Our Favorite Tech: What We’re Thankful For at How-To Geek

By Lowell Heddings on November 25th, 2010

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It’s Thanksgiving, and this year we’re going to share all of the great technology that we’re really thankful for. Join us for a look at the tech products that keep each of the How-To Geek writers going. Also, Happy Thanksgiving!

Most of the stuff that we like is free or open source, but there’s a few things that we’re willing to pay for. The highlights? Almost all of us use Google Chrome and Dropbox.

Original image by floodllama

Lowell Heddings (The How-To Geek)

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I’m the guy behind this web site—if you’ve read an article written by “The Geek”, that was me. In a previous life, I used to be a programmer, but now my days are spent running this web site, talking to all of my writers, and working on an upcoming book. What I’m really thankful for is being able to work on How-To Geek full time, but here’s a few of my favorite tech products that I couldn’t live without:

  • Google Chrome is my window into the world—I’ve switched from using desktop applications to almost exclusively using web apps. It’s blazing fast, never slows down, and everything is synced across all my PCs.
  • Evernote went from being a generic note-taking application to a complete overhaul of how I store everything—my project plans, ideas, recipes, documents, lists, and even bookmarks. It’s available on every PC, and my Android phone.
  • Dropbox is critical to my day-to-day life, in part because it keeps my files in sync across all of my PCs, but mostly because it’s the one place I store literally All of my files, and it’s backed up automatically.
  • Google Docs has improved to the point where it’s not just useable, but with drag and drop upload of images, it’s actually an excellent writing environment accessible anywhere, including my iPad.
  • My 13” MacBook Air is lightweight, virtually instantly comes back from sleep, and the battery lasts forever. It’s an absolutely amazing device.

Trevor Bekolay

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Trevor was our first real Linux geek around here, and he’s always ready to lend some good advice when it comes to open source software. Here’s the technology that keeps him going:

  • Dropbox: I use three computers on a regular basis, and on those I have several virtual machines. If I didn’t have Dropbox as a way to move files easily between all of these environments, I would go insane!
  • Linux Mint: I’ve recently changed from Ubuntu to Linux Mint on my main machine, and I am extremely happy with it. It does what I want it to, and with Compiz effects and high quality fonts, it looks way better than Windows and—dare I say it?—Mac OS X ever did.
  • Google Reader: It’s not new, but it’s where I spend the majority of my online time. Without it, I’d still be checking all of the sites in my “daily” bookmark folder every morning.
  • Mendeley: Since I do research as my day job, I need to keep track of a huge number of papers and articles, and cite them properly when writing papers of my own. Mendeley makes this dead simple, and has a great desktop application that works on Linux!

Eric Z Goodnight

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Eric joined us recently, and he’s written some amazing articles covering how to use Photoshop more effectively, edit photographs, and understand the world of graphic artistry.

  • Dropbox: I’m working on at least two different machines everyday, more likely three or four with three different OS, Dropbox is an absolute lifesaver. It’s just so ridiculously easy to use.
  • Any flavor Linux LiveCD. Can’t tell you how much stuff I’ve rescued with those fellas. Incredibly handy.
  • USB/Firewire Hard Drive Enclosures for similar reasons. I’ve, backed up, cloned and rescued drives on multiple occasions.
  • Clonezilla for similar reasons. It’s worked so surprisingly well for me and has gotten me out of at least one really tight spot when a HDD was dying.
  • It has its problems, but I am a big fan of my Blackberry. The email and MMS on it are better than any smartphone I’ve ever messed with. Very minimalist, very functional. Drastically improved my social life, as well.
  • I can’t overstate how much I love WordPress. So fantastic and feature rich, it’s hard to believe it’s free. With my HTML/CSS noobery it allows me to do things I would never accomplish without it.
  • I suppose I should add Photoshop CS5 to this list, although it’s a bit like saying “I’m thankful for my right hand” I use it so damn much.
  • Also very much in love with Google Chrome. FF runs so poorly on my work Mac it is ridiculous. When I installed Chrome on it and it ran so beautifully, it quickly became the only browser I used.

Matthew Guay

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Matthew loves reviewing products, playing with web applications, and using his iPod Touch. When he’s not writing at How-To Geek, he’s covering technology on his personal blog, Techinch.com.

  • Dropbox is easily the best tech of the past couple years.
  • Kindle for PC/iOS keeps me reading on the go.
  • My netbook has entirely changed how I see computing … a 10 hour battery and ultra-portability can do that.
  • WordPress runs my personal blog and makes my blogging easier.
  • Twitter has now replaced Google Reader for me. I just don’t have time anymore to keep up with RSS.
  • iOS on my iTouch is rather awesome.
  • Just when we didn’t think browsers could get much better, along came Google Chrome and turned the browser world upside down.

Zainul Franciscus

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Zainul spends his time trying to make technology more productive, whether it’s Microsoft Office applications, or learning to use web applications to save time.

  • Windows 7: It was a relief when I could replace Vista with Windows 7, since it’s a big improvement (performance, speed, etc)
  • Thunderbird 3: Has tons of improvements (new search feature, multiple inbox tree view) that has helped me manage my email better.
  • Windows Live: Ever since I started my study, I have been relying a lot on Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Windows Live is an amazing addition to Office because it lets me upload my Office docs so that I can edit them anywhere I like and gives me peace of mind that I have a backup for any emergency.
  • GIMP: I have been using GIMP heavily to produce images for most of the HTG articles. It is not as great as Photoshop but it does do the job with a much lower cost.

