i'll make a long story short... been running the same pc for 3.5 years. its fast and stable. reason is, i spend a few hours a month using process scanners, anti-virus software, spyware stuff, registry cleaners, etc, etc. im tired of this completely unnessicary upkeep. i finally started to slak, and bingo, got a virus. pretty nasty one too. wasn't a process, still showed up in the systray. nothing detected it. ran in safemode too. anyway, i finally got rid of it after 3 days, but i took it as an omen. im getting a new blackbook for christmas. i plan to replace my desktop with it. my planned usage is: im a student. (business) photo editing. web design (i own www.thecarspace.com) music. (getting a g2 shuffle too) i want to avoid pirated software completely. im sure the topic is taboo here anyway, but i'll admit, i did it before, but thats what leads to 90% of viruses and spyware. anyway, my concerns are as followed. 1. as a student, i need something like microsoft office. i figure open office is the best alternative. safe assumption? 2. for photo editing, photoshop is out of my price range. i dont want to crack cs3 or anything similar... from what i have read, GIMPshop seems to be the best alternative. the only thing its missing that i LOVE is shadow/highlight and match color. can anyone offer any other options for photo editing? 3. i like to consider myself a minimalist. i've hacked and cracked and modified my XP to my liking. oddly enough, it reminds me of OSX, haha. adium seems to be the best option for an aim client. any aim cliends i've run on XP have been modified to be as simple as possible. blends in with my black background, small white text, just shows the users alias and status icon. is there something similar for adium? i haven't gotten a chance to look around much in regards to this. 4. what is the best torrent client? just looking for something simple... 5. any freeware even remotely close to aperature? 6. is there a cool way to implement gmail notifier into adium? i know it supports google talk... so i just figured.... would be a nice way to save on mem. usage. 7. if i download a zip of an album that i already own.. will itunes or the shuffle give me any problems with it- since its not paid for through itunes? i think thats enough questions for now. i'm sure i will think of more though.