At IDR Solutions often I am quite busy working on code and other times I am involved in creating content for the JavaPDF Blog. Initially I didn’t plan to write “3 programs on my taskbar and why they are there”. I was trying to figure out what to write, staring at my screen, eyes glazing over letting them drift as I contemplate the article. Slowly my eyes drifted down to my task bar and the programs pinned there and a thought popped into my head. “These programs have proved really useful”, I wonder if anyone else uses them the same way.” So here we are, 3 programs on my taskbar and why they are there.
Notepad++ is a free (GPL Licence) source editor and notepad replacement. The program supports a great many functions beyond a simple text editor such as EOL converison, syntax highlighting, auto completion, macro creation and much more. There really is too much functionality to mention, especially when you include the various plugins available. I have this program on my task bar mainly for two reasons but they are used most often.
The first is for when I am moving sections of code or need to keep multiple debug outputs I place them in new tabs in the notepad and use the program as temporary storage.
The second is a great plugin that adds the ability to compare the contents of two tabs and shows a bar with all additions and alterations between the files. This is very useful when I want to compare two sets of large output.
I feel most people already know that Skype is a program that allows for video calls and instant messaging with others from your friends list for free. You can also use Skype to make calls to land line and mobile phones but a charge is involved. My main use of Skype is for the instant messaging. As I often work for people at a different site we need a quick and easy way to communicate. I used Skype originally for video calls but now I mostly use it for a different set of functionality.
My main use of Skype for the instant messaging, groups and the notification settings.
The use of instant messaging should be clear to most, by using this instead of email we have have discussions about a subject much faster than via email. The only real downside is that any outcomes should probably be recorded if you might need them in the future. If discussing a bug, update the case once you finish the discussion. Video calls may be faster than instant messaging but it can also be distracting to other in some work environment especially if multiple calls are taking place.
The use of groups is very useful as you can send messages to multiple people and have group discussions. The group also stays active over time and messages to a group remain in the group. So you can have people in multiple groups and keep discussions separate. If working on three different projects there will be no cross over and you have a record of the discussion in case you need to go back and check something later.
The notification settings are possibly the features that brings all the others together. There may be times when a discussion doesn’t need to present but you would still receive the messages and that notification noise going off. Well you can set the notification settings to only notify you when a given word is sent. So if everyone in the group has their name set to notify them you will only be notified if someone sends your name. You can do other tricks as well. If you want the whole group have them set something like “XXALLXX” (something that isn’t a word and not likely to be accidentally types) or maybe you have different sections of a project, those involved in a given section can set the section name to notify them. This way you are not notified unless something relevant is send.
A calculator, nothing more than the systems built in calculator. Running a windows machine this means I am using the Windows calculator. There is really much I can write about this that you won’t already know or be able to guess. It can do addition, subtraction, multiplication and even division. Really it have 2 functions that I use very often.
The first is the programmer mode. This mode, for me, only have one real use which is the display of a numbers binary string. For small number this is not a problem I can get the string faster in my head than opening the calculator and typing it in but for large numbers this is very useful.
The second is the scientific mode were we have all the functions you may expect. Funnily enough I find that I use scientific mode more than I use programmer mode. Considering that most of the time I am using the calculator to check and confirm graphical operations I shouldn’t be too surprised.
So what programs do you have on your taskbar and why do you keep them there (other than the obvious answer of quick access).