As a programmer, I’m pretty picky about what software I use. Why? Because I’m on a computer for most of the day. If I still worked in a factory and I only had to use a computer for watching silly YouTube videos of people getting in accidents, life would be a lot different.
I wanted to compile a list of my favorite programs and try to explain why I like them. You can click the title of each program below to visit the home page where you’ll get more information / screenshots.
Microsoft Visual Studio
I love Visual Studio. You can get the express editions of the software (which are fully featured) for free.
I remember learning how to write C++ on Mac OS 7 using a pirated copy of CodeWarrior 5 because I was a teenager and I couldn’t afford a legit copy. When I started college in 1999, I had already switched to PC and used my academic discount and bought Visual Studio 6 for about $150, which I thought was a bargain at the time. Now it’s free which is amazing.
To help put things in perspective, I created this website and every piece of software on the “Projects” tab of my web site using Visual Studio. If you want to learn programming on Windows, go download it.
I seriously hate FireFox. It takes like 30 seconds to start up, it has horrible memory leaks, and it crashes a lot. Those reasons aside, I think the name is just plain stupid. The only thing I did like about FireFox (being a web developer) is the Firebug extension.
I was a hardcore IE user for years until Chrome came out. I even used IE on Macintosh up until version 4 (about when I switched to PC). With Google behind it, I figured I’d give Chrome a try and ended up loving it. I like how unobtrusive the browser is; it has a minimalistic feel to it. I’ve never had it crash. I keep my browser instances and tabs open for days, sometimes weeks.
(Linux people, feel free to insert a joke here about how Windows can’t go that long without a reboot)
I’ll be honest, I don’t really care about a browser’s rendering engine or which has a “better” implementation of CSS. I like using software that works. Period. Any web developer knows that you’re going to have to test your work on every browser anyways; you don’t have to pick the most standards compliant one as your favorite. Chrome uses the WebKit engine which is essentially the same as what’s in Safari. I still have to go back and use IE sometimes for sites that won’t work in Chrome but that doesn’t happen often.
As far as FTP clients go on Windows, this is about the best you’re going to find. There’s not much more to say other than it’s free and it works great. Before I found this in 2002, I used a piece of crap FTP program some of you might remember called LeechFTP.
I’ve spent a lot more of my time on IRC than I’d like to admit. I first got involved with IRC on Macintosh in 1994. I used a complete garbage client called Ircle. None of my real life friends were interested in computer programming so I turned to the internet to meet people that were into C++. I learned most of what I know about programming by hanging around for years in #C and #C++ on EFNET.
mIRC is hands down the best client out there. I wrote my own client at one point using MASM (as a learning exercise) and although it worked, it sucked. I got sick of seeing the authors face pop up so I actually paid the shareware fee. It’s been worth every cent, although I don’t go on IRC as much anymore.
It’s getting to the point where everything has a password. Want to post a comment on someone’s blog or forum? You’ll probably need to sign up and have another user/password that you’ll almost guaranteed forget as soon as you click the submit button.
I started using this program to keep track of all my passwords because it seriously got out of control. I have the program open now and there are over 80 passwords entered in here that I actively use. I like to think I’m a smart guy but because the password rules are different on every website you can’t use the same password on everything (and even if you could, it’s a horrible idea from a security perspective).
An 8-12 character password with 3 uppercase letters, 2 symbols, and that isn’t close to my last 9 passwords? I have a hard enough time remembering what I ate for lunch yesterday.