Jesus 'n Jim

A mainly PC (some Mac) site w/Software, Computer Repair Info, How-To's on Using Computers
Technical Support 1-360-521-2060 (my business line cell)


External links in bold

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.
Firewall: PC Tools™ Firewall Plus 7, available from, free
xp and up
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
$89 repairs the filesystem and moves data off of marginal sectors and marks the marginal blocks as bad (visible with SMART). 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. Not for USB/Firewire drives really (yet - it's coming). users have reported problems trying to see the disk. used on servers to keep data in good shape. run this every 3 months. it may not looks like it's doing anything, but it is. may take a long time to run.
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
required for making bootable cdrom's and OS's abd bootable utilities
Future Systems Casper 7.0, available from fssdev $50
disk upgrade/clone/backup software. you really should buy both the windows and the ISO version, reqauired to get the windows version in order to get the ISO version. only the ISO version really works for cloning/upgrading disks. This software 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. version 7 works with 2 disks with different sector-sizes, although XP doesn't like to boot 4k sectors, and the migration for something like that with XP *may* not go well. report any problems you have and discuss it with support. grows ALL the partitions.
CloneZilla, available from free (open source)
disk upgrade/clone/backup software for same-sector-sized disks, and only for upgrades in size or possibly same size disk. can't downgrade.
, available from free (open source)
disk upgrade/clone/backup software for same-sector-sized disks, and only for upgrades in size or possibly same size disk. can't downgrade.
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 CS6, available from newegg $399
flagship of HTML editors. works with PHP, ASP.Net, ColdFusion, WML/WAP, XML (sort of), XHTML1.0/1.1, 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.
contains everything you need for everything XML related, including an eclipse plugin if you want.
Illustration, 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 CC $19.99/mo, 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+Premiere Elements(photo+video) $120 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 CC $19.99/mo, 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 X5 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.
Macphun photo products, available at
Mac. instead of having one large product that does lots of things, it's lots of individual products that do little things. snapheal deletes objects from photos. fx photo studio pro has filters (really nice ones like cinema, etc!)
RealDraw $55 (upgrade $15), available from
Pattern Studio $68 (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
Image Converter Command Line, available from .com, Autopano Pro 99€, Autopano Giga 199€
converts pdf's too, resize, crop empty margins, rotate, correct color, combine groups of images into multi-page TIFF files. very very long list of image formats supported.
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). let me help you understand about printer-driver-based programs. they work great - and there are also other ways of assembling documents as well, like adding document/image by document/image and adding bookmarks and fill-in form fields. printer driver-based programs don't need to "get more formats" because it is a printer driver, and windows does the output conversion to printer file format during the printing process. but when you are assembling files, that's another story, and you might then need as many file formats as you can get.
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.
mentions converting and "up to 300 formats so far", but not sure about this, since it is really a printer driver (and probably has no limits like they allude to, could be misunderstanding on some web author's part). uses printer driver interface. I don't think you will need any upgrades to "get more formats" because it is a printer driver, and windows does the output conversion to printer file format during the printing process.
PDF converter, can assemble PDFs,convert document formats to PDF fill-in forms, has batch conversion, includes standard printer driver based document creation. secure pdf capabulity.
Video Editors
VIDEO EDIT: Adobe $63.99
dual core 2GHz with SSE2 support, XP SP2, vista, 7.
dual core 2GHz proc with SSE2 support, XP SP3, vista, 7. takes ps plugins like most photo editors.
VIDEO EDIT: Adobe Premiere Pro CS $700
includes media converter. I HIGHLY suggest that you instead get Production Premium or Creative Cloud - see system requirements for each subproduct - if you can afford one of those because at the very least, critical things you need with save you money includes
  • After Effects
  • Encore for making DVD's and blu-ray discs and disc menus
  • Photoshop Extended
  • Audition (sound editing and generation, even in video)
  • Mocha - 3D motion tracking and video stabilization (!!!!)
  • extra fonts
- see buying guide.
VIDEO EDIT: Vegas Movie Studio HD Platinum 12, Vegas Pro 12 Editing Software $99.99, $514.99
based on Lightworks hollywood cinema video editor (assuming this is still free) but adds hardware, and whole cinema production process handling for dollars.
editing package with hardware interfaces you buy based on Lightworks. has editing console (hardware).
