|Paul's notes on Microsoft Windows XP setup|
Here is how I configure Microsoft Windows XP. If you have a Windows PC earlier than Windows XP, throw it out and instead buy a new Dell. Trust me, it is not worth the time and money to try to upgrade an older PC. If you do buy a new PC, spend the time to remove all the extra crap that Dell installs for you. If you are not sure which ones you can remove, ask a geek friend.
Windows XP Settings
See my desktop settings to see how I configure my Windows desktop, menus, taskbar, etc.
- Mozilla Firefox is the most popular alternative to MSIE. Get Firefox extensions via Tools->Extensions menu: Tabbrowser Preferences and Bookmarks Synchronizer and maybe also FireFTP.
- Apple iTunes of course
- AIM Hack strips down AOL Instant Messenger. See also Google Talk.
- skype for free, high quality phone calls anywhere in the world.
- Google Gmail is by far the best web-based email available (more info).
- Microsoft Office 97 (wonderfully stupid, small features, thus fast, and less prone to viruses etc).
- Adobe Acrobat for reading PDF files. Be sure to uncheck option for full install, as you don't want all their crappy extra features. Also uncheck all other options (toolbar, photo software, etc) and be sure to check "Do Not Use (Crappy) Adobe Download Manager". Update 09apr06: msjulie recommends Foxit Reader instead of Acrobat, for less bloat and annoyance.
- WinZip: amazing that Microsoft has not killed these poor guys yet. :(
- Windows 95 Kernel Toys Set include Keyboard Remap etc and should work fine for all versions of Windows.
- annoyances.org has some great tips
In general I'd rather have a computer virus than be forced to use anti-virus software (as they are all so obnoxious), but everyone needs to be protected at least from spyware.
- Ad-Aware from Lavasoft is good, and is free for personal use.
- spybot.info for Spybot Search & Destroy.
- Security Task Manager is cool, it shows bad processes running now, with community supported descriptions.
- Zone Alarm is a good personal firewall.
Here are applications useful for software developer geeks like me:
- Real VNC gives you remote access to/from your Windows PCs from another computer (Windows or other).
- VanDyke Software has great telnet/ssh (see also) and secure ftp products for developers.
- Xemacs is the best open source programmer's editor.
- ctrl2cap remaps your caps lock key to a control key. :)
Family Safe Software
- Content Watch seems cool; I've just started using it.
To backup your PCs over the net and/or to each other, try one of these:
- Carbonite $5/month unlimited backup to their servers
- FolderShare is a free peer-to-peer backup service now owned by Microsoft. It has limits.
- BeInSync is another peer-to-peer solution; there are both free and "pro" versions.
To help a family member remotely try one of these:
If you use or support multiple PCs, it is very useful to setup a "ghost" master, so if one PC gets in trouble, you can "rebuild" it very quickly, with the exact setup and settings you like. This "ghosting" stuff used to be done only by wizards, but the latest software makes it easy even for moderate geeks. Here are a few popular ghosting components:
- Maxtor 300GB One Touch II External FireWire USB 2.0 Hard Drive is $249.99 at pcconnection.com
- Caspar XP ghosting was highly recommended, but I have not yet tried it!
- Acronis True Image Software is standalone ghosting software which was recommended to me by an excellent Dell support tech.
- Norton Ghost Software from Symantec is another popular software package.
- EZ-GIG II software is produced by Apricon and is also available with Drive Solutions etc. (Thanks julie.)