A thief of time

One of the dangers in my line of work is being out on the Internet for work-related reasons and being ambushed by something interesting, just when I need to be concentrating on the important stuff.

2010-07-31_213314 Using Ninite couldn’t be easier…

Just the other day for example, just as I was researching an automated software installation tool, I saw a mention of the Lifehacker website which reminded me that it existed and got me wondering what they had been up to since my last visit.

Quite a lot it turns out, with the front page showing an eclectic mix of articles including ones on the Science Behind Having a Dad Day (and How to Solve It), how to keep your digital camera afloat, the latest version of Google’s Chrome web browser, and an exposé of the Moleskine notebook offices.

All potentially very interesting, as I’m sure you’ll agree, but I remembered in the nick of time, that I had other fish to fry and I went to the Ninite website. It turns out that Ninite is an online service designed to making choosing and installing free software programs much easier.

From bitter experience, I know that finding and installing software on a new computer, or on an old one which has crashed, is a time-consuming process. Listed on the front page of the website are many of the most popular free software packages available for Windows-based computers.

The software is divided into a number of categories including web browsers, Such As Google’s Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Safari and Opera. Some other categories include messaging applications, media players, imaging programs and document tools, including the free trial version of Microsoft Office and the totally free Open Office.

Using Ninite couldn’t be easier and all you have to do is select the programs you want, click the Get Installer button, and the system will create a small installation program which you save on your computer and then run to download and install your chosen software.

I tried it with a couple of programs I was needing and the process worked flawlessly, without any intervention from myself apart, that is, from double-clicking the installer program right at the beginning.

I could have gone off and attended to other matters because there was none of the usual pestering questions that you have to answer while doing software installations, and which you have to watch out for unless you want the whole process to grind to a halt while it waits for input from you.

Ninite is free for personal use but there is a Pro version available for $20 per month which allows you access to additional features which would be of value to technicians (and others) installing software on a regular basis.

The chief difference is that the Pro version allows the creation of offline installers that allow you to choose a selection of software and install it on many computers. Programs once downloaded, can be stored locally to speed up the installation process and save bandwidth.

Programs then only need to be downloaded again when new versions become available. There is also a service called Ninite One which can be installed on a flash drive and used by technicians when they are out and about visiting clients.

All in all, Ninite seems to be a very useful service and currently lists most of the free software I use regularly. They will also entertain requests from users wanting other programs to be added to the list.

I guess the message from all of this is clear; the Internet can steal time from you but Ninite can win some back.

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