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Archive for the month “January, 2012”

10 Steps to Master Twitter

I  know that many of people who read AndFarAway are not only very active on Twitter, but use it much more effectively than I do.  The reason I’m writing this post because I am really, really tired of people giving up on Twitter after half a second and then deciding to claim that those who know how to use it are “dumb” and “narcissistic”.

Seriously. It’s easy. Just follow these awesomely easy 10 steps to use Twitter like a rockstar. I mean if all those lame celebrities can do it, I’m sure you can too.

10 Ways to Learn Twitter

1. Download the HootSuite Firefox pluginTweetDeck application, or Echofon Firefox plugin.
Maybe even all three, because the truth is: the twitter.com interface sucks, and you won’t be enjoying Twitter if you’re stuck in your browser window.

2. RT. RT. RT.
RT stands for “retweet”, and you RT a tweet when you want to share something interesting said by someone else with your followers. An RT is like a personal recommendation. It’s very important to RT only interesting stuff, because it defeats the purpose otherwise. Be social. Support tweeps who said something useful or have an event they want to publicize.

3. Reply.
I don’t practice this point as much as I should, but as is the case with blogs, replying to tweets that you were tagged in is really very important.

4. Play Twitter Games.
Twitter games like FollowFriday and MusicMonday can make Twitter more fun and introduce you to interesting tweeps.

5. Share interesting links.
I mean, we all read stuff online all day, and there are so many awesome links that should be shared. Your followers would appreciate a great link, trust me.

6. Keep it simple, stupid.
There’s so much beauty in 140 characters. Mainly that people who shouldn’t blab can’t blab. Anything can be said in such a short format if it’s worth it.

7. Brand yourself consistently.
Choose one Twitter profile image and stick to it, for god’s sake. People who keep changing their Twitter profile pictures are so annoying, because when you’re looking at the stream, you are looking at icons, not names.

8. Schedule tweets.
Use HootSuite or any other similar tool to schedule tweets to assure that your account is constantly updated. Even if it’s a weekend.

9. It’s actually okay to tell your followers what you had for lunch.
As long as that’s not the only thing you say all week.

10. Notice the time pattern.
Depending on where you are in the world, you’ll notice that there are different time patterns. In Jordan, for example, tweeps are most active early in the morning (9:30 AM), around 12:00 PM, and around 4:00 PM. Target your coolest tweets at these times.

I hope this answers the question I am always being asked, “Why the hell do you like Twitter?”

ANY QUESTIONS? OR JUST WANNA TALK OR KNOW INTERESTING STUFF? Then http://bit.ly/ThisIsMyTwitter\

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Keep Your Facebook Account Safe From Hackers

Imagine you get up in the morning and login to your Facebook account to check the message and status of your near and dear friends. But surprisingly it is saying your have entered an invalid password even though you have not changed the password. That means your account has been a victim of phishing.

This is really a nightmare as all of your friends, pages and information has been compromised. Facebook has given some guidelines so that people can keep the account safe and secure. Here are some of the main points described below,

  • Always login to Facebook using https i.e. https://www.facebook.com/ as it is more secure. When you use the https option, all your activity on Facebook is encrypted which makes harder for anyone to access your Facebook information without your permission.
  • Do not open the Facebook login link from any unfamiliar sources like from any email, website.
  • Never store password in browsers, especially if you are accessing from any local computer.
  • Always use Lastpass for all passwords and set it up for multi-factor authentication.
  • For protecting your password always give complex password like combination of character, number and punctuations and should be more than six characters long.Do not use the same password which you use for other accounts.
  • If you are using a public computer never check the ‘Remember Me’ box as it stores the log even after you logged out. After you log out from Facebook always close the browser.
  • Add a secondary email address to Facebook and your valid mobile phone number. It will help you to get recovery of your account in case your Facebook account is hacked or compromised.

Six Easy Ways to Prank Your Friends and Family

Whether you’re just in the spirit of April Fools Day or looking for a good prank to pull on your brother or friend, here are six economical pranks that are sure to be fun.

 

If you are looking for a prank but don’t know what to do I have compiled a list that should help you. These are 6 fun pranks to pull on family or friends and all are either free or very cheap and shouldn’t get you in trouble.

  1. Put yellow (or really any color) dye in their water though yellow seems to work the best. This usually results in an amusing outcome and is fairly simple.
  2. Give them a prank call. A classic prank call is always fun but there are also several online sites such as  http://wakerupper.com/  or http://www.prankdial.com/ where you can enter in a text message and they convert it to a voice message. It seems fairly simple but I have not tried any of them so I am not completely sure that they work.
  3. Ask them if they can roll a quarter up and down their nose. Before you give them the quarter cover the edge in some sort of black in, from a marker is usually easiest, so that when they roll it up and down their nose it leaves a black line. This prank is also fairly simple, especially since they’re usually not expecting it and you can have tons of fun with it.
  4. Mess with they’re computer when they’re away. There’s several things you can do such as install the blue screen of death screensaver or flip everything upside down. My favorite one is installing a certain firefox add-on at http://www.instructables.com/id/Firefox-Pranks/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss. I have yet to try it but it looks like it should work very well. The only downside is that it will only work on people that use firefox.
  5. Bake a batch or two of cookies. Probably make about a quarter normal and the rest put spicy peppers in them but be sure to remember which are which. When you and maybe a couple friends are eating your cookies (the normal ones) you give the spicy ones to whoever you want to prank. The result is hilarious.
  6. This one requires advanced planning and a cool teacher but it sure to work on your friends. Once everyone arrives at school, or at some random point in the day, have the teacher tell everybody that there is a fire in the building and they have to evacuate immediately. If you can, arrange for fire alarms and the whole shebang as they will definitely make it more believable. As I said, make sure you talk to your teacher and plan in advance for this one to work.

How to hack facebook passwords(educational purposes only)

Hack Facebook PasswordWondering to know how to hack Facebook password? Well, before you can do that, it is very much necessary to understand the real ways of hacking that actually work and also those that are simply scam and do not work. So in this post, we’ll look at some of the possible ways to hack Facebook password!

Every day I get a lot of emails from people requesting me to hack Facebook passwords of their spouse, girlfriend or boyfriend so as to reveal their secret relationships (if any). Most of them are even willing to pay for the service. However, I strongly deny any such requests since I do not provide any paid hacking service. But anyhow, I have decided to write down this post so that you can learn the tricks for yourself and implement everything at your own risk.

With my experience of over 7 years in the field of ethical hacking and security, all I can tell you is that there are only two ways to successfully hack Facebook password.

Possible Ways to Hack Facebook Password

 

1. Keylogging – The Easiest Way!

Keylogging refers to simply recording each and every keystroke that is  typed on a specific computer’s keyboard. This is possible with the use of a small computer program called keylogger (also known as spy software). Once installed, this program will automatically load from the start-up, runs in the invisible mode and start capturing each and every keystroke that was typed on the computer.

Some keyloggers with advanced features can also capture screenshots and monitor every activity of the computer. One doesn’t need to have any special knowledge in order to install and use a keylogger. That means, anyone with a basic knowledge of computer can install and use this software with ease. Hence for a novice computer user this method is the easiest way to hack Facebook password. I recommend the following keylogger as the best for gaining access to Facebook account.

Easily Access any Email
SniperSpy (TESTED) is a revolutionary product that will allow you to easily access *ANY* online account or password protected material such as MySpace, Facebook, Yahoo, Gmail or Hotmail. There are absolutely *NO* limitations to what accounts or websites this software can access!

Why SniperSpy is the best?

Today there exists hundreds of keyloggers on the market but most of them are no more than a crap. However, there are only a few that stand out of the crowd and SniperSpy is the best among them. I personally like SniperSpy for it’s REMOTE INSTALLATION FEATURE. With this, you can install it on a remote computer without the need for having physical access to it. It operates in a complete stealth mode so that it remains undetected.

Here is a summary of benefits that you will receive with Sniperspy software:

1. Access ANY Password
With SniperSpy you can hack any password and gain access to Facebook or any other online account.

2. Monitor Every Activity
You can monitor every activity of the target computer, take screenshots and record chats & IM conversations.

3. Never Get Caught!
SniperSpy operates in a total stealth mode and thus remains undetectable. Therefore you need not have the fear of being traced or getting caught.

4. Remote Installation Feature
With the Remote Install feature, it is possible to install it even on computers for which you do not have physical access. However, it can also be installed on a local computer.

5. Extremely Easy to Use
Installing and using SniperSpy is simple and needs no extra skill to manage.

6. Completely Safe to Use
This software is 100% safe to use since it does not collect any personal information from your computer. SniperSpy is a reputed, trustworthy and reliable company which offers 100% privacy for it’s users.

7. Works on both Windows and Mac
Fully compatible with Windows 2000/XP/Vista/7 and Mac.

So what are you waiting for? If you are really serious to hack Facebook password then SniperSpy is for you. Go grab it now and expose the truth!

2. Phishing – The Difficult Way

The other common way to hack passwords or online accounts is via Phishing. This is the most widely used technique by many hackers to gain access to Facebook and other social networking websites. This method will make use of a fake login page (often called as spoofeed webpage) which will exactly resemble the original one. Say for example, a spoofed webpage of Facebook looks exactly same as that of the original page. This page is actually created by the hacker and is hosted on his own server. Once the victim enters his/her password in such a fake login page, the login details are stolen away by the hacker.

Most Internet users would easily fall prey to such online phishing scams. Thus phishing scams trick users in such a way that, they themselves give away their passwords. But phishing requires specialized knowledge and high level skills to implement. Hence it would not be possible for a noob user (perhaps like you) to attempt this trick. It is a punishable offense too. So, I would recommend that you stay away from phishing and make use of the keyloggers to hack Facebook password since it is the easiest and the safest way.

 

Facebook Hacking Methods that Do Not Work!

 

Today, there are hundreds of scam websites out there that are waiting to rip off your pockets by making false promises. These websites claim to be the experts in the field of hacking and boast to instantly obtain any password for you. Most people fall victim to these websites and lose their hard earned money. Thus the idea behind this post is to expose the truth behind hacking the Facebook (or any email password) so that you can learn how to do it for yourself and stay away from all those scam websites. The following are some of the hacking methods that actually do not work:

1. Many scam websites claim to exploit a certain vulnerability of Facebook website as a means to crack the password. Unfortunately, there is no such vulnerability in Facebook (or any other online account) that can be exploited to crack the password. I advise you to stay away from such scam websites.

2. There is no ready-made software program that is available to hack Facebook password except the keylogger (spy software). In fact, keyloggers are pretty generic and meant to record the keystrokes of a computer which obviously includes the password also. Keep in mind that apart from the keylogger, there is no such program that is specifically designed to gain access to Facebook accounts. Stay away from any website that claim to sell such program.

3. Beware! On many websites and Internet forums you will often see fake articles about Facebook hacking. Most of them will tell you something like this: “you need to send an email to passwordretrieve@facebook.com along with your username and password” (or something similar). Never give away your password to anyone nor send it to any email address. If you do so, you will lose your password itself in attempt to hack somebody else’s password.

I hope this post will help you avoid scams and choose the right approach to accomplish your goal. 

Best ways to get followers on twitter that i personally use

1. Okay so firstly u need a quick to read short BIO about yourself that tells about your work , your personality , and most important…About YOU!!! So that people know who they are following and for what they are following you!!!

2. Secondy, I suggest you to use hashtags in about each and every post of yours ( If you dont know what a Hashtag actually is then just search it on google and u ‘ll get to know!) For eg. Check out my new #blog post at my #new blog sahil.wordpress.com(sahil.us.pn) #blogging !! …well acutally this is a disgusting post dont use hashtags so often that your followers get bored!! at least u got the idea !!

3.Organize contests on your twitter account if you can because this way you can gain lots of followers as they will be interested in your contests! and follow you for more!

4.Interact with your followers as this is the best way to make them keep following you and you can make new friends this way!!

5.Tweet daily!! if you dont then your followers may get bored because of you inactiveness and unfollow you!!

6.Use twitter tools(google search!) . For eg. i use a tool that tells me the people whom i am following but they are not following me back and I unfollow them ! as simple as that.

7 Be Patient! use these methods and u will surely get more followers on daily basis. If you want to check your stats go to this URL http://bit.ly/SahilWP   

ANYTHING YOU NEED TO ASK FEEL FREE TO CONTACT ME ON TWITTER , GMAIL , FACEBOOK

http://bit.ly/ThisIsMyTwitter

http://on.fb.me/ThisisMyFacebook

My Gmail is sahil23singh@gmail.com

JAN 27 IS MY BIRTHDAY DO WISH ME IF YOU CAN I WILL FEEL HAPPY

Hack Your Own Super Fridge

Be warned: Should you choose to follow the instructions set forth, your hands may be dirtied and your patience may be tried. You may void the occasional warranty or risk having your friends call you “eccentric.” But in the end, you will know the incomparable satisfaction of greenhacking.

