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What software applications have most helped you?

post #1 of 35
Thread Starter 
For those of us that spend altogether too much time in front of a computer, what general applications (we all know that Matlab is great for number-crunching, etc.) have you found that have most improved your personal productivity or increased your ability to work? Over the years, I've picked up some great suggestions from other people, so I thought I'd list mine (no affiliation to any of them):
  • Gmail - It goes nearly without saying, but Gmail's super fast and comprehensive search is better than almost anything else out there. The ability to access your email through POP or IMAP means you are not stuck using their interface if you don't like it.
  • LogMeIn remote desktop access - The free version of their software is more than adequate for most Windows users. For *nix users who don't mind a little more technical configuration, substitute VNC. Being able to access my main workstation from any network connection has been very helpful when needing that one document I forgot or kicking off long-running tasks remotely.
  • DynDNS - redirects domain names requests to dynamic IP addresses. Pairs well with VNC for home broadband networks where the IP address may change.
  • Windows Live Sync - The ability to have certain folders seamlessly synchronized across multiple computers is great. It serves as both a poor man's backup system and a way to ensure that work done on a laptop or second PC is always available on one's main workstation.
  • Cobian Backup - Backups don't make anyone any more productive until you lose a hard drive. They can be a pain to set up, but Cobian makes it easy to schedule unattended backups to a variety of different media.
  • Google Reader - If you read blogs, this is probably the easiest RSS reader to set up.
  • Google Calendar - One of the easiest calendars to share among multiple people.
  • Mint.com - A very low-effort way of tracking and categorizing personal expenses after the fact. Provides rudimentary budgeting capabilities.
  • Mvelopes.com - A full-featured, moderate-effort budgeting system. Costs a little bit per month, but well worth it if you need to carefully adhere to a budget or manage a shared budget.
  • BaseCampHQ.com - A simple project management app with a clean interface. Free version is fairly limited, though.
  • Emailias.com - Create any number of disposable email addresses to use for different websites. Automatically forward to your personal email address and replies are automatically converted back to use your disposable address. If you start receiving spam or unwanted email at any of the disposable addresses, simply discard it. Costs a few dollars per month, but very worth it if you hate spam.
post #2 of 35
there's this mac app called Scrivener that's fantastic for writing, particularly academic writing honestly, though, i'll probably just switch to windows. i've been wanting to use OneNote for so long but I haven't had a windows machine in years
post #3 of 35
Excel.
post #4 of 35
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by oman View Post
there's this mac app called Scrivener that's fantastic for writing, particularly academic writing

honestly, though, i'll probably just switch to windows. i've been wanting to use OneNote for so long but I haven't had a windows machine in years
I've heard several people rave about Scrivener.

I have been really disappointed with OneNote for the simple reason that it does not index any documents that are attached or linked to a note page. It would be hugely beneficial if I could just drag Word docs and PDFs into a OneNote page and have them be searchable, but OneNote doesn't do that. I've looked all over for a good note-taking and document management system and have yet to find one that does what I would like.
post #5 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by oman View Post
there's this mac app called Scrivener that's fantastic for writing, particularly academic writings

