Soft. Picks

 

Over time we all find preferred software that we like to have installed and available on the systems we use. This is my list for Windows systems. For the most part, these selections aren’t mutually exclusive- that is, you don’t have to choose only one text editor, and could install several if desired; the additional disk space is hardly something to be concerned about.

Operating System Components

Over the years, the communities that have sprung up around a lot of older Windows releases have dutifully put together any number of pieces of software to enhance or modernize aspects of those operating systems. Windows 3.1/3.11/etc has a number of “toys” that can be installed. These can be found on the MDGx Essential Free Upgrades and Fixes pag. ForĀ  Windows 95, there is the Unofficial OSR2 Service pack; Windows 98SE has a similarly tuned Unofficial Service Pack as well; Windows 2000 has theĀ  Unofficial Service Pack for Windows 2000 is one example. The Windows 98 Updates include a Generic USB Flash Drive driver, for example, which is invaluable for pretty much any Win98 system with a USB port and makes transferring files a breeze for those old systems.

Browsers

Browsers tend to be a point of contention in terms of preference. I don’t think they necessarily need to be mutually exclusive., since they use a trivial amount of storage, and can be useful to have multiple browsers as you can try a website that is giving you issues in a different browser as needed. Options include Google Chrome, it’s Open Source equivalent, Chromium, Firefox or one of it’s variety of forks, Opera, and a number of other options.

Worthwhile mention is that there are options like “Classilla” you can get reasonably usable, if certainly not cutting-edge, support for web browsing on Classic Mac OS systems. it’s also possible, via software like the aforementioned KernelEx, to get say Firefox 10 ESR to work on Windows 98SE. These can make an old system provide some limited utility or at least make it easier to do things like download drivers or other software to such a machine.

 

Information Tools

There are a lot of tools for inspecting various aspects of your system. Some fine software for this purpose includes CPU-Z,SSD-Z which display information about CPU, GPU, and installed SSD software. CrystalDiskInfo is good for finding out HDD information in general, and CrystalDiskMark can be used to test or benchmark and compare different Hard Drives, SSDs, or even connection interfaces. HWMonitor can provide a good system overview, and also shows temperature information for various sensors, if they are available.

Editpad Pro

Editpad Pro is a great piece of text editing software that I have found to work the best for me even after exploring a few other options. A free “Lite” Version is also available. It’s Search/Replace capability and integration with some of the developers other tools is great. I’ve also found it to be the absolute best Editor for editing server-side documents, as I can seamlessly edit files on this web server directly using it’s FTP panel; once opened, I merely save the document as usual and it uploads the changes. I tried similar FTP capabilities in programs like Notepad++ but I’ve found them a bit more awkward to use, or much more buggy and inconsistent.

Runner-ups include Ultra Edit,Sublime Text,, ATOM, and Notepad++.

Options oriented to older systems include Programmer’s File Editor, which is a good solution for Windows 3.1 systems, and Metapad which is a good alternative on Windows 95/98 era systems, where the other alternatives are perhaps not as spry- For example, Editpad can be downloaded and used on Windows 9x systems, but, the performance of those systems tends to be such that other alternatives might be worthwhile due to things like memory footprint or simply start time.

APIViewer 2004

Arguably dated by the name, this is a “modernized” (well, for the time) replacement for the “API Text Viewer” program that was included as a utility with Microsoft Visual Basic and Visual Studio 97 and 98, which allowed you to find and copy/paste appropriate Win32 API Function declarations into your Visual Basic programs. This “rebuild” adds a number of usability improvements and furthermore supports other language options. Obviously this program is perhaps less useful if you aren’t a Windows software developer!

EarTrumpet

This is an “enhanced” Sound Mixer/Management application which attempts to improve on and provide additional features over the “sound mixer” included with Windows. For example, when you clock the volume/sound icon, you get a flyout which displays all the current audio sessions; Basically, it condenses the larger volume mixer dialog that let’s you adjust application audio mixing into one flyout. It is also available on the Windows Store.

WinAmp

Winamp is a tried and tested Music Player and manager that I’ve been using for as long as I can remember. Many attribute Winamp as a “windows 98 Era” Music player, but it’s still quite capable. My favourite features are it’s wealth of available plugins for things such as Effects, Input, and other purposes. For example, I have multiple entire Game Music libraries for various systems contained in small native formats. Every single music track from Chrono Trigger in around 300 Kilobytes, for example. This is because I have a plugin that provides SNES Music playback though a “reduced” SPC Emulator. I have similar plugins for other Game Formats such as NSF, Gamecube, and USF (N64). and a few collections of the native music from those games where I like the soundtracks. It doesn’t work so well for Video, in my experience, for that I use alternative programs listed below.

Foobar2000

Another music program, this has capabilities that are very similar to Winamp. I’m not actually particularly fond of this program but it is free and does an excellent job- just not as well, IMO, as WinAmp does.

