Jesus 'n Jim

A mainly PC (some Mac) site w/Software, Computer Repair Info, How-To's on Using Computers
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External links in bold

These are products I thought were cool that I have seen, seen on the internet and it looked interesting, tried, recommend, or I think would come in handy in a pinch. This is by no means an exhaustive list.

Pretty much every product has pros and cons.

More and more new commercial 2007+ software (like Roxio 9,10, Nero 8) is requiring "DirectX 9" which means a real, physical, DirectX 9.0 or better-capable video card. For many (read your video card manual!!!) this will also necessitate buying a new upgraded power supply as well. My recommendation is to go with the single-rail power supplies rather than dual-rail, since they will support a video card if you ever have to upgrade - make it at least a 430W - make it somewhat more (like 50-80W more) than what the video card manual requires for stability (you may max out your system at some point, and the power supply will only consume what it's loaded with basically, not the full wattage)
Note: I tried just installing DirectX9 software over my existing built-in Intel 82865G video - it didn't meet the "mimimum requirements" of the program, it said. If you want to erase all doubts and prepare for the future, a Vista-certified video card should do nicely, but if you are running XP or 2000, make sure it is based on DirectX 9. DirectX 10 is a vista-only card. Now software like Roxio 10 is also requiring DirectX9 sound cards too. So is Nero.

Free Internet Security/Antivirus
Avira, free edition
anti-rootkit, anti-ad/spyware, anti-virus/trojan
Avast, free edition
game mode, anti-rootkit, silent firewall, anti-virus, anti-spyware, sandbox, heuristics, potentially unwanted programs detection, silent firewall, anti-spam, behavior shield, behavioral honeypots, filesystem shield, mail shield, web shield, p2p shield, IM shield, network shield, script shield, multi-threaded scanning (uses more cores), green computing (reduced hard disk demands)
AVG, free edition
anti-virus, anti-spyware
AV/Anti-spyware: Clam Antivirus [free], available from, free (Open Source)
doesn't have a realtime scanner (yet), or shields, so relies on manual/scheduled scans. you can scan for spyware+viruses+PUPs. 2000/xp/vista only (clamwin). donations support further development. for UNIX. for Mac OSX.
Pay Internet Security/Antivirus
Internet Security: Mcafee Total Protection, available at mcafee, stores $60
parental controls such as ability to block kids fromn certain hours or certain kinds of content and password protected. blocks spyware, intercepts prohibited websites, includes SiteAdvisor which warns about spamming/junkware/trojan sites, firewall, antivirus, has shields.see video. two-way firewall, Anti-Virus, Anti-Spyware, SiteAdvisor Plus, anti-spam, file shredder.
Norton 360 Premier, available from $94.99+1.99
Reputation service, Download Insight, System Insight, File Insight, Behavioral Protection, anti-spam, vulnerability detection, anti-phishing, Parental Controls, anti-virus, anti-spyware, anti-bot, anti-identity-theft, web shield, Smart Firewall, Download Protection, Network Monitoring, anti-rootkit, PC Tuneup, browser protection
Norton 360, available from $94.99+1.99
Anti-Virus, Anti-Rootkit, anti-bot, anti-spyware, anti-identity-theft, Anti-Spam, web shield, Smart Firewall, Behavioral Protection, System Insight, Download Insight, Threat Insight, File Insight Network Monitoring, Parental Controls, vulnerability detection
Internet Security: Norton 360 Premier, $99.99, $99.99+1.99, stores $100
Antivirus, Antispyware, Antiphishing, Botnet protection, AntiSpam, Reputation Service, Insight, Download Insight, System Insight, File Insight, Web-based Access to Backup Files, Behavorial Protection, Identity Safe, Safe Web, Firewall, Network protection, Download Protection, Startup Manager, PC Tuneup, Automated backup and restore, Browser Protection, Network Monitoring, Rootkit Protection, Browser Protection, 25GB Secure Online Storage
Internet Security: Norton 360, $79.99 premier 360, $76.99+1.99, stores $60
Antivirus, Antispyware, Botnet protection, Identity protection, Safe Web, Firewall protection, Download protection, PC tuneup, Automated backup and restore.
ANTI-SPYWARE: Webroot Spysweeper $30
supposed to be the best on the market (see the Microsoft OneCare AV package below!). removes rootkits & keyloggers. must renew every year. Windows Vista, 2000, XP, XP Home or XP media Center.
AV/Internet Security: Nod32 Antivirus, available from eset
another of the few antivirus packages out there that is still available for Windows 98, ME, and DOS (older versions only without firewall and anti-spyware). 3 separate installers - one for DOS, one for 9x/ME, one for NT/2000/XP. not as easy to configure to get the full bang, but misses no in-the-wild viruses like other packages do. detects but doesn't always clean out spyware, especially installers. may not necessarily clean/delete the spyware, so it makes me wonder about viruses too. I don't like removing vermin manually. detection in RAR files and other new archive formats isn't good (may be fixed in newest version). Very small footprint for those without a lot of memory to spare — on Windows 98 machines, this is critical, as machines usually don't more than 64MB RAM. Fastest available.
FIREWALL: Sunbelt Personal Firewall (AKA Kerio Winroute), available from sunbelt-software $20
a replacement for Sygate. Kerio has been a staple for a long time. WinGate for the proactive security conscious, and those that need a proxy - Formerly it used to do what Internet Connection Sharing does now.
AVG Internet Security $54.99, available from $36-60
identity protection, online shield, anti-spam, anti-virus, anti-spyware, enhanced firewall
Misc Software
Open Source Software for Windows (directory 1, directory 2) free
this list is by no means complete, because developers don't even know about this list. Open Source usually means Freeware. directory 2 has only mature products.
CA ERwin® Data Modeler, available from ca, $3995
for creating databases using (I think) popular entity-relationship diagrams (that's what it used to do at least). data warehousing, data marts, transactional systems. reports, printing. model-to-DB, model-to-model. Formerly AllFusion ERWin.
