With copious amounts of free time comes the inescapable urge to do a bit of housecleaning… so of course, instinct tells me to clean up where I spend most of my time, namely my PC. The rest of my room will need a bit more time for the urge to build.
So my first order of business is to buy a new harddisk (Hitachi Deskstar 160GB), and so I went about doing a fresh install of Windows, along with mad partitioning and crapload of msconfig-ing (DIE, Help and Support Center, DIE!!!).
I’m a big supporter of open source software, even though I haven’t had the chance to give Linux a whirl, I have been using a fair amount of free software. Since I was doing a fresh install, I thought why not go the whole hog? Free myself from the shackles of expensive, bloated software!
Here’s a breakdown of what I’m using and where you can get it for yourself. Still working out the kinks on my new PC, but to be fair, I’m mostly getting crap from Windows XP and not the freeware.
The obvious alternative to MS Office, I’m just starting out on it, so still not very familiar. There’s Writer (Word), Calc (Excel), Impress (Powerpoint) and Draw (MS Paint). I elected not to installMath (maths software) and Base (Access).
The word processor is dealing with my old Word documents with no problem right now, the spreadsheet software as well. I’ve not given it a real look but features are understandably more pared down as compared to MS Office but come on, you don’t use all the features in MS Word, do you?
The Photoshop-killer right here, GIMP is the most popular freeware image editor. Again, I’ve only done a bit of cropping so far, and I’m not a regular Photoshopper by far, so it’s ok for my purposes. Therein’s the point innit? I’m a casual Photoshopper, so why should I have to shill out for pricey Adobe software? Layout’s a bit confusing, but then I’m used to Adobe Photoshop.
Lets raise another 2 fingers to Adobe! All my PDF reading needs are now taken care of.
Multiple protocol IM client. Also very lightweight and no-frills. My alternative to the mess that is MSN Messenger. Supposed to work with Google Talk but doesn’t. Hence…
Yes, I know it’s been integrated with Gmail, but it’s all wonky when it’s from inside. Still my favourite IM client simply cause it looks soooo good.
Dumb name aside, this is a useful desktop widget handling all my calendar duties. Can be synced to Outlook or iCal, both of which I don’t use. Very skinnable too, if you’d like.
I have an iPod nano. Again, nuff said.
The Swiss army knife of media players, this will play any media you throw at it. Ugly interface though.
Though I’d like to, my crummy mic is not really up to recording music. I know a bit of audio engineering, and used Protools a fair bit earlier in my career, but I still like Audacity for it’s less-is-more philosophy. Nice little sound editor, I’ll play with the plug-ins when I can afford a real mic. Though I have used Audacity to record the phone interviews I’ve done for some magazines. How you ask? By sticking the mic between my mouth and the phone speaker. Damn ghetto, I know.
Very nifty tool to upload chunks of photos to my flickr account. Simple, effective, and pretty too. I likes it.
I may download the occasional mp3, but I still love my CDs. Since I listen to all my music on my PC, CDex does all the heavylifting ripping work for me. It will rip anything. Suck my ass, DRM!
For all my zipping, unzipping needs. Bit more features than Winzip.
Spybot – Search & Destroy
That’s all my anti-spyware, anti-virus and firewall needs taken care by those 4. Norton Schmorton, I say!
Nifty app to edit your startup programs. Got consulting functions so you don’t screw up your machine too much. Cut down my load time considerably with this.
Unless you’re a total Luddite, you’d have heard of bittorrent by now. µTorrent is a very lightweight torrent download client. No install required! Can even bring around on your thumbdrive. Comes with RSS, which I’m still toying with…
Download manager I use for all my non-torrent downloads. Integrated with my browser’s FlashGot extension, so can just suck those links down with a handy right-click on the context menu. Can setup to detect all the downloadable links on a site. Very useful for grabbing entire bootlegged concerts. Songbird has a cool feature like this, but I won’t be using it til there’s a more stable build released.
There’s still a fair bit of stuff out there that I’d like to try, but this is it for now. I’ll be doing another writeup of the online apps that I use as well, but in due time (read: when I can be arsed to do it).
In the meantime, here’s a screenshot of my sexy new desktop for good measure. Click on it to go to my flickr page to see it full-size.