My favorite tools

Everyone has their own collection of favorites tools and utilities; most people I know have a list of tools they feel are essential.

This is my favorites tools and utilities; I use every week or even every day and others are in the category nice to know about. I strive to use free tools only; I might have added one or two non-free tools to the list as they are essential to me and worth the money.

Windows built-in tools

Windows Sandbox

Windows Sandbox provides a lightweight desktop environment to safely run applications in isolation. Software installed inside the Windows Sandbox environment remains “sandboxed” and runs separately from the host machine.

A sandbox is temporary. When it is closed, all the software and files and the state are deleted. You get a brand-new instance of the sandbox every time you open the application.

Windows Magnifier

Magnifier enlarges part of your screen, making words and images easier to see.

Windows Snipping Tool (Shift-WIN+S)

Microsoft has introduced the new Snipping Tool. Snipping Tool can be used to take screenshots, use tools like a pen or pencil to draw on it, and share it wherever you want.

Windows Package Manager

Windows Package Manager, or winget, command-line tool is part of Windows by default as part of the App Installer.

If you are running an earlier version of Windows and the App Installer is not available, you can get App Installer from the Microsoft Store.

Apps vs Applications.

I always look for an app alternative before installing applications. For references, this is the list of Microsoft Store Apps I install, enjoying the benefits of apps easy to add and easy to remove, and automatically updated by the Microsoft Store app.

Tools

7-Zip

7-Zip is free software with open source. You can use 7-Zip on any computer, including a computer in a commercial organization. You do not need to register or pay for 7-Zip.

7-Zip integrates into Windows Explorer and opens everything you throw at it, happily opens TARs, ISOs, RARs to CABs and more.

Install using winget:

winget install --id "7zip.7zip" --silent --source winget

Brave Browser

The Brave browser blocks ads and trackers that slow you down and invade your privacy. Discover a new way of thinking about how the web can work. I use Brave Browser for testing anonymous access to Office 365 for testing and validation e.g., Conditional Access.

Install using winget:

winget install --id "BraveSoftware.BraveBrowser" --silent --source winget

Fiddler Classic

The easy, clean, and powerful debugging proxy for checking out HTTP between here and there. It even supports sniffing SSL traffic.

Install using winget:

winget install --id "Telerik.Fiddler.Classic" --silent --source winget

Gimp

GIMP is an acronym for GNU Image Manipulation Program. It is a freely distributed program for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition and image authoring. Whether you are a graphic designer, photographer, illustrator, or scientist, GIMP provides you with sophisticated tools to get your job done. You can further enhance your productivity with GIMP thanks to customization options and third-party plugins.

Install using winget:

winget install --id "GIMP.GIMP" --silent --source winget

Git

Git is a free and open-source distributed version control system designed to manage everything from small to large projects with speed and efficiency. I use Git to integrate Visual Studio Code with GitHub repositories.

Install using winget:

winget install --id "Git.Git" --silent --source winget

Sizer 4.0

If you like me often write documentation, creating screenshots and prefer windows are the same size, Sizer is the tool for you.

Sizer 4.0 is latest version of the popular utility used to accurately resize and reposition windows.

Install using winget:

winget install --id "BrianApps.Sizer.Dev" --silent --source winget

Markdown Monster

While I love Visual Studio Code, Markdown Monster does one thing incredibly well. Markdown.

Install using winget:

winget install --id "WestWind.MarkdownMonster" --silent --source winget

Microsoft PowerToys

Microsoft PowerToys is a set of utilities for power users to tune and streamline their Windows experience for greater productivity.

Install using winget:

winget install --id "Microsoft.PowerToys" --silent --source winget

OBS Studio

OBS Studio is as close to an all-in-one solution for live video capture and streaming as you are likely to get without having to pay for one. This open-source application rivals many of its commercial counterparts in both polish and flexibility. It supports capture from single windows, whole desktops, or fixed regions of the screen, on-the-fly switching between views, and overlays from various sources (still images, pre-captured movies, live video, etc.). And it provides equally flexible support for audio capture.

Install using winget:

winget install --id "OBSProject.OBSStudio" --silent --source winget

Visual Studio Code

Microsoft Visual Studio Code (VS Code) is a tool that combines the simplicity of a code editor with what developers need for their core edit-build-debug cycle.

It provides comprehensive editing and debugging support, an extensibility model, and lightweight integration with existing tools.

Install using winget:

winget install --id "Microsoft.VisualStudioCode" --silent --source winget

ZoomIt

A true classic but also the answer to the number 1 question; how do you draw on the screen when you are sharing your screen?

ZoomIt has been that tool for many presenters and should be in your toolbox to. Take some time and learn how to do boxes, arrows, colors and more and you will be a more effective screen-sharer.

Install using winget: NA

Microsoft PowerPoint Add-ins

Whiteboard and flip chart, or flop overs, are the old school equipment I prefer to use for discussion and customer presentations. However, as a speaker presenting for larger crows, an effective way of sharing highlights of the contents presented. I put a huge amount of time into my presentations, and Add-ins often help me use my time optimal, which is why Microsoft PowerPoint Add-ins made into this list:

draw.io diagram

Easily embed draw.io diagrams from cloud storage. The easiest way to embed flowcharts, UML, mockups, mind maps and more types of diagrams.

draw.io is a free, open-source diagramming application that stores your diagrams on your preferred cloud storage solution.

