software that just works

in this thread contribute software that just works. i recently started using audacity after not wanting to use it for a long time because i heard some bad stuff about a group that bought it, but over time the sting of that has faded, i got worked up about different stuff, i forgot, o well, i started using it. having spent a lot of time in garageband and ableton, i'm just amazed at how everything i want to do is immediately accessible and all of the icons make sense. i wanted to pitch shift a song. i looked at the menu bar. i saw effect. i clicked on effect. i migrated down to pitch/tempo and found “change pitch.” it worked instantly. not once have i accidentally pressed the wrong button and make a somehow un-undoable mistake and not once have i had to consult a manual or FAQ page.

i would like to find more software like this so ITT please share your favorite no-nonsense software that you use to get stuff done.

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Inkscape for graphic design

Oh man, I love this topic and I think about it all the time. Here are a few of my favorites, all of which are also free:

Everything is, as far as I'm concerned, the best way to find a file on a Windows machine. Searching for a file by name on Windows is an inexplicably awful experience, and Everything can pinpoint you to the exact location of what you're looking for as fast as you can type the search.

VLC is a ridiculously useful piece of software for interacting with a video file. It can play just about any goddarn thing you can throw at it, and if that thing is kinda broken it'll do its best to play you at least part of it. Absolutely staggering that it's managed to be as good as it is considering how much money has been offered to its owner to sell it to someone to make it worse. VLC is also built on top of another useful tool,

FFMPEG isn't just a juggernaut, it's an army. If there's a thing you want to happen to a video file then there's an FFMPEG incantation to do it. It takes a little time to figure out how to speak its language, but if you're fluent you can accomplish tasks that sound impossible in five seconds with a single command. Even a cursory knowledge of how to use it will save you dozens of headaches as a video editor as you massage input files into a format that's usable.

For all Microsoft's faults, it does maintain Visual Studio, which is just a good damn code editor. Does all the things you want it to, can be extended to be as much or as little of your pipeline as you want, will put on a tutu and do the hula if you ask it. It's rare to find a tool that's simultaneously so clean and so extensible.

And it probably goes without saying for anyone here, but 7Zip really is just the standard for compressing and decompressing files now (outside of a Linux machine anyway, but if you want to get into Linux utilities which are just good and do what they're supposed to we'll be here all day).

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This is a meta-suggestion but have you ever put off or avoided reformatting your computer because of how much of a pain in the ass it is to install all the same programs you use one by one? Do you wish there was a better way? Please pretend this was accompanied by black and white video footage of someone waving their arms around in an exaggerated way at a computer and rubbing their head and looking frustrated like a daytime TV infomercial.

Enter [Ninite, ]( which provides you with a checklist of commonly used programs, and, once you have selected all the programs you want to install, will combine all of those installers into a single executable that will automate most if not all processes for installing these programs one by one.

Ninite is how I myself discovered Inkscape, it also has a lot of the programs already mentioned, those being VLC, 7-Zip, Visual Studio, and Audacity. I'm also looking over Ninite's checklist to see other programs I like to use and seeing qBittorrent (lightweight and highly functional torrent program), the major web browsers, Steam, Dropbox, CutePDF (PDF printer, never rely on a program having a Save As PDF option anymore, it just used the existing Print function to export make a PDF instead), Foxit PDF Reader (Adobe Reader is actually a good option these days but Foxit might be more lightweight), LibreOffice (these programs are kinda janky but they're decent Microsoft Office equivalents), Discord, even some others I've used in the past but don't recommend necessarily.

I know what I'm doing when I get home!

Does anyone have a good source control tool?

I used to use source tree, but it's now a nightmare to authenticate accounts.
Github for Desktop is OK but feels too light weight, I don't remember merges being good on it.
I used GitKraken for a job, but it kept erroring with no feedback, which taught me how to use git commands in console.

What makes a source control method good is, unfortunately, highly project dependent. Art assets benefit from different ways of doing source control than code files. Most of these are going to be various wrappers around Git (a la Gitlab which is basically just an opaque way of doing git commands with a gui) unless you look for other methods. I recall Tortoise SVM being a pretty friendly alternative a decade ago, maybe it's still good today.

Unironically: Notepad owns

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WSL 2 is like everything I‘ve ever wanted in a Windows + Linux environment and it’s astoundingly simple to set up. The amount of goofy tinkering I used to do to dual boot stuff almost makes me angry I can just click a button and be in ubuntu. I can just launch an app from Ubuntu and it pops up there, chilling, on my Windows desktop. I can just grab a file I need from Linux from my windows file explorer, it's even bookmarked. Like, how the hell?

@“Gaagaagiins”#p106604 of course not friend, I just use the same PC for 10+ years until I run it into the ground and then buy a new one :slight_smile:

WinDirStat is a program that visualizes every single thing taking up storage space and color-codes them by file type, groups them by location, and makes quick and effective cleanup extremely painless. A must-have for anyone who likes to keep tidy (Spring is coming, for those of us who partake in the ritualistic annual cleansing…)

It's been mentioned a couple times on the show, but [JDownloader]( identifies any download links present in any given website and systematically downloads anything you specify. Excellent for massive bulk downloads. Completely changed the way I use the Internet Archive.

