Software advocacy

A lot of people throughout the course of my life and career have asked me two questions: what software do I use, and why do I like said software?  I prefer to use applications that follow the KISS principle, excluding a couple obvious ones (like preferring Windows XP as a workstation OS instead of Linux or FreeBSD with X, et cetera).  Software that suffers from bloat is acceptable, as long as the positives significantly outweigh the negatives.

So here’s a list of workstation software I use and/or advocate, and visit the home pages of on a daily basis:

  • Alcohol 120% — virtual disk/disc software; like DaemonTools but not crap
  • ATTO Bench32 — for disk benchmarking and throughput rates for different block sizes
  • dBpoweramp — for CD ripping and MP3 encoding; simple, fast, and reliable. Commercial, but well worth the money
  • CCleaner — a reliable way to keep your Windows registry (mostly) clean, and manage start-up programs
  • Core Temp — for monitoring on-die CPU core temperatures
  • CPU-Z — for examining low-level details about your PC
  • DBAN — for zeroing disks — use 2.2.7 or newer, as with 2.2.6 its ISOLINUX bootloader had catastrophic bugs
  • Defraggler — because the stock Windows filesystem defrag utility leaves a lot to be desired
  • Firebug — extension for Mozilla Firefox; an absolute necessity for anyone who does web development
  • GPU-Z — for monitoring GPU temperature, because nVidia nTune sucks
  • KeePass — never forget passwords ever again
  • HD Tune Pro — for disk benchmarking, SMART monitoring, and bad sector scanning
  • LAME ACM — for anyone who encodes MP3s or does any sort of AV encoding on Windows
  • MPC – Home Cinema — classic MPC has too many bugs and VLC is a sick disgusting joke
  • mIRC — yeah, you heard me right
  • Miranda IM — pompous authors, but significantly better than Trillian or Pidgin
  • Mozilla Firefox — since IE became atrocious with the release of IE7
  • Nestopia — simply the best (read: most enjoyable) NES/Famicom emulator available
  • nLite — customise and build your own Windows CDs
  • nLite Xable’s SP3 Update Pack — mandatory for anyone who does slipstreaming on XP
  • PingPlotter — because WinMTR really isn’t cutting it any more
  • RMClock — low-level CPU monitoring and feature-toggling tool
  • SCFH DSF — absolutely the best DirectShow capture filter there is; open-source too!
  • smartmontools — for hard disk analysis via SMART, but lacks a GUI which makes a lot of wussies sad pandas. ;-)
  • TomatoUSB — Linux-based open-source firmware for Linksys WRT-series enthusiasts, based on Tomato
  • uTorrent — compact, no fluff, high-performance BitTorrent client
  • VMware Workstation — well worth US$190!
  • VirtualDub — fast, feature-extensive video re-compressor; does capturing too
  • Winamp — because I can’t be bothered with weird UI bugs in foobar2000
  • WinRAR — since Winzip turned into something blasphemous years ago
  • Wireshark — an absolute necessity for any *IX or Win32 administrator who cares about networking
  • XviD — free video codec I use exclusively when doing AV work