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AI, Robotics, multiplatform game development and Strict programming language

Top 10 Most Useful Tools

This post is not about programmer tools, but just tools and helpers for everyday use in windows. There will also be no anti virus programs, big or special applications or any games in this list, just little tools (most of them just a few Kb big). All of them are free to download. Most of them didn't change over the last years, but some tools got replaced by some better tools :)

This are my personal Top 10 Tools. These are the first programs I install on a fresh windows machine (besides Visual Studio 2005 and UltraEdit of course ^^):

  • Process Explorer:
    Process Explorer The Process Explorer shows you information about which handles and DLLs processes, much more useful than the standard windows Task Manager. This is a very useful tool to find out more about running applications and getting detailed information of everything that is going on. Btw: Microsoft has just acquired Winternals Software and Sysinternals, the makers of this and many other great tools.

  • Application Traffic Monitor:
    Application Traffic Monitor Cool little tool to see traffic and speed of each application. Can also be used to see how much your traffic costs if you don't have a flatrate. It was originally developed by Andrew A. Fedorov (bizkit-soft) and more information can be found on this article.

    I extended the tool quite a bit and fixed some issues. New features are:

    • Notify Icon shows the current upload and download speed in a nice graph
    • Extra options in notify icon menu showing the current download and upload speed.
    • Also showing to total used traffic since the tool is running.
    • Tweaked the WinPcap calling code a bit and added some features (close button, stay on top, cost option now hidden, etc.).
    • Disabled the small window by default and allowing it to hide with menu or simple double clicking it or the tray icon. The small window is nice for detailed info, but most of the time you don't want it.
    • Notify icon shows a nice tooltip with speed and traffic information
    • Remembers traffic window position and size.
    • Added a nice installer, which automatically installs the WinPcap library if required.

    You can download my extended version of the tool here:
    AppTrafficMonitorInstaller.exe (163 Kb, v1.2, 23 July 2006)

  • Google Desktop:
    Google Desktop Most useful desktop search tool, also quite nice sidebar with many gadgets. There are many other desktop searchs available today (Yahoo! Desktop Search, MSN Search with Windows Desktop Search, etc.), but I still think Google Desktop is the most advanced, supports the most file types and has the most plugins available. If you use google all the time anyway, it is also useful to see if it finds something directly on your computer while searching the web.

  • IrfanView:
    IrfanView Freeware image viewer, supports many file formats (almost everything you can imagine). Not much else to say about it. The default Windows Picture and Fax Viewer sucks and ACDSee is nice too, but cost money. I also like the support of .dds files, which almost no other image viewer can display, very useful during development.

  • Miranda IM:
    Miranda IM Instant Messenger that supports many formats, including ICQ, MSN, AIM, IRC. Miranda has a clean and simple interface, too simple for some people, but what really matters is how useable a program is. I don't need fancy buttons and annoying animations, which only look cool the first time. I never liked MSN or AIM or the newer ICQ versions (just the programs and looks, not the protocol). But to keep your contacts in one place, to access all the ICQ contacts (still the most used IM tool for games and almost everyone I know) and because the newer ICQ versions all suck too, it is quite nice to have one single IM tool that does everything. You can even use your Skype contacts with Miranda, now that is really cool because chatting with Skype is like talking to monkeys (Skype is good for talking, thats it).

  • Skype:
    Skype Skype should be on every top 10 list, best phone and VoIP app ever. Forget about TeamSpeak, Ventrilo and the million other VoIP apps, they all suck :D Extended features like SkypeOut (calling phone lines) are also quite nice.

  • uTorrent:
    uTorrent Best torrent client ever, Azureus was nice too for a while, but we all know .NET > Java and uTorrent has so many cool features (RRS downloader for getting DotNetRocks and Mondays :), trackerless support, quick resume, etc.) with an incredible small download while needing almost zero resources. It gets also improved from time to time to add more features while keeping it simple and user friendly.

  • Daemon Tools:
    Daemon Tools Daemon Tools allows you to emulate cd and dvd drives and gives you the ability to directly access image files (iso, cue, bin, etc.). You should use it together with FastMount to easily open up images by double clicking on them. While this tool is used a lot for circumventing cd protections for games, it is also useful for everyday use. I hate changing cds or dvds and I got a big hdd raid with enough space to hold many iso images :)

  • Panorama 32:
    Panorama 32 Really useful wallpaper manager since 1998, I got over 30k images in my wallpaper queue :) Well, you have to like changing your background a lot (I let it change every 10 minutes) and you should have a lot of pics with girls (or boys or cars or planets, whatever you like) ^^

  • WinAmp:
    WinAmp Still the most useful program to play music. Can also be used for videos, but I suggest using VLC media player and Windows Media Player Classic for videos (but including them in this list would require more than 10 entries ^^).

Btw: Little shoutout to Dirk Primbs, who is blogging like crazy lately on his new blog, check it out. Lots of info about new technology and stuff.