Computer Tools for the Power User

Here’s a list several tools I use both at home and work. I usually carry these on my USB keychain for easy access. They’re mostly lightweight, fast, and some don’t even require a installation. These are free and NOT Shareware! They are for Windows/Windows XP.

Windows

WinMerge
Used for file comparisons. You can compare text files and see, line by line where these files are different.

Notepad++
Great editor for HTML. This integrates nicely into Internet Explorer to “view source.” It can collapse HTML tags.

Notepad2
Microsoft Notepad on steroids. It uses color coding for files of various extensions. Uses transparency so that you can see through the editor window what’s behind it.

Agent Ransack
Search for text in files. The results show you the file and what line your keyword search is in.

Password Manager
It saves your passwords. You can create categories for what kind of passwords they are. Once you save it, you hit CTRL+U to save the user name, and CTRL+C to save the password to the clipboard. It uses a secure 448 bit Blowfish algorithm to ensure the data are not crackable. The password used for securing access to stored data is not saved anywhere.

JR Screen Ruler
A visual ruler you can use to measure pixels on the screen.

WinMacro
Record whatever you do at your Windows Desktop, and can replay them exactly. This is great to record tasks and save them for later.

STRIFE
Get a checksum for a file using hashes: crc16, crc32, xsum, md5.

PuTTY
Telnet/SSH Client

Process Explorer
See information about processes: what files or directories they have open. Kill processes, etc.

StartupRun
Know exactly what’s running when you start windows and turn those annoying programs off.

Simple File Schredder
Simple File Shredder is a utility that securely deletes your files so they can’t be restored.

Restore Deleted Files
This restores files that have been deleted. Use this as a last line of defense. The great thing about this program is that it does not require to install – unlike other applications, where you need to install first.

Angry IP Scanner
Angry IP scanner is a very fast IP scanner and port scanner. It can scan IP addresses in any range as well as any their ports. Its binary file size is very small compared to other IP or port scanners.

SetFileDate
Change the date stamp for any file you want.

PopupManager
Great popup blocker.

ZoneAlarm
Good firewall software.

System Spec
System Information Utility. Get a report for practically everything you wanted to know about your computer.

SyncBack
Synchronize files from different folders. I use this to synchronize files from my computer and USB keychain and USB drive. Lots of features.

Microsoft PowerToys for Windows XP
PowerToys add fun and functionality to the Windows experience. What are they? PowerToys are additional programs that developers work on after a product has been released. These tools include: Synchronize file tool, Image resizer to resize a batch of files, power calculator, multiple desktops, tweak UI settings, and more productivity tools.

Windows Internet Browser Plugins

Web Developer Plugin for Firefox
Provides a variety of tools for quickly creating, understanding, and troubleshooting Web pages. This feature is added to the menu when you right click on a page.

Internet Explorer Developer Toolbar
Provides a variety of tools for quickly creating, understanding, and troubleshooting Web pages. This feature is added to the menu when you right click on a page.

IE Context Menu Toolset
This is a set of tools which extend the right-click context menu of Internet Explorer. By simply installing these tools, your browser will have added functionality which can greatly help in debugging pages, designing sites, diagnosing form problems, tweaking design, etc.

Fiddler
Fiddler is a HTTP Debugging Proxy which logs all HTTP traffic between your computer and the Internet. Fiddler allows you to inspect all HTTP Traffic, set breakpoints, and “fiddle” with incoming or outgoing data. Fiddler is designed to be much simpler than using NetMon or Achilles, and includes a simple but powerful JScript.NET event-based scripting subsystem.

Command Console Tools

MaxDIR
Like the dir command but displays files/directories with color and in columns.
Way much better! The drawback is if your OS is not using FAT12 or FAT16 type disks, the Bytes Consumed will be wrong.

HexEdit
Great Hexeditor. The only Hexeditor I use.

FastSum
Get md5 hashes of files or text you type in. Useful if you need to find the md5 hash of a word.

Other Great Sites for Small Tools

These two sites have great little apps for networks, programming, graphics, etc. These are also free.

Systinternals Freeware
TinyApps

Reprogram Your Keyboard Keys

I recently got a new Microsoft keyboard without the Right-Windows-Key. I use this all the time ’cause I’m a shortcut fanatic, and I couldn’t get used to using the one on the left. Not only that, but I use a CTRL/SHIFT + INSERT a lot to copy/paste and the keys were way different from my past keyboard…

along comes AutoHotKey….

This program rocks. With it, you can create a script that runs and stays in memory. Remap keys and buttons on your keyboard, joystick, and mouse. In any case, with this tool, I was able to remap the menu key (the one usually between the Right-Windows-Key and CTRL key) that I never use to a windows key. That was close enough to me. Once installed, I was able to create a script with this command:

AppsKey::RWin

And that’s it! That mapped the menu key to the windows key! I’ll be experimenting with this program a little more and trying to get more shortcuts. You can also compile your scripts into a program that runs without an installation – in case you want your shortcuts / remapping run on a different machine.