Yatri Trivedi

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Yatri is as geeky as a geek can get—he’s the guy that hacks his Wii, learns everything there is to know about BitTorrent, makes sure his Linux server is backed up at all times, and still finds the time to travel the noble geek path.

  • Google Chrome: It handles my ridiculous 4 window, 35 tabs each browsing style flawlessly, and i can kill flash quickly and easily.
  • Ubuntu Maverick: Linux Mint Julia works well, too. My server has everything i need on it, including streaming video and music to my iPhone and over the web, AMP for simple websites, torrenting, and as a hub to work around.
  • Xmarks: It’s still alive, and so I’ve recently started bookmarking things (i know, way to step into the future, right?) instead of using Google Notebook. Indispensable if you use multiple browsers, let alone multiple computers.
  • Evernote (iOS): I’ve finally switched to the dark side from Google Notebook. Combines clipping, bookmarking, listing, and notebooks into one.
  • MobileRSS (iOS): Best feed reader I’ve ever used, period. It’s actually a Google Reader client for iOS. Very active on twitter regarding feedback and help for its users. :-)
  • Not new at all, but TWiT.tv and their iOS app. Since I’ve quit cable TV, it gives me something to do while I work and helps keep me in “tech” mode. Hats off to Leo Laporte and the former crew of ZDTV/TechTV, as they continue to outdo themselves.
  • Angry Birds is awesome. ‘nuff said.

Justin Garrison

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Justin is an IT administrator who runs Linux as his primary OS, does the official podcast for Linux Mint, and loves his webOS phone.

  • webOS: My phone has changed how often I have needed my computer (and I had WM and Android for a while)
  • Diigo: I switched from delicious a while ago and it is better in almost every regard.
  • LastPass syncs passwords to any browser.
  • Gmail + shortcut keys and advanced searching.
  • Seesmic web app for keeping up with Twitter.
  • Playstation 3 (mainly Netflix streaming and local DLNA streaming)
  • Pidgin for instant messaging on Windows or Linux.

Aviad Raviv

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Aviad writes over at our sister site, Sysadmin Geek, and he’s a serious IT guy that knows loads of ubertechie Linux administration tricks.

  • FOG as a PXE platform… OMG… so much out of the box and soooo easy to install, configure and customize. (yes this is a future article series).
  • Citrix Xen as a type1 hypervisor for virtualization. works out of the box on practically every measly PC with VT (unlike ESX/ESXi which needs special hardware) and works like a charm.
  • Debian: simply the most rock solid stable and logical linux around and is the basis for all my Linux servers.

Alex Layne

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Alex is our resident Mac OS X geek, and he’s always interested in some technology news.

  • RSS readers: Without them (specifically Reeder and NetNewsWire), I could never keep up with the news. I know some people use Twitter exclusively for news, but just the thought makes me cringe; so disorganized.
  • Safari: I’m in the minority here, but I love Safari, mobile or otherwise. It does everything I need it to do with no fuss or frills.
  • HTML5: I’ve disabled Flash, and installed an extension in Safari that converts YouTube videos to HTML5. My Mac runs a lot cooler now, and the future of the web looks a lot brighter.
  • Klipsch Image S4i’s: The best pair of earphones I’ve ever owned. Those cheap $20 earbuds just don’t cut it anymore.
  • Twitter: I know I kinda bashed Twitter in my first thing, but I’ve met a lot of awesome people through Twitter that I wouldn’t have otherwise, and I keep up with old friends on it as well.

Asian Angel

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Asian Angel has been around here for a long time, and we’re thrilled to have her writing for our team. She’s reliable, trustworthy, and a great help. When she’s not writing our Friday Fun, Desktop Fun, or Ask the Readers articles, she’s covering tech news and geeky links on our How-To Geek ETC section.

  • Firefox: Extensions, the ability to customize the UI, dependability, and steady development progress of Firefox make it a must have browser. Firefox is indeed the original revolutionary in the current browser wars.  
  • CubicExplorer: The streamlined layout, highly customizable UI, ease of use, and portable versions make CubicExplorer a perfect replacement for Windows Explorer.   
  • Paint.NET: A terrific all-purpose photo editing tool that is easy to use, has a nice selection of custom plugins that can be added to it, and will work nicely for anyone who does not need specialized photo software.
  • EditPad Lite: EditPad Lite is a wonderful tabbed UI note-taking tool and general programming text editor. Once you get started with it, you will find yourself using this app all day every day.
  • A.M. Notebook Lite: This app is an extremely useful notes database that you can use to store your text, images, and URLs. You can easily add/remove customizable format pages from it and it comes with additional spreadsheet, calendar, and contacts components built in.
  • Process Explorer: Makes it easy to view the processes running on your computer, monitor stats for those processes, and terminate unresponsive apps in a snap.   
  • VMware Player: A perfect choice for anyone needing virtualization software capable of displaying aero-glass in operating systems and providing true full-screen virtual system operation.
  • Ubuntu Linux: Ubuntu is a fun, easy to use Linux distro that can serve as a terrific gateway to learning about and becoming familiar with Linux.  

So that’s all of our favorite technology. What’s yours? Share what you’re thankful for with your fellow readers in the comments.

…or go eat some Thanksgiving dinner and watch hilariously mismatched football games on TV—while pretending they are interesting enough to ignore your relatives. Your choice. =)

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 11/25/10
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