I created this page as an ongoing ‘shopping list’ of software I think should be on a student notebook computer. I looked at it again today (4/10/2012 ) after a bit of a break and it sure has dated somewhat again.  I’m not even sure anymore that it’s about software at all! So, I’ll be thinking about whether this page should go completely, or whether it’s really about Apps now!

In any case, this is software I think is really useful. To see what I used to think, click HERE

ms office (with publisher + onenote)

onenote has been the interesting new thing here. I don’t know how long publisher can keep hanging in there, but onenote did catch the attention of the students who have begun using it to organise their notes. OneNote remains the one thing I would miss if I had to move to the Apple platform. I’d love a Mac version.


ye olde concept map maker. I think this program has stalled a bit in recent years, and hasn’t come along fast enough. Its tablet functionality is limited. Other program, some more specifically tailored to argument making and reasoning, such as Rationale, are coming along in this area.

adobe acrobat reader

You need to have it, even if it’s very little fun.

google earth

fantastic program, but we haven’t seen the best of the educational applications of this program yet. I’m amazed that this works on my ipod touch!

adobe photoshop elements

This is powerful video editing at a good price, but wouldn’t you think there would be something between this and picasa below? I’m not sure how many students, other than students working in senior school visual arts, need the layering functionality of this program and even things that should be simple, like resizing, become overly complex. I’ve tried ACDSee and it’s quite intuitive, but at $69US too much for too little?


I love the album creation facility of picasa and the simple editing features, but is the fact the the original files aren’t actually edited a feature or a complication? Intuitively, I’d expect that if I applied a ‘red eye fix’ and then clicked apply, I’d think I was actually saving that change, but email that file from outside Picasa and you’ll find it hasn’t been changed, or cropped, or rotated…


One piece of software students you can guarantee that students will be using daily. The ease of importing podcasts is the great educational selling point of this inclusion I think.

I’ve had a look at Sony Express and Adobe Audition but interface oddities aside, this is free and effective open source software for recording audio, particularly voice.


the metaphor is an endless roll of digital tape you can copy bits of information to; categorisable, searchable information. Version 2.0 (in beta) has some nice new features. I use this almost exclusively to grab snippets off the web. I love it!, especially not it’s got Stacks.

image resizer

Another Microsoft power toy that probably should have been built into the operating system. Just right-click on the file and you have options to resize it in multiple sizes, while keeping the original image intact. Still handy!


My find of 2006! Some people can’t see the attraction; some love it. They say: ‘Launchy is a free windows utility designed to help you forget about your start menu, the icons on your desktop, and even your file manager. Launchy indexes the programs in your start menu and can launch your documents, project files, folders, and bookmarks with just a few keystrokes!’ Still in daily use!


Free little, shortcut maker. I’ve moved to PhraseExpress as the newest versions of ShortKeys isno longer free.


I got on to this in Japan, when I bought some credit and was able to call home for a lot less. Now I use it a lot to send SMS messages for 11c, rather than what THREE charge me, which is about twice that. Even my mum uses it now, which is scary.


My backup option of choice. I have an external three external hard drives and backup my data to it once a week daily using syncback. It’s freeware, quick and customisable. They say: ‘SyncBack is our freeware program that helps you easily backup and synchronise your files to: the same drive; a different drive or medium (CDRW, CompactFlash, etc); an FTP server; a Network; or a Zip archive.’

Windows 7 has added to the complexity of backing, with its libraries. I actually need FOUR backups to run, Documents, Videos, Music and Pictures. Ugh.

vlc media player

An open source dvd player. They say ‘VLC media player is a highly portable multimedia player for various audio and video formats (MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX, mp3, ogg, …) as well as DVDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols. It can also be used as a server to stream in unicast or multicast in IPv4 or IPv6 on a high-bandwidth network.’

Still in daily use!

First written: 3/9/2007

Annotated: 6/2/11 and again 4/10/2012 


3 thoughts on “software

  1. vey nice, i use and have a lot of this on my school computer, and ive read your aritcal on the iPad and school, i think i may swich to that when i can aford it. If i get the iPad from the school, they may not let me get Apps for my use.

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