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Improve your Windows experience
Previous | Next by muhgcee 27 March, 2005 - 6:19 AM

Below is a list of Windows programs that I find necessary on my Windows install. Hopefully you will find them useful. I would also like to hear what your favorite programs are. I think there are a lot of great programs that don't have a large following.

gaim: Supports any instant messaging formats that I can think of. I have it auto-sign-on AOL IM, Yahoo Messenger, and MSN. Also, I use ICQ for work. You'll want to download plug-ins with this like the Extended Preferences plugin.
Firefox: I love the tabbed browsing. I also like how they have lots of extensions. It takes a little bit to get used to learning all the keyboard shortcuts, but they are a big help.
Thunderbird: I use this for my non-Gmail email (work email). Download the contacts extension to manage people's information.
Sunbird: Mozilla's calendar application. Outlook is still much better, but I see promise in this app, as it is only in version 0.2.
putty: used for ssh connections. Very nice, but it would be excellent if they had two things that seem to be missing: a) It needs to remember a history of what you have connected to. b) I like my terminal windows to look nice. putty isn't difficult to read or anything like that, it just isn't pretty. Oh, and does anyone know if it is possible to have it save log-in information?
winSCP: nice for copying files to Unix-based machines. You shouldn't have to install anything on the Unix-machine - it works over ssh.
Winamp - a nice media player. Not great. I think one day there will be a better one, but my searches have turned up nothing. It is optimal for listening to music because it concentrates on the playlist, as opposed to Windows Media Player, which concentrates on the video window.
TweakUI: Not something that needs to be run frequently, but rather a one-time run that you should use to get Windows to act more how you like it. One of my favorite tweaks - get rid of all those stupid arrows on your shortcut icons.
Azureus: A very nice bit torrent client. It has a plethora of options.
Microsoft Office: I tried, and wanted to like, OpenOffice. But honestly, it was way too SLOW. As you have seen above, I have replaced Outlook with Thunderbird and Sunbird, but I still use Office for Word, Excel, and rarely Access and Powerpoint. If I ever have to pay for Office, which I didn't this time because of a nice deal through my former school, I will probably use OpenOffice.
WSFTP: They don't offer this program any more, but do a google search and you can find it somewhere else. Easy-to-use FTP program.
Google Desktop Search: I rarely ever have to search my computer for something, because I like to think I keep my computer fairly well organized. But, when I do, Google Desktop Search does the job nicely. But, it doesn't seem as though the chat history works with gaim.
GIMP: Free image editing tool. I rarely edit images, but when I do it is nice to have something other than MS Paint. It is powerful, and fairly easy to use once you get used to the concept of layers.
Adaware and Spybot: Together, these programs nicely get rid of any spyware or adware that somehow got on my computer.
Clamwin Antivirus: I am currently trying this free program as my antivirus solution. It has worked well so far, but then again I haven't used it to actually get rid of a virus, so I have no idea how good it is.
GMail Notifier: Nice tray icon for GMail. All it does is let you know when you have new mail, and display the first couple of lines of the email. A little buggy, but pretty useful.
Conquercam: Very simple but powerful webcam application. Full version costs $10. Very much worth it.

Hopefully you all haven't even heard of some of these programs and will find that you like them better than what you are using now. Also, hopefully you all will post what you use on your Windows machine, and I can find something new that is very useful!

3/27/2005 >> Dan

I use Trillaian over Gaim bu thte list is good I would have to add

Active Ports - lists all processes and their connections on ports to local and remote IP. This is the only thing that I have found that you can use to detect a user or kernel mode root kit on a system.

McAfee AV Enterpriese 8 - the best AV solution I have found. Includes a spyware blocker, buffer overflow protection, and can lock down folders and ports.

Now for the fun tools:

PowerGrab/PowerPost - There is no better Windows based tool for leeching and posting to news groups

NetTransport - This file will capute almost any file in a download stream. I find it very handy for grabing videos and music from sites.

3/27/2005 >> muhgcee

I have always found Trillian to be buggy. Evidently it still is - I know of two people that lost all of their away messages.

Active Ports seems pretty neat. It is amazing how many connections it shows for Bit Torrent.

3/27/2005 >> iceman

Some of my favorite programs.

Trillian 2.0 pro - I have used trillian for many years and have had no prob with it at all. It now supports video and audio chat. And best of all you can set up your own chatting on a local network wiht out internet connection. Great for in network video conferencing.

I have use gaim at work and found it to be lacking in features. Its not bad at all...trillian just offeres cooler features and a richer interface.

Diskeeper pro - ****Absolute Must**** This defrags your hard drive when your not using your computer. I use to reinstall windows about 1 every 6 months because my performance became so shitty. Now i havent reinstalled windows in over a year. Honestly I could not live with windows if this product did not exist.

Maxthon browser - I have used firefox, mozilla, ie, safarri (safarri happened to be the worst). Maxthon is built off of ie but allows tabbed browsing a whole plethora of features. I dont wnat to list all of them here. Just check it out. After using all the browsers Maxthon is my favorite.

M$ Office is def the best office application suite. The best part of this is you can use wine to use it in linux so you really dotn need to use open office, Or windows for that matter :D

Cliprex DVD player - This thing is awesome because you can go to the cliprex site and d/l a free mpeg2 decoder so you can watch dvd's on your computer. You dont have to use the player just the decoder is nice.

Norton Gost - If you have a server to back up 2 gig images of your computer. This is very handy. Once you get your computer they way you want it make an image of it with ghost and then if anythign goes wrong your image cna be loaded in a shorter amount of time then it takes to restore your os to how you liked it.

If you have a tablet pc M$ One Note is the SHIZNAT!!!@!
I use it to keep notes for school. Its a digital binder that is just like a real binder just on my computer. I said goodbye to paper about a year ago and to be honest with you a tablet pc is probablythe best investment i have ever made. Its kinda been an adventure too to see how usable a computer can be as a writing pad. The only paper i use now is to hand in assignments in class because I must print them out. If your thinking about a tablet. Start a post and i can tell you about all the amazing features!!

Anyone who doubts the tablet pc has definately not used one. Since i bought mine I convinced my dad and a prof at school to get them and they both tell me they are the most usefull thing alive. Think about searching your notes for words...and auto formatting your handwriting(drooling) you cant do that with paper!!

(sorry about that side note)

Anyone know of a media player for windows and not WMP, that plays movies music and all. Does winamp handel all of this?

I would also like to comment on crappy windows networking. Man is it crappy. I have a samba share on my Linux box that serves up movies. Windows has problems dealing with large files being transfered from the samba share. THIS IS A WINDOWS PROBLEM. I don't experience this in linux at all.

3/28/2005 >> muhgcee

Winamp does play all videos, but I think having it concentrate on the playlist makes it a little akward. I am going to have to try out that disk keeper program.

3/6/2006 >> ben

i'm finding this very helpful right now... hehehe

3/7/2006 >> muhgcee

Talk about a bump :-P

4/5/2007 >> ben

Well, I dropped my laptop for the first time in my life, so I'm installing on a new one. Recently I found process explorer - it's a WAY more detailed view of what's going on in your machine. I recommend it too...

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