There are many standards in the computer industry and programs that are written for those standards. There are often multiple programs and formats that do the same thing, but in different ways. This can make it difficult to determine which program you should use. Luckily, TheAlmightyGuru has taken the time to show you the best of the best. All the programs and formats seen here are 100% Guru Approved.

What the heck does that mean? Every topic seen here has been Guru Approved because TheAlmightyGuru feels that it as the best at what it does. Does this mean that you should blindly trust what TheAlmightyGuru tells you and start using these products as well? Yes, it does.

Actually, as time passes and newer programs and methods are created, the items here will shift and be replaced by newer items. But at present here is the list of products that are Guru Approved.


Formats

Of all the bajillion formats for storing data, here are the ones that are Guru Approved.

Audio

Name: Vorbis (.ogg)
Description: A patent-free open-source audio format part of the Ogg container. Uses lossy compression.
Goods: High compression rate and good quality even at high compression rates.
Bads: Few applications have native support for Vorbis.
Versus: MP3 and WMA are the main competitors and Vorbis is better than both. See Why Vorbis.

Name: NSF (.nsf)
Description: A special format used for storing native NES audio data.
Goods: Accurately replicates NES audio format.
Bads: Format is very niche and can only store NES audio data.
Versus: No competitors.

Name: SPC (.spc)
Description: A special format used for storing native Super NES audio data.
Goods: Accurately replicates SNES audio format.
Bads: Format is very niche and can only store SNES audio data.
Versus: No competitors.

Compression

Name: 7z (.7z)
Description: 7z is an open source compression algorithim.
Goods: Very high level of compression, especially when used with its "store" feature.
Bads: Usually compresses better than RAR, but not always.
Versus: Compresses better than ZIP and similar to RAR.

Graphics

Name: Portable Network Graphic (.png)
Description: An open-source patent-free format that utilizes LZH compression and supports most color depths.
Goods: High compression rate for screenshot style images, several added features. Lossless compression. Alpha transparency. Open source.
Bads: Compression doesn't work well on photograph style images. Few applications have full native support. Doesn't support animation.
Versus: Better compression and features than GIF, BMP, TIFF, TGA, and PCX.

Name: JPEG File Interchange Format (.jpeg)
Description: An proprietary format that utilizes discrete cosine transform compression and supports 24-bit color or 16-bit grayscale.
Goods: High compression rate for any image type.
Bads: Uses lossy compression, patented format.
Versus: No real competitors.

Video


Applications

Audio

Name: Nullsoft's Winamp
Description: A light-weight media player that uses plug-ins for added support.
Goods: Easy to use interface and unlimited support via plug-ins. Many people write plug-ins and skins for it.
Bads: Crippleware for it's burning and ripping functions. Proprietary code.
Versus: Because Winamp uses plug-ins it always has better support than Windows Media Player.

Burning

Compression

Name: 7 Zip
Description: An easy to use program that can compress and decompress several different compression types.
Goods: Simple, customizable, fast, and freeware to boot.
Bads: Can't compress in propriatary formats.
Versus: Competes with WinZip and WinRar. Has all the same options, plus 7z format support.

Graphics

Name: Corel's Photo-Paint
Description: A professional high-powered graphics editor specifically designed for digital image manipulation.
Goods: Has thousands of professional functions and supports nearly every graphic format around. Designed for digital editing.
Bads: Very expensive for the common user, certain interfaces aren't that friendly.
Versus: Photoshop is more widely used, but more expensive and was designed for conventional users, not digital users.

Hex Editor

Ripping

Name: Albert Faber's CDex
Description: An open-source easy to use CD ripper with plug-in support.
Goods: Open-source, uses plug-ins, uses online database for CD information. Has good jitter correction.
Bads:
Versus: Windows Media Player's built in ripping doesn't support plug-ins or jitter correction.

Text Editor

Name: TED Notepad
Description: A very light-weight text editor with a simple interface that can quickly open text files.
Goods: Light-weight, very fast, plenty of customizations, freeware.
Bads:
Versus: Has many more options than MS Notepad.

Video

Name: MPlayer
Description: A very light-weight open-source media player that uses plug-ins.
Goods: Has very good native support and with plug-ins can support every media format. Open-source.
Bads: No user interface, has poor Win32 support.
Versus: Supports many more formats than Media Player, Quick Time, or Real Player because of plug-in support.


Do you feel there is a product or format available that TheAlmightyGuru should approve? Send him an email about it, but keep in mind that TheAlmightyGuru is very slow to change and will most likely scoff at whatever you tell him.