One of my favorite Windows utilities, MiniBin, has just been retired by its developer, so I’m creating a post here to make the download available after its binaries get pulled from the original website.
MiniBin is a free recycle bin for your Microsoft Windows system tray area; the area next to the clock in your taskbar.
Please note that the MiniBin project has ended. This means: no more updates and no more support. Yes, I know… but it had to end somewhere. MiniBin was first published in 2004 and enjoyed updates until 2012. As it’s bug-free and feature-complete in it’s current state, I decided it’s time to move on to new horizons.
For the time being, you can still download the final version of MiniBin, the recycle bin for your system. But this download will vanish into the void within the not so far future. So, get it while it’s still available!
My favorite feature of VS2010 so far is the excellent extension support, which allows me to add in my favorite plugins from the Microsoft Visual Studio Gallery.
Since there are thousands of plugins in the gallery right now, I thought it might be useful to share the most useful extensions I’ve found (and currently use) so far:
In alphabetical order…
AnkhSVN AnkhSVN is a Subversion Source Control Provider for Microsoft Visual Studio 2005, 2008 and 2010. AnkhSVN provides source code management support to all project types supported by Visual Studio and allows you to perform the most common version control operations directly from inside the Microsoft Visual Studio IDE.
The Pending Changes dashboard gives you a unique insight in your development process and provides easy access to the source code and issue management features. The deep source code control (SCC) integration allows you to focus on developing, while AnkhSVN keeps track of all your changes and provides you the tools to effectively handle your specific needs.
Code4Blog Code4Blog is a Visual Studio 2010 extension that allows to convert any code supported by Visual Studio IDE to HTML format with the same structure and colors. Main purpose of this extension is to prepare a code snippet to be published in rich documents, for example in blog posts, Microsoft Word documents or Help files. Some additional styling could be applied: max width and height of the code block, custom background (per code line), font family and font size, line numbering and others. Code4Blog is now published on CodePlex. You are welcome to work with the source code directly!
PowerCommands for Visual Studio 2010 PowerCommands 10.0 is a set of useful extensions for the Visual Studio 2010 adding additional functionality to various areas of the IDE.
Visit the VSX Developer Center at http://msdn.com/vsx for more information about extending Visual Studio.
PowerConsole This extension provides an extensible VS command window with default PowerShell integration. You can now script Visual Studio interactively in PowerShell, and enjoy familiar VS style syntax coloring and tab-completion.
Prerequisite: Visual Studio 2010 RC (or above) + Windows PowerShell v2 (or above). After installation, open the new tool window from View->Other Windows->Power Console.
Regex Editor This sample was built to ease your pain when working with regular expressions. It rehosts the editor in a dialog box and provides a basic language service to provide colorization, brace matching, sample testing grouping and selection tracking. It shows re-hosting of the editor in a tool window, and provides a nice starting point for similar projects.
VS10x Code Map VS10x Code Map is a Visual Studio 2010 extension that displays a graphical nested representation of the current editor window code (C# and VB.NET). It helps the developer visualize type nesting, implemented interfaces, regions, member type and scope, as well as quickly navigate to their respective position in the code editor.
Incredibly useful tool for managing multiple remote desktop (RDP) connections, and allows you to view, connect, and disconnect from groups of server connections as a whole or individually. If you use RDP often, this is well worth the download. (And it’s free!)
I previously recommended PhraseExpress for similar clipboard management functionality, but I’ve since switched to Clipdiary (available free via Clipdiary.com or Download.com) for a couple of reasons – first, that PhraseExpress would randomly lock up and prevent me from using my Enter key (weird, huh?), and second, because ClipDiary is super lightweight and does exactly what I want it to do. Here’s a blurb from their website:
The contents of the standard Windows clipboard change as you use it to copy and paste various types of information. But your data isn’t stored for a long time – when you turn off the computer or just copy another piece of information, the data is lost.
In most cases, that isn’t a problem, but have you ever needed the text you copied 30 minutes or an hour ago? Maybe your computer is acting up and the program you are using hasn’t saved the data, or maybe you copied some interesting information from a web page, but got distracted and forgot to paste it where you wanted? Or you may simply want to recall what you were doing on your computer a month or a year ago. There are many cases in which you might want to review your clipboard contents.
