Friday, January 06, 2012

New Year, New Resolutions


In other words, happy new year!

As far as making and keeping new resolutions go, I’d already failed miserably by January 2nd, probably setting a new low. The resolution was to take a photograph everyday and upload it to Flickr/Facebook, but that just didn’t happen. In fact, I haven’t picked up my camera for a week or two, and only used the camera in my phone to play around with Photosynth, which looks completely out of place on an iPhone, having been built for a Windows-based phone with no effort made to translate the UI design, but nevertheless, works very well.

However, the new year does afford me the chance to indulge in some spring cleaning, even if we are in the early throes of summer here in the Lucky Country. In particular, now that I am back at work, it means opening up the computer case, and having some fun with a rather large air compressor to remove all the dust that has accumulated since the PC was assembled. It also means that I can finally give it a good formatting and install everything afresh, something which every PC user should do at least annually.

Clean ALL the things!This of course reminds me just how many applications I have downloaded and installed in the past year. Just installing Windows 7 with all the layers upon layers of patches takes about half a day, and our internet connection at work feels much slower than my home internet connection.

To give you an idea of just how much stuff your typical Windows developer needs to make it through the day, here’s an approximate list. So far it’s taken me a whole day to download and install this lot, and I’m still finding those useful little apps that you forget aren’t included out-of-the-box.


  • 7-Zip – beats WinZip for compression any day;
  • DropBox – file synchronisation across almost any device;
  • Google Chrome – the choice of most developers;
  • Mozilla Firefox – the chose of most other developers;
  • Skype – for keeping in touch with our other offices around the world;
  • Virtual CloneDrive – for mounting all those application installation ISOs;
  • Windows Live Essentials – Mail, Messenger, and of course, Writer (which no self-respecting blogger should be without – definitely one of the most useful products to come out of Redmond);

Business Applications

Developer Tools

  • Beyond Compare – the best diff tool that I’ve tried (WinMerge is free and also very good, but I just prefer BC);
  • CruiseControl.NET – nothing inspires confidence in your day’s work like a row of green lights confirming that it compiles, the tests ran successfully, and the installation package is ready to be shipped;
  • Fiddler – if you have to send data across the network, you need this tool;
  • Notepad++ – syntax highlighting for almost every language out there, and tabbed windows too;
  • Smtp4Dev - for testing the sending of emails;
  • SQL Server Compact – for when the application you are developing will not need a full-blown database server;
  • SQL Server Express – for when application you are developing will need a full-blown database server;
  • Subversion (command-line, GUI, and IDE integration) – who wants to be a tightrope walker without a safety net?
  • Visual Studio – where I spend 95% of my time:
  • Windows 7 SDK – essential developer tools;
  • Silverlight – for rich web client development;
  • Silverlight Toolkit – the bits that Microsoft forgot in Silverlight
  • Expression Blend SDK – another set of bits that Microsoft forgot in Silverlight

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