Essentials 2010 Edition

See previous:

Inspired by Tim’s 5 open source apps I spend the most time using, here’s my 2010 Essentials. In no particular order:

  1. [School/Home/Work] Chrome – w/ AdBlock Plus, Greasemonkey and Google Mail Checker
  2. [School/Home/Work] Google Docs/Calendar/Reader – several Google Labs extensions
  3. [Work/School] Microsoft Office with OffiSync, Data mining addins for Excel
  4. [Work/Home] PuTTY
  5. [Home] Twitter/TweetDeck
  6. mIRC
  7. [Work] SQL Management Studio
  8. [Work] vSphere Client
  9. [Work/Home/School] Pidgin
  10. [Work/Home/School] iTunes w/ AudioScrobbler plugin
  11. [Work] Microsoft Sharepoint
  12. [Home]
  13. [Work] OpenVPN
  14. [Work] VMware Workstation
  15. [Work/Home/School] Notepad++
  16. [Work] FireGPG/Firefox
  17. [Home] Google Analytics
  18. [Home/Work/School] Facebook
  19. [Home/Work/School] Hacker News
  20. [Home/Work/School] FoxIt Reader

It’s interesting to see the changes to the list over the years. Jobs have changed but so have the tools, now all of the basic collaboration is done over the web.


Essentials, Late 2008 Edition

Another draft I saw lying around. Here goes nothing…

An homage to Dive Into Mark’s Linux Essentials list (2006, 2008) and My WebDev Essentials (2007) here’s the update on cool software that I am using.

Note: All webapps/software on this list is FOG (Free or GTFO) and for Windows…which, ironically, is not FOG:

  1. VLC – essential for playing video files
  2. TweetDeck – it’s where I post to twitter
  3. FoxIt Reader – my work life has be reading tons of PDFs – Adobe Reader is too large and slow, FoxIt is great and has Firefox integration — did I mention it does tabs? and doesn’t suck?
  4. Firefox
  5. GMail
  6. Web Developer Toolbar – most of the time I have this hidden, but it comes in handy on random occaisions
  7. delicious toolbar – my work life also has me bookmarking an unbelievable amount of material and having to keep it organized; across many machines… delicious and delicious toolbar are the way to go
  8. Stack Overflow and Ask Metafilter are great question and answer sites for random geek and nongeek questions
  9. provides great personal financial data gathering from multiple sources (savings account, checking account, credit card) and aggregates them all, essential budgeting tool
  10. Seahorse – Linux only, but great GPG/PGP key management software – couldn’t ever get WinGPG to work
  11. Google Reader the obvious RSS reader choice
  12. VMware Player
  13. Pidgin – instant messaging
  14. mIRC
  15. mRemote – gracefully handles multiple remote administration sessions in tabs (SSH, RDP, VNC)
  16. Winamp – classic mode only
  17. Google Toolbar – I am a very serious Google searcher and the toolbar provides a lot of killer functionality while on result pages (find being the #1 with the “up a level” at #2)
  18. Nagios – system notifications for our boxes here at work (Linux)
  19. CNN and Reddit for nongeek and geek news.
  20. KeePass – password vault
  21. PuTTY oh PuTTY, where would I be without your quick SSH goodness?
  22. Hulu – watch Family Guy, Arrested Development and Firefly online
  23. Paint .NET – still without a doubt the best lightweight image cropping/low level editing app
  24. Facebook – obvious
  25. AdBlock Plus – ads are annoying

No longer using (absolutely refuse to run):

  1. iTunes
  2. Quicktime
  3. Safari for Windows
  4. Anything Apple
  5. Myspace
  6. Digg

The Apple apps running on Windows were awful. I am sure they are great on Mac OS and hardware, but their products on Windows are sluggish at best. I felt dumber after each visit to Digg or Myspace, so no more.

Gone, but not forgotten:

  1. Last.FM – just stopped being practical, and stopped working in Winamp
  2. Eclipse – no longer doing development…
  3. OpenOffice – Use Google Docs for docs that I share, and Office 2007 for everything else. Office 2007 is too nice.
  4. RescueTime – stopped caring about the fact I’m on the web most days writing email or in Excel
  5. Greasemonkey – I either don’t visit the sites that I used Greasemonkey on anymore or the sites have changed
  6. Filezilla – for the few times I’ve got to FTP

IBM’s Consumability Survey – still lacking

IBM has a consumability survey out. The survey sums up why IBM continues to fail delivering me information on my ruthless pursuit of actionable content.

