DB's guide to the best software

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  • Dirtbox 29 Mar 2005 00:23:01 79,742 posts
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    NOTE:
    Updated version of this thread here
    If you're looking for anti virus info, click here


    The (NOW VERY OLD AND OUT OF DATE) Guide

    Okay, these are my pick of the crop to make your vanilla Windows installed PC into a lean, mean, gaming/browsing/working/media machine. A lot of software choice is down to the personal preference of the individual concerned, but I'll do my best here to tell you what is best for which job as impartially as I can.

    Forgive me if I'm teaching you how to suck eggs :)
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    Virus Checkers

    SEE THE NOTE ABOVE
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    Firewalls

    As with AV, there is many to choose from but for those of you with XP and SP2 installed you don't really need anything past the firewall which was included in the service pack. It has everything required from individual program blocking to port control. If you still don't trust it (and you wouldn't be blamed if you didn't) then there are a few good ones to consider:

    Sygate Personal is a great firewall with information as to what is accessing the net and when, logs allow you to trace hack attempts to the source and you can stop any particular program from contacting the network as and when you wish. The only downside is that it's a little heavy on the CPU sometimes. The main upside being that it's free.

    Private Firewall is about as feature rich as you could wish for a software firewall, but costs some money. It has the best performance of the lot.

    Zonealarm Pro 5 yes, I know I slated it as the "AOL of firewalls" but the pro version blocks ads and dodgy emails as well as being an able enough wall. Other than that, it gives you the same control the other two give over your programs and allows you to block and unblock stuff as much as you like.
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    Browsers

    Bit of a minefield, this one, as most people have already found their EG-viewer of choice and are dipping towards fanboi status for their personal fav. It's always good to have a play with the competition though, and here are your alternatives. They're all tabbed, which is an absolute must now.

    Avant uses IE as it's engine, which makes a great deal of sense as you don't get annoying problems viewing sites with ActiveX components, Java or embedded media players. It's also the most compatible browser here, but suffers from the same security problems that hamper IE. It's fairly customisable with skins available to download.

    Firefox is the current fav for most, it has a mountain of third party support with plugins for every occasion. It does suffer from one problem, which is it takes the longest of these browsers to start up, which can be annoying. Overall the most customisable and highly supported browser there currently is. Gbrowser, Googles forthcoming effort is going to be based on it.

    Opera works very much the same as both the above with the fairly major difference of it having an email client. It's fairly customisable with skins and bar/button placement and a plus point over both Firefox and Avant is that it aggressively caches previous web pages instead of resorting to re-contacting the site.
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    P2P Clients

    P2P clients are pretty varied and your choice should be based on the network you want to be a part of so it's only fair if I comment on that aspect as well. Where you can, I always recommend getting the "Lite" version of the client involved as the proper client will inevitably install spyware programs such as Cydoor, Gator, Lop.com and Xupiter onto your computer. Which is bad. I'm only going to cover BT for the mo as there isn't much in the way of P2P networks with a legal side to them. Kazaa is riddled with virii as is iMesh. eDonkey 2000 is too slow to even count as a viable option and Exeem is just plain buggy.

    Bittorrent

    Currently the toast of the town, there are two major players for this network. That's not to say that the other clients such as [link=http://www.bittorrent.com/">Mainline (the original) or Shadow's Bittornado aren't good, but they lack the functionality offered buy my picks. The only problem with this network is that the shared files have a short life span and is based on the goodwill of others. Download speeds are generally fast and the software you receive will not be riddled with virii. Here's an FAQ to cover the basics and here's a link to EG's StyleXP is only for XP and uses the native Windows XP theme service to apply its skins. By doing this, it makes it more compatible than WB. The addition of a theme picker much like WB's is included without the same level of control but with more options; as well as visual styles it also allows you to change your backgrounds, logons, bootscreens and icons, all of which are freely available from several sites such as ObjectDock is a taskbar replacement utility that emulates the functions of the Mac OS X Dock which sits at the bottom of the screen and magnifies the icons as you mouse over them. Coming in two flavours, a basic free version and a non-free tabbed version, they are highly customisable and can contain any shortcut you choose all the way to useful little widgets which display things like the local weather, system information, a clock and media player controls. As some default icons can look a little pixilated, the massive third party support offers some shiny, new

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  • Deleted user 29 March 2005 00:29:24
    Good stuff DB. Nice one.
  • cubbymoore 29 Mar 2005 00:30:49 36,507 posts
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    So you don't think much to Kaspersky then?
  • Dirtbox 29 Mar 2005 00:34:01 79,742 posts
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    cubbymoore wrote:
    So you don't think much to Kaspersky then?
    It's alright, but the only thing that tipped the balance away from it was the memory usage which is slightly more than Panda by about a meg. Nod32 uses 600k for example.

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  • cubbymoore 29 Mar 2005 00:36:58 36,507 posts
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    True it uses a bit, but in tests it's the best performing AV there is. I have to admit I haven't read any test info on Nod32 yet, and if Microsoft endorse it it must be good.
  • Dirtbox 29 Mar 2005 00:46:55 79,742 posts
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    I'm not sure as to what field of software to recommend next, theres so much...

