Odds and Ends: apps and tools worth mentioning

The following list covers a few of my favorite apps from over the years and mind you is in no particular order:

1) Sonique – One of the most unique MP3 players of all time, this project was killed after being handed around between a number of companies including Lycos.  You can download the last releases from the Museum of Sonique. You can also download my pack of Sonique skins or a cache of Sonique version 1.95.

2) Stardock Fences – Take your desktop icons and clean them up into tiny squared off folders. I freaking love this utility because I “junk” stuff on my desktop and before I would pretty much monthly cycle everything onto a dated folder. The fences solution is much better, organize stuff into tiny desktop windows.

3) Vim – This has been my favorite editor since … I don’t know, 2000? There is a great Visual Studio plugin by @JaredPar that lets you use Vim syntax in visual studio. There is also an open source version that ships with most flavors of Unix but on Windows behaves a little strangely for my tastes. My keyboard requires a special function key to get to the insert key; despite these challenges, I’m more productive in this editor than any other. The following shortcuts were enough to keep me a fanboi:

  • :sp  – split the screen, e.g. :sp readme.txt will split the current screen and then CTRL+w (j / k) will switch you between the screens
  • :vs – same as :sp except vertical split
  • :map – I love this. Mapping the # key is my go-to quick edits hack.  For example, “:map # 0i    <esc>j”  This will insert 4 spaces at the beginning of the line and then move to the next line.  Insanely fast for “manually” retabbing and in other instances similar patterns can be used for regex replaces and so on.  As an aside, I prefer this to :s/foo/bar in some cases but I primarily perform replaces using a regex.  Mapping insertions and deletions for Macros is still really handy.
  • :set ts
  • :set hlsearch / :set nohlsearch – turn on and off the highlighting

4) Foobar 2000 – A very nice and minimalistic MP3 player.  Indexes your library faster than anything else out there, loads and shuts down fast and cleanly too.

5) VLC – Not the best performance from a media player, but VLC plays pretty much anything you throw at it.  It’s also a remarkably reliable transcoder.

6) WinSCP – I don’t normally use WYSIWIG ftp software, but when I do, WinSCP is a “good enough” solution.  This is one of those “set it and forget it” utilities that I almost always forget is there until I end up on a home machine without it and without my username for 1&1, some random string of characters that they assigned to me.

7 ) Windows Live Essentials – I have had a fanboish fanaticism about live essentials for going a little beyond the basics.  There are some really awesome tools that ship with the application pack and the releases keep getting better. Full disclosure, I work for Microsoft – but, I genuinely do like this as a companion to Windows.

Notable omissions from the list:

I don’t have a single offline twitter client, email reader, or chat program for personal use, Outlook and Lync for work are useful.  For all of my personal communications, I use online solutions.  The portability is more important than performance or functionality to me.

For now, I have reverted to plain old MP3s and making online purchases for music I want.  It’s old school, but it always works and I know I will be able to use the tracks in Serato and Ableton or make mix cds with my music. I sometimes discover music through DJ record pools (Whitelabel.net if you have Serato) but mostly I have been listening to what I have.