The Cloud: Email, Calendar...
- Google goodness: I use almost all google services. In particular, I use gmail to handle all my mail accounts and Google calendar for events. I only use the browser to check & send mail. I have not used an email client since 2009.
- Live Mesh, Sync: I keep a copy of all my research files online AND across all my computers. For that purpose, i've been quite happy with Windows Live Mesh and Windows Live Sync. When go beyond the storage limitations, I may just move to drop box or some similar service.
- Word Processing: I ONLY use LaTeX to prepare my documents (even short letters). The last document that I have in Word is my CV which I am now converting to LaTeX. However, many scholars (especially in engineering) prefer to use Word, therefore I keep a copy of OpenOffice on all my computers in case I need to use it or I use Google docs.
My policy on this is simple: If I am leading a project, I will exclusively use LaTeX to document our findings. If someone else wants me to help with their project, I will use whatever they have prepared their report in.
- Reference Management: I use Mendeley. It keeps a bibtex library constantly updated so that I only reference that in all my LaTeX documents.
- Graphics: I use InkScape! That was one of my most valued discoveries this year. It is cross platform and uses an open source graphics format called SVG. SVG stands for Scalable Vector Graphics. So you would expect really hight quality graphics in your PDFs!
- Plotting: Here's one problem I have not resolved yet. I now use OriginLab and I find it to be a very good piece of software given all its programming capabilities. Unfortunately, it is not platform independent. So far, I have not found a decent replacement for OriginLab and I may have to stick with for a while. I have looked at plotting with PSTricks, PGF/TikZ, and GnuPlot, but was not satisfied with the process.
- So far, I am quite stuck with Powerpoint. I am very impressed by its capabilities and will find it quite hard to move to an open source presentation software. Because this type of work is high level, it may be hard to adopt a simple open standard approach.
- C/C++/Java etc... Just need an editor! I use different editors on different platforms.
- Mathematica: This is one piece of great software that I would not get rid of. I have looked at open source alternatives such as Sage, but found that it lacks several features related to symbolic analysis. Mathematica's symbolic capabilities are the main reason for me using it.