May 312009
 

Someone asked me the other day what programs they should or should not install on their netbook when they get it. They were aiming largely at what they should or should not pay money for. So I decided to compile a list of my must-have programs.

1) Google Chrome – This is the first thing I install on my computer if I get a new one or re-install windows. I used to be a Firefox junkie, but I’ve found Google Chrome to be faster, lighter, and much easier to use than Firefox. It has native Google Gears support which allows me to naturally run GMail offline, as well as enable Gears on Google Docs, Calendar, and as well on WordPress without having to install it from scratch.

2) AVG Anti-Virus (the free version) – Most people think that you need to pay a good chunk of money up front, and pay for a subscription in order to be protected from malware. I’ve found that AVG is a perfectly good, and free alternate. Be careful, however, there are a lot of other sites that offer AVG, make sure you get it from the actual AVG website. The above link is linked to the actual AVG website. Its a great tool that will keep you free of viruses and malware, without some expensive plan.

3) Pidgin Chat Client – I hate, hate, hate having to install three dozen chat clients for instant messaging. So, I use Pidgin. It’s an open source, free chat client that connects to all major IM servers as well to any jabber bassed IM servers. Since I use GChat, Yahoo!, and AIM I prefer not to install those three programs if I can at all help it. I also like the fact that it does not support voice/video and some of the more laggy, clunky advanced features. Its just a nice, simple chat interface. After all, that’s why I IM, to chat!

4) iTunes – Ok, so Apple produced iTunes to support its Ipod sales. However, since then its grown to a larger audience than people who own Ipods. I for one, do not. But, I love the fact that I can purchase music, movies, and tv seasons with the click of a button and it automatically downloads. I am a particularly large fan of purchasing season passes to TV shows. While the program is free, it can drain large amounts of money depending on what and how much you purchase!

5) OpenOffice.org – This free alternative to Microsoft Office grants us freedom from one of the evil empire’s major money makers. Its approximately on par with Office 2003, and while it may not have many of the advanced capabilities that office does, it will do for most things. For most consumers, Open Office is all you need. You can save and open Microsoft Office documents with it, which provides for a seamless transition between work/school and home if necessary. Just be careful of complex formatting.

6) GIMP – The GNU Image Manipulation Program is a terrific free, and open source alternative to purchasing Photoshop. It’s a basic image editing tool that will let you duplicate most functions of Photoshop. 

7) Microsoft Office Publisher 2007 – Ok, so while this one is expensive, its worth it. I’ve not found any open source or free alternative to Publisher that works anywhere as well. I’ve used it to design yearbooks and many other amature publications. While there are many great professional publication design programs out there, you can’t beat this for your average consumer. 

8) Microsoft Office One Note 2007 – Again… This program, despite its origins, rocks. Its primary purpose is to give you the unparalleled ability to take notes. I’ve found it is much more natural at doing it than any word processing program I’ve used. One Note allows you to click and drag notes anywhere you’d like, as well as post sticky notes on your screen. Its just an all around genious program. I’m using it extensively on one of my writing projects.

9) WinRar – This program can open up a whole host of zip-like files. A lot of times you will see things stored as .rar files, and you have to sit there and figure out how on earth to open such things. Well, WinRar is the answer. 

10) Daemon Lite – When I purchased my netbook, I had to figure out how on earth I was going to install things which came as CD’s onto the little computer which has no optical drive. Then I discovered Daemon Lite. This program allows you to virtually mount a CD Image (ISO) and run it as if it was really a CD in your CDRom. For a computer without a CD drive, this has proven invaluable!

So there you have it, that is my list of Ten Programs I cannot live without. It covers just about anything you’d need to do, and alll but a few of them are free, or have free versions!