What's on Dick Bryant's Desktop

Dick Bryant is the owner of Open Window Software, which has been producing quality software products since the early 1980s. Read about what this computer professional has on his desktop and what some of his favorite programs are.
Published: Sep 11, 2005
Author: Michael E, Callahan
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What's On MY Desktop

by Dick Bryant

I'm Dick Bryant of Open Window Software. As an engineer, I started using mainframe computers in the late 60s for simulation of integrated circuit design - my original career. I began using PCs in the early 80s as a hobby, and after retiring from the electronics industry I have enjoyed operating Open Window Software as a family business. My wife, Kathy, and I split our time between Summit County, Colorado and Tucson, Arizona - drawn back and forth by sunshine and snow, warmth and cool breezes. Good Internet connections in both locations allow us to run our business from either office.

I read Dr. File Finder's first summary of the previous posts before writing this one and was pleased to see that the early writers had all had a penchant for keeping it simple. If you rely on your computers for necessary work, you don't want them compromised by any settings or tweaks that will make them less stable.

My system involves 3 tower-case PCs of varying age - the oldest two still running Windows 98. The newest, a Dell, runs XP Pro SP2 as does my Gateway laptop. My wife Kathy, our marketing guru, has a Dell laptop and a tower desktop. Because of the way our home is built, it wasn't possible to hardwire her machines to the network, so we run a hybrid wired/wireless network with her laptop and desktop and my laptop on wireless, bridged into the other three computers on the wired network.

My desktop organization relies heavily on PowerDesk v5.0. This allows a hierarchy of access to my applications. My main applications are represented by icons on the PowerDesk bar, docked to the bottom of the screen and using up about 1.5 inches of screen height. Also on this bar are Groups which are a subset of the Start|Programs groups, but accessible with a single click at the program level. Thus every program I need to access is either a single click or, at most, two single clicks away. Since PowerDesk redefines the screen area to the system, the bar is always visible so no desktop cleanup is required to get at an icon you need to use to start an application.

While I DO believe in keeping my OSs up-to-date with the latest patches, I'm not one to chase the latest upgrades of my favorite applications. I'm still happily using the very stable MS Office '97 SR2 release and have a copy of the install disk for this system squirreled away in my safe deposit box. I don't plan on updating this suite until it stops operating on my current OS - hopefully never! For graphics I use Paint Shop Pro, for finances an old copy of Quicken 98 and for automated backups, my own Pro-Updater program.

For Web browsing I'm happy with IE with the Google Toolbar and RoboForm add-ins. RoboForm is a great time-saver for form-filling and Web site logins.

NoteTab Pro is indispensable for its built-in macro programming, which I use heavily in my tech support and order fulfillment tasks. ClipMate is also a must-have helper for storing all those boilerplate tech support and sales query responses.

I use the CoffeeCup HTML Editor to maintain my Web site and RhinoSoft's FTP Voyager for remote file maintenance chores.

In keeping with my preference for sticking with older, reliable versions of software, my development system is Delphi 5 - still doing a fine job of maintaining and enhancing Open Window Software's products (a line of educational software solutions). Also in this vein are older versions of Anawave Gravity for newsgroups, GroupMail Pro for business and volunteer organization newsletters, and ForeHelp32 for creation and maintenance of Help files.

The guiding principle for managing my software is not to change applications that are working well for me unless there's a very compelling advantage to be gained in replacing an application. Learning how to use any complex application effectively is a significant investment in time and I don't make this investment lightly. My recent change to InnoSetup for Open Window programs' installer creation was such a change. My old installer relied on 16-bit startup code and was causing problems on certain Windows XP SP2 systems where the 16-bit application support had been compromised - a fairly common issue.

About Michael E, Callahan

Michael E. Callahan, known around the world by the trademarked name Dr. File Finder, is regarded as the world's leading expert on shareware. Dr. File Finder works with software programs and developers full-time, and in the average year he evaluates 10,000 programs. Since 1982 he has evaluated over 250,000 software and hardware products. Mr. Callahan began evaluating software online in 1982 and no one has been at it longer. He currently works doing online PR and marketing for software companies, and is the Senior Content Producer for Butterscotch.Com.

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