Pexels

Free Stock Photos. Despite Microsoft Office product has its own solution for free stock photos, sometimes a little extra is just nice, Pexels gives you that and works in both Microsoft Word, and PowerPoint – and it is free.

Features include:

  • Search for images (obviously), but Pexel has an excellent feature, allowing you to search for pictures based on colors – really makes finding images less cumbersome.

Pro Word Cloud

Create word clouds from your text. A wonderful way of visualizing a piece of text or a news feed. The cloud gives greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with varied sizes, fonts, layouts, and color schemes. It works in both Microsoft Word, and PowerPoint – and it is free.

QR4Office

I often add QR codes into my PowerPoint Presentations, replacing links to surveys, twitter profile or like. QR4Office is just a straightforward way to add QR codes – and works in both Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint – and it is free.

Features include:

  • QR code images gets embedded within the document.
  • Customizable color, background, and size.
  • Ability to set QR error correction level.

Online resources

bensound.com

You can use this royalty free stock music for YouTube and your multimedia projects if you credit Bensound.com (in the description for a video).

Coolors

The super-fast color palettes generator, create your own color palette for any project.

dafont

Registration is free, however no need to register if you just want to download the fonts.

As a registered member you can, in addition:

  • Submit and update your own fonts
  • Create selections (to compare fonts side by side, or favorite lists)
  • Add comments on the fonts
  • Post on the forum

You can sample your own text, great for finding fonts for e.g., logos or headers,

Pexel – Startup Stock Photos

Pexels provides high quality and completely free stock photos licensed under the Pexels license.

All photos are searchable and tagged, and easy to discover through the discover pages.

pixabay – Stunning free images & royalty free stock

Download Photos, Illustrations, Vectors, Videos, Music, and Sound Effects.
Registration is free, however no need to register if you just want to download content. For example: Music: https://www.bensound.com/

Noun Project

Noun Project is building a global visual language that unites us — a language that allows quick and easy communication no matter who you are or where you are.

Unsplash

The internet’s source of freely usable images.

Wayback Machine

The Wayback Machine is an initiative of the Internet Archive.

–Jesper

Why I abandoned Facebook

I have not put any updates on Facebook for more than three months, and these days I often get text messages complaining I am not replying on some “Messenger thing”.

Reason: I have abandoned Facebook!

Basically, I reached my bullshit limit and realized Facebook did not give me anything useful and all I was doing was wasting my time – Do not get me wrong, I really like stuff from e.g. How It’s Made, but I found I was watching some dude casting a miniature knife from an old tractor, fascinating but not exactly energizing.

Then, the news about Cambridge Analytica story broke, the whole Trump’s 2016 campaign, Brexit and what have we. On top of that, rumors started that Facebook was silently monitoring phone activities on Android phones gaining access to private data through the social network app and then the Russians got a hold of it…

I had been thinking about leaving Facebook for some time, but despite it is hard to really know what is up and down, I made the decision to abandon Facebook. When it finally came out that Russians had been using Facebook to manipulate people, I was happy I got out’ish and I changed my Facebook habit.

To all my friends on Facebook, you should not, and I repeat, you should not expect to get any respond from me via Facebook

In an academic study on Facebook from August 2013, researchers claimed that the more people used Facebook in their test group, the more unsatisfied they felt with their lives – regardless of how many friends they had amassed. Please accept my apology for acting like and hypocrite, but despite near-constant data misuse scandals emerging from Facebook, the hashtag #DeleteFacebook appeared everywhere, there’s little evidence people are choosing to switch off their accounts entirely and I am one of them.

Facebook have some useful stuff, not that I particularly like seeing pictures of people on vacation, shared recipes, or just random thoughts on daily life. It is a great way to keep in touch with old friends and family across the globe. Facebook must do much better and ensure to secure user data from misuse by individuals and/or corporations – then, and only then, I might consider start using Facebook again.

If you are not paying for it, you are not the customer. You are the product being sold.

However, there seems to be a social cost for being out of the Facebook loop, and opting out of the “phone book of our age”. I know I miss out on casual, but sometime important invitations and lots of fake news. More important, by opting out of Facebook I misses status from friends, holiday photos, baby photos, and the casual status update, it is not essential, but it keeps a trickle of communication open between people I might otherwise not hear from.

Conclusion

By sharing you personally stuff on platforms as Facebook, you must accept that data can be reused, whatever you like it or not, however I want my communications to belong to me. I want more control with “my data” and I am not seeing this happening on Facebook, confirmed by the waste number of Facebook misuse data stories that keep surfacing.

For this reason, I have abandoned Facebook, and has become the occasional user sharing a minimum – if you se me online, feel free to reach out, but please do not expect me to respond.

Update Stumbled across this tweet today: According to new research quitting Facebook makes people happier and less informed about politics, but less partisan, too!

–Jesper