1. ProFont / Proggy
A font? huh? yes! a font. And why? because finding a font which is readable in small sizes is not small deal. Why do you need such a font? to have as much readable code in one screen. I have a 14″ laptop monitor, that’s only 1024×768 — far less then ideal. I found two: ProFont and Proggy. They’re both magnificently readable in small sizes, and Proggy even has versions with embolden punctuation marks. Trés-cool.
2. AppRocket / QuickSilver
Did I mention my personal computer is a Mac iBook? if I have I should do it again. Mac OS X is great, and Quicksilver makes it even better. It’s defined as a “launcher”, but it’s so much more. You can do almost anything through it’s intuitive, light-speed fast minimal interface. Sadly for most of you, you’re using Windows, trapped in a world of dull computers; hence you will never know the joy of using Quicksilver. But! you could use AppRocket, which is a launcher for Windows. It’s hardly Quicksilver, but it’s useful. I found while looking for something to replace QS on Windows. If you love the keyboard, you will love AppRocket — it indexes whatever you want and let’s you search-as-you-type for it, launch it or do all kinds of stuff with it (like traverse into directories)
3. PDF Galore! PDF SpeedUp, Foxit Reader, PDFCreator
PDF somehow became the industry standard for document sharing. A lot of content right here on SDN are delivered in PDF format. That means opening and closing Acrobat Reader lots of times. The problem is that Acrobat Reader can take a ridiculously long time to load — it loads all kinds of plug ins you’re most likely to never use. Ever. Along comes PDF SpeedUp (this page has other products on it too; scroll to PDF SpeedUp) — a few nifty application which disables all those pesky plug ins (don’t worry, it backs ’em up so you can put them back whenever you want) — you’ll be amazed how much faster Reader loads. Then again, why mess around with Acrobat Reader anyway when FoxIt Reader is out there? It’s a no-installation program (just an EXE to launch; put it on your USB disk!), small and fast. And free. What more can you ask? What more you ask? You can ask for a way to create PDF files. Adobe would want you to buy their PDF Writer, but if you can settle for simple PDF files (no fancy links inside etc.), PDF Creator is what you’re looking. It’s free, it’s open-source, it’s great. It creates a PDF Printer you print anything into, and creates a PDF — that means you can create a PDF from anywhere in the system. The download process can be a bit tricky if you’re not used to downloading stuff from SourceForge, but it’s no rocket-science and I’m sure you’ll find it. (when you need to choose between a package with “APFL Ghostscript” and “GNU Ghostscript” — just pick one, they both work)
I don’t think Firefox needs any introduction — it’s the browser of choice for 10% of the Internet’s users, and a major pain in the *** for Microsoft. I use it almost exclusively. Thunderbird is Firefox’s sister — a great email client. It’s junk-filtering capabilities are superb, and all-in-all it’s a great product. It even has an extension which adds basic calendaring.
5. FireFox Extensions….
What makes FireFox so great is the large array of extensions it has. Here’s a few I can’t live without: 1. Spellbound: adds spelling to any text box in Firefox. This feature should be in the operating system if you ask me. Now at least it’s in the browser. (Yes, Mac OS X has spelling as a system service to any text box!) 2. foXpose: This is Exposé for Firefox. Exposé is a Mac OS X feature which instantly (and beautifully) lays out all the open windows on the screen, to cut through the clutter. If you’ve seen Microsoft’s Vista demo at the last CES convention you saw their poor attempt at creating something as useful for Windows. Anyway, foXpose shows you all the currently open tabs on one screen with one click. Great if you’re a heavy tabs user. Try it, you’ll like it. 3. ScrapBook: ScrapBook lets you keep an archive of saved web pages, snippets, or even complete web sites. Very useful if you like saving web-pages for offline viewing and reference.
I tend to think most people have heard about this by now, but who knows, maybe they haven’t. del.icio.us, besides being the most clever URL ever registered, is bookmarks for the next generation — stored on their server, tagged, and publically viewable (unless you want to keep them private, ofcourse) Doesn’t sound like much? try it.
Another text editor? give us a break, will ya? I know, text editors are sometimes a religious issue. The aptly named Notepad2 is no contender in the beefy-text-editors arena, but a real Notepad replacement — it’s small and fast with a small set of great features (syntax highlighting and line numbering are the main selling point for me). It’s also a no-installation application, so you can take it with you on your USB disk.