HOLLYWOOD VIDEO EDIT: Lightworks $???? assume download still free, however, has hardware console - see site for details
pro version available with more codecs and support. has editing console (hardware).
HOLLYWOOD VIDEO EDIT: Jahshaka free, open source
version 3.0 in progress, coders needed. 1.x and 2.x was quite broken, this one will hopefully be much better because of feedback and bug reports. they are looking for a distributed project control system.
VIDEO EDIT: $89.99-99.99 (boxed version available!)
VIDEO EDIT: or or $59.99-99.99 (boxed version available!)
given enough times you visit this url, maybe they will get the hint ant add it
VIDEO EDIT: FileLab free
tag-along-software-installer supported software. carefully decline any software you don't want.
VIDEO EDIT: FreeMake $
easiest to use, can upload videos to youtube. tag-along-software-installer supported software. carefully decline any software you don't want. Requires .Net 4.0 to run.
VIDEO EDIT: Blaze Media Pro $50
SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS: surprisingly, requires an 800MHz processor (that's a Pentium III) and 1GB RAM. pretty much any machine these days will handle it! you don't have to buy a 3.2GHz quad-core extreme system like you do with Adobe Premiere and the other commercial packages that are sold today! CONVERSIONS: Convert media, edit, burn (data, audio video[DVD/VCD]), audio cd rip, convert MIDI to MP3 (not too many programs can do that!), convert DVD Audio to MP3. HANDLES MANY FILE FORMATS: MP3, WAV, OGG, WMA, WMV, AVI, MPEG 1 amp; 2, MOV, QT, VOX, PCM, A-LAW, U-LAW, MPC, G.726, G.723, G.721, DAT, ASX, WAX, M3U, WVX, MIDI, AU, AIFF, SND, etc. ACTIONS: Add effects (video and audio), delete frames, delete selection, add audio to/replace audio in video files, crop, trim, add titles, color adjustments, export frames/audio selections, etc. Drag and Drop support. Tag editor. can be downloaded as a 15-day trial version.
VIDEO EDIT: Pinnacle $100-130
requires XP SP2.
requires XP SP2.
VIDEO EDIT: VirtualDub $free
lots of filters, including rotate (add filter, rotate2)! only works with AVI and maybe MPEG1.
VIDEO EDIT: t@b ZweiStein4 $free, t@b t@bencode (converter) $free
lots of color filters, but no rotate. used for making music videos for a band, written by a band. works with AVI, and I am not sure about any other formats.
breaks up video into its own chucks. no real editing available. you can rearrange the chunks. only works with AVI and MPEG1.
allows you to do video, quizzes, does visual fx and transitions, hide sensitive info with vblur tool. videos play back using HTML5.
VIDEO EDIT: VideoLAN Movie Creator free
Non-linear video editor (nice to have and usually easy to use and highly desired!). Windows, linux, macOS
mac, windows. doesn't advertise itself as nonlinear.
VIDEO package: xilisoft Media Toolkit Ultimate $127.07
mac, windows. converts LOTS of formats. rips, edits, copies, converts audio and video, creates DVDs. they have other software too like slideshow software for flash, etc) and more. this is a NICE DEAL. but it doesn't advertise itself as nonlinear. maybe that's coming next.
Audio Editors
Adobe Audition CS3, available from adobe $349, newegg $350
wave file editor for sound engineers,sound designer, musician, recording engineer, mastering engineer, or other audiocentric professional. pretty much the best out there as far as adobe goes - there are other tools for that. originally called cooledit and was practically a standard. Time compression/expansion. plenty of effects (50+) including DC offset correction and Normalize and audio resotoration. MP3 output - actually outputs almost every audio file type known to man. Supports VST plugins (effects)
Adobe Soundbooth CS4, available from adobe $199, newegg $200
wave file editor for non-sound-engineers. can edit the sound in video files. Not as Beefed up as Adobe Audition. I am not sure you would be using this for specialized high-end audio work - there are other tools for that. originally called cooledit and was originally very inexpensive. time compression/expansion. plenty of effects (50+) including DC offset correction and Normalize and audio resotoration. MP3 output - actually outputs almost every audio file type known to man. Doesn't support VSTi plugins.
