Applications

Most of the apps below are free or cost very little, despite this if I have mentioned an app that has a cost attached, I have also mentioned a free alternative to it.
I have an affinitiy for apps that use a minimum set of resources as my favourtie form of computing is in netbook format.

Teracopy

Is a program to copy large or large quantities of files from one location / medium to another. Some of you know that painful feeling when trying to copy files from one drive to another: you ‘select all’ and then copy to the folder required, only to be given an error 5 minutes later… and then you have to figure out what got copied and what didnt over and over again. With Teracopy, it will copy each file in a selected list skipping ones that it cant, at the end giving you a list of what has been copied and what has not.

Features:

  • File List before copying (allows you drag and drop many files into TeraCopy to create a list before beginning the copy process)
  • pause copying – in order to send that emergency email you forgot you can pause and resume copying later
  • Error listing – lists the files it had issues copying making it easier for you to recopy those files
  • Adjust the buffer size for TeraCopy so that it can transfer files at a faster rate.
  • Portable version available

VLC Multimedia Player

A great program to open 80% of video/ audio (media) files, no bothering with codecs. I find it more stable than Windows Media Player and much easier than manually installing codecs required for a plethora of video file types. Todate it is the main player I use to play mkv, flv and divx files.

Features:

  • Plays files without the need for codecs
  • Has a range of settings that allow you to tweak the video according to your preference
  • Can be used to stream multimedia always
  • Portable version available

Winrar (free alternative 7-Zip)

I have used alot of archiving tools in the past but none have allowed me to perform quick archiving actions conveniently as Winrar. There could be faster and easier to use programs out there, but this is the one I currently use. The main feature I use in Winrar are the ones it adds to your right-click menu(shell). You can right click on a file and extract it immediately to a folder with the same name as the archive.

Features:

  • Supports zip, rar and other archiving formats
  • Can open ISO files
  • Password Protect files

Google desktop (note: discontinued but still available from CNet last I checked)

This is my main search program for all my PCs however a little tweaking is needed to get it working perfectly. If you install, right click on the tray icon in the system tray and select options. The options menu should open in a browser window, thereafter select the ‘Display’ tab and tick the “Enable hotkey (Hit Ctrl twice to bring forward)” box and untick the “Show desktop search results as I type” box.I find Google Desktop set up this way to be the quickest way to find a file on a windows system and the quickest way to initiate a google search. Note: This with Google Chrome installed makes for very quick searches.

Features:

  • Allows you to search your hard drive or initiate a google search by double clicking the Ctrl button.
  • Indexes your hard drive when your pc is idle.
  • Provides a Google Result type page when you search your drive in the browser.

Dia

A small free cool drawing program that can be used for making diagrams – workflows,charts and even UML.

Features:

  • Portable version
  • Allows you to create simple diagrams very quickly without any major learning curve
  • Simple, free and can convert pictures created into JPEG to insert in word documents
  • Its like a diet version of Microsoft Visio

Microsoft Office Suite – the Alternatives

Defacto default office package the world uses, however when I dont have a Microsoft Office Suite on hand e.g. when I am using Linux or simply a windows machine with no office. I use the following programs/websites as alternatives:

Skype

Online Video conferencing tool. I use this for course discussions during studies and to contact friends abroad.

Features:

  • If you buy credit you can call landlines and mobiles across the world
  • Free skype to skype conference calling
  • Video Calling

Pidgin – universal chat client

Multi-protocol chat program. You can have your GoogleTalk, AIM, IRC, MySpaceIM, MSN, MXit and other chat accounts all represented together in pidgin.

Features:

  • Allows all chat accounts to reside in one program, to ease maintenance of multiple accounts.
  • Lightwieght and fast.
  • Easy to setup.
  • Portable version.

Akelpad

My favourite text-editor, has an always-on-top feature which allows you to keep a text file (or multiple text files) open on top of your other windows while you work. Which makes keeping notes a breeze. I know you get other note taking apps however I quite like akelpad due to its lightweight, speed and straight forward setup.

Features:

  • Open single or multiple text files in tab format.
  • Built in, Always – on – top feature.
  • Portable version available.

Notepad++

Powerful text editing tool for coders. Often use it to highlight code and open multiple files. Provides interfaces and features that assist the text-file coder /editor alot.

Features:

  • Auto-completion
  • Syntax highlighting
  • Brace and indent highlighting
  • FTP Browser built in
  • Plugins available to make it even more powerful

SMPlayer (formerly MPlayer)

Used to like this better than VLC Multimedia Player since it executed and opened files much faster. VLC Player in my experience supports more types and codecs. Still use portable versions of this program if I wanna run a video file quickly of a flash.

Features:

  • Portable version
  • Reasonable support for codecs

ManyCam

Ever wanted to change your background while talking or filiming a video on your webcam. Manycam allows you to tweak the image being displayed by your webcam allowing you to insert background effects into your video conferencing and pictures. (Tested with skype and Vitual Dub). Bit buggy, last I tested it but gets the job done.

