Ninite is probably the quickest way to install all the necessary software (Chrome, 7-zip, Dropbox, iTunes, Picasa, etc). You click the checkboxes and it rolls you a custom, hands-off installer. They upsell to an auto-update service, but there are free alternatives like FileHippo Update Checker.
Speaking of Dropbox, it proved a lifesaver. If you aren’t familiar with it, it’s a service that automatically syncs (and backups) a folder between all your machines. My last hard drive failed, but because all my personal files are on Dropbox I didn’t lose any of them. They have a free 2GB account available, and if you join they’ll toss some extra free space my way as well.
I also set up a few Firefox extensions. With extensions, the goal is always is to have as few as possible, as there is a history of extensions slowing down Firefox performance. Here are the ones I chose:
HTTPS Everywhere is of course a great security boon. LastPass is a secure cross-browser way to manage the hundreds of passwords we all have. Xmarks is a bookmarks synchronizer which I prefer over Firefox Sync because it’s cross-browser.
I have a few goals with the new system:
- Keep the desktop empty of files
- Keep all personal files in a single location (e.g. Dropbox)
- Keep all work files in a single location (e.g. Projects)
The last one might be the trickiest, as all the different Eclipse-based IDEs I’ll need to install will all try to grab a workplace for themselves.