Maxima (somewhat related to Macsyma, like a somewhat incompatible subset), free, GPL
does symbolic math, complex graphing. Very complex software - hope you are used to functions. can solve equations, simplify, factor, etc.
Reduce Computer Algebra System, free
modules available. extendable.
Eigenmath Symbolic Math Calculator/solver, free
Disk Management Software
Gibson Research's ( Spinrite
$90 repairs the filesystem (but to what degree?) if any damage occurred due to bad or marginal disk blocks. moves good data off of marginal areas. recovers files as much as possible instead of deleting them (as microsoft OS's chkdsk and scandisk will do). Works with any filesystem, linux included. doesn't say anything about turning back on the disk's automatic bad sector remapping (hmm...). Not for USB/Firewire drives really (yet - it's coming). users have reported problems trying to see the disk.
Stellar Phoenix Windows Data Recovery, available from stellarinfo $99-$299
windows data recovery software, supposed to be an easy to use NTFS & FAT partition recovery utility that examines inaccessible hard drives for damages and corruptions and recovers the data back. probably not a competitor of spinrite. If you are doing NTFS or FAT only, there is a $79 version.
Special Bundle of Data Recovery Software for technicians, available from Stellarinfo
Future Systems Casper 5.0, available from fssdev $50
disk upgrade SW. This SW actually works! The trial version is limited to exact-size clone. Full version works, however, ISO version 's dialogs would not fit on my screen on my older 98-era computer. Company is putting in that series of video drivers for it, so should be fixed by now. very responsive support for missing video drivers.
Disk/Rescue: System Rescue CD - LiveCD, available from sourceforge (free)
free. includes lots of repair tools, including chntpw (windows NT/XP/2000/Vista password reset) download the ISO to burn a cd. bootable linux-based OS. includes gparted for resizing and moving windows partitions (will require a windows reboot+audo-chkdsk). includes testdisk (recover lost partitions) and ntfs-3g aupport (ntfs support for linux). chntpw probably also includes a command-line registry editor. includes forefox web browser and network connectivity. includes partimage, which unless I am mistaken doesn't work without an ext2fs large temp partition and another disk drive to backup the partition to (whoopee.). (now if they would include photorec!) THIS IS FOR UNIX USERS!
GPARTED - Gnu PARTition EDitor LiveCD, available from sourceforge (free)
free. pick either the livecd ISO to burn a cd, or the liveUSB to put it on a USB key. bootable linux-based OS. just press enter a bunch of times to get things started, unless you have SATA or RAID devices - then you will need to pick the SATA or RAID drivers on startup. doesn't appear to handle bad blocks well on windows filesystems, or very scrambled windows filesystems yet. they would like to have some Open-Source solution for that if available. (I have a drive that ME's Scandisk can't currently fix, and neither can GPARTED). so before running, your filesystem must preferably be in fixed condition. so run scandisk or chkdsk first if you are on Windows.
It works with Vista partitions to some degree (not the encrypted partition). It is also possible to use GParted to move Vista partition, but you need Vista cd-dvd, to repair Vista Boot Manager. Some details are available here. Summarized steps in a kind of howto. I would say that gparted isn't necessarily for Vista users.
Doesn't work on all machines, noteably the older ones. use version 0.3.1-1 for older machines, latest version for newer machines. See my article on using gparted.
S.M.A.R.T. Explorer, available from adenix $15
early detection of hard disk failure, if you can understand the results.
P.I.N.G. (Partimage Is Not Ghost), available from effitek free
a disk image backup and restore program. you can backup to DVD's or another drive or across a network by running some software (windows version available). you may need to make sure your DVD image size is less than 4GiB if you are using the mkisofs tool without the -iso-level 3 option(part of the cdrecord tools).
Compression/Archiving Software
Compress/Archive: 7-Zip
somewhat easy to use, but not easy to create zip files. creates .7Z files by default, a new industry-standard format that is slowly being adopted because of its compression. but hey - it's free. can split/join a large file into CD/DVD/floppy-sized chunks.
Compress/Archive: WinZip
$30-50 pay-for zip program. easy integration, easy to use. good to have. when I bought 6.1, it was licensed with "forever free upgrades". it changed hands - not any longer. comes with a system tray applet. (why?)
HTML/Web Development
TopStyle Pro, available from newsgator $80
CSS editor. if you don't have a good CSS editor like dreamweaver or microsoft expression web, this is the way to go. have a CSS book handy to tell you what the CSS items are so you can choose which browser or CSS standard you are targeting. there is also a 'safe mode' set.
Web: Adobe Dreamweaver CS5, available from newegg $399
flagship of HTML editors. works with PHP, ASP.Net, ColdFusion, WML/WAP, XML, XHTML, Flash, Applets, CSS, blah blah. WYSIWYG editing capability including w/layers, though you WYSIWYG is extremely limited. color syntax highlighting, templates.
Web: Microsoft Expression Web, available from stores, Microsoft(various) $300
made only for doing ASP.Net. This is the best package at doing CSS that you can get, integrates really well. have tried FrontPage. FrontPage used to mangle the HTML & strip out tags & javascript it didn't think belonged there (which meant all of it). This is an entirely new product, more like dreamweaver now, now that it's twice as pricey. this is part of the Microsoft Expression Studio ($600) package. aimed at ASP.Net whereas Dreamweaver is cross-platform.
Web: HTML-Kit HTML/XHTML/XML/CSS editor (actually, will edit anything), 292 is free, or buy up-to-date Tool Kit for $59
supposed to be configurable, but I am not sure to what degree. you can configure it to save the state of your edit windows. has HTML Tidy and an HTML Validator. color syntax highlighting. 1000 plugins available (ugh) for handling more languages such as JavaScript, C#, etc. and other features.
sort of like Dreamweaver, but a lot less features, and free. better than nvu and based on NVU code. includes FTP client.
sort of like Dreamweaver, but a lot less features, and free. Not incredibly great, but it works fine if you don't have money.
