Cool Tools – Take Command: The Best Tool For Command Line Warriors

TCC_screenshot2-bigOK gang, this is a nice one that I have to share with you. If you are a command line junkie like me and are stuck not only in a Windows GUI infested world, but in a world where the Linux distro’s seems to be more and more inclined to head that way too, you might just love this tool. Now, this is Windows only but may run on WINE as well, I haven’t tried it yet but I will do that and report back later.

Anyway, the software is called Take Command, and the beauty of it is that it allows you to run a very sweet console window that is built in, with all kinds of built in variable and functions that makes this thing seem kinda like bash for Windows on crack or something. However, even better is that you can run other console windows of your choosing, right along side the original one all in a nice tabbed interface! What does that mean exactly? You may be asking. Well, check this out: all in one interface I myself have the standard Windows Command Prompt, a BASH shell from Git, a Windows Powershell window, a CYGWIN window, and the customized TCC prompt!!! And I can add more, up to 25 console windows! You just point to the executable to run in that console and away you go, it’s awesome. Now I don’t have to have a bunch of separate windows open, I just have one, that re-sizable, adds copy and paste, and more! One more thing, the way that this software hosts the command console executables (think cmd.exe), it runs it way faster than when running natively! The I/O is awesome! I’m not sure what kind of voodoo the author came up with to make Windows faster but I don’t care, I dig it!

Take Command Screenshot

Click to watch the video

For even more goodness, I mentioned earlier that the app adds more commands (140) and more functions and variables (450) and literally thousands of additional features to the Windows Command Prompt. So, if you are a Windows admin, this tool will really shine for you with their advanced bath file and scripting capabilities, additional features, speed and more. I highly encourage you to watch this video here on the left, it’s short but gives you a quick rundown of the high points of this software. It can do so much and has so much in it, I cannot possible talk about it all.

Now for the bad side, and that is that the tool is expensive, it’s not cheap. We are talking about $99.95 for a license, which isn’t the end of the world but it can be a lot for a sysadmin’s budget. However, it is worth it, and further more, if you are patient, you can find a good deal on it at Bits du Jour. If my memory serves me correctly, I think got my copy for about half price. All in all though, like I said, if you are a command like junkie or warrior, this tool will not only save you time and effort, it will look way cool in your kit too! I use this tool every day and I love it.

One last this, this little gem of a tool will be listed along with all of the other Cool Tools in the list, so when you are done checking this tool out, why don’t you go see the list and check out the rest of the Cool Tools!

*As usual, I want to remind everyone that I am not affiliated with jpsoftware in any way and I get nothing from recommending this or if you buy it, I am telling you about this because I like it, and I think it will be beneficial to other IT warriors out there like me!

Cool Tools: Trello – Organize Anything

Trello LogoI have found one of the coolest apps ever for making lists, using a virtual whiteboard, taking and re-arranging notes, outlining and even more stuff I haven’t even figure out yet. It’s an app called ‘Trello‘ and I originally found it on my iPhone for iOS. A few days later I was sitting here at my computer wishing I had it to use on my computer too. Low and behold I went to their website and it’s a web app as well that you can use on any PC/Maz/UNIX/Linux box that has a web browser and an Internet connection! Imagine my surprise!

So, finding that I could use it on my PC and my iPhone (you can use it on Android too, BTW), I just had to share this so everyone could get the benefits of this amazing application too. Now, before you get started, just one thing to share because this irks me when I run into it most of the time, and that is that you will be asked to create an account or log in with Google. Normally, I don’t like this because I figure why do I need to create an account just to use an app, right? Then when I realized I could use it in a browser on my PC the reason became clear. That’s how I can have all of my data in both places. So, YES you can indeed work on the same set of lists, the same data, all the same stuff between your mobile device and your PC at home. Cool, huh?

I highly recommend this app and service, it’s really cool and very productive, it really does a great job of organizing my data. You can create these lists and then move the data elements around by clicking and dragging, and etc. Plus you can drill down to and within each individual element and add more data to each one. It is just amazing what it can do, and therefore what you can do with it. So go try it out … NOW!!

Check out Trello today, you will thank me!

Cool Tools: Networx – Track Your Network Bandwidth Usage

NetworxI wanted to let everyone know about a new tool that I found that has, coincidentally, been added to our Cool Tools list. It’s called Networx and it is a supremo wonderful tool for monitoring your bandwidth. Now, this tool has more features than I can list here so I will list some of my favorites and link to the site for this piece of software, and I urge you to go check it out. If for no other reason, check it out because it’s a FREE tool that looks and operates like it ought to cost a lot of money.

OK, first of all you can install it or just extract and run, how cool is that this thing is so tight and so well written that you can just run it without installing it, using it’s own SQLite database. You can use this to grab all of your network usage in order to get the total picture of total bandwidth consumption, but here is some of the cool stuff, you can break off your network buy things like an interface or a network subnet and/or IP address and monitor those pieces of your network as well if you want to track bandwidth usage separately.  In one instance, I know of someone who set this up to monitor the bandwidth of each roommate on the same cable subnet in order to make sure that whoever was using the bandwidth, paid for the bandwidth. No more pointing fingers and saying it’s all those streaming videos you watch and there really being no way to know. Now you can, and it’s really easy to setup. The reports it generates are way cool, the data can be exported to Excel and other standard output formats for even more tinkering, this thing has it all. And did I mention that it is totally FREE???

