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31 December 2006

Photos of the Year

Just like the title adequately describes what this post is about, the photographs do the same for the year 2006. Here are some collections made by the well known media: Time, Reuters, MSNBC, NYTimes, and Sports Illustrated.

Need a quick review of the best? Watch the slideshow I made with the 12 most striking images.

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30 December 2006

Buildings of the Year

BusinessWeek has compiled an interesting slideshow about the past year's marvels of architecture including green offices, Apple's store, and the World's longest over-sea bridge. However, it seems like USA is the only world to them because some major developments that took place in other countries are omitted. Read the full article here.

In my opinion something from Dubai should have been there. On top of that, I remember stumbling upon some other great buildings that were completed last year in the East including Qatar, Indonesia and China. I tried googling for a better, less biased list but couldn't find one. Wikipedia dissapointed me as well. Any suggestions?

Update: Found the skyscrapers of 2006 at least!

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29 December 2006

Microsoft Substitutes

Don't expect new programs with improved usability from the upcoming version of the World's favorite OS Windows XP. Why? Because its the same old Microsoft operating system with added eye candy. Stick to XP, along with all your devices that are not compatible with Windows Vista, and run your favorite non-Microsoft software!

We all heard about the new Vista and I think its not an upgrade most of us will make anytime soon. Microsoft loaded it with immature features that people will switch off after they use it for a while. For example, why in the world would anyone want the borders to look semi-transparent for? Give me one way it could be useful.. apart from sitting around (in the RAM eating precious resources) and looking pretty!

Likewise, Windows XP also came loaded with many useless built-in programs that you ended up dumping for a better alternative. People hate it and love it at the same time. Its great that we don't have to re-install a fresh OS every few months like it used to be with Windows 9x every time the BSoD appeared. This meant a lot of time saving as there is no need to re-install all other programs as well. Did you notice how we started using more and more applications that we can't do without? Here is a list of a few programs (plus annoying features) that substitute for better and free (some open source) programs:

0. Internet Explorer = Mozilla Firefox
First thing I install on a fresh Windows XP. Simply the best Internet browser. Ever! :)

1. Windows Explorer = ExplorerXP
Tabs, groups and a toolbar with only the useful things. The way explorer should have been.

2. Windows Messenger = IMVU
Chat using 3d digital personalities. I rarely chat, so why not make it interesting?

3. Windows Media Player = VLC Player
Plays almost everything. This is just what I needed with its functional basic skin.

4. Windows Media Encoder = Media Coder
Converts between almost every type of media files. Compress videos to save space!

5. Windows Firewall = Sunbelt Kerio
Prevents hackers from breaking in. Seems to be working well. No known issues with security so far.

6. Windows Defender = Spybot
Erase spyware that always find its ways in everyday. If something can go bad, it will go bad!

7. Disk Cleanup = CCleaner
Cleans unnecessary rubbish that accumulate in your hard drive. Speeds up your system.

8. Image Viewer = MaxView
Simple and very useful for big archives. I tried so many alternatives but this is a keeper.

9. WordPad = Abiword
Fully equipped word processor. Extra: Ditch Microsoft Office altogether for free Openoffice!
10. Paint = GimpShop
If you are not playing with pixels then you need
a better program to edit your photographs.
11. Sound Recorder = Audacity
Very powerful little tool with lots of featu
res. I mostly use the large record button and save file.
12. Screen Saver = Google Pack SCREENSAVER
Displays your photo collection in a smooth fading manner or a vitual Polaroid collage. Nothing flashy.
13. Run = Launchy
Search for programs loaded in your co
mputer fast with a touch of a key: Press in the middle of Alt+Space!
14. Desktop = Deskview
Turn your desktop icons into a list. The right thing is now more visible with the filenames sorted.
15. Shut Down = Switch Off
Set a time to shut down or restart so yo
u can go on a holiday while your computer works at home.
16. Print Screen = Capture
Capture full screen, active window or a specific region. Also includes magnifier and color picker.
17. Recycle Bin = Restoration
Restore files that you delete permanently. I disabled the Recycle Bin to save some drive space.
18. QuickLaunch = RocketDock
Launch your most used applications in a different bar to free up more
area in the taskbar for them.
19. Font Viewer = Font Lister
Quickly view your fonts in a list and choose the one you will be using. Otherwise look for it one by one.

20. ClipBook Viewer = ClipX
Track multiple entries in your clipboard and ac
cess them easily when you need. Happy copy-pasting!
21. Compressed Folders = 7 zip
Better compression for your files and folders. Supports almost every type of files.
22. Disk Defragmenter = Disk Defrag
Faster defragmentation of your hard drive to keep your computer running fast.
23. Task Switcher = TaskSwitchXP
Switch between your running application with their screenshots. Uses low resources as well.
24. Virtual Memory = CachemanXP
More settings to control your virtual memory and RAM. Adds a tiny icon next to the clock indicating the amount of free RAM.
25. CPU Speed = SpeedSwitchXP
Change the speed of your CPU according to your needs. Mainly for laptop users. Adds another nice tiny icon showing your CPU load!
BONUS. Startup Screen = BootSkin
Optional application for those who are bored looking at the same thing everyday for 5 minutes.

Finally, the ones that I decided to keep:

Notepad = The only reliable Microsoft software!
Calculator = Don't use it much but still there..

I would have posted screenshots (some don't have) but you can see how clean my desktop looks like. All other programs such as Outlook and features like Help, I rarely use them (if ever!) so there is no need to mention. The Internet is a better option for me to check my emails and look for "Help" that helps!

Before you leave, please rate my entry and leave some feedback using comments as to which program you found the most useful and let others know if there are other substitutes you use.

Note: Look out for future posts of other little known utilities that are useful everyday but are not necessarily Microsoft substitutes (hence did not qualify to enter the above post!). If you enjoyed this post Subscribe to the thinking blog newsletter.

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