Essential Software 2006

This isn’t a list of software released in 2006, because some of the software I have started to use isn’t new. Instead, I have made a list of software that has become essential to every computer I use in the past year. After making the list a theme of working on more than one computer but maintaining access to my files has dominated this list of software.

Launchy (free) Download
Much like Quicksilver for Mac, Launchy gives you a simple keystroke launcher for programs and documents. After having launchy installed for a week, I found myself trying to use alt-tab to launch the search for programs or documents on other people’s computers.

Foldershare (free) Download
Foldershare was acquired by Microsoft in November 2005, but that shouldn’t stop you from using this file synchronization software. I’ve tried other synchronization options but none worked as well. Besides the accuracy, another advantage of Foldershare is the ability to synchronize your date without plugging onto your home network. Because the synchronization connects your computers online, you can access your files remotely. There are Mac and Windows version of Foldershare for people that use two operating systems.

Hamachi (free) Download
Hamachi is a free VPN (Virtual Private Network) and if you spend any time away from your home, you will find the ability to connect the smae as you would if you were plugged into your home network.

Google Reader (free)
RSS and Atom feeds may still be a geeky way of viewing the web, but once you start using feeds, the ability to view many websites quickly for updates is essential. I’ve used FeedDemon in the past and it’s great, but with my time split between a desktop and laptop, I didn’t want to have to worry about synchronization. You do need a gmail account, but those are easy to find now.

MediaCoder (free) Download
I’ve tried a lot of encoders for my iPod, but finally settled on MediaCoder. While MediaCoder is very easy it use, it is still very powerful and can tackle any video or audio format you throw at it.

Tunesleeve (free) Download
Now that iTunes allows you to flip through your album covers and my iPod can display the cover art, I’ve used the iTunes store to add the cover art, but if you don’t have a credit card or you have music that isn’t available at the iTunes store, you have to add artwork manually. Since I had a lot of albums without cover art, I was happy to find Tunesleeve. Tunesleeve will search for each of albums and let you choose the best cover and save it to your iTunes database. Not really essential software as I don’t use it often, but it has save me a lot of work.

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