Here’s stuff I use and like, broken into rough categories.
Full disclosure; I’m primarily a Windows guy (by virtue of the fact that I am, among other things, a Windows Administrator), I carry a BlackBerry (by virtue of the fact that my employer pays for my phone and that’s what they gave me) and, just to be contradictory, I favor open source languages, software and development tools. A Windows guy who prefers open source? It’s true. Things are not always as they seem, my friend. Have you, for instance, been paying attention to Apple lately? I’m not so sure you guys are friends anymore.
- Lastpass - Cross browser password manager.
- Web Developer – An add-on chock full of useful goodness for website development and troubleshooting.
- Ad-Block – Add-on that keeps the ads at bay. I’m so used to it that when I get on a machine without it I can’t believe how ubiquitous ads are.
- NoScript – This add-on stops all scripting and cross-scripting from running. It takes some work to configure (you won’t believe how many domains you’re actually served from when you hit a site like eBay or YouTube) but totally worth it. This, combined with Ad-Block, is the web prophylactic.
- IE Tab 2 – Add-on that runs IE within Firefox. Great for those annoying sites that just don’t work in Firefox. Caution – it’s not emulating Internet Exploder, it’s running it. Take the necessary precautions and use only when absolutely necessary.
- Zindus - Keep your contacts in sync. Technically this is meant to sync Gmail to Thunderbird, but if you don’t currently use Gmail it’s worth opening an account just to use it as the repository for your contacts. Another winner when it comes to rebuild time.
- Dropbox - Gives you 2 gig of online storage, sync-able to multiple machines, for free. Creates a directory on your machine(s) where ever you like – drop something in that directory and it syncs to the server and then to the other machines. Brilliant. Lots of other great features, like sharing, too. Yet another good tool come rebuild time.
- Mesh - Microsoft’s Mesh does storage too, bu it isn’t as slick as Dropbox, so I don’t use it. What I do use it for is remote management – it’s Remote Desktop on steroids. No more defining routes and opening ports on your personal router, and no more being relegated to an immediate RDC connection to a single machine on your home network. The mesh client does the negotiating and figures a way past (most) hurdles. They’re threatening BlackBerry support. How sweet that would be.
- Peerblock - Controls who your machine is willing to talk to on the ‘net. Frequently updated lists of naughty addresses keep you safe from nefarious suckers and prying eyes.
- Hotspot Shield – Free as in beer IPSec VPN. Ad revenue driven – combine with Adblock to keep it at bay.
- Sandboxie - Technically Sandboxie isn’t free – and I was trying to keep this list narrowed to free stuff only – but the nag after 30 days isn’t bad, and if you need Sandboxie, you need Sandboxie.
Apps That Work Better Than Their More Well Known And/Or Costly Cousins
- Foxit - Stop using that ridiculously bloated, confusingly resource intensive Acrobat to read PDFs. Foxit does it better, smaller and quicker.
- 7Zip - What do you need to unpack? Never mind, it doesn’t matter – 7Zip will do it.
- CDBurnerXP – Don’t let the name fool you, it isn’t just for XP. It’s small, it’s free, it burns CDs/DVDs.
- Exact Audio Copy – Rip a CD for free. To get the most out of EAC you’ll also need:
- LAME - The best MP3 encoder out there. Link leads to the SourceForge entry listing sites that offer the binaries Windows users need.
- SlySoft Virtual Clonedrive – Don’t burn that image to actual media if you’re just gonna install it once and trash it – mount it as a virtual drive!
- Notepad++ – Code editor, text manipulator, notepad replacement. I write everything from CSS to Perl in Notepad++.
- Handbrake - Ultra awesome cross OS video transcoder.
iPhone Stuff (mostly applies to Jailbroken)
- YouMail – YouMail integrates with your phone and becomes your voicemail box. Listen to voicemail online, listen to it on your phone, download it to your phone, mail it to yourself or someone else, you name it. It’s what voicemail ought to be. As an added bonus, it can creep out the people in your address book because it creates custom greetings including their name.
- Evernote - I use Evernote to sync information between my machines and my Blackberry. Honestly, it kind of sucks – as do all its competitors. The client crashed so often on my 64bit Winders 7 machine that I took it off and only use the web app. It’s only a matter of time before someone builds a better mousetrap here.
- Installous - from the Hackulous repository.
- iSHSHit - Mail yourself your SHSH blob quick! You’ll probably need the modmyi repo.
- iBye - Back up your phone apps. Modmyi repo.