Monday, August 25, 2008

Windows Vista Essentials PART 3 of 3

PART 3 Applications

Before I dive into this final portion of Vista Essentials I want to provide a disclaimer: What follows is not intended to be an in-depth review of software titles. Instead, it is designed to be an overview of software functionality as it relates to the Vista Experience. Anyone who reads this blog knows I use Photoshop and Lightroom as well as Office and other production pieces of software - I won't be talking about those today because they don't have anything to do with Vista or enhancing the Vista experience.

Edison - Verdiem Sofware - - FREE

Go green with your PC. Edison is a great application I was recently turned on to by Paul Thurrott. Edison overrides your computer's energy center with a more user-friendly system that will save you on energy by managing more closely when and how your system goes to sleep. If you only have one machine the savings won't be that drastic; however, it becomes drastic when you manage multiple computers.

SnagIt - Tech Smith Products - - $49.95

From the same folks who produce Camtasia (the software I use to record my video tutorials), TechSmith offers a product that is indispensable to me. On the Mac it is so easy to do selective screen captures with built in tools. Upon shifting production to the PC I immediately felt the growing pains of being limited to the "print screen" utility built into Windows. Snagit allows for capturing a window, the entire screen or a selection of the screen and is directly exportable to a jpg. Super great and absolutely necessary for me. I keep a catalog of other photographer's work that I often have to screen capture off of their websites. When I am looking for some inspiration I flip through the photos I have collected. SnagIt also makes the screen grabs you see on this site possible.

ISO Recorder - Alex Feinman - - FREE

Again - this is a feature built into OSX that isn't standard on Windows. I have several peices of software that are ISO images. I have to be able to burn those ISO images to a DVD or CD - this is a VERY basic utility that does just that. No frills, no fancy UI - just integrates into the built in Vista burning window.

Argentum Backup - Argentum - - $25.00

BACKUP, BACKUP, BACKUP! There are tons of backup solutions out there. I use Argentum because it doesn't create a closed file. A lot of backup software backs up the data to a database driven system that require the backup program be re-installed before the files are unpacked. The backup Argentum creates is just a mirror of the folders it is backing up. This means that if my computer crashes I can grab that drive - toss it in a SATA enclosure and grab any needed data on my other system. It's fast and in a pinch if the worst were to happen I would be back up and running faster than having to re-install my operating system.

When windows XP offered basic compression utilities for ZIP creation I figured I would never need WinZIP again ... enter the RAR. If you are looking for a great compression utility that smokes what XP and Vista have built in - or find the need to open a RAR compresses file WinRAR is the way to go.

IrfanView - - FREE

The ULTIMATE image viewer. I have TONS of RAW, PSD, PNG, JPG, etc files that I hate having to open photoshop or bridge to open - enter IrfanView. It's fast and that is why I use it. I wish I could say I use it to 10% of it's potential; however, I just use it to view material. This application can view, batch process, resize, convert file tyes, act as an interface for your scanner, and so much more. For me - I needed a way to open my images on the fly very quickly - IrfanView allows me to do that.

FireFox 3.0- Mozilla - - FREE

Last but not least - Mozilla Firefox 3.0. I have talked about this browser in the past so this will be brief. I aplaud Microsoft for the phenominal work on IE 7 - it is an amazing browser. I aplaud Apple for bringing Safari to the windows side - it handles RSS like none else. Both these browsers are installed on my system; however, I rarely use them. Firefox is my principal browser. Great tabbed browsing experience, the best password manager I have EVER been exposed to. I LOVE using it. It seems that Firefox is like Michael Phelps - so far ahead will anyone catch it?

There you have it - we have reached the end FINALLY Three days - three pieces to the puzzel. These posts have been my journey to a great Vista experience. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to email me or post in the comments. If there is another piece of software you feel I would enjoy taking a look at please shoot me a link and I will take a look - see. This final portion of Windows Vista Essentials will be Monday's post so look for the Video tomorrow.

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