Web: Adobe CS5 Web Premium/Standard, available from adobe $1699/$999
Includes nearly all the CS4 set: Dreamweaver, Flash, Photoshop Extended, Illustrator, Fireworks, Acrobat 9 Pro, Soundbooth, Contribute (a CMS), Bridge, Device Central, Version Cue. DVD-ROM.
Requires Windows Vista Home Premium / Vista Business / Vista Enterprise / Vista Ultimate / XP, at least a Pentium 4, 1GB Ram, 5GB HD space, 1024x768 monitor with 16-bit video card, Quicktime 7.1.2, DirectX9 capable 64MB+ video card (this often means a real video card), internet connection or phone for activation. There is also a Master Collection for $2599 if you want everything including InDesign and Premiere, etc.
Illutration, Vector Graphics Drawing Programs
DRAW: Adobe Illustrator CS4 $599, also available from newegg $10 less
vector graphics. Doesn't edit photos (but you can include them). requires Photoshop for that. If you want both in 1 package and some limited Photoshop compatibility, get Corel Paint Shop Pro. or one of the Adobe Suites/Premium packages. integrates well with adobe photoshop extended.
DRAW: Corel Draw Graphics Suite X5 $429, also available from newegg $199 upg, $499 full
Paint/Photo/Draw Programs
Adobe Photoshop Extended CS4 $999 (upgrade $349), available at
Mac, Windows. uses adobe extendscript scripting language, which is I think a much later version of Javascript than what is used in browsers. the $1000 flagship of photo editors and the standard file format used for photo exchange used in newspapers, business, web, pretty much everywhere. Often used with Illustrator, which is the vector graphics package, for another $700, but for the price of those two you can get a Premium Suite with many more packages. a mask is applied to each layer or something like that (I don't have my book, and I don't own this package because I never could afford it). maybe someday I can upgrade. takes Photoshop filter Plugins - wow you can do some amazing stuff with those! features in addition to regular photoshop: 3d painting and compositing, 3d object and property editing, content-aware scaling, masks panel, adjustments panel, smoother panning and zooming, 360-degree panoramas, auto-blending of images, fluid canvas rotation, single-key shortcuts, 3d object animation, better raw image processing, file display options, extended depth of field, broad file format support, enhanced color correction, quantitative data extraction, improved count tool, scale markers, MATLAB support, Quick selection tool, high quality output, 32-bit high dynamic range (HDR) support, DICOM volume rendering, DICOM image support, more powerful printing options, richer painting and drawing toolset, higher performance on very large images, integration with other adobe software such as lightroom & illustrator & pdf & indesign, rotating motion blur and other motion blur simulation, edit tracking, 3d object animation, and you can measure dimensions of a room given the picture of it.
Adobe Photoshop CS4 $699 (upgrade $199), available at
Mac, Windows. uses adobe extendscript scripting language, which is I think a much later version of Javascript than what is used in browsers. the $700 flagship of photo editors and the standard file format used for photo exchange used in newspapers, business, web, pretty much everywhere. but it's expensive. Often used with Illustrator, which is the vector graphics package, for another $700, but for the price of those two you can get a Premium Suite with many more packages. a mask is applied to each layer or something like that (I don't have my book, and I don't own this package because I never could afford it). maybe someday I can upgrade. takes Photoshop filter Plugins - wow you can do some amazing stuff with those! Sorry, I do not have experience with photoshop, but I am told it has pretty much everything except a good set of vector tools - they left that up to illustrator.
Adobe Photoshop Elements $80 available at
Mac, Windows. uses adobe extendscript scripting language *I think*, which is I think a much later version of Javascript than what is used in browsers. a scaled down version of the the $700 flagship of photo editors and the standard file format used for photo exchange used in newspapers, business, web, pretty much everywhere. a mask is applied to each layer or something like that (I don't have my book, and I don't own this package because I nevewr could afford it). takes Photoshop filter Plugins - wow you can do some amazing stuff with those!
Adobe Fireworks $299 (upgrade $149), available at
Mac, Windows. made for animated gifs and flash swf animations, specifically for the web, but it doesn't do flash as well as flash. uses adobe extendscript scripting language *I think*, which is I think a much later version of Javascript than what is used in browsers. a scaled down version of the the $700 flagship of photo editors and the standard file format used for photo exchange used in newspapers, business, web, pretty much everywhere. a mask is applied to each layer or something like that (I don't have my book, and I don't own this package because I nevewr could afford it). Onionskinning, keyframes just like Flash. deals with objects and editor looks very similar to flash, same tools.
Corel (formerly Jasc) Paint Shop Pro X3 Ultimate $100 available at (upgrade $70)
comes with a lite version of the famous Painter at this price, and KPT plugins! Windows PC with DVD drive. Does layers & masks. Some books (mostly older versions) available on PSP has *integrated* vector graphics and art media, something I have not found with the Adobe products. There are several layer types: Vector, Raster/RGB/Bitmap, Art Media, Mask. This makes the program VERY flexible and useful for web graphics. takes Photoshop filter Plugins - wow you can do some amazing stuff with those! vector graphics, photoshop plugins capability, shapes - more quantity is better, picture tubes/stamps, photo frames, HLS and RGB color, HTML hexadecimal color codes in the color palette, photo touchup (scatch remover!, clone tool, red eye removal, 1-step photo-fix), perspective correction, support for 250 camera raw formats, background remover, photo frames, photo edges, straighten, rotate, crop, resize, and layering cabaility, masks, screen mode on the layers.
RealDraw $55 (upgrade $15), available from
register/pay for. Windows. does vectors and bitmap graphics. has a number of impressive features for vectors like liquid vector edit (like the push tool, only for vectors). natural paint styles, 3d objects properties and effects, airbrush, painted art, photo-realistic imagery, hand-drawn illustration, extrusions, special effects, sparkles & lens-flare (non-destructive),
Mac. has quite a number of features for a small editor, and layers.
