Very Useful Computer Programs

Anti-Virus (Windows)

Microsoft Security Essentials. (Link to MSE Website)
Free with Genuine Copy of Windows

Notes: MSE isn't as competent as catching viruses as NOD32 or other “pay per year” anti-virus programs, but you won't need professional grade anti-virus programs unless you're deliberately going to the bad corner of the internet (porn, warez, etc).

Disc Burning (Windows)

CDBurnerXP (Link to CDBurnerXP Website)
Freeware
(Screenshot)

Notes: Burns CDs, DVDs, Blu Rays and HD-DVDs with much more granularity and control then allowed with Windows 7's built in burning software. If there's one complaint I have about it; it's that it is very slow in adding very large numbers of files to a disc image – e.g. if you are backing up a directory that contains 12,000 files onto a DVD, it's going to take a bit before all of the files show up in CDBurnerXP's folder tree view. Other than that, I really have no complaints with it.

Macro Recorder/Player (Windows)

AutoHotKey (Link to AutoHotKey Website)
Freeware

Notes: A very useful program that allows you to create your own hotkeys that execute a pre-programmed sequence of actions when that key is pressed. For example; here is a AHK script that I created in a couple minutes (it took me a bit longer than that actually, since it was my first AHK script ever).

$F9::
Loop 1000
{
         Send {PrintScreen}
         Sleep 1300
         Send {PgDn}
         Sleep 1300
}

What it does, is when the script is loaded and F9 is pushed; it pushes PrintScreen, waits 1.3 seconds, then pushes PageDn, waits 1.3 seconds, and then loops back to the beginning, until it has done the sequence 1,000 times.

Another script is

$F9::
{
Send {backspace}
Send {space}
}

This script sends the backspace button, then the spacebar; it's useful to eliminate hard divisions in recently OCRed documents.

Graph Digitizer (Windows)

GetData Graph Digitzer (Link to GetData's website)
Trial Period, $30 to Register

Notes: What this does, is you load a graphic image of a graph into it; set some variables, and it extracts the data in that graph in tabular form. Very useful if you deal with a lot of scientific equations that reference graphs...like Glasstone's “Effects of Nuclear Weapons”.

Icon Maker (Windows)

IcoFX (Link to IcoFX Website)
Freeware

Notes: Allows you to make modern windows icons.

System Internals (Windows)

(Link to Sysinternals Website)
Freeware

Notes: More of a collection of various utilities than any one specific utility. Quite useful for someone who has to maintain a large amount of computers, etc.

Disk Piecharter (Windows)

Piechart Disk (Link to Piechart Disk Website)
Freeware (for home), Pay for commercial use
(Screenshot)

Notes: Very useful program that displays disk useage of folders graphically, letting you see which folders, etc are using up the most space. Very useful if you're trying to pad down a folder to under 650 MB or 4 GB for burning onto optical media, and need to find what is driving up the size.

Disk Piecharter (Multiplatform)

JDiskReport (Link to JDiskReport Website)
Freeware
(Screenshots)

Notes: A cross-platform Java based piecharter and disk reporter.

File Compression (Windows)

7-Zip (Link to 7-Zip Website)
Freeware

Notes: Does the job just as well as WinRar, WinZip, etc, and allows much more fine control of how you compress something. My only complaint is that the file manager for navigating inside a compressed archive is not as intuitive as that of WinRar for example.

FTP Program (Windows/Mac OS X/Linux)

Filezilla (Link to Filezilla Website)
Freeware/Open Source

Notes: Does it's job very well and better than many commercial programs like SmartFTP.

Mass File Renaming (Windows)

Rename Master (Link to Rename Master Website) (Download latest version from this website)
(Freeware)
(Screenshot)

Notes: Lets you rename and add increments to file names in one click easily.

Advanced Text Editing (Windows)

Notepad++ (Link to Notepad++ Website)
Freeware

Website Grabber (Windows)

WinHTTrack (Link to WinHTTrack Website)

Notes: Allows you to grab websites for offline reading/storage. Very useful at U.S. Government (NASA/Military) official history websites.

Screenshot Grabber (Windows)

Ultima Online Screenshot Utility (Download it from this Website; 343 kb ZIP)
Freeware
(Screenshot)

Notes: A very simple program that was originally developed to take screenshots in Ultima Online in full screen mode back in 1997-1999, and continues to be useful, even in Windows 7 x64, a decade later!

Hex Editor (Windows)

XVI32 (Link to XVI32 Website)
Freeware
(Screenshot)

Notes: Very good hex editor, for when you need to do down to the level hex editing.

File List Generator (Windows)

LS - File List Generator (Download it from this Website; 46 kb ZIP)
Freeware
(Screenshot)

Notes: Generates a list of files in folders, etc etc. A bunch of useful features abound in it.

Graphing/Equation Finding Program (Windows)

CurveExpert (Link to CurveExpert Website)
Shareware ($45 USD)
(Screenshot)

Notes: Very useful program for finding an equation to represent your data.

Video Capture/Reprocessing Utility (Windows)

VirtualDub (Link to VirtualDub Website)
Freeware
(Screenshot)

Notes: A pretty decent video processing program that works for basic framerate changing, video size rescaling, and with the right plugins, can insert subtitles into the video stream. Incapable of fancy special effects.