Blog Entry - 7th March 2009 - Programming - General

My Favourite Software Tools

This is a rough work in progress list of favourite utility software (some only for Windows), which I intend to update from time to time.

There is also the excellent Portable Apps which has a rich library of applications.



Natural Voice Reader

Superb voice reading software, with very fluid and realistic voices.



Plug-in for the Firefox browser, which lets you capture audio being played through a web site as MP3 files.

Sound Tap

Another similar type of application, but more general, capturing any sound played through your computer's speakers. When using this you may need to disable other audio devices (e.g. built in microphones) as they may conflict.



Useful utility for extracting sound files from CD Roms, and also converting WAV to MP3.


Great utility for general audio file conversions supporting many different formats.



Long standing general audio file editor.

Wave Pad

Equivalent, and slightly more powerful, audio editing software, which comes in a free basic version, and a paid-for professional version.




Comprehensive free database. A new simplified version is also in development I read.

SQL Lite

Simpler database engine.



The W3's test browser which is also an XML (SVG, MathML etc) editor.

Dynamic Java

A fabulous way of learning Java. This program interprets Java as if it were a script language, so no compilation step required.

Hex Editor

Occasionally useful hex editor, particularly if you are playing around with character encodings and want to check the individual byte values of the files you are generating.


Text editor, with many simple useful features.



Great free FTP solution.

HTML Packagers


Neat application to package your HTML and JavaScript files into an executable which has no security restrictions.


A simple way to treat web pages as separate applications.



The language for writing dynamic web pages (unless you are into ASP.NET or Java Server Pages), with vast and powerful supporting librariers. Interesting to see how it an the newer Aptana Jaxer will co-exist.



The great free web server you can install on your own PC for web site testing.

MoWES Portable

A fantastic package which creates for you a portable web-server on a memory stick. Packages up Apache, MySQL and PHP. Saves all the trouble of installing Apache, MySQL and PHP independently and linking them up. Really quick and simple to use.

Note that in Vista you need to run httpd.exe and mowes.exe in Windows XP (Service Pack 2) compatibility mode otherwise it has been noted that crashes may occurr. You also need to ensure that any other services that use port 80 (e.g. if you already have Apache and MySql installed on your computer which are running as a service) switched off.



Bat Stats

Accurate battery statistics for your EEE PC.



Control the noisy fan of your eee pc.


Loan Calculators

Dual Calc

Excellent loan calculator, although with the Consumer Credit Directive around the corner, you should be looking out for updated versions in the near future.

File Management



Compare differences between two text files.


Undelete Plus

A reasonable free file recovery tool.



Great utility for quickly synchronising folders, such as between your hard disk and memory stick. Be careful about synchronising between different file systems / timezones.



Irfan View

Excellent feature packed image processing software. I particularly like it for the batch resize / reformat functions.



Flash Get

Sometimes enables file download at a rate which is about double that of the download speeds obtained through a browser.

Mobile Phone


Opera Mini

Beautiful piece of software and service from Opera for your mobile phone, enabling you to surf fully rendered web pages through a tiny screen. The web pages are rendered on Opera's servers and then delivered to your mobile in a compact format.



A great utility which enables you to back-up and manage your Sony Ericsson mobile phone via bluetooth, including address lists, texts, media files etc. You just nead to learn how to connect your phone to your computer via bluetooth (involves setting up each as a device on the other, and creating a shared passcode).

Sony Ericsson PC Suite

Improved version of their PC based moble phone management software. Still not quite as good as MyPhoneExplorer, but close. However it does provide essential functionality to enable you to use your phone as an internet modem to the GPRS and 3G elements of the GSM network, if you have a mobile internet service package.

Use as a Modem

Sony Ericsson PC Suite

Provides essential functionality to enable you to use your phone as an internet modem to the GPRS and 3G elements of the GSM network, if you have a mobile internet service package.



True Crypt

Software for creating whole disk volumes as single encrypted files. Includes a portable version of the application for your memory stick. Really simple and powerful, but watch out for the setting that auto-dismounts volumes on standby.



Software for more securely erasing senstitive personal files. Be careful when using erase on files in the recyle bin as I have noted it can have unwanted side effects.



Virtual Box

Excellent free virtualisation software.



Download Helper

Plug-in for Firefox to capture video being played through your browser. Direct install into your browser.


Pazera FLV to AVI

Useful converter for flash video files.



Flash Movie Player

Simple player for flash movie files (.flv). Useful in conjunction with Download Helper above.

Appian Flash Movie Player

Another simply player for flash movie files (.flv).

Word Processing


Microsoft Word

Software I still appreciate for the powerful programmable object model, letting you create sophisticated custom commands and functions.

The only let down is the inflexibility of new ribbon user interface for your amateur power user. I like the idea, but not the lack of flexibility to customise it. If you are using several commands at once, you cannot put them conveniently next to each other; you have to navigate each time to the relevant ribbon. Previous versions of Word let you customise the interface really easily, so that Word became a tool which you enjoyed working closely with. Now I don't enjoy it as much. Do Microsoft dislike power users? The user who is also a programmer and is capable of using every element of Word, but is not skilled enough / does not have the tools to start creating their own XAML?


Text editor, with many simple useful features.


Microsoft Office Document Imaging

Well hidden but useful application that comes bundled in the "tools" part of Microsoft Office. Basic but effective OCR functionality. Brilliant tool, when you need to get something out of a locked PDF. Print or copy as TIFF images and then run it through the OCR; simple.


Adobe Acrobat

Expensive but powerful PDF creator. Extremely useful for merging multiple documents into a single PDF. I use it to create signature copies of commercial agreements, incorporating schedules, tender documents etc.


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