Essential Software

While I’m waiting for my new (other) monitor to arrive, because I can’t function with just one – I’m reviewing my essential software.

Remember the mind maps way back in the day? I still have them.

The center ‘node’ is called My Computer. It could be called My Documents instead. If you’re using Windows, we all know what that is. The main nodes coming off from that are named according to my 12 main file folders. And each one splits off with more detailed items from there. I don’t see 12 here because maybe a few of them don’t have lists? – blessedly.

Mind Map, FreeMind

As I became more and more overwhelmed, I added a node called ‘Me First’. This is for ‘getting focused against all odds’. When I can’t think clearly and there’s no good excuse for it, I go to the ‘Me First’ list because I assume I was somewhat focused when I created it. But I’m not sure anymore so I also sneak occasional peeks at what’s behind the other nodes.

Next step is to take a few items off the list each day and add them to The Action Machine until the assigned time for each one adds up to 2 or 3 hours total and there’s a plan for the day. I also have to spend a few hours a day working on the photo-restoration project but I can’t totally stop the rest of my life to do that, so it’s a compromise. This really works like magic. Even things I’d rather not look at actually get done if I can block out other things for even 15 minutes at a time.

Two months away from my desktop was not a rest. I did go to bed earlier so that was good, but the work kept piling up and all I could do was watch it happen or add it to FreeMind.

My mainstays are FreeMind and The Action Machine. Tasks and a clock to keep me focused.

I realized the other night I’ve been writing about software for four years and during my ‘vacation’ it became clear that my computer-life had become way too complicated. When it comes down to it this is all I really need:






  • WordPad


To keep things ticking along

That’s a pretty short list of software. And I don’t see a single thing on there for dealing with photographs, so add in Photo Mechanic, ($150) GeoSetter, ExifToolGUI and XnView and I’m there. And of course, TiddlyWiki where the ancestor stories live. And, I confess, I do use Adobe Elements ($99) for its healing brush, although not lately.

As you can see, most everything on this list is free and IMO it’s all excellent software, otherwise it wouldn’t be on my computer. The only thing not worthy to be on the list is the hacked up version of WordPad created for Windows 7, and if anyone knows of something better I’ll take it.

I do have about 60 programs installed in my PortableApps menu, including Audacity, Gimp, WinMerge and various other ones I’ve talked about over time, but most of them don’t get used very often. I run anything I can as portable versions because I hate installing and re- and reinstalling software.

Lest you think I’m taking off for the wild blue I did install Legacy, just in case my cousin in Georgia calls with ancestor updates.

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