Ben Read dot net

Notes on software that I use



Below are some thoughts on software applications that I have found useful. I have no relationship with the vendors other than that of customer and user. I've skipped a few omnipresent programs that I use but have nothing in particular to say about, such as iTunes. Comments and suggestions welcome.

Operating system: Windows 7 (on my home PC); OS X (laptop and office computer); Android (on my phone).

Bibliographic database:

I switched to Zotero from EndNote in February 2016. I use Zotero Standalone as well as the Firefox add-on. As Zotero matured, its advantages (excellent data acquisition, superior keyword management, free and open source, excellent web server sync and sharing, better data import/export, etc.) overwhelmed the small number of features where EndNote could still be said to have an edge.

Encryption:

I once used PGP when it was free. Currently looking for other solutions.

File synchronization:

For a long time I tried to keep all my files based on just a single system, aside from backups. But it makes much more sense to keep mirrored copies of critical folder trees on each computer in use, as well as on a server drive. Careful synchronization then becomes a must. I use Syncovery.

Password management:

KeePass is free, open-source, thoughtfully done — in short, lovable.

Photo utility:

Irfanview has long been an impressive freeware utility for photo viewing and basic editing and format conversion. Note in particular the batch processing functions, e.g. for resampling or renaming a large number of photos or image files at once.

Text editor:

Sublime Text 3 won me over. I like the clean GUI, customizability, and the excellent selection of third-party plug-ins. I also use EditPad Pro.

Statistics: Stata 14

Web browser:

Firefox, with these add-ons: NoScript, for self-defense against malicious code; Flashblock, for getting control over the visual cacophony that many sites throw at you, and Xmarks, for effortlessly synchronizing bookmarks among different computers.

Also, Chrome, for interfacing with the world of Google: Contacts, Calendar, Documents, etc.

Word processor:

I was a WordPerfect dead-ender, cherishing the memories of versions 4.2 and 5.1, which got me through college. The realities of academic publishing and collaboration, along with the need to work with Chinese-language material, made me reluctantly switch to Word. As I learned more about it, and particularly since installing Word 2007 and Word 2010, I came to embrace its paragraph-based, object-oriented ways. For those not already familiar with Word's finer points and the efficient but widely neglected styles feature, definitely see Shauna Kelly's site, and also the MVP site.

Miscellaneous utilities:

Speedfan for monitoring system temperatures