Features:

  • Insert static and dynamic backgrounds
  • Insert news broadcast style background and images
  • Libraryof images and effects to choose from
  • Multiple effects functionality

Irfanview

Lightwieght, fast, convenient and powerful image viewer.

Features:

  • Ability to browser allimages within a folder
  • Once the end of folder is reached, applications asks whether you would like to switch to another folder.
  • Support for many file types
  • Opens images fast

Freemind

My all time favourite mindmapping tool. There are even mobile programs that allow you to create mindmaps in freemind format (“.mm”) on your phone and then email the map to your pc where you may continue editing it.

Features:

  • Portable version available
  • Fileformat supported by a large community

doPDF

My PDF driver of choice. What is a PDF driver? its a fake printer you can install on your PC, which allows you to print anything you can print to a printer to a PDF that is stored on your PC.

Features:

  • Choice to save pdfs for small size
  • No bloatware – does not add advertisements or junk to your pc in the background (from my experience).

Portable PDF Merge Tool

A portable tool that allows you to merge multiple PDFs into one.

Features:

  • Quick PDF merge
  • List layout allowing you to position each pdf in the required order

Aris Express

Free version of premium process mapping software used in large organzations.

Features:

  • Allows you to create business processes
  • Insert a variey of details within the process
  • Print process
  • Dynamically link and save processes

Networx

Used to monitor the amount of bandwidth being used by a PC as well as assess the connection speed and other statistics.

Features:

  • Portable version available
  • Sits in system tray
  • Most Functionality as simple as right-clicking the tray icon and selecting what you need.

HTTrack

Used to duplicate a site onto the hardrive, great for static sites which have how to informaton or documents that you would like mirrored to your hardrive.
Bit complicated to use, however an 2-3 tries later you probably can get this app doing what you want.

Features:

  • Mirrors sites to harddrive
  • Settings to allow mirror to stop at user set number of layers

Pixie

After you run the portable program, point to a color and it will tell you the hex, RGB, HTML, CMYK and HSV values of that color. Great for web and graphic designers.

Features:

  • Small
  • Portable
  • Straight forward color identifier.

FileZilla

File Transfer tool, mainly used to ftp documents across to a web / file server.

Features:

  • Comprehensive settings
  • Stable

HFS – Http File Server

A portable single file application that allows you to create a file server on the fly. Once run, jus drag-and-drop the files you would like to share into the program window.
It dynamically creates the html required to share the file. Thereafter users can access the file via your ip address being placed in their browser. Further to the file server HFS
will actually tell you who and how many times the file has been downloaded.

Features:

  • Small size
  • Super convenient
  • Quick to put on and off
  • Tracking download statistics

XAMPP – Although not really an app, its a portable web server in your pocket

A portable implementation of a WAMP package, which includes the usual PHP, MySql, Filzilla, Mercury and TomCat servers. Unzip to C drive and run xamp-control.exe and it will provide you a console in which you can start and administer the various servers installed.

Features:

  • Small
  • No fuss installation
  • Portable
  • Highly configurable
  • Allows for quick testing of websites and plugins

Firefox Web Browser

Alternative to Internet Explorer, power users browser, has the most comprehensive list of plugins compared to any other browser available. At times though may be seen as heavyweight and slow compared to Chrome and Internet Explorer.

Features:

  • Relatively stable
  • Good support
  • Basic functionality obvious
  • Easy to move from Internet explorer to Firefox

Chrome Web Browser

Googles browser answer to Internet Explorer. Fast and lightweight use it as my main browser mainly for speed. Has the main plugins built in and auto-updates reducing maintenance. Users from firefox or Internet Explorer may not be as comfortable using Chrome since it has minimal interface.

Features:

  • Did I tell you its fast
  • Auto-updates
  • Main plugins required built in (e.g. flash)

Gimp

Free graphic design / image manipulation program, some see it as an alternative to photoshop, others see its as inferior / superior. I find it more than adequate for
image manipulation and redesign for websites or documents although it takes some getting used to.

Features:

  • Portable version available
  • Large library of plugins that allow you to create image effects

Foxit Reader pdf software

My main pdf utility, much faster and less maintenance required than Adobe reader. This program even allows you to save comments on pdfs.

Features:

  • Comments on pdf
  • Lightweight
  • Portable version available

TreePad

I have an affinity for storing things in plain text, thus if I am coding, designing or even making notes I generally start them in plain text. Actually I started typing this article in plaintext within Treepad. I rather let you know upfront this program is not going to be for the note taker who likes to be visually stimulated, however if you like structure, speed and the basics done right – treepad is for you. Treepad allows you to make text notes all the while laying out your notes in a tree structure, which also makes it quick to search. Think of it as a database tree of text.

Features:

  • Freeware version available
  • Portable version available
  • Lightweight and Fast
  • Small memory footprint
  • Thus far can handle bulk text 15-30MB

IP Messenger

Best LAN messenger I have ever used. Allows you to have conversations and transfer files over an internal network.

Features:

  • Fast
  • Lightweight
  • Instant online

Any ideas/ comments / suggestions or corrections, please advise in the comments below or email me.

 

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