Browser: Opera. Many still use internet explorer, but many have switched to firefox. I'd suggest giving opera a try. They made it free a few months ago, and it's gone through some heavy development since. It's quite easily the fastest browser out there, and doesn't have some of the memory issues that have plagued FF since 1.0. Some people will recommend using firefox for ecommerce though, so I'm assuming the encryption on opera might not quite be up to spec? Don't quote me on that.
Archived files: 7 Zip. Tired of needing winrar, winace and winzip to deal with all the archives out there? 7zip will take care of everything, it's fast and light, and best of all: free.
Media player: Zoom Media Player. Way faster than that peice of crap windows media player (who wants all that crap to load just to want a video?). Skinnable, and it will play damn near anything if you downloaded the recommended codecs that it warns you that you don't have when it first loads. Just click the links, download and install everything, and you shouldn't ever have a problem with a video not playing again.
Finally, the creme de la creme. Ran across this little tip a while back, and its a godsend. Only for those using XP, so if you're running 9x… well… what the hell is wrong with you? It's slightly more involved than simply installing a program, but not much. Make a new file in notepad, (right-click somewhere, new text document) and rename it to whateveryouwant.bat (the .bat part being the important part). I suggest putting this either in your my documents, or even in your root C:\. Now right-click on it, and click edit. Paste this in:
@echo off echo All Idle Processes Are Currently Being Processed. echo Please Wait…. Rundll32.exe advapi32.dll,ProcessIdleTasks cls echo All Idle Processes Have Been Processed. pauseSave it. Now make a shortcut to this file, and put it somewhere nice (ie. start menu, quicklaunch bar, desktop). Right-click and go to properties, change the icon to something nice (I chose the green triangle 'play' button, since it lets my computer run again).
Now, what does this shortcut do? I'll save you the technobabble, but essentially what this is for is whenever you want to run something intensive (the definition of which is different depending on what your computer is… for some, even playing a divx movie is intensive, but for most, playing a game or doing heavy graphic/video work is the most intensive), you run this first. It'll pop up a dos window and tell you to wait. It takes 1-5min depending on what needs to be done, then tell you to press any key, which will close the dos window. Your computer should now be far more responsive. You don't need to stop using your computer entirely while this is going on, although that will slow the process down somewhat. I wouldn't recommend doing something really heavy while this is going on though.
This has essentially replaced the need for a reboot for me. If you're about to play a game that usually stretches your computer to the limit, you often need to restart beforehand to get the most out of your comp. Now, just run this in the background and keep surfing the web, then when it's done you can start your game.
Hope this helps someone.
PDFs: Fox-it reader.
Thanks, I forgot to mention foxit earlier. I've never had a pdf display problem with it, but it smokes adobe's pig of a display program in terms of performance. If you have to look at pdf's on older machines, or even a lot of pdfs on a newer machine, take a look at this program.
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