GoldWave, available from goldwave $45
wave file editor. hard-to-use time compression. a number of effects including DC offset correction and Normalize. MP3 output. Free basic version isn't really different from pay version.
Wavepad Master's Edition, available from nch $26.60
wave file editor. hard-to-use time compression (I can't remember, but maybe it doesn't do it). a number of effects including DC offset correction and Normalize. MP3 output. Free basic version isn't really free and it's not different different from pay version.
Audacity, available from sourceforge FREE
wave file editor. no time compression, very few effects compared to Wavepad. MP3 output.
CD-DA Xtractor, available from sourceforge FREE
extracts audio cd's to files. If you have a synth like the Triton Studio 88 or other Pro Audio equipment such as a Personal Digital Studio that burns cd's, this tool will extract the audio from those cd's into WAV or MP3 files.
Acoustica, available from accoustica $40, accoustica Premium $120
can take VST plugins. 32-bit 192Khz resolution max. premium version: Pro quality time compression and pitch shifting, audio restoration tools (noise reduction, click and crackle reduction, clipping fixer, high frequency harmonic synthesis for dull recordings), equalizer, dynamics, limiter, reverb, chorus, flanger, phaser, multi-tap delay, batch processing, cross-faded loops, guitar distortion, multi-band compressor. Accoustica version: dynamics, equalizer, reverb, chorus, flanger, time compression, pitch shifting, noise resuction, clicks and crackle reduction, clipping fixer, high frequency harmonic synthesis for dull recordings, guitar distortion, cross-faded loops, batch processing.
MIDI/Multitrack Sequencers
Music/MIDI: Anvil Studio
free or pay-for (if you want to print sheet music with lyrics) MIDI+AUDIO sequencer. not as good as SONAR or Cakewalk or Cubase, but has some similar features, like a useable piano-roll editor and music-staff editor. I think you can also edit MIDI events. I don't think you can do SYSEX, but you can put in controller events without having to learn codes.
Sonar, available from sweetwater $80-400
comes in sonar home studio 7, sonar home studio 7 XL for home production and for pro: sonar 8 producer, sonar 8 studio. These products were formerly Cakewalk.
Cubase 5 $500, Cubase Studio 5 $300, available from
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 now 4.4 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. advanced column-block editing, great for editing text databases!
many advanced features, similar to, but I would consider a subset of TSE. has macros.
upgrades may cost you money. Appears to have no installer. encryption DLL is also a pain to get and install. its programming language is called Clip. Unfortunately, they chose the name Clipbook to call their contributed user library of functions, which is the microsoft name for something to do with a collection of clipboard content or something.
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. column-block editing.
Editor/CASE/IDE: 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. Never figured out how to use it.
CASE tools (Computer Aided Software Engineering)
ArgoUML UML (Unified Modelling Language) tool. free. Java (Java Web Start or install as Jar app).
as of this date, stable version is up to version 0.24 and seems to be mature. does pretty much everything in UML - state transition diagrams, class diagrams, use case diagrams, blah blah, and can tell you when you have done something wrong or are missing something in your model. there is a database connector module (dbuml) as well that uses jdbc, but I don't know how it works yet. slightly slow, but overall a nice tool. can print large diagrams. I use the class diagram for designing databases.
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.
mingw-w64, available from codegear (borland), free
gnu compiler set, multi-platform. This is my favorite compiler (auto builds without the 2.0 or 1.0). no license limits on distribution of resulting executeable. no GUI, unfortunately (except the debugger). 32 and 64-bit. compilers for darwin (apple mac), windows compilers targeting 2 flavors of UNIX, personal builds.
mingw, available from, free
gnu compiler set. This is my next favorite compiler. no license limits on distribution of resulting executeable. no GUI, unfortunately (except the debugger). 32-bit only.
Borland C++ 5.5 32-bit command-line, available from codegear (borland), free (requires registration)
This is my favorite compiler. Appears to have no license limits on distribution of resulting executeable. no GUI, unfortunately (except the debugger). There are patches , but I am not sure these really apply to this version of the compiler (this is the real patches). Go to my BCC5.5.1 page.
"can be used for commercial development" but doesn't come with the runtime library you can distribute - programs can only run on your machine. for that look for the commercial compiler on that comes with rtl100.bpl. Come to think of it, why would you want a C++ compiler that you have to bring 2 files to distribute your EXE when you can distribute just 1 (Microsoft Visual Studio Pro)? requires VCL to be inserted into every program. UGH. [side note: later I did find a way to make a standalone EXE, but I had to get on the newsgroups.]
