Let us now praise interesting software.

This thread will be platform-independent and generally eclectic. It will not be a place for platform wars, nor holy wars in general. It will be a pleasant place for Dopers to come and share posts about software they have found interesting in good ways or bad.

Links are not required, but a description and a name would be very nice.

Bring your own sense of humor, and check your zealotry at the door.


fsv - 3D File System Visualizer: It is what it sounds like. :wink:

fsv is a way to view the filesystem of a machine running an X11-based GUI in a very three-dimensional way. As the screenshots show, you can view your directories in two modes: A map view, which shows subdirectories and files springing, ziggurat-like, out of larger directories on the bottom, and a tree view, which creates a traditional view of directories based on nodes and leaves.

In both modes, you view the structure from the perspective of a flying viewpoint, which automatically zooms to the element you have selected (either by directly clicking in the graphic or by navigating the more traditional tree browser in the sidebar). This is a bit like being on an armature, because the movement (on my machine) is very smooth and very precise.

The relative sizes of the structures in the graphic are based on the relative sizes of the directories and files on disk: In map mode, the size is in square units of area. In tree view, size is expressed as height (leading to a somewhat vertiginous effect with especially large structures, as the floating viewpoint flies up to the top).

It’s a bizarre sensation, moving among your hierarchy like a ghost, making things expand and contract with the merest effort. The subroutines that implement the flying viewpoint’s motion give the illusion of a very fast, very controlled hover among large, solid objects. There apparently isn’t a physics model, per se: Acceleration and deceleration don’t exist, so while direction change is gradual, you go from a dead stop to full speed and stop on a dime. If you can’t stand first-person shooters because they make you motion-sick, this will do many of the same things. But if you’re a visual person, like me, you’ll probably enjoy getting a truly visual representation of your filesystem.

The visuals are dated, but that’s offset by the uniqueness of the whole program: We’ve dreamed of things like this since the earliest days of graphical computing (look at TRON), and private companies have made it a reality on expensive workstations, but only now is it accessable to the average home user with off-the-shelf hardware. If the graphics look like something out of an 80s music video, I’m willing to excuse it. It moves well and it looks very clean. After all, the NeXTSTEP is also an eighties user interface. :slight_smile:

A more serious gripe is that it’s just a filesystem viewer: There’s no way to manipulate things or even open a file from within fsv. This relegates it to the status of eye candy, basically. But hell, it’s fun. :slight_smile:

Now, if you feel some sense of deja vu, you’ve either used fsn (the IRIX-only program produced by SGI with similar functionality) or seen Jurassic Park, at least the scene where the girl says “This is UNIX! I know this!” Yes, it was real software, not just random graphics painted on a screen. And, yes, it was fsn, because the JP people were using SGI systems.

Finally, I do know that XCruise exists. Never used it, but I know that fsv isn’t alone. I don’t know of any equivalent programs for GUIs other than X Windows.

On my Handspring Visor ( Palm OS ) , I have a wonderful program called Medi-Calc.

I can calculate ( amongst other things ) burn percentages of body surface, or a newborn’s APGAR scale. It’s brilliant. Just brilliant.

I also have this neat function on my computer that turns lines of coding into a graphically appealing presentation wherein I am allowed to move a digital touch-image back and forth, chosing applications and entering data at will. It’s called Windows, Widows, or Winners, or something. :stuck_out_tongue:


My nomination goes to WordWeb. Despite the name, it actually has very little to do with the Web (apart from the fact that it has a website - http://wordweb.info/). Unfortunately, it only seems to work under Windows.

WordWeb is a little dictionary program that lives in your system tray. Really, its beauty is in its simplicity (something that the Encarta dictionary thingee lacked). If you want to find a word, just double-click on the icon and type it in. If someone on the Straight Dope Message Boards used a big word and you don’t know what it means (something that’s not entirely unheard of), just select the word and press Ctrl+Alt+W, and the definition will pop up. Both American and British spellings are supported.

Now for the fun part of WordWeb (as if looking up word definitions isn’t fun enough :D) - the “web” part. Underneath every definition is a row of tabs. The tabs that are available vary from word to word, but they are usually along the lines of “Synonyms”, “Antynoms”, “Type of”, “Types”, “Part of”, “Parts”, etc, etc. Click on a tab and you’ll get a list of words. Double-click on one of those words and you’ll go to its definition. It’s amazing how much time you can waste just weaving your way though the web of words. A cat is a type of feline is a type of carnivore is part of order Carnivora is a type of animal order is a type of order is a type of taxon is a type of biological group is a type of group, a type of which is a collection, which is a type of publication, which contains textual matter, a type of which is a word, which is made up of syllables, a type of which being the penultimas…hopefully, you get the idea by now.

