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Thread: How To Keep Your Computer Working -or- Useful (Free) Applications

  1. #1
    Darth Small Macheath's Avatar
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    How To Keep Your Computer Working -or- Useful (Free) Applications

    I love these kinds of threads, but unfortunately any forum search for "apps" or "applications" brings up a ton of old Oblivious guild apps and not much else. Huzzah!

    So here's a thread.

    Step 1: CCleaner

    When I'm scouring the barnacles off a computer and I don't feel like formatting and starting over with a fresh OS (which I basically never do if I can avoid it), I start by going to Piriform and downloading the latest (free) version of CCleaner. I go to its "Tools" tab, then the "Uninstall" sub-tab, and I go down the list uninstalling nearly everything I'm not 100% sure I need to keep. Then, "Tools -> Startup" (same as the startup tab in "msconfig") and un-check everything I'm not 100% sure I want to run when Windows boots up. Then, I visit the "Cleaner" and "Registry" tabs, cleaning and scraping, cleaning and scraping, until there's nothing left to do.

    Step 2: Defraggler and MyDefrag

    Then comes a reboot, followed by another visit to Piriform for Defraggler, and then to MyDefrag for... uh, MyDefrag. Why two apps? Because Defraggler does an okay job of defragmenting a hard drive, but a fantastic job of analyzing and visualizing the state of a drive for your eyeballs. Meanwhile, MyDefrag is pitiful at telling you what your current state is, but amazing at doing the actual job of defragging. So I use both tools together.

    Step 3: Microsoft Security Essentials

    Everything defragmented? Time for more software! By now I'm tired of Windows complaining about the lack of antivirus software, because I sure as hell uninstalled Norton, McAfee, Avast, and AVG in step one. Why would I do that? Because literally all of those programs suck compared to the 100% free Microsoft Security Essentials. It's built right into Windows 8, but the rest of us proles have to download our own copy. Trust me, it's lightweight compared to Norton, it won't accidentally flag Left 4 Dead 2 as a Trojan like AVG, and it doesn't constantly pester you to register and upgrade like Avast.

    Step 4: Ninite

    Next, I hit up Ninite (a.k.a. the best site ever) and select the following apps:

    • Chrome: IE8 didn't impress me, though I've heard good things about IE9 and IE10; meanwhile, Firefox has gotten way too bloated. Chrome is standards-compliant, lightweight, it has a lot of plugins and support, and tabs run in their own processes, so you can kill one through Task Manager if it gets hung up without crashing the whole browser.
    • Skype: For obvious reasons.
    • Pidgin: Yahoo Messenger has gotten progressively worse in the past 5 years or so, and Trillian hasn't been usable in about as long. Pidgin is still lightweight, tabbed, supports plugins, has a searchable chat history, etc.
    • VLC, K-Lite Codecs, and CCCP: Maybe you don't have a 2 TB drive full of torrented movies sitting on your desk, but you'll still get pissy when your uncle emails you an OGM file and your computer can't figure it out.
    • Audacity: For all your/my/okay-maybe-just-my audio editing needs.
    • Flash, Java, and Silverlight runtimes: Steam will download the correct .NET framework for me when I need it. The rest are all pretty much required at all times.
    • Irfanview: Because nobody should have to look at pictures with Windows Fax Viewer, for Christ's sake.
    • Foxit PDF Reader: You uninstalled Adobe Reader in step one, right? Please tell me you uninstalled that piece of shit.
    • Essentials: Oh look, Ninite added Microsoft Security Essentials to their page! And it's their recommended antivirus! Awesome! But I already have it.
    • uTorrent: Have you sensed a theme in my favorite apps? Chrome - lightweight. Pidgin - lightweight. Irfanview - lightweight. Foxit - lightweight. Sadly... even uTorrent has bloated a bit lately. I'm probably gonna have to start installing old versions rather than grabbing the latest from Ninite.
    • Steam: To keep my graphics card updated for me, I guess?
    • 7-Zip: I'm sorry, WinRAR, but nobody will ever register you.
    • Notepad++: When Notepad just doesn't cut it anymore.

    There's a ton of other awesome stuff on Ninite, but those are my basics. Select them all, Ninite will wad them all up into a single installer .exe for you, and you're done! It's beautiful.

    Step 5: Everything Else

    Even Ninite doesn't have everything. Note that I went to Piriform for both CCleaner and Defraggler -- they have several awesome free Windows utilities, those aren't the only two. Check out what else they've got here.

    I also like to grab VisDir to help me figure out where all my hard drive space went (usually followed by some serious purging, and then more defragmenting just to be safe).

    I used to like F.lux until I got tired of my screen being orange. If they ever begin supporting a straight-up "dimmer mode" or even other colors, I'll be back in a flash.

