Monday, October 01, 2007

Google Pack and Search

Okay, I know I've blogged about this stuff before, but I'm adding a couple more things to the sidebar, because I think they're really useful.

The first one is for me more than anything - a simple search bar. Yeah, you can search Google with it too (it opens in a new window, so as not to take away from your Anton-browsing experience). When I first started this blog, my main goal was to keep a log of all the different stuff I'd find online rather than writing my own original thoughts. I've been digging through my archives recently, and I think it's interesting to watch the evolution of my posts. YMMV. Anyway, once in awhile, I think of something I linked to, but have no idea when I posted it. Hopefully the search will help with this.

Also, every once in awhile I'm asked "hey, I just installed Windows for my mom / kid sister / mortal frenemy...what other software do I need?". First, I will berate you for not installing Ubuntu Linux. Really, it's great, and you can get any productivity software for MS-compatible office suite, secure web browser, no spyware/viruses (which is HUGE...this is the #1 reason for re-installs), email software, etc.

Second, I highly recommend Google Pack. I have nightmares about the various software I'd have to install after a fresh Windows install...antivirus, anti-spyware, MS Office, Adobe Acrobat, Firefox, etc. It could take hours to do all this stuff, but Google has got it all neatly wrapped into one little package, complete with an unobtrusive update process. You get:

Firefox - the best, safest web browser on the net.

Adobe Reader - unfortunately, PDF docs are here to stay.

Picasa - aside from Apple's software, this is the best way to manage your photo collection out there. You can crop, tag, do effects, post photos for viewing online easily, and in an easy-to-use interface. I really love this software, and also wish I took more photos...

Photo Screensaver - your screensaver is boring. This one is configurable to grab images from the web or from your personal collection, so you won't have to watch the same ol' stuff over and over.

Antivirus and antispyware. Necessary.

Skype. Free pc-to-pc calling.

Google Earth. I hardly ever use this, mostly because it can be a colossal day-wrecker...the time you can spend exploring cities, ruins, landmarks, etc. is really mind-boggling. But I love it. I recommend a timer or you'll be sorry.

And NOW: includes StarOffice. I haven't personally used StarOffice, but the reviews are good. It's a MS-Office-like productivity Suite. Now I know you're saying "why not just use MS Office?" Because it costs money, and piracy is wrong! Honestly, I prefer Google Docs and Spreadsheets, but if you don't have an always-on internet connection, I'd definitely give this a shot.

Last but not least: I would honestly avoid Google Desktop Search. It slows down your computer and isn't that useful (at least for me). Fortunately, Google Pack is ala carte friendly, so you don't have to install it. I mean, you're a grown-up, you shouldn't be saving docs all willy-nilly on your hard drive anyway!

So there's my love for Google Pack. It really makes managing essential Windows software much easier - the link is on the right.

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