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What Would Myden Use? A List Of Software You Need.
April 07, 2002

First off, I'm a Windows user, so anyone running a Mac, Linux, BeOS, or any other OS, will find this useless.

When I look for software, I like to have the best. I want my programs to be designed well, intuitive, powerful, and be great at what they do.

Also, with increasing frequency, I've noticed that the best software is often offered for free, which is a nice bonus.

Favorite All-Purpose Media Viewer

Irfanview 3.61 from Irfanview

Don't you hate when you click on an image file in your Windows explorer and it's associated with some monsterous software program like Adobe Photoshop? So you sit there and wait forever, when all you really want is a quick peek at the picture.

Associate all your file extensions with Irfanview and be amazed! This tiny little program can view over 60 audio & video file types, including: JPG, BMP, MP3, GIF, MOV, MPG, PSD, RA, etc. You name it, Irfan can view it!

The best part is the EXTREMELY quick program launch, it's more like a window that opens up, but don't be fooled by it's simplicity! Irfanview can crop pictures, import from your digital camera or scanner, send pictures via e-mail, perform filter effects, and much much more!

I have this program associated with practically every graphic & audio type on my hard drive, even MP3s. Install this program. Trust me, you'll thank me for it.

Price: Free (no nags), no reminders, no spyware, not even a 'please register me' link.

Favorite Firewall

Sygate Personal Firewall from Sygate

If you've got a static IP address, you're a fool not to have a firewall on your server, be it hardware or software.

Of course, you'll want the best protection possible, and if you're smart you'll take the advice of the Gibson Research Corporation at GRC.com. They've tested practically every software firewall available, and have come up with a recommended list.

I tried a few on their list, and I liked Sygate's Personal Firewall the best, but a couple other good ones are ZoneAlarm Free Edition from ZoneLabs and Tiny Personal Firewall from Tiny Software.

You really can't go wrong with any of these firewalls. Tiny Personal Firewall is VERY configurable, and if you're comfortable with computer networking, go with that one.

The 'easiest', or most 'user-friendly', one is probably ZoneAlarm, but don't let that make you think it's any less powerful.

I chose Sygate's Personal Firewall, because it's somewhere in the middle. It's a breeze to use, and the flexibility is there if I want to do something a little more customized with my firewall.

Price: Free, no nags, no reminders, no spyware.

Favorite Anti-Virus Software

AVG Anti-Virus from Grisoft.

Sure, Norton Anti-Virus is good, but why pay for virus updates when you can use a product that's just as good and offers FREE updates?

In fact, some computer users say AVG anti-virus is actually better than Norton, and catches more virii.

Installation is a breeze, just download the software, receive your free registration key via e-mail, and you're good to go. You can have AVG scan your hard-drive on a regular basis, and even let it download the monthly updates by itself.

AVG has all the anti-virus protection features you'll need, including an optional Outlook Express attachment monitor.

Price: Free, no nags, no reminders to register, no spyware.

Favorite Trojan Monitor

The Cleaner from MooSoft Development.

We've all heard of computer viruses, but what about trojans? Trojan horse programs are named for the giant wooden horse that concealed Greek soldiers who used it to invade the ancient city of Troy.

Like that famous trick, a Trojan horse program conceals hidden programming. The hidden function may just be a joke, or something annoying, but vandals often use Trojan horse programs to destroy other people's data, knowing that some people will run any program that has an interesting file name, or promises to perform a useful function.

Unlike viruses, Trojan's can be tough to protect against, because it's harder to detect them. The best program for catching them though is definitely "The Cleaner".

"The Cleaner" isn't intended to replace your anti-virus program, as it doesn't scan for viruses, but for Trojans instead.

Price: $29.95. There is a trial version available.

Favorite MP3 Player

STP MP3 Player from a very brilliant Russian programmer, who is currently serving his mandatory time in the military.

Is it just me, or did WinAmp become a bloated piece of shit after AOL acquired NullSoft? Maybe that's harsh, considering WinAmp is the granddaddy of MP3 players.

However, I don't need 99% of the bells and whistles it offers, but I do need the resources it loves to hog. I also hate the playlist function in WinAmp. For one thing, it doesn't have the ability to re-scan your folders every X number of minutes, meaning I have to 'clear the playlist' and re-scan way too often.

So what's a music freak to do? Enter STP. An MP3 player that takes BARELY any system resources at all, but still offers amazing sound quality and every feature I need in an MP3 player. On top of that, it sits in my system tray, out of my way.

Simply right click on it, and a list of all my MP3s pops up, which branches off into subfolders in a very easy to use menu. And the folders are all up to date, because I have STP set to re-scan every 30 minutes. Turn on 'shuffle mode' and I'm set.

There are a few frills, like an equalizer, ID3 tag editor, and a minibar, but not much more. It's perfect!

Price: Free, no nags, no registration, no spyware

Favorite Burning Software

Click N' Burn Pro 2.0 by Stomp Inc.

What about Nero? Hmmmm.... well this was a tough one, because I also like Nero a lot, and in all honesty it might be a better program.

However, I've found all burning programs to be essentially the same, but Click N Burn Pro 2.0 has a feature that I had been looking for in a burning package for quite a while.... extremely long file names.

Nero apparently has the ability to burn cds with long filenames, but for the life of me I couldn't get it to work. The filenames would always be truncated. With Click N Burn Pro I can burn CDs with filenames up to 250 characters in length!

And it's really simple to use too, the program seems to be really well designed.

Price: 49.95, no trial available

If you want to give my other favorite burning program a try, check out Nero from Ahead Software. (Price: $69, trial available)

Favorite Peer To Peer Client

WinMX from WinMX.

Napster's dead, now what? I've tried practically every one of them, and a lot of them are full of spyware, ads, or just plain suck.

WinMX rocks, because it allows you to simultaneously connect through the decentralized WinMX Peer Networking Protocol AND to many networks based on the OpenNap and Napster protocols. What's this mean? There's tons of shit for you to download.

Price: WinMx has no spyware (unlike practically every other peer-to-peer client, or ads, and is 100% free.

Favorite FTP Client

WS_FTP LE from IPSwitch.

CuteFTP is great, so is FlashFXP, but if you're looking for a great ftp client that does more than you'll likely ever need, then get WS_FTP LE.

It has an extremely simple interface, but has most every option you can think of.

Price: Free, no nags, no spyware

That's about all I can think of for now.