Lightwright: Absolutely, the most critical piece of software I own. I use this program constantly to keep up with all the paperwork for shows, big and small.

Vectorworks Spotlight: The only drafting program I use; the Spotlight add-on speeds up my drafting functions dramatically.

TrendMicro Anti-Virus: Keeps my machine healthy better than any other program I've used.

eDrawings Viewer 2006: For use when people send me CAD files in DWG format not readable by Vectorworks.

Adobe Photoshop: Useful for occasional image editing, making BMPs for focus notes.

Picasa: Organizes my digital camera pictures, has basic image editing capabilities, and it's free. What more can you ask for?

Quicken: Tracks budgets and personal finances. We all have to eat and have enough records to fend off the taxman.

Painter: For when I need more artistic tools for greater image manipulation.

Microsoft Excel: Allows me to calculate budgets to stay under budget. I also track inventory usage over time to evaluate rental needs and make strategic decisions about our rep plot.

I have all of these on a tabletPC that can go with me anywhere, and I can draw on it too.

As a part-time teacher, I would add:
Virtual Light Lab: Gives beginning lighting students another useful way to visualize lighting.

Laura McMeley is also a professor at SMU and Collin County Community College. Visit her at