I find myself using *WordWeb all the time - not only when I’m unsure of the spelling or meaning of a word, but also as a thesaurus and even as a ‘lite’ encyclopaedia.

Apparently, if you’re willing to pay money for it (which I will probably try to do if I find some spare money), you get more features like anagram searches and so forth.

I recently discovered HDD Regenerator for fixing hard drives with bad sectors. Amazingly enough, it does seem to work over the half the time. Very weird but turning out to be quite useful.

Maybe Cygwin isn’t eclectic enough for this crowd, but everyday I sing its praises. Where would I be without my tcsh window?

I have recommended Presizer partition resizer many times here. It’s free and it works.

I guess I have to chime in for AutoCAD, my living, my muse, my life! Best drafting program on the planet! You should see the things I’ve designed with it.
Oh wait! You can see them… here

My vote for the best software is Clipmate, a clipboard application that lets you save any number of items to a clipboard without erasing previous entries. I use it all the time. You can get it here:


A reasonably priced mathematical graphing package. Fantastic for educators, but if I was going through university again, I wouldn’t hesitate.

My nomination is not so much for the software itself but for what happened to it after it was released.

Poser started out with a fairly limited audience, intended as it was as a modeling tool for artists. It quickly morphed into a make-your-own-porn title. I can’t think of another piece of software that has had anything like the same journey.

Mozilla has to be the best web browser ever. I get zero pop-ups, and has tabbed browsing, so I don’t have to have multiple windows open - makes browsing the boards a lot easier. :slight_smile:

Do you get popups when visiting http://www.liquidgeneration.com , if JavaScript is not disabled? Q.E.D.'s link to that site in an IMHO thread shattered my illusions about the effectiveness of Mozilla’s popup blocker.

For the record, I’m using Mozilla Firebird 0.6.1, not Mozilla 1.4.1, so my configuration page probably has fewer options to configure. If you can visit the linked site with JavaScript enabled and not experience popups, please send me your prefs.js file, or copy and paste the relevant text into a followup post.

Sorry about the hijack, folks. You may now return to your previously scheduled thread.

  • rjhextensions
    A simple utility that will add a number of useful functions to the context menu of Windows Explorer. It will let you shred, duplicate, and encrypt files. You can also print and save directory lists.

  • Gspot
    An amazing piece of software that establishes what video codecs (audio and video) are required to play a media file. It determines whether these codecs are installed on your system as well as isolates problems associated with these codecs.

  • CDex
    Probably the best CD ripper on the planet. It’s free and has way too many features for me to list here.

That’s it for now. Enjoy.

I don’t get popups at that site at all. Just an insulting message because I don’t have Flash installed. I’m using Mozilla 1.0.2, but that’s just cause I’m too lazy to upgrade it (I follow a if its not broken don’t fix it approach). I shall email you my prefs.js file.

Except of course, amore ac studio, your email is disabled. You’ll have to email me first. :stuck_out_tongue:

A couple of small pieces of software spring to mind.

The first is someone’s idea to use Doom as an interface for system administration. Processes are represented as monsters in the 3D level map. Wounding a process-monster is equivalent to renice while killing it is the same as, well, “kill” from the command shell. It’s a slightly mad idea, but may yet prove to be ahead of its time.

The other is a set of OpenGL modifications. It modifies the way 3D graphics are rendered, showing them as images that look like pencilled drawings rather than ther usual textured splendour. We’re already seeing stylised renderers used in cartoon-like games, but I have hopes for this kind of technology developing much further. Imagine playing a game rendered like a Vermeer or Rembrandt painting. Or even experiencing Monet’s Sunset over Venice as an interactive environment.


Cubase SX quite literally rocks my world. Analog music, digital music, no matter what, it just frickin works…


Tried that out this morning. It’s very, very cool–I’ve been looking for something that could duplicate in winxp this handy toolbar widget that comes with Mandrake 9.1. Thanks for the head’s up!

I’m going to try out Cdex (thanks Dragwyr) when I get the chance.

Keep them coming. Very cool thread.

Whoa. That’s almost exactly what I did for a large part of the thirteen years I worked at Photonics Systems, Inc. in Northwood, OH - design/packaging of Mil-spec enclosures for custom plasma displays, including integration of all sorts of touch systems.

YW, slortar. Glad to help out a fellow doper who ALSO is close by me (Paw Paw here).

Here is some palm software for the list:

  • Launcher X
    A reasonably priced launcher that absolutely rocks.

  • BigClock
    If you don’t know about this one, you should. Simply the best clock program for Palm OS out there… 4 different alarms, 4 different timers, skinnable and best of all, FREE.
    Can be downloaded from www.palmgear.com

  • SC103PC
    A great FREE scientific calculator for Palm OS


AppleScript is still the bomb.

Gots to be Fire … the all-services-in-one, FREE instant messaging client.