Well I have had my new laptop for 6 days now and have it about 90% the way I want it, a few more tweaks here or there. No I am just adjusting settings and trying out a few more programs that I used to use or have found during the switch to see how they work for me.
So how have I loaded up this new laptop to meet my needs?
Desktop – First and foremost I had to setup the desktop to meet my preferences, which meant putting the taskbar on the left side on auto-hide and using Fences to organize what remains there. I do like the weather and time being right on the desktop for when I want to quickly see them. Yes it is pretty similar to how I had my Mac, but I like it and it works for me.
Eventually I will get around to changing the background, but that is a pretty low priority item.
Browser: I pretty much live in the browser, with a few notable exceptions and it came down to Chrome or Firefox as my primary browser. After trying both out on Windows7, I concluded that Chrome does everything that that I want from a browser and is much more stable in Win7 than it was on my Mac. So I went with Chrome, with IE9 as my backup browser – too many browser choices mean getting distracted about which one to use and bouncing around between them too much.
Productivity (email, calendar, to-do list, contact list) – I surprised myself here, I thought that I would just continue with Google’s offerings, but when I took a closer look at Window Live Mail, I came away very impressed with how much it has improved over the past 3 years. I started to use the Windows Live Mail program more and have really liked how it was integrated and syncs to the cloud. The only thing it is missing is the To-do List for the desktop version to sync the online todo lists too – once it gets that capability, it will do pretty much what I want it to do. I even started using my Hotmail account again .
Office Suite (word processing, spreadsheet, slideshow) – Another surprise. I am doing a combination routine and I really love the results so far. My primary is Microsoft Office 2007 (I had a copy laying around from before my Mac adventure) and I use Google’s Cloud Connect to Google Docs – which I really like and everything syncs up automatically. Maybe later I will start to use Microsoft’s cloud version of Office in SkyDrive, if I upgrade to Office 2010, but until then, this is working quite well for me.
Twitter – I am using the old version of TweetDeck pre-Twitter HTML5 version, which to be blunt – I think the new version totally sucks, compared to the version I am using now. I understand why Twitter is attempting to “update” away from Adobe Air and all that, but they took what I considered to be a great product and made it so I wouldn’t use it, without a lot of whining and bitching about the things I can’t do with it.
Blogging – I am able to get back to the best blog writer out there: Windows Live Writer. It has changed a lot since I last really used it, so I am having a bit of a learning curve coming back to it. That really doesn’t matter to me, I really, really like having the ability to use Windows Live Writer again .
Note taking – I had a difficult choice here M/S OneNote or Evernote, both are powerful and do everything that I want. However, it came down to that I can access Evernote on just about any platform and I have been successfully using it over the past few years. So I decided to stay with something I know pretty well. However, I do have OneNote loaded, so that if I need it, I can use it and access some notebooks that I created in the past.
Photos – Windows Live Photo Gallery with its connection to SkyDrive was very tempting, but I have been using Picasa for several years, have a pretty good idea of what it does and have most of my photos backed up to the online version, so I just stuck with it as my primary photo application for now. I still haven’t figured out if I like how it connects to Google + or not yet.
Music – iTunes by protest. As much as I bitch and moan about how bloated iTunes is, I still have my old iPhone and I have to use iTunes, if I want to manage that device. Windows Media Player works for everything else, but iTunes will be my primary music tool for a while. Unless someone wants to send me a new unlocked Windows Phone to test and then review , how it works for me as a runner.
PDF Reader, etc. – This was the biggest thing that I had to figure out during my change back to Windows, there is not really a native print to PDF or scan to PDF so I had to find some software that performed those functions:
PDF24 seems to have fixed this for me and so far is working very well. It does a lot of other stuff too, so maybe as I learn more about it and become comfortable with its functions, I will use it in lieu of some of the other PDF programs I have been looking at.
The other hurdle finding a freeware scan to PDF that actually works and isn’t bloatware/malware is proving much more difficult. This might be one of those pieces of software that I have to bite the bullet and pay for. I have been using 30 day trial version of Softi Scan to PDF and it has worked OUTSTANDING! It does everything I want intuitively, quickly without lots of B.S. while it is creating a PDF for you.
I am not a big Adobe Reader fan and had a license for Nitro PDF software that I really liked when I was using it, unfortunately it was for a 32 bit machine and my new Dell is a 64 bit machine, so it didn’t work so well and I am still in cheap as possible mode so buying a new license was out – for now.
I looked at some other free PDF Reader options and decided on Foxit Reader and a PDF24 combination. We will see how it goes and I still might end up purchasing a Nitro 64 bit license down the road a ways, if I find that I actually need it. Unless I can get a super deal on the Adobe Professional software (free would be nice) – which I do like, but is out of my budget, even though I downloaded their 30 day trial version.
Utilities – For right now, I am running Windows Defender (wasn’t paying for Norton or anything else), CCleaner (I will be downloading Glary Utilities over the next couple of days to compare the two), Secunia to keep my software up to date and Revo Uninstaller to get rid of all the crapware that came installed on my Dell.
No, I am not done tweaking my new Dell and will be looking at different software that can do what I want better than what I am using now. However, I no longer have that sense of “having” to get my laptop setup, I can use it just fine – as is.
Coming back to Windows has been a bit of a learning curve, but after only 6 days, I am very comfortable with how far I have come and how quickly I am remembering some of the geeky things that I used to do on Windows7 before my Mac experiment.
If you have any software suggestions (freeware is better on my budget right now), that I should be trying/using and missed – I am open to hearing your recommendations and looking at how I can incorporate them into my routines.
All in all, I can honestly say that I am glad to be back to Windows. Hell I am even getting used to right-clicking again and a real delete key, instead of CMD + Backspace and PgUp/PgDn/Home and End keys.