Minister of Science and Chief Protector of the Faith

Friday, July 27, 2007

If the Only Tool You Have is a Blog, You Tend to see Every Problem as a Post


Having the right tools fro the job is mandatory for any project. This is just a brief list of some great free programs that you can get on the internet. Most of these sites want to sell you their program (and who can blame them), and so you have to wade through their ads for their not-free version sometimes. I have tried to give a direct link to the specific download when possible. You may already have some of these programs or an equivalent to them.

IrfanView: This is just a neat little graphics program. It is not like Photoshop or anything, but it is great for viewing photos and cropping and resizing images. It has a lot of other great features too! I use it all of the time just to look at images on my hard drive. At college I used to download all of the time instead of using the college's crappy software. You can download it from one of the sites listed at this link. (Select a link from the middle of the page, though. the ones at the top might be slow because everybody else is going there.) On the fly? Try this online utility.

NoteTab Light: This is the best text editor ever. You can keep multiple pages open at the same, strip HTML tags, and align and format text really quickly. It comes with more libraries of text macros then you will ever use! You can also create your own macros in seconds. It does not have spell checker nor does it have WYSIWYG properties, however. (Just use this for spell checking.) I feel that this is the easiest and most functional text and HTML editor ever. Expensive programs like Dreamweaver pale compared to NoteTab when editing code.

The Font Thing: I hate to look at fonts because I always have so much fun playing around with them that I lose track of the time and spend hours just poring over them. I also collect fonts, and I have so many that I can't begin to keep track of them. Luckily, Sue Fisher create this great program called The Font Thing! I've tried at least a dozen other similar programs, but this one is the best by far. You can easily browse installed and uninstalled fonts, view sample text and individual characters, Change sample text "on the fly", Install or uninstall any number of fonts at once, Load (and unload) any number of fonts for temporary use, and group fonts into collections for easier management. You can download the The Font Thing at, and you can get a feel for the program at this great free tutorial.

AVG Anti-Virus: Why pay for a crappy anti-virus program when you can get a really good anti-virus program free? The 500 pound gorillas that have cornered the market on anti-virus software are Mcafee, Norton and Symantec. All of these programs eat memory, cause major connectivity problems and are as intrusive as hell. The only reason they are popular is that they have cornered the market on advertising and distribution. Don't trust a review of any of these programs from any computer magazine, these anti-virus companies have these periodicals in their pocket. Read online forums for the real info. You can download the free version of AVG at this link: AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition.

Ad-Aware: Ad-aware is a great anti-spyware program. It is easy to install and use. You can download it free from this link. Another great anti-spyware program is Spybot Search & Destroy, but it is lot trickier and harder to understand. It is great for finding those really weird malicious programs like "about:blank", but you can get yourself into some real trouble with this program if you make a mistake. I would not start editing your registry unless you really know what the heck are doing! Ad-aware can be used for almost every spyware problem. Don't use Spybot unless you are in a real jam.

ZoneAlarm: A good firewall that is easy to use. Just tell it which things to block and not to block. Read the directions before you start worrying why you can't get online! If you find that you have lost connectivity in any case, always turn off your firewall first before you start freaking out, that might be the problem. Of course a router is a better defense, but you can download ZoneAlarm for free at this link.

Firefox: It is actually smart to write your HTML for Internet Explorer, because that is still what most people use. But you should still check your code in both browsers. (Please do not tell me that Firefox is better than IE, they are both really annoying.) Another really good reason to have Firefox is that if you get a Trojan Horse or some such thing, it might block your browser from getting onto the internet. Then you are unable to look up or download the fix if you need to. If you don't have two browsers, you have to go to a different computer to look it up. Adware and spyware is not only being written for Internet Explorer anymore, some is directed at Firefox and even Safari.

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At Fri Jul 27, 03:22:00 PM, Blogger Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator said...

I am a big fan of Spybot and use it almost every day in my job, er, as an Intergalactic Gladiator.

At Fri Jul 27, 09:04:00 PM, Blogger Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

I agree that IE and Firefox both have their problems. I used Firefox until it kept screwing me over when I tried to list my "favorites."

At Fri Jul 27, 09:05:00 PM, Blogger Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

And thanks once again for Irfan View, I use it everyday to reaize stuff. And I figured out how to add text too!

