Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
October 18, 2008 2:14 PM

The 10 Things You Need For Your Computer

There are certain programs, applications and tools that no computer should be without.

If you are interested in Marketing (and let's go beyond the basics, like Google Reader, etc...), here are 10 things you need for your computer:

1. Windows Live Writer.
If you Blog, this is one of the better applications to get the job done. You can work offline, save drafts and insert all kinds of multimedia. Once you're set-up, you can also see how the post will look when it's live and you can even publish to the Web directly from the software package. The best functionality is the link manager. Once you assign a URL to a specific keyword, all you have to do it highlight it in future posts and the link will be automatically inserted. This saves tons of time and makes linking the pleasure it should be. Windows Live Writer is free.

2. Google Chrome.
Whether you use Internet Explorer or Firefox as your web browser, it's always good to have more than one on your system (especially if you travel - wireless networks can be fussy depending on the web browser). Google Chrome is an excellent new web browser. It's light and - most importantly - it's fast. Google Chrome is free.

3. CastBlaster.
CastBlaster is probably one of the only reasons why I have not switched from a PC to a Mac. This Podcasting production software is awesome. It enables you to record live and - if you have ever worked in the radio space - acts just like the standard radio board. After reviewing the short video demo, you should be up and audio recording in no time flat. CastBlaster costs $50 but there is a limited freeware version.

4. Audacity.
Still in the audio production sphere, Audacity is a fully-functional audio editing software package. For most audio hobbyists, Audacity seems to do it all. Granted, you don't have the complete flexibility that a pro audio packages offer, but Audacity is still the gold standard for most audio Podcasters. Audacity is free.

5. Reshade.
Reshade is an image resizer. If you give presentations and you grab images off the Web, you are probably rarely impressed with the quality of the picture. Blowing them up in software like PowerPoint usually just creates a very blurry and pixelated result. Reshade takes those images and turns them into great quality. Don't create your next presentation without Reshade. Reshade costs $75.

6. Levelator.  
Do you record audio interviews and find a huge discrepancy in volume between between your voice and the person you're interviewing? Is there sometimes way too much background noise? Without a clue how it works, The Levelator takes your .wav file and levels all of the audio magically by simply dragging and dropping your file into this program. The Levelator is free.

7. Google Analytics.
What's the point of having a website or Blog if you don't have some kind of web analytics tool on it? It's shocking to hear how many people have a Blog but don't have any form of analytics package on it to track visitors, where they came from, where they went, what they did, for how long, etc... There are many great (and expensive) web analytics packages out there, but Google Analytics will take you quite far (and it's free). Yahoo also offers a free package called, Yahoo! Web Analytics (formerly IndexTools) and Microsoft also offers a free package called, Gatineau (not sure if this is fully-functional or not yet).

8. Delicious.
Why on earth would you ever bookmark anything to your web browser? Delicious is an online social bookmarking and networking site that allows you to save, tag and share any type of content. Delicious has tons of functionality and you'll quickly realize that there's nothing like being able to find the content you have saved from any computer in the world. Delicious is free and is web-based (so you don't have to install any software on your computer, though it is highly recommended to add on to your web browser the Delicious buttons. This way you can tag and save with one click).

9. Easy HR Count Down Timer.
Another awesome presentation tool. Easy HR Count Down Timer enables you to post a count down timer on top of your PowerPoint presentation (or any software for that matter). How many times have you been presenting to a group and took a 15 minute break only to have people traipse in five minutes late? Now, everyone in your session is able to see, exactly, how much time is left until the session begins again. You can fully customize the time with a headline, alarm sound and - obviously - you can set your chosen time. Easy HR Count Down Timer is $20.

10. Logitech Presenter.
The Logitech Presenter will be your secret weapon. There are other presenter devices available, but this one takes the cake. It has a built in count down timer that gives you a silent vibrate to let you know when you have five minutes left and another one when your selected time is up (never go over your allotted time again). The grip feels great and the USB receiver slides into the top of the device, making it extremely compact. You no longer have to stand at a podium and be tethered to your laptop clicking the spacebar for the next slide. The Logitech Presenter will turn the power and attention of your presentation back to where it matters most - you. The Logitech Presenter is $89 and is the only piece of hardware on this list for a reason.

What are some of the software, applications and tools for your computer that you can't live without?

