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Graphics
ACDSee is simply the best image manager available. Better than ThumbsPlus, and better than the image viewing capabilities built into Explorer in Windows ME and Windows 2000. Catalog all your images. Convert images from one format to another in groups. Rename by simply changing the names of the thumbnails. Copy, duplicate, and make desktops. This link is to version 3.0, the no-frills earlier version. You'll need Winzip to open the archive. Go here for a manual, in PDF format. Get a free Acrobat PDF reader at http://www.adobe.com.
PaintShop Pro is not only the most respected, easy to use paint program on the web, used by more web developers than even Adobe Photoshop, it is also a really good application. This is the last really clean version, before the company started trying to compete with Adobe. Version 4.12 does everything but layers. For an example of what this application does, go here.
Another free and indispensible program for web developers and graphics tinkerers. L-View Pro is the fastest, neatest way to make transpartent GIFs. It is free for non-commercial use. Use Winzip to open the archive.
This may come as a surprise to many, but the graphics program that was thrown in with Windows 3.1, Paintbrush, is a pretty good paint application. Microsoft changed it in later versions of Windows, and changed the name to Paint. I use the old Paintbrush to make smooth curves, something high-powered (and high dollar) applications such as Photoshop won't do. This link is to the original Windows 3.1 version, which will run in Windows 95, Windows 98, and Windows ME. After extracting the files, put all of them in the Windows root directory. Then make a shortcut to the executable file. A fair tutorial on Paintbrush may be found here.
Mike Nixon