I installed Windows 7 on my machine about three weeks ago and per my usual procedures, that meant that it was time for me to re-boot my Tablet back to factory Specs this weekend. I have this “terrible” habit of wanting to try new things (software/applications), different system settings, just simply experimenting with the new system and messing things up to the point I have to start over.
Image by Stephen Edgar - Netweb via Flickr
That is where I ended up last night – I almost made it a month this time, so I am getting better. This experimentation allows me to get to know how the system works, what I like and what new programs that I want to use to make me more productive and then get my computer into the configuration that I want it. Then I don’t mess with it nearly as much.
So I stayed up until 2:00 A.M. this morning re-booting Windows 7. It wasn’t hard, just time consuming, the updates take the longest.
I continue to be totally impressed with Win7! It does everything it is supposed to do at least from my perspective – as an end user. I can go in as deep as I want to, but to date, I haven’t had a crash or any problems that I didn’t cause. It is far superior to VISTA or XP.
After a bit of thought, I have decided that I am going to forget about trying to use the same software/applications on my HP Tablet that I use on my MLTI MacBook. I use the Windows machine a lot more right now and just want to be as comfortable as possible on it. Besides there are counterpart programs for most everything on either system, it just where the commands are located that can be confusing.
So what are the programs that I choose to use:
Fences: The most noticeable newcomer to my laptop inventory is Fences, it is a desktop organizer that allows me to organize my desktop in a logical manner, so that it looks a lot better than it used to and I can quickly find my icons, but best of all it stays that way (at least so far).
Browser: Actually I am finding IE8 works fantastic in Win7, it doesn’t bog down like it used in VISTA and renders the pages really quickly, but it doesn’t have a good side bar function, so that I can follow Twitter/Facebookin my Sidebar. Flock handles the social media as well or better than any of the other browsers and can use most of the Firefox add-ons, so I will use it as my secondary browser. I used Flock almost exclusively for about 8 months and then at my other job, couldn’t use the Social Media functions and drifted away, now I am back. A good balance will be to use IE8 for work/updating the system and Flock the rest of the time.
Productivity: Microsoft Office – I had the 2010 Beta on before I re-booted, but it had too many other programs that I don’t need/want, but it is going to be better than 2007. Realistically, I don’t need much more than Word, Excel, Powerpoint and OneNote. I will probably re-load the Beta later soon, but for now 2007 does what I want. I do love the ribbon interface, it is just so much more intuitive for me than the other interfaces out there.
I am not a fan of Outlook and have always searched for something different, but haven’t found anything that really impresses me as a mail manager/calendar/task manager application. Since Google Mail & Calendar can now be used offline, I am using them, but they are not the solution I am looking for. Who knows when they get the 2010 version a bit more stable, it might be closer to the solution I am looking for. If their task manager was a bit more like Basecamp or Zoho’s Planner with the ability to control how it prints better, I would embrace it.
I have been using Google docs for my cloud application because it is platform independent and I can use it on my HP or the Mac. It is simple and education friendly, others have written a great deal more about how well it works. I could have used Zoho, but it appears to be more a business application and while quite useable for educational purposes, does not embrace schools as fully. However, of all the cloud apps I have used, I like their User Interface the most. I still haven’t got an invite to Microsoft’s Office in the Cloud, so that is still a question mark, if it works like Office and I can access it using the Mac, you can guess what will be my new cloud app.
Bookmarking: Delicious – simple, stable and it works across computers and O/S. Diigo was just too complicated and does more, much more than I need, but is a lot of people’s choice.
Twitter – simple to use and quickly gets the word out, without it would not “know” near as many people on the web. I have Tweetdeck on my machine so that I can follow different # and for #edchat on Tuesdays, but otherwise I don’t use it that much. I am not a Twitterholic and I prefer to follow my stream in a sidebar of the browser.
Facebook – the easiest way to keep track of family and friends. I don’t “Friend current co-workers or students here, I believe in a separation of work/home. My boundary is until a student graduates high school, I won’t “friend” them in Facebook. Still not that crazy about it, but it is better than it was and I guess I would miss not knowing how some of the people that I really like are doing.
LinkedIn – my professional site, I use it intermittently, but probably should update it more often.
Photo/Image Manager – Picassa: I don’t like its file management system compared to some others and it is difficult to copy an image to LiveWriter, but that is the only beef I have with it, otherwise it simply does everything I want. I use Picnik to quickly and accurately re-size my photos. Also Flock’s integrated image management system works fairly well to grab web images – resizing them is an issue though therefore - Picnik.
Blog Writer - Windows Live Writer: it is simply the best and most versatile blog writer out there today. It does have some issues getting the Blog Configuration correct, but that is pretty minor in the face of all it does right. Also editing a previous entry that is not in the Live Writer library is not easy to do. Now if they could just get to the ribbon interface with it. I will try to use Flock’s blog editor for a while or maybe re-try using Google Docs and see if I can get it to work with this Blog and find out how to add Categories/Tags…that would probably be the best route in the long run, but this blog writer selection is still a work in progress
Video/Music Player: Windows Media Player, it is simple and plays most everything I need. If I need something that Windows Media Player can handle, I have VLC in my download file and can quickly load it, I just haven’t got around to it yet. I don’t like the iTunes interface, but when I want to use my iPod I have to use it (Songbird was just too buggy) – that is why I went out and bought a MP3 player, so I wouldn’t have to use my iPod.
Tools – Glary Utilities: after looking at a bunch of different ones, this one did more of what I wanted. I will probably load Secunia back on because of how it reports weaknesses in your computer’s security.
PDF – I went out and bought Nitro PDF Professional last summer. I like the ribbon interface and the price I paid was outstanding for a full-featured PDF editor/creator. So far I am very happy with my choice and have deleted Adobe from my Tablet.
Security – Microsoft Security Essentials: Have used a bunch of the free ones and when it’s free Norton and really wasn’t all that impressed by any of them. I figured I might well go for the integrated approach and have the big bulls eye on my computer. Microsoft will either get it right or I will get hammered :). Hopefully, they will get it right.
Blog Host: Finally, my blog. If anyone has read any of my blogs I have used Blogger, WordPress, Edublogs and some others. I don’t want to be in charge of the back-end management of a blog – otherwise I would still be at Aging Reluctantly. Unfortunately, I am one of those inveterate tinkers when I can be. I found that I was always changing something on my theme instead of actually writing. That is why I chose WordPress.com to host this blog. I have some control over the themes and widgets, but will have more time to write now that I am not looking at tweaking the theme.
Game – Oblivion: I need something to get away from working all the time and I do enjoy this desktop Role-Playing Game and it is good escapism from the rigors of the real world.
I have attempted to seriously simplify my software and applications that I use down to a minimum and unless something totally blows my socks off, will continue to use them. Otherwise how else will I get to really know the software or application beyond being a superficial user.
I do plan to continue to look at new apps as they come out, but in order to kick something off this list, they are going to have to be cloud based with a desktop sync option be platform independent and like I said “totally blow my socks off”.
That is what the this Special Education Teacher is using today on his newly re-booted Windows laptop.
Required disclaimer: I have not received any compensation from any of the above products. What I have written is a review my thoughts/experience on each of these applications and how I use them.
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