Some windows tools I really like & use, and you may not know about…

No! this is not another “all the best tools any windows developer should use”. There are plenty of other good resources on that (see below)… I won’t talk about fiddler, I won’t talk about notepad++, I won’t talk about reflector… you get the point. Smile

This post is about some tools I use, most of them daily and extremely frequently, but are not…  how to say? windows developer ”mainstream” kind of tools, or in other cases they’ve been so useful to me that I feel obliged in publicly saying “thank you” and just pass the word along.

I remember now doing my “hacked” techdays 2005 session, back then for example, fiddler had not the visibility it has today. In fact I discovered it on the day before the session I think, as the session was prepped with a rather “low featured” java http proxy (the only I found useful at the time, proxies were really not mainstream I think, who the hell would be interested in changing http requests on the fly? Smile what for?). In fact I think someone from Microsoft asked me if I really couldn’t found any other proxy…. with better looks and… were not…how to say this… Smile “java” based? ) . And so I did, googled deeper and my use of fiddler started there.

 

So, to the point,  here they are, I think most of these (great IMO) tools are still somehow in the “shadows”. And all of them survived my “quarantine cool tool period” witch is rather long, and I use them frequently  for several months, even years, now.

 

Prism HUD, from UtilHaven, free version available

image

Got it almost always on, it’s a rather great example of a proper simple “data intelligence” based tool. (now really, “business intelligence” doesn’t make much sense for me as a term… but that’s a “bedtime story” for another post)

When your cpu starts peaking you can immediately see which process is causing it, if your network usage spikes you know it. Configurable. Low on resources, I don’t performance benchmarks (eg: olap) without  it. Only disable it when presenting or taking screenshots. Now if all decision makers would have this kind of real-time feedback on their business… Smile

 

John’s Background Switcher, free, from John Conners

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Just an amazing and feature rich background switcher. Love it. Best one I’ve seen. Always seeing different things on my background (some of them rather surprising Smile  sometimes)

 

AutoHotKey, Free

Anyone who likes code snippets should see this one. For example: I really don’t usually remember my professional mobile phone, when I need it I just type mtlm-  anywhere (in fact I had trouble writing this as it immediately replaced it Smile )

Fully customizable, some example scripts:
windows key+g-> run google
#g::Run www.google.com

my phone shortcut
:*:mtlm-::999999999

my kind regards snippet
:*:kr-::
(
Kind Regards,
Rui Quintino
)

 

Pure Text

Great tool to strip html/rich text formatting. Pastes plain text. Use it a lot. Just press windows+v .

FireFox Copy Title

I really can’t possibly count how many times I’ve used this. Just right click any firefox page and select Copy Title, you’ll get this:

CopyTitle for Firefox
http://www.vakuumverpackt.de/copytitle/

 

Quick Jump, from TechHit, not free but worth every $$ (unless off course someone remembers doing the same for free Smile )

 

image

Already mentioned it on my post.  Just press ctrl-shift-J and begin typing to get placed in your target windows folder. Works with most save & open file dialogs. (not with vs 2010 I’m afraid).

 

Outlook Add-On Clear Context, Free & Pro Edition

image

Ok, this not an unknown tool for sure, but still not very common between developers. I use it with my mail handling. If you’re being overload my email handling, just give it a try. You’ll get more time to code if you’re not dealing or searching email right?

 

Fences

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Used from the first versions I think , just love it. Specially when combined with johns background switcher above. One click and I get back my beautiful and always fresh wallpaper!

 

Calibre e-book  management

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Absolutely awesome tool to manage ebooks and a great companion to my beloved Kindle Smile .

Lots of features including book metadata retrieval, kindle connection, support for rss feeds & automatic delivery to kindle.

Just great!

 

CyberKiko FTPSync, Free & pro version

A great tool to synchronize files & folders with ftp servers. Used it already with great success! And Kristof is extremely responsive with support requests.

 

Jump To Folder, my little free Outlook  macro& form to speed search outlook folders

image

I know… but hey,  Scott Hanselman also put his cool baby app on his favorite tools page right? And I actually use it (as you can see in the screenshot ,  I even put a counter on itSmile )

Life Hacker

Yes, not a tool, but a great site that I review *every* single week. Some of the tools on this page I discovered on LifeHacker. Lots of interesting reading, being  cool tools one of them.