Ultimate Paint (UP) $35-70, available at
Windows, Mac, Windows (XP and above). Does layers & I think masks. don't use the free version - it's unreliable and you can'tr use filters and there are other problems (crippleware). does not do animations. hard to make a transparent background. takes Photoshop Plugins. supports a few common file formats. page curls with holes for letters, frames, filter factory, frames.
Paint: GIMP (Gnu Image Manipulation Program), windows, mac, linux, free (open source)
low-end but free paint program. haven't successfully got it to save anything with text in it on win9x/ME - just gives a "missing font" error and never saves the file. 2.6.8 or later works fine on XP and above.
DRAW: Inkscape, free (open source), available here
SVG editor. Inkscape is a vector graphics editor similar to Adobe Illustrator, Corel Draw, Freehand, or Xara X. What sets Inkscape apart is its use of Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG), an open XML-based W3C standard, as the native format. can output PNG, svg, svgz, ps, eps, pdf, emf, pov, odg, tex, dxf, gpl, xaml, zip. runs on many platforms. python scripting. a book (FLOSS Manuals) is coming. includes a huge wall-sized help poster in SVG - hope you have $80 to print it out at a print shop. Printing facilities in inkscape are minimal on windows. 2000/xp/vista. Version 1.0 will implement the full SVG1.1 spec.
Photo: Photobie, free
animation, layers, screen capture, resize, rotate, flip, adjust brightness/gamma/transparency, select/copy/cut/paste, erasing/moving/adjusting layers, shapes, text, converting image format & quality, save editing workspace. works much like photoshop. win2k/xp or Mono for .net on Linux). requires .net framework 1.0 or higher.
2000/xp/vista/?. batch edit, animated gif, splitter, RAW converter, print, face search, stitch (horizontal, vertical, checkerboard, but does not warp image - not smart or professional, no rotate), editing including cropping and red eye removal, frames, balloons, blooming(nice!), correction, filters, cvrete slideshow,
Digital Photos: Mac OSX iPhoto, free (comes with OS)
made for catalogging photos. does not support layers or other fancy editing features. for that you must get GIMP or Photoshop.
Digital Photos: Corel Snapfire
Didn't like the EULA/License I saw, because it said that you do not own your compositions or something like that.
Any version of windows. not particularly great with editing. imports camera photos via drive letters like E: (got a memory card reader?). very good program, unfortunately no longe availavle. suggest you get Corel Snapfire or Paint Shop Pro X2 Ultimate if you want to get pictures off of a card. now has become
Digital Photos: Google Picasa
2000/XP/Vista only. better at editing than Adobe Photoshop Starter Edition.
Panorama Photo Programs/Photo Stitching

When taking panoramas, make sure you overlap your photos by 1/3. I suggest you use photo stitching software like AutoPano Pro or better yet, Tekmate Photofit Premium.

Kolor AutoPano Pro and Autopano Giga - Panorama stitching software - Panoramic photo software - image stitching, available from, Autopano Pro 99€, Autopano Giga 199€
seamless multi-row photo stitcher. Professional panoramic software (HDR stitching, 400 input image formats supported, psd export, gigapixel panoramas). Giga is for Gigapixel panoramics, flash virtual tours, support of motorized panorama heads like Gigapan and Clauss, template creation.
Microsoft Image Composition Editor, available from $free
setect a set of photos and it does the rest. publish, view, and share panoramas on Microsoft Photosynth web site. Accelerated stitching on multiple CPU cores. Support for multi-row (usually by a robotic device like the GigaPan tripod heads). No image size limitation stitch gigapixel panoramas. Support for input images with 8 or 16 bits per component. Automatic exposure blending. planar, cylindrical, or spherical projection. Orientation tool for adj. pano rotation. Automatic cropping. 64-bit or 32-bit. output to JPEG, TIFF, BMP, PNG, HD Photo, and Silverlight Deep Zoom. works with Microsoft HD View which is the equivalent of Adobe's HDR.
Tekmate Photofit Harmony, available from .com $277
seamless multi-row photo stitcher. 360's, cylindrical, flat, fisheye. auto or d&d stitching. auto focal length detection (no lens data file or manual input). anti-distortion, making straight lines straight. easy and exact perspective correction. image sources: scan, digital camera, scanned document images. auto adjusting with tilted or rotated images. pin-point color matching. read/write BMP/JPEG/TIFF/PNG. output to QTVR format. can save project file.
Buy virtual tour solution - Studio 2010 including panorama stitching and virtual tour software, available from , Pro $1100.00/€1000.00, Standard $249.95/€249.95
Create Interactive 360 full screen virtual tour. Includes Panoweaver and TourWeaver.
Panoweaver, available from, Standard $99.99, Pro version $399.95/€399.95, batch edition $899.90/€799.90
scaled down version of the above, made just for doing panoramics. Standard stitches 360 degree panoramas pictures, and converts them to immersive content like Java, Flash VR, QTVR and Standalone SWF. Pro stiches fisheye photos to 360's, HDR panoramic images, cylindrical and spherical panoramas, single and multi-row of photos. trial available. Batch edition is much twice expensive yet and adds batch stitching, publishing, and converting panoramas, stitch up to 100 panoramas in batch mode.
Pos Panorama Pro, available from $free
horizontal or vertical seamless
Serif Panorama Plus, available from $
works with video. outputs to jpg and pdf.
Photoscape : panorama photo editing software, available from $free or $donationware
free. the stitching quality is terrible because there is no stitching algorithm - they are just combined edge to edge. viewer, create slideshow, resizing, brightness and color adjustment, white balance, backlight correction, frames, balloons, mosaic mode, adding text, drawing pictures, cropping, filters, red eye removal, blooming, Batch editor, Page: Merge multiple photos on the page frame to create one final photo, Combine: Attach multiple photos vertically or horizontally to create one final photo, Animated GIF from multiple photos, Print portrait shots, print carte de visites(CDV), print passport photos, Slice a photo into several pieces, Screen Capture, Color Picker, batch Rename, Convert RAW to JPG. Print lined, graph, music and calendar paper. Internet Face Search.
