My Favourite Software for 2008

I thought I’d end the year not with anything deeply philosophical, but with that thing all bloggers love: a list! In this case, a list of my favourite software finds for 2008, for your downloading enjoyment. Happy New Year everyone. All the software in this list is free or open source.

1. Evernote

Evernote upped the ante this year with a completely new version that sits on your computer, or phone or pda and syncs effortlessly with the web. Consider it a giant endless roll of notepaper that you can categorise, tag and search to your heart’s content.  Ideal for capturing the setup instructions for your modem, that list of Christmas presents you were meant to buy, screenshots or anything. I have notebooks of recipes, travel ideas, cycling news and lifehacks, but invent your own.

2. ThinkingRock

Only for GTD geeks, this Australian based software uses the ‘Getting Things Done’ system to help create workflows from idea collection, to managing multiple projects. The best GTD software I’ve seen yet.

3. Nexus File Manager

We all know Windows Explorer is no way to manoeuver around files and folders so it must be replaced! For a while this year I used Free Commander and a very nice tool it is. But Nexus File Manager, besides looking all black and green and retro, is a powerful file manage software that can do a host of functions from multiple renaming to moving, pasting, copying, including dual window panes. And it’s all pretty much driven by keyboard shortcuts. So, put the mouse away and never open Windows Explorer again.

4. Quick Media Converter

This converts most media to other media types; simply and quickly. The other day I wanted to extract some audio from a youtube video and this did it with ease.

5. Net Usage Extension for Firefox

In Australia broadband accounts are generally capped, usuallyon a monthly basis, with plans like this.  So, to survive this heinous situation I found a Firefox Extension which keeps a tab on yur broadband usage, literally. It sits in the menu bar and gives a percentage figure on how the allocated amount is going.

New tools and software

It’s about this time of year that we look again at the software list for next year’s notebook image; what’s new and should be on student and teacher computers, and what is no longer doing the job. I keep a bit of a list on a page here called Essential Software, which I must update soon.

Meanwhile, in my thinking about software I’ve found several new things lately that I’ve begun to use on a daily basis. If you find a tool that you use daily, and does things better or more easily than you could before, then that’s useful. So, here’s some new things that I’ve found useful:

Free Commander

Free Commander is a freeware file management tool that replaces the explorer in Windows (did I mention that these are all Windows tools?) and featuring a split-pane for moving and copying files around, and a bunchof powerful functions including bulk-renaming of files. It’s on the desktop for good!


I’ve always resisted password management software because I’ve always feared losing the key! But it’s got to the stage now where every web 2.0 site out there requires logins and passwords and managing them becomes a chore. Keeping them in a text file somewhere isn’t secure. Imagine having your computer stolen with your password list sitting in a text file somewhere? Keepass is open-source, freeware and works beautifully and simply, with the ability to categorise passwords as well as copy from the program into the browser fields directly.


I’ve blogged about Evernote a couple of times, most recently HERE, where I talked about my fears of cloud computing. And I wasn’t convinced about the new version when it cam out.  I liked the old desktop version and was worried how the new version, with its online component, would distort that simplicity. However, after about six weeks of using it, it’s becoming THE place to gather snippets and fragments and notes, to ‘remember everything’ as they say.  It’s easy to have multiple notebooks in the one large ‘notebook’ so I’ve got notebooks for ‘curriculum’, ‘teaching’ ‘bikes’ etc. all of which can be easily searched and ‘tagged’ and which can be synched with an online site of your notes, accessible anywhere.

So, three tools, that are new for me, and that I now use daily.