Thursday, August 31, 2006

Software Wish List

My computer is a wonderful thing. Who would have thought, 100 years ago, that a device with the sole quality of doing lots of calculation really fast would have so many uses?

This is not a veneration-post directed at a piece of technology. This is a list of software programs that I wish I owned.

1. Daytimer
I want software on my desktop that allows me to post reminders to myself about upcoming commitments, deadlines, and events. I want it to automatically display today's events each morning when I wake up my computer. That's all I want it to do - I don't want it to help me with email, virus prevention, or computer security.
I would be willing to pay as much as $20 for such software.

2. File converters
I want the ability to convert .WMA to .MP3 without a program that tries to take over all remotely-media-related functions on my computer. My obsolete desktop at home has on it MediaMonkey, a program that carries out this function with speed and efficiency - but also tries to do everything else, and be all things to everyone, all while displaying a shyte software logo and taking inordinate amounts of time to start running.
I also want the ability to convert .MOV to .something else useful without resorting to any product made or written by employees of Apple corporation. Apple's media software, which will remain unnamed, is another program that really wants to supplant all other media functions. Fuck off, I don't want to have to deal with no-maximize on my PC.
I want these small programs separately - one each for each type of file conversion.
I would be willing to pay as much as $5 per converter - as long as each converter had not suffered from "feature creep".

3. Redirect blocker
Websites that automatically redirect to somewhere are evil. Stop doing that! If I wanted to go there I would have clicked there.
I would be willing to pay nothing for an add-on that prevented this - this is a service that should (and hopefully one day will be) built into existing web browsers.

4. Screen capture
My PC has the ability to capture the entire screen with the touch of a button - the "PrtSc" or Print Screen button, which grabs the screen and sticks it into the clipboard as a bitmap. Macs apparently come with a neat little program that allows one to capture just an area of the screen - one draws a box on the screen and then captures that. I want that program, without the taint of Macintosh.
I would again be willing to pay nothing for this - Macs have it for "free", PCs should too.

I'll probably think of more later.


Carlo said...

Umm... Linux has at least #s 1,2 and 4... And I'm sure #3 is available. Face it man, it's time to give it a shot.

TheBrummell said...

#1 and 2 exist for PCs, the problem is finding them. Try throwing anything including the term "daytimer" at Google and watch millions of spurious hits pile up.

Linux is almost certainly my next OS, but now is not the time - nobody else around here uses it, so I'd have no on-hand tech support, and I'm too "busy" right now (haha, yeah right).

Mike said...
Simple, effective, but only saves to BMP.

I'll keep my eyes out.

Mike said...

delete that last post.. the URL got cut off

Carlo said...

Don't get me wrong, Linux is not the be-all, end-all of operating systems. It has its own share of quirks and issues (actually, probably one of the greatest obstacles to beginning with Linux is the fact that, by giving you so much control over customizing your system, they also give you the ability to FUCK IT UP completely). There really is an excellent, on-line user community though, with forums to answer all of your questions (they've helped me many, many times).

I don't buy your argument that "Now is not the time" though. I spent the first 6 months of my Ph.D. learning computational biology, and now it's a big part of my thesis. It would arguably have been better if I'd gotten a head start on familiarity with the OS, *wink* *wink*.

Seriously though, like Sydney Brenner said, "We don't need biologically interested computer scientists, we need computer-savvy biologists."

Mike said...

Sigis Screen Capturer
Simple, effective, but only saves to .bmp. No copy/paste or clipboard.

Fancier ones to movie clips and video games. Are you looking for that functionality as well?

I'll find you a good GPL one, just give me some time.

If you have a copy of CorelDRAW kicking around, try CorelCapture. It is a standalone application that does exactly what you are asking. Even the really old versions (as far back as 3.0 I believe) came with it.

TheBrummell said...

I think I've got a Corel 3.0 disc kicking around at home. I'll dig it out and see what's on it.

Corel 5.0 and 6.0 were really fun packages - is Corel still making that kind of stuff?

The problem with an on-line support community is that I need at minimum a functional OS, a functional web connection, and a functional web browser to access them. My fear is that it will take me 3 weeks to install the damn OS and get it working properly - because I have a tendency to either own non-standard hardware or to accidentally fuck up the installation.

Also, thanks Mike! This is looking good.

Mike said...

Yes, Corel is still cranking out graphics software. They just bought out InterVideo last Monday, which will nicely round-out their suite of multimedia applications.

I'm currently using 12.0. It is really nice, and I have no use for Photoshop as Corel PhotoPaint is just as capable (and is one less Apple-based product I'm forced to use!).

Corel versions that sucked:
4.0, 6.0 through 8.0, 11.0

On Linux, you have a laptop still don't you? Use that as your access to support while redoing your desktop PC.

TheBrummell said...

But if I convert my desktop (Athlon 850 MHz, 400 MB RAM) to Linux, how will I play Civ III and continue to waste 84% of my waking time? Those damn Persians won't invade themselves, you know.