Autostitch (demo), available from $
also works for iphone. select a set of photos, and autostitch does the rest. .
PhotoShop Plugins
These plugins work in just about every paint program out there, including Paint.Net, Corel Paint Shop Pro, GIMP (with proper software installation), and others. There are hundreds, if not thousands of Photoshop plugins available - just google them. I found this MATLAB image processing algorithm. not entirely pretty, but it does the job. The algorithm should be converted into a photoshop filter. algorithm for removing camera shake here.
Alienskin Eye Candy 6, available from $???
probably very expensive. does just about everything, including making well-done chrome buttons with proper lighting.
Autofocus 1.0 Photoshop plugin, available from humansoftware $70
blurred photo? try this software. it will unblur/deblur it and put it back into focus. also, try googling for "deblur" and see what you come up with.
Focus Fixer plugin $100, available from humansoftware $70
blurred photo? try this software. it will unblur/deblur it and put it back into focus. also, try googling for "deblur" and see what you come up with.
Harry's Filters 3.01, available from thepluginsite, free
there are some really cool tiled glass in this set. the site also has some very nice glass tile filters. Most of them are junk. but it is said that this kind of stuff ruins photos.
various, available from list on grafnet, $8 I think
generates some neat colors. but it is said that this kind of stuff ruins photos.
list of plugin sites & kinds of plugins they carry, available from
takes a while to read - one long page.
redfield plugins, available from redfieldplugins, some are free
quality plugins that do some real neat stuff like Craquelure 3D, things you can do to photos to make them look like drawings, and Water Ripples. some create patterns. stuff for graphic designers.
filterforge, available from filterforge, $99,$199,$299
some of the best photoshop filters on the market. one generates lightning, another very professional tiles, etc.
Power Retouche, available from powerretouche, $$
Professional photo retouching plugins.
FastFix, available from, free (some for $$)
this one is a photo fixer - fixes up most common color problems in photos. take a gander at their menus to see what filters they offer.
I think this is the equivalent of Adobe's HDR. if you do this right, can make the color of your photos pop without looking like there's too much bloom. it also exports gigapixel panoramas to web pages.
3D Rendering, Vector Graphics, paint, Video programs
Microsoft Expression Blend, available from Microsoft(various) $300
does 3D, vector graphics, pixel images/bitmaps, video, Text. part of the Microsoft Expression Studio($600) package if you want to purchase that.
face it now - if you want fill-in-and-save, there is only 1 program that can do it, and it costs $420 - Adobe Acrobat Professional. If you really need that feature, spend the $$$. You also won't be limited on document distribution either (you shouldn't have a problem with these programs).
Adobe Acrobat V9.0 Professional, available from newegg $420, pdf editor, print->pdf
If you need to create fill-in & save PDF forms, or make pdf's for distribution to more than 500 people at once (such as the internet), or intend to use with Autocad to preserve layers & other details, this is the package for you. Otherwise, you can get by with Standard if you want to buy from Adobe (which can at least combine files into 1 PDF). Or maybe with a free PDF converter such as qvpdf, which implements itself as a printer driver (most do). This package keeps getting more and more expensive, more new features...
PDFtypewriter, available from ctdeveloping $50, pdf editor, print->pdf
pdf-to-doc/rtf/svg/emf/wmf conversion, create fill-in pdf forms. Contrary to their advertisements, does not create fill-in-and-save documents (does not work in acrobar reader 8). vector drawing tools. add hyperlinks. import from scanner, images, other sources. create encrypted PDFs. Free online support. Win9x and up. for win9x, requires MDAC 2.5 or higher.
PDFill, available from pdfill $20, pdf editor, print->pdf
can't do fill-in and save forms, but can do fill-in forms.
CutePDF Pro, available from cutepdf $50, pdf editor, print->pdf
extra $30 for CutePDF Form Filler which apparently is the easy way to make fill-in-and-save forms. In spite of the price splitting for what should be built-in features, I think this one may be the next best price/capability point. I haven't tested this one yet though.
nitroPDF, available from nitropdf $99, pdf editor, print->pdf
you can make fill-in & save forms (but the save-form function requires javascript code - not user friendly! and nobody seems to give you the code anywhere). Edit PDF's. convert PDF to Word. Like owning Acrobat Pro but costs a lot less. They also make the free primopdf, which is a print-to-pdf program+printer driver. after a combine, consistently reverse-sorts the "bookmarks" (the pages)! They charge for support incidents, too. so if you find a bug, you pay for it. Converts MS Office documents, RTF, and .TXT to PDF and back. Always wants to be your default PDF viewer in place of Acrobat... Easiest to use. This program gets my vote.
PrimoPDF free (Open Source), print->pdf
based on Ghostscript, which is included. very well put together. I think it works on both 32 and 64-bit. Vista compatible. can merge PDF files upon conversion. works as a printer driver.
qvpdf free (Open Source) print->pdf
bug report says most of the plugin screens are in German even thought the selected language is English. the screenshots are English. a newer version came out since then that may not have that problem. Based on Ghostscript, although Ghostscript is not included. works as a printer driver.
Nuance $50
converts PDF & XPS files into Word/Excel/Powerpoint/RTF files. Nuance also sells PaperPort 11 and Onmipage 16 OCR software and quite a few others.
supports links (www, http://, mailto:, ftp:// file://), PDF/A compliance: PDF/A-1b for RGB colorspace thus can be used for document archiving, Watermarks (roration, opacity, colo9r variation, other fx), digital signatures, searchable PDF's (embed fonts, use different image resolutions), auto-safe pdf settings optional, send pdf via email, PDF Overlay, merge PDF files, PDF Security, bookmarks using headings, addins for MS Office. uses printer driver interface.
CD/DVD burning, ISO file creation
ISOCreator, available from sourceforge, Open Source freeware
folder-to-ISO. Roxio Easy Media Creator 9 doesn't even do this. make ISO's people can burn and that you can distribute. it would be a good idea to compress them if you can with any reasonable success.
