Favorite Software


General

Below is a listing of software I use and recommend. I have described any limitations I have found if they are important to me.

Photo and Graphic Editors

XnView
A really wonderful graphic viewer and converter. I use it to remove red eye from photos and move photos from directory to directory. These are but a bit of its capabilities. Free


IrfanView
Another excellent piece of software. You can view just about any format graphic using this program. It has the capability to convert the files to many other formats. I crop and convert .EMF files of my schematics to .GIF files using this program. Most other programs couldn't accept .EMF or produced .GIF schematics with shadows and droppout. Free


PIXresizer
I just use this occasionally, but it is handy when you need it. Free


Photo Plus 8.0
Not free, but almost. Version 6 is free. Version 8 is not the latest version but cost only a few bucks. I use this to edit details of a few photographs that I think warrant the time it takes to do this kind of editing.


Screen Hunter 4.0 Free
Used for capturing screenshots. Free


JPEGCrops
A small single purpose program. Open an image. Select the standard photo size you want, e.g. 4x6. Move the frame around in the photo until it looks right. Crop it. Rename it if you like, and save it. It took me longer to type this than it takes to use the program. Free


FastStone Photo Resizer
A small single purpose program; notice now I like small and single purpose? This one lets me take a group of photos on Isa's Page and turn them into 600x525 and 200x150 pixel images with a minimal number of steps. Yes, I know, its called bulk resizing. It also lets me tack a suffix onto the file name with the image size. And it is very flexible about letting me decide the resized dimensions and proportions.

Rippers and Burners

DVDFab 8.050
This program rips any DVD to unencrypted VOB files. The VOB file can then be shrunk using DVD Shrink to make an ISO file that will fit on a writable DVD. If you don't like the 15 minutes of commercials on your Disney DVD you purchased, you can copy just the movie to another DVD. Note that you will lose the menu, so you will have to use the chapter selecting arrows on your DVD player controller to find particular scenes. Free version of commercial product available. Not a trial version.


DVD Shrink
A program to convert and compress data from VOB files to make an ISO file that will firt on a DVD. Be careful. There is a commercial software that passes itself off as DVD Shrink. The real one is Free


DVD Decrypter
This program used to make an ISO file of any DVD. It is obsolete for that purpose now, but I use it as a reliable DVD burner of ISO file contents on a writable DVD. The Gestapo shutdown this program and you may have to search a bit to find a copy. The last version was 3.5.4.0. DO NOT go to www.dvddcryptor.com. This site name was hijacked after the real DVDDcrypter site was shut down. Free


ImgBurn
I have not used this program. After DVD Decryptor was shut down, the burning program code from DVD Decryptor was supposedly stripped of any decryption features, then released as ImgBurn. Screenshots seem to support this, and it appears that many features were added. If I was not already using DVD Decryptor as a burner, I would probably start using ImgBurn. Free


DeepBurner
Program for writing CD's and DVDs. Even though Windows XP is able to write CD files, there are times like trying to delete a directory on a previously recorded CD, when it just doesn't work right. For these time I use DeepBurner. Free


CDex
Ripper to remove audio files from a CD in MP3 format. Free


Burrn
Program to burn the MP3 files to a blank CD. Free


AudioLabel
Used to print labels for jewel cases. Has link to album track title database. Tried version 2.20, worked well. Now at version 3.20, too expensive at $30.


Utilities

TUGZip
I bought a lifetime registered copy of WinZip years ago, and updated it from time to time (free updates). WinZip got bought out and I found out the lifetime they were talking about was the previous company's lifetime. I was only looking to update Winzip because I received a file with a 64-bit compression that my version of WinZip didn't support. I found 7-Zip and tried it. It worked well, but just didn't satisfy me. So I tried TUGZip and find it to be excellent. Again, I have kind of basic needs. All I want is to easily Zip and UnZip the files. TUGZip does this and, of course, has bells and whistles such as a directory viewing display that could almost replace Explorer. Free


Cobain Backup
I am using Version 10. I started with Version 6. This program works. It is flexible. You can backup to whatever you want, however you want, unless you try do backup in a method that will get you in trouble. I used to backup to drives on a different computer over a home network. Ran at night while I slept. Very easy, which is a must, or I put off backing up. I use a 1TB drive now, but still use Cobain Backup. Free


XXClone Freeware Version
I picked up two identical, server-rated, 250-GB drives at a ridiulously low price when I started getting SMART warnings that my boot drive was about to die. Using XXClone, I copied the boot drive to both of the 250G drives, and, using the Cool Tools tab, copied the volume IDs and made them bootable. After testing that they both would, in fact boot, I used Easeus to re-partition them to make the boot partition 50G, and create a 200G data partition. Now I use XXClone to periodically copy my boot partition to the spare 250G drive as a backup. The 200G partition is not kept up-to-date as I back it up using Cobain Backup. Free


Easeus Partition Master 3.5 Home Edition
Using Easeus, I split off 50G for a boot drive and 200G for a data drive. Easeus can copy the 50G boot drive to another drive and not require re-registering Windows just as XXClone can, but the destination drive is wiped clean before the boot drive partition is copied. I prefer to use XXClone to periodically backup my boot drive, and use Easeus to adjust partition size. Easeus can do more than just adjust partition size; a check of their website is recommended. Free


Memtest86
This should be in your toolbox. Get it and put in on a floppy now to be ready. If you have unexplained problems, run Memtest86, and if it passes you can rule out memory problems. Buying a couple of Gig of new memory? Run Memtest86 and if it fails you can return the memory with proof that the memory is bad. Free


Foxit PDF Reader
Small fast loading PDF reader. I got so tired of the longer and longer loading times for Adobe Reader that I started looking for a faster one. I found this jewel. I don't use any of the features that Adobe has added in the last dozen changes. I just want to open a file and have it displayed quickly. Foxit Reader can do this and the other basic stuff like printing. Free


Website

Alleycode
A good little editor for my small website. Color displays highllight tags and text. Synchro view lets you see the changes without saving the file. You can specify your favorite FTP program to upload the file when you are done. This program is an editor and requires you to know the HTML language. You don't just type on the pseudo-webpage and have the code generated. Doesn't have a spelling checker. Free


FileZilla
Easy to use. Easy to learn. Elegant. Connect to your FTP upload or download site. Highlight, Drag, and Drop files from the local directory to the remote directory, or visa versa. Free


CAD and Engineering

DesignCAD Express
The best drawing program for the average engineer. AutoCAD is the industry standard, but the cost is tremendous. AutoCAD is non-intuitive, hard to learn, and has way too many capabilities that are not used by the majority of engineers. I let the draftsmen work on projects that require AutoCAD. But I use DesignCAD to draw fixtures, tooling, and schematics for simple projects. You can put ten copies of DesignCAD on ten engineer's computers for the cost of one AutoCAD.


At $35 it is almost Free when you compare it to any other good CAD program. Be sure to shop around. IMSISoft sells it at the list price of $50 and only gives you a download. Get the CDRom version with a manual from Upperspace at the link above. I have seen the just-released version 16 on Amazon.com, brand new in sealed box at $23.


SwtcherCAD III
A really good circuit simulator. It has a large library of Linear brand devices (they are giving the program to you after all) and it is easy to add existing Spice models or make your own. Free


Back to Top

Copyright Dale Thompson,
11 February 2007 through
last revision on January 15, 2011.