Three Programs I'm Thankful For

Last Updated Nov 25, 2009 1:59 PM EST

It's Thanksgiving tomorrow, so to those of you who celebrate it, happy Turkey Day! (Or Tofurkey Day, if that's how you roll.)

This year I'm giving thanks not just for my wonderful friends and family, but also for the apps that make life easier. Here are three --all free -- that have really made a difference for me in 2009:

Fences (pictured) So simple, so elegant, so indispensable. Fences corrals your desktop icons into window-like groups. That's it. That's all it does. But once you start using it, you'll wonder how you worked without it for so long -- and why Microsoft didn't build it into Windows 7.

LogMeIn Though not a new program, LogMeIn has seen many improvements this year, and the free version's as handy as ever. Whether I'm working at a coffee shop or halfway around the world, I can quickly and easily connect to my desktop PC.

WizMouse Not to put too fine a point on it, but I can no longer use a Windows PC that doesn't have WizMouse installed. It's purpose: to make your mouse wheel work wherever your mouse is pointed. Windows should do that automatically, but until it does, this utility works wonders.

What apps are you thankful for this year? Tell us all about 'em in the comments.

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    Rick Broida, a technology writer for more than 20 years, is the author of more than a dozen books. In addition to writing CNET's The Cheapskate blog, he contributes to CNET's iPhone Atlas.