Words in Boxes

Nouns, verbs, and occasionally adjectives.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Too Many Utilities Makes James a Dull Boy

Posting has been light the past week because (1) I visited home over the weekend, I was (briefly) sick, and (3) I've been on one of my upgrading-the-tools-I-work-with-instead-of-actually-working kicks.  Procrastination is pretty satisfying when I can justify it to myself as investing time to increase efficiency. 

Not that I haven't gotten results.  I've found some great tools that will make my computing life easier (most of these are from Scott Hanswelman's Computer Zen):

  • Microsoft Windows Live Writer.  I hate writing blog posts on the Blogger web form, but writing in Word or Notepad meant tagging everything in HTML by hand.  All of the other blogging software I tried was either buggy or expensive.  Live Writer just works, although it can't upload images to Blogger.
  • Better Gmail.  From lifehacker.  This is a Firefox plugin that enhances Gmail.  You can make all mailto: links launch a Gmail window, show meaningful attachment icons, and more.  Very cool.   
  • Slickrun.  If you like the keyboard and the command line, this is for you.  From Computer Zen:

    A free floating dynamic "command prompt" with alias support that continues to amaze. My tips for effective use: read the instructions, edit the slickrun.ini file and bind it to Window-R. Also set ChaseCursor so when you hit Win-R, you'll have a floating transparent command line anywhere your mouse is. I recommend you also use larger fonts! Get to know this little box. It's the bomb.

  • Gridmove.  Makes my wide-screen laptop monitor actually useful.  Press a simple key combination and snap your open windows to preset locations.  I'm using it right now.
  • Notepad++.  I probably wasted most of my time looking for a good, free text/XML editor.  None of the ones I found are perfect, but this one comes closest.  It has context highlighting for almost any language you can think of and has a decent (not great) XML plugin.  It's ability to show line-break characters saved my ass last week.
  • Tidy Start Menu.  My start menu is a mess.  So is yours.  Fix it with this.

Geeking out over.  Now back to work. 

I'm James Sulak, a software developer in Houston, Texas.

You can also find me on Twitter, or if you're curious, on my old-fashioned home page. If you want to contact me directly, you can e-mail comments@wordsinboxes.com.