    I've never used AdBlock Plus (I feel like it'd be breaking some sort of unspoken contract) but I'm on the verge of giving it a go. I'm seriously sick of ads.

    Step 6: Tell Me What I'm Missing

    Do you do anything else that you think I'd benefit from? Apps I don't know about? Speak up, then.

    Here's the Reddit thread that inspired me to write a post here.

  2. #2
    Darth Small Macheath's Avatar
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    I see Ninite lists "Glary" instead of CCleaner. They seem to be basically the same thing. I've never used Glary myself, though. Happy with CCleaner.

    Ninite also lists "WinDirStat" instead of VisDir, and actually, that looks pretty cool. I'll give it a try when I get home tonight.

  3. #3
    What is your opinion on Malwarebytes?

    And how is Defraggler better than, say, right clicking your hard drive and selecting "Defragment"?
    Oooh, shiny!

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  4. #4
    Darth Small Macheath's Avatar
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    A fragmented hard drive is like a puzzle, and some algorithms solve the puzzle better, faster, and more completely than other algorithms. I've had programs get completely wedged in a state where they simply can't make progress no matter how many times you click the button, and then I throw MyDefrag at it and in five minutes it's all cleaned up. MyDefrag is very good, and very fast.

    That said, I gather the default defragmenter packaged starting in Windows 7 is pretty decent, but it's not as fast and it has no visual interface. I believe MyDefrag (and most defrag programs) use the Windows defragmentation API, but the way each program arranges its system calls constitutes some major differences in results.

    I usually install Malwarebytes, but it's never found much of interest for me. I tend not to get infected with any terrible shit that anti-virus can't obliterate.

  5. #5
    Darth Small Macheath's Avatar
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    I just found the coolest (and most obviously-named) Chrome extension: Flash Video Downloader. It was a bit of a pain in the ass to figure out how to install it, since I've never installed an extension before -- but now that I have, it makes grabbing stuff off YouTube a hell of a lot easier, and beats the pants off sites like SaveVid.com, which require annoying Java programs.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Macheath View Post
    Ninite also lists "WinDirStat" instead of VisDir, and actually, that looks pretty cool. I'll give it a try when I get home tonight.
    WinDirStat is really awesome, if you haven't yet, you should totally check it out.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Macheath View Post
    I just found the coolest (and most obviously-named) Chrome extension: Flash Video Downloader. It was a bit of a pain in the ass to figure out how to install it, since I've never installed an extension before -- but now that I have, it makes grabbing stuff off YouTube a hell of a lot easier, and beats the pants off sites like SaveVid.com, which require annoying Java programs.
    Darn. I tried it on an internal Yahoo! site and it didn't find anything.

    Just as a test I tried it on YouTube and got this when I clicked on the little down arrow thing:

    Found media:
    Due to YouTube Policy. It isn't allowed to download from YouTube.
    Please, do not post negative reviews. This is not our fault.
    Hope you understand that. Thanks!
    Mac, you're a Yahoo! guy. Do you know of anything that I can use to pull even a small part of an FYI archive video into a private file I could keep? I would be satisfied with something that would simply capture the sound and video of a video that's playing on the screen.
    - Definitely

  8. #8
    Darth Small Macheath's Avatar
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    You could give Fraps or Dxtory a try, I believe there are free versions of both, and either might be able to capture that stream as it plays (do it in full screen). If not, you can use something like Camtasia to record a region of the screen (whatever happens to be on that region, which you'd obviously center on the video). Just do a search for "region movie capture" or something, it's been a while since I did that, but I think I used Camtasia back in the day.

  9. #9
    Just a heads up, the free version of Fraps has a watermark.
    Oooh, shiny!

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  10. #10
    Tiny Dancer Drewbie's Avatar
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    So, something got into my computer in the past couple weeks. I'm not sure how or where, but between the credit card fraud and an e-mail saying my Path of Exile account was accessed from an IP in Japan, I'm sufficiently worried that my computer is compromised. My plan was to do a complete wipe and reinstall pretty much everything, but before I do that, I thought I should probably get some other opinions.

    What's the likelihood that following the OP's plans would take care of my issue versus just wiping the drive and starting from scratch?

    So far my AVG has found nothing, nor has Hijackthis according to most auto analyzers. I've looked at a couple other root analyzers, but the results are just a mess that I can't understand so I might be missing the obvious.

    The wipe would be pretty easy as I've got 2 hard drives installed and my second drive is completely blank currently so I can just dump my photos and other files I want to save on that and then move to wipe the main drive. Of course, I've got tons of apps installed that I'd have to reinstall, but there's enough issues with my computer at the moment that I think that's a worthwhile trade off.

    Thoughts?

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