Useful Programs

he best programs I have (and use often) are usually the cheapest and simplest. I suspect that this is the case with most computer users. You probably spent $100 on the programs you use 90% of the time and $1000 on the ones you thought were tooooooo cool to be without and you opened them ... hmmm ... two times?

That's certainly about right for me.

The programs I actually use consistently are:

  • Lorentz Graf's HTML Tool (downloaded when it was free)
  • IE5 - free of course
  • MS Notepad - Free with Win'98
  • Gif Construction Set - $25
  • Color Desk Photo - picture retouch which came -free- with a Logitech scanner (scanner now gone).
  • MS Paint - Free with Win'98
  • American Heritage Dictionary - ~ 13 bucks
  • MS Calculator - Free with Win'98
  • MidiGate - 10 bucks
  • And the only Program I have and use and intend to use more in the future that cost more than $100 dollars is - Voyetra's Digital Orchestrator Pro (efficient, just a little clumsy ... in general ... I like it)
  • What's good about these programs besides their cost?

    Well ...

    HTML Tool is the best text editor I have yet found. It gives me easy access to all my files in a left side scrollable window and I just double click 'em and any number can be open at once. It has drag& drop which is very important. And easy access tag buttons. And it loads in 2 seconds.
    Negatives: I have to click three or four items before I'm ready to rock & roll because it won't remember my preferences. And it lacks the one thing I desperately want in a text editor ... nothing.
    Yes ... I want a text editor with nothing in it ... until I put it there, i.e. I want a text editor where I make the buttons and I make the drop down lists ... the way I want it.

    Attention all programmers: Just give me the means to make the thing myself ... as much as possible. I'll take the time ... gladly.

    Color Desk Photo loads in about two seconds and does, very simply and effectively, all those global changes you might want to make on any picture. And ... it saves in different file extensions ... get this ... ACCURATELY. I have never seen a program which saves the picture as I want and expect it to look in a different file format. All the rest drop colors and screw up the thing bad.
    Negatives: For what it does - none.

    Gif Construction Set - I can make a simple animation with this easy working thingy in just a few minutes. AND ... the resulting files are about as small as I can conceive of.
    Negatives: I paid $25 for it but lost the password to transfer it to my new machine. Now I get a nag screen every time I close it. It's irritating but not enough to get me to waste some time calling Canada (Alchemy Mindworks) to find out the info.

    IE5 - This is the best browser from the developers point of view. It does much more than Netscape (although Netscape is quite credible). The best thing that it does is infinite reload. What I mean is each time you click the reload button it goes to the source ... not to it's cache. Netscape will reload about ten times then you have to restart Netscape to get it to resume reloading that same page.
    I need the reload feature so that I can test my html at any stage of development. I don't have wysiwyg ... I have the page itself in IE5. HTML Tool is on top of IE5 with IE5's reload button exposed. To check my work, I click that button and IE5 comes to the top reloaded ... then click any exposed area of HTML Tool to go back to the editor.
    In fact I just used it now. File-Save-Reload(IE5) ... easy
    Negatives: It's still a little buggy.

    MS Notepad: Put .LOG at the top of notepad and call it any name like mylog.txt and put the file in your start folder and the first thing you see when you turn on your machine is your universal post it board with today's date displayed at the bottom of the file (where it initially opens). Anything you want to save - phone numbers, notes to yourself, things to do, lists, what happened today, etc. - goes here and you can search for a word so you won't lose "gramma's birthday" or "Loraine's ph.#" or "where I was when my car turned over 100,000 miles".
    Negatives: None.

    MS Paint does everything I need to make simple animations. I name each consecutive frame this1 this2 this3 ... and open them in GifCon and make the animation. It's uncluttered with stuff I would never use. And ... Win'98s version lets you mess with gif files without altering them back to bmps. Loads in 2 seconds.
    Negatives: It won't dependably save to another format so I have to use color desk. And I would occasionally like to cut a person from the background in a bitmap and use a simple mask. (I've found some workarounds that are preferable to paying >$100 for a more advanced program).

    American Heritage Dictionary Small enough to keep on my hard drive - loads all but instantly - just text - I find the word I "forgot" how to spell and I'm gone. Does just what I want, no more. Has thesaurus function. Very seldom do I not find what I need here.
    Negatives: None.

    MidiGate Buy this ... it works ... it does just what you want and what more could you ask for $10. Lines up whatever midifiles you click on in a que ... plays midi files with your sound card's advanced wave capabilities (not just the kazoo type instruments).
    Negatives: None.

    You see? Cheap loads fast and just does what you want efficiently. And it doesn't take up a lot of space and it's not buggy (except IE5).


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