Web Recommendations

Mike's Computer Software Recommendations

OK, this is a page I maintain as a "stock" answer for what I configure new machines with:

Worth buying

OK, I'm addicted to dual-pane file managers. There is one that is worth purchasing, and I've been extraordinarily pleased with this since day 1. Here's the link: http://zabkat.com/

Freeware, Freeware, Freeware

OK, where would you go to find freeware. Here's the best way: http://www.snapfiles.com/freeware

Protecting your system

Everybody should have a firewall: http://www.snapfiles.com/reviews/ZoneAlarm/zonealarm.html

Next, use a virus scanner: http://www.snapfiles.com/reviews/avast_Home_Edition/avast.html Simply register and renew quarterly. Free for Home use

Now, let's address spyware. Install 2 programs: Spyware Blaster and Spybot - S&D

Word/Excel/Microsoft Office

OK, it's really nice if you can afford Microsoft Office. Frankly, it's the only big thing that I really endorse Microsoft for. However, if you don't have it pre-installed, I strongly encourage you to give OpenOffice a try: OpenOffice. It is very completely, *mostly* compatible, and can read/write Microsoft Office files well. Additionally, it has the wonderful feature of being able to print-to-PDF, a fantastic feature!

Internet

Browser: OK, I now this is heresy, but I think these is only one answer, Opera. As an alternative, Firefox, but it's growing as bloated as Internet Explorer.

Now, for email. No question, Thunderbird.

Do you instant message? Get a client which supports all protocols, Pidgin. In Yahoo, I'm mikecrowe. In MSN, I'm mike@mikeandkellycrowe.com. In Google Talk, I'm drmikecrowe@gmail.com.

Free internet phone, go with Skype. I'm mikecrowe.

Utilities

Most useful utility I have (and I use it 10+ times per day): Launchy

Most programs have very sloppy uninstall systems. To combat this, use Revo Uninstaller. This phenomenal program runs their uninstall, then scans the registry and file system for left-over garbage. You can then *completely* remove software. A true must-have.

Didn't take my advise and purchase xplorer2? Here's an alternative: freeCommander

Now, how do you clean things up? This is the best -- Crap Cleaner

You also should monitor your startup items, especially when your system slows down. Here's a great tool: Startup Control Panel

Now, let's deal with compressed files. Best, by far, 7zip

OK, almost everybody needs to read PDF files at one time or another. I know, Adobe is the most common choice, but I really love Foxit Reader.

Multimedia

Do you need a very versatile image viewer? Try Irfanview

Want to manage your large image collection? Google got it right with Picasa

If you want to record music, edit it, process it (remove noise), etc, give Audacity a try.

Need to tag your MP3's? Try Godfather

OK, for MP3 players, you can go with the latest Window Media player. However, if you want small, fast, and light, go with XM Player

Movie Viewer: If you gather movies (.avi files, YouTube downloads, etc), you may want a versatile video player. The best is: VLC.

Office and Study

Now, let's talk about keeping information stored. I really like Keynote

Bible Study, hands down E-Sword

Games and fun

Mahjongg

Make your Start menu look like Vista's: Vista Start Menu