With the recent winter break, I decided to improve my digital standard of living; I wanted to reduce the small nagging problems I have in my workflow and tools. As part of that effort, I started reevaluating the software I use on a daily basis. Most of the software has been tried and tested, but some I’m still trialling (and is marked as such):
- Divvy - A tool that lets you quickly move and resize your applications using keyboard or mouse shortcuts. This comes in handy when switching between multiple monitors or resolutions, like when moving an application from my retina display to a projector.
- Alfred - Alfred is a more powerful replacement for the built in spotlight search. Here is a list of features compared to spotlight.
- ScreenHero - ScreenHero is a screen sharing program designed specifically for developers, its feature set is well suited to remote pairing. When sharing your screen, both parties get their own mouse cursor, and either can type at any time. You can switch which side of the connection is sharing their screen with the press of a button. ScreenHero works surprisingly well with connections overseas, I’ve used it to connect from the US to both England and India.
- f.lux - Flux is a simple application that adjusts your monitor’s hue as the sun goes down. By giving Flux your zip code, it can automatically start turning your screen ‘warmer’ to reduce eye strain. One of the supposed benefits of flux is that your body will have an easier time going to sleep. If nothing else, it helps if you decide to open your laptop at night without burning your retinas.
- Dropbox - Dropbox needs no introduction, it’s an application that synchronizes your files between different computers (and mobile devices) and keeps a copy on their file servers. This is the first software application that made me feel like I was living in the 21st century.
- CrashPlan - CrashPlan is simple to use automatic backup software. Backing up to an external hard drive is free, but backing up to their online servers costs a few bucks a month. Well worth it to know my wedding photos are safe.
- AirServer - Turns your computer (Mac or PC) into a target for AirPlay devices. This comes in handy if I want to share or record the screen from my iPad. I will often display my iPad screen on my Mac during a meeting, and use that instead of drawing on a whiteboard.
- KeePassX - The Mac version of the open source password vault software. I use dropbox to sync my password database to all of my devices. This is the first application I install on every machine.
- Chromecast - Turn any TV into a second monitor. Chromecast is a quick and dirty way to throw a presentation up in a meeting room. I also use it if I’m working from home to run training videos in the background.
- Vagrant - A command line application to easily manage and provision virtual machines. This is my goto for setting up testing environments, as you can build as many VMs in as many configurations as you need.
- Packer - Packer lets you build a specific machine configuration to be loaded into Vagrant. This is particularly handy if your provisioning is complicated or slow; you can build the image once with Packer, then bring it up and down quickly with Vagrant. We use this at work to build hardened vagrant images that can be turned over to our dev teams.
- VirtualBox - Free workstation virtualization with few bells and whistles. VirtualBox integrates well with Vagrant and Packer.
- VMware Fusion - Fusion really only comes in handy when I need to virtualize an OS X environment. Otherwise VirtualBox does most of the heavy lifting.
` <https://github.com/ProgrammingAce/RecommendedLearning/wiki/Mac-Software#systems-administration>`__Systems Administration
- NetSpot - NetSpot is an all-in-one troubleshooting tool for WiFi. It shows you all the information you could want about local access points (signal strength, connection type, signal-to-noise ratio) and also lets you create heat maps to find weak coverage in your environment. I find NetSpot works better than Fluke’s similar software for a fraction of the price.
- Royal TSX - Royal TSX is primarily a remote desktop application for connecting to windows servers. I find Royal TSX far more reliable to use than Microsoft’s own Mac app, or CoRD, the open source replacement.
- Cloak - Cloak is an inexpensive VPN program that’s designed for security, but easy to use. By default, Cloak will automatically activate any time you’re on an unsecured WiFi connection. Otherwise, enabling the VPN is a single button press. When talking about making security tools easy to use, Cloak is the first application I highlight.
- GPG Tools - A great UI to create and manage PGP keys.
- OmniGraffle - OmniGraffle is a powerful tool for creating diagrams. It has a steep learning curve, but once you’ve watched a few tutorial videos, you shouldn’t have too many problems. I use it for creating flow charts, system diagrams, or rack drawings.
- OmniPlan - From the same people who make OmniGraffle. OmniPlan strictly does gantt charts, but it does them well. OmniPlan is my goto choice when I need to put together a project plan that relies on multiple teams and a high number of dependancies. It was my primary tool when managing contractors to build out a new office at work. It was key in discovering non-obvious dependancies… “No, you can’t deliver the server equipment until after the floors are installed”.
- SnagIt - An application for recording screenshots and videos for documentation. Lets you annotate your recordings on the fly.
- Gollum - Gollum is the wiki software that github and gitlab use for their git repos. Running it on your local PC, you can setup a wiki without needing github/gitlab.