I also discovered
- IZarc, a great free archive program for dealing with .zip, .rar and other archive types
- Gaim, a free multi platform IM program (like Trillian, except it’s open source and free but I haven’t had a chance to actually try it out yet) and
- Paint.net which is a great free alternative for anyone who can’t afford Photoshop (GIMP is another free alternative)
- Free Download Manager and DownThemAll, 2 free download manager/accelerator programs which speed up your downloads and allow you to resume downloads if they’re stopped for any reason (by your own hand or by a crash/restart, etc). I prefer FDM, but DTA is good if you often find yourself wanting to mass download all the links on a page (such as downloading all images on a page or all mp3s on a page)
- Firebug which allows you to see the HTML and CSS of any page you’re viewing and let’s you make changes to the code right there in your browser and see the changed immediately (obviously it doesn’t actually change the code on the server but just temporarily in your browser).
I was already using ExplorerXP and several other recommended plugins and programs.
In general I’ve found Lifehacker’s opinions and suggestions indispensable.