    Any requests?

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  • Freek 29 Mar 2005 00:51:07 7,684 posts
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    How about some media/video players? Or little handy tools.
  • Dirtbox 29 Mar 2005 00:52:23 79,742 posts
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    Good call!

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  • BartonFink 29 Mar 2005 01:04:23 35,126 posts
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    Skinning software?

    Get XP to look like OSX for the laugh
  • UncleLou Moderator 29 Mar 2005 01:26:05 35,918 posts
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    Post deleted
  • UncleLou Moderator 29 Mar 2005 01:26:16 35,918 posts
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    Excellent, Dirtbox.

    Defraggers? :)
  • Dirtbox 29 Mar 2005 01:45:17 79,742 posts
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    Updated with players and a defragger :)

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  • phAge 29 Mar 2005 01:58:41 24,472 posts
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    O&O Defrag is pretty good.
  • NBZ 29 Mar 2005 02:00:36 2,385 posts
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    What about free stuff?

    For a/v the latest AVGFree (version 7.0) is pretty good. Its not as lightweight as NOD32 (which I have not used), but lighter than anything else I have tried.

    Firefox and Thunderbird instead of IE and OE.
  • Khab 29 Mar 2005 02:02:13 6,578 posts
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    deebs, have you tried mplayer? It never fails to play movie files for me, and through some magic doesn't need codecs installed (don't ask me how) - it just runs 'em when it needs 'em.
  • Dirtbox 29 Mar 2005 02:15:31 79,742 posts
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    phAge wrote:
    O&O Defrag is pretty good.
    It works along the same lines as the default defragger with a few improvements. PerfectDisk is just that little bit better.
    Khab wrote:
    deebs, have you tried mplayer? It never fails to play movie files for me, and through some magic doesn't need codecs installed (don't ask me how) - it just runs 'em when it needs 'em.
    The differences between mplayer and media classic aren't great enough to worry about, their functionality is identical and I only use it for realplayer and quicktime.

    Edited by Dirtbox at 01:17:52 29-03-2005

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  • Deleted user 29 March 2005 02:18:42
    db, check out VLC and after checking that out replace it with whatever movie media player you've listed up there.

    It's the eat all be all player. It's that simple.
  • Shivoa 29 Mar 2005 02:18:53 5,677 posts
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    Think VLC deserves a mention under very good media players with onboard codecs so no faffing about with installing. Cross platform and just generally very slick, although I've got to say I've always been a fan of BSPlayer for Windows and the Mac thing got me hooked on VLC.
  • Deleted user 29 March 2005 02:20:35
    mplayer and media player classic are also nice to have on hand, of course, but VLC is GODZILLA.

    hah. beat ya to it, shivoa. IN YOUR FACE.
  • Dirtbox 29 Mar 2005 02:20:57 79,742 posts
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    Yeah, I'll add it.

    I can't help but think I've missed a music player that should be on there too.

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  • cubbymoore 29 Mar 2005 02:21:48 36,507 posts
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    iTunes? ;)
  • Deleted user 29 March 2005 02:22:13
    Don't know about that... iTunes?

    Heh, no.. winamp is all I use, at least.
  • Deleted user 29 March 2005 02:22:34
    gawd damn. chubby SERVED me.
  • cubbymoore 29 Mar 2005 02:24:45 36,507 posts
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  • Deleted user 29 March 2005 02:26:03
    Dirtbox wrote:
    Nuts :( that was sposed to be "guide to the best software". Could a passing mod change that, please?
    I think 'guide to the software' has a better ring to it. Well done, subconscious you.
  • Blerk Moderator 29 Mar 2005 09:32:43 48,225 posts
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    Heh... I was waiting for someone to say iTunes. iTunes is cack. It sounds alright, but MAN - what a footprint! Winamp pinches about 14-15 megs of memory when I launch it. iTunes nobbles 50-60megs. And tons of processor time. The git.

    Why does everyone rate it so highly?
  • Retroid Moderator 29 Mar 2005 09:40:34 45,362 posts
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    FFDShow. Pretty much all you need to start watching all the various types of Divx/Xvid etc. files on Windows.
  • ssuellid 29 Mar 2005 09:47:29 19,141 posts
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    Avant. It works.
    Picasa for photo management.
    Filezilla for FTP.
    Klipfolio for RSS feeds
    isystem wiper - for getting rid of temporary files - including internet cache cookies etc.
  • Ginger 29 Mar 2005 09:49:30 6,939 posts
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    Winamp 5 does video too.

    London open taekwondo champion

  • Shivoa 29 Mar 2005 09:55:42 5,677 posts
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    Blerk wrote:
    Heh... I was waiting for someone to say iTunes. iTunes is cack. It sounds alright, but MAN - what a footprint! Winamp pinches about 14-15 megs of memory when I launch it. iTunes nobbles 50-60megs. And tons of processor time. The git.

    Why does everyone rate it so highly?
    Because we run it on the OS nature intended.

    /has noticed iTunes on an 800MHz G4/640MB RAM performs noticably better than a 1.33GHz Athlon/768MB RAM and about on par with his gaming spec PC.
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