(note: I have no affiliation to any of the stuff mentioned above and none of the links are affiliate programs that I know of. These are simply some of the things I love. This post was inspired by this article on Slate's The Big Money: The 18 Things You Need for Your Computer)

By Mitch Joel


Comments Comments Feed
  • Posted by Bryan Eisenberg
    Mitch Joel

    I use most of these but I'll add, Snagit, Camtasia and GotoMeeting/GotoWebinar. Also to enhance Google analytics, I use several of the plugins I listed at http://www.grokdotcom.com/2008/10/16/google_analytics_hacks/ .

    Reply
  • Posted by Amod Munga
    Mitch Joel

    Cool blog post! Macromedia Fireworks: great for image manipulation and so much easier than PhotoShop. I also can't do without iTunes - how else will I get my fix of Six Pixels...amongst others?

    Reply
  • Mitch Joel

    Here's my list. I'm an analyst (+ blogger, photographer, speaker) so I'm most concerned with research & writing tools. When I look at this I realize that I've switched to a lot of Open Source tools over the last year. I also moved from Windows to Mac, so the list reflects that move as well:
    1. NeoOffice - Mac version of OpenOffice
    2. NetNewsWire - great RSS reader for Mac & iPhone, keeps my feeds synced between both platforms
    3. Skype - I don't use a home land line anymore. The combination of my iPhone & Skype are all I need.
    4. Twitterrific - again on both Macbook Pro & iPhone
    5. ecto - off line blogging tool. I tried several & I like this one the best.
    6. Adium - like most of us I have several IM accounts, Adium supports all of them on my Mac. On my iPhone I use Fring.
    7. Scrivener - I just started using this a month ago & I don't know how I did without it. It's excellent for all types of writing / research. I even use the cork board feature to story board presentations. All my writing except blogs go in here.
    8. Gimp - open source for photographers. OK, Photoshop is still better but the cost difference doesn't justify the difference in features.
    9. Safari - ok, I use Firefox sometimes too but I really do like Safari.
    10. Evernote - I love keeping quick notes and to do list in Evernote. Syncs between Macbook & iPhone (& the Web).

    Reply
  • Posted by Kathryn Presner
    Kathryn Presner

    I adore ToDoist - www.todoist.com - a simple but very effective Web-based to-do list manager. It has both free and paying versions.

    Reply
  • Posted by Nicky
    Mitch Joel

    Very useful list. I might try out a few I'm not currently using. Great to see everyone else's list too.

    For Blogging I use Blogjet. I run 2 blogs and this is excellent software. I've used it for years. Wordpress is better at autosaving, but I still blog offline first.

    I also use SnagIt.

    I use Statcounter and Sitemeter as well as Google Analytics. Statcounter is free,

    Sitemeter gives me a different view of my stats, particularly keywords (not free but I like it anyway) I only use it on one of my blogs right now.

    I use Roboform, for all those logins.
    For bookmarking my non-sharing links I use Blink Pro (since 2000) and Delicious for my "sharing"links.
    Firefox is my browser of choice, sometimes use IE, but less and less now.

    Reply
  • Posted by Jeremy Fritsche
    Mitch Joel

    For mac users, Skitch is great for adding notes to screen shots.

    Reply
  • Posted by Michael
    Mitch Joel

    Gotta add Omnigraffle for us Macs and Visio for the PCs. If you're expressing interactions - it must be visual.

    Reply
  • Posted by Mike Kujawski
    Mitch Joel

    Don't forget WinSnap ($29 retail), a screenshot tool that let's you capture specific regions of your screen in hi-res and convert them into image files.

    When you add it to your quicklaunch toolbar, this very light application quickly becomes a MUST-HAVE for presentation development.

    Camtasia is the equivalent for capturing video on your screen or creating video demonstrations.


    Reply
  • Posted by John Wilker
    Mitch Joel

    I've been playing with StageHand/Stage Manager for the mac and iPhone. cool preso tool for controlling and even interacting with slides. I hope to get a bit more practice with it. But so far I'm pretty impressed.

    Reply
  • Posted by Mike Versteeg
    Mitch Joel

    Thanks for mentioning CastBlaster :)

    Reply
  • Posted by Roz Fruchtman
    Mitch Joel

    Just love Easy ThumbsNails by Fookes.
    http://www.fookes.com/ezthumbs/

    I use this software regularly. It is easy, precise and the quality of the images is outstanding.

