Things wot I like

Fresh from the presses, here’s a grab bag of stuff fresh from my things I like pile. Consider this a little piece of kudos to them all.

Firefox Add-ons
When it comes to browsers, I prefer Opera. But when it comes to the whole browsing experience, I’ve grown to favour Firefox, and that’s all down to add-ons. While Opera is smaller, faster, lighter, smarter and more keyboard-user friendly (yay for using Z and X to go forward and backward through web pages!), it’s Firefox which gets it right when it comes to overall functionality. There’s only a handful of add-ons that I use, but my forays with Google Chrome make it clear I miss ’em like crazy when it comes to day-to-day surfing. By comparison, Opera’s Widgets are just too gimmicky for my liking. When it’s ready for the prime time, Chrome looks like it’ll have the best of both worlds – Opera-like size and speed, and Firefox-like extensions. Nice. Until then, here’s the add-ons which rock my Firefox world.

Find the links yourself. I’m lazy.

Delicious Bookmarks: Control-D to save pages I like into my Delicious feed, which then drop into my blog sidebar for all to see. I love me some global bookmarking systems, especially when they’re so zero brain to use as this.
Download Statusbar: Replaces the ugly as sin default Firefox download box with a small bar at the bottom of your screen making it easy to see how your downloads are going while you surf. Right click to remove completed downloads and the whole thing disappears automatically if there’s nowt in the queue. Again, unobtrusiveness for the win.
Gmail Notifier: This one needs no introduction, surely. When I get mail, it tells me I got mail. Wowee!
Hide Menubar: LOVE this one! Gets rid of the menubar until you press the ALT key. Press it again, it goes away. This means more screen estate for actual useful stuff (and less useful stuff too) without losing an ounce of functionality. Or whatever it is that functionality is measured in.
Twitterfox: Another zero-brainer. A twitter icon that talks to me from the bottom of my screen. I can talk back too. What’s not to love?

(and if you use Internet Explorer. Seriously. Don’t.)

This is an entire wiki in a single file that you can use, edit and store locally. Think of it like a very, very clever text file. Kinda like the Stephen Hawking of text files. While we’ve been netless, my little TiddlyWiki has been a lifeline; I’ve used it to pre-blog, write program notes, todo lists, store role-playing characters, scenario outlines and much more. Thousands of people use TiddlyWiki every day, and each one probably has a little trick or technique up their sleeves, uses it in some cunning clever way or what not. Just like any other wiki, it’s a doddle to LinkPages (like that, see?), and the markup is designed to be very, very simple to use.

Pure brilliance!

DAZ Studio
I know I keep going on (and on) about DAZ Studio, Rather than repeat myself, check out this earlier post. Tutorial coming soon!

Damn Small Linux
What could you do with 50Mb these days? That’s 10% of a small game demo, 4 RAW images from your digital camera, a quarter of a typical printer driver, or approximately 0.0000000000000000000000001% of all the world’s porn. (Bet I get google hits for ‘all the world’s porn’. Bet I do!)

Instead of all that, why not let a complete, alternative, operating system take up just 50Mb of your disk space instead. Why? ‘Cos it’s fun!

Damn Small Linux takes up just 50Mb, but don’t be fooled. Those times when I’m in XP (usually for DAZ Studio) but need a Real Man’s operating system for coding and development work, DSL is more than up to the task. Alongside the Linux essentials (give me vim and perl, and I shall conquer the world!), there’s also Firefox, a spreadsheet, a rich-text editor, an email client, IM, netphone and much, much more. That 50Mb contains more apps than you get with a clean Vista install, in a billionth the space. For free.

What’s cool though is that it’s possible to run DSL several ways, depending on your needs. The default option is to burn it to a CD and boot from that. If you’ve got more than 128Mb the whole thing loads into memory meaning it’s FAST. DSL is probably the fastest operating system you’ll see on your computer, ever. From there you can install it straight to your hard drive if you want, which makes it blisteringly quick to boot, as well as stunningly quick in use.

But there is another way, and it’s the one I prefer. Rather than create a CD, there’s an embedded version of Damn Small Linux which you can download, extract and run, right from within Windows, in a window. This means you’ve got a pretty damned good Linux system, right there inside Windows for you to use, fiddle with, experiment and learn. That’s perfect for me, because it means I can get on with stuff while DAZ Studio is merrily rendering in the background (I would kill for a Linux version of DAZ Studio!). but also means there’s none of risks involved with letting a Strange and Unfamiliar Operating System tromp all over your precious hard drive.

‘Course, this trick isn’t unique to DSL – several Linux distributions will install straight into a WIndows folder – but none of them fit so much into such a teeny tiny space.

Now it’s your turn. What are the things wot you like?

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