I have been meaning to write this for a while now.
Many people don't know just how much good software is out there. I am going to list some of the software I use in my day to day tech life.
For music ripping and converting there is nothing better than dbpoweramp
. This will cost you $38 and will rip and convert your CD's to what every format you wish from WMV to Mp3 to Flac and Apple Lossless. It does them all. One of the Super Star Geeks Patrick Norton (Tekzilla, The Screen Savers) built a massive computer that could rip 1000 CD's in an hour and uses dbpoweramp to do it. http://revision3.com/tekzilla/ripmon...batch-rips-cds
I was using just 2 drives and could hardly keep up with my wives HP machine.
For DVD ripping and encoding I use a nice handy all in one solution called Magic DVD ripper. (NOTE: I do not condone stealing at all. I use this to backup my DVD collection ONLY I buy my DVD's them rip them to my Home Theater PC (HTPC) to watch and I store the DVD's) So please don't steal from the filthy rich as they might not be as filthy rich in a few years.
This is a quick easy to use program. Pop the dvd in your drive open Magic DVD ripper and it will see the DVD and start scanning it. Once that is done (few seconds to a minute) you can pick and choose where to store the file and in what format. If you have an iPad, Kindel Fire they have specific formats to make the video look the best on those devices. Magic DVD Ripper cost $34 http://www.magicdvdripper.com/
For HDR photo editing I use an expensive program called Photomatix Pro It cost $100 for the program and Adobe CS4-6, Lightroom plugins. HDR or High Dynamic Range are photos that are a combo of 3 to 7 shots at different exposures that are combined to produce stunning colors and depth in a photo.
For my torrent downloading needs I use Vuze it is Free and it is the best torrent downloader out there. http://www.vuze.com/
There is so much you can do with vuze it is amazing.
Now I am finishing up my HTPC build and moving every thing to it. To make the Windows Media Center experience better I am using a few free tools to help me with that.
Media Center Master is a program that searches online databases (IMDB, TMDB) to gather Metadata for your tv and movies. It adds photos and data to the folders containing your movies and tv shows so that when you use mediabrowser you get a nice experience. http://www.mediacentermaster.com/
Mediabrowser is a great tool to access your tv and movies through Windows Media Center. It also allows you to set up podcast downloads direct from the web. Which makes managing them. http://www.mediabrowser.tv/
To keep in contact with friends family and coworkers at work I use pidgin IM client. It is a universal im client accessing AIM, Yahoo, google and many many more. It is simple easy to use and robust. http://www.pidgin.im/
Ever wanted to know what devices are on your network wired or wireless? Well Angry IP Scanner is a free and very powerfull tool to do just that. Even if it is just for home use to see what your device IP addresses are or if you are like me and use it at work to test networks. This does it all. http://www.angryip.org/w/Home
Every want to get away from windows holes and nasty viruses and malware that plague every computer on the internet. There are two way to do this. One break down and wuss out and go buy an Apple computer that cost 4 times as much as it is worth or just go to linux. For every day internet and email machines it is perfect. No virus's to worry about Many distros of Linux today are easier than windows to use with wireless connectivity built in. I currently use 2 flavours of linux. My prefered distro is Mint. It's clean smooth and fast. Boots blazing fast without the use of expensive SSD hard drives.
If you want a user friendly OSX look alike take a look at Pear linux. It is linux with a Mac twist. They even give you mac OSX backgrounds as well. http://pearlinux.fr/
Well that concludes this go around. Hope I helped you a little.