The URL is: http://www.autohotkey.com/

Shopping Cart Basics

There are actually two parts to a shopping cart application. The first consists of the actual shopping cart (where the users search and buy items from) and the other is the administrative portion where tasks such as setting price, adding/deleting items to the database are done.

Shopping Cart

An Internet shopping cart actually consists of many subparts. These are the basics:

  • Catalog
  • Session Tracking
  • Search Engine
  • Security
  • Payment
  • Return/Exchanges

Catalog

A catalog is information about goods. Customers can browse the catalog (web pages) and see what there is in stock. Each good will most likely be composed of the name, picture, and price. Rather than assigning an item to each web page, the items can be generated dynamically from a database on to one page. Instead of listing all items on one page, a customer can browse through page by page. (All the items will be browsed page by page. For example, if there are 20 items, then it’s broken down into 4 pages. If there are 100 items, it will be broken down into 25 pages, with links that say Next/Back so they can go to the next page. In a catalog, it’s preferable that items be listed in categories.

Session Tracking

While a customer is browsing a catalog and looking for items, there has to be a way to keep track of what items he/she clicks on (so it gets sent to the customer’s shopping bag). This is done through session tracking. On check out, the check out process will tell them to register (fill in their information and pick a username and password) before checking out. The information, after they register, is saved in the database so they can login next time they enter the site and not have to reenter it again (all except credit card information).

Search Engine

This is closely related to the catalog. Rather than browsing and clicking links to find the item the customer wants, they can go to a search textbox and search for an item. This will be located on a visible spot on each page. After the customer submits the search, it will display the results like a catalog with Next/Back links.

Security

This is vital when processing credit cards and keeping customer information safe. Information submitted by the customer will be encrypted and stored in the database. Also, when submitting information so credit cards get processed, it will be submitted under an SSL secure connection. A logo can be shown by whomever company handles the SSL to make it shown that there is in fact security.

Payment

Directly connected with session tracking and security. Before checking out, customers will have to submit valid information about themselves. They will be sent to a form page under SSL where they must put valid information. After they submit, the data will be validated then sent off to a gateway where the funds will be sent to a merchant account. All done securely. An automatic e-mail will be sent to the user when this process is done.

Return/Exchanges
Done as secure as Payment. The customer will pick which item he wants to return, put all the necessary information from the invoice they received, and the return/exchange will be processed.

Administrative

The administrative portion consists of two basic subparts:

  • Content Management System (CMS)
  • Data Inventory

Content Management System (CMS)
There will be pages on the web site that have significant importance. For example, the home page and the catalog pages. These are pages that will constantly be changing. (The home page can contain items on sale, popular items, “just in,” etc. It might also be a good idea to include some of this home page information on the catalog pages because they are constantly browsed.)

Instead of changing the pages manually (opening up the page, changing the source code of each page), it will be faster and safer (changing the source code has to be done carefully so no errors occur) to do it through an administrative feature. You can go into an administrative panel, and just change that portion of the page that you want to update. There would never be a need to look at any code, just a click, type, and submit. Everything will be done through options. This is what a CMS does. Manages the content of pages.

Data Inventory

There will be a section under the administrative feature where company employees can insert/update/delete information from the database. This information can be customer, item, purchase information. They can also check out a queue of the items customers have purchased.

Shopping Cart Application Add-ons


Contingency Plan

A plan that’s executed if something fails or is performing poorly. For example, if the host goes down, there’s an error in the application, or there’s a hacker break-in.

Automation

Schedule content through the content manager. Can assign by date when something will be on sale, for example. When the date comes, it will display the new information on the page automatically.

Forum/Message Board

This will create an online community.

Chat

Where people can interact in real time.

Rating

Each item can have its own rating. For example, 1 out of 5 stars.

Reviews
Users can critique each item. Contains language filter.

Reports

Stats can be generated according to customer’s habits. What they click on, what the buy, etc. Reports can be generated according to this information. As an option, automated actions can be taken upon reporting information. For example, if a customer has bought purely shoes in the past from the site, then show shoes on the home page.

Advanced Search

Search not only by item name, but by price range, date range, and any other related information.

Data Export

Export information from the database as text files, XML, Access and Excel.

Mailing Lists

Send customers e-mails with news on prices, offers, new items, etc.

Portals

A page that contains links and other related information about other sites.

Gift Certificate

Gift Certificates can be bought online so it can be used in-store or online.

Site Map

Will contain a list or a map of all the sections and pages of the web site for quick navigation.

Other Online Marketing Options:

  • Affiliates
  • Web Rings
  • Forums
  • Search Engine Submission
  • METATAG creation