VLC Media Player

VLC Media Player is a Free, Open Source Media player. this Media Player comes pre-installed on a variety of Linux Distributions and is a great program to keep available. My only annoyance – and it’s a very minor one – is when your version is older, the update dialog that appears at startup occasionally annoys me. This can be disabled via it’s settings, if you aren’t lazy, though. This is a Must-have for owners of Blu-Ray Drives as well; I’ve found it to be effectively the only program I can use to play Blu-Ray Discs on my PC without purchasing a Media Player product of some sort.

MPC HC

MPC HC- or Media Player Classic Home Cinema, is a Media player modelled after some of the earlier lightweight releases of Windows Media Player. Basically it provides a no-frills interface (no silly skins to make your media player look like Bob Denver’s Hat or whatever) but a wealth of options. It allows for playing Blu-Ray though I’ve had no success actually doing so.

MP3Tag

MP3Tag allows bulk retagging of Music files. This is particularly helpful to standardize all your tracks to use the same artist name, and make sure the tags are all set properly. Some MP3/Media player applications have features for this as well but typically it’s usually not particularly full-featured; since MP3Tag is designed pretty much specifically for tagging and editing the tags for Media Files, it has a far richer set of tooling and capabilities.

Audacity

Audacity is effectively an Audio Editor for editing PCM waveforms (WAV, MP3, etc.). It is as versatile as one would expect for a mature, established Audio Editor. For some reason the program it reminds me of the most is GoldWave, an Audio Editor I used on Windows 3.1. It allows you to perform all sorts of manipulation to an existing audio file or even create new audio; I’ve used it to create ‘Explosion” sound effects for example starting from effectively nothing, generating audio and then applying filters. I’d call it the Photoshop of Audio in many respects.

Paint.NET

An excellent Photoshop alternative which is effectively an enhanced version of the standard Microsoft Paint application. This is usually enough for the simpler tasks such as resiziing images or performing basic adjustments on an image such as cropping photos, and it’s free as well.

Inkscape

InkScape is a free Vector drawing program. For anybody who remembers, one comparison could be to programs like Coreldraw. This is in contrast to programs like Paint.NET, which are raster image editors which manipulate bitmaps. InkScape is useful for creating “infinite” resolution images- Since they contain the information about how to redraw the image, they can effectively be drawn at any resolution.

Everything

Ever since I found this little program I’ve found it invaluable. It effectively allows you to search your computer for files. But, it does so in a way that allows you to get results instantly, rather than having to wait while it searches. This is accomplished by literally searching the File System structures itself, rather than relying on OS functions to access file names and directory contents. This is a great program when you are searching for certain files you remember saving or copying but can’t for the life of you remember where it is, but remember most of the filename. I’ve also found it useful for finding all files with a particular extension as well, since it finds the results so fast.

Listary

Listary is similar in many ways to Everything search, but is targeted largely as a replacement or at least an addition to the standard windows search. With a keyboard shortcut, Listary will appear and provide a “search” capability not unlike Windows search itself, however, it provides a lot more in terms of settings and control for the user to configure the experience.

VirtualMidiSynth

VirtualMidiSynth does effectively what it’s name implies- it creates a virtual MIDI synthesizer device on your Windows PC. This is useful because starting with Windows Vista, Hardware devices no longer expose hardware synths, and the only synth device available is the Microsoft provided GS wavetable, which doesn’t offer many options for configuration. By using this you can effectively “build” your own synth and use a variety of different soundfonts to personalize the experience.

PowerArchiver

I’ll admit- this is a rather odd one. PowerArchiver is an archive utility- but not only that, it’s a commercial one. So this is sort of like trying to encourage people to pay for WinRAR- An uphill battle, to be sure. I’ve found it tobe a useful Toolbox for not only archive programs but also for ISO files and it’s wide archive support makes it easier than installing a number of different archive programs. Having used the Free 2001 version for a while it made sense to me to move forward with the same program rather than look for another alternative, and I rather liked the idea of “paying back” to the developers who made the software that I had already gotten a lot of use out of.

Process Hacker

“Process Hacker” is a tool similar to SysInternals Process Explorer, but adds a number of features, capabilities, and just everyday QOL adjustments. This is a useful tool to perform a quick “Audit” on the state of your system in regards to running processes, memory usage, and the like.

F.lux

F.lux is a program which adjusts the blue-light output of your display based on the current time. As the sun sets, the blue light slowly decreases and at night it will be at a low value. Some Operating Systems, including Windows 10, are including this sort of functionality, but I find myself continuing to use F.Lux for it’s added options and capabilities.

Git Kraken

A spectactular git client for Windows, Mac, and Linux. provides a reasonably easy to use interface for the famously involved git distributed source control.

 

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Date Posted: 24 May 2017 @ 2:42 AM
Last Modified: 17 Jun 2018 @ 01:29 PM
Posted By: BC_Programming
 

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