I’ve been asked a number of times about applications, web sites, and tools I recommend everyone to use, so I decided today would be a good day to address some of that. I have added the links for those who are interested in more information and download options. Remember this is just a small subset, I’ll revisit this more later, and I encourage you to add your thoughts/recommendations in the comments. So, without further ado, here we go. Also, these are designed for laptop/desktop computing. I’ll post my Android/iOS recommendations in a future post and am happy to take any questions you might have. Trust me, almost nothing is ever truly irrecoverable.
Let’s start with one of my favorite new tools. Have you ever installed a piece of software only to find that your search engine is now set to “goober.com” and your home page is now different? Unchecky is the app for you. It unchecks all of the opt-in screens when you install a piece of software and reports what it blocked for you. This has been a huge timesaver in terms of not having to uninstall or change preferences. You can find it at http://www.majorgeeks.com/files/details/unchecky_beta.html
Next up, I do a lot of remote tech support for friends and family. The tool of choice? TeamViewer. You can find it here. http://www.teamviewer.com Don’t set it up to automatically load at startup, but definitely install it for those times when you need remote support.
I get a lot of questions about being anonymous online. While there are a number of things that can be done to ensure this (to the extent that is possible), here are two web browsers I like for anonymous browsing online. Anonymity has gotten a bad rap with people saying things like, “why worry, if you don’t have anything to hide?” It is always a personal choice, but I prefer the libertarian approach of denying information about me by default and allowing information as I see fit. Anyway, in that vein, I offer the following two browsers for normal use.
The TOR browser was developed from a DARPA project called The Onion Router (TOR), which was designed for anonymity. While it is slow, it is one of the top ways to stay anonymous on the web. Be sure to read the recommendations on how to minimize your online footprint, and, for those of you so inclined, be sure to check out their bootable USB TAILS to see how to be completely anonymous online. Their anonymous browser is called the TOR browser bundle and it can be found at https://www.torproject.org/projects/torbrowser.html.en.
My second favorite browser is the EPIC browser. It does many of the same things the TOR browser does, but it is much faster as it does not go over TOR links (if you are interested, I can give you an in-depth tutorial on TOR, but that is WAY beyond what I want to do here). EPIC can be downloaded at https://www.epicbrowser.com/
The next area is in mind mapping. I think in terms of pictures instead of lists. For me it is difficult to make a list because when I remember something that should come earlier I have to redo the entire thing. Mind mapping is a visual way of representing concepts and ideas. It has you put a concept in the center of a page and then put ideas as nodes off of it. Sub-nodes are added to nodes and so on until the relationships start to become clear. There are many, many tutorials on how to mindmap…I just know it works for me in both analyzing problems and defining the relationships between concepts. In any case, the mind mapping tool I use most often is FreeMind, which can be found here. http://freemind.sourceforge.net/wiki/index.php/Main_Page
I highly recommend checking it out.
Next, I’d like to address online learning. I am a huge advocate of continuing to learn throughout the entirety of your life. There are many specialty courses I subscribe to online, but for general purposes, there are three I like (although, I am beginning to check out duolingo for language learning). The three are centered around a number of universities that have put their courseware online, such as, MIT, Stanford, etc. The three main sites I like are:
Khan Academy https://www.khanacademy.org/
MIT Open Courseware https://ocw.mit.edu/index.htm
Finally, I have had many questions about what search engines I use. While Google is the de facto standard in searching, I have a couple I like that don’t track you. First is startpage at https://www.startpage.com/. They anonymize google searches for you making them pretty good as both a start page and search engine. Second is duckduckgo at https://duckduckgo.com/ which is also known for anonymous searching, although is not suitable for a start page.
So, that is some of the apps and sites I recommend for personal use. There are a number of other interesting apps, such as virtual private networking apps, that I recommend and will bring up later, as well as mobile apps I like. I hope these help and am happy to answer any questions or help out as needed.