At Sat Jul 28, 01:01:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You rock, Dr. Z! This is awesome. I already use AVG and love it.

At Sat Jul 28, 04:35:00 AM, Blogger Dr. Zaius said...

Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator: That is interesting, I have been know to use the program at my job, er, as an orangutan world leader from the future. We must be in similar fields!

Dr. Monkerstein: Yes, they both have plenty of issues to go around. I hate it when somebody tells me how "freaking awesome" Firefox is. It's just a goddamn browser, ferchisakes!

Dr. Monkerstein: Irfan View is such a great little utility! There are all kinds of neat things that it can do. There are so many crap programs that can't begin to hold a candle to Irfan View that are 10 times the size!

DCup: Thanks, DCup! AVG is so much better than all of the other anti-virus programs that actually cost money! It's hard to believe. It proves that marketing and distribution are far more important than the actual product.

At Sat Jul 28, 11:41:00 AM, Anonymous Tengrain said...

One bit of advice: never, ever code your html specifically for IE. Use plain vanilla html and CSS to control the look and feel. You can then be more or less browser independent (and when MS changes their code -- which they do frequently -- your web pages will not be clobbered).

At Sun Jul 29, 08:15:00 AM, Blogger Dr. Zaius said...

I never code for a particular browser, I just write it and try it both browsers. I think Firefox has more weirdness than IE.

For example, "div style=" boxes in Firefox don't recognize pictures, just text. You have to add a height tag to compensate. Also, IE and Firefox don't read padding tags the same.

<DIV align="center"><div style="width:500px;height:80px;text-align:left;padding:10px;background-color:#FFFFFF;border:1px solid black;font-size:13px;text-align:justify;">
Stuff goes here

All in all, they are both annoying.

At Sun Jul 29, 08:36:00 AM, Anonymous mwb said...

Wow, we overlap quite a bit.

I mainly use ifranview for slideshows though. I still fire up PS for most things.

I use Textpad for my quick editing needs. I generally compose posts, etc. in Textpad then post them.

And I'm so a fan of AVG, Zone Alarm, Firefox, and Spypot.

And not blog related but I'm a total fanboy of VLC player. It's simple and it works.

At Sun Jul 29, 08:37:00 PM, Blogger BadTux said...

I run MacOS or Linux 99% of the time. For the 1% of the time I do not use either of those, I generally use Firefox, AVG, and another firewall (not ZoneAlarm, forgot which firewall I used, it's freeware tho). Oh, and I install Cygwin and use 'vi' to edit text files :-).

-Badtux the Geeky Penguin

At Mon Jul 30, 04:33:00 AM, Blogger Dr. Zaius said...

Mwb: I don't hardly ever use PS, I usually use Paint Shop Pro just because it is a lot faster. I should us PS more, I am just lazy. I really only use Ifranview to look at pictures on the hard drive, unless I am at another computer like in a library. Then I download it for resisizing and stuff. I think I have used Textpad. I think that Notetab has more macro abilities. I don't remember. I have never head of VLC player. It looks interesting.

BadTux: I think that your knowledge of computers is above my head. Clearly you penguin computer fu is far and away better than my meager computer fu. I had never even heard of Cygwin, I had to look it up. Even then, I did not know what they were talking about. :o(

At Mon Jul 30, 12:00:00 PM, Blogger BAC said...

... now where is that button to turn on my computer? Yikes! You give a grrl a lot to think about here. Thanks!


At Tue Jul 31, 04:52:00 AM, Blogger Dr. Zaius said...

BAC: There are so many free programs out there, you hardly ever have to buy software if look hard enough!

At Thu Aug 02, 01:08:00 AM, Anonymous Electromagnetic Warrior said...

This is a great resource for those getting used to these blogging "tools". Your leads have opened a world of being able to use the blog in a better way.

At Thu Aug 02, 05:32:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, I wish if I can share my research on Anti Virus Protection Software here.


At Fri Aug 03, 07:45:00 AM, Blogger Dr. Zaius said...

Electromagnetic Warrior: Thank you. I like you blog! I have blogrolled you.

Saturn: I don't get it - it appears to just be a page ranking of the different anti-virus software companies. ?


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