Current list of the tools and services I use for business and personal projects. Updated from my previous post.
Windows Desktop Apps / Web Resources
Free: I use this to provide an aggregate RDP console to all of the machines in my lab environment, as well as remote servers at customer sites. It’s still free. It’s still a Windows Installer package, so it’s easy to deploy using a variety of tools, scripts, or good old fashioned elbow grease.
Free: A standard utility knife for most Windows administrators and engineers. Provided as a Windows Update package (.msu), it’s easy to deploy through a variety of means (SCCM, AD-GPO, scripts, carrier pidgeon, pack mules, etc.)
Chocolatey: Sort of (outdated package)
Freemium: I use this to map out various types of projects, from software development to infrastructure implementations (SCCM, AD, 3rd Party apps, etc.), and home projects as well. It’s free to start and offers premium features for “business” and “enterprise” needs at reasonable prices.
Freemium: I have my own repository for storing scripts and code chunks, as well as working with other teams in a contributor role. If you even dabble with scripts, you should consider making GitHub your foundation, since it helps with things like commenting, bug tracking, feature requests, team assignments (if you want or need to), and version control.
Freemium: Slack is interesting, but I’m starting to think it’s days are numbered, as other players are quickly moving into the ball pit and looking to push them to the side. It still has a nice feel and simple interface (almost too simple, some are confused at the lack of verbose options). The only complaint I have is with the user side, as many Slack channels start out focused, but tend to drift into side-chatter, unrelated to the group or channel. But still, if you maintain control it can be incredibly useful. The free level of service is enough for most users, but they offer more advanced features for an additional cost.
Free: The old-as-dirt version is still alive and well, and still works fine on Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016. It still runs within certain constraints, as it always has (WMI permissions, array results, etc.) but it has been my go-to analysis and testing tool for years. I love it. I will ask that it is buried with me when I drop dead, hope that’s not anytime soon.
Chocolatey: N/A (portable app)
Free: The venerable, the honorable, the time-tested, customizable, extensible, unflappable text and code editor. Still free
Free: A newer, slim-lined, Spartan-ized, Bauhaus-ish, cross-platform code editor from Microsoft. It provides some extensible features (plug-ins, editable param files, themes, etc.), and is pretty easy to deploy into large/dispersed environments (if needed). I like the IDE behavioral features (auto-completion, indents, tips, etc.) but it still feels rough in places (to me). I use it often, but I also bounce between other editors, depending upon the language, the project structure (local/remote/cloud/team/etc) and so forth. Still, it’s worth trying out. Many of my colleagues have standardized their daily work on it, so it can’t be too bad.
Office 2016 Pro Plus / Project 2016 / Skype for Business / OneNote
Subscription: I don’t need to explain these.
Google Drive / Docs / Sheets / Keep
Freemium: Drive is fairly the same as other cloud storage services like DropBox, Box, OneDrive, and so on. Each of them offer something a little better or worse than the others, and each offers additional (paid) storage capacity and/or premium features.
Docs and Sheets has evolved to become a very capable alternative to Microsoft Office for SOME purposes. Sheets in particular, has grown into a surprisingly capable tool actually. Google’s other alternatives like Forms and Slides are so-so (imho) but probably sufficient for student needs. They also provide a fairly comprehensive script API to build automation solutions. The Google apps do not use a desktop client component like Office 365 uses for full editing capabilities.
Keep is sort of a duct-taped version of OneNote, and is also cloud based (no desktop client), but also offers a mobile app. These are all part of the “G-Suite” of Google apps and services.
Chocolatey: Yes (some apps)
Built-in: The de facto editing and debugging tool for PowerShell scripting. There are other products available, for free and for cost, but PowerShell ISE is built into Windows.
Built-in: Admittedly different than VMware Workstation, but it comes with Windows 10 and there’s no additional licensing cost. You might still need to consider hardware as a potential cost (memory, storage, etc.), but it’s still very very useful for building virtual labs.
Built-in: Easy and fast way to capture apps, screens, or rectangle windows. Doesn’t do mouse cursor captures, but it’s free and included with Windows 10, so I can’t complain.
Free: Even though Windows 10 includes Explorer shell integrated features for creating and managing archive files (.ZIP, etc.) it has some limitations. There are other free and paid products available for this same purpose, but 7-Zip has been around long enough to prove itself and it remains free. I wish it was better equipped to handle some niche formats, but it’s pretty good for general needs.
- Office for Android (Word, Excel)
- Skype for Business
- Airline apps (Delta, United, etc.)
- Travel booking apps (Orbitz, Expedia, etc.)
- Facebook / Facebook Messenger
- Google Maps
- Google Apps (all of them)
- Outlook for Android
- Games and more games
- Podcast Addict (with following podcast channels)
- NPR Fresh Air
- 60 Minutes
- Bill Burr’s Monday Morning Podcast
- WTF with Mark Maron
- Gilbert Gottfried’s Amazing Colossal Podcast
- The Tim Ferris Show
- The Adam Carolla Show
- The Adam and Drew Show