As I mentioned yesterday, I have an almost-new computer setup — not a new computer, just a lot of upgraded components, including more memory, more storage, new Windows install, new ports, etc. Faster and more efficient, and a cleaned-up install. But that clean install comes at a price. I have to rebuild everything that sits on it. Today’s focus was mainly about the apps.
I had the techies install Windows fresh and clean, with no caffeine, but everything after that is on me. They could have migrated my old install but that would have defeated the purpose of the upgrade. Too much old bloat. Going through some of the old files, I found remnants of programs that I removed over three years ago! Pass.
I tend to think of my software as grouped by headings:
- Systems — This is basically technical apps, like the NVIDIA controller for the graphics card, and I also threw in my drivers for my colour printer. I have two other printers available to me, a Brother LaserJet upstairs in the office and my old HP LaserJet 4L next to my computer, but I haven’t tested that part yet.
- Security — At the moment, I have two main security tools, namely Bitdefender for all the firewall and antivirus stuff, and while it comes with a crappy VPN too, I prefer Private Internet Access for my VPN system. Everything reinstalled, tested, and the VPN upgraded to having the KillSwitch activated.
- Internet — I have only three programs in my Internet category, which is down considerably. Normally I have FTP programs, multiple browsers, maybe some P2P stuff, and an email program. Most of that is part of my old life and not really a feature I need right now. Instead, I installed my browser (Firefox), and that was pretty much the first thing I installed — I needed it so I could install all the updated installation files for everything else. I do a bit of Torrenting, so BitTorrent is also there, and it gets the job done. I tend NOT to let it run unmonitored so it meets my needs along with the VPN. And last but not least? MIRC. That’s a weird one, I’ll grant you. It’s an Internet Relay Chat app, and it works pretty well. I’ve used variations of it going back all the way to the late 1990s. It serves a similar function to BitTorrent, and while I don’t use it often, it’s frequent enough to install the latest version along with some extra scripts. From time to time, I also use it to play in a couple of online trivia groups.
- File Management — While most Windows users rely on the simple File Explorer for most things they do, I hate it with a passion. Back in the late ’90s and early ’00s, I used a program called PowerDesk and it was my favorite replacement. Then they changed the layout and user interface, and it tanked. I hunted around for a replacement, and after a few iterations, I tripped over a program called xplorer2. It’s not big, it’s not flashy, but it works GREAT for me. Multiple columns, tabs, views, layouts, previews, everything I need and a lot of stuff I don’t, but I can hide the stuff I don’t (not something I can do with a lot of the flashier apps). If it ever stops working in Windows, I’m going to cry. I use it for EVERY file movement I can. After that, I use some things for some niche tasks — a special RAR extractor that has a few bells and whistles called FreeRarExtractFrog (I might just use it for the Frog motif); a 7Zip extractor and compressor; VeraCrypt to encrypt some financial files; and then a small suite called XN (i.e. XNViewMP, XNConvert, and XNShell) that do a bit more with graphics than my default xplorer2 can do. Two things that are missing from this list are a backup program as I’m currently transitioning to a new tool that I haven’t bought yet (in the meantime, I’m relying mainly on full file copies with multiple redundancies) and online storage (related).
- Office — While I mean that term generically, MS Office 365 is the big install. On top of that, I have MS Teams for work and Zoom. I used to have a lot more installed and I just never use much of it anymore. Open office replacements, mind mappers, organizers, portable apps, a few other bells and whistles. I still need to install drivers and software for my label printer and my scanner, although I’m not sure if they go under Office here or under Systems above.
- Photos — Right up front, I have Mylio as my photo manager. I’ll come back to this one tomorrow, as it is not a simple “install and go” option. It’s a bit more complicated than that. In addition, I have Affinity Photo, GIMP, Paint.Net, and Photo Pos. Plus I restore the default Windows Photo viewer; it works well for simple edits and viewing. Interestingly, I didn’t need to reinstall a bunch of other niche apps — bulk image converters, duplicate photo finders, image resizers, online gallery uploaders, etc. They’re not really part of my workflow anymore even though I have the apps if I need them. I still need to install a PhotoSync app that copies my iPhone photos over to my desktop without using iTunes or connecting a wire, just links through my LAN.
- Video — With my growing interest in astrophotography, some of which is done with video rather than images, my video software has expanded. For editing, I have VideoPadEditor; for viewing, I use VLC or Kodi, depending on the media; for conversion, I have AnyVideoConverter Pro or even DVD Shrink with AnyDVD, which can handle mostly old stuff at this point. Skype was already installed, and while I have a webcam, it was plug and play, so no extra cam software was needed. Nor did I need any of the other editors and converters that I’ve tried over the years.
- Music — This is where things got interesting. Sure, I have iTunes since I subscribe to Apple Music for the family. I love their radio stations with no ads. I’m almost incapable of listening to normal radio stations now. But I also have Amazon Music and YouTube Music for uploading. But for day-to-day file management, I use Media Monkey. I just wish they had an IOS app. What I find most interesting is my archives for software in this area — old MP3 player file managers, Real Player, WinAMP, all of which would still run. I just don’t need it right now. But I am loathe to delete them as they do READ a lot of old files if I ever need to convert stuff. I don’t install them, but it’s almost like time travel to see all the various apps.
- Ebooks — Getting everything installed today was a bit of a pain in the butt, to be honest. I’ll talk about it more tomorrow, but I kind of screwed up my preps for the upgrade, and while a fresh install is great, I should have planned a bit better to make the transition a bit more seamless. Ah, live and learn. I have Calibre installed with a bunch of plugins, Amazon’s Kindle for PC reader, Adobe’s Digital Editions (to read books from the library) and Cloud Library (ditto). I didn’t install the Kobo reader, I never use it.
- Astronomy — This was more extensive than I expected. For planning, I have Best Pair, Select Astro Stars, and AstroPlanner; for navigation, I have Starry Night 8 and Stellarium; and for processing, I have PIPP, AutoStakkert, Deep Sky Stacker, Nebulosity and Registax. I considered playing with PixInSight but the price is too exorbitant for my blood. I didn’t install the Canon software for point and shoot cameras or any of the software for controlling your telescope since I don’t do any of that from my desktop.
- Programming — I really only have programming stuff for Jacob at this point, and since it is on his computer, I didn’t feel the need to also install it on mine. So, for now, I have nothing installed. I want to do some app development in a year or so, so will need to find a solution or two, but nothing right now.
- Games — I have a bunch of one-off games here and there, mostly card games (like Bridge or Solitaire, etc.), and I installed none of them. They’re all pretty old now. I also have RetroArch which I *will* install, but not yet. I also tend to play MS Solitaire, but that comes preinstalled.
And that’s it. About 16GB of install files, and about 60GB of installed programs with Windows. I have a few more to add here and there, but the bulk of the rebuild is done. Whew. It was a long day.
Today I choose to prioritize, reinstall and update all my software on my computer with a fresh install.
What choices are you making?