Geeks advice for a new computer: part 3

April 22, 2006 at 5:01 pm (Links)

The applications that you install will depend on what you will be using your computer for. (Yes, I have an uncommon grasp of the obvious!)

If this is a business machine that you will use to keep accounts and client information on, you should SERIOUSLY consider leaving it disconnected from the internet. Even the best firewall, anti-spam and anti-virus software can not guarantee that your information will not be compromised – so any online connection should be considered a risk. If you can afford a dedicated machine, an air-gap is guaranteed protection.

For general internet purposes, you will need a browser, email, and IM client.


For the browser I recommend Firefox. Using InternetExploder is just asking for trouble. Firefox also has extensions that you can apply that make it much more useful – as well as tabbed browsing. If you've never used anything but IE, tabbed browsing alone is a good reason to switch.

Firefox can be downloaded from, and extensions can be added by selecting Tools/Extensions/Get More Extensions from within Firefox. Extensions that I recommend are:


If you use web-based email such as hotmail, yahoo mail, or gmail, you can skip this section. If you are using POP3 mail that requires a client, don't use outlook. Download Thunderbird instead. It's created by the same group that created firefox, and is significantly less likely to allow goblins onto your machine.

IM and IRC

Your Instant Messenger and Internet Relay Chat client should be Trillian. It combines yahoo, msn, and aol instant messengers as well as IRC in a single application.

Special Purpose Applications

Office Suite

Open office is a free application suite that includes a word processor, spreadsheet and general office type applications. It had been Star Office, but was purchased by Sun and is now open source. If you have to use office apps on your computer, this is what you need.

Bible Study

The best, most flexable bible study app that I've used is e-sword.  It's free, and good, and has more optons for plugins than you will need. 


Who doesn't need a calendar application to remind you of upcoming events. I went searching and was surprised at the lack of choices for free calendar applications. The ones that were good weren't free, and the free ones didn't have the functionality that makes a calendar useful. I finally came across ClickTray. It is free (Yay!) and does all the calendar type things you'll need. It also includes a Name & Address book to keep your contact information. Now the down side – It's not a pretty app. In fact it approaches ugly. It really looks dated too. But it works as advertised, doesn't beg for money in popups, and takes minimal system resources. In my opinion, the benefits outweigh the asthetics, but YMMV.

Audio Playing, Downloading & Editing

For listening to music on your PC, you really have all you need. If you do need additional apps to do this (or just don't like Windows Media Player) you should try Winamp. It is feature-rich, and you can get additional plug-ins such as StreamRipper to allow you to save streaming audio files.

If StreamRipper won't work for the audio stream you are trying to save, you can try NetTransport. It is not free, but has a 90 day trial that should allow you enough time to determine if it will work for you. If it works, it is well worth the money.

For Editing, I suggest that you download Audacity. It is a free application that has all the basic functionality of splitting and joining files, as well as more complex cross-fading. It does tons more stuff, but I haven't needed those functions.

Graphic & Photo Editing

The only app you need to edit your pictures is The GIMP. It is a free image editing package that rivals PhotoShop in ability. There are lots of tutorials available to show you how to use the advanced functions as well. You'll find that anything you want to do with your pictures, The GIMP can handle it.

Recipe Management

Who doesn't need a recipe manager? EGS RecipeCenter is the tool that I've found. If you tried it before and threw it away because of the crashes, download the new version. It is adware, so it 'phones home' and collects additional ads to display – but the ad frame is in the lower-right and is not intrusive. This app even lets you incorporate a picture into your recipes.


If you program, it won't take you very long to figure out that you should have a good programming editor. My favorite is Eclipse. You can get plug-ins for lots of different languages so whatever you are doing, wether HTML, PERL, PHP, or C++, this shoule be a help.

Next time – how to keep your machine running well.



  1. Ron said,

    Just wondering about your calendar report. Have you ever found anything that can be shared? i.e. an office environment. I would even be willing to go web based.

  2. capitalggeek said,

    I have really only looked at free, locally installed apps. I have heard good things about the google calendar if you want shared and web based. For an office environment, I think that there are a few that integrate with outlook. If you use Lotus Notes, there is a built-in group calendar. I know that the mozilla project is also working on a calendar, but haven’t used it. You can find more info at

    Hope this helps.


  3. Ron said,

    Thanks for the info. I found what I needed at

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