Open Source Software Links

For my own resource, I’m posting links to all my important software which is open source.

  • Zscreen: Video Game screenshot capture
  • TruCrypt – Encryption of files and entire partitions
  • OpenOffice – An application every bit as good as MS Office for MOST things.
  • Digsby – IM chat client that links up with Facebook, IRC, ICQ, and most/all major IM clients.
  • Araneae – Basic text editor. I prefer version 4, but they are up to version 5.
  • Muziic Player – Standalone MP3/Audio player. I got sick of WinAmp being such a hog and always needing updates.
  • IrfanView – Image batch resizer. This program does one thing very well. It takes directories of images and resizes/renames them. Handy for digital camera pictures.
  • FastStone Image Viewer – An ACDSEE clone. As best I can tell it does just as much, but is free.
  • Screengrab – A nice Firefox add-on which creates a jpg of an entire webpage, even if it is too tall to fit in your browser window.
  • Web Developer – A must have add-on for FireFox which provides numerous tools for working with web pages, seeing code, CSS, etc.

Why I NewEgg

When I find a company that performs above and beyond the call of duty I stick with them.  And if they consistently do that over the years, I recommend them to anyone who will listen.  One of those companies is, which sells computer components and electronics.  Not only do they have the best prices on the Internet most of the time, they have in-depth reviews of products by purchasers which is often crucial in the buying process.

But what makes them my favorite online store for this type of gear is their customer service.  I’m not sure how long I’ve been a customer there, but its been at least 7 years with my current account.  In all that time, with maybe 30 orders, I’ve never been disappointed in the shipping, customer service, or the product when it arrived.  In fact, my latest “problem” with them illustrates just how much I’m a fan.

Over the summer I pre-ordered a couple copies of Windows 7, which released last week.  My credit card was billed promptly, I received an email saying my order was shipping and I sat back happily expecting it to arrive.  Yesterday it struck me that it hadn’t arrived yet, which was very unusual delay for NewEgg*.  So, I popped onto their online chat system, talked to a service rep and they confirmed a problem on their end which they immediately fixed, and then offered me a $25 credit on my next order because of the delay on this one.  It took less than a couple of minutes and a potential negative quickly turned into a major positive.

This is outstanding customer service worth sharing with the world!

*As a postscript to this story, I chatted with customer service yesterday in the morning.  I can see on their order tracking system that my order went out yesterday from TN and is already on the truck for delivery to my house today in MO.  This speed is not unusual, and I only mention it for the new people!

Triple Threat – Triple Monitors

A quick post here, but one that I’d like to share.  I’ve bought a new computer, building it from new components purchased from my favorite online store,  My motherboard is a Gigabyte GA-MA790GP-UD4H.  I wanted to have 3 monitors, so I bought a dual-DVI video card (Powercolor 4870 PCI Express) but I was not sure how to connect the third monitor without buying a second video card.

The motherboard does have onboard video, but the documentation was a bit vague about whether I could run the onboard video in addition to the add-on video card.  This is one area that was pretty sparse with online help too.  It turns out that this motherboard has something called ATI Hybrid CrossfireX, which simply put allows both onboard video and add-on video to work at the same time as a team.  Thus, it was possible to have 3 monitors running at once.

The solution isn’t as nice as having 2 identical high-powered PCI Express cards in true crossfire mode, but it is perfect if you just want to put a spare monitor to work for simple tasks.  Since it isn’t very well documented in the manual I took this opportunity to put it out on the net.

So what do I use 3 monitors for?

Primary (center 22″ widescreen) monitor : Graphics and HTML editing, email management, movies

Right Flank (17″) : web browsing

Left Flank (17″) : IM windows, status indicators, Winamp, low-fi movies while doing other work on the big screen

Talking point:

Does this hybrid mode in any way tie the onboard video with the performance of the primary card?  I’d say no, because Crysis plays just fine with high video settings before and after I went to 3 monitors.  I can’t be certain there isn’t a downside somewhere though.

Hello world!

Standard introduction post.  Another blog on the web.  Perhaps this will make it one too many?