up web page load times.
  • Colourful tabs: firefox tabs look better, and are easier to navigate.
  • FEBE: allows you to backup all firefox extensions and data with 1 click, and save it as a single backup file.
  • IE tab: if you want to see how a webpage look in the internet explorer, it's possible now inside firefox window, just click 1 button and it switches to internet explorer page rendering, also you can set it to remember which pages to view in IE-format.
  • Tiny menu: allows you to hide the main menu toolbar:"file, edit, view..." , replacing it with one button, which also allows you to drag the address bar in the freed space and therefore increase the firefox web-page space.
  • WebMail Notifier: adds a small button to the status bar, that can check if you have mail on hotmail, gmail, yahoo, aol... very handy

Irfanview: a free image editor, that has a LOT more features than many free standard picture editors, including batch processing(e.g. resizing/renaming a lot of images etc). It can also open other file formats, like mp3, swf, png, ico, gif.. very very many, especially if you download a set of plugins. Although, I only use it for pictures, in particular to make icons (ico) files from JPEGs  (these are used in application development, programming), or to make pictures with transparent colour, like the ones I use in this page near each program title.

Imgburn: this free application is the best for burning CDs, DVDs, saving images of disks (ISO) etc.. Very easy to use, and has a lot of features that commercials burning solutions have. Whatever CD\DVD program you use, remember NEVER use windows built-in dvd burning. I learnt this the hard way: after many disks became unusable when the burning process suddenly interrupts, or even worse, if you burn a disk successfully, and think that your data is backed-up, but in fact, the disk becomes unreadable later. So, better download Imgburn and use it, I've never had any problems with it.

Comodo firewall: a free firewall, that is not eating a lot of resources, but is VERY effective. I've been using it for a long long time now. Although now you need to download it as a package with an antivirus, with an option to install ONLY firewall. I haven't tired that antivirus, as I already have another one (which I'll describe later). I also recommend when installing it, not install anything else other than the firewall: don't sign up your email, don't install defense&security (bloatware), don't install browser toolbar etc.. just install the firewall, and it's very very good! (set it to "training mode" for the first 2-3 days, and then set to "custom security mode", and don't allow any suspicious applications to connect to the internet).

Marco Manzini Landscape and Nature Photography
Sophos Antivirus: this antivirus is usually given to students by their high schools/colleges/universities and by some companies to their employees. I am lucky enough to get this software free from my university, which detects viruses, spyware, trojans... etc. With the firewall above, this gives protection against all major threats online. So, contact your employer/check your college, university website to see if they provide this software for you. Alternatively use AVG security, which is also free (see below).

AVG anti-virus: I think this is the best free antivirus+antispyware available at the moment. It doesn't use a lot resources and still detect most threats.

   Zone Alarm firewall and security: this is also a very good free firewall, that does not use a lot of system resources. I also used the total security suite (including antivirus and antispyware) and it's also very good, but is not free. Check the link for more information.

Manycam: a free webcam enhancing program, that automatically detects your webcamera and allows you to add different cool effects, like snow or animated background or face accessories etc. You can also stream video/pictures instead of your camera video.

Truecrypt: this is the best free encryption program. If you have an external hard drive, or even a USB stick, it's a must-have. It very easy to use: 1) start a wizard and create a new encrypted volume (on your hard drive, this will look just like a big file with your chosen file name). 2) select your password (preferable a very long one). 3) Open truecrypt and click: Mount a volume>select your file>enter your password. And a new drive will appear in "My Computer", you can save everything there, then open truecrypt again and click dismount (the hard-drive in "my computer" disappears now). No-one would be able to see your files, unless they know your password.

Videolan media player: this free media player plays almost every video format without the need to install any codecs etc.. It can also repair some videos and play videos that are still being downloaded. It is also an excellent DVD player, because it allows to change different video settings: brightness, contrast, saturation, sharpness etc.. As well as the number of audio channels to output : mono, stereo, 4.1, 5.1 etc.

WinRAR archiver: this a very good archiver, supports most archive formats, and can repair some of them, as well as split big files into small archive files, or compress multiple files into a single archive and protect it with a password. After 30 days a message starts to appear asking to buy winrar, but it can be closed, so no problem there.

Free Download Manager: free download manager, ftp explorer, that support torrent protocol and can download multiple files on a page with one click. 

Daemon Tools: free CD/DVD emulator, that allows you to emulate ISO images (and other formats), so you don't have to burn it to CDs or DVDs. Download the light version, and restrict its access to the internet, because it'll be asking you to register or something otherwise.

Skype: free video/audio calls/chat. Now supports High Definition webcams!

Bloodshed Dev-C++: a good C++ development environment (if you want to write programs yourself, but previous experience would be very very important, because writing programs can be very time consuming). Go for the beta one, it's better. Also works on windows 7 and 64 bit systems.

 Meebo: this is actually a webpage, but I decided to include it because it's my favourite. This website allows you to log on all of your msn, yahoo, icq, google talk ...... accounts at the same time! You need to register, log in and add your IM accounts, after that, when you log on meebo, you log on all of your IM accounts. Meebo also has video/audio chat, games, smiles, file transfer etc...

Commercial software I use (students!! you can get these very cheap! at www.software4students.co.uk , www.theultimatesteal.com , www.adobe.com (80% discount) or look at numerous other websites for students) :

Microsoft Office: a must have for anyone who wishes to create professional documents. I'm sure most of you already know this application. (btw, Microsoft Office 2010 is coming out soon, so maybe it's worth waiting to see what it will be like, or at least ask if you qualify for a free upgrade if you buy office 2007 now, although MS office 2007 is very very good I think)

Adobe Photoshop and other Adobe products: this software suite is orientated for professionals in photography, design, webpages, animation, video processing etc.. And it is very expensive (although students can get it with huge discounts). Read the info on adobe website, as there are too many products to describe here.

And of course if you have any other programs you like, add them in comments, or contact me via meebo gadget on the right (you may need to scroll up or down to see it) if your think I made a mistake somewhere or even if you need help with these applications, I've used them for a long time now.

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