Final notes…

If you are still interested in “all the best tools” you can get, then be sure to check these links (sure many others exist):

Scott Hanselman – Scott Hanselman’s 2009 Ultimate Developer and Power Users Tool List for Windows
http://www.hanselman.com/blog/ScottHanselmans2009UltimateDeveloperAndPowerUsersToolListForWindows.aspx

What is your best list of ‘must have’ development tools? — HTMLCoderHelper.com
http://htmlcoderhelper.com/what-is-your-best-list-of-must-have-development-tools/

(ps-some of the tools I used when writing this post include  copy title, quick jump, pure text,  jump to folder…aside from screenshot usage )

Cisco VPN Client 64 bits, Windows 7, A few setup Problems & solutions

Just remembered that I had to struggle to proper setup the cisco CPN client (now 64 bits, finally!) on my Windows 7.

The errors are extremely misleading :(, after poking around msi logs, online foruns & others, here’s what solved it for me:

First error – Right on the setup startup I was getting “installation ended prematurely because of an error” . Reason for this one was that wise installer needs vbscript to cycle between setup dialogs. And although I could execute vbs scripts properly, something was wrong with the dll registration … so it failed right in the beginning.

Through the msi logs you can see a more detailed error. (Really the delay on all this is only on getting to the *real* error messages… lots of try/catch/throw “unexpexted exception” style of coding, probably good from a security perspective, but a pain to diagnose… a lot like working with sharepoint out of the box, Winking smile cof… )

To fix this I had to run both of these steps (almost sure that I needed both, just the vbscript re-registration was not enough):

(yes, you’re advised to backup the key before deleting, just in case…)

reg delete “HKCU\SOFTWARE\Classes\Wow6432Node\CLSID\{B54F3741-5B07-11CF-A4B0-00AA004A55E8}” /f

regsvr32 c:\windows\syswow64\vbscript.dll

 

That fixed the first error, Right to the second one. The setup was now running but crashing when setting up network drivers&filters with another….yes… extremely useful (!)  error message that read “unable to manage networking component. Operating system corruption may be preventing installation”

That’s really (another) annoying error message…so verbose mode on msi again… check the logs and found 0x8004a029 error witch translated to something like “maximum number of network filter drivers has been reached.”

And in my case this was due mainly to lots of network filters like the ones needed by virtual pc, virtual box, wireshark & some others (I can only imagine…).

So you can uninstall some of them or increasing the limit directly in the registry (of course the limit is there so that you don’t overload the network stack…)

Something like increasing the value in :

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Network\MaxNumFilters

 

Ok, back to the setup, all  was solved now right? ah….wrong!! Now another error pops up “”Error 27854: The Network Configuration LOck is held by another application.  Close all applications and run Setup again. …”

Ok, that one was actually my fault Smile .  At least the message made sense and lead me in the right direction, I forgot to close my network connections properties, that I had opened to try to diagnose the previous error message.

So, network properties closed, run the setup again and that’s done! Loaded my pcf files and it’s been working like a charm! Smile

 

Hope this helps someone.

Finally ,some additional resources that helped to this, rather surprisingly, painful troubleshooting process:

VPN Client 5.0.04.0300 Installation Issue
https://supportforums.cisco.com/thread/184691

Is there a maximum number of Network Filter Drivers in Windows 7?
http://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/en/w7itpronetworking/thread/4deb27fc-33ce-4fc0-a26f-3fec5b57733d

VPC and Windows XP Mode installation problems
http://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/en/w7itprovirt/thread/44345f66-87fc-4a9e-aede-153a976a4b49

How to (Successfully) Install Cisco VPN Client on Windows 7 – Brenton House
http://weblogs.asp.net/bhouse/archive/2009/01/15/how-to-successfully-install-cisco-vpn-client-on-windows-7.aspx

Error 2738 Could Not Access Vbscript Runtime For Custom Action – You Can Easily Fix it Now!
http://www.articlesbase.com/data-recovery-articles/error-2738-could-not-access-vbscript-runtime-for-custom-action-you-can-easily-fix-it-now-991609.html

Error 2738. Could not access VBScript run time for custom action.
http://www.jakeludington.com/windows_7/20091115_error_2738_could_not_access_vbscript_run_time_for_custom_action.html

Cisco VPN client x64 for win7 – will not install
https://supportforums.cisco.com/thread/2045330?tstart=0&viewcondensed

Blog or Die! » Msi Installer errors on CISCO VPN under Windows 7
http://www.blogordie.com/2010/08/msi-installer-errors-on-cisco-vpn-under-windows-7/

Fatal Error During Installation with Windows VISTA
http://lodensoftware.com/forum/index.php?topic=9.0