Tag Archives: software

Free Development Software: DreamSpark

Microsoft has decided to release full versions of its professional development tools to college students in a program called Microsoft DreamSpark.

The software available is:

  • Visual Studio 2008 Professional Edition
  • Visual Studio 2005 Professional Edition
  • Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition
  • SQL Server 2005 Developer Edition
  • Expression Studio
  • XNA Game Studio 2.0 with a 12 month XNA Creator’s Club Online trial subscription

As of right now you have to go through a special kind of hell JourneyED to get verified as a student, but it’s still worth it to get your hands on this (very) expensive software if software development is something you’re interested in.

Useful things for college

This list (the programs, anyways) will be highly Windows-centric. Basically, these are things that I use just about every day and that make my student life a lot easier. Except for the screensavers; Those are just pretty, and I included them because I downloaded them freshman year and then everyone on my hall started using them.


Electric Sheep:

Electric Sheep is a free, open source screen saver run by thousands of people all over the world. It can be installed on any ordinary PC or Mac. When these computers “sleep”, the screen saver comes on and the computers communicate with each other by the internet to share the work of creating morphing abstract animations known as “sheep”.

Sounds lame. Looks amazing. If you’re mesmorized byFlurry, you’ve gotta check this out.

Speaking of Flurry–

Flurry for Windows. ‘Nuff said.

Test Tone Generator: This is a really specific application program–It generates tones. Great. What I find useful is that you can use it to generate pink noise, which is just like white noise, but less harsh. Great for insomniacs and getting rid of ambient noise from housemates.

AIM Ad Hack: Kills all those ads in AIM5.9x as well as the newish ugly-ass AIM Triton.

Google Picasa: A really beautiful, sleek photo organizer from Google.

Picasa is software that helps you instantly find, edit and share all the pictures on your PC. Every time you open Picasa, it automatically locates all your pictures (even ones you forgot you had) and sorts them into visual albums organized by date with folder names you will recognize. Picasa also makes advanced editing simple by putting one-click fixes and powerful effects at your fingertips.


Ghostzilla is a Web browser like Firefox, but it shows up and disappears instantly, discreetly, blended with your application — any application — so the Web pages look like part of it and not like the Web at all.

It’s hard to explain; just go check it out.

Firefox Extensions:

Foxytunes: Control your favorite media player from your browser. Also has sleep and alarm functions.
x: Adds a paranoia button to your toolbar from which you can delete your cookies, cache, search history, stored passwords, download history, whatever. Great for hiding porn search trails.
StumbleUpon: You tell it what you like, you click a button, and you land on and rate sites people with similar interests suggested. Stop getting bored with the internet!
Forecast Fox: Displays the weather for your zipcode in your toolbar.
IE View: Launch pages in IE from Firefox. Great for those pesky sites that aren’t Firefox-compatible–LIKE RESNET REGISTRATION.
Copy Plain Text: I use this extension more than anything else. It copies text without formatting. Wonderful when gathering online cites for papers!

Web Resources:

The Hype Machine: I’ve posted it here before, but it’s just that good. The Hype Machine is an mp3 blog aggregator. Fully searchable, too!

Singing Fish: Trawls the internet for downloadable multimedia. The benefit of this over Hype Machine is that with Singing Fish, you’re assured that the file is still available.

Meebo: AIM, ICQ, MSN Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger, Jabber and GTalk brought together in one browser-contained messenging program. Great when you’re at work, overseas, or anywhere you can’t download your program of choice.

Phixr: Online photo editor for you poor little ones without Photoshop. You can do a lot of basic editing here, like resize, brightness, contrast, rotate, flip, crop, black and white, and more. You can even import photos from your Flickr account. There’s more than enough here for the casual digital photographer, and it works well enough even for you hardcore types in a pinch.

Calcoolate: Stupid name, but a simple, dependable online calculator. It does trig!

Writely: Online word processor! Share documents instantly & collaborate real-time. Pick exactly who can access your documents. Edit your documents from anywhere. Nothing to download — your browser is all you need. Store your documents securely online. Offsite storage plus data backup every 10 seconds. Holly and I used Writely to collaborate on some of Wesleying’s first posts. Did I mention you can upload from Word?!