This week’s hack: Turn a chest freezer into a hyper-efficient refrigerator

Items needed: 1 chest freezer, 1 external thermostat (available at hoptech.com), 1 very understanding spouse who doesn’t mind pawing through a chest freezer to find the leftover lasagna.

Why this hack: We begin with this hack because it is simple and because the green return on money and time invested is impressive. Utilizing an inexpensive Energy Star chest freezer (about $400 for a 15-cubic foot model) and the aforementioned thermostat ($60), you can save more than half a kilowatt hour per day (and possibly much more: When I implemented this trick on a used Vestfrost freezer I picked up for $200, it consumed less than 1/8th of a kilowatt-hour per day).

If you’re paying $.16/kilowatt hour, that’s a savings of… ah, forget it. Repeat after me: “I hack for the hack, not the payback.”

Why it works: Well, for one, freezers tend to be better insulated than refrigerators. And for another, cold air settles. Every time you open the door to your fridge, cold air is essentially falling out of it; when you lift the lid on a chest freezer, the cold stays where it belongs: In the freezer.

Heart of the hack: Plug in external thermostat. Stick thermostat sensor in freezer (just run the capillary tube between the sensor and the thermostat over the lid gasket; the gasket will protect it from damage when opening and closing your freez… er, fridge), and set thermostat at 40-degrees or so. Plug the freezer into the thermostat and voila! You are a greenhacker.

Handy tips: If this is going to be a long-term arrangement, get some internal dividers for your new chest fridge to minimize the cluster factor. It also helps to elevate the freezer on some sort of base to ease the strain on your back.

How to Ditch Big Brother and Disappear Forever

How to Ditch Big Brother and Disappear Forever

So you’ve decided you want to drop off the map and leave Big Brother behind. It’s harder than ever in our always-connected world, but if you’re ready to plan your big vanishing act, here are a few tips to get you started.

If this looks familiar, you’re not crazy. Our guide to dropping off the map is a perennial Evil Week favorite.

Who hasn’t thought about how nice it would be to start fresh somewhere new, preferably with nicer weather and cheaper drinks? Whatever your reasons for wanting to disappear—maybe you just want to get The Man off your back—with enough diligence and planning you can vanish and start anew somewhere else.

For the low down on disappearing and starting your life over, we turned to the book How to Disappear: Erase Your Digital Footprint, Leave False Trails, and Vanish without a Trace by Frank M. Ahearn and Eileen C. Horan. Frank Ahearn is the grizzled grandfather of the vanishing act. After 20 odd years working as a skip tracer—an investigator who specializes in finding people who don’t want to be found—he realized he could make just as much money and incur a lot less risk helping people avoid investigators like himself. We’ve culled a few of Ahearn’s tips below, but if you’re really serious, his book is a great pocket guide to getting lost. Photoadapted from the Australia edition of How to Disappear.

How Not to Disappear

 

The cardinal sin in any serious disappearance is drama. You don’t successfully vanish by staging an elaborate disappearing act that ultimately involves a tri-state search, police dogs, and your home town believing that you were mauled by a bear and dragged off into the dark night. Ahearn stresses the importance of disappearing in a legal fashion. You shouldn’t, for example, try and secure false papers: It’s a felony to use false identification, and you have no idea if the papers you secured are legitimate. (What if your new social security number belongs to a dead guy or a criminal? What if the passport you bought is bogus and now you’re staring down a customs agent?). Instead, you want to obfuscate your identity in a way that it’s so difficult for people to follow you that anything short of a government task force will lack for the patience or funding to keep doggedly trying to find you. Here’s a little about how that might work. Photo by David McDermott.

 

Minimize Your Social Connections

 

People who hurriedly throw all their crap in a suitcase and run out the back door are the ones who fail at disappearing. Instead, one of your most important jobs, prior to your successful disappearance, is to slowly cut the fat from your social life. Stop using Facebook—ditch all social networks—maybe under the pretense that you’re spending too much time online (or any other pretense that people around you will accept besides “I’m going to torch my crappy life and move to Belize”).

 

You want to minimize the social footprint you occupy so that when suddenly you’re not standing in it anymore, few people will notice or care. If you’re the most prominent member of the local social scene and you vanish tomorrow, people will notice. Minimizing your virtual trail is more important than minimizing your real life trail. It takes mere minutes for an investigator to comb through social networks and search results, but hours and additional expenses to investigate on foot and by phone. Photo by Luis Perez.

The one social connection most people are unwilling to ditch is communication with their immediate family. Unless your immediate family is the reason you’re pulling a vanishing act, chances are you’ll still want to talk to your parents or siblings. This can the toughest communication to break, and it’s where almost everyone fails. All the planning in the world is worthless if you call your relatives from your new location and a skip tracer gets her hands on the phone records. If you want to communicate with your family or best friend after you’ve vanished from the less desirable people in your life, then you need to figure out, well in advance, how you will do so. Never communicate with them directly from any account linked to your new life or new residence. Anonymous email accounts and prepaid phone cards and cellphones are the only way you’re going to be finding out if Grandma’s hip surgery went well.

Ditch the Plastic; Cash Is King

 

Get used to the idea of ditching the luxuries you had in your former life. Gone are the credit cards, the convenience cards and loyalty cards, even simple things like a video rental card. Pay cash for everything and don’t use anything that could link your new life and your plans to your old life. Don’t check out books about Chile from your local library or buy them with a credit card. Don’t use a credit card or frequent flier miles to book a flight out of the country. Your goal in everything you do is to minimize the number of connections between your old life and your new life. Whenever you undertake an interaction with another person or business, ask yourself “Is this the least traceable method I could use?” Paying cash for a cup of coffee at an old coffee shop? Obscure. Paying with a credit card for a cup of coffee at an airport kiosk under the eye of four different security cameras? Not stealthy in the least. Cash is king. Photo by Andrew Magill.

 

Lie, Lie, and Lie Some More

 

Ahearn goes into intense detail on the topic of disinformation and its importance in disappearing. He notes that the thing skip tracers hope for most is just enoughinformation—too little and they’ll never find their prey, too much and they’ll waste all their time and funding looking in the wrong places. Your goal is to create disinformation.

 

As you prepare to disappear, slowly but surely start fudging the information companies have on you. “Correct” the spelling of your name on file with the local utility company, tell them they have the wrong social security number and offer a correction, change your mailing address for your bills to a fake mail drop you set up through a private mailing company. If people come looking for you, you want them to waste their time looking in the wrong places. Chapters 7, 8, and 9 of Ahearn’s book are all devoted entirely to disinformation, creating false leads (with examples from his work that are so clever you’ll want to hire him just to see him in action), and establishing yourself securely in a new locale. Photo by Anonymous9000.

Incorporation, The Binding Glue

 

At this point you might be nodding your head, thinking that the plan sounds great so far, save for the one glaring detail. If you can’t use anything but cash how on earth are you going to establish a new identity in your new location? Since you don’t want to lead the life of an illegal alien in your new locale, you’re going to need some way to have a legal presence that isn’t intimately tied back to your old identity.

 

Creating a corporation to manage your assets is one way many people handle their affairs once they have disappeared. Your corporation, only vaguely linked to you and not in the way that is readily identifiable to skip tracers, will be the entity that leases your apartment, pays your utility bills, and otherwise delegates your money out while serving as a shield between you and those looking for you. The details of this are best discussed between you and a lawyer or after careful research into what kind of corporation (and where) would be the best fit for you. Photo byDiana.

Lastly: Don’t Bother If You’re Not Committed

 

Disappearing is not easy. You don’t just fake your own death, buy some false papers in an alley from a guy with an indiscernible accent, and then retire to a life of leisure on a small island nation. Disappearing, and doing so legally and without incurring a bigger headache than the one you’re running away from, takes careful planning. You need to be willing to cut contact with nearly everyone you know (if not everyone), change how you shop, and even ditch your hobbies. Disappearing means beginning a game of chase with people who want to find you and being willing and strong enough to outlive them at that game. If you can’t do that, you’ll waste a lot of time and money trying to disappear but failing. Photo by Bohari Adventures.

 

Further Reading

 

The total planning and execution of your disappearance is well beyond the scope of this article. If you’re seriously entertaining the idea of disappearing, we highly recommend checking out Ahearn’s bookHow to Disappear: Erase Your Digital Footprint, Leave False Trails, and Vanish without a Trace. If you’re serious about vanishing, it offers insights and tips you likely never even thought about. If, like most of us, you’re not serious about vanishing, it’s still packed with fascinating stories culled from the hundreds of clients Frank has helped vanish from their old life and start a fresh one more to their liking. Either way you’ll end up a little more paranoid about your privacy and security and a lot more knowledgeable about the ways people abuse both.

 

The Ultimate Web Cash Flowchart (How to make money online)

Restore Your Faith in Humanity at the Nicest Place on the Internet

You catch glimpses of sunny parks, busy street corners and various home dwellings as smiling faces step up to offer friendly hugs and a lullaby voice sings lightly. Sound nice? It is. And you might be surprised to learn that it exists, of all places, on the Internet.

“It doesn’t ask any questions,” explains Jeff Lam, one of the creators behind the nicest place on the Internet. “It doesn’t want to know why you’re sad or why you need a hug. I think that’s the nice thing about it.”

Lam and his co-creator Lauren Perlow had the idea for the site after a rough day at their ad agency jobs. They spent that weekend collecting about 30 video hugs from the streets of San Francisco — a process that strangers were surprisingly willing to participate in — and posted the site in November. About 300,000 people have visited it since.

Some of those visitors have contributed their own hugs to the project. There are about 200 on the site, which is the most videos Lam and Perlow can put on its YouTube playlist. They get about 10 new video hug submissions a day. And miraculously, all of them have been nice. Lam says there hasn’t been a negative comment yet.

“When we uploaded the videos onto YouTube, we thought we should disable the comments because we don’t want people to write mean things,” he says. “But we forgot to turn off the comments. A couple of days later we realized, but it was quite the opposite. People couldn’t say a bad thing about it.”

As someone who regularly reads about cyber-bullying and is required to attach an open comment thread to everything I produce during the weekday, I tend to think of the anonymous Internet as a terrible, soulless place. But the nicest place on the Internet has leveraged that same anonymity for an eloquent group hug. It’s an oddly comforting project.

 

My Favorite Smallware

I use a lot of little programs to make my day-to-day life easier. Here are a few of them. Most of these programs are small, under a megabyte and don’t require an install. I use some of them every day, and others I use only occasionally. Almost all of them are free. I’ll be adding to this list as time goes on. I’m sure there are little programs I use that I forgot about, and there are some that are no longer available that I may make available if the license permits me to.

Update December 6, 2011: Wow did I really say under a megabyte? I first wrote this article nearly a decade ago… maybe in 2002 or 2003- nowadays anything under 10mb is considered small. This list sure has grown in that time, but the basic philosophy remains the same – small, portable where possible, and does odd/quirky things that you don’t necessarily find elsewhere. People ask me why I’m still on PC and not Mac/Linux – this list is a big part of why – and yes I get the irony of the first section of the list being antivirus & antispyware.

Antivirus & Antispyware

Your computer is physically in front of you, but is it really under your control?
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Cleaning up a Windows PC

This excellent post on Ask Metafilter gives you step-by-step instructions for cleaning a Windows PC, even one that you don’t think has been infected that you just want to speed up. Some of the steps seem a little extreme (disabling all non-Microsoft services & removing all unsigned drivers) and may break things – but if you’ve got your install media around, they shouldn’t break things to a point where you can’t fix them (for example, disabling the Adobe licening service may make Photoshop unhappy about running). The end result is a faster and virus/malware free computer. I do somethng like this every once in a while just to make sure there are no viruses lurking that I don’t know about and to generally speed things up, but it’s nice to have something step-by-step and thorough like this. I was too chicken to remove all of the “hidden/detached” devices from my computer – though I’m sure they’d just reinstall themselves next time I ran the computer.

Date Added: December 23, 2011

I use this program: Once a year

Ad Aware

Want to keep your computer spyware free? Use Ad-Aware.

License: Freeware
Installation: Install
Date Added: December 12, 2005

I use this program: Once a decade (emergencies)

AVG Antivirus

You have to be careful to always select the free option when downloading, but AVG has been free for years & it works great.

Update December 23, 2011: AVG has a lot of annoying nag screens, and the antivirus database takes up a lot of room. Lenovo, in their infinite wisdom, allocated 30 gigabytes to the C:\ partition. Keeping windows under 30mb is a constant struggle – I’ve already moved my temp drive to my D:\ partition and install everything I can there. Uninstalling a few programs that auto-update, including AVG, which updates the virus database regularly, cleared up a lot of space. I’ve uninstalled AVG and I’m not going to look back.

