Essential Software?

Admittedly, I found this list via digg. Digg is a geek site, with geek news, however.. if one is to make up a list of 100 essential pieces of software it really should be a universal sort of list. Also, if it’s essential, how many cdrippers does one pc really need? How many media players and how many photo editors?

I disagree with this list of so-called essentials based on one simple fact. These list is not filled with “essentials”. When something is called an essential item, it is a must-have, bare minimum standard. Having recently purchased a new hard drive for my laptop, I have only installed software on this machine that I use every single day and 90% of that software is freeware.

I suppose, perhaps, that they were trying to get to 100 items on their list, and also not leave anyone out of the game, but I am not adverse to the idea of offending people so if one were to revise this list, it would only have at most 25 items on it.. and should look something like this:

Music Conversion:
dBpoweramp: The essential cd ripper and file converter for windows XP. Not only is it free, there is very little that it won’t do for you. It’s the swiss army knife of the audio world.

Photo/Image Editing and Graphics Design:
The Gimp: It’s free. It’s got more plug-ins than you could shake a stick at. If you’re not gonna fork out the dough for Photoshop, Gimp is the way to go.


AVG Antivirus: It’s free. It’s light and it works. Admittedly, I run a commerical antivirus program because it came with my laptop, but if you can’t afford it AVG is the way to go.
Spybot Search & Destroy: For all the stuff that AVG doesn’t think of.
Lavasoft AdAware: For all the stuff that AVG and Spybot don’t think of.

Media Players:
VLC Media Player: Free, will play anything that you can stick in a drive in a PC. The swiss army knife of media players. Did I mention that it’s lightweight and that it’s free?
RealPlayer: Okay, I admit that it sucks to have more than one media player when VLC does it all, but nothing except RealPlayer plays .ram files and it’s a lot prettier than VLC.
Windows Media Player: If you have windows XP, you have this already and when a website doesn’t support RealPlayer, it will support WMP.

CD and DVD Ripping/Burning/Encoding:
DVD Shrink: If your files are too big to slap on a standard DVD-R, this software is for you. It shrinks, encodes and if you have DVD burning software installed on your machine, it will find it and burn your DVD for you all with the click of a button.
Virtual Dub Mod: For all those things that DVD Shrink can’t fix by itself, such as missing key frames and other odd emergencies that will hinder you in burning a DVD.
Nero: Now… I admit that Nero is not free, however, if you buy no other piece of software for your PC and you intend to burn DVD’s, get out your wallet and hand over the cash for Nero. It’s worth every penny you will spend.

P2P Clients:
I want to preface this by saying I do have a BitTorrent client, but I do not have any other P2P software running on my laptop for reasons that should be obvious. If they aren’t obvious to you, then let me just say that if you’re using Kazaa and the RIAA files a lawsuit against you, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
BitTorrent: The original lightweight, free and nice BitTorrent. Handy for all of those legitimate software downloading sites that require you to use BitTorrent.

Web Browsers:
Mozilla Firefox: It’s free. I do not use Internet Explorer. If a site requires me to run IE to use it, I go to another site. Many potential purchases have been skipped out on because an online seller required me to use IE. Forget it. Firefox is the sh*t. It has a plethora of extensions and plug-ins that let you pimp your browser in ways that I can’t even imagine. Simply put, it’s the only web browser you will ever need.

E-mail Client:
Mozilla Thunderbird: I do not use Outlook Express. Outlook Express has too many security flaws in it. Anyone who’s smart should get rid of it and go download Thunderbird today.

Instant Messengers:
GAIM: It hooks in to all the others so you don’t need to watch ads or have a bazillion IM clients running at the same time. Now, admittedly, I think that yahoo and aol and microsoft all have the right to run those ads, but their programs… well not to put too fine a point on it… suck.

Word Processing/Document Viewing:

Adobe Reader: Um… what do I say about this? Well, about a bazillion websites use the .pdf (or portable document format) for handing out say… manuals for your DVD player and whatnot. You need it.
OpenOffice: OpenOffice is kind of like Microsoft Office only it has several advantages over MS Office. It’s faster, more intuitive (things are where you expect them to be), takes up less space on your hard drive and the biggest advantage it has over MS Office is that it’s free!

Additional crap you may choose to download at your discretion:

Gamer Tools:
RPG Dice: It’s free. It’s a computerized dice roller that works better than any other dice roller ever built for a PC.

IRC Client:
mIRC: There is only one.