Favorite Apps of 2006

I recently installed Mac OS X on my desktop computer and fell in love with a few of the features it has.  What’s funny is one of the big things Mac lovers boast about is how great their macs look.  And you know what, they’re right.  But you can enjoy the same cool features on your PC too!  Here are a few of my new favorite applications.  Two of them have to do with the mac-like interface and two of them are just my favorite apps.

Mac-like Interface:

  • Reflex Vision – this tools gives you features similar to the expose views in OS X.  It allows you to view all your windows at once with a zooming animation.  It’s really something that’s just too hard to describe or understand, so I recommend either downloading and trying it out or seeing the flash demo on their website.
  • Yahoo! Widget Engine – I think this application actually used to be a fee-based application called Konfabulator. But Yahoo! has purchased it and made it available to everyone for free. You can download widgets, which are small applications that run in the background and display information.  If you’ve used OS X before, I’m sure you remember the little calculator and dictionary search.

Other Good Apps:

    • Mozilla Firefox / Thunderbird – if you seriously haven’t heard of this browser and mail client yet, you should definitely try it out. Firefox has all the features that were just recently implemented in IE7 and it runs faster too!  One of the best parts of firefox is the addons. Here’s a few I really like:
      • IETab – allows you to render web pages using internet explorer seamlessly inside firefox.  The only place I really use this is for Microsoft based pages like Windows Update, Microsoft Live,, and ProClarity Web Pro.
      • Stealther – turns of cookies, history, and all the information that tracks you on the web.  This is useful when you don’t want someone on your computer to be snooping on your stuff, but really useful when you don’t want websites prying too.
      • Adblock Pro – I really only use this when I remote into my computer at home.  It’s designed to turn off ads that are on websites.  I’ve learned to block out ads when I’m surfing the web, but I dont want them taking up my bandwidth when I’m on Remote Desktop to my home computer
    • PortableApps – they just released a Suite which includes all of the most common applications.  The best part about it is they are all stand-alone applications that can be run directly from your thumb-drive.  My favorites are: Firefox (internet), Thunderbird (mail), Clamwin (antivirus), 7-zip (compression), Miranda (messaging), and uTorrent (downloading)

Media Center – Software vs OS

After trying a couple different applications designed to effectively act as a replacement for Windows XP Media Center edtion (MCE), I'm going back to Microsoft's operating system. Basically, none of the applications could do everything MCE could. And even when they got remotely close, the interface was hideous in comparison to MCE.

I needed an OS that was based on XP Professional so I could use the development tools required for my classes, like Visual Studio .NET. Being based on Windows XP Pro also allows me to enable Remote Desktop Connection so I can access and control my desktop from anywhere with Internet Explorer 5 or newer… or the Remote Desktop application….

I personally prefer to use the Remote Desktop application because it allows me to connect my local drives/printers on the laptop while im "logged in" to the Remote Desktop. This ability was the solution to my loud computer in my bedroom being the computer I use to download files over night. The thing is so loud, I can't go to sleep with it on at night.

I needed a remote server in a different room so I could continue my downloads over night and cut-down the total overall time to download. My xbox is modded with XBMC, but there are no homebrew applications to download torrents. So I installed Linux on the xbox (X-DSL) and installed a BitTorrent client. That worked… kind of. If I wanted to use the Xbox Media Center functionality of my xbox, I would have to stop downloading.

So what next? How about one of those spare computer I have sitting in my closet? Perfect. Install Windows XP, set up the computer, set up remote desktop, set up file-shares… "wallah!" I now have a file/torrent-server to house all my media.

I'll get back with some photos and screen shots… for now, use your imagination. I'll try to write up some info on the processes later.