cupidsbow (cupidsbow) wrote,

10 Applications I can't do without

Here's a list of the ten applications I've used most (while not at work) this week. I'm bundling a few applications together because of similarity of function or because they are commonly used together.

Note: I'm not a software expert. These have worked well for me, but take all the usual precautions before downloading and installing them. Read the readme's, always do a full backup before making major changes to software on your computer, and make sure you know where the restore function is too!

  1. Sony Vegas Pro 9 ~ US$600
    This is a professional video editing suite (although I also know musicians who use it to for editing music). The currently available version is 11, which I'm still learning. Version 9 has been a reliable and useful non-linear editor for me, although the learning curve was very steep. It took me about half a year to feel like I had some clue what I was doing. My previous editor was the linear Windows MovieMaker - it's a terrible editor for many, many reasons, but chiefly because you must place clips in the order they will play. This means, if you change your mind and take one out, everything else on the timeline moves forward. Gah! That said, it was a good starting point due to its simplicity. If I'd started out on Vegas, I would have stopped the same day.

  2. Firefox 8.0 - Free
    Excellent web browser with lots of useful add-ons. The currently available version is 8.0.1. I've used this for everything, as one does. Email; reading fiction and news; searching public domain video archives; searching for stock images; research on everything from cars, to fairy tales, to software patches, to academic articles; watching vids; uploading and downloading files; reading instruction manuals; blogging on LJ and DW; searching "how to..." for a wide variety of things. And so on.

  3. Various editing applications from the excellent AMVApp (bits of v21 and v31) - Free
    You can find detailed instructions on how to download and use these in A&E's Technical Guides to All Things Audio and Video (v3), which is extremely comprehensive, yet at the same time, as close to an idiot's guide as you can get while still giving detailed answers about why as well as how.

    I use a mix and match combo of the packs, because some versions don't work on my computer; that's probably not a usual situation. I still find them incredibly useful despite the occasional hiccough. These applications and the guide are something I rely on when vidding. The guide is too big to take in all at once, so I try a new technique every time I make a vid; I almost know what I'm doing now! That said, even now I sometimes get lost, or can't make something work. I'm pretty sure this isn't the Guide's fault, but because I started off as a rank and clueless beginner, and my ignorance on this topic is still astounding. If you find yourself needing extra help, there are lots of "How To's" on YouTube and via Google search. I Google, "how to..." a lot.

  4. Windows Media Player 12.something and VLC Media Player 1.1.11 - bundled with Windows and free respectively
    It's always a good idea to test your own vids on more than one player -- that's just good practice whenever you make something. Likewise, it's much easier to open a cross-section of video types if you have several players to choose from. I always watch wmv (windows media files) in the Windows player because they look better. I play most other things in VLC.

  5. RoughDraft 3.0 - Free
    My favourite word processor, although I use several others as well. RoughDraft doesn't have the bells and whistles of Word or Open Office, but that's what I like about it. I can type without it automatically doing things to the text, I can remove smart-quotes easily, and it doesn't guzzle system resources so I can make notes while vidding. Highly recommended.

  6. Paint.NET 3.5.10 - Free
    You know, I keep thinking about buying Photoshop, but inertia always wins, and I keep on using Paint.NET instead. It helps that it's both easy to use, and has much of the same functionality as Photoshop, including layers (which are awesome -- how did I ever make digital art before I knew about them?). I don't just use this for art; I also screencap info generated on the fly by other applications and dump it into Paint.NET if I need a record. A very handy tool.

  7. FormatFactory 2.30 - Free
    Need to convert a media file from one format to another quickly? Then Format Factory is your new best friend. If you need high quality files this probably isn't the application for you, although if you go beyond the defaults you can get reasonable results. Brilliant application.

  8. Calculator 6.1 - bundled with Windows
    Most used bundled application ever? I think so.

  9. Spybot Search & Destroy 1.6.2 - Free
    I consider regular anti-virus software as something integral to a computer, like an OS, so I'm not including those here. You should already have that. But this is extra, and every now and again, especially if I've been using the internet heavily, I'll run Spybot Search & Destroy. It nearly always finds something. O_o

  10. Google Talk - Free
    I like being able to chat without having a browser open, and this does the job nicely.

So there you have it. What do you use most?

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Tags: recommendations, software
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