New Computer Software Install List

I recently got a new computer for work, and it’s taken a while to get all the tools I’m used to.  Here are the things I’ve missed in the last week in approximate order.

  • Launchy – keyboard launcher so I don’t have to click to find my apps.
  • CLCL – Clipboard manager so I can find things on my clipboard without having to copy them again.
  • UnixUtils – Windows commands that give you handy unix utilities: ls, find, grep, etc.
  • GVIM – Windows, Linux, and Mac compatible super-VI editor.
  • AutoHotKey – Remaps your keys to different keys, or provides global key shortcuts.
  • PuTTY –  Telnet and SSH client.
  • Cropper – Screen capture tool that goes to a file OR your clipboard.
  • Winamp – Music player with great radio stations and visualizations.
  • VLC – Video Lan Client plays almost any video file.
  • Virtualbox – Virtual machines are SO handy.
  • WinSCP – Windows-friendly tool for copying files to and from remote servers.
  • SoapUI – For hitting web services and parsing WSDL.  Plus, the latest version has a copy of TCPMon, which is like a wiretap for TCP communications.


There are also the different versions of Java and Ruby that are handy to have around.  In order to keep those straight I try to make a setupXXX.bat in the c:\ folder to set the environment variables for each.  That way each time I start a command window I can set the environment to what I need.

One tool I’ve always liked, but never have been able to use with discipline, is TiddlyWiki.  It’s like a wiki, but it runs locally in your browser.  It seems like it would be very handy for keeping track of lists, but I always use paper notebooks to keep my lists in, so I have at least ten separate versions that I start and don’t update.

Maybe now that I have a list where I can find it, I will be able to set up my next computer even faster.

Kickstart Java Projects with a Simple Ant File

A couple of times a year, I think about starting a new Java project.  Usually it’s a tool to automate tasks that I’m tired of doing manually.  It often involves parsing a file, or testing a web service, or accessing a database.

For a while I would write it in Ruby, but it was always a pain to distribute.  First, you’d have to see if the other user knows what Ruby is, tell them to get it installed, etc.  Plus, in my organization, ruby isn’t a supported platform, so these projects never have a chance to get maintained or updated unless I do it.

I’m just enough of an automation geek to think that all projects, even these little ones, need to have a build system.  That way if I do want to update it I can do it without having to remember how to set up the class path, etc.  And I don’t like using IDEs for builds.

What I really wanted was the convenience of the Rails new project with the acceptance of the Java language.  After fiddling around a bit, I decided to write my own.

It’s just one ant file.  It creates the directories, compiles the files, and jars them up for you.  It keeps old versions of the jars with date-time stamps, but copies the latest version to the build.xml directory so you can easily run it.  It can run junit test, and it even includes instructions on how to compile your first code and test classes.

If you need a simple way to start a small Java project, you can check it out.