The software that I use to run this blog
It has been a while since I last mentioned the programs and devices that I use for blogging.
Today, I'm publishing a list of the core programs and apps that I use on a day to day basis to run Ghacks Technology News.
Some of what I'm about to list may be surprising, as I prefer minimalism wherever possible. What does it mean? A basic example is that I prefer to write my articles directly on the WordPress website and not in a third-party editor that is connected to it.
It also refers to the number of programs that I use on a day to day basis, and if you want, to my writing as well.
Lets get started, shall we?
I use Firefox, not Google Chrome, Opera or Internet Explorer as my main go-to web browser. I have several reasons for that, and while having used it as my primary Internet browser for so long does play a role as well, it is the browser's openness that makes it attractive to me.
I can modify toolbars, icons and other elements of the interface, something that you cannot do at all in Chrome or the new Opera, and only in a limited fashion in Internet Explorer.
On top of all that, the best security extension ever created -- that is NoScript by the way -- is also only available for the browser.
In addition to all that, I trust Mozilla when it comes to privacy, something which I cannot say of many other companies and organizations.
Thunderbird is my email program of choice. I prefer desktop email programs as they offer several advantages over online services.
I'm again able to customize the interface the way I want it to be. Do not need the chat button in the interface? Removed. Want a different font size for emails? Done.
I can add as many email accounts as I want to Thunderbird, and access them all while I'm offline. I get better backup options because of that, as I can simply use third-party tools like Mailstore Home to do so.
In the end, it comes down to control again. With Thunderbird, I control most of what is being displayed on the screen, and what is happening in the background.
Since I'm only working on my desk, and not while I'm on the go, I do not need programs that sync data to the cloud and other devices.
QuiteRSS is probably the best RSS reader available for Windows at the time of writing. I like that it is fast and powerful, but minimalistic at the same time.
It puts the focus on the news, and not on fancy stuff like different display styles that slow me down when I try to find out what is new and interesting.
The program is excellent, and if you do not require synchronization to mobile devices, should be taken for a test ride.
I have used online password managers for a long time. They are very convenient, as you can access your data from any device, provided that you can remember your master password or account credentials.
It also means that you are trusting a third-party to keep your information safe. You have no control over their infrastructure, and do not really know how well your data is protected on company servers.
That's the core reason why I prefer to use KeePass instead. It is a desktop password manager that supports all the features that I require. I can store passwords and other information in it, and use the handy global shortcut to sign in to any website using any browser available for the operating system.
The encryption software TrueCrypt is not really something that I need to run this blog. But, it adds a level of protection to the data that I store locally, which makes it one of the essentials on my system.
I use TrueCrypt to protect the KeePass password database for example, and also other data of importance. Without it, that data would be accessible to anyone with local access to the system (for instance someone who breaks in, snags the PC, and tries to harvest data off of it).
The only paid application that I use regularly. I'm still running version 10 though, which was last updated in 2011, and have not upgraded to a newer version of the program.
I do not really need all the fancy new features and tools that newer versions ship with. What I like about SnagIt is the worflow, that it takes little time to take a snaphot, edit it using the basic editor that the program ships with, to upload it to the blog afterwards.
I suppose I could use an alternative such as Screenshot Captor instead, but since I have been using SnagIt for some time now, I'll keep on using it until it no longer works or something better comes along.
I use WinSCP to connect to various (s)ftp servers, for example to edit php files manually, to update plug-ins or scripts, or to download files for backup purposes.
While I could edit some files directly from within WordPress, I prefer to not do so for two reasons. First, if something goes wrong, I cannot recover a previous version of the script. Second, I prefer to use a better editor when editing source code files, and the editor that WordPress itself offers lacks in several regards.
As you can see, I prefer to use desktop apps instead of online services, and if available, Open Source instead of closed source applications.
I have optimized my workflow quite a bit over the years to suite my work environment and habits. This works well for as long as I do not start blogging on the go, as I'd have to find new tools to do so.