Free version of the Visual Studio Standard and Pro versions. The Pro version can be used for commercial development and for distributing GPL'd executables. The free version (Express) can't be used for distributing anything with source code under a GPL-like license or for commercial development (very restrictive). code must be copyrighted. The Standard version probably cannot be distributed. the 2005 version can be obtained here: VS2005 Pro $640 ($1024 if you want the MSDN too Drawback to new compiled code: I hear you have to have newest .net 3.5 installed, and it only works on nt-family boxen.
djgpp, free (open source)
up to version 2.03 now. the GNU compiler set ported to DOS. includes GDB (gnu debugger), though I have not gotten the serial port portion to work with ReactOS debug versions. This is not a windows-compiler.
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.
Micro2000 PC Diagnosdics $698 or separately
bootable diags, including usb sticks or CDs
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.
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.
MySQL, available from, $200 or free
enterprise class database, a defacto standard for web databases. a real database. no messing with index files. this is the database most-used for the web (besides possibly postgresql) $200 license for embedded SQL or commercial use, free for developers or web use (tha last time I checked). growable. replication. drivers built-in to PHP, drivers for ODBC, Java (MBean, JDBC), .Net.
MySQL is the fastest million-row database there is. There is a MySQL Workbench SE for $99 and MySQL Enterprise for $599. MySQL AB which is currently owned by Sun which has been bought out by Oracle in April 2009. People are petitioning with the EU that MySQL (at least MariaDB), will remain Open Source.
postgresql, available from and as a package from postgresrocks, postgres plus, powergres, mammoth free
enterprise-class database. a real database. no messing with index files. has GIS objects. postgresrocks comes with .Net & JDBC drivers and includes a dll and of course works with ASP.Net. 18000+ queries/sec. growable. replication. I haven't seen a microsoft VC++ library yet, but who knows? the other defacto standard for web databases (comes with and is optimized for UNIX).
Microsoft Visual FoxPro 9.0 available from newegg $550, upg $300 (.Net enabled)
this is for building single-user or client-server applications. because this is .net-enabled, this means you could probably use this as a front-end for postgresql databases probably, but I am not sure (they mention MS SQL Server). the SQL syntax is likely different in some areas - everybody's is different. core engine uses index files like dbase III+ that you have to rebuild or maintain once in a while - but you can use this as a front-end to a real database server like MS SQL Server, postgresql or MySQL if you can find a .Net driver. This is probably (besides visual basic) the best way to handle databases. and I think it works with Crystal Reports, a staple+standard in the business world.
SmartDraw, available from smartdraw, $197 online
1900 templates, compared to visio's 150. Office 2007's new look. PDF capable. put graphics into Word, Powerpoint, Excel, Wordperfect. DIAGRAMS AND CHARTS: Flowcharts, Org Charts, Marketing Charts, Floor Plans, Mind Mapping, Bars and Charts, Gantt Charts & Timelines, Cause & Effect Diagrams, Maps, Network Diagrams, Engineering Diagrams & Schematics, Software Design, Calendars, Flyers & Certificates, Family Trees & Ecomaps, Decision Tree Diagrams, Accounting and Finance Charts, BPM & Six Sigma Charts and Worksheets, Forms, Science Presentations and Lesson Plans, Event Planning
Microsoft Visio, available from newegg $420
Best known diagramming tool on the planet. Lots of templates you can get too. VBScript I think.
dia, free (open source), available from here
Has a number of useful items including circuit & logic symbols. Exports to .EPS, .SVG, .XFIG, .WMF and .PNG. uses GTK+. seems to be python-based.
ArgoUML UML (Unified Modeling Language) Editor, free (open source)
A very good UML Editor. Tells you what's missing from your diagram and gives you to-do lists. can generate C++ code sort of, has a hard time importing C++ code (not fully developed yet), but is mainly made for exporting Java. I use the class diagram for designing database tables. It can handle custom types, up to a point.
