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Thursday, April 9, 2009

My Top 10 Favorite Tools

I've been building a new desktop computer for my office. (When I say "build", I'm speaking of installing an operating system and software.) As I've gone through the process, I've been thinking of all the tools I install and use. Lots of tech writers like to share their favorite tools list and I thought I'd do likewise. Here are my top ten, in alphabetical order:

HashTab: This very handy shell extension provides a great way to validate hashes for downloaded files. Download it at

Inssider: This utility scans for wireless access points and displays MAC addresses, SSIDs, channels, signal strength, security, and speed. Download it at

IrfanView: IrfanView is a must-have tool for viewing and performing basic manipulation of graphical images. It's a very fast, lightweight tool that allows you to crop and resize images and save them in different file formats. Get it at

nmap: nmap is the king of port scanners. 'nuff said? Get it at

Notepad++: This is a replacement for Notepad on your Windows computer. I mentioned it last month. Get it for line numbering, if nothing else, but it offers a lot more than that. Download it at

psTools: This is a suite of tools developed by Mark Russinovich of Sysinternals fame. They allow you to manipulate many aspects of remote Windows systems from the command line (subject, of course, to authentication). Unix/Linux admins especially will appreciate them.

PuTTY: PuTTY is the must-have terminal emulator for Windows. Anyone who administers network devices or servers from the command-line needs this. It can be downloaded as part of an installation package that includes key generation and management tools.

Tftpd32: This is a lightweight, yet powerful TFTP server which also includes a DHCP server and a Syslog Server.

WinSCP: For transferring files securely between your laptop and your web server (You don't actually use FTP, do you???), this is a great piece of software. I love the drag-and-drop capability of the Explorer-like interface and the seemless support for public/private keypairs is great.

Wireshark: Formerly known as Ethereal, this is Gerald Combs masterpiece. If you're really serious about understanding what's happening on your network, you've already used Wireshark. If you're a newbie, Wireshark is one of the fastest and best ways to elevate yourself past the "newbie" stage.

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