Chris is threatening to take away my shiny new workstation if I don’t make a blog post, and while we’ve got some interesting stuff in the pipeline, it’s not quite ready yet. Instead, I will make one of those generic posts that every blogger at some point makes: the list of software I use.

  • Firefox: Come on, you know what Firefox is. Everyone and their mother uses Adblock Plus, Tab Mix Plus, Firebug, and so on, so I’ll list a couple which might not be as well known.
    • Zotero scrapes the pages from many common academic and non-academic research sources, eliminating the need for manual data entry. It then tracks the data, allowing you to export bibliography data formatted for many typesetting systems (including Word, BibTex, and more).
    • Faviconize tab allows you to shrink your tabs down to favicon size, which is great for tabs you want to keep open all day (like web-based email clients) without sacrificing screen real-estate.
    • CookiePie creates a per-tab cookie container, which is great for logging into the same site using multiple credentials. This is great if you have two separate Gmail accounts, or as a developer, when you need to make a change as one user, and be sure that it has the desired effect on another.
  • MATLAB: aside from my responsibilities here at the Studios, I’m a student in Aerospace Engineering. A lot of what we do involves numerical simulation (particularly optimization, and solutions to large systems using Gauss-Seidel), and for most of us, MATLAB is the software of choice. It allows simple and seamless use of matrices, and offers many built-in functions for solving common problems in engineering and math (e.g., root finding and Runge-Kutta methods). A number of us are considering using python with SciPy next year, but we keep coming back to another advantage of MATLAB: virtually every engineering student knows it.
  • LaTeX: the venerable typesetting system. I started using this after a writing a particularly nasty lab report that involved wrangling with MS Word for hours to get the formatting Just How I Wanted It (TM). LaTeX removes nearly all of this hassle, separating content from presentation. It has its own quirks (ask any LaTeX user about floats), but it’s hard to argue with the results[pdf warning].
  • RocketDock: I’ve always hated searching through Windows’ Start Menu for the programs I want. The quick-launch bar helps somewhat, but would take up too much space if I put everything on it. Instead, Rocket Dock gives me a bar that pops up when my mouse is nearby, allowing me to select the application to launch. By placing my most commonly-used applications on the dock, I’ve reduced my Start Menu usage to near zero. There are several docks available for Windows, but the low price tag (free), OS X-like prettiness, and simplicity of Rocket Dock have won me back every time I’ve switched.

Posted in: Cool Stuff