License: Freeware
Installation: Install
Date Added: November 10, 2006

I use this program: Daily

AVG Rescue CD

My coworker’s computer was crawling with viruses. In the past, it’s taken me hours of work trying to outsmart a virus, but no more. Thanks to the AVG Rescue CD I just pop this disc in, let it run overnight, and in the morning – clean computer. I still run SpyBot (because viruses and spyware are different) just in case, but I know the AVG Rescue CD will take care of any viruses.

The program runs off of the CD (or your thumb drive) so it completely bypasses Windows, allowing it to access even the deepest parts of Windows and scrubs it clean of viruses, and preventing itself from getting corrupted. If it can connect to the internet, it downloads the latest virus database and loads it into memory so you’re always up to date. (This isn’t guaranteed to work with all wireless connections due to some wireless card manufacturer’s restrictive licensing schemes.)

License: Freeware
Installation: Portable
Date Added: May 22, 2010

I use this program: Once a decade (emergencies)

FileMon

Another Sysinternals product (now owned by Microsoft), FileMon reports on every time a program accesses your hard drive. The information given is overwhelming, but a bit eye opening too, and could be important in tracking down a piece of malware.

License: Freeware
Installation: Install
Date Added: January 14, 2006

I use this program: Once a decade (emergencies)

HijackThis

HijackThis scans your computer for anything that may have been changed by malware (viruses & spyware) and reports on them. It makes no judgment calls & doesn’t try to fix anything, but it does let you go to the internet & get answers to how to fix things when they go horribly, horribly wrong.

License: Freeware
Installation: Install
Date Added: December 12, 2005
Updated: March 21, 2009
I use this program: Once a decade (emergencies)

PrevX

After reading a review of PrevX [1] I decied to give it a try. It’s lean, installs quickly, and scans your system quickly. Rather than keeping a database of virus signatures, it looks for programs that can do suspicious things, and if it finds one, it sends the signature of that program to its “cloud” database and finds out whether or not it’s known to be good. If it is, fine, if not, then it issues a warning that this program may be dangerous. In spite of many people warning against using two antivirus programs (because they would interfere with each other) PrevX is so light weight that I use it in addition to AVG and s far it’s been smooth sailing. I now install this combination on any computers whose owners I think are the type to open email attachments from spammers.

Update December 23, 2011: I’m still using PrevX and it’s great – small, light weight. When I launch a program it’s never seen before, I can see it scanning away in the background. There is one significant difference between PrevX and AVG though – AVG will stop a potentially malicious program cold & PrevX will let it run before reporting that it’s malicious.

License: Freeware
Installation: Install
Date Added: May 22, 2010
Updated: December 23, 2011
I use this program: Daily

ShieldsUP!

Gibson Research Corporation’s website that will test you computer to see which ports are open. Thanks to my firewalls, I get a perfect “Stealth” rating. What kind of rating do you get?

License: Freeware
Installation: Browser Based
Date Added: December 12, 2005

I use this program: Once a year

Spybot Search & Destroy

Another excellent tool to help get rid of and prevent spyware from infesting your computer. This one caught some spyware on my friend’s computer that Ad-Aware missed.

License: Freeware
Installation: Install
Date Added: December 12, 2005

I use this program: Once a decade (emergencies)

TrustNoEXE

TrustNoEXE solves the problem of “how do I lock down the computer so I can hand it over to someone & expect to get it back in the same condition I gave it to them in?” It prevents any program not in its list of trusted programs from running & the list is only accessible from the Control Panel. For a power user that regularly runs new programs this may be annoying, but for a system administrator, or someone giving a computer to mom (who may open “funnyCatPicures.exe”) it’s a godsend. It can also be set to allow any program in a certan directory run (such as c:\windows or c:\users\mark\desktop\smallware).

License: Freeware
Installation: Install
Date Added: January 14, 2006
Updated: March 21, 2009
I use this program: Once a decade (emergencies)

Winpooch

Winpooch is a cool, and only sleightly annoying (compared to Trust No EXE below) anti-spyware & anti-trojan tool that monitors your computer for internet connections, file accesses, etc. and reports them to you, allowing you to approve or deny them. Advanced users only.

License: Open Source
Installation: Install
Date Added: March 12, 2006

I use this program: Once a decade (emergencies)

Audio, Video & Music

Tools for displaying, editing, and creating audio and video, as well as tools for learning music, etc.
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Audacity

Free, open source multi-track recorder & editor. Audacity has become my go-to program for simple edits. I have a few gripes (the built in EQ sucks), but it accepts plugins, so maybe I’ll find something…

License: Open Source
Installation: Install & Portable
Date Added: January 7, 2006

I use this program: Once a month

CDex

CDex is a fairly simple to use MP3 ripper. For problem discs, try Exact Audio Copy.

License: Open Source
Installation: Install & Portable
Date Added: March 21, 2009

I use this program: Once a year

GNU Solfege

GNU Solfege is an ear training program. It has a number of exercises of increasing difficulty. This program really kicks my ass. If I stuck with it more, I’d have better ears than I do.

License: Open Source
Installation: Install & Portable
Date Added: March 21, 2009

I use this program: Once a month

ID3KILL

Pretty simple – this software lets you remove ID3 tags from your mp3 files. Useful if you listen to alot of audio books (like I do) and want the files to simply play in alphabetical order by file name & not based on their ID3 tags.

Installation: Portable
Date Added: October 31, 2011

I use this program: Once a year

Jalmus

Works with a USB piano keyboard and teaches you how to read music – notes values & durations are drilled. Great tool for anyone looking to learn piano or learn to read music.

License: Open Source
Installation: Install
Date Added: March 21, 2009

I use this program: Once a year

Media Player Classic

Based on an old version of Windows Media Player, Media Player Classic is a great, compact media player that handles some things a bit better than VLC. Unlike VLC, MPC depends on the codecs installed on your computer. Combine it with a media codec pack such as K-Lite & Quictime Alternative, and you should be able to play just about anything.

License: Open Source
Installation: Install & Portable
Date Added: March 21, 2009

I use this program: Daily

MP3 Merger

Combines multiple MP3s into a single file – good for combining multiple audio-book files into a single file.

License: Freeware
Installation: Portable
Date Added: March 21, 2009

I use this program: Once a month

MP3DirectCut

This is pretty neat software. It allows you to edit your MP3s directly (without importing them into another audio player & converting them to an uncompressed format). You can use it to split, merge, change the volume of, fade in/fade out etc. your mp3s with minimal loss of quality because you’re not re-encoding them a second time for each edit. I use it now instead of MP3 Merger.

License: Freeware
Installation: Install & Portable
Date Added: November 29, 2011

I use this program: Once a year

MP3Gain

You know how our MP3s all play at different volumes? MP3Gain analyzes your MP3s and determines which ones are louder/quieter and sets a hidden bit in the MP3 that tells your player how much volume to add or lower. Once you run MP3Gain on your MP3s, each one will sound just as loud/soft as the previous one and you can get back to doing what you were doing instead of constantly adjusting the volume.

For you audio geeks out there, it simply adds an entry to the ID3v2 tag that tells it “play at -6.5 db” so it doesn’t compress, clip, or otherwise alter the audio data in any way.

Update March 2009: I still use MP3 gain on my MP3s, but I don’t trust it on all of them (I’m not sure how to reversethe process). There are some MP3s where it seemed to set the volume to 0, but this was a very rare edge case & I’ve never seen it behave like that before, and some MP3s where it didn’t get an accurate read of the volume, and those remain much louder than others. Also, there seems to be a bug on the iPod where for the split second after you hit “next” it plays the song at full volume – somewhat annoying but less annoying than constantly changing the volume as each song comes on. There are programs available for Linux & OSX as well based on the same algorithm.

Update October 2011: I still use MP3 gain & haven’t run into the 0 volume bug again, it must have been an issue with those specific MP3s. I never run it on original files, just the ones that I’ve imported into iTunes (before they get synced to the iPod).

License: Open Source
Installation: Install & Portable
Date Added: November 15, 2006
Updated: March 21, 2009
I use this program: Once a month

Streaming Download Project

Use this to capture streaming video and audio off the net.

License: Freeware
Installation: Install
Date Added: January 7, 2006

I use this program: Once a year

VLC

VLC is one of the most popular video players in the world. Compact & supports a wide variety of files, VLC is my default video/audio player.

License: Open Source
Installation: Install & Portable
Date Added: March 21, 2009

I use this program: Daily

Weird Metronome

A very simple & versaile metronome/drum machine that lets you enter in patterns with the keyboard by referencing the number of the track you want to play. Useful for practicing odd times.

Date Added: March 21, 2009

I use this program: Once a year

WinABX

ABX is a tool for testing your ears & comparing two audio files. It plays an “A” file, a “B” file and an “X” file and you hav to decide if the X file is A or B. Audiophlies use it to determine if there really is a difference between two sound samples. WinABX seems to be the last of this dying breed of programs.

License: Freeware

Date Added: March 21, 2009

I use this program: Once a year

Backup

Backing up your data is essential to being able to keep working after something goe wrong.
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12 Ghosts Backup

I’ve been using 12 Backup on & off for years, depending on my needs at the time. 12 Backup behaves like Time Machine on a Mac (but did it first). The Hyperbackup stores a copy of your file every second for a minute, every minute for an hour, every hour for a day, every day for a week, every week for a month, and every month forever. This way you can retrieve a version from a few moments ago, a few days ago, or a few months ago, or anywhere in between. Good for rapidly changing files.

License: Shareware
Installation: Install
Date Added: March 21, 2009

I use this program: Daily

SyncBack

I searched high and low for a program that will not only copy my files to another drive or computer on the network for safekeeping, but FTP them to another location entirely. SyncBack does this. Now if the worst happens – a total hard drive failure – my most important documents will be waiting for me on my server (in another city thousands of miles away). Not bad for freeware!

Update March 2009: I’ve been depending on this software for over 4 years now, and it has performed beautifully. My laptop died last year & I didn’t lose any important information. A shared-network drive at work died and I didn’t lose any important information. Truly amazing. I’ve updated to the shareware version & recently went back to look at the freeware version & it was pretty simplistic, but still got the job done. One of the great features of the shareware version is that will keep versions of our file, so that if the file gets corrupted, you don’t have to worry about the corrupted version overwriting your good backup, since you can have (for example) 10 versions going back 30 days.

Other Similar ToolsKaren’s Replicator is a freeware tool that will copy your fils from one drive to another, but lacks versioning & FTP. Second Copy (shareware) is also consistently highly recommended as an excellent backup utility.

I’ve written an article called Automated Hands-Free Backups for my search for the ultimate backup tool. I also wrote another article called Recovering from Catastrophic Failure about how SyncBack let me keep working, even though my computer died.

License: Freeware and Shareware
Installation: Install
Date Added: December 12, 2005
Updated: March 21, 2009
I use this program: Daily

Datamining

Anyone that knows me knows that I’m obsessed with datamining- finding the hidden patterns behind things. Here are some of the tools I use to do this. See also TextSTAT below.
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Eureqa

So let’s say you’re looking at a bunch of data in excel. You can run the standard statistical analysis on the data- correlation, standard deviation, confidence interval, but that doesn’t tell you much about the relationships between the data. Eureqa will take that data & try to come up with an algorithm that solves reliably for “x”. Let it run for a while and it’ll come up with a number of formulas that try to balance simplicity vs. accuracy in predicting the data. It’s a rather niche product, but I’m totally addicted to it.

Update December 16, 2011: Eureqa 2 is out. It’s a rewrite that does a few things. 1. It now has native Linux/OSX versions and the UI has been updated. 2. They now offer a paid cloud computing service. It’s inexpensive. 3. They remove the client/server model that would allow you to use several computers on your internal network to speed up results. 4. Eureqa is now portable – no install needed. There are a number of other changes, but these are the big ones. If you want the old version that allows you to network a number of computers together – get the most recent 1.x version (0.84b). Otherwise Eureqa 2 is great and for a small fee you get cloud computing to crunch your numbers.

License: Open Source
Installation: Install & Portable
Date Added: March 8, 2011
Updated: December 17, 2011
I use this program: Once a year

Education & Studying

Need to learn a lot of stuff fast? Check out these programs. Just reading isn’t enough to make information “stick” in your brain- you need to test yourself continuously and flash cards with spaced repetition are the way to do it. A simple offline method that can be practiced with real flash cards is the Leitner Box system. These are based on a somewhat more complex algorithm.
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Mnemosyne

Mnenosyne is based on an early version of the SuperMemo algorithm [SM-2] and is much easier to use and works cross platform.

There is one quirk that I reported to them as a bug [ref]. If you don’t know something (rate it zero) then it will be shown to you again fairly quickly. This is testing short term memory rather than long-term recall. The workaround is to go into Settings -> Config and chage “Number of 0 grade cards to hold in your hand” to something greater than 5 (I put up to the max – 99). Otherwise you’ll be shown the same 5 cards over & over in rapid succesion.

