Tech Talk Live Blog

Useful Tools

Greg Hess

In the technology world there are many useful tools available for a wide range of needs.  Here are several tools that are worth reviewing.  I use them for various needs like organization, project management, working with data files, and augmenting development.  Some of them have a cost, but many are free.

Online Tools

  • io– (Flowcharts) A free tool that provides integration with Google Drive and other online storage providers so flowcharts can be stored.
  • Gliffy– (Flowcharts) This is another flowcharting tool with free and paid levels.
  • Toggl– (Time Tracking) My team recently switched to using this tool for tracking time on various projects.  It provides the right balance of ease of entry with the features we need.
  • Trello– (Project Management) One can create “boards” to group tasks, add tasks to boards, and then drag and drop them to different boards as needed.  It also has the ability to assign due dates and team members to tasks, and is good for a visual view of what needs to be done.  It is like an electronic view of sticky notes on pieces of paper.
  • Zoom– (Video Conferencing) A well done video conferencing solution that can be used with a computer.  It is simple for participants to join.
  • LastPass– (Password Management) This is a cloud service that securely stores and syncs passwords between multiple devices.  Extensions are available for Chrome and Firefox.
  • Chrome Apps forExcel Online and Word Online – I stumbled across these by accident.  They provide quick, easy entry for creating documents in a OneDrive account.

Downloadable Tools

  • Notepad++– (Text Editing) A powerful text editor with syntax highlighting, macros, and many plugins.  One of my favorite plugins is “Compare” to compare two files side by side.
  • CSVed– (CSV Editor) This is a tool that was recommended to me.  It makes viewing and editing comma separated value (CSV) files much easier by lining the data up in columns.  If your job involves submitting data to PIMS (Pennsylvania Information Management System), you may want to look into this tool.
  • Greenshot– (Screenshots) This is a more robust tool than the Snipping Tool built into Windows; when taking a screenshot it provides multiple options for the resulting image.  These options include saving directly to a file and opening in the built in image editor.
  • Net– (Image editing) This tool is somewhere between Microsoft Paint and Adobe Photoshop in its capabilities.
  • SQL Examiner– (Database Schema and Data Comparison) This is the most expensive paid tool on the list, but it is one I use very frequently.  It actually consists of two products: one to compare schema between databases and another to compare data between two databases. With each it also generates a script to synchronize changes to the target database.
  • dbForge SQL Complete– (Development) An add-in for SQL Server Management Studio and Visual Studio to provide better code completion and formatting.
  • Remote Desktop Connection Manager– (Remote Administration) A remote desktop client that allows connection settings for each server to be stored and organized.
  • Evernote/OneNote– (Organization) These are two different, competing products for storing notes, lists, pictures, etc.  They could also be listed in the online section since each provides the ability to view notes in a browser and synchronize between multiple devices, including phones.  I have used both and primarily use them for storing notes and to do lists.

That wraps up the list of what I have been using lately.  I am sure there are other tools out there as well.  If you have one to suggest, please let me know in the comments!

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