Doug Austin

Computers, Photography, and Mathematics

There is no end to the applications, free or commercial, on the web. Here's a shot at a comprehensive table.

Function Website Comments

If you run Windows You Need These. MaximumPC magazine has a review of Internet Security 2.0 products that employ heuristic algorithms and can be run along side antivirus and spyware solutions. The February issue will be online at when the March issue comes out.

Antivirus Symantec (Norton)
Avast, AnitvirGrisoft (All Free)
This has gotten out of control. AV and spyware protection is one of the main reasons I now tell people to buy a mac. Click here for more info. Keep the data files an antivirus program uses updated. Check for the auto update feature in each. I've used all of these.
Spyware Spybot Search and Destroy, Adaware, Spywareblaster, Windows Defender( Free), Webroot, Spyware Terminator (free), Spyware Doctor
 Computerpoweruser magazine rate several in the Jan 08 issue ranking Spyware Doctor 5 out of 5 (commercial) and Spyware Terminator 4.5 out of 5 (free.) PC Magazine differs in some instances. This is not as exact a science as we are told. Consumer Reasearch has more.
Firewall Symantec (Norton)
Zonealarm (Free)
Windows XP SP2/Vista
Zonealarm has a Free version that rates high. for XP SP2 and Vista users, the OS has a built-in firewall that is adequate.
Utility Suites PC System Utilities I don't go off the deep end on these.
Suites-Do It All Windows Live OneCare
Webroot, Symantec (Norton), Grisoft, More
Check this link from MaximumPC. As with all "multi" things, maybe some weaker, but adequate, components. Haven't had good experiences with McAfee.
General Utilities Nirsoft Password, system, browsing,network, etc.

The following applications will make your computing experience better, or at least more convenient. I'm using all of these now.

Browser Toolbars Google, Yahoo, MSN, Merriam-Webster, Advancedsearchbar--all Free I store all my bookmarks/favorites at Yahoo, and the Yahoo toolbar has a button for easy retrieval. is a firefox addon as another choice to store bookmarks available across the web.
Desktop Search Google, Windows, Copernic--all Free Search file names and content on your computer. Windows and Copernic have a preview so the application doesn't have to load.
Password Storage Roboform Free for up to 10 passwords.
Compression/Decompression Winzip, Windows XP/Vista Some files are compressed to make downloading faster. There are many of these types of applications.
PDF (Portable Document File) Adobe Acrobat (free); see here for more To preserve formatting, some files are delivered in this format. The viewer is Free.
Outlook Search Free, Desktop Search tools will search email (Lookout Email Search Tool is an alternative) The desktop search tools (see above) search email now and work well. Outlook 2007 has finally got usable search within the program.
Backup Backer-I currently use this Endless backup programs at Tucows, Softpedia,  Majorgeeks, or Download
Image Editing/Organizer Adobe Photoshop Elements 5, Adobe CS3, Adobe Lightroom, GIMP, is a free photoshop-like alternative that is cross-platform Photoshop still overwhelms me. Elements has just enough for me right now and can be set to open PS as its editor. Plus it has a great organizer, and can do web pages/slideshows/greeting cards/etc. of your pics. Really nice raw editor for my canon raw pics. Lightroom is a complement tool for more serious folks.
CD/DVD Burner Nero and Roxio, there is a limited burner in xp/vista Depending on the version you get, they do it all. Don't worry about which one to get, just make sure you learn how to use it to its fullest. It's nick-pick after that as to which one is better. Video editing and DVD creation included.
Office Suite Office 2007 Professional, Google Docs and Spreadsheet (online),  Thinkfree (online), Openoffice (local), NeoOffice for OSX, MacOffice Pro What can I say; I'm not as happy these days just hopping on the Microsoft bandwagon. But, as soon as I use something else, sharing with other apps has a glitch now and then. If you are sharing it's the best guarantee there won't be problems. Sharing works pretty well with the Mac version. Pretty well.
Home Financial Program Microsoft Money, Quicken, Turbotax Another neck and neck competition. Pick one and learn it well. I use Quicken and it just wraps you in functionality. Stable as a steel girder. Can download from your financial institution, loads of reports, on and on, interfaces with Intuit's Turbotax.
Image Organizer Picasa2 from google free I use Adobe apps, but for a Free program, this is Mac-like luxurious.
Music-online Rhapsody, Napster, Itunes; plenty of others, some with higher quality/no drm, but limited selection I prefer the subscription based services (Rhapsody and Napster) since I listen mostly at home. I'm not a real audiofile, but the quality and selection is pretty good.
Download Sites Tucows, Softpedia,  Majorgeeks, or Download Games, utilities, backup apps, etc.; anything and more you can think of
OS enhancements/modifiers TweakXP, TweakVista Extra controls for the OS


Make it Better PC Mag 4-part series on improving Vista
Outlook Annoyances and
How to Fix Them
ComputerWorld Quite a bit of work here
Video Players vlc, media player classic wmp often doesn't have codecs needed