CUltraISO, available from ezbsystems $30
makes bootable ISO's. ISOCreator does not. the process for creating a bootable ISO is rather strange, so kinda-sorta follow the manual, but don't clear your results! does not create subdirectories in your root cd directory. Will not install if you have Sonic RecordNow or Roxio EasyMediaCreator installed due to registry conflict with .iso file association, so you may need a 2nd networked PC with no burner software on it (but you can use cdrtfe, below) for this package to work. This is about the only pay-for program available that actually works! the only other alternative is mkisofs within cdrtfe.
Nero Ultimate 8, available from nero $100/box $80/download
Ahead Software's first foray into Vista-level system requirements: DirectX9. Burns ISO's. does not create ISO's.
Roxio Easy Media Creator Suite 10, available from roxio $80
I have had no end of trouble with Roxio 9 and 9.1, for which I laid down good money. It all happened when they started to make it Vista compatible... Roxio 10 was the bug-fix version. 10.0.1 update fixes an NTLDR issue on some systems. burns ISO's. does not create ISO's.
cdrecord frontend (cdrtfe), free, Open Source (Delphi+cdrtools I think)
full-featured. a set of UNIX utilities ported to Windows with a GUI wraparound. you should know about cd burning technologies like Joliet and XA and UDF. burns ISOs. Creates ISO's from cd. Creates ISO as a temp file (so you could take advantage of this). not easy to add a bunch of files. *Appears* to have bug (but doesn't!) in that it can't seem to make an ISO or DVD with a single file that is over 4GiB in size, *however*, there is an option in mkisofs.exe you need to turn on (FIlesystem|ISO 9660|ISO level|3) - it will tell you. You can make gigantic ISOs with mkisofs -iso-level 3 -r -J -o c:\output.iso \isofilesdir manually (even make bootable ISO's, but you will need to copy all the C:\Program Files\cdrtfe\tools\cygwin directory into the C:\Program Files\cdrtfe\tools\cdrtools directory and add the cdrtools directory into your PATH). check out mkisofs --help but make sure first you set your CMD shell's buffer length to something like at least 200 lines (I like 5000). The only thing it can't do is make multisession DVD's (yet) - that's in the works.
CD Burner XP Pro, Freeware
free. burns ISO's. Creates an ISO as a temp file. version 4 requires 2000/XP/Vista. Version 3 works on Win9x/ME/2000/XP/Vista (in spite of the Sys Req. up front) but does not do DVD's. Version 4 has 2 bugs in that it does not handle VBR MP3's correctly when making audio cd's by expanding them, and it also finalizes multisession data cd's (ouch). Version 3 has version 4's bugs probably, and it also crashes when you alt-tab switch away from it. Both versions require Windows Media Player 9 or better.
ISO Creator, Freeware, Open Source (C#)
for windows. takes any folder you specify and makes an ISO out of it. requires .NET 2.0. Has bug in that it cannot make an ISO with a single file that is over 4GiB in size. I submitted a bug report, but the author is not available anymore. you can make gigantic ISOs with mkisofs -iso-level 3 -r -J -o c:\output.iso c:\isofilesdir using cdrtfe (above). see my article.
Text Editors/Programmer's Editors
The Semware Editor (TSE), available from semware $99-119+8/Win $124/COMBO_WIN_CONSOLE $99-119+8/console $99+8/DOS
tse is a 32-bit command-shell (2.8 older version) or windows editor for Win9x/ME/NT/2000/XP/Vista. I've been using version 2.8 and it's been great! it includes a hex/binary editor, regexp search and replace, a command-line grep utility and loads of features. it emulates several editors (you choose). the command-line version even handles windows cut and paste. configurable syntax highlighting. macro recording & playback. has scripting lanugage (not the easiest to learn, but has complete documentation). brace matching, auto-matching-brace insertion. handles very large files and up to 2048-character lines.
supports over 100 languages. multilevel undo/redo. project mgmt. regex find and replace. column mode editing. natural word wrapping & configurable indentation. spell checker. macros. window splitter. ftp client. unicode & utf-8 support. wheel mouse support, line numbers, configurable line spacing, option to save in UNIX format. loads fast. dir tree view window. Syntax Highlighting for HTML, C/C++, Perl, Java, Matlab and LaTeX, etc. and can be extended for other languages with custom syntax files.
free. syntax highlighting and syntax folding. macro recording & playback. drag-n-drop. multi-document. print source code in color. lots of languages supported. brace and indent highlighting. regexp search/replace.
Editor/CASE: Eclipse
there are many plugins to this editor for editing various lanugages (PHP, C++, HTML, XML, COBOL, Java, Perl, etc) and it has a CASE (Computer Aided Software Engineering) tool. Even has a Requirements Engineering plugin. has quick-UML plugin. Eclipse is used for Enterprise development, Embedded+device development, Rich Client platform, Application frameworks, and as a language IDE (Integrated Development Environment). This is a programmer's tool. PHP is finished I think.
File unlocking
unlocks files that are "locked by another process" such as thumbs.db which usually prevents you from deleting a folder completely, and/or can kill processes that have the file locked. use with caution and thought. Locked means those programs have that file open, possibly for writing. For instance, sticky thumbs.db we don't care about if we are deleting it when we are trying to delete a folder.
Unlocker Assistant, available from
when you try to delete a file that is locked, or a folder that contains a locked file, will tell you which files are locked and by what program. you can kill the program (not recommended unless nothing else works). only program out there that I know of that does this. if it's explorer.exe you will have to start a new copy of explorer by doing a ctrl-alt-delete, File|New Task(Run), explorer and then press enter.
system diagnostics
most system diagnostics are built into UEFI now, so for newer systems, this is not an issue. but for older systsems, you srtill need these.
commercial redistribution not allowed due to the license of DIMM_ID.
