Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
October 18, 2008 2:14 PM

The 10 Things You Need For Your Computer

There are certain programs, applications and tools that no computer should be without.

If you are interested in Marketing (and let's go beyond the basics, like Google Reader, etc...), here are 10 things you need for your computer:

1. Windows Live Writer.
If you Blog, this is one of the better applications to get the job done. You can work offline, save drafts and insert all kinds of multimedia. Once you're set-up, you can also see how the post will look when it's live and you can even publish to the Web directly from the software package. The best functionality is the link manager. Once you assign a URL to a specific keyword, all you have to do it highlight it in future posts and the link will be automatically inserted. This saves tons of time and makes linking the pleasure it should be. Windows Live Writer is free.

2. Google Chrome.
Whether you use Internet Explorer or Firefox as your web browser, it's always good to have more than one on your system (especially if you travel - wireless networks can be fussy depending on the web browser). Google Chrome is an excellent new web browser. It's light and - most importantly - it's fast. Google Chrome is free.

3. CastBlaster.
CastBlaster is probably one of the only reasons why I have not switched from a PC to a Mac. This Podcasting production software is awesome. It enables you to record live and - if you have ever worked in the radio space - acts just like the standard radio board. After reviewing the short video demo, you should be up and audio recording in no time flat. CastBlaster costs $50 but there is a limited freeware version.

4. Audacity.
Still in the audio production sphere, Audacity is a fully-functional audio editing software package. For most audio hobbyists, Audacity seems to do it all. Granted, you don't have the complete flexibility that a pro audio packages offer, but Audacity is still the gold standard for most audio Podcasters. Audacity is free.

5. Reshade.
Reshade is an image resizer. If you give presentations and you grab images off the Web, you are probably rarely impressed with the quality of the picture. Blowing them up in software like PowerPoint usually just creates a very blurry and pixelated result. Reshade takes those images and turns them into great quality. Don't create your next presentation without Reshade. Reshade costs $75.

6. Levelator.  
Do you record audio interviews and find a huge discrepancy in volume between between your voice and the person you're interviewing? Is there sometimes way too much background noise? Without a clue how it works, The Levelator takes your .wav file and levels all of the audio magically by simply dragging and dropping your file into this program. The Levelator is free.

7. Google Analytics.
What's the point of having a website or Blog if you don't have some kind of web analytics tool on it? It's shocking to hear how many people have a Blog but don't have any form of analytics package on it to track visitors, where they came from, where they went, what they did, for how long, etc... There are many great (and expensive) web analytics packages out there, but Google Analytics will take you quite far (and it's free). Yahoo also offers a free package called, Yahoo! Web Analytics (formerly IndexTools) and Microsoft also offers a free package called, Gatineau (not sure if this is fully-functional or not yet).

8. Delicious.
Why on earth would you ever bookmark anything to your web browser? Delicious is an online social bookmarking and networking site that allows you to save, tag and share any type of content. Delicious has tons of functionality and you'll quickly realize that there's nothing like being able to find the content you have saved from any computer in the world. Delicious is free and is web-based (so you don't have to install any software on your computer, though it is highly recommended to add on to your web browser the Delicious buttons. This way you can tag and save with one click).

9. Easy HR Count Down Timer.
Another awesome presentation tool. Easy HR Count Down Timer enables you to post a count down timer on top of your PowerPoint presentation (or any software for that matter). How many times have you been presenting to a group and took a 15 minute break only to have people traipse in five minutes late? Now, everyone in your session is able to see, exactly, how much time is left until the session begins again. You can fully customize the time with a headline, alarm sound and - obviously - you can set your chosen time. Easy HR Count Down Timer is $20.

10. Logitech Presenter.
The Logitech Presenter will be your secret weapon. There are other presenter devices available, but this one takes the cake. It has a built in count down timer that gives you a silent vibrate to let you know when you have five minutes left and another one when your selected time is up (never go over your allotted time again). The grip feels great and the USB receiver slides into the top of the device, making it extremely compact. You no longer have to stand at a podium and be tethered to your laptop clicking the spacebar for the next slide. The Logitech Presenter will turn the power and attention of your presentation back to where it matters most - you. The Logitech Presenter is $89 and is the only piece of hardware on this list for a reason.

What are some of the software, applications and tools for your computer that you can't live without?

(note: I have no affiliation to any of the stuff mentioned above and none of the links are affiliate programs that I know of. These are simply some of the things I love. This post was inspired by this article on Slate's The Big Money: The 18 Things You Need for Your Computer)

By Mitch Joel