Tools

Adam over at Printmode recently wrote about the tools he uses, and invited me to do the same.

I have quite a few I guess, as a lot of the work I do is research oriented. I’m not sure I could name them all, but I can name the ones that I find especially useful:

First, I use Windows (I have to, as it’s what we use at work), Mac (bittersweet), and Ubuntu Linux (also bittersweet). I use Linux mostly because I feel I’ll end up there eventually, so I might as well start getting my feet wet. I also find a bit of delight in using very high quality software on a high quality OS, when neither has cost me anything. I do find that Open Office just doesn’t measure up to Excel, however, so I stick to MS Office for most documents.

Firefox. Without this browser I wouldn’t have had tabbed browsing for all the time it’s taken Microsoft’s geniuses to figure it out. During that time I’ve become quite hooked. I haven’t yet upgraded to 2.0, I’m still using 1.5.x on a U3 usb key. This way I have my environment on any computer I sit at, at home or at work, including the full Open Office suite, Thunderbird (if I desire), and lots of other apps.

Performancing
& Adsense Notifier are two Firefox plugins I use regularly, to write blog posts and see what my adsense ads are doing. No, adsense doesn’t do much more than defray hosting expenses, but I can dream, can’t I? I’ve used Blogjet and Ecto on Windows and Mac respectively, but most of my posts don’t have pictures so Performancing works just as well and is in the browser where it’s handy.

As for website platforms, I use WordPress for blogs (the non-hosted kind), phpBB for SpeakStrategy, soon to be upgraded to something that handles spam users better, Drupal for a work site, and SugarCRM & pmwiki for managing some personal stuff. It’s truly a pleasure to work with such high-quality, open source software and I’d recommend these packages (ok, phpBB with many caveats) to anyone.

For email, it’s gmail and fastmail.fm. Really, gmail does what I need these days. I have two accounts, one that is hooked to my email domain, which forwards to another because only non-domain accounts have real-time push to blackberry (I don’t rate a corporate blackberry, so I use my own). For encryption I use both the built-in digital-id based encryption using keys from Thawte, and PGP, although frankly neither sees a lot of use.

At work it’s the ubiquitous Outlook, with draconian quotas and attachment policies. I use Nelson Email Organizer to help maintain my sanity.

Google Calendar takes care of my non-work related events, and it’s easy enough to copy events from outlook to google calendar just by inviting myself at the appropriate email address.

Joe’s Goals lets me track a few things I’d like to control better. It allows me to put a graph here on Lornitropia to let everyone else see when I’m letting myself down ;-). Speaking of graphs, I use a neato graphing package on my run blog to track mileage, weight loss and other stuff.

Stat Counter
and Google Analytics allow me to see how my various sites are doing.

Google Reader is now my preferred RSS reader.

Linkedin, xing, Plaxo, and several other sites provide both good networking tools and good research tools, along with Zoominfo & Jigsaw. Anagram makes it easy to suck contact info out of anything and into Outlook’s contacts. The Linkedin and Plaxo toolbars for Outlook are both really handy, but are both pretty buggy.

Search engines used are Google, of course, but also Ask. Frankly, I keep hearing that one needs to use more than google, but I find it’s pretty rare that I find something that Google didn’t have. I also use Copernic, desktop for finding stuff on my machine, web for doing very thorough searches outside Google and Tracker for keeping tabs on websites I monitor.

Highbeam
is pretty useful, although they don’t have many printing industry publications. LexusNexus and Hoovers also provide some value, albeit at a very high price.

iTunes
and iPod mean the difference between listening to podcasts and not for me. Both are awesome products that just work like crazy.

As a main CI database I use Strategy Software, which is pretty darned cool.

Photos – Adobe Photoshop or The Gimp. For storing them, iPhoto is what I use now, but Picasa was very capable when I was using it.

Who’s Next?

Hmmm…

Dr. Joe Webb
Mike Rohde
Des Walsh

7 thoughts on “Tools

  1. On my desktop (Windows) I use StarOffice (the paid version of OpenOffice). I use Excel only when I have to make charts. I use 2 browsers developed by Anderson Che. The one that sits on top of IE is Avant Browser which adds all kinds of goodies like ad blocking and a variety of creature comforts that IE does not have. I have been experimenting with his Orca Browser, still in beta, that sits on top of Firefox. I have no clue when he will release Orca for real. I use Eudora as my mail program on my business account. Eudora was just released to the open source community by Qualcomm, and I expect that some of its features will be come part of Thunderbird at some point. Next time I set up a computer from scratch, I’ll probably use Thunderbird. For instant messaging, I use Gaim, which is open source and consolidates all of my instant messaging into one clean nice window from all of the services. For VOIP I use Skype and I have had fun using Pamela for Skype which has allowed me to record interviews that I do for my podcast quite nicely. Pamela is free but there are paid upgrades available. I have a Logitech iFeel mouse, one of the most unsuccessful pointing gadgets that has been a joy to use. Unfortunately its driver conflicts with all versions of MSWord starting with XP. That’s OK because I have grown to hate using MSWord. For PDF making I use the open source PDF Creator when I am not using StarOffice, which has PDF making built in. For PDF reading I use FoxIt reader which is much faster that Acrobat Reader. For system maintenance I use SystemSuite Professional, which is far less annoying than Norton Systemworks. I also use PowerDesk for my file management. For audio recording and editing I use the open source Audacity.

    On my notebook, I have a dual boot system with Windows and Ubuntu 6.10. I have grown to love working with Ubuntu and I expect that the new release in April of version 7.04 will throw me over the edge to put it onto my desktop. In Ubuntu, I have experimented with the beta of CrossOver Office from CodeWeavers and loaded MSOffice2000 and worked with it with absolutely no problems at all. It was amazing to be thinking that MSOffice runs faster in Linux with an emulator. I have decided that once 7.04 comes out I will buy a new notebook that will be solely Linux-based.

    For e-mail I use Yahoo for personal stuff and newsletters, and I use GMail for all of my news alerts, and also for my blog e-mail. Gmail’s spam filtering seems to work incredibly well.

    My blogs are in Blogger, but I am quite impressed with WordPress and will be switching to it soon.

    JWW

    Like

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