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Free software I can't live without

Frequently I'm asked what sort of software I use for a certain task, and I recently remember looking through a recent MaximumPC Magazine article that featured all the editors software picks, so here are the free/shareware tools that get installed immediately on my system after a reformat:
  • Trillian: I'm a pro-user of this ultimate IM tool, but used the freeware version and it works wonderfully as well. I have friends on all the IM networks, and this client puts them all in one place, and doesn't require me to install all the company's clients at once. If you're curious, I'm setup at the following: ICQ: 7739361, AIM: jakeortman, Yahoo! Messenger: jake-ortman, MSN Messenger: jakeortman@hotmail.com. It doesn't have all the features of all the clients, but it's got a smaller memory footprint than any of them, and runs much faster and stable (and doesn't send a bunch of ads my way).
  • Irfanview: If you can find a graphic file format that this program can't open and play with, I'll be amazed. It can even open up sound files, movies, and fonts. It's incredibly versatile, small, and fast. It also has a pile of command-line processing features so you can do mass-process a bunch of images. For anybody who has a pile of different graphic formats on your hard drive (desktop publishers like me come to mind), this is a must-have tool, as it just takes too long to open them all in their respective programs. Best of all, it's free.
  • w.bloggar: If you need to upload information to your blog offline, this is the tool for you, as it's a chore to go online, write up your post, and then upload it. This tool will even spell check your post for you, and then do all the login/upload work for you, even working with images if you'd like it to.
  • Sam Spade: If you have to take care of a network at all, or manage domains and web sites, or are interested in digging up information on domains and servers, this is the do-all tool for you. And it'll even help you report and get rid of spam.
  • X-Teq Setup: This, along with TweakUI, have been staples in my Control Panel for years. If you want to tweak every system setting without digging into the registry, these are the tools for you. Your system will be much happier if you tweak them and optimize them with those tools, just be aware that you could SERIOUSLY mess up your system if you do something wrong, so just beware.
  • RealVNC: I frequently work on computers diagnosing software problems. These systems are usually at other people's houses or locked up in other rooms, and are running anything from MacOS to Windows NT 4 to Windows 98. I install the RealVNC server on all those machines, and I run the client on my system, and I can run their system from afar, saving me the trip of driving over to their house/workplace to fix it. Obviously, the system leaves a huge security whole if left on all the time, so I have clients run the server as-needed, and saves me a ton of trouble.
  • Eyedropper: Have you ever wanted to know the color value of anything on your screen, or wanted to grab a color from a web site without looking at the source code? This is basically a tool that works exactly like the eyedropper tool in various image-editing programs, except it works in Windows. Used along with Screen Ruler and EasyRGB, you have all your odd little image-editing and color pickers you need.

Now, I could spend an entire entry with the online tools that are just tool cool for words, but that's another post entirely.

Do you have an item you think I missed? I could have very easily have missed something that's on my system that I take for granted, so post a comment, and let me know!

Posted by Jake on 03/15/03 @ 05:10 PM
Posted in Geekdom | Permalink

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