    Easy ThumbsNails is "automatic" as you can target an entire directory or as few images as you want.

    You choose the directory where you want the thumbnails to reside in, then click a button and the thumb nails magically appear.

    Been using Easy ThumbNails for 2 1/2 years now.

    YOU determine the size of the thumbnail and the quality you want. It's the kind of program you can call -- Set It and Forget It -- UNTIL you want to change the setting.

    From the Easy ThumbNails site:

    Easy ThumbNails is a popular free utility for creating accurate thumbnail images and scaled-down/up copies from a wide range of popular picture formats.

    Easy ThumbsNails is totally FREE.

    Enjoy.

    Roz
    @SayItWithEcards

    Reply
  • Posted by Melissa Blair
    Mitch Joel

    I will look into a couple of the tools on your list that I don't use yet. My can't live without list includes;
    Logmein - Like GoToMyPC but they have a great free version.
    Snagit - Others have mentioned it also.
    Roboform - I would be crazy without it!
    Jott - My to do list. Oooohhhh I love this one!
    Pidgin - 1 tool for all my different IM personalities!

    Thanks!

    Reply
  • Posted by Ian
    Mitch Joel

    I notice this ignores people not on the almighty Windows. I don't know why people keep using a system that is a security risk and only does one thing quickly, which is to become slow.

    Personally however I have Google Chrome running very fast, albeit when I have time to start up and update Windows: see the pic: http://twitpic.com/acb3

    Reply
  • Posted by Shane Belceto
    Mitch Joel

    you have generated some great comments on top of this wonderful list ... Thank YOU for the reminder to get one of the items on your list I have yet to do.

    Expect Miracles...
    Shane
    PersonalDevelopmentSuccess.net

    Reply
  • Posted by Nicky
    Nicky

    Because of this list and the great comments I am trying out Windows Live Writer again and will try Easy Thumbnails and Jot! Thanks everyone....

    Reply
  • Posted by Nicky
    Nicky

    Adding one more people might want to try... Digital PostIts by 3M. They are so amazing... and only $9.99 US. I had an old version that was flakey, but recently got the updated version and it's great.

    Reply
  • Posted by Alain Lemay
    Mitch Joel

    I also love SnagIt and use it frequently.

    I do have a question about Delicious though. I have seen a lot of debate over Delicious vs StumbleUpon. You seem to favour Delicious Mitch, any particular reason? I am curious to hear your opinion.

    Reply
  • Posted by Ike
    Mitch Joel

    Add Irfanview to your mix for quick image work.

    Very light and powerful,
    Free,
    Runs off a thumbdrive,
    Quick (and well-processed) re-sizing,
    Handles nearly every file format,
    Can do batch conversions of formats.

    Very powerful, and starts up much faster than the editing programs.

    Reply
  • Posted by John
    Mitch Joel

    Power tools for the global marketer :), good list. What about OneNote? I'm in love with it now. And delicious of course is THE BEST for tagging stuff.

    Reply
  • Posted by Barbara
    Mitch Joel

    I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


    Barbara

    Reply
  • Posted by gomez
    Mitch Joel

    I usually used the internet explorer for browsing its not nice while any download has been made.i have to try with google chrome. Thanks for the post.

    Reply
  • Posted by Rick
    Mitch Joel

    nice ideas in all the comments...my list:
    1. firefox - if u add some nice addons, it is the number 1 browser
    2. SnagIt - This Snapshot Programm works very good
    3. MAGIX Movie Edit Pro - best video editing programm out there. kills everything with its ease-of-use and small price
    4. MAGIX Music Maker - very good for every audio editing and musi creation need
    5. openoffice - opensource office suite for free
    6. twitterbar - twitter via FF-UrlBar
    7. Mufin Player - good looking Music Player with unique reccommendation engine
    8. TweetDeck - probably the best twitter cliebt (runs on Adobe Air)
    9. Xobni - Killer AddOn for Outlook - brings social media into Outlook and helps to find mails
    10. msn messenger - just the best :P

    Reply
  • Posted by Adell
    Mitch Joel

    Hello, i read your blog occasionally and i own a similar
    one and i was just wondering if you get a lot of spam responses?
    If so how do you protect against it, any plugin or anything you can advise?
    I get so much lately it's driving me mad so any support is
    very much appreciated.

    Reply
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