Useful Links and Services I trust
Note: there are no affiliate links on this page. Everything I post here is because I believe in the service or products (most are free and Open-source anyway)
Ninite is a fantastic tool that can set up a new computer, or update an existing installation with a single executable. In short, you go to the website, click the boxes of the applications you want, and download a custom-built executable. When you run this executable, it will do one of two things. It will install the new app, using default settings and deselecting add-ons. If the application is already installed, it will update to the latest version. I keep an executable for each computer in my house, as they all have different roles. It’s an effortless way to keep everything updated.
All of these apps can be installed one by one, but this is much faster, and in my mind more secure as I won’t inadvertently sign up for emails, “search bars,” or other program add-ons I don’t want.
My favorite apps to load via Ninite
- Chrome - My favorite browser for its speed and ease of use
- Firefox - My favorite browser when I’m concerned about privacy
- Sumatra PDF - a speedy, minimal PDF reader (unlike the heavy-handed Adobe Reader)
- PDF Creator - Allows you to print to PDF like a regular printer
- LibreOffice - Microsoft Office alternative. I’ve never had an issue using files from Office in LibreOffice or vice versa, and the price is much better
- Classic Shell - brings back a more classic Windows XP look to Windows 10
- Teracopy - This utility replaces the standard copy, move, cut, paste for file manager. I found it slightly faster, but also much easier to see what’s going on and manage the movement of multiple files easier
- Notepad++ - This entire site was written using this simple, but super powerful, text editor. It is made to highlight syntax for tons of programming languages, allowing you to see when you’ve forgotten an argument or to close a bit of code.
- PuTTy - the simple go-to program to connect to a remote computer via terminal. If you play with Linux or raspberry pi stuff, you will need this.
- VLC - VLC plays everything. It can handle all of your move needs. It can also cut, resize, splice, and trim movies. Its the default player on every computer I own and use
- 7-Zip - high compression ratio and commonly used file archiver. Think of WinZIP on steroids.
I wear glasses and glasses are traditionally very expensive. But for some reason, the price of glasses has not come down with the increases in manufacturing tech. I could write an article about control over the glasses industry1, but instead, I’ll just be a good servant of capitalism and point you to a better source for your eyewear needs.
They have prescription glasses as low as $7! They also have a wide variety of frames for higher prices, but I believe the most expensive is around $50.
As an example, I needed some inexpensive prescription sunglasses to leave in my car, the wife’s car, and my work backpack. I got 4 pairs of glasses, one with polarization, for $100.
It’s a terrible name for a fantastic product. The software allows you to keep folders synced across multiple machines. Much like Dropbox, but without the cloud storage, and without the fees. My wife does work on our main desktop but needs to present it on her laptop. Anything she saves in the SyncThing folder is automatically synced to her laptop (and my two computers in case her machine has problems).
The software can be installed on Windows, Mac, or Linux. Windows users will want to install SyncTrayzor.
Password management is critical. You need unique passwords for all of your systems. At the rate of hacks in the news, you can not trust that your username, email, and passwords are not a day away from being leaked or stolen. BitWarden solves that problem with a cross-platform, user-friendly, cloud-based password management system that works on android, iPhone, as plugins for Chrome and Firefox, and directly in the browser. It’s free, open-source, and highly recommended by people in the cybersecurity world.
Ecosia is a search engine, powered by Bing, located in Germany, with the primary goal of using its profits to plant trees. It also has some attractive privacy and transparency standards I can get behind. Bascially for every 45 searches, they plant a tree. Not only that but they’ve organized their efforts with communities, and focused on sustainability, so its not just a monoculture of cheap trees being dropped in the ground. While it doesn’t have the raw power of Google, it’s been able to act as my primary search engine and landing page for a year now, during which my counter says I’ve done over 1000 searches (and thereby planted over 20 trees). As of the end of 2019 they are planting one tree every 0.8 seconds. Thats a serious force for good.