Simple Tools to Make Your Life Easier

When working on a feature we often have to check the application’s log files. The easiest way was viewing them with Notepad, but that means that whenever something new was logged you have to close and open the file to see the actual log entry. Then one colleague recommended mTail, a tool that hooks itself to a log file and will automatically appends everything that is added to the file to its UI. It’s a very simple tool, but it does exactly what I need to debug an application and be able to check what is logged without constantly closing and re-opening the log file.

I’ve written about Launchy before, the tool that lets you open about everything with a bit of typing. I use Launchy all the time to access applications, folders and documents and it makes my life a lof easier. A colleague recommended Everything and while it’s very similar to Launchy it does not quite do the same. Everything is the fastest search tool I know. I use it mostly to find out in which Visual Studio solution a class is located, a very basic task, but one which I have to do so often that Everything turned out to be a real time saver here. Another sweet thing I noticed is that it allows using Beyond Compare by right-clicking on files. So instead of just finding files and then going to their specific folders, I can start comparing right from within Everything once I got all my computer content filtered down a nifty list of exactly the files I’m looking for.

There are two other tools that you probably already know, since they are widely popular, but I’m going to mention them anyway:

Evernote is a simple, but powerful organization tool, that lets you clip anything from anywhere. It syncs to pratically every device there is, so I’ve got it on all my PCs, my iPod and my Android. So, whenever I see something worth saving for later I hit my Evernote shortcut and I have access to it from everywhere. It’s also a great tool to take notes, e.g. when you’re in a meeting. The only problem I have with Evernote is that my note collection is getting a bit out of hand. I guess that’s the drawback from being able to take notes of interesting stuff with just one keystroke.

Dropbox on the other hand is a simple file sharing tool that allows you to sync files to all your computers including your iPod and iPhone. I’m still waiting for the Android application. You simply install it and can drop files into your Dropbox folder. This folder will automatically push your files to the cloud and back to all your machines that are linked to the same Dropbox account. Dropbox also allows you to share folders or make files public. It’s amazingly easy and lets me transfer files quickly whenever I think I want to have access to them from… well… anywhere else.

And by the way, if you install Dropbox using the link in this blog entry, I will get an extra 250 MB worth of storing space. Which I really could use. So if you actually plan on using it, please use the referral and make me a bit happier.


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