Sahil tagged me in the never-ending-series of tagging other bloggers. This time it's about Stuff I wouldn't wanna live without. Read Sahil's list here. The funny thing about these tagging games is that despite the useless babble that's mostly cluttering the tag-posts, there are always a few gems to find, things which will make you think "oh that's cool, I didn't know that!". I hope my useless list will trigger some of these thoughts as well .
So here we are, my list of stuff I don't want to live without! *drumroll*:
- My (electric) guitars. I have several guitars, electric and acoustic, and there's nothing more relaxing than to play some music. Well, I qualify it as music, but some non-metalheads will likely qualify it as noise you definitely can live without , though my next item on the list helps a lot in that case.
- My guitarport. Some years ago, Line6 released their guitarport device which is simply awesome. If you're a guitarplayer and you want to try out a lot of different amps, effects etc., do yourself a big favor and simply get this device. You plug it into a USB port, for loop-back you plug it into the sound output and you're set. What's also great is that it's digital so you can easily record what you're playing in a multi-track application like Homestudio and play along a drumtrack for example.
- 2x20" LCD monitors. I hesitated a long time to purchase a dual-monitor setup: what if it's not worth the money?. But since day one I'm convinced: every developer should have a dual monitor setup and what's more: large monitors as well, so get something which can handle at least 1600x1200 at 20" or more. I'm personally very happy with my Samsung SM204B's.
- Google Reader. I think I've seen almost all applications which claim to be an RSS reader, and after a while I got more and more convinced that Google Reader is simply the best out there. Perhaps not in the sense of features, as there are readers which have way more features, however for me it's definitely the best in the sense that you can access your feeds everywhere and it has this kick-a** sharing capability which is a feed on its own (see my shared feed at the left). The core idea of 'sharing feed items as a new feed' is so brilliant, I can't stop telling people how great I find that idea. It's not the simplicity in itself which makes it so great, it's the core concept of sharing information via easy to access channels that's the key here.
- Finalbuilder. If you're an ISV, and you don't use an automated build tool, get one now. It doesn't matter which one, but use one. The set-and-forget nature of these tools will save your day. We use it internally with our own component/bug report system in where we log bugfixes/changes etc. and which flag a component as changed since a given date. These are then picked up by Finalbuilder using a custom task and which components are changed control which components are build into the final output. This is especially handy if you have a lot of different elements like documentation, templates, installers, dlls etc.
- Subversion. Sourcecontrol is a vital part of every-day software development. There are many systems out there which provide a sourcecontrol mechanism for you, so if you're still doing software development without one you're simply lazy. Don't wait till tomorrow, install one today and start using it. We use TortoiseSVN and no VS.NET add-ins, and it works great.
- N*Unit. Once you start using unit-tests (pre-coding/post-coding, that's up to you), it will make you wonder how on earth you were able to ship software before. We use unit-tests in the area of integration tests as we often have to test features which touch a lot of different api elements, so we have a lot of unit-tests which simply follow the path of usage scenario's. I also use them to repro bugs. The nice thing is that you immediately have a unit-test for a use-case which ran into a bug. We don't use mocks as we're already in the 5th year of the lifespan of our code-base and adding a feature is often an engineering plan where to change what so the work isn't in the API interface (which should be nice and fluent of course) but in the migration of the code-base from vX to vX+1
- VMWare Server. As an O/R mapper developer, you obviously have to test the work against a lot of different databases. You could of course buy a lot of different servers but that's overkill. We simply bought a server with a fast dual core proc and a lot of RAM and installed VMWare server on it. The nice thing is that I can start a VM with a given OS + Database from my own machine using a handy console. If you have to test on several systems, it's a must to have VMWare server. And the fun part? It's free!
- Playstation 3. I doubted between XBox 360 and a PS3 to replace my old and dusty PS2. Though the hardware failure rate of the 360 plus the ability to play PS2 games on the PS3 made me decide to go for the PS3. Microsoft, maybe next time
- The beach. Ok, this years weather sucks big time but if the sun is shining, nothing beats a beer at your favorite beach-club after a day of hard work. .
Ok, it's now tradition to pass on the torch to a small, hand-picked group of people so they can waste some time on compiling a boring list of items they can't live without. Let me just pass on the torch to every dear reader of this blog. So if you read this item, you are up next.