MemTest86+ available from (free), based on $11
bootable cd or floppy. tests memory, tells processor speed & type
AMI Diagnostics Suite, available from AMI $260
the only suite that can be run from DOS (such as FreeDOS!) burn it on an ISO and install it to hard disks to burn-in machines. Windows version available. [this package has now been incorporated into UEFI and is no longer available for commercial purchase]
a Windows-based Sysinfo and Diags package.
Everest, available from lavalys $20,$34,$200
runs on windows.
SysInfo/system info
CPUID's PC Wizard (free)
other free info utilities are available on the site like CPU-Z which gives CPU, mb & bios info, and HWMonitor which tells you things like how much power is being drawn from the PSU (ESA PSU's?), temperatures, etc.
CPUID's CPU-Z (free)
other free info utilities are available on the site like CPU-Z which gives CPU, mb & bios info, and HWMonitor which tells you things like how much power is being drawn from the PSU (ESA PSU's?), temperatures, etc.
Jim Michaels' simplesysinfo (free)
dump of information that windows gives about itself. may not run under WINE because it has a cmd shell program for the back end.
Sandra, available from SiSoftware $50,$300
a Windows-based Sysinfo and Diags package. over 90 modules in the engineer edition.
Everest, available from lavalys $20,$34,$200
runs on windows.
File Utilities
This one deserves its own category.
DiskJockey File Viewer, available from clear-simple $30,$70,$80
"don't even think about it, just buy it...killer." John C. Dvorak – PC Magazine. I agree. I had a TPOffice 6.0 database that isn't really supported anymore, and the passwords were lost. they were there in plaintext, visible as an access 2.0 database table using this product. plays audio and video files, copy files, rename, delete, find, zip, format, etc. There is a deluxe version for $70/80. and a standard edition for $30. Here is the difference. shopping cart's SSL certificate is from an unknown source. (unsafe?) or order by phone 1-888-658-1204 ( we have the boxed version of standard we bought from the store)
UNIX Utilities for Windows
gnuwin32, available at, free
win95+. bison is kind of broken if you try to use the c++ part. you'll have to delete the curses files out of it yourself. I don't like that misfeature of UNIX. cygwin is not redeemable. set BISON_PKGDATADIR=C:\gnuwin32\GetGnuWin32\gnuwin32\share\bison or C:\Progra~1\GetGnuWin32\gnuwin32\share\bison
Driver Updater
Uniblue Driver Scanner 2009, available from tucows $30
some drivers you have to go the mfr's site or to your computer vendor's site to get the drivers (like Dell). getting drivers over the internet can be a mistake in some cases. however, you are allowed to choose what drivers to update in the list of "need to update".
System Utilities
Microsoft SysInternals Suite, available from microsoft technet, free
includes things like process explorer, TCP/IP viewer, PsShutdown, RootkitRevealer, listDLLs, etc. If you download everything it's 9MB. These utilities were written by Mark Russinovich, who knew about the internals of windows.
I have not found a decent windows Open-Source backup product yet.
Symantec Norton Save & Restore, available from $50
Symantec has a bad habit of dropping their lesser-known products. keep your software package around! Backs up to almost any media, (CDR/RW,DVD+-R/RW, USB and FireWire (IEEE 1394) storage devices, Iomega Zip and Jaz drives). Backs up the entire contents of your drive, or just the files and folders you select. encryption. incremental backups. XP/Vista.
Backup4All (pay, pro version of Fbackup), available from, $49.95
backup data to local or network drive, backup to FTP, backup to SFTP, backup to DVD/CD/Blu-ray or other removable media (such as USB HDD or flash drives). backup and restore wizards, free backup plugins, explorer view, breif view, full backup, differential backup, incremental backup, mirror backup, SFTP backup software, email notifications, mirror with zip, version tracking, standard zip compression, backup open files, FTP backup software, predefined backups, automatic backups.
FBackup (free backup), available from, free
made to backup mainly your document folders to cd or dvd.
Uranium Backup, available from $195.75
The free version doesn't do anything except MAYBE to disk. I can do that with NTbackup.exe that comes with windows. you must buy one of the Pro versions to do a backup to cd OR tape OR ftp OR disk. you can only backup the folders you add to the list, such as C:\. no easy selection process.
Symantec Backup Exec (Formerly Arcada Backup Exec), available from Symantec $1162.66
This is for servers, and I think has clientware that can backup desktops. works with tape autoloaders and probably with RAID boxes.
SuperDuper! (Mac OS X), available from $27.95
supposedly the best backup solution available for the mac. clones drives. can quickly erase the destination drive.
Paragon Hard Disk Manager 2009 Professional Edition, available from $129.95
hard disk cloning, partitioning, hot imaging backup (all apps online), secure disk wiping, supports USB, firewire, scsi,sata,ide drives and dynamic volumes. local (including cd/dvd) or network backup media.
p.i.n.g. (PartImage Is Not Ghost), available from
disk partition image backup and restore. requires 2nd hard disk or network (MS network, NFS, FTP, SSHFS) for a backup device.
free and commercial imaging and backup programs, available from
pretty much all except Paragon (commercial) listed here backup to another drive instead of to cd/dvd/blu-ray. I think I can do that with xcopy.
Mac utilities
there are some very needful mac utilities, especially if you want to convert from a PC to a mac and you have external drives from windows.
ntfs-3g, available from
allows you to mount [FAT12, FAT16, FAT32, VFAT] as vfat, and ntfs as ntfs-3g. this means windows-created drives of any size as long as they were not encrypted eith EFS (what that what it was called?). if you mount the drive, you must unmount it, especially with NTFS. if it was a system drive, you cannot mount filesystems that are not in good condition (need a chkdsk /f) or were in hibernation state or did not shutdown cleanly. overall very handy, especially if you have friends over, have a thumb drive or external hard drive!
Office Packages
if you buy Microsoft Office instead of using one of the free packages, I recommend you get a retail package and not buy it OEM (with the machine) or you may not get the media (discs)! And then when it is time to reinstall, you are up a creek without a paddle. read this section carefully before you install a package. I list them in order of preference.
