I used so many programs this year. Some were great and some weren’t so fun. It’s been a good year for free programs. I doubt that more than 2 of these programs even came out this year but they’re all great in my book and because of that, I made a Top 10 List of Programs of 2008. (Of course, there is no way I can easily have a reverse ordered list here. So I start with number 1!)
- Ultra VNC – UltraVNC is an amazing program that allows me to view and even take control of any Windows PC on my network. I use it daily and because of it, when my parents need help with something, they simply let me take control of their screens and give them step by step on screen help. But it’s more than that. We build a lot of computers in-house so we often need to get a file from the computer on the top floor but hate walking three flights of stairs. UltraVNC is there to help with that.
- IdleBackup – This hasn’t saved my life yet; it will someday though and I’ll be glad. IdleBackup backs up your selected files only when you aren’t around. I have it set to check for differences on my my /Ryan folder (on Vista, the user account’s folder) and also my main storage drive every four hours. It will back it up if there are differences. It’s an excellent program. I have some criticisms about it’s design and minor points of functionality, but this year, it’s had me safe.
- Launchy – Launchy is similar to what Spotlight is on the Mac. You hit alt+spacebar and up comes a little box you type into and then hit enter. For instance, I type fox and hit enter and firefox opens. It works for files and programs and also has many other commands such as Googling and looking up words in the dictionary/thesaurus. I use it daily at this point and I always like to do it when someone’s watching, it always gets them.
- jkDefrag – In Windows Vista, the defragger is a failure. It’s just a loading bar. I like to see my de-fragmenting in action. jkDefrag isn’t fancy for visuals but it’s clearly useful. It’s more than just defragging too. It will move the most used files to the faster part of the disc and the huge zips, rars and tars to the skirts. Isn’t that a clever way to handle data? Sure, it’s probably an insignificant optimization and someone could point out a reason it’s unnecessary or even wrong, but it’s simply neat.
- NotePad++ – As a programmer, you have to have a Text Editor. My favorite is NotePad++. It’s never let me down with syntax highlighting but it could use some code hints. Otherwise, it functions as my default replacement for opening txt files. It even is integrated with the Context Menus of files saving me so much time.
- Rocket Dock – I only put this on computers with a high resolution. On the computers that have it, everyone loves it. It’s really nice to have a couple of folders docked to it and have it hidden. You gently move the mouse to the side of the screen and out it pops with our recently used folders. It’s skinnable and fast. It uses less than 5MB of memory which is excellent.
- InfraRecorder – I was going to do a review about this, but I’ll probably hold that off for a while after this point. InfraRecorder, undetectable from the name, burns discs. I use it to burn ISOs and other disc media. Recently I figured out how to save an entire disc as an ISO for backup purposes. It’s great at that. It’s simply layout is an asset too. Even my parents can use it because the visuals help you rather then confuse you.
- FileZillaFTP Client – I don’t FTP very often but this year I used it to upload my first blog (wordpress 2.6) and later the great WordPress 2.7 release. It’s clean and easy to use for uploading over FTP. I can’t say much about it but it’s worth a download if you use a lot of FTP. I’m not sure how it compares to other software, but it works for me.
- 7Zip – Finally, as the not my top-rated program of 2008, but it’s useful nevertheless. Unlike WinRar that either you pay for or you get bothered by, 7Zip lets you unzip rars and even compress files in a superior (but uncompression is slower) compression. I put it on all my computers because the Windows extractor is simply not going to cut it for my needs.
That’s my Top 10 List of Programs of 2008! You’ve probably heard of all of these, but you know they’re good. Do you agree with the list above? Other suggestions for programs? Anything at all, leave a comment.
Note – Gallery
I had orignally included these screenshots next to each list item, but for some reason, WordPress not happy with that and wouldn’t let me. So I include it here as a gallery.