Top Applications for Windows

After having used Windows at work for a while, and trying it out at home, I’ve discovered that Windows XP is a LOT better than the last Windows I used regularly, Windows 98. Things work as easily as they do in Linux. Well, at least most of the time. A few things are better implemented in Linux. For instance, I cannot believe how dumb the command line is in Windows. I don’t require something as cool as BASH or as powerful as zsh, but at least tab completion, better listing, piping, command-line scripting, the *basics*! Then, GNOME has so many more applets than the Windows taskbar. Of course,I could go on and on, but let me come to the point of the whole post.

Windows XP is Good, but there are some applications that need to be installed to make it operate better. Here is my current list of top applications for Windows XP, heavily biased from the point of view of an everyday Linux user. Feel free to send in your suggestions. Note that all applications must be freeware. I have spent a bomb for my copy of Windows XP when I bought my ThinkPad; I don’t have any more to spend.

  • PuTTY – the best ssh/telnet/rsh client for Windows there ever was.
  • Cygwin + Cygwin/X – I use this primarily to run an X-Server for Windows, but you can get a complete UNIX environment with Cygwin,
  • Firefox – Duh.
  • Thunderbird – Outlook Express? Yech!
  • Winamp Lite – Windows Media Player may be good for videos, but who can beat Winamp for audio playback? Of course, I use it only because XMMS is so much like it.
  • Trillian Instant Messenger – GAIM replacement. Log in to Yahoo and MSN at the same time.
  • Vim for Windows – HOW can you use Notepad all the time?
  • MPlayer for Windows – Windows Media Player may be good for videos, but better then MPlayer? No, sir!
  • IrfanView – View any picture file. Quick.
  • OpenOffice.org – for the plethora of OO.org files that clutter my “My Documents” folder.
  • PowerPro Virtual Desktop – There isn’t a thing that this can’t do. I have barely scratched the surface of the functionality of PowerPro. Currently, it gives me four virtual desktops, numerous keyboard shortcuts like the all-time favourites Alt-F9 minimise and Alt-F10 maximise. Power users of this software rave about it all the time. Must be fantastic.
  • Explore2FS – Access my Linux partitions. It needs to be better integrated with Windows Explorer, for sure.

A few words about Lotus Notes

At IBM, we use Lotus Notes/Domino as our central application for collaboration. Of course we do; Notes is our baby. Not just email, but for all sorts of stuff – common databases, team rooms, instant messaging, scheduling, information management, and a dozen other things I can’t think up of right now. As is human nature, we keep cribbing about Notes all the time! Like I (used to) say – If I had a rupee for every feature that sucked in Notes, I’d be a crorepati today! (%s/rupee/dollar/g and %s/crorepati/billionaire/g for all you Westerners).

A few evenings ago, I made a concious effort to get to know Notes better. After all, 118 million users couldn’t all be complaining at the same time. I have discovered that Notes truly is a wonderful, wonderful application with stupendously well-thought-out features. If there is one thing that is responsible for all of the criticism that Notes gets, it’s the fact that its UI isn’t as intuitive as it could be. That’s primarily because Notes tries to be everything to everyone – and very nearly succeeds. There’s SO much to display, and only so much space to do it in. I am sure that power users of Notes, those who’ve been using it everyday for years, have customised this application so much as to become few of the most productive people on earth. It’s that good. I am a Convert to the Church of Notes!

I will be posting tips that I have learnt to manage your information in Notes better, in the weeks and months to come. If you’re in an organisation that’s deployed Notes/Domino, I hope you’ll find these posts useful. For now, here are a few popular sites about Lotus Notes, just for starters. lotus.com is the IBM Lotus home page, btw. Duh.

Alan Lepofsky’s Lotus Notes/Domino Hints and tips blog – http://www.alanlepofsky.net/alepofsky/alanblog.nsf/
Ed Brill’s Blog – http://www.edbrill.com . Ed Brill is Business Unit Executive, Sales, IBM Lotus.
Richard Schwartz, “Technology Consultant” – http://smokey.rhs.com/web/blog/poweroftheschwartz.nsf

My Favourite Firefox Extensions

My Favourite Firefox Extensions:

All in One Mouse Gestures – Mouse Gesture Mappings for Back, Forward, Reload, Home, New Tab, New Window, Close Tab, Maximise, Minimise. Invaluable.

GMail Notifier
– Small button in your status bar which displays number of new messages in your inbox.

Paste and Go – Copy a URL, right-click in the address bar and select “Paste and Go”. Alternatively, select “Paste and Search” in the search bar. Saves the trouble of clicking on the “Go” button, or hitting Enter.

Extra Search Engines – Mycroft’s top 30 search engines. Select from drop-down list in the search bar.

Sage – Sage is a lightweight RSS/Atom feed manager and reader. Stores RSS links in a folder in Firefox’s bookmarks. Displays content from feeds in Newspaper-style 2-column format.