Microsoft Office (prefer 2003 over 2007 or 2010), available from or my office page
you can't do better than the original. has the advantage of having Microsoft Publisher. Publisher 2007 has a problem opening Publisher 2003 documents (or one of those important versions), so buy wisely. Microsoft will not release the Publisher Document Format Specification, so it remains a proprietary Microsoft format. That means there will be no Publisher clones out on the market (such as in or IBM Lotus SmartSuite).
MS(Microsoft) Office 2007, available from newegg student $93, Pro $390, Pro upg $275, ultimate $380, ultimate upg $315 , Office 2003 Pro $176-558
Ultimate contains Access,Accounting Express, Excel, Groove, OneNote, Outlook w Business Contact Manager, PowerPoint, Publisher, Word, Work from home. Pro contains Outlook w Business Contact Manager, Access, Publisher, Excel, PowerPoint, Word.
Avery Templates for MS Word, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe InDesign. free
not an office package, but individual files that are used as templates *in* Microsoft Office.
not an office package, but software that are used as wizards/templates *in* Microsoft Office. templates, Wizard for MS Office, Design and Print Online, DesignPro.
IBM Lotus Symphony, free, 500MB download, available on multiple OS's
I Highly Recommend this package. It seems to be fully compatible with Microsoft Office 2003, at least with the things I tested it with, and I usually break things. Also compatible with Word Processor, Presentation, and Spreadsheet, web editor, pdf writer, tracks changes, macros (not portable), clipart. no database (bummer - I wonder how you do mail merges? I didn't think to look in the help). requires registration to download. IBM encourages you to use this for your business model. Note that Office 2003 format is used for most business communication these days (the last time I heard), such as resumes. They are in the process of switching to version 3 (based on 3.x code) which is possibly only compatible with Office 2007. we will see. Lotus Notes 8 software contains an email client. extremely easy and intuitive formatting with the sidebar. Unlike, this program read my complicated Excel 2003 (.xls) spreadsheet and got it right!, also available as a software collection/bundle my free cd/DVD ISOs. also there are official ISOs for 3.x only.
there is the 2.x version, which is compatible with Office 97,2003. 3.x is only compatible with 97,2007. make your choice. Note that Office 2003 format is used for most business communication these days (the last time I heard), such as resumes. Word Processor, Math, Draw, Spreadsheet, Database, Presentation. has no publisher. you can set up Microsoft Office file associations at setup. updates every 6 months. Unlike Microsoft Word, handles large word processor documents. Takes some getting used to. there is a book available you can buy for a manual, there are also manuals available online, and pdf manuals are being written.
Jim Michaels' Productivity Suite (as a Community Distributor/OEM), available from
This includes, and depending on the ISO, probably .net, and LOTS of software utilities. the collection is either 700MB cd sized or DVD sized (currently at about 3.7-4GB). the full editions won't fit on the server until I can get my hosting renewed. includes manuals and tutorials (I don't know if the official ISOs do that).
Web Page/ftp command-line downloaders
if you have a batch job and you need a command-line utility to get a web page for you, then this is it.
cURL, available from
Operating Systems(OS)
this is software that boots your computer runs your programs. without it, your computer is a doorstop.
linux mint, available from, free
based on ubuntu, debian. installable or live DVD, comes in DVD or CD ISO form. OEM version available for preinstallation without configuration. now extremely popular compared to ubuntu.
Ubuntu Linux, available from, free
installable or live cd, comes in cd ISO form
OpenSUSE Linux, available from, free
installable, comes on DVD. boxed version comes with double-layer DVD. Get 11.2, 11.3 is not a usable version.
Knoppix Linux, available from, free
live cd/dvd. the dvd includes, Mozilla, AbiWord, GIMP, Konquerer, Apache, PHP, MySQL, hundreds of other programs.
Fedora Linux Project, available from, free
Just Use Linux, available from, don't know if it will be free or $25
looks like XP, but the core is going to be debian made based on the idea of ubuntu-likeness.
Windows, available from $180-285
runs on PC's
Mac OSX, available from $$$
only legally licensable to run on mac hardware. uses HPFS, similar to NTFS. instead of BIOS+MBR, uses EFI+GPT.
ReactOS (Open Source Windows XP clone), available from, free, still in alpha stages
at this point, ReactOS does not have network communications yet. FAT32 filesystem only, NTFS is coming someday, networking is just coming around.
OS: DR-DOS, available from drdos
made for embedded systems. they also have DR-LX, which is an embedded Linux with the simplicity of DR-DOS.
OS: IBM PC DOS 2000, available from newegg $69-74
y2k-ready version of PC DOS, and works with Windows 3.1, and has a semi-useful editor (I like microsoft's editor better). useful for some embedded systems.
OS: FreeDOS, OEM ISO available here
version 1.0 now. a replacement for the now-unsold unsupported MSDOS. for those who need DOS, either for an embedded solution or for a bootable floppy set of tools, here it is. soon a 32-bit version as a separate project is coming with FAT32 and long filename support. ISO bootable OEM cd image can be created from the Ripcord site. unfortunately,'s ripcord web page is gone and the site is down.
password recovery
password reset, available from
setting or changing a password doesn't work. only resetting a password works. you can also enable and disable and I think rename accounts.
ophcrack offline NT password recovery, available from
works resonably fast. there is no windows 7/8 disc, so I assume the vista disc is for windows 7/8 (they didn't say anything).
Open Source Software Directories
these are lists of FREE software. sometimes platform-independent. ( - collection of about a million open source projects, available from (
these projects are in varying stages of completion, from stable mature like moodle and cdrtfe to idea stage. typically, you can get directly to a project by going to
Open Source Alternative, available from
I think this is mature software
Open Source for Windows!, available from (
mature software
Open Source Windows, available from
mature software :: Open Source , Linux News & Software, available from
The Free Country, available from
OS's, scripts, compilers, web tools, and how to make a setup cd from your "preinstall" windows.