It’s much easier to use than Supermemo, but lacks all the fun advanced reporting features that make Supermemo so addictive. It also supports images, sound, LaTeX formating and three sided cards. (Supermemo supports images, sounds, advanced formatting & multiple card options). There’s also an Android version called Mnemododoand an export plugin. I don’t believe that learning schedules are transferred with the data.

Update December 16 2011: Check out my update for Supermemo about some bug I ran into there. I’m hoping Mnemosyne is more stable. In any event, I do find that Mnemosyne’s formatting is a bit lacking – every card (front & back) is centered, making scanning bulleted lists (e.g. “the five senses” / “sight, smell, touch, taste, hearing”) more difficult. Otherwise it seems ok. I know Mnemosyne accepts LaTex input, but I’d rather simple richtext support & the ability to left align text. I’d accept plaintext input if they’d left align the text. A quick check of their feature list say that this and a number of ther improvements are on the horizon for their 2.0 release.

License: Open Source

Date Added: March 7, 2011
Updated: December 16, 2011
I use this program: Once a year
PortableApps.com Version Available? yes

SuperMemo

This is a very quirky program, but very effective. There’s a free version, which is great for every day use and a premium version (which I gladly paid for when I had a lot of studying to do. There are some odd bugs that I don’t know if they’ve fixed (like if I copy/paste a flashcard & edit the pasted flashcard, the original gets edited as well- it doesn’t just copy the text out, it copies the card itself). Still, the supermemo algorithm is great and the review tools are the absolute best when it comes to memorizing data. If you absolutely, positively must learn vast quantities of information, this is the program to use. It’s also loaded with statistics about your study habits and how well you know the data, which allows you to track your progress as you study.

Update November 2011: The current latest free version (SuperMemo 2004) is the version that I paid for back in 2005. SuperMemo 2011 has even more advanced features and finally full Unicode support. What SuperMemo has over Mnenosyne is lots & lots of reporting & statistics on your progress, which I find to be highly addictive – it’s more like a game where you track your progress this way. Mnenosyne has a rather bland reporting screen & none of the advanced statistics. Supermemo also has some features I’m not too familiar with like incremental reading, (and in the new 2011 version) to-do lists, a tool for organizing & optimizing your workday, and even sleep schedules so you can see how lack of sleep influences your memory. Use Menosyne if you just want a quick flashcard program that works. Use SuperMemo if you want to track your progress in every detail with lots of fun graphs while you learn.

Update December 16 2011: I’ve started using the latest freeware version (Supermemo 2004) and the “if you copy/paste the text of a card, you actually copy the whole card (and therefore any edits made to one are made to both)” bug came back with a vengeance. It seems to be due to a quirk of Supermemo that each card is stored as an HTML file & copy/pasting the text of a card just tells Supermemo to point to the original file location for both cards now – you copy/past the location of the card. I ended up exporting all my cards from Supermemo and importing them into Mnemosyne. Hopefully Mnemoyne — which seems to have a saner database structure – will be more stable.

License: Freeware and Shareware
Installation: Install
Date Added: March 7, 2011
Updated: December 16, 2011
I use this program: Once a year

Leitner Box Flash Card Systems

The Leitner Box algorithm is pretty straightforward. You have a number of piles of flash cards (boxes). All of the cards start in box 1, which you review daily. If you know the answer, you put the card in box 2. If you don’t know it, it gets shuffled back into box 1. Box 2 gets reviewed every other day – if you know the answer, it moves on to box 3 which you review once every 4 days (each time doubles). If you don’t know the answer, it goes back into box 1. From box 3 (every other day) to box 4 (every 4 days) and so on. Box 5 you review once every 8 days. This way you review the stuff you don’t remember constantly, and the stuff you do remember you review only occasionally to make sure you still remember it.

  • Pauker – A Java based (multi-platform) GPL flash card system based on Leitner Box, but which includes “Ultra Short Term Memory” (measured in seconds), “Short Term Memory” (measured in minutes) and “Long Term Memory” (measured in days). The upshot of this is that this is one of the few flash card programs to address intervals of less than a day in memorization, leading to greater recall in the few days following your first session with material. Additionally, you can tell the program whether to review new material first, and where to shuffle unmemorized cards back into the deck basically allowing you to study for a quiz on new material or comprehensive final exam. The word “Pauker” basically translates as “Cram school teacher.” Using this program feels more high-pressure and rapid-fire than other programs, which is pretty cool & keeps the learning exciting. Tip: Go into the Config section & turn on word wrapping.
  • Anki – Anki is technically a SuperMemo based (SM-2) flashcard system like Mnemosyne and SuperMemo so it doesn’t belong in this section, but I don’t use it so I’m not comfortable giving it a full writteup either. It does, however, have a number of great features. It’s cross platform (including Android & iPhone) and has a server so you can upload cards & review anywhere you have a web browser. It has robust multimedia support and can (with some difficulty) be installed on a USB drive.
  • Memory Lifter – A rather robust program that has an optional network/client model that allows educators to keep a server to give inforation to each student and track their progress.
  • JMemorize – A fairly straightforward Java (multi-platform) Leitner Box flash card system with a few advanced configuration options
  • CueCard – A windows only flash card program with its own unique algorithm based on a weighted card difficulty.

Installation: Install & Portable
Date Added: December 17, 2011

 

Finance

I really liked my old copy of Microoft Money but I lost the disc- so how do I manage my finances now?
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GNUCash

GNUCash is sort of complex to get set up & I still don’t fully understand it (split transactions? still can’t get them right), but is easy enough to use once you get it going. You need to read through the getting started documentation, but once you do it’s pretty straightforward for most basic tasks. I’m using it for small business accounting, so it’s important to have all sorts of different categories for expenses, and this GNUCash handles well.

License: Open Source
Installation: Install & Portable
Date Added: March 8, 2011

I use this program: Once a week
PortableApps.com Version Available? yes

Money Manager Ex

In trying to find a simpler replacement for GNU Cash I tried Mone Manager Ex, but it’s too simple for my needs- it’s more for personal accounting – based on account & not on categories of expenses. Sure categories are there, but they’re not a priority.

License: Open Source
Installation: Install & Portable
Date Added: March 8, 2011

I use this program: Never
PortableApps.com Version Available? yes

Games

Abandoned tinygames. See also A Complete Waste of Time for all sorts of time wasters.
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Medwar “Medieval War”

This little wargame is simplistic by modern standards, and the Play By Email function seems quaint in the world of always-on-broadband and Playstation2 or XBox Live, but there’s still a soft spot in my heart for this game. It was published in 1993 by Burnham Park Software, Inc. Written by Mark Brownstein.

Declaration of War is a version, which includes modern weapons such as airplaines and aircraft carriers. Search for “dowar11.zip” on Google. Also medoor11.zip, is a BBS door version of the game… I have no idea how this one works, as I never ran a BBS.

I was in contact with the programmer, who was developing a 2.0 version (which I was waiting for before I registered) but it never came out, and the company fell off the face of the Earth. I never did get a registered version (which would allow you to build your own scenarios).

Download directly from my site: MedwarDeclaration of War

License: Freeware and Shareware
Installation: Install & Portable
Date Added: March 21, 2009
Updated: March 21, 2009

The Original Daleks Game – Daleks.exe

Another addictive puzzle game. You play Dr. Who, and you have to avoid the Daleks. They move one space every time you move one space. You kill them by getting them to crash into each other, or destroying them with the one-use sonic screwdriver. You can also teleport, but that’s dangerous. While you won’t teleport directly onto a dalek, you may teleport next to one, and it can kill you on it’s next round.

This DOS game was written by Robert Paauwe in 1985. Again, numerous other versions have been written of this game, including several online versions, but the first remains the best. Though some of the online-only versions have some good features, like, well, not having to install it at all, and you can compete against hundreds of other people for the high score.

Download directly from my site: DALEKS.EXE; see A Complete Waste of Time for online versions.

I recently discovered that this game was originally called Robots (and sometimes Zombies) created by guys behind Rogue, and was originally distributed with BSD. Neat.

License: Freeware
Installation: Portable
Date Added: December 5, 2005
Updated: March 21, 2009

The Original SameGame

“The ultimate time waster.” In this addictive puzzle game, you have to clear the board of colored blocks. You can only clear 2 or more adjacent blocks, and the more you can clear at once, the more points you get.

  • SameGame 1.11
    The original Windows version was written by Ikuo Hirohata “Grow” in 1993 is available at:
    http://www.winsite.com/bin/Info?500000030590
  • Samegame 1.15
    This is basically identical to 1.11 and is available at:
    http://www.ryosoft.com/ (note that due to a small glitch on his site that screwed up all his links, you can’t download it directly from his site in some browsers, so the direct download link is here: http://www.ryosoft.com/zips/same.zip
  • Same3 for Windows
    This version adds a lot of things like new game modes, undo, save, and choose a game to play (like Freecell). This version is shareware, and the only limitation (besides a mild nag screen on launch) is that your high scores won’t be saved between games. It’s available at:
    http://home.maine.rr.com/sabakker/same3_win.htm
  • Skinnable SameGame
    Finally there’s Olof Tjerngren’s version, which is skinnable. You can even make your own skins. It also lets you add many more game pieces, making the game much harder. It’s available here:
    http://www.tjerngren.net/samegame/
  • Online Versions
    See my article A Complete Waste Of Time for some online versions of this game.

Download directly from my site: samegame.exe

License: Freeware
Installation: Portable
Date Added: December 12, 2005
Updated: March 21, 2009

 

Hard Drive and File Repair, Rename & Recovery

Everything you need to keep your hard drives running efficiently
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Contig

Command line tool that lets you defrag a single file or directory. From Microsoft, formerly from SysInternals.

License: Freeware
Installation: Portable
Date Added: March 21, 2009

I use this program: Once a decade (emergencies)

DoubleKiller

This file searches your hard drive & finds duplicate files. You can select the paramaters – Name, Filesize, Date or CRC, folders, filetypes, folders, etc. Easy to use, no install. Works great, the UI is excellent and it runs extraordinarily quickly.
Update: They’ve introduced a “Pro” version of DoubleKiller with a bunch of new features. (Thanks to Robert Bull for the pointer.)
Update 2: I’ve purchased the Pro version. The advanced options make it well worth it. I’ve already used it to clean probably several gigabytes of files I had lying around duplicated either due to having several copies from upgrading my computer or due to downloading the same file twice, or retagging MP3s so a less sophisticated program couldn’t spot the dups. Well worth it for a digital packrat like myself. Update March 2009: I still use DoubleKiller Pro, though not as much as I used to. Nowadays I just buy another external hard drive. What’s really impressive about DoubleKiller Pro is how fast it works (depending somewhat on how you configure it). Highly recommended for anyone that needs this sort of thing.

License: Freeware
Installation: Install & Portable
Date Added: December 12, 2005
Updated: March 21, 2009
I use this program: Once a year

Folder Size for Windows Explorer

Adds a column to Windows Explorer that tells you the size of your folders. It takes a moment to grab information from your folders (like doing a rightclick/properties), but can replace the “Size” column by including folder size information as well.

Update March, 2009: In my increasingly networked & large-hard-drive filled world, I don’t use Folder Size much anymore – it’s just too slow.

(via LifeHacker)

License: Open Source
Installation: Install
Date Added: January 7, 2006
Updated: March 21, 2009
I use this program: Never

InfraRecorder

I used to use DeepBurner to create my data CDs and DVDs but InfraRecorder does the same thing & is open source & there’s a portable version. Win!

License: Open Source
Installation: Install & Portable
Date Added: October 31, 2011

I use this program: Once a month
PortableApps.com Version Available? yes

Oscar’s File Renamer

I use this program on a regular basis. I hate getting files with extremely long file names and going to burn them them to CD just to find they don’t fit and I have to rename 100 files. Or getting an audio book on mp3 just to find that the filenames are “Author – Book Title – Disc 1 – File 15.mp3” when my mp3 player only shows the first few characters of the file. Well, luckily, there’s Oscar’s File Renamer to the rescue. It’s extremely simple interface lets you search & replace or record keystroke macro’s. What really sets this apart is that it opens a directory like a text file, moving the cursor up and down doesn’t just select a different file, it keeps the same character spacing as before, and you don’t commit your changes until you’re happy with them so you can experiment without fear of screwing up. When you use a program like this, you have to balance the time & effort you spend learning it/using it with the time it would take to rename all the files by hand. That said, here are a few other renamers you might be interested in.

I’ve also used BKRenamer, which is a great regular expression, command-line no-install tool. BKRenamer is great when you have to do a change all the file names in several directories because it can search through subdirectories as well.

I’ve also used the Bulk Rename Utilitiy, which is quite complex, but useful when you need to do more than simple renaming, such as renaming and moving only files that have been renamed, etc.

License: Freeware
Installation: Install
Date Added: March 21, 2009
Updated: March 21, 2009
I use this program: Once a month

PC Inspector File Recovery

When I needed to undelete a file that I’d erased, I googled for a program that would work for me. Out of all the programs I tried, PC Inspector was the best. It works with NTFS and FAT32, and it’s extremely thorough. It may take a while to scan your hard drive, but it’s well worth it if you can get your precious data back.