What are you freaking waiting for, go check it out, download it and use it, it’s awesome!!! While you are there, check out some of their other products (most of them are FREE!!).

*Note: Please remember that this is not any kind of paid advertisement or review. I am posting this because of exactly what I said in the article, I found this tool and found it to be useful and wanted to share it with my readers. I just want to make sure that you know that I in no way am getting paid for this article, nor do I get paid if you buy anything from the software vendor, etc. This is a 100% honest review from a happy user!

Cool Tools: Hard Disk Sentinel

hds_std_230Recently I found a tool for Windows and Linux PCs that provides a long overdue service, and that is hard disk monitoring. Now, I don’t mean monitoring like some tools where it just looks at free space or temperature and that’s it, this tool set looks at everything you can think of. Yes it checks free space and temperature, but also reads, monitors and reports on S.M.A.R.T. data, errors, log information, performance and more. Check out a full list of features here.

One thing that this tool does that I really like is hard disk surface testing and data relocation. I don’t mean simple “can I read this” sector testing like most tools do, HDS does intensive surface testing making sure that the entire disk can be read from and written to properly. It can detect weak sectors, that would be sectors that still work and thus would pass a simple “read only” test, but are weak meaning they are not “good as new” and could be near failure. When it finds these areas, it can then relocate that data to known good areas and attempt to re-initialize those weak sectors. If that fails, they can be marked bad and not used, making sure that no data is placed anywhere that might be at risk of data loss. You can also setup rules to backup data to another place when these weak areas are found, this tool is highly customizable. There is another tool that does this kind of testing amazingly well, and it’s called Spinrite, from Gibson Research. The major disadvantage of using Spinrite though, is that you must book from a disk and run Spinrite from a DOS console. This allows exclusive and total access to the disks, and means that the testing is even more thorough, but your system is not usable while the tests are running. The trade-off of getting to have these tests performed while my system is up and running means a lot to me.

Unfortunately, this is not a free tool, although they do have a free trial you can use to test it out, and the pricing is very reasonable. All in all, I highly recommend this tool for any users PC. Now, aside from installing directly onto your PC, the license allows this tool to be installed onto a memory stick or thumb drive instead, allowing the tests to be run on many computers. This is when it is a golden tool for a PC technician’s kit. So, check it out and see what you think. I am very happy with it, and I hope you get some benefit from it too. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the Cool Tools over in the Cool Tools section!

*Note: Please remember that this is not any kind of paid advertisement or review. I am posting this because of exactly what I said in the article, I found this tool and found it to be useful and wanted to share it with my readers. I just want to make sure that you know that I in no way am getting paid for this article, nor do I get paid if you buy the software, etc. This is a 100% honest review from a happy user!

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Awesome Source Code Library

(Click to enlarge)

OK, boys and girls, I have a really cool treat for you.  For a long time now I have been looking for the right application to use as a source code library.  I say application because I have been trying to be open minded about what to use.  I have tried Wiki’s (which actually aren’t too bad), note taking programs, and a great many other tools, including a couple that were specifically written to be source code libraries … but in the end fell quite short of my expectations.  Also, when I say source code library, I am not and have not been looking for tons of canned code to take advantage of, that’s the problem I have now, 20+ years in IT and I already have tons of code, I just need a way to store it, sort it, search it, export it, back it up, and anything else I can think of!  I’d like to note too that in addition to all of the other features I may list here, this tool does a superb job at syntax highlighting as well.

Let me digress for a moment to mention a site called Donation Coder (www.donationcoder.com), these guys are great!  Lots of free software from some really talented developers.  There are some apps there that beat their commercial competition by a country mile, hands down.  That’s one reason why I like to hang out there, in the forums for example, these guys write software because they enjoy writing software.  Therefore they create some wicked cool stuff.

How does this pertain to the issue at hand?  Well, it was in the forums there that I ran across a thread where people were talking about their own search for a source code library much like my own search.  I found one post among others recommending different things that mentioned a free tool called “Developer’s Tips & Tricks (DTT)” from Freesoftland.  I had never heard of this group before, but I liked what I had seen posted in the Donation Coder forums, plus I really liked what I saw when reading up on their DTT tool.

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Cool Tool: Taskbar Shuffle

OK folks, here is a nifty tool for you.  It’s called Taskbar Shuffle, and if you are running Windows this is a handy little item.  Just like the name implies, you can take items that are in the Windows taskbar and shuffle or move them around.  This is pretty cool in many ways, but I know from my own use, it can be nice to organize items together that go together or in some way that makes more sense that just the way they were opened, especially if you have lots and lots of windows open like I often do.  It’s easy to use too, just drag ’em around to wherever you want them, it’s that easy.  Best of all, like many of the best pieces of software that I have come across, it’s totally free so go check it out now.  Go ahead, RFN!

Here is the URL: http://nerdcave.webs.com/

While you are at it, check out all of the Cool Tools we have in the Cool Tools section, as well as everything in the Library, there’s lots of good stuff in there …

**Note: Don’t forget that the author of Taskbar Shuffle, just like many others out there including Solarum here, gives away the product for free despite all of the personal time invested in bringing you that product.  If you find something that you really like and find useful, think about the last time you paid for an app the didn’t live up to your expectations and make a donation to the little guy(s) and gal(s) out there writing the good stuff for free.