Sorting My Thoughts with Freemind

May 17, 2009

Recently I was introduced to a nifty little Java program called Freemind. The purpose of Freemind is to help you map out your thoughts into a form which then allows you to manipulate them freely. Sometimes I have too many ideas in my head to put them all together in a coherent way and a program like Freemind helps me to sort through them all. Basically, I use it as an extension of my memory, and I have been looking for software that does this for quite a while now. Before Freemind all I had was a pencil and paper. This solution is not terrible, but I do almost all of my work on the computer so having a digitized solution is always prefered. Here is a screen shot of Freemind:

Screenshot of the main application

Screenshot of the main application

One of the main things I like about Freemind is that once you get the hang of the keyboard shortcuts you can control everything about the program from the keyboard. This is really handy for me since I can just type away and keep adding ideas without having to give too much thought in to the use of the computer itself.

In Freemind a file is called a “Mind Map” and it is basically a single unifiying topic for what you will be organizing your thoughts on. Off of that one supplies “nodes” which have snippets of text in them describing whatever you please. Nodes can, of course, be placed off other nodes and this is how one builds a mind map. The nice thing about Freemind is that these nodes can be moved around quite easily with keyboard shortcuts. This allows one to quickly rearrange ideas.

Finally, Freemind lets you place little graphics next to the nodes which one can use to indicate various things about nodes. For example, I was using Freemind to keep track of bugs in this small program I was writing, and I would use the check mark graphic to indicate when I had solved one and written unit tests for it.

All in all I really like Freemind and it is a great way to put my thoughts together in a coherent way. I hope to find new and interesting uses for it in the future.

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Windows OneCare — An Epic Fail

November 27, 2008

Recently I have had the … “pleasure” of being able to deal with a piece of software known as Windows OneCase. Quite honestly I have never used a more ironic piece of software. Windows OneCare is supposed to be an all in one firewall/spyware/antivirus/backup system. Here is what Microsoft has to say about it:

With OneCare comes greater peace of mind, knowing your home network, computers, and vital personal data are better protected from online threats—not to mention that any children can surf in greater safety, too! (http://onecare.live.com/standard/en-us/3/saferonline.htm)

I find this to be hardly the case. First of all I think it is a conflict of interest for Microsoft to be selling antivirus software to their own flawed operating system. Are they admitting that they can’t make an operating system secure enough to project against all of the threats that are out there? It doesn’t make sense that you should have to spend extra money to keep your Windows systems working correctly.

That point aside Windows OneCare does not do at all what Microsoft promises. First of all I find that it works no better than any normal piece of antivirus software. It seems to locate your basic virus/malware and it puts it in quarantine for you. Oddly enough most of these viruses/malware came from Internet Explorer and were sitting in the IE Temporary Files I won’t even touch on the blaring issues there.

Secondly I have never seen a single piece of software slow down a computer more than Windows OneCare. Whether running on Vista or XP I have seen OneCare add MINUTES to the log in time of an average computer. This is unacceptable! A product like OneCare is supposed to make life easier… not harder. Additionally, just to open OneCare to change settings requires them to display one of those repeating “progress bars”. This is after it’s already running in the system tray! Does the configuration interface take up so much memory that they have to load it separate?

OneCare also attempts to rate the state of your system. This is one of the biggest jokes yet. I don’t think I have seen it give a system the best rating possible any time after a week or so. It seems that your system slowly slides into a dark abyss. It’s like self condemning software. Also, if it knows the state of your system is only “Fair” then why the heck doesn’t it DO something about it? Is it too lazy? I’m not sure, but I have to chuckle when it basically admits it can’t do anything to help you.

Finally we have the OneCare firewall. Doesn’t Windows already have a firewall? Is Microsoft saying that their firewall is not good enough? I’m really not sure what the point is. Now, maybe OneCare simply uses the Windows firewall as a backend, which I would hope that it does because otherwise Microsoft is yet again making implicit statements about their own product. I don’t know for sure what it uses and have tried to research it. I would certainly be interested to know.

That is just about all I have to say for Windows OneCare. I would recommend it for anyone looking to slow their system down and waste $50 in the process.