It’s also worth noting that Safari and Chrome (well, anything rendered with Webkit, it seems) have an excellent set of development tools built-in that are very similar to the functionality of Firebug in Firefox, and even IE8 is catching up to the game with its Developer Tools window/pane.
I agree with Ian, this program is excellent. Gives you some useful information for a change (and something you can do with it) when you get the message “Cannot delete <X>: It is being used by another person or program.”
If you’ve been using Subversion for source control, I’m sure you’ve heard of this client. If not, get it immediately. It rocks, and integrates exceptionally well with Windows Explorer. (Not to mention Visual Studio, via AnkhSVN or VisualSVN)
Since Internet Explorer is the scourge of the Interwebs that will never go away, it helps to be able to test your site in multiple versions of IE, and since only one version can be installed at a time (and since IE8 Compatibility Mode doesn’t really help at all), IETester is a good solution that lets you test IE5.5, IE6, IE7, and IE8 rendering engines in the same tabbed browser. Very cool.
…But, as my coworker mentioned, Internet Explorer is pretty invasive and modifies more on your system than just the rendering DLLs, so it’s a good idea to keep a spare VM running each flavor of IE as well. VMWare Player is the free version of VMWare Workstation, which will run pre-existing virtual machines, but can’t create new ones. Since that functionality is missing from VMWare Player, you can use this site to create your own virtual machines from scratch: EasyVMX! Virtual Machine Creator.
RedGate’s description says it best: “.NET Reflector enables you to easily view, navigate, and search through, the class hierarchies of .NET assemblies, even if you don’t have the code for them. With it, you can decompile and analyze .NET assemblies in C#, Visual Basic, and IL.”
Ian Hickman’s post (6 Free Tools that every Windows Programmer should Install) suggests Process Explorer alone, which is a superior Task Manager replacement, but I’ll extend it to suggest the whole Sysinternals Suite, since it comes with so many other great utilities and includes Process Explorer along with them. One of my favorite tools besides PE is AutoRuns, which is a msconfig.exe replacement that offers a much better look at your startup apps and services.
TortoiseSVN comes with its own diff tool, but I tend to end up using WinMerge instead because it does a great job with comparing local files or differing versions of a file in source control, and integrates seamlessly with TortoiseSVN.
I’m definitely a keyboard junkie, so anything I can do to keep my hands on the keyboard is a plus. Launchy is by far my favorite application launcher for that reason. All I have to do is hit Alt+Space (you can reassign the hotkey if you like), and it brings up a prompt that allows me to launch anything on my Start Menu, and do a number of other tasks as well (launch websites, perform quick calculations, etc.). Definitely saves me a ton of time.
Of the two apps listed above, I prefer Charles, which is a paid application, but I’ve listed Fiddler as a free alternative. Both apps are proxies that log traffic between your system and the server you’re debugging (even localhost) and both provide valuable debugging information that is particularly helpful when trying to debug web services. From the Charles website: “Charles is an HTTP proxy / HTTP monitor / Reverse Proxy that enables a developer to view all of the HTTP traffic between their machine and the Internet. This includes requests, responses and the HTTP headers (which contain the cookies and caching information).”
All three of the apps listed above are excellent full-featured text editors, but I prefer the feature set of EmEditor, which is a paid application. The killer feature that EmEditor provides which I haven’t yet found in either of the other editors is the Find *and Replace* in files. Notepad++ has a Find in Files option, but I haven’t found a Replace in Files function without opening up every single document and performing a replace in all open documents (info on that approach here: How To “Find And Replace” Words In Multiple Files).
Notepad2 doesn’t offer the same tabbed document interface that both EmEditor and Notepad++ offer, but it is an incredibly lightweight, and more importantly, self-contained executable that’s a perfect drop-in replacement for Windows Notepad (info on how to do this here: Replace Notepad with Notepad2).
Any of these apps offer syntax highlighting and are a great alternative to firing up Visual Studio when you need to make a quick edit (or on one of the *many* occasions when Visual Studio slows waaaaay down or locks up your system).
Also, I neglected to mention AutoHotkey since I haven’t used it as much as I probably could, but I can say that I’ve had a lot of luck with the AutoHotkey script iTunesAnywhere, which helps since I don’t have a keyboard with multimedia keys and for whatever godforsaken reason, iTunes *still* doesn’t natively support global hotkeys like Winamp does. (I’d switch back to Winamp, but I drank the Apple kool-aid and picked up an iPhone in January.)
