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Windows Tools

It came out just in time for my birthday this year: Scott Hanselman’s 2009 Windows Power Tools list. It is indeed a great list. If you are a developer working in Windows and have a few minutes to spare, you might just find something on that list that makes your life a million times easier.

As some of you may know, I recently took a new job within Oracle, and as such I had the privilege of getting a brand new laptop for my birthday (okay, I happened to start the job the same week as my birthday, but it felt like I got a birthday present). There is nothing quite like a fancy new laptop and a list of awesome tools and utilities to install on it.

Anyway, since I’ve finally got it perfectly configured (never to be this fast or nice again), and since searching through the 2009 list is a bit of a grind, I thought I’d share my own, much smaller, list of tools I love (I’ll try to keep this not-so-development-oriented):

PS Hot Launch - I hate the start menu, and the quick start tray is never big enough for all my icons. Enter PS Hot Launch, where I can now keep all my frequently used programs and bind hotkeys for startup. There are a lot of heavy duty hotkey managers and the like, but for my money (or lack thereof) this is the easiest, best, and most free version.

Console - I never use a dos prompt anymore. This one looks way cooler and supports more features (like easy copy and paste).

GNU Win32 - One of my biggest peeves about Windows is not being able to do *find . xargs grep “blah”* and get results. I sometimes use cygwin, but this is much less overhead and more native. Thank you GNU.

Microsoft TimeZone - This is a weird one, but I find myself constantly having to check what time it is on the west coast, central, etc.. I am never sure how many hours to subtract. This super simple free utility runs in your tray and lets you customize up to five locales to show current times for when you click on it. A lot easier than googling “current time pacific”.

Google Desktop - When it first came out, I thought “will I really use this?” Now I can’t go a day without it. How many times have you thought about an email you sent two months ago but could only remember various key words? Or an old coding project that has something specific you did that you now can’t remember? I can’t even count the number of hours this has saved me in “hunting for stuff” time. Seriously… if you don’t have this you don’t even know what you’re missing.

Textpad - My favorite of the “enhanced text editors” crowd. It has a vast array of pluggable syntax highlighting (no more Eclipse to edit one line of Java code), explorer shell integration, and an intuitive interface without a ton of annoying bells and whistles.

Postbox - A lightweight email client. If it had better calendar integration I’d give it a gold star. Still a great quick and dirty client that has some nice search capability.

PuTTY - Remember when people made applications that fit in a single executable and just did the job? Yeah… I do too. If you’re not using PuTTY I have no idea why not.

Xming - Perhaps a limited audience on this one, but if you need to use X in Windows, this one is for you.

SQLDeveloper - Wait… you mean to tell me Oracle made a lightweight, user friendly, super powerful database tool? And I don’t have to use sqlplus or Toad anymore? And it’s free?! Say no more…

Apache Directory Studio/Server - I absolutely love these two. I used to use Softerra LDAP Browser, which is a great tool in its own right, but I cannot tell you how happy I am to see an easy to install, easy to configure LDAP directory for Windows. I can now test LDAP integrations with impunity! Documentation is a bit sparse, but the first time I downloaded and installed this sucker I got all warm and fuzzy inside.

WinMerge - I blogged about this earlier and it is great for file and directory comparisons.

PDF Split and Merge - This is a great tool if you find yourself having to create expense reports or combine PDF’s of scanned documents. The name says it all.

Darkroom - I tend to take a lot of notes in text editors and this one just looks awesome. You may not use it all the time, but it definitely gets an A+ on style points.

Here are a few more that are pretty common so I won’t write blurbs about them: Pidgin, ImgBurn, PaintDotNet, LiveWriter, and Wireshark. And of course there are the myriad plugins you can get for Firefox, but they deserve a separate post.

Alright… happy downloading!

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