Hey, can you pass me my utility belt?

I recently had to set up my work PC, and found out that there’s a good set of utilities that I’m often using and take for granted.

Some are new to me, and some are alternatives to paid programs that I’ve lost licenses to. I typically like to use open source over paid licenses, and this round I’ve managed to do a pretty good job at finding a well rounded set of tools to do the job!

That’s… slightly… obvious!

So first and foremost, some obvious packages to install are FireFox and Google Chrome. I run both browsers because I’ll be debugging my Flex apps, and Firefox will freeze when I hit breakpoints, so I use Chrome for regular browsing or listening to streaming music.
Now there’s not much to talk about for Google Chrome, but there’s TOOOONS to talk about for FireFox!
Some of the most important extensions I use help me not only develop, but also navigate the interwebs with lightning quick speeds… or something like that.
I’ll list a collection of extensions, with links, and a short description of what they do for me:

  • XMarks – Syncs bookmarks and optionally site passwords. This saved me a LOT of time restoring my browsing experience
  • AutoPager – Keep on scrolling, and it keeps on loading subsequent pages. Great for forums, Google searches, blogs, and other misc. sites.
  • CoolIris – A cool wall view of images. Works with lots of sites, especially Craigslist, which makes it actually worthwhile to browse.
  • Adblock Plus – Obvious plugin is obvious
  • Download Statusbar – Nice, clean, elegant status bar for downloads.
  • Flash Switcher – As a Flash/Flex developer, it’s nice to be able to switch player versions quickly. And to get away from a debugger version when browsing the web (do you know HOW MANY SITES have ERRORS?!!?! TOO MANY!)
  • Flash Tracer – In similar fashion of Flash Switcher, Flash Tracer allows you to view traces that the Flash Player outputs. Great for debugging crappy Flash assets
  • FoxyProxy – A great way to route specific URLs (or entire domains, matched via regex) to a predefined set of proxies. You can have tons of proxies if you wanted (although I don’t know why you’d want to).
  • Faviconize Tab – A cool plugin that shrinks a tab down to just the favicon.

System Maintenance

A few tools have come to be my regular set of go-to items to keep my OS running as smooth as possible.

  • CrapCleaner – A great system cleaner, and registry scanner. Lightweight, quick, and updates regularly.
  • MyDefrag – A powerful and lightweight defragger that will do a few different types of optimizations.
  • Windows Search Indexer – As intrusive as it is, it DOES make searching so much faster. Sorta like the Windows equivalent of slocate

Misc. Tools

I use a couple tools to help make navigating and interacting with Windows to be more enjoyable.

  • 7-Zip archiver – Great freeware archiver, supports just about every single archive type.
  • AltDrag – A great little utility to allow your mouse and keyboard to manipulate opened windows like you would in Linux. You know, like holding ALT and Dragging the window, or ALT + Right click dragging to resize, etc. A feature I missed the HELL out of from xorg!
  • Launchy – Shortcut that will allow you to search an indexed catalog for launching applications, documents, or other misc. shortcuts.
  • Autoruns – Microsoft bought out SysInternals, and this wonderful app allows you to manage what apps, services, drivers, etc load up with windows
  • Ditto CP – An awesome freeware clipboard management. Aside from being free, it supports custom/proprietary copy formats, which NO other clipboard manager I’ve used does (ie, like Adobe Illustrator’s paths, etc).
  • Kazaa Lite Codec Pack – A nice codec pack that will cover practically every format you’ll ever want/need to play on Windows.

Communication/Networking/Synchronization

Being online all the time and connected to networks means we need to consider ways to keep our resources up to date, synchronized, and communicate in real time.

  • DropBox – A great multi-pc file synchronization tool. You get a free 2GB, and an extra 512mb for every referral (up to an extra 3GB)
  • MatCode WakeOnLan (WOL) – Command line utility to send magic packets for the WoL feature. Great for turning on PCs without having to get up!!
  • Pidgin IM – Multiplatform, opensource, and supports a TON of messaging clients.
  • Synergy – A server/client setup to share a keyboard and mouse across multiple PCs. It’s also cross platform so it’ll work on Windows, Mac, and Linux without a hitch.
  • XChat – Again, a cross platform and open source program, but this one is an IRC client. Supports a lot of basic functionality, and is extensible through scripts and plugins.
  • Free MusicZilla – I debated putting this up here… But it’s a pretty decent utility to monitor your browsers for mp3’s, or other files that the Flash Player might stream in order for you to download. Don’t tell anyone I told you, but it works great on Pandora, Grooveshark, and the likes.

Well… That’s it! But before I send this to print (what do we say for blogging?? save? publish?), I have to share my favorite monospace font – Inconsolata!

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About killerspaz

I'm a developer that loves to tinker with cutting edge technology. I have recently been playing with the Flash Platform (AS3/Flex), Android (custom roms, replacement apps, scripting), and looking at opportunities in the mobile markets.

Posted on 11.13.2009, in Tools and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Just gonna point out that you don't need Launchy in Windows 7. Just press the windows key, and a much better app/document finder is built right in 🙂

  2. Would be very interesting if you can update this post with latest tools you may be using. I am always interested in knowing what programs other developers are using.

    – Tahir.

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