EDA/Schematic Capture/PCB Routing
CAE/EDA/Online Circuit Editor/Schematic Capture and Simulator, publisher, free
WinQCAD, free to $960 depending on number of pins
EDA (Electronic Design Automation) tool. Next best autorouter compared to Specctra autorouter - blows everything else away. unlike other programs, generates g-code for CNC machines directly. It works with Orcad. Protel, Eagle, Kicad and many other EDA programs. runs under Windows or Wine.
cadence ORCAD. commercial package.
ORCAD FPGA system planner, ActivceParts portal (parts selection), ORCAD Capture, Capture CIS, ORCAD Signal Explorer, ORCAD PCB Designer, PSpice A/D and Advanced Analysis. these are likely separate products to buy. Academic and Demo Software available.
A general purpose 3D CAD modeler. Feature-based parametric Modeling 3D CAD. Aimed at product design and mechanical engineering, but could also be used for architecture and other things. Has tools similar to Catia, SolidWorks or Solid Edge, and falls into the category of MCAD, PLM, CAx and CAE. written in Qt and Python. Lots of Open Source libraries available (6.2, 200MB).
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)
compiler libraries
a plugin for MS VS2005/2008 (not express) for parallel programming. Intel Parallel Advisor: Gain insight on where parallelism will benefit existing source code. Intel Parallel Composer: Incorporate parallelism quickly with libraries in C/C++. Intel Parallel Inspector: proactive "bug finder" for all parallel programming models, such as finding race conditions. Intel Parallel Amplifier: performance analyzer.
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".
Media Encoders
If you are producing video or audio in Real or Windows Media format, these will be helpful. the windows media utilities are free and you can include DRM. there are security updates to windows media encoder 9. try out MediaCoder - it's free and based on a venerable ffmpeg.
Xilisoft Audio converter, available from $29.95
converts between many, many audio file formats.
Xilisoft DVD Toolkit Platinum, available from $109.68
converts between many, many audio file formats.
Xilisoft Media Toolkit Ultimate, available from $127.07
converts between many, many audio file formats.
MediaCoder for Windows (works on Wine for OSX and Linux), available from, free
based on the venerable, versatile (and seemingly very complete) ffmpeg source code project. makes use of multi-core processors. ffmpeg is a very full-featured media encoding project. the newest version of mediacoder has a mozilla gecko setup UI (user interface). I am not sure if this means that Firefox is required in order to use 6.2 and later or not, but older versions are available for download, like 6.1, which does not use the gecko UI. You can visit its extension center, where the web site sets it up for your specific device, if you have a device. Can convert video to animated jpeg (didn't know that was possible). Does not convert DRM'd itunes M4P's (recognizes them as Mpeg4 though) - [output is a 0-byte file].
Any Video Converter, available from, free or $$pro
free version bugs you to upgrade to pro.
RealProducer and Helix delivery, available from
Requires RealPlayer to play the files. realplayer files have the advantage that they can be streamed over http.
windows media encoder 9, available from x64
an older version for compatibility with older computers. note: windows 9x may come with windows media player 7. maybe. a file encoder.
Windows Media Capture 9, available from
Windows Media Encoder 9 SDK, available from
software development kit
Windows Media Encoder 9 VCM, available from
enable legacy encoding and editing applications to support the Windows Media Video 9 codec in file containers such as AVI
Console Encoder, available from
console version of Windows Media Encoder
Windows Media Mono to Multichannel Wave Combiner 9, available from
command line tool for combining multiple mono wave files into a single wave format-extensible file which can be saved as an audio only avi
Windows Media 8 Encoding Utility, available from
older version for use with windows 9x or making more compatible files for wider array of platforms.
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.
Screen Savers
screen savers with .exe you just run I think. .scr files you must put into the c:\windows\system32 directory (whereever you find the other .scr files).
Felix, available from free
mischievous cat screen saver (really a desktop animation) available if you go to lounge, then click on the spool. follows your mouse sometimes, jumps off of your windows, plays with the fish in the bowl, etc. article. unfortunately, does not work with Vista. may only work with windows 9x. I know it works with windows 95.
electric sheep, available from free
downloadable modules that operate over the internet. they live different lengths of time - the more popular sheep live longer and reproduce. can also mutate the longer they "live". really wild screensaver - looks like it's all done with mathematics. Open source. You can design your own sheep and add them to the gene pool. it is a peer-to-peer computer network screen saver. You can buy a DVD.
