I've been thinking about writing some more useful blogs in the coming months, mostly centered around some of the things that I've come across that are worthy of a mention, a review or a closer look at.
I'd like to start this trend by posting about some of the programs that have saved me from certain failure, really cool tools that everyone should have, and tools that made the job simpler when times were getting a bit stressful with a PC problem or photography problem.
So I have a little bit of IT in my background, I'd like to say "who doesn't" when it comes to technical arts such as photography and video producing. The programs listed below are purely for the PC/Windows photographers around us. Those that know you don't have to drop a $1000 premium to get the same thing on a mac ;)
If you have any to add, I'd love to hear what it is and your review in the comments below!
"DisplayFusion will make your multi-monitor life much easier. With powerful features like Multi-Monitor Taskbars, TitleBar Buttons and fully customizable Functions, DisplayFusion will make managing your multiple monitors painless"
I cannot live without this one! Which is also why I have put it first!
I run a triple-screen setup here on my processing workstation. It helps that I can have a different toolbar on each screen and tailor the apps that show on each one. Display Fusion lets you do that. It also lets you customise the image on each screen, plus all the usual things like screensaver, windows login screen, performance of screens, orientation and the lot. There's so much to make the Windows user experience much, much better, especially if you have more than one screen.
Cost: Free (though the paid version is for life and is wonderful!)
"Opanda IExif is a professional Exif viewer in Windows / IE / Firefox, From a photographer's eye, It displays the image taken from digital camera and every item of EXIF data in the image from beginning to end. "
The beauty of this simple program is that, if you take a frame on your DSLR that is set to Jpeg, you can get the actuation count (number of times the shutter has opened and closed to expose a shot) which is useful if you need to know for warranty, selling your camera etc.
Those who wish to do more exif tinkering can get some of the editors available by this same developer, although it becomes chargeable.
Cost: Free (freeware)
Operating Systems: XP, Vista, Windows 7, 8 and 10 (compatibility modes may be required)
Hard Disk Sentinel
"Hard Disk Sentinel (HDSentinel) is a multi-OS SSD and HDD monitoring and analysis software. Its goal is to find, test, diagnose and repair hard disk drive problems, report and display SSD and HDD health, performance degradations and failures."
Hard drives are our biggest worries when it comes to storing large amounts of images. You need to know how old your drive is, how long it's "ON" time has been and how it's fairing in terms of health. Use Hard Disk Sentinel to monitor your drives and plan for replacing them before it's too late.
Recuva (Memory card and hardware data recovery)
"Recuva can recover pictures, music, documents, videos, emails or any other file type you’ve lost. And it can recover from any rewriteable media you have: memory cards, external hard drives, USB sticks and more!"
You don't necessarily need to pay for SanDisks' Recovery Pro unless you know what else is out there.
It should be noted that this is a last-ditch option to recover lost files and accidently erased memory cards. You will have to refer to the online guide that details how to use it exactly, but I have found it to be a great utility to take travelling with me.
Cost: Free - though a paid version has more features and options for recovery.
I had to give Audacity a shout in here. It's so simple to use and so effective if you are looking to record any kind of spoken audio into your computer for use in videos and presentations.
This is a Microsoft product! A very well kept secret too, it's a pretty useful one for us PC people who hate running backups to other drives.
SyncToy makes it really super simple, and allows you to have multiple backups to different folders saved as quick-runs.
While any backing up is a chore, select the "Contribute" mode to keep filling up a drive with new data, instead of erasing one or looking for like-like copies.
While not a strictly-PC-only tool, Hemmingway makes writing simple. If you really suck at grammar and punctuation, browse to the website or download the app and input what you've drafted. Hemmingway will show you where your sentences are too long or your grammar incorrect. It basically makes your writing easier to read, and makes it look like you know your stuff.
Cost: Always free!
"Install and Update All Your Programs at Once. No toolbars. No clicking next. Just pick your apps and go."
Have you ever been through the horror of losing a drive or having to find software to reinstall or fix? Ninite has your back. Just select what you want and download the exe (executable). Everything you wanted will be in a prepared download and ready to go. Saves time, effort and pulled hair.
Built into Windows 7 and above, the snipping tool is a much easier way of taking screen shots and screen captures much quicker than the old combination of Ctrl+PrtScr or Alt+PrtScr. Simply hit the Windows key and start typing "Snipp--" and windows will find you the Snipping tool. Use it to instantly take a picture and scribble, highlight or copy to the clipboard.