Nebberz here with my first contribution to Technicolor Typecast. Prepare for a more software oriented post!
I would like to take this time to recommend to our readers one of my favorite and most used websites.
Not just because this site is awesome and simple, but because they share top quality software many people use, and fully automate the installations of those programs including saying no to any toolbars or other junk the software would normally ask you to install. Just click the stuff you're interested in, download then run the installer, and you're done.
Really saves me a lot of time when I am setting up other people's computers. Here is what I usually grab and my short opinion on them. I don't consider my opinion perfect but it might help somebody out!
Chrome or Firefox are fantastic. Chrome for speed and firefox for customization. If you haven't left internet explorer behind yet, better late than never! (:
I grab Skype for cheap wifi phone calls using our iPod Touch. No more cell phone contracts.
Mifi is available if you need access on the go.
I use Trillian on my pc so I can't really comment on the individual chat programs they have available. Seriously though, who still uses aim?
iTunes is a slow program but necessary for the iPod. Songbird has been a pretty cool music player, has an internal browser and is fairly customizable. Everyone knows Hulu by now. VLC Player is one of the better video players available along with media player classic (available with the K-Lite Codec pack). They will play just about anything and use low resources.
Spotify is amazing for music but is difficult to use in the states (regionally restricted.) Foobar2000 is another awesome music player, but is not pretty without learning how to skin it properly. Everyone knows Winamp I imagine.
I grab Flash and Java. (Make sure you uninstall old versions of java update, a lot of times they are left over.)
I've used Irfanview for a nice low resources instantaneous image displayer. I've also started using Picasa which is still pretty fast and really quite pretty and user friendly.
Openoffice has been an amazing alternative to Microsoft Office. Instead of having to buy a whole new version every so often...just get openoffice for free and enjoy free updates. Avoid Adobe Reader like the plague and instead grab Foxit Reader (I would recommend PDF-Xchange Viewer if they would add it.) Libreoffice I believe is a good office suite to run off a thumb drive, though openoffice portable might be a better alternative.
Avast for antivirus in my opinion. You have to register once a year, but I prefer that over the daily ads in AVG or Avira. All 3 are free and great though. Adaware, Malwarebytes, Spybot and Superantispyware are all excellent spyware removal tools.
uTorrent. Case closed. If you prefer p2p I would suggest looking into soulseek, it's not as pretty, but uses low resources and has good music communities.
Dropbox is awesome for backing up your files online. It simply appears as a folder on your computer. Easy to access from other computers, just share the folder with whoever you want.
Everything is AWESOME!...leave windows search behind forever. Seriously. Once Everything scans your computer, you will have instantaneous live search results as you press each key.
Imgburn is an excellent Image burner (for iso's and such.) CCleaner I have used for many years and has been a standby for cleaning off crap from many computers. Very quick and lightweight. It's registry cleaner has never harmed any computer I've used it on. Defraggler is from the same company (Piriform) and I use it for defragging just because Ccleaner has been so amazing. DiscburnerXP has been a good basic burning program. Revo Uninstaller is another amazing tool, wonderful at removing those pesky program that refuse to uninstall. Or simply use it any time your uninstalling programs as it's great at getting rid of anything those programs would normally leave behind. I would leave the advanced cleaning alone though, just let it delete the safe stuff.
7-zip for opening up archives. It's amazing and highly efficient, you won't need anything else.
That's it! I know a lot of those other programs are awesome, but I don't feel I have the experience to comment on them. I know many people love steam, evernote, google earth, keepass, audacity and such. I can't use every awesome program ever made! (:
Another great thing is, once you've downloaded the installer, it goes to each website and grabs the most recent version available. So instead of updating each individual program when it's time...just run that installer again and it will find the most up to date versions available and install those. Hell yeah!
Feel free to correct my opinions in the comments! Any sites that we need to check out?