Category Archives: Software

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!

Use PowerShell To Find Resource Hogs

Tools IconHere’s a quick tidbit for any and all Windows jockeys out there. Need to figure out what is chewing up all of your system resources? Need to do it quickly and easily? Have no fear, Laz and the PowerShell are here. Some of you may know this already, so let those who don’t have some air!

OK, bring up the PowerShell (*note, this is different from the DOS “like” Command Prompt and can usually be installed through Windows Update). Once the PowerShell is open, you can use the ‘ps’ command to get a list of the currently running pr0cesses, but believe you me there are a lot of them and they scroll by all unformatted and hard to read and stuff. All in all you get a bunch of info that is hard to understand!

“So, what are we doing here?” you ask. Well, this is where just like with the ‘ps’ command (and the PowerShell in and of itself too), Windows takes some inspiration from UNIX and not only adds some nifty commands to help wrangle all that information that goes scrolling by, but also the idea of “piping” commands or a more simpler analogy, a way to link commands together. Making them talk to each other, work together and share information like never before. You pipe commands together with the ‘|’ character, and it allows you to run a command and take that output and send it to the next command. You will see this in the final command we will use, take a look:

ps | sort -desc cpu | select -f 20 | ft -a;

So, let’s take a look at what this command or set of commands really, does. First off the ps command gets the current list of processes running on the machine along with certain information about each and every one of them like the ‘Process ID’, the ‘ProcessName’ and the amount of ‘CPU’ time it’s using to name just a few. We then take all of that ‘ps’ data and “pipe” or feed it into the ‘sort’ command, telling sort to … well, sort that information by the ‘CPU’ column in “Descending” order. We then take all that sorted data and use the ‘select’ command to only grab or select the top ’20’ items in the list. Last but not least, we use the ‘ft’ command to “format” the list that we have now, which has been cut down to just the top 20 processes sorted by how much of your CPU they are using starting with the most at the top of the list and then listing the top 20 going down from there.

Ultimately, you run this command just like you see it above and you will get a list of the top processes that looks like this:

PS C:\temp> ps | sort -desc cpu | select -f 20 | ft -a;

Handles NPM(K)   PM(K)   WS(K) VM(M)   CPU(s)   Id ProcessName
------- ------   -----   ----- -----   ------   -- -----------
    197     14    6700   11456    92 1,008.66 2744 AODAssist
    422     15    6272   11572    53   886.27 1112 svchost
   2398   1032  115224   10804   420   863.37 2020 AvastSvc
    827     48  253744  247248   371   641.55 1388 svchost
   1132    106   86252  118472   421   575.07 3596 explorer
    140     69   45028   49456   173   572.51 5012 Everything
    485     47   46612   69228   284   565.83 9608 explorer
   1535     90   33912   49260   433   453.93 1460 svchost
    717     52   29416   27460   124   451.45 1352 svchost
    363     43   41048   11472   176   370.32 4436 svchost
    909     63   94836  129776   726   366.38 6388 dopus
    596     54   24476   26196   248   364.06 5136 avastui
    684     44   22172   23564   241   352.66 1048 svchost
    140     13  119472  113980   183   328.48 6972 vmware-usbarbitrator64
    300     13    9940   14796    64   306.90 6516 WmiPrvSE
    346     31   35176   29280   203   302.42 4688 tlbHost
    225     24 1431016 1339160  1460   263.47 1500 stacsv64
    865     81   27488   36708   149   216.86 1420 svchost
    202     16    7300   15020    96   215.45 1744 WHSTrayApp
    110     10    7144   10368    58   200.74 3252 BitMeterCaptureService

There you go, a nice handy little list of your top offenders! If you keep a PowerShell handy, it can be a very fast way to take a quick look at what’s going on under the hood of your PC. Enjoy!

iOS7 is ready to install!

20130919-095455.jpgOK, iOS7 is finally here after much hype and banter from all sides of the park. I went ahead and took the plunge on my iPhone 5 and installed the new OS last night. This is a bit different from my normal way of doings because usually I wait a bit to see how it all shakes out. That way if there are major issues with the launch, or the OS itself, or whatever, I can wait until all the issues are resolved before jumping in.

OK, now I have already been hearing a lot of talk from folk on the ‘net about the new OS. I have been hearing grumblings from iDevice users that installed the upgrade (mostly about the way 7 looks), from Android fanbois that just want to trash anything Apple they can, and even users that like the upgrade and have positive things to say. I’m in the latter category, although you never know, things may change as time goes on, we’ll see.

I am going to continue to learn more about iOS7 (all I can really) and I will report back with everything that I can. From my impressions and advice, to tips and tricks, and whatever else I can think of.

Now, make no mistake, this upgrade is huge, and very different in how things look, how they work and how your device does things and responds to you the user. However, after having spent a few hours with the upgrade, I like it a lot and I plan on going into why that is in more detail in subsequent posts here soon.

For now, if you feel adventurous try it out, otherwise it sure as heck won’t hurt to wait a few days or more to see what things are like after it’s been out for more than one night. Stay tuned, more to come!

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!

A little history for all us starnix guys (and gals) out there

<a href="http://www.solarum weight reduction pills.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/ken-and-den-1024.jpg” target=”_blank”>Ken Thompson (seated) and Dennis RitchieIf you spend any amount of time working with or administering UNIX and/or Linux servers, especially UNIX, you should be familiar with the text editor ‘vi’ and some commands like ‘sed’ and ‘awk’. If you have been around a while, or had the good(?) fortune of working on some old(er) systems, you might even remember the line editor ‘ed’. I’ll show my age here and recall fond memories of using ‘ed’ to write code many years back.

OK, on to the point, I was looking through Wikipedia for something entirely un-related, but ran across a tidbit of information that I thought was really cool, and that I knew I had to share with Solarum’s readers. It gives a bit of history about some of the tools that we use and love today.

From Wikipedia:

“ed is a line editor for the Unix operating system. It was one of the first end-user programs hosted on the system and has been standard in Unix-based systems ever since. ed was originally written in PDP-11/20 assembler by Ken Thompson in 1971. Ken Thompson was very familiar with an earlier editor known as qed from University of California at Berkeley, Ken Thompson’s alma mater; he reimplemented qed on the CTSS and Multics systems, so it is natural that he carried many features of qed forward into ed. Ken Thompson’s versions of qed were the first to implement regular expressions, an idea that had previously been formalized in a mathematical paper, which Ken Thompson had read. The implementation of regular expressions in ed is considerably less general than the implementation in qed.

ed went on to influence ex, which in turn spawned vi. The non-interactive Unix command grep was inspired by a common special use of qed and later ed, where the command g/re/p means globally search for the regular expression re and print the lines containing it. The Unix stream editor, sed implemented many of the scripting features of qed that were not supported by ed on Unix; sed, in turn, influenced the design of the programming language AWK, which in turn inspired aspects of Perl.”

It’s pretty cool how stuff flows and comes together. Who knew or would have thought that a couple simple commands or programs would turn into what we have today.

*Note: starnix refers to the combination of UNIX, Linux and any other ix/ux OS that we work with.