License: Freeware
Installation: Install
Date Added: January 6, 2006

I use this program: Once a decade (emergencies)

SpaceMonger

This program shows you visually how much space is taken up by what folders/files on your hard drive. Think of it as a sort of square pie chart that allows you to zoom in to a folder. This is a very powerful program that allows you to literally see where all of your space is going. Not as popular as SequoiaView, but I think it’s better because SpaceMonger shows you directories and allows you to zoom in on them.
WinDirStat is a free, open source program that does many of the things SpaceMonger does, and more. (Thanks to Robert Bull for pointing me to this one.) Folder Size (see above) is an excellent plugin for Windows Explorer that will show you the size of each folder. Update March 2009: There is a powerful shareware version of this software now, which you may be interested in if the freeware version doesn’t do enough for you.

License: Freeware and Shareware
Installation: Portable
Date Added: March 21, 2009
Updated: March 21, 2009
I use this program: Once a decade (emergencies)

Spinrite 6

Hard drives go bad, it’s a fact of life. Spinrite can help. By booting into Spinrite, it can analyze your hard drive (sort of like chkdsk), and even try to recover bad sectors. It’s a real last-ditch drive saving tool, but can be the difference between recovered data & unrecovered data.
I list this as being “Portable” but you have to burn it to a CD andn run it as a boot disk since it has to bypass the OS for direct access to the disk.

License: Shareware
Installation: Portable
Date Added: March 21, 2009

I use this program: Once a decade (emergencies)

Information Managers

See Comparison of Outliners for a comprehensive overview of my favorite information managers.
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Freemind

Freemind is a pretty solid, straightforward mind mapper. Cross platform (written in Java, but not the clunky java of yesteryear, Freemind is very responsive). I use it all the time when I need to organize my thoughts.

License: Open Source
Installation: Install
Date Added: February 28, 2010

I use this program: Once a month

Treeline

More of a database than an outliner, Treeline is a great tool for keeping structured information. It stores files in an XML structure & exports nicely to HTML. I maintain this smallware list in Treeline.

License: Freeware
Installation: Install
Date Added: March 21, 2009

I use this program: Once a month

TreePad Lite

I’ve been using this program to organize information for as long as I can remember, certainly for the past decade (it being 2009 now). Combined with TrueCrypt to keep the data secure & Syncback to back up my files, TreePad has been the single place I store all my most important data. Thanks to this setup, I’ve never lost old passwords, can use very complex passwords that even I can’t remember, and so on.

There are shareware versions, which I own, but Treepad Free remains the best.

License: Freeware
Installation: Install & Portable
Date Added: December 12, 2005
Updated: March 21, 2009
I use this program: Daily

Internet – email, chat, browsing, networking

Small alternatives to the major programs, as well as some interesting things you may not have known existed.
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ChromeCacheView

Someone posted a video of me to Facebook & I couldn’t figure out how to extract the video file to save to my hard drive, so I found ChromeCacheView. It’s clunky & you still have to do a bit of hunting to find the files but using this program & a bit of ingenuity, I was able to find & save the video for future posterity.

License: Freeware

Date Added: October 31, 2011

I use this program: Once a decade (emergencies)

FeedReader

An RSS aggregator that’s fairly lightweight (though the database can get huge if you have a lot of feeds in it). If you prefer an offline reader, Feedreader is probbaly the way to go. I was able to browse thousands (yes, thousands) of job ads a day using Feedreader to quickly scan the headline & just look at the ones that were most intersting to me. It’s a bit of a resource hog, but I’ve yet to find another feedreader that matches my needs so closely.

Edit May 22, 2010: FeedReader is an extreme resource hog – while it’s running my hard drive spins non-stop, and whenever I open it, it takes a long time to open or to do things. I’ve finally found an RSS reader that matches all my needs – see March 21, 2009
Updated: May 22, 2010
I use this program: Never

Filezilla

Open source FTP and SFTP program. The interface is simple, it has good options and it just works.

License: Open Source
Installation: Install & Portable
Date Added: April 4, 2009

I use this program: Daily
PortableApps.com Version Available? yes

Free Download Manager

This program sits in your system tray & lets you add files to be downloaded. It can beak a large file up into smaller parts to speed up the download, or resume a download once it has been stopped (depending on the configuration of the web server you’re downloading from). I haven’t used it in a whlie, but it was very handy for a while.

License: Open Source
Installation: Install
Date Added: March 21, 2009

I use this program: Once a year

Gmail

You’ve already heard of gmail, but you may not have thought of it for the purpose I’m about to describe – as a spam blocker for your email client.

A few people I work with get so much spam email that some sort of spam blocker is necessary or they’d be overwhelmed. They get over a thousand spam messages a day, and after a weekend their computers choke on the spam. One of my coworkers is also the type to open email attachments from spammers (because they’ve cleverly made it look important) leading her to get viruses. What do you do in these situations? Set Gmail up in between your coworker and their incoming mail. Gmail can check POP3 email and can act as a POP3 email server. Getting Gmail to check your incoming POP3 email server, and then getting your client to check Gmail using the available POP3 protocol, you’ve interposed the world’s best spam blocker between your coworker and their incoming email. From everyone else’s perspective, things seem normal – though they may take another minute or two to get email than everyone else, but you know that spam is being blocked before it ever gets to them. And if something gets labeled as spam that shouldn’t (such as a website registration email) – just log in to gmail and find it. It also serves as an archive for all incoming mail, should you need it for audit/CYA purposes.

License: Freeware
Installation: Browser Based
Date Added: May 22, 2010

I use this program: Daily

Google Chrome

Google Chrome is a somewhat lightweight browser that has some interesting features. It’s based on the Safari rendering engine, and launches each tab in a separate process, so if a webpage has something on it that causes that tab to crash, you can to into the task manager, kill that process, and keep on browsing without losing any of the data in your other tabs. While this means greater overhead per-tab, it also means as you close tabs, memory is reclaimed and given back to your OS. It also has an “incognito” mode that keeps no cookies or history of what you’re doing. All in all, I recommend it for lightweight or private browsing. Works on a computer I have at home that could never easily run Firefox.

Update March 7, 2011: I caught a virus while browsing the web using Chrome, so I unstalled Flash- it turns out that Flash is built in to Chrome, but you can turn off plugins by default and it’s really simple to turn them on – either for a site as a whole or “now”. Chrome does have one downside though- it downloads updates transparently & leaves the install files behind, so it will quicky grow to several gigabytes, which isn’t good when you’re using it on a netbook.

Update October 31, 2011: Check out Chromium Portable, based on the same code as Google Chrome, but it omits certain thing that you may find objectionable (from a privacy point of view). While I’ll continue to use Chrome (because of it’s ability to control how plugins work & because I don’t have Flash intalled on my computer & depend on Chrome’s bundled Chrome to view Flash based content), I do recommend Chromium for privacy oriented users.

Update December 3, 2011: Check out Iron Portable. Similar to Chromium above, but part of the Portable Apps suite.

License: Freeware
Installation: Install
Date Added: March 21, 2009
Updated: December 3, 2011
I use this program: Daily
PortableApps.com Version Available? yes

HFS – HTTP File Server

A very simple drag & drop file server that allows you to share files from your computer with friends. All they need to do is point their web browser at whatever address your computer is (the program tells you) and they can see whichever files you’ve decided to share. If you’re behind a network firewall you will have to know how to find your address & share it with the outside world.

Windows Networking is so tricky, that I use this at home to share files with people on computers just a couple of feet away from mine.

A lot of antivirus programs will tell you HFS is a virus. It’s not – it just behaves in some ways that a virus may behave (namely, allowing other people to access files on your hard drive – but this is what you want it to do). Tell your antivirus software that this program is OK.

Update November 2011: A new beta version of HFS includes some simple scripting which, when combined with the right template, can be used to create a simple forum/chat application, all hosted off of your home PC.

License: Open Source
Installation: Portable
Date Added: February 21, 2010
Updated: November 26, 2011
I use this program: Once a month

HTTrack

HTTrack will browse a website & make an offline copy of it for you to browse at your leisure. It’s the kind of thing you’d only need occasionally, but you’re glad to have when you do need it.

License: Open Source

Date Added: March 21, 2009

I use this program: Once a decade (emergencies)

I2P

I2P is a decentralized, encrypted, anonymous peer-to-peer network that’s intended more for communication than for file sharing.

Its topology is similar to Tor – lots of nodes connected to each other and you can run web servers or IRC servers on it. According to stats.i2p (i2p is their internal TLD) there are 10,000 nodes active as of November 2011. Still, it seems to suffer from the “network effect” problem – the only people on i2p are people who are interested in creating an anonymous, decentralized, encrypted, internet so most of the content on i2p is about i2p. There’s also the interesting problem how how do you implement a domain name structure with no centralized naming authority? Their solution is that everone maintains their own hosts list (human readable domain to hash tag) & that whoever ends up first in your list for a domain (e.g. site.i2p) is the one you use. You can subscribe to trusted lists for new hosts, but the possibility remains that different people will resolve site.i2p to different machines. There is also an active IRC server.

Still, this is how I see Internet 2.0 taking shape – an anonymous, encrypted mesh network, and i2p is one of the more mature instances of this. In a world where the US Goverment is threatening to filter DNS [ref], creating their own version of the Great Firewall of China, it’s evident that a decentralized mesh network will be the way forward and there are a number of projects that have cropped up recently to do so via hardware (resiliant, mesh, wifi networks). This is a strictly software implementation.

License: Open Source
Installation: Install
Date Added: November 26, 2011

I use this program: Once a year
PortableApps.com Version Available? no

Jabber (XMPP)

Jabber is a server + client protocol that allows you to set up your own instant messenger. Used mostly at companies that want to enable chat, but don’t want their chat shared with AOL, Microsoft, Yahoo or Google or to go unencrypted over the internet. Since you control the server, you can enable things like encryption & chat logging on the server. Google Talk/Gchat is based on Jabber. You can also enable communication between server, so you can connect different branches of your organization with Jabber, each controlling their own version.

License: Open Source
Installation: Install
Date Added: December 12, 2005
Updated: March 21, 2009
I use this program: Never

Mailwasher

Using Mailwasher, you can log in to your email account & delete and bounce spam mails before they hit your inbox. Why is this cool? Because by sending a bounced email, you’re telling the spammer “return to sender, address unknown” and spam bots will remove your email address from their list of valid email addresses. It won’t solve your spam problems, but if used diligently, it should be a great way to cut down on the amount of spam that gets sent to you.

Update March 2009: I used this program to delete over 4,000 spam messages in someone’s inbox. Yes, that’s 4,000 spam messages. (Or maybe it was 40,000, I forget). Any email client that downloaded the email first to analyze it would have died. Mailtrust too wasn’t rock-solid and I had to keep stopping the download process, otherwise Mailtrust would peg the CPU and churn for hours, but it was the only tool I could think of that would get the job done, nevermind the bounce features, it’s a great tool for cleaning your inbox if there’s so many spam emails your mail client chokes on them.

License: Freeware and Shareware
Installation: Install
Date Added: December 3, 2006
Updated: March 21, 2009
I use this program: Once a decade (emergencies)

MoonEdit

MoonEdit is a great collaborative text editing tool. It allows two people to edit the same document simultaneously. I’ve never found a use for this, but it’s just simply awesome in concept.

Update November 2011: Google Docs now has realtime collaborative editing, making Moonedit somewhat obsolete.

License: Freeware
Installation: Install
Date Added: January 21, 2005
Updated: November 26, 2011
I use this program: Once a year

NetWorx

A simple program that sits in your system tray and tracks your network usage in real time and with historical data. Especially useful for people who pay for bandwidth, I use it to look for leaks (unexpected bandwidth usage from programs) and to check for download speeds on prgrams that don’t report download speeds (such as install programs that download the core program).

Portable Version

I also use the (somewhat less robust NetPerSec, part of the PC Magazine utilties that used to be free but now require a purchase/suscription.

License: Freeware
Installation: Install & Portable
Date Added: March 27, 2010

I use this program: Daily

no-ip

I’m on DSL at home and that means my IP address changes every few days. Yet I need to connect to my home computer to transfer files from time to time (frequently viaWaste). So what do I do? I use no-ip so my home computer has a domain name I can connect to when away from home. DynDNS is a similar service, but I find it’s clunky to use, I prefer no-ip.

License: Freeware and Shareware
Installation: Install
Date Added: March 7, 2011

I use this program: Daily

Off By One

This is a great tiny (1.2MB) web browser that only supports old-school website layouts (HTML 3.2 – no CSS, no Javascript), but could get you out of a jam on a computer with absolutely no spare RAM. It claims to erase your tracks after you use it, but I find that they persist.

