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TerraGraphics

Good Stuff

... then I looked at the Sealtest and it too was manufactured by Kraft. This puzzled me. I thought that Breyers "believed" that natural was better, so what was this about them making Sealtest, that had artificial ingredients? -- Paul Mars

AntiCapsLock

This one is first because it's for everybody. tHE ONLY TIME i USE THE cAPS lOCK KEY IS TO turn it off after I accidentally turned it on and typed a half a sentence messed up. With this program you can disable Caps Lock so that will never happen again.

On my computer I set it to allow Caps Lock if I hold Alt while pressing it. This way, I have it when I want it but I never get it accidentally. You can also disable the Num Lock key (so it's always on).

You can try it before you pay. At $10 this is the best software buy there is.


FileLocator

The start menu of Windows 95 had an item called Find that was very good for finding files and folders. As each new version of Windows came out, it became more cute and less useful. It's name kept changing and and it kept getting "smarter", often doing what Microsoft thought I might have wanted instead of what I told it I wanted.

I spent hours searching and having it not find things I knew were there, poking around the Internet to find registry settings and other tricks to make it work like the older version, thinking I fixed it only to have it fool me again.

I tried third party replacements, wasting time and deciding that was a bad idea, until one day I saw a recommendation for FileLocator.

FileLocator is just right! It installed easily and came up doing exactly what I want. Perfect defaults! I don't think I changed even one. It does what I need most often most easily. If I want something fancy I have to do a little more work - not much.

I can start it the same ways I did the Windows Search, type a few keys and I'm looking at the list of files. After a few more keys to search contents, I can pick a file and it shows me the lines inside that match my search string.

I started using the free FileLocator Lite and then spent the $39 for FileLocator Pro. It has some extra features I like, but this is one of those times something is so good it deserves to be supported. If the pro version did not exist and I had paid that much for the lite version, I would be thrilled.


Beyond Compare

This one saves me countless hours.

In the 1970's my friend, Jim Connell, wrote a program to compare two text files. It turned out so valuable we couldn't imagine how other programmers lived without it. After some time I wrote a program to compare two directory trees. This was before the days of DOS. These were command line utilities that we kept converting as we moved to new systems.

A few years ago Jim discovered Beyond Compare and kept after me until I finally tried it. It was the same order of improvement all over again. I haven't used our old programs since.

It compares directory trees, files, file lines. That's the compare part. The beyond part? - well, I guess that would be how it lets you help it display the compare the way you want it interpreted and then lets you change the things you are comparing by moving parts of them from one to the other and even editing them directly.

When the upgrade from version 2 to 3 became available, I was sure it was so good that it could only get worse as many good programs do. Surprise! It got much better.

I had planned to put a list of things the program is good for here but it would sound silly. Just remember this the next time you wonder what changed or why two things don't match. Download it and try it.


xmlParser

When I needed to extract about five values from each of about a thousand xml files I started looking for a parser. After downloading and installing a few and learning how to use them and finding out they worked poorly, I gave up and started writing code.

The next day I was about half done when I got a response to my request for xmlParser. I downloaded it, threw out most of my code, added a few calls to xmlParser, and finished the project ahead of schedule.

This program is simple to install (so simple that "install" is too big a word). It's easy to understand, and use.

xmlParser did my job perfectly. If you have tried others and been frustrated, don't give up. You will be pleased with this one.


VirtualBox

I wrote my first virtual machine in 1963 and, a few others since then. (Computers were much simpler in those days.) So, as you can imagine, I have high standards. The Virtual PC fad came and went before I got around to needing one. There were plenty to choose from and I looked at all the popular ones. Virtual box stood out from the rest - runs on most any host you've got and runs just about any guest you can dream up. The documentation is simple, short, complete, and clear. So, I have to admit, given all that, it is the only one I tried and it is well done - just about perfect - simple to use - each feature available just where I expect it.

Of course, I didn't want to build a fresh computer from original CDs. I had an old machine with failing hardware and didn't want to lose the software. I did all the monkey business - cloning disks, replacing drivers - running utilities that were booted from floppies and CDs. Yes, I did this all in the virtual machine, and now my old system is running in virtual hardware. Now I can stop worrying about when the old computer is going to bite the dust.


... more to come.


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