My Software Needs

Now I’ve finally installed a release copy of an operating system, I have to go through the process of installing applications all over again. Here’s a few thoughts on how my software needs have changed.

In the olden days one of the first things on a new computer would have been Winzip. This application allows you to collect and compress files using the popular zip format. I haven’t installed Winzip for a while now, though.

The first thing that’s changed is that there’s no longer nearly as much need to compress data. There’s piles of space on my hard drive. If I want to transfer a big file I burn it onto a CD. The internet is now plenty fast enough to transfer most files in an uncompressed form.

Not only that, but nowadays I’ve no need of specialist software to unzip downloaded files. Windows will do it for me – and has done since Windows XP (I think – it may be earlier). I’m afraid it means I no longer need Winzip.

Compression isn’t dead, however. These days I make far more use of free software. This often comes in a compressed format, for example in RAR form or as a Tarball.

Acrobat Reader has stayed – and is even more useful. I now save my own documents in PDF format to transfer them around. Office 2007 lets me save directly into PDF, whereas before I had used a special printer driver.

The Internet has taken a larger part in my life as well. I transfer lots of data around via FTP and other techniques, using FileZilla. I first installed this only a year or so ago, but now find it indispensible. Putty comes in useful as a Telnet client. The more things I register for online, the more passwords I have. PINs lets me keep track of them all.

Perhaps the most obvious change is in the type of software I use. Now vast amounts come free from open-source developers as opposed to faceless corporations. One day I might even find enough time to improve them or make my own.

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