License: Freeware
Installation: Portable
Date Added: March 12, 2006
Updated: March 21, 2009
I use this program: Once a year

Pidgin

Pidgin is an open source instant messaging client that works with all the major protocols, including IRC and Jabber. It’s the only instant messaging client I use.
A portable version is available at PortableApps.com. One of the benefits of having a portable version is that all your passwords & chat logs are stored in the same folder as the application, making Pidgin that much easier to secure. Pidgin Portable even supports encrypted chat sessions with portable versions of Pidgin Encrption and Pidgin OTR.
DO NOT recommend Trillian. When dealing with tech support, the tech support guy emailed me a portion of my password hoping to jog my memory (thinking that my problems were an inability to remember my Trillian password & not their confusing licensing scheme). The fact that my password was stored in plaintext is a HUGE red flag that they don’t take security seriously.

License: Open Source
Installation: Install
Date Added: March 21, 2009
Updated: April 10, 2009
I use this program: Daily
PortableApps.com Version Available? yes

PuTTY

PuTTY is a Telnet and SSH program – you can use it to log in to remote servers and get access to a command line interface, which is useful for certain tasks- if you need me to tell you more than that, you probably don’t need it.

License: Freeware
Installation: Portable
Date Added: March 8, 2011

I use this program: Once a month
PortableApps.com Version Available? yes

RSSOwl

RSSOwl is my new favorite RSS program. It’s fast and unlike FeedReader, doesn’t keep my hard drive running 24/7. I currently have a few dozen news feeds with over 5,000 articles and it’s fast and works great. It also has the option to delete articles after a set number of days, rather than just keep each feed with the same number of articles. This means that you can ensure that the news you’re reading really is fresh and that old news isn’t clogging up your system. It lacks the “intelliupdate” feature that FeedReader has where the program determines how often it should check for updates (based on how often updates usually occur) but the default setting of 30 minutes seems fine.

The UI isn’t as clean as it could be – you can’t click on the read/unread column to make things as read/unread – you either have to right lick on the item & go into the menu, or remember the keystroke, but this is a minor issue for an otherwise excellent program.

Update March 7, 2011: RSSOwl is nice, though when it’s updating feeds it pegs my CPU. Admittedly I use it on a weak laptop and have a lot of feeds. It is still a good RSS Reader.

License: Freeware
Installation: Install & Portable
Date Added: May 22, 2010
Updated: March 7, 2011
I use this program: Daily

Tor

Tor is a decentralized encrypted network tool that lets you surf the web anonymously. You connect to Tor & your web surfing is then routed through the Tor network until your request comes out through another Tor node – thus hiding your IP address from any sites you visit. There have been a few white papers recently on how it may be possible to monitor Tor traffic, but it’s still the best tool out there for surfing the web with relative anonymity. (there’s still the evercookie to track your identity).

Check out the Tor Browser Bundle for a portable version bundled with a pre-confiured Firefox.

Update December 26, 2011: Check out Advanced Onion Router (AOR) for a compact, portable TOR solution. You can launch programs from within AOR to help prevent privacy issues with certain plugins not obeying the proxy rules you set & giving away your IP address. I did find that I couldn’t launch Iron Portable from within AOR because it would violate certain Windows security rules – I’m not sure how it would fare with other browsers.

Also check out OperaTor if you prefer to use the Opera browser to surf anonymously.

License: Open Source
Installation: Install & Portable
Date Added: November 26, 2011
Updated: December 26, 2011
I use this program: Once a year

VNC (Virtual Network Computing)

VNC allows you to take control of another computer. It’s cross platform (and comes pre-installed on Macs where they call it “Screen Sharing”). It does this by sending a highly compressed video of your computer to the other computer. Created by a compan that was acquired by AT&T, VNC has been long trusted in the computing world. VNC can also be configured to act as a web server, so you can allow someone to take control of your computer via a web browser alone without having them install the software, in which case it uses a Java client. One of the cons of VNC is that it doesn’t work if the client is behind a firewall (such as on an internal network). Obviously, this is recommended only for highly technically proficient people.

Real VNC: Freeware & Shareware versions (I’ve only ever used the freeware version). I believe Real VNC is based most closely on the original. I’ve found RealVNC to be the least resource intensive VNC, which is great for older computers.
UltraVNC: Open Source, this version allows you to create an .EXE file that you can send to someone else and they can connect to you rather than you connecting to them. In this case, you have to not be behind a firewall (or at least open certain ports to the public). UltraVNC is frequently used by tech support personnel that need to control your computer to fix something (Verizon, for example, used it to help me troubleshoot a problem DSL connection).
TightVNC: Open Source, this version places an emphasis on how highly it compresses the video stream for slow internet connections, but I found it to be very CPU intensive, so it may not work so well on older computers.
Fog Creek CoPilot: Shareware/Subscription Service, this is a pay-per-use VNC based on Ultra VNC, meaning the other person downloads a program & runs it and automatically connects to you – they don’t have to configur anything. The major benefit over Ultra VNC is that it takes care of configuration for you (you don’t need to email/upload the configured file anywhere) & uses a 3rd party server to “punch through” firewalls, allowing it to work even if both computers are behind a firewall. There are many services like this (I believe “GoToMyPC” is another), but I happen to be familiar with CoPilot & like that you can pay for only 24 hours, which in most cases, long enough, and it’s free on weekends.
TeamViewer (portable version): I keep hearing great things about this, but haven’t had the need to use it yet. It seems to operate like CoPilot (with a 3rd party server to punch through firewalls) and it’s totally free for personal use.

License: Freeware and Shareware
Installation: Install
Date Added: December 12, 2005
Updated: February 28, 2010
I use this program: Once a decade (emergencies)

WASTE

WASTE is a program with an interesting history. Written by the guy who wrote Gnutella after his company (which also makes WinAmp) was bought out by AOL as a competitor to AOL Instant Messenger and released controversially on to the web for just a few hours before being pulled by AOL executives, it’s a purely peer-to-peer chat & file sharing app that operates similar to AIM/Yahoo/MSN/ICQ etc. Without a central network to connect to, you have to rely on your peers to keep their client open (and unfirewalled) for the network to stay alive.

WASTE is part of a burgeoning “darknet” community, but I find it very poor as a file-sharing tool, unless you’re specifically sending a file to someone. Everything that happens within the network is encrypted to outside eyes, but the chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

The latest active version is Waste Again, which adds some nice features.

I wrote a version of the Wikipedia article.

I use it mostly to share files between home & work – it opens some files on my home network that only I can access. Recommended only for advanced users.

Update December 6, 2011: If you’re connected and wondering why your up/down speed is so slower than you think it should be, you or someone you’ve connected to may have chosen a restrictively large key size. Choose a smaller key size and watch your transfer speeds increase.

License: Open Source
Installation: Install & Portable
Date Added: December 12, 2005
Updated: December 6, 2011
I use this program: Once a month

Weblog Expert Lite

A nice, graphical and GUI based log file reader. I use Google Anlaytics now, but it doesn’t tell you everything a good log analyzer may tell you.

License: Freeware and Shareware

Date Added: March 21, 2009

I use this program: Once a year

WireShark

You won’t need this program a lot, but it can be used to analyze network traffic going into & out of your computer… for example I was able to configure it to create a chat log from software tht doesn’t support chat logs. It can be useful in finding spyware as it tries to phone home & see exactly what is being sent.

License: Open Source
Installation: Install
Date Added: March 21, 2009

I use this program: Once a decade (emergencies)

Macro

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Allchars

This program is great. A few simple keystrokes and you can type any unicode character, like ¼ or û. Plus you can use it to playback certain keystrokes in Macro mode.

Update March 2009: I don’t really use this program, but leave it here because it’s still pretty neat.

License: Freeware
Installation: Install & Portable
Date Added: December 12, 2005
Updated: March 21, 2009
I use this program: Never

MacroMaker

Very robust macro program that can be programed to do just about anything you can do. I use it to automate tedious tasks, and create quick-launch keys to launch certain applications. Straightforward keyboard interface is easy to learn, though tedious to use. I don’t use this nearly as much anymore now that I discovered than any shortcut on your desktop can have a shortcut key. Just right click on it and go to properties and choose a Shortcut Key in the appropriate box. Not as robust as other macro programs out there (like Maco Express), but this one has the advantage of being free.

License: Freeware
Installation: Install
Date Added: December 12, 2005

I use this program: Once a decade (emergencies)

RoboType

This is a great time saving macro. Any text you type can be replaced with any text in the robotype database. For example, any time I type ?latin, it’s replaced with the Lorem Ipsum Dolor blurb text. This is great for sig files, or standardized bits of text you use all the time (like bits of code).

Version 3 adds a lot of great features, such as categorization, getting rid of the extra space after the replace text, merging two .rtl files, a “launch when windows opens” option (before I had to add my .rtl file to the Startup group), and the ability to prompt for input.

Note: RoboType is no longer free, it’s now part of the PC Magazine Utilities, which are available inexpensively on the Ziff Davis website.

Update March 2009: I still use this program from time to time when I have a lot of repetitive text to copy/paste, but need to maintain several copy/paste sources.

Update March 2011: Texter seems to do the same basic thing as Robotype, but it’s free & open source!. (PortableApps Version [Update November 2011: Texter doesn’t seem to work very well] Update December 10, 2011: Check out AutoHotKey.

License: Shareware
Installation: Install & Portable
Date Added: December 12, 2005
Updated: November 26, 2011
I use this program: Once a year

Office Tools

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Bullzip PDF Printer

There are a lot of free PDF printers out there, but a lot of them watermark your documents (Foxit PD Printer). Bullzip is a free PDF printer that just works. Install it & it shows up in your printer list. Print to it & it asks where to save your PDF document. It’s as easy as that. It doesn’t have advanced features, but it gets the job done. I use it whenever I need to create a PDF.

License: Freeware
Installation: Install
Date Added: December 10, 2011

I use this program: Once a month

Dia

Dia is sort of Visio type program that you can use for making diagrams – workflows, UML charts, etc.

License: Open Source
Installation: Install & Portable
Date Added: March 8, 2011

I use this program: Once a year
PortableApps.com Version Available? yes

Gnumeric

I love Excel. I think Excel is one of the greatest pieces of software known to man. (a quick browse through the rest of my blog should show you that – charts galore).
Now that Excel, and all of Microsoft Office has gone & changed the file format and the interface (and even introduced a carry-over bug) it’s time to move on. Excel 2003 was the pinnacle – subtle improvements on an already excellent peice of software, but it’s not available for sale anymore & it’s as good a time as any to start evaluating other software packages.
Enter Gnumeric. I’ve tried Open Office Calc & I can’t figure out how to get it to make charts and we all know I love charts. Gnumeric seems to do it all. Not as nicely, but it does it all, and it doesn’t ask you to install the statistics plugin before it’ll do statistics (like Excel). At home, for spreadsheets, all I use is Gnumeric. (At work I use Office 2003.)

License: Open Source
Installation: Install & Portable
Date Added: April 8, 2009

I use this program: Daily
PortableApps.com Version Available? yes

Libre Office Writer

I’ve been following Open Office for years (since Star Office 5.2 back in 2001 or so) and recently I was looking for a word processor to replace Word. I tried AbiWord but found it to be a little buggy – when I corrected a misspelled word the underline would stay there, and when I deleted a paragraph of text, the screen wouldn’t refresh so I wouldn’t be able to view everything I that was on the page unless I scrolle away & back again.
Open Office Writer is great, though. I almost feel like I’m using another version of Word. I highly recommend it as an alternative to Microsoft Word.
Update March 7, 2011: LibreOffice is a new branch of Open Office. You can read more about its background on Wikipedia.

License: Open Source
Installation: Install & Portable
Date Added: April 8, 2009
Updated: March 7, 2011
I use this program: Daily
PortableApps.com Version Available? yes

Other Office Tools

If these program are too big for you – if you’re running on a computer with very sparse resources, check out these other super small office tools. I don’t really use them so I can’t comment on them much.

License: Freeware
Installation: Portable
Date Added: March 8, 2011

I use this program: Never
 

Operating System Tools

All the tools I use to keep my computer humming along & for moving around massive amounts of files.
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PowerMenu

This program adds Always On Top, Minimize to Tray, Priority and Transparency menus to your taskbar rightclick. Sometimes I wonder how I’ve managed to live without it. Setting priority on the fly and minimizing to the tray (freeing space in the precious taskbar, and effectively allowing me to rearrange the order of my taskbar) are must-have tools for me.

Update March 2009: I rarely use this program – probably because more & more programs feature “minimize to tray”, but it is still part of my “bag of tricks” and I use it from time to time.

Update October 2011: I’ve started using this program more & more lately, especially to keep some programs that I want to keep running, but don’t want in the list of programs (mostly my RSS reader). Minimize to Tray seems to do the main thing I use this program for, but I’ve never used it so can’t recommend it.

