Simplifying your tech life, step 1: declutter your computer

I’ve been building my own machines for a while now and I’ve gotten into a routine of installing certain apps when I do I rebuild.  I’ll not only grab the latest Microsoft updates, plus Office, but I’ll also install a whole list of utilities.  This list keeps growing and was often something like the following:

  • PDF reader (I go back and forth between FoxIt Reader and Adobe)
  • FireFox and Chrome
  • Instant messengers (MSN, GoogleTalk, Skype)
  • Tweetdeck
  • Live Mesh
  • Some kind of free antivirus (Microsoft’s Security Essentials is my preferred one now)
  • iTunes/QuickTime
  • Windows Live apps (Live Writer is great – it’s what I’m using to write this blog)

I’m sure I’ve forgotten a few things, but anyone who has reinstalled their OS more than once or twice probably has a similar list.

Anyway, I was faced with rebuilding my main laptop for the third time this year (Windows 7 beta, RC, and RTM) and I decided to do something a little different, based on comments that Paul Thurrott has made in his Windows Weekly podcast with Leo Laporte.  Instead of installing a whole load of software, I would wait until I actually needed it and then install it.

So after a few months my new install was Win7 x64 Ultimate, Office 2010 (tech preview/beta), Skype, GoogleTalk,  Live Mesh, 7zip, Live Writer, etc.  For work, I really only needed Office, since my current work project is SharePoint development and it is contained inside a Virtual PC.

I noticed that apps that I had always installed previously, I didn’t this time.  The biggest difference?  I didn’t install another browser.  I was actually using IE8 (!) much to my surprise.  There was a time that I would never use IE, but IE8 is pretty good.  I did add the Delicious toolbar and also LastPass (really cool password keeper). But no FireFox and no Chrome and no Safari.  (In IE8, I’ve really gotten used to the Accelerators.)

I’ve been using FireFox since around version 0.3.X (? – before it was named FireFox) mainly because of tabbed browsing, but also because of the security holes in IE5/6.

So, next time you’re faced with rebuilding your computer, I’d suggest you take a look at the time and effort that goes into installing and maintaining all that software and maybe cut some of the clutter out.  Like me, you might be surprised at the results.

Print | posted @ Sunday, December 6, 2009 9:40 PM