Scrapbook – Store entire web pages or selections locally while preserving them as HTML. Contrast this with saving as text, which removes the images and formatting, or as web pages, which means saving all the content on the page. Manage your scraps in folders, perform title searches or even full-text searches on them.

Nuke Anything
– Right-click any element or selection on a web page and select “Remove this Object”, or “Remove this Selection” to get rid of pesky ads and flash animations, or sidebars and text that doesn’t relate to the content you’re reading. Nuke Anything and Scrapbook form an excellent combination.

Reload Every – Reload a page every “N” seconds. Choose from predefined values of “N” or enter your own.

SessionSaver – Restore Firefox to exactly the state it was when you shut it. Windows, Tabs, their states. Customizable too. Opera’s had this feature for a while, now Firefox does too.

Do suggest ones that you use regularly, and I’ll post an update to this post. I’m sure these aren’t the only good extensions around, considering that MozillaUpdate has over 500 extensions to Firefox! Of course, when you nominate your favourite extension, do remember that they’ve got to be generally useful – that is, if they satisfy a very specific need, then they’re not exactly “useful” enough to be included.

Dilbert on salaries!

From a Dilbert Cartoon strip from Scott Adams’ “The Dilbert Principle”:

Boss: “Our policy is to employ only the best technical professionals”.

Dilbert: “Question”.

Dilbert: “Isn’t it also our policy to base salaries on the industry average”?

Boss: “Right. We like them bright but clueless”.

Hmm. Very very insightful! Ask your manager that the next time ‘increment time’ comes along!

Anger Management – at its best!

Here’s an email forward I received some days ago – hilarious and intelligent at the same time!

When you occasionally have a really bad day, and you just need to take it out on someone, don’t take it out on someone you know, take it out on someone you don’t know. I was sitting at my desk when I remembered a phone call I had forgotten to make. I found the number and dialled it. A man answered, saying, “Hello.” I politely said,

“This is Andrew. Could I please speak with Robin Carter?” Suddenly, the phone was slammed down on me. I couldn’t believe that anyone could be so rude. I tracked down Robin’s correct number and called her. By mistake, earlier I had transposed the last two digits of her phone number. After hanging up with her, I decided to call the ‘wrong’ number again.

When the same guy answered the phone, I yelled, “You’re an asshole!” and hung up.

I wrote his number down with the word ‘asshole’ next to it, and put it in my desk drawer. Every couple of weeks, when I was paying bills or had a really bad day, I’d call him up and yell, “You’re an asshole!”

It always cheered me up.

When Caller ID came to our area, I thought my therapeutic ‘asshole’ calling would have to stop. So, I called his number and said, “Hi, this is John Smith from the telephone Company. I’m just calling to see if you’re familiar with the Caller ID program?”

He yelled, “NO!” and slammed the phone down. I quickly called him back and said,”That’s because you’re an asshole!”

One day I was at the store, getting ready to pull into a parking spot.

Some guy in a black BMW cut me off and pulled into the spot I had patiently waited for. I hit the horn and yelled that I had been waiting for the spot. The idiot ignored me.

Then, I noticed a “For Sale” sign in his car window. ..so, I wrote down his number. A couple of days later, right after calling the first asshole, (I had his number on speed dial), I thought I had better call the BMW asshole,

too.I said, “Is this the man with the black BMW for sale?”

“Yes, it is.” “Can you tell me where I can see it?” “Yes, I live at 1802 West 34th Street. It’s a yellow house, and the car’s parked right out in front.”

“What’s your name?” I asked.

“My name is Don Hansen,” he said.

“When’s a good time to catch you, Don?”

“I’m home every evening after five.”

“Listen, Don, can I tell you something?”

“Yes?”

“Don, you’re an asshole.”

Then I hung up, and added his number to my speed dial, too. Now, when I had a problem, I had two assholes to call. But after several months of calling them, it wasn’t as enjoyable as it used to be.

So, I came up with an idea. I called Asshole #1. “Hello.” “You’re an asshole!” (But I didn’t hang up.)

“Are you still there?” he asked.

“Yeah,” I said.

“Stop calling me,” he screamed.

“Make me!,” I said.

“Who are you?” he asked.

“My name is Don Hansen.”

“Yeah? Where do you live?”

“Asshole, I live at 1802 West 34th Street, a yellow house, with my black Beamer parked in front.” He said, “I’m coming over right now, Don. And you had better start your prayers.”

I said, “Yeah, like I’m really scared, asshole.”

Then I called Asshole #2.

“Hello?” he said.

“Hello, asshole,” I said.

He yelled, “If I ever find out who you are?”

“You’ll what?” I said.

“I’ll kick your ass,” he exclaimed.

I answered, “Well, asshole, here’s your chance. I’m coming over right now.”

Then I hung up and immediately called the police, saying that I lived at 1802 West 34th Street, and that I was on my way over there to kill my gay lover.

Then I called Channel 13 News about the gang war going down on West 34th Street. I quickly got into my car and headed over to 34th street.

There I saw two assholes beating the crap out of each other in front of six squad cars, a police helicopter, and news crew.

NOW, I feel better…….