License: Freeware
Installation: Install
Date Added: December 12, 2005
Updated: October 31, 2011
I use this program: Daily

SysInternals

These tools “get under the hood” of Windows and allow you to track things that you probably thought were impossible to track. I’ve been using these tools off & on for years, and a while back the company was bought out by Microsoft, who continues to develop & maintain them.

I don’t have much day-to-day use for these tools but when I need them, I’m glad they’re there. You can monitor every time your hard drive is accessed, every time your computer connects to an outside (or inside) port to communicate, every process on your computer (and every dll that process loads), you can search for rootkits and more. The amount of information any of these tools gives you is tremendous, so you’ll have to learn how to sift through it for the bits that you need. Advanced user stuff only. If you regularly find yourself in RegEdit or MSConfig or at the command line – these are the types of tools you’ll love.

License: Freeware
Installation: Portable
Date Added: February 28, 2010

I use this program: Once a decade (emergencies)

Ubuntu

Ubuntu is a flavor of Linux that has all of the amenities of any other modern operating system – such as Windows or OSX. After trying to get a few different Linux program to run on my girlfriend’s netbook (from a USB key) Ubuntu is the one that came through for me. So far I’ve only used it for web browsing and playing Micropolis (the open source version of the original Sim City – which seems designed for a much larger screen), but it seems stable, easy to use, and powerful. I’ve had to use some of the obscure Linux commands (such as SUDO, CHMOD, PASSWD) to accomplish a few things and it’s not without it’s configuration difficulties (getting it to work with Broadcom wireless drivers), but then I could say much the same for Windows or OSX.

Ubuntu satisfies my need for an “OS on a stick” (USB key) that lets me get on the web, does basic Office stuff, and runs some of my favorite programs (especially TrueCrypt and Treepad which I depend on, and Google Chrome, Firefox and Pidgin which I use daily). I’ve used it on two computers so far (from the same USB key) with no problem switching between both.

I’ve also tried Ubuntu Netbook Edition and Slax, but could get neither to work with the Broadcom wireless card.

License: Open Source
Installation: Install & Portable
Date Added: May 22, 2010

I use this program: Once a week

Ultimate Boot CD

We recently lost a domain controller at work & when I switched some users from the domain to “workgroup” I lost the ability to access their files, including all their outlook emails, etc. Luckily, I had a copy of the Ultimate Boot CD (a 4 year old one at that), and I was able to boot up the machine & change some of the NTFS passwords (pretty scary that you can do that, but if you’re not encrypting you’re not really securing anyway) to regain access to those files. Then all I had to do was point outlook to those archive files & they had access again. The Ultimate Boot CD rocks!

License: Freeware
Installation: Portable
Date Added: March 21, 2009

I use this program: Once a decade (emergencies)

WhoLockMe

Don’t you hate it when you’re trying to move a folder, or delete a file and Windows won’t let you because it’s “In use?” Well WhoLockMe will tell you what programs are using that file or folder, so you can shut them down and move on with your life.

License: Freeware
Installation: Install
Date Added: December 12, 2005

I use this program: Never

Photos, Graphic & Web Design

Small utilities to to make your world a bit more colorful.
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ArtRage

My favorite drawing program & the reason (besides Photoshop) I want a tablet. It simulates drawing on paper, painting on a canvas, etc.

License: Freeware and Shareware
Installation: Install
Date Added: December 12, 2005
Updated: March 21, 2009
I use this program: Once a month

Color Schemer

A simple program that does something unique. You can choose any color and it will tell you what other colors compliment it. The algorithm it uses to do this is fairly straightfoward, but being able to see them all in the same place has it’s advantages. It also has an eyedropper for grabbing colors, a sample webpage where you can see how the color schemes you selected will look, and an archive of your favorite colors.

Incidentally, my favorite method for finding color schemes is shrinking photographs to 10 pixels wide using bicubic algorithms & expanding them out using nearest-neighbor.

Try the Online Version

Updated December 10, 2011: Also check out Color Scheme Designer, a free web app to help you pick colors.

License: Freeware and Shareware
Installation: Install
Date Added: December 12, 2005

I use this program: Once a month

Dup Detector

Dup Detector will compare a group of image files & try to find duplicates, even if they’e been resized, cropped, flipped, etc. You can set rules for how similar two images can be before it decides they’re duplicates, and rules for which one to delete (file size, dimensions, etc.). The interface is great- it’ll show you the two image files & you can decide to delete one, the other or neither. It will produce some false positives (like photos that were taken seconds apart & are almost identical), but the interface allows you to review the images before you delete them. I’m pretty organized, but sometimes I get large amounts of images from someone disorganized, or get photos in bits and pieces and need to sort through them – Dup Detector is my go-to tool in these cases.

To use as a portable app, extract the files from the .EXE installer and run the program from the app folder.

License: Freeware
Installation: Install & Portable
Date Added: March 11, 2011

I use this program: Once a year

ExifTool

This is a command-line program that lets you view the full EXIF data present in JPG and RAW camera images. I used it recently on photos from my Nikon camera to determine how many shutter actuations the camera had performed during its lifetime – some data that even some of the more heavy-weight image programs wouldn’t tell me but is stored in each JPG image that comes out of the camera.

License: Freeware
Installation: Portable
Date Added: October 31, 2011

I use this program: Once a decade (emergencies)

JAlbum

JAlbum is a great tool for making photo galleries. I’ve used JAlbum on & off for years and the recent versions are even better than ever. For a while I was concerned that their online tools integration meant they were going in a bad direction (more of an integrated online/offline flickr type tool and less of an offline gallery maker) but the newest versions are great, and the new Turtle skins are stunning. The developer community is friendly and helpful too.

License: Freeware
Installation: Install
Date Added: March 7, 2011

I use this program: Once a month

LR/Mogrify

Mogrify is an open source image manipulation program that powers a lot of websites. LR/Mogrify allows you to use some of those powerful features in Lightroom, such as for adding watermarks to dozens of photos as you export them. Very useful & easy to use. Donationware. Requires Adobe Lightroom.

License: Shareware
Installation: Install
Date Added: October 31, 2011

I use this program: Once a year

PureJPEG

Dennis Forbes wrote this tiny tool to strip EXIF data from your .jpg images. This is typically stuff like what camera took the picture, what sorts of conditions it took it under, and so forth, but can include large amounts of data, such as thumbnails of the picture. This tool strips all that out. See also jhead, another utility that can edit that data as well as delete it. (Via the Joel on Software forum.)

Admittedly less useful in today’s broadband & mega hard drive world, in fact this is the kind of information you often want to keep in your photos (for photo nerds like me), but may be useful to you.

Update Decemer 17, 2011: I use this program from time to time – if I’m sending someone full-resolution images and don’t want them to peek at the EXIF data (don’t ask why). I have a shortcut to it in my quickstart bar – just drag & drop. When the file size/date modified changes, it’s done.

License: Freeware
Installation: Portable
Date Added: December 12, 2005
Updated: March 21, 2009
I use this program: Never

Recolored

In ca 2004 there was an academic paper about a method for easily colorizing images. The samples, especially the video samples caused a minor stir on the internet at the time – at least I noticed them and was blown away. Inveitibly, a piece of software was released that took advantage of this algorithm and Recolored is it. I’ve been using Recolored since ca 2006.

Recolored will colorize (or recolor) your still images quickly & easily – you simply scribble an outline around an area that should be colored and it will do the rest. Quite a remarkable piece of technology really, I don’t know why this software hasn’t been in my Smallware list longer.

License: Shareware
Installation: Install
Date Added: December 22, 2011

I use this program: Once a year

Screen Calipers

A unique tool that measures the number of pixels between two points on your screen. Can also be used as an onscreen ruler for keeping things straight. They also make a Screen Protractor, which does what you would expect it to do. I’ve been using Calipers for years. I admt I use the (no longer available) freeware version, but if I didn’t have it, I’d gladly purchase the shareware version. I use it all the time – creating a new graph for my blog, but I don’t know the width of my article column? Calipers.

License: Shareware

Date Added: December 12, 2005

I use this program: Once a month

Seamonkey Composer / Kompozer / Nvu

Netscape has always had an excellent, small, lightweight HTML editor. I first learned HTML using it back in the mid 90’s. The tradition continue with Seamonkey. When my coworker needed a simple HTML editor that acted like Word but could generate decent HTML, we tried a few different ones and Seamonkey is the one that we agreed was the best.

This is a suite of browser, email, news reader, HTML editor (Composer) & chat (IRC) in a small (10 mb) package. Of the various simple HTML editors out there, this one is the easiest to use. For those of you looking for a portable version KompoZer is a branch of Seamonkey Composer that will eventually get re-integrated back into Seamonkey [reference]. Nvu is another branch of Seamonkey. Both KompoZer and Nvu are available as portable apps.

License: Open Source
Installation: Install
Date Added: February 22, 2010
Updated: December 22, 2011
I use this program: Once a month
PortableApps.com Version Available? yes

Sqirlz Morph

This is a really fun program. It lets you take two or more photos & morph them together like that Michael Jackson video.

License: Freeware
Installation: Install
Date Added: March 7, 2011

I use this program: Once a year

Project Management / Getting Things Done

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Allnetic Working Time Tracker

A simple tool that’s part clock, part spreadsheet. By clicking on it you can start tracking the time you spend on any task. If you’re idle, or come back from idle, it will ask you whether or not you want to end/resume a task. At the end of the day, week, month, or year, you will know exactly how much time you spent doing what. The only drawback is that you have to be near a computer to use it.

Update September 2004: Unfortunately, this program is now shareware. The new shareware version adds a number of new features, but you will have to pay for it from now on.

License: Shareware
Installation: Install
Date Added: December 12, 2005

I use this program: Daily

Daily Todo

I admit that I’m a bit of a scatterbrain. I get distracted easily. I know that on any given day there are only a handful of things I want to work on – and they’re usually the same things day after day. I wanted some sort of tickler/reminder of these tasks that was easy to use – a list I could pull up of the handful of things I wanted to do every day that somehow slipped through my fingers. A quick internet search turned up Daily ToDo. Simply enter the tasks you want to accomplish & you get a list of them with checkboxes for whether or not you did them that day. It keeps a history of red & green dots for days you did them & days you didn’t and a 30 day running average. No registration required. Brilliant. It’s Get Back to Work for recurring tasks.

Update December 6, 2011: Similar sites that I’ve come across but haven’t tried yet areTeux Deux which looks like a much expanded version of ToDoList, The Big Picture which is more of a project mind mapping tool, and Trello which is designed for keeping track of where various aspects of a workflow are.

Update December 19, 2011: Beeminder helps you track your progress towards a goal. If you like, you can voluntarily add some amount of money (the amount of which gets exponentially higher).

Update December 22, 2011: Sciral Consistency is a similar offline, shareare program. Sciral Conistency has been on my smallware list for years – I never used it buy I like the concept. I’ve now removed Sciral Consistency as a main entry & added it as a note on Daily Todo because I do use Daily Todo and they perform similar functions.

License: Freeware
Installation: Browser Based
Date Added: November 29, 2011
Updated: December 6, 2011
I use this program: Daily

GanttProject

Open source alternative to MS Project. I found it to be a little buggy as of last year (2008), but still very good overall.

License: Open Source

Date Added: March 21, 2009

I use this program: Once a month

ToDoList

Ask and ye shall receive. I was looking for a good to-do list that combined the best features of an MS Project (inline editing, due dates, etc.) with the features of a regular to-do list (items disappear when you check them off, etc.) and I found it. ToDoList is great. Very flexible, and great for managing my myriad tasks.

License: Open Source
Installation: Portable
Date Added: September 19, 2009
Updated: September 19, 2009
I use this program: Daily
PortableApps.com Version Available? yes

Reading & Writing

Tools used for writing & analyzing text, behaviors, etc.
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Focus Writer

Focus Writer is a great, simple text editor that, when in full screen mode, removes all the distractions of your computer from view. It supports rich text editing (bold, italic) and a few formats, including RTF and ODF. Just open it and begin typing and allow the rest of the world to melt away.

Update December 10, 2011: Also check out Dark Room, which requires .NET and I suspect is less mature, but is based on the same concept.

Update December 22, 2011: Also check out Q10. I think I dicovered Q10 before Focus Writer – same concept, just a blank screen. Q10 gives you additional statistics at the bottom of the screen and won’t run windowed. Hit F1 to get help from within the program. PortableApps version also available.

License: Open Source

Date Added: December 6, 2011

I use this program: Once a week
PortableApps.com Version Available? yes

Readability Plus

From 1990, this DOS program analyzes your writing style for style & content. I haven’t come across anything like it since & I’m now making it available to you!

download Readability Plus.

License: Shareware
Installation: Portable
Date Added: April 4, 2009

I use this program: Once a year

Text Block Writer

If you’re at all familar with the index card method of screenwriting, Text Block Writer is a brilliant program. It does what it needs to do & with little fuss. The interface is minimal (and you need to explore it a bit to understand it). One bug – I couldn’t save options so I need to browse to the install folder & change the permissions on the usersettings.xml file so the program could save changes. (Use the Utility Panel on the right to add more columns, requires a restart.) I’m really excited to have discovered this program.