Awesome article from Photojojo about Flickr tools. Some of these I’ve used personally in the past, but some (like SmartSetr) are welcome new additions that should save a lot of time and energy. Nice!
We loooove Flickr. We want to marry Flickr.
What’s funny about our infatuation, though, is that it involves quite a few other people.
No, no, not like that. We’re talking about the clever developers who have transformed Flickr into the dynamic and lovable photo site that it is. Their creamy vanilla tools and bavarian dark chocolate add-ons are the frosting on the Flickr (cup)cake.
While there are many, many Flickr mashups out there, we’ve scoured through hundreds to bring you our favorite useful and fun ones.
An NTFS junction point (JP) is a feature of the NTFSfile system version 3.0 or later. It is a type of NTFS reparse point. Junction Points can be used in a similar way to symbolic links — allowing the creation of a link to a folder that is, for most intents and purposes, the same as the folder itself. This has many benefits over a Windows shellshortcut (.lnk) file, such as allowing access to files within the folder via Windows Explorer, the Command Prompt, etc. Junction points can only link to directories, and moreover, local directories only; junction points to remote shares are unsupported. For linking to files, possible alternatives to junction points (aside from shortcuts) include hard links (which have the restriction that the file must belong to the same logical volume), and symbolic links (which are only included in Windows Vista and newer, but do work over network shares). The Windows 2000 and XPResource Kits include a program called linkd to create junction points; a more powerful one named Junction was distributed by Sysinternals‘ Mark Russinovich.
While I’m still limited to using NTFS Junction Points (versus Symbolic Links, available in Windows Vista), I do really like the idea of having C:\Users\ link to C:\Documents and Settings\ (who the hell came up with that naming convention anyway?) – similar to how C:\Documents and Settings\ is a symbolic link to C:\Users\ in Windows Vista.
Luckily, there is a utility for just that purpose, available here:
This is well worth the read and download if you’re in IT or tend to your family’s computer(s) on occasion. (Probably more useful in the latter scenario, anyway.)
So you’re thinking, “Hey, I want to be totally irresponsible with my computer and load it up with crapware!” Really, isn’t everyone getting tired of having to be so stinking responsible on the Internet all the time? We certainly are. We’re ready for system protection that isn’t afraid of our reckless browsing, indiscriminate downloading, and general apathy towards good computer usage habits.
…Which is why we love Windows Steady State. It creates a cache file in which your operating system operates, meaning any harmful changes can be undone by simply emptying the cache. After downloading it’s a snap to install – just a few obligatory clicks and the usual EULA mumbo-jubmo and you’re set.
Our first test was pretty a pretty low-intensity workout. We surfed, bookmarked, set up a POP account and downloaded a few messages, and cluttered up the desktop with a dozen or so hilariously named folders. After issuing the old Windows – U – R we waited anxiously for the system to reboot.
There it was, just as it had been before – no trace of any of our activity. The desktop was still tidy, no favorites or emails were anywhere to be seen. So far so good, but let’s try some real abuse!Do your worst! Fire up Internet Explorer and go on a malicious web-surfing bender. Download rogue applications! Install 16 browser toolbars! Download obviously fake songs with Limwire! When you’re spent, reboot and check the results. To the dismay of Trojans everywhere, not a shred of your misdeeds will remain.
Another awesome post from Lifehacker…maybe I should just add their RSS feed as a widget on the sidebar. 😉
If you’ve ever done any serious Windows troubleshooting, you’ve no doubt come across a freeware utility or two by Sysinternals—like the excellent, previously mentioned Process Explorer. You may also know that Microsoft eventually bought up every Sysinternals utility and bundled it into a single suite of apps. Now Sysinternals has launched a new way to access their library of must-have utilities quickly and easily from any internet-connected PC.
First, you can point your browser to http://live.sysinternals.com/ for no-nonsense access to any Sysinternals tool. Even better, though, you can open up Windows Explorer and point it to \\live.sysinternals.com\ to browse and launch any Sysinternals app as though you’ve already downloaded and installed it on your computer. That means next time you’re doing tech support for friends and you forgot your PC Rescue Kit, you can quickly get to any Sysinternals tool for help. At the very least, though, it’s a quicker way to start the BlueScreen screen saver on a friends computer.