From the survey page:

The Consumability Survey, which requires approximately 30 minutes to complete and must be completed in one session, allows you to provide your input based on your experience and priorities for 31 product characteristics.

Are you kidding?

Firefox 3 Constantly Crashes — advice?

Does anyone else have constant Firefox Crashes? This makes me want to revert back to 2.0… or worse.

Here’s my error report (hopefully none of this is too revealing):

Add-ons: {d10d0bf8-f5b5-c8b4-a8b2-2b9879e08c5d}:,,{fce36c1e-58d8-498a-b2a5-66ad1cedebbb}:0.72,{2fa4ed95-0317-4c6a-a74c-5f3e3912c1f9}:2.0.64,{3112ca9c-de6d-4884-a869-9855de68056c}:3.1.20080605W,{e4a8a97b-f2ed-450b-b12d-ee082ba24781}:0.8.20080609.0,{CAFEEFAC-0016-0000-0003-ABCDEFFEDCBA}:6.0.03,{CAFEEFAC-0016-0000-0004-ABCDEFFEDCBA}:6.0.04,{CAFEEFAC-0016-0000-0005-ABCDEFFEDCBA}:6.0.05,{972ce4c6-7e08-4474-a285-3208198ce6fd}:3.0
BuildID: 2008052906
CrashTime: 1214443949
InstallTime: 1214317202
ProductName: Firefox
SecondsSinceLastCrash: 28
StartupTime: 1214443922
Theme: classic/1.0
UserID: __removed__
Vendor: Mozilla
Version: 3.0

This report also contains technical information about the state of the application when it crashed.

Update: A commenter mentioned it could be RescueTime. No crashes since disabling RescueTime. Yay!

Update #2: – This appears to be FIXED in Firefox 3.0.1! Yay! Running RT once again.

GrooveShark: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

I found Grooveshark via following Derek’s Twitter. I was a Pandora addict, but I had two big complaints about Pandora:

  1. Repeating/Duped content (Grooveshark is still guilty of this one)
  2. Not what I want to hear, right at that moment

Grooveshark comes in and blows Pandora away on point #2. I don’t want to be too harsh on them, but grooveshark on Twitter asked me for my thoughts.

The Good

  • Attractive UI. Very pretty UI. I have a lot of mixed feelings on the site’s usability. That doesn’t mean it isn’t pretty:
  • Really cool multiple selection and drag.

The Bad

  • Is it legal? First question almost all of my friends (5-7) that I shared the site with… I still don’t know.
  • How do I use it? There’s no real clear call to action for what a user is supposed to do. “Listen to any song in the world for free” isn’t really a clear call to action. It doesn’t let the user know to search, especially when it’s a nonstandard form element. A few of the users I saw with this just clicked the search button.

  • Style Difference between and the ‘beta’/other site. Listen.grooveshark is the only site I use regularly. Until the other site is as fluid as listen.grooveshark, I’ll stick with it.
  • Dupes. Painful amount of duplicates for popular music. Which one do I listen to?

The Ugly

  • Sharing playlists. Not easy enough. Not seamless enough. I still don’t really know how to do it. I had to give my girlfriend my login/password so she could make me some playlists. That’s not good enough.
  • Annoying download popup on every login. Enough already! I just want to listen to music.
  • Sometimes music just doesn’t play.

    Can we have a fault tolerance where if the song doesn’t load in X seconds, go to the next one in the queue?

Overall: I use Grooveshark daily. I recommend it to my friends.

VMware: Find total disk usage of snapshots on a given LUN

Moved to Virtual Andy

New Geek Tools: Assembla, RescueTime, Xobni

Assembla packages SVN hosting, Trac, Wikis, Real Time Chat, Ticketing, and emails on repository commits. “It’s too hard to set up” is usually an excuse to not use SCM tools… but Assembla gets you going quickly. We now use it on BibleShark. Ask me if you want to take a look at our setup on Assembla.

Here’s a screenshot of a commit I did a while back for Google Analytics ga.js update:

RescueTime tracks what application has your focus and for how long. I can’t wait to see this product grow, they got their initial funding by YCombinator.

Here’s a screenshot of a recent RescueTime:

Xobni adds message sender/context, a better search, and email analytics your Outlook.

Here’s a screenshot of the pane it adds to your inbox:

Here’s a screenshot of inbox analytics from Xobni:

Comment if you want an invite, I’ve got a few left.