Recently I had to re-install Leopard and all the software on my computer. As I was waiting for things to download I made a list of all the software that, for me, is a "must have". I'd love to hear others' similarities and differences!
I have to install the assistive technology first so I can manage the rest, and be productive while I'm rebuilding the computer so I'm listing these first. The other sections are just organised so they make sense - I generally just install things as I realise I need them, rather than all at once which is too overwhelming.
I use a large range of assistive technology because I can do more if I switch between different types. Once my arms get too weak to type I can still work if I dictate instead of typing, for example.
I use ControllerMate to remap some of the keys on my trackpad, XKeys device, and even the regular keyboard so they do what I want them to do when I want them to do it. This isn't technically "assistive tech" software but it certainly serves the purpose for me!
I install [msd] for speech to text input, and the small utility program Voice Candy to make it easy to send mp3 emails. Sending mp3s is easier than dictating, especially when my voice is tired which always messes up the recognition.
In the assistive technology I also use KeyStrokes for typing when I can't manage my keyboard.
The British Infovox iVox voices are the ones I find easiest to listen to, so I use those as my default system voices. VisioVoice helps me with reading documents as I can alternate between listening to the text-to-speech and reading visually.
First is Apple's iLife and iWork packages. I use iTunes and iPhoto from the iLife set, and Pages and Numbers from the iWork set and it's money very well spent.
I use Things to keep my projects and things to do organised. If I didn't have that, I'd never know what I needed to do next. I use it for short term planning and long term planning - pretty much anything that doesn't fit into iCal goes into Things.
I use both Safari and Firefox web browsers, as they are good for different things. I also use Fluid to make "mini browsers" for specific things - I have one for Facebook and one for Twitter at the moment.
For reading most of my blogs and other regularly-updated sites I use the RSS reader NetNewsWire.
I use Adium for instant messaging, and Colloquy for IRC which is an older type of text chat.
I use Skype for voice chat and PhoneValet to control my regular telephone and provide caller ID and voicemail services.
I use EyeTV for watching TV directly on my Mac.
I use the standard QuickTime player to watch movies and other things downloaded from the net - once I've installed Perian and Flip4Mac-WMV, QuickTime player can handle almost any video file and I use VLC on the odd occasions that QuickTime doesn't suffice.
I don't like the interface that RealPlayer has, but it's useful for streaming audio like listening to internet radio stations.
The Growl notification system is used by many of the above programs. Installing it means that I can set the notifications to be large and readable, in the colours I find easiest to read. If I wanted, I could set them to be read out or to use system beeps or email or all sorts of other options.
PTHPasteboard is another little utility that makes a big difference to my productivity. It keeps track of all the things I've copied and pasted to save time and save me from loosing things when I accidentally copy two sections in a row. I also have a "static" pasteboard that sits on my menu bar and lets me paste in things I type often to save on typing.
PseudoAnacron runs every time I boot up the computer and just checks to make sure the general "housekeeping" tasks for OS X are done properly. Apple has set them, by default, to run in the middle of the night and my computer is usually off at that time. They aren't essential, but they help to keep the computer running at its best.
iStat Menus sits on the menu bar and tells me how much of the CPU and internet connection are being used, which is generally useful. I also have it set up so the date and day of the week is up there as well as the time - I can never remember these!
Then we have the weird driver/program for my Epson Scanner that hasn't been updated for years and has a truly hideous interface. Let's not go there.
What's essential to your computing that I haven't covered? Which of these do you think have better or cheaper alternatives? Tell me!
- Ricky Buchanan