Project Management/Mgmt
I tend to think of these things as generally being used for building houses & buildings and for software, and electrical, electronic, civil engineering and other engineering projects. Anything where manpower, work-man-hours and project budget (be it time or $$$$) is involved.
Microsoft Project, available from $600,$1000
the king of project management software from my bitty understanding of project mgmt software pkgs. does pretty ,much everything, including embedding project files as subprojects within microsoft project if I remember right.
GanttProject, available from free
not quite the niceness of Microsoft Project. Java based. Mac OSX, Linux, Windows. for windows, installs and runs with a nice EXE, or you can use JavaWebStart. supports predecessors, resources, notes, custom columns, subtasks, milestones, tasks, gantt and PERT charts. Import projects from and export to Microsoft Project formats. Export to spreadsheets with CSV. Save Gantt and PERT charts as PNG images, generate PDF and HTML reports. supports . Currently cannot calculate project costs, but I just requested the feature.
teamwork (web-based), available from free
Java, JSP. Teamwork is an integrated, web based work management solution built purely in java on the hibernate persistence layer. It integrates project, time and worklog management in an ergonomic interface. Import/export from MS-Project and Outlook/Icalendar synch.
Work project, available from free
Workproject is a PHP Mysql tool to manage: prospect , project , cost , user , task, activity of users, availability of users, statistic, update from ldap, import and export with MS project. A collaboration / collaborative multiple projects management. latest file was in 2005.
TurboCash Accounting, available from, free, newer version available for $$$ from
full-fledged accounting. Too many features to list, fills a screen. server plugins are available if you get the cd. Missing modules that are on the cd: multi-currency, multi-warehousing, BOM, serial number tracking, job costing, fixed assets. Uses Borland BDE database engine. Installer complains about "not enough disk space" - don't worry - it's wrong, ignore and install anyway. ver 4.x available. business installations are usually done best with a consultant due to the type of database used (Firebird). This is a high-end product. Uses required account numbers.
GNUCash, available from, free
this program hasn't fully grown up yet: doesn't export anything. (somebody convince the developers) main focus seems to be migration to SQL databases right now. great for learning basics of accounting since the structures of the accounts are laid out in a tree fashion for you. does not use account numbers like turbocash.
Quasar Accounting, available from free-$499CAD+$699CAD/pointofsaleseats.
Accounting, Retail, Point of Sale
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
Media Converters
I don't recommend AVS Video Converter. it hangs on virtualdub default output files.
XiliSoft Video Converter, available from $55.95
150 formats supported. also includes a windows-movie-maker-style video splicer.
MediaCoder, available from, free
I am sure I will have more success with Mediacoder after they work out the interlacing & audio channel muxing bugs they are feverishly working on. works on windows and darwine for mac. mediacoder is VERY flexible and works for both audio and video, and can mux in audio files for video, etc.
Operating Systems(OS)
this is software that boots your computer runs your programs. without it, your computer is a doorstop.
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. 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
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.
screen capture
useful for webshots for portfolios, writing training, writing documentation.
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.
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.
DebugMode's Wink screen recording, available from free
scalable, which means it's like trying to nail jello to a wall.
TechSmith's Snagit screenshot, available from $49
TechSmith's Camtasia Studio screen recording, available from $299
MWSnap screenshot, available from donationware
Screenshot Studio, available from $34.95
professional and free plugins for various browsers in addition to regular screenshot stuff. professional stuff. lots of options.
*nix tool collections
MKS Toolkit, available from $$$$
commercial package. very good, and very expensive, works just like *NIX. I have no idea if this includes a compiler or not. runs on windows.
GNUWin32, available from
fair collection of gnu tools including bison and flex, but no gcc compiler. runs on windows.
GNUish MSDOS, available from
fair collection of gnu tools including bison and flex, but no gcc compiler. runs on mdsos or 32-bit windows.
Fink, available from
has package installer. runs on mac OSX/darwin.
cygwin, available from
comes with compiler if you want, huge! can take a day to download and install. if you add an xml manifest, you can make your exe's and dll's windows-7/vista/8 compliant and won't fire off the UAC. runs on windows.
powershell, available from microsoft
language is very poorly documented, to the point of being unusable. How to use WMI/GetVersionEx with powershell, powershell, download, blog, newsgroup, getting started, sdk, cal example
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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.