+ 1

Google Docs, Aperture, Stickies, Time Machine, MobileMe, OpenDNS, Word, Access and Excel (Pages & Numbers suck).
post #6 of 35
I like thebigpic.org. It's a bit like google calendar, but has project options with individual tasks that you can place on the calendar. I like the interface and it's replaced my physical datebook.
post #7 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by dah328 View Post
  • Gmail - It goes nearly without saying, but Gmail's super fast and comprehensive search is better than almost anything else out there. The ability to access your email through POP or IMAP means you are not stuck using their interface if you don't like it.
Agreed. Combine with IMAP and "Inbox <50" (I can't really do Inbox zero, but I try to archive old email, and current ones/things that I need to check up on stay in my inbox)
Quote:
Originally Posted by dah328 View Post
  • Google Reader - If you read blogs, this is probably the easiest RSS reader to set up.
Agreed.
Quote:
Originally Posted by dah328 View Post
  • Emailias.com - Create any number of disposable email addresses to use for different websites. Automatically forward to your personal email address and replies are automatically converted back to use your disposable address. If you start receiving spam or unwanted email at any of the disposable addresses, simply discard it. Costs a few dollars per month, but very worth it if you hate spam.
Wouldn't it be cheaper to buy a domain (get a .info or something for $4 or something) and hook it up to Google Apps? Free email with Gmail functionality for a lot less. My list: Socialite - Mac OS X app, I currently have both Twitter and Google Reader running inside. I do miss a few interface features, but it keeps me updated and I read more tweets now compared to when I was using Tweetie. Dropbox - Mac/Windows/Possibly Linux: Makes a local folder that is synced with all your computers, as well as cloud based storage. Saved my ass a few times, if I edit a document on my desktop, it's synced to my MacBook Pro. Whenever I write something for school (which is quite often, seeing as everything should be handed in online) it syncs up and I don't have to think about it. Group folders makes projects easier than ever to manage, and 2GB (up to 5GB if referring friends) is more than enough for my Word and Excel documents. SuperDuper - Mac OS X app, makes backups easy and fast. Can for example make a bootable hard drive, great for changing your internal hard drive. Make a backup, swap the internal drive, boot from the external backup drive, restore, everything is back to normal in a few hours depending on the amount you need to backup/restore. Cha-Ching - Easy budget managing. I add all my credit card transactions here, tag them and categorize them. Syncs to my iPod and lets me keep total control over my spending. (That's not true, but at least I know what I use on what) 1Password - saves your logins, create random passwords for a lot of sites and let it log in for you. Even better, save the file to your dropbox, and you'll have it wherever you go. Not on your own computer and can't/won't install Dropbox you say? No problem, open the Dropbox web interface, log in and you'll be able to view the encrypted content in a web browser after you enter your password.
post #8 of 35
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MsMcGillicuddy View Post
I like thebigpic.org. It's a bit like google calendar, but has project options with individual tasks that you can place on the calendar. I like the interface and it's replaced my physical datebook.
That does look like a pretty intuitive interface. It doesn't appear to have the drawback of many task lists that do not integrate well with a calendar.
post #9 of 35
Mint is a Godsend.....at least when it works properly.
post #10 of 35
Opera, great browser to use on a slower connection due to its Turbo feature.
post #11 of 35
Word Perfect, Netscape Navigator, Ghost (then Clonezilla), Ultra Edit, Excel.
post #12 of 35
Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop. Although I curse them on a daily basis, they definitely make my work go more smoothly when quick updates or revisions are needed. I would love to go back to using pencilXpaperXeraser collabo, but that's not likely to happen.
post #13 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by MetroStyles View Post
Excel.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JustinW View Post
Access and Excel

+1

Couldn't live life w/o them.
post #14 of 35
Thread Starter 
An update on some of mine:
  • Emailias, the email forwarding service I mentioned, went out of business in October (and did not refund any unused subscription fees ). I moved to spamex.com which does a better job, costs less, and does not appear to be in any danger of going out of business. I wish I had known about them before I chose Emailias.
  • Windows Live Sync has been replaced by Windows Live Mesh and no longer supports Win XP. Since I still have a couple WinXP machines, I cannot move to Live Mesh. The seamless network file syncing that Live Sync/Mesh do is remarkably hard to find in another product. The best I've found so far is GBridge, but it's not nearly as easy to set up or use.
post #15 of 35
Dropbox-Without a doubt an awesome program especially if you have multiple devices. I can have access to my documents on all my devices-PC, Mac Book Pro, iPhone and iPad.

Evernote-Allows you store notes, pictures, video, etc. Like Dropbox, it also allows you to sync with multiple devices so you always have access to your notes.

Both of these are fantastic. Use them or risk becoming obsolete!!!
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