Notepad++ is great because if windows decides to restart while you're asleep it still saves your stuff for you. I lost documents about once every other month when I was just using notepad. only negative is it takes a minute to set up spellcheck and turn off code-style word highlighting (unless you like that)


@“Syzygy”#p106638 More power to you but just to say, these sentences actually caused me to twist my face up and whisper aloud “what? no”


@“IncompatibleKaiser”#p106642 of course not friend, I just use the same PC for 10+ years until I run it into the ground and then buy a new one :slight_smile:

We have such a beautiful multifaceted community here, don't we

I really love the Unarchiver for Mac OS. Just a simple filetype association for almost all archive types that extracts them and opens them in a new Finder window. In a world where Windows 11 now hides every helpful Explorer context menu item behind a shiny (but useless) newer context menu, it's a breath of fresh air to have this thing that does what I need it to without being weirdly too much of a pain in the ass.

Also like [Transmit]( a lot. I use (S)FTP a lot for remoting into my seedbox and Steam Deck and stuff and Transmit is the one client for these things that doesn't feel clunky and dated. It looks nice, it's fast, and it's deep in the Mac ecosystem so it fits in with all the other stuff.

Oh, and [CotEditor]( When I was really deep into accumulating games for the Aquaplus P/ECE, I had a ton of plaintext readme/source code files laying around that were in Japanese. CotEditor actually handles CJK text encodings properly, whereas basically every other thing out there turns them into a steaming pile of mojibake. Probably of interest to a few people on here. Also Mac only.

I guess this is a pretty Mac-heavy list but I kinda use all the big operating systems for various stuff. [Transmission]( is the best torrent client I've used. It's no-nonsense and doesn't have a particularly bloated UI. It runs on everything and does a good job of fitting into whatever OS you're using it on. Looks pretty system native.

Also VSCode is great, in spite of it being a Microsoft product. I have not found a (featureful) code editor that does a better job of just-working than this one. I also kinda like the new Windows Terminal application. It doesn't really do anything special, but the old CMD.exe one sucked real bad.

One major caveat is that WSL 2 relies on Hyper-V, which makes VMware and Virtualbox agonizingly slow because Hyper-V gets native hypervisor status and adds a lot of overhead to any other hypervisors. Kind of a bummer if you want to use WSL while also using VMware to run old games in a Windows XP box. WSL2 does work pretty well though aside from that one nagging detail.

I'm liking this thread.

[DVD Decrypter]( has not been updated in years, but it still works for most of what I've thrown at it.

[ImgBurn]( - what I use when I don't need DVD Decrypter. Works great for reading/writing CDs and DVDs.

Interested to hear if anyone uses anything other than these two for burning. I just haven't found a reason to use anything else.

I will second WSL2 and VS code. I can certainly understand why many people are vary of the way Microsoft is moving into the open source space, and share some of the concerns. But at the same time these two tools have been great for my workflow. VS code is just a really good editor, incredibly customizable, with good support for multiple programming languages and for example the extension which provides ssh support for managing and editing code located on computational clusters just work out of the box and I love it. As I tend to program in multiple different languages for numerical physics simulations, having one unified program which works well for most of them and which I can easily use on clusters is great.

In combination with WSL2 it allows me to set up my actual programming environments on a (virtual) Linux machine which often has better compatibility than windows, with a lot of heavy numerical libraries being targeted at Unix/Linux (and of course once I need to do the really demanding large-scale calculations they will be run on Linux-based clusters anyways, so a potential slight drop in speed on my local machine when doing small-scale tests due to not using an actual Linux installation is unimportant).

Additionally the integration between windows and WSL2 is pretty good, so while my main point of contact between the two is still VS code, things like simple file transfers between the Linux filesystem and my windows filesystem is nice. I originally started using WSL2 as I only had one PC for a while that I was using as both a personal and work computer and I wanted to have windows to be able to play games (and I just kind of prefer Windows for personal use in general), while I needed Linux for work purposes. I have been very happy with this choice and I probably even prefer this setup for my work compared to an actual Linux install. Although to be clear there are some advantages and disadvantages to both.

Another search utility I really like is listary which searches incredibly fast compared to the standard windows explorer as well.

For source control, use Perforce. It is super simple to use (with the exception of them them renaming the resolve targets, making resolves confusing until you learn the names) and fits most disciplines as it is very visual. I tried Tortoise and every commit turned into a mess as it is built for poindexters.

@“Chopemon”#p106753 do they offer a Git client or do you need to work in an organization that uses Perforce? I wish I was making the decision of which version control system to use but I just deal with Git because that's what the projects use.

Here's a Git client recommendation and I did used to use SourceTree but it has lost its simplicity of use.

For downloading videos off of websites that don't want you to: `yt-dlp`

For keeping folders synced across devices including with a friend or family member: `Syncthing`

For consuming RSS feeds that you can check on across multiple devices: `Reeder`

Greenshot was what made the Twitter clips for the show viable. I have an ergonomic mouse with a button right under my thumb. I click that and drag, and I have a screenshot immediately output to a desktop folder the exact size I want, of just the thing I want.

Can we mention browser plug ins as well?

Wayback machine makes it much easier to save pages and outlinks. You can also redirect to an older capture if the current site is down.

Screenshot YouTube Takes a screenshot from YouTube.

uBlock Origin - You know what it does.

Print Friendly & PDF - makes websites nicer to print or save as PDFs.