The guy who wrote it (Brian Vogt) no longer owns his domain so you have to get it from a site like FreewareFiles.com – don’t get it from CNet though, CNet installs annoying extra software with their downloads. Do an image search for the title to see screencaps & find possible alternative download locations.

This is the checksum data [ref] for the version I have (1.17):
SHA-1: 11aea7a28bc3b2981911afb6366cfb660502c7c8
MD5: b4502777a4ffcc229d1f6b81afd551cc
CRC32: b5b87211

Update December 10, 2011: For the more serious screenwriter, check out Celtx. It’s a rather robust screen/nove/etc. writing tool. A bit too structured for my tastes, but if your goal is to create a script for production, this may be th tool to use.

License: Freeware
Installation: Install
Date Added: December 6, 2011

I use this program: Once a month

TextSTAT

Textstat analyzes word frequencies in text documents. Useful for keyword analysis, or my favorite use, inferring pseudo-pop-psychology/linguistic concepts from word usage.
Textanz and Concordance are both shareware tools that do this too, each with their own strengths and weaknesses (I own & have used all three).

License: Freeware
Installation: Install
Date Added: March 21, 2009

I use this program: Once a year

Search & Replace

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Agent Ransack

Agent Ransack is a great search utility that will search through folders and files based on regular expression searches. It also has a handy regular expression builder, though I find it only gets you about halfway to where you want to go.

I don’t use this program anymore, I think because I’ve become more organized. Google has a similar program called Google Desktop Search, which I haven’t used.

License: Freeware
Installation: Install
Date Added: December 12, 2005

I use this program: Never

ReplaceText (forrerly BK ReplaceEm)

This is a great regular expression based search & replace utility that will search through the text of multiple files & performer multiple search & replaces on them. One of the great things about this software is that you can save your search & replace strings for later use. Very handy for repetitive editing tasks, like cleaning up documents you get from someone else. The “Advanced Edit” tool also makes more complex search & replace tasks easier.

A shareware program that’s similar, but more robust is TextPipe Pro.

License: Freeware
Installation: Install
Date Added: December 12, 2005
Updated: March 21, 2009
I use this program: Once a month

WinMerge

This is a diff program – it will detect changes between two text documents or between two directories. I used this recently when migrating between two computers to ensure a lot of my important files made the transition smoothly without some random Windows copy error preventing me from getting something I needed.

License: Open Source
Installation: Install & Portable
Date Added: November 15, 2006

I use this program: Once a year

Security & Encryption

If you lost your laptop, what would the thiefs be able to find & do to you? You want to communicate with someone without big brother listening in. These are the tools you use.
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Blowfish Advanced CS

Sometimes you just need to encrypt a file so that you can open it later with a password rather than a keyfile, or to send to someone else to open with a password – or as in the case of Wikileaks, send it to the world to be opened with a yet-to-be-revealed password. Blowfish is the program you want to do this.

License: Open Source
Installation: Install & Portable
Date Added: March 8, 2011

I use this program: Once a year

IgorWare Hasher

If you don’t know what a hash is, it will take a bit of data (a file, some text) and return a brief value, called a digest. This digest can be used to ensure that the file hasn’t been tampered with – just run the hash process again and the same value should come up. If a different value comes up, the file was tampered with. This isn’t 100% foolproof (it is possible that two files may have return the same hash) but it’s incredibly difficult to purposefully create two files with the same hash, and by using two different methods of creating/checking hashes it’s nearly impossible. This is used to verify the integrity of files that are downloaded from the internet. The publisher of the file will put the hash on their website so that if you download it from another source, you can check against their published hash. It’s not as good as a digital signature, but it’s the next best thing. There are other uses for hashes, but that’s the gist of it. This program will create & verify hashes for files & text.

Update December 23, 2011: If you need to create hashes for multiple files at once,HashMyFiles looks like a good utility to do this, though checking multiple files at once seemes more difficult.

License: Freeware
Installation: Portable
Date Added: December 6, 2011
Updated: December 23, 2011
I use this program: Once a year

Off The Record

OTR is a plugin that will encrypt your chat sessions. I use the Portable Pidgin OTR plugin.

License: Open Source
Installation: Install & Portable
Date Added: April 10, 2009

I use this program: Once a year

Password Safe

After a bug that caused the last letter of every username & password my girlfriend generated to not appear in Password Safe after upgrading from 1.7 to 3.0, I no longer recommend Password Safe. Rather, I recommend using an Outliner and Truecrypt. (We were eventually able to recover her passwords by using a backed-up version of her file & running Password Safe 1.7.)

License: Open Source
Installation: Install & Portable
Date Added: December 12, 2005
Updated: March 21, 2009
I use this program: Never

Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) and GPG

PGP is the grandaddy of all modern encryption. Using the same sort of technology that your browser uses to secure your credit card transactions (only much more powerful) it can encrypt your files & text so that only you, or only someone that you designate (who also has PGP) can open it. It also allows you to prove you are who you say you are or that you wrote something by digitally signing it.
PGP is for the somewhat advanced user – you have to be able to keep & protect a private key file that is essential for everything – encrypting, decrypting, and signing all of your files & messages (a truecrypt volume would be a prime candidate for this).

  • PGPi.org maintains a list of freely available PGP downloads. The latest version available through the site is PGP 7.03. (link: Freeware versions for Windows 95/98/NT)
  • PGPdisk PGPdisk will encrypt a disk partition for you. While I prefer TrueCrypt for this (you can create small portable files that act like encrypted disks, and TrueCrypt is in active development) some of you may prefer PGP disk. The last freeware version is version 6 and is available from PGPi.org.
  • The latest version of PGP available from PGP Corporation is version 9, technically “trial software” which, after 30 days reverts to PGP freeware (PGPdisk will not work after 30 days). You must register with a valid email address to download it & you get a PDF with a license key and a download link. This download is also about 10 times bigger than the last PGP freeware version. (around 80mb vs. 8mb) I would rather stick to PGP 7.
  • GnuPG (Gnu Privacy Guard) is an open soure alternative, but only operates from the command line, so there are front-ends available that simplify running the program, but these mainly seem to be to interface to email clients. GPG is completely compatible with PGP protocols. Notably, there is a version of GPG that will run in conjunctin with a portable Thunderbird installation.
  • Gpg4win is a freeware frontend to GPG that’s pretty robust and easy to use. It’s not portable, but if you need more advanced feature than gpg4usb can offer you, this would be my go-to program. (added December 6, 2011)
  • gpg4usb is a portable version of GPG that currently supports encrypting & decrypting of text and files and signing & verifying (as of version 0.3.1). It’s easy to use, portable and it seems stable. Run it in a Truecrypt volume to protect your private keys if anyone should gain physical access to your laptop. Put it & Truecrypt on a USB stick for portable security. At this moment I believe it only lacks a few advanced keyring features signing/verifying files to make it feature complete, but should be great for ordinary usage. This is my current recommendation for sending and receiving encrypted or digitally signed files/messages. It’s easy to use, stable and portable. If you need all the bells & whistles, then I recommend Gpg4win, immediately above.

License: Open Source
Installation: Install & Portable
Date Added: December 12, 2005
Updated: December 6, 2011
I use this program: Once a year
 

TrueCrypt

TrueCrypt allows you to create encrypted files that act like drives, allowing you to store many file within them. I use TrueCrypt all the time at home and at work to store my most important documents (such as tax documents, password lists, etc.). It also has a “plausible deniability” feature that allows you to create hidden volumes – one password accesses one portion of the TrueCrypt volume, another password accesses another, hidden portion, so that if pressed for the password, you can give them a password. I use TrueCrypt every day to protecy my most important documents.

License: Open Source
Installation: Install
Date Added: March 21, 2009

I use this program: Daily

Vernam Cipher

The Vernam Cipher is the only truly secure, uncrackable cypher. The only way to decrypt it is with the key – which you must transmit securely (e.g. offline) and use only once. It’s similar to any substitution cipher in its simplicity. It’s security comes from the fact that the key must be at least as large as the message and only used once. This website has a great explanation of the cipher, as well as a simple Windows program to encode/decode messages using it… generating a truly random key is up to the user though I could think of several methods of generating at least decently random data, but for the truly paranoid only a computer hooked up to a random external generator (the kind of thing online casinos do) will suffice. I include this in the list, not because I think my readers have such a need, but because it’s an interesting concept & fun to tinker with. It’s much less practical than the other programs in the list and as I said, only for the truly paranoid.

License: Freeware
Installation: Portable
Date Added: December 6, 2011

I use this program: Never

Links

Want more? Here are a collection of links (last checked 4/4/2009 – it’s amazing how many years some of these sites have been around) to places to find sofware with a similar philosophy.
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PortableApps.com
An excellent collection of “portable” apps (no install, will run from a thumb drive). They come with an (optional) “Start Menu” style launcher & the list of apps covers most basic computing needs. I may consider going here first next time I find myself starting over from scratch – a bit of a return to the glory days of programs that install into a single folder & don’t hook themselves into other parts of your operating system, or check for updates non-stop. The focus here is on the basics, but they cover them well & everything works togethe (with their launcher) and is mature.

The Portable Freeware Collection
A massive collection of portable freeware programs, quickly becoming one of my go-to places for portable freeware.

AnalogX
Some of what you’ll find inside: audio tools, internet utilities, articles, web tools, DirectX plugins, original MP3 music, MIDI software, and much more, all available to download for free!

CleanSoftware.org
“This software is believed to be free from nasties: adware, spyware, harmful/intrusive components, and threats to privacy. There are no sponsored entries.”

CMD Tools
For everyone serious about the command line. (site seems down as of 4/4/2009)

DonationCoder.com
Lots of “freeware” and “donationware” software with revews and an active community.

Freeware Guide
Lots of good stuff here, and even have archives of abandonware that’s no longer available.

FreewareFind
(currently closed)

gHacks Technology News
Tips & software for technology lovers.

Gizmo’s Freeware Reviews
(formerly “The 46 Best-ever freeware utilities”)

I want to: Web 2.0 applications, utilitie and resources
Web 2.0 applications and resources to help collaborate, communicate, discover, email, laugh, generate images, podcast, use multimedia, store photographs, use RSS, internet search, shop, create start pages, store information, time management, train, teach and do things with webpages and websites.

Jeffrey Vanneste’s My list of useful tools/services

Karen’s Power Tools
has a lot of cool stuff.

LOOP List
List Of Open-source Programs (LOOP) for Microsoft Windows Operating Systems. Maintained, interestingly, by the Ubuntu community to show the quality of open source products.

NirSoft
a unique collection of small and useful freeware utilities, all of them developed by Nir Sofer.

Nonags
“is the safest place on the Internet to download free software from. Before we list anything here we check for viruses, trojans, spyware etc. And even if we find something clean, it still has to pass our special “cheesetest” which for obvious reasons we do not publish exact specs.”

Ohloh
A community for open-source projects & their fans. A good way to find the most popular open-source projects.

OldVersion.com
“because newer is not always better”

OpenDisc
(Formerly the Open CD) Similar to the LOOP list, the OpenDisc is a collection of free, open source programs for Windows – apparently with the intent of being downloaded, burned to CD and given to someone (or used for yourself) to replace a number of commercial software programs. There is an educational variant.

Open Source Windows
A small list of open source programs for Windows.

PenDriveApps.com
A rather extensive list of portable “pen drive apps.”

PenDriveLinux.com
Bootable USB pen drive linux installation, which will theoretically allow you to bring your whole computing environment from computer to computer – provided you can boot from a Flash Drive.

Pricelessware Freeware
The best of the best in Windows Freeware, as determined by the readers of alt.comp.freeware

Scott Hanselman’s Ten Tools in Ten Minutes
“a quick list of the tools I use to be productive”

SnapFiles
My go-to site for lots & lots of freeware & shareware.

Software hall of fame
An excellent list that I think compliments mine very well.

The “neat application I stumbled across on the web” thread (Ars Technica)

TinyApps.org
An aging catalog of tiny, well-made software primarily for the Windows platform (though Palm and OS X pages also exist) – very similar to my smallware list.

Top 100 Network Security Tools
(formerly the “Top 75 Network Security Tools”, the name change is no doubt a sign of the changing times)

Useful Windows Software
Big list of useful windows software, collected from the SomethingAwful forums.

UtilityGeek
Diagnostic tools and utilities for your PC

winPenPack – Portable Freeware Collection
“winPenPack is an applications environment of Free Softwares, modified for being run and used from pendrive USB or any removable device, without need of installation.” I think that means it’s a way for programmers to make their existing apps portable – the upshot of which is that it gives us a nice useful list of portable software. Similar to PortableApps.com they provide a suite of programs that you can put on a pen drive & know that you have a good selection of software across the most commonly used types (like office tools, etc.).

page first created a very, very long time ago.

 

MarkTaw.com

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