Laying Asphalt

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Asphalt Paving I was contemplating having to pave a machine recently, and it occurred to me that it might be a good time to take stock of the “asphalt”, so to speak.

In other words, what are those apps and configurations that get laid down first? Those that I use everyday. That it’d be seriously difficult to do without, even from day one?

I’ve followed Scott Hanselman’s List of Tools for years. It’s a great list, and a fantastic place to get ideas for things that might dovetail into your personal workflow, so if you haven’t already checked it out, I heartily recommend it.

But it’s huge! I mean, really big. It’s a great reference, but I can’t imagine anyone using near that much on a daily basis.

So, what’s my asphalt then? Lets get right to it!

  • File manager – DirOpus. If you deal with files all day long, DirOpus is the first thing you should consider laying down. Fast and infinitely customizable, but it still feels like a Windows File Explorer.
  • Font – Hackd. My own version of LigaHack, which is itself a ligaturized version of Hack.
  • Editor – Visual Studio Code. I’ve used tons of different editors over the years, so VSCode is just the latest. It’s fast, flexible, extensible and customizable.
  • Password – Keepass. Hands down. After seeing news stories of all the commercial “credential managers” out there, I’m convinced high value targets like that are the last place you want to put your keys. Just make sure you back up.
  • Launcher – Flowlauncher. PowerToys Run is right up there, but FlowLauncher is xcopy installable, and super easy to write extensions for, as well as having just about any extension you’d ever want already available.
  • Backup – SyncBackPro + BackBlaze. Both are very reasonably priced. BackBlaze for offsite backup. SyncBack for synchronizing laptops, desktops, phones, etc.
  • Compare – Araxis Merge. I’m doing file or folder compares virtually every hour. I’ve tried others, both free and commercial but Araxis just feels the smoothest, and most polished. It’s not cheap, but I think it’s worth it.
  • Clipboard –ClipCache. Ok. There’s loads of free clipboard managers out there, and not just a few paid ones. But ClipCache does it all, it’s not very $$, and it just works.
  • Terminal – Windows Terminal + Cmder. I’ve never been able to get on the Powershell wagon, so there’s that. But Cmdr in Windows Terminal, with PowerLine glyphs and quake mode is awesome.
  • Macros – AutoHotKey. I’ve got my own set of favorite hotkeys that I’ll be writing about soon.
  • Processes – Process Hacker 2. Way, way better that TaskMan
  • Search – FileLocator Pro. Absolutely worth the (small amount of) money, esp with the new Index functions.
  • Screenshots – ShareX. Free and fantastic for screenshots, recordings and annotating.

And just to be straight. All of the links above are direct links to the apps I mention. I’m not an “affiliate”. I don’t get any money for “clicks” to these links. I have no relationship to any of these companies except as a customer.

So that’s it. These apps (and font Smile ) are running virtually 24/7 on my machines.

I’d love to hear you consider your “asphalt”!

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