Tuesday, March 16, 2021

A list of really cool new tools through the past 40 years.

Here is a non-exhaustive list of all the cool new tools I've had through the years that were good enough that I still remember them.

 PKzip - way faster and better compression that previous things like ARC. The first version control I did was project01.zip, project02.zip, etc.

SideKick - Being able to pop up and edit underneath a running MS-DOS program was a game changer for me

Turbo Pascal - Being able to compile programs in less than a second in MS-DOS was *magic*, compared to 15min - hour waiting for the compiler queue on the VAX at school, only to find out you had an error.

Backpack Portable Hard drive - A piece of hardware, but being able to boot a floppy and have 100 megabytes of storage instantly available was like magic.

EDwin - TurboPower Software - the first text editor (that I used) that could record and playback macros, I did all kinds of cool stuff with it.

GoBack - A system tool that kept all the changes to your hard drives.. the salesman demo involved deliberately infecting a system with a virus... then undoing it via GoBack.  Unfortunately the wrong people decided it was too slow and "optimized it for speed", which killed the ability to undo virus attacks.

MultiLink - Allowed running of multiple MS-DOS users with serial terminals, usually a Wyse 60.

The $25 network - Allowed the very slow emulation of networking, with just plain old serial ports and cables. Saved hundreds of dollars if you only need a file now and then, back when Arcnet cards were about $100.

Delphi - GUI development for Windows that just works, and like Turbo Pascal, compiles in a blink.  Drag your components into a form, hook up the events, make a report or two, and you're done.

Microsoft Office - This one is way under-rated

  Microsoft Excel - Reactive programming, comprehensible by humans and accountants.

  Microsoft Word - The outliner is quite useful for keeping track of tasks, and the details of projects

  Microsoft Access - being able to do a forms based database with nice reports, master/detail records all with zero SQL required is powerful stuff

  Microsoft Exchange/Outlook - Exchange is *the world's best database* disguised as a task manager/calendar/email server/client.  You can make offline changes, and they just work consistent with expectations.

WebDAV - Uploading by just copying to a folder in explorer was far more intuitive than FTP.

Mercurial - Being able to keep old versions without sucking up the hard drive was very nice.

GIT/GitHub - Being able to keep all versions, branches and push them almost instantly to the web.

Python - The ability to get a lot done in almost no code is very powerful. It's too bad that there's no good GUI for it that works as well as Delphi.

VMware - Ersatz Capability Based Security - The virtual machine gets a set of resources, and nothing more. It'll do until we get better Operating Systems.  Being able to save a machine as a file is a very powerful thing.

ThumbsPlus - A photo organizer from Cerious Software, keeps thumbnails in a database, does tagging, etc.

Picassa 3.0 - Killed by google, does local photo management, with local facial recognition, helped me tag the more than 10,000 photos of my daughter. 8)

Hugin - Panorama alignment software - very handy for my experiments in virtual focus/synthetic aperture photography, and for doing landscapes.

GIMP - Orders of magnitude better than Microsoft Paint

WSL - Windows Subsystem for Linux - Allows me to run Ubuntu and Windows programs at the same time. VScode supports running you compiled code in Linux, while it lives in Windows... wizardry!