Tag Archives: tool

Geek Tools

What are you doing with your second monitor? If you don’t have a second monitor attached to your system, either you’re always mobile with a laptop, or you’re crazy. I couldn’t live without a second screen – yes, you’d be surprised at how quickly 30″ fills up. I keep my instant messenger, chat, etc. – applications that I need to see at a moment’s notice, but not all the time. Yes, I could use a virtual desktop (with a great degree of ease in Mac OS X). However, that would require a lot of screen flipping just to see if a new notification has come in.

If you’ve watched any one of my videos in recent weeks, or you’ve seen the live stream, then you may have seen green text on my leftmost monitor (if I have it on during recording, or if the screen saver hasn’t yet kicked in). The text is dynamic, sitting in the foreground, showing me which processes are consuming the most CPU cycles or memory – as well as showing me the latest entries in the system log. Even if you don’t have a second screen on your system, you’ll want to use this software. It’s more useful to geeks, but I guess that’s why they call it GeekTool.

I recorded a quick screencast to show you just how easy it is to configure (you don’t really need to be a geek to enjoy the tool’s fruits). You can use GeekTool to render shell commands, read text files live, or display static image URLs directly on your desktop. It’s easier to use this than it is to open a terminal window just to see the same data. I’m sure many of you are already using GeekTool – and, if so, I’d love to see which shell commands you’re using in your installation. I could always use more!

Anyway, here’s what it can do for you:

My GeekTool commands / file watches:

  • ps -Aro %cpu,ucomm,user
  • ps -Amo rsz,ucomm,user
  • sysctl vm.loadavg | sed s/’^vm.loadavg: ‘//
  • /var/log/system.log

Of course, GeekTool is only available for Mac OS X – but I bet you might know of something similar for either Windows or Linux. Feel free to share your discoveries (or Mac OS X shell commands)… I’m all pixels!

Tool

Did you know there’s such a thing as a cordless saw? I had no idea until I started looking around our Tool King section. I’m starting to take that home improvement thing seriously. Yeah, I know about cordless drills and… what the hell is Lincoln Lubrication!? Chicago Pneumatic – wasn’t that a drama series on NBC? Why doesn’t someone create a comprehensive list of “must have” tools for the average home owner? Ya know, tools that won’t cost me an arm and a leg (or remove them if used improperly). I’ve got a cordless drill with a handful of bits, a screwdriver set, a computer repair kit, a big-ass Black and Decker tool kit, laser level kit, and other assorted handheld goodies. Which brands should we trust – and which ones should we avoid? Actually, I bet Black and Decker isn’t good because it’s so readily available (that’s just a guess). Is DeWalt any good? I mean, honestly – how can you tell?

Users vs. Developers

In prepping for my talk at BloggerCon tomorrow, I thought I’d incite a riot tonight. Most of the world won’t be there, but you can tune into the live stream at some point right after lunch (when I’ll be leading the discussion). I put all of this in tonight’s Lockergnome report for the Windows Fanatics channel, but I figured it was worth repeating here… where I’m likely to get flamed out of existence.

What would the world of software be like if the inmates were running the asylum? I’d argue a lot more useful, and a lot more beautiful. But users are usually in the back seat when it comes to the evolution of a utility – from beginning to end. We have all the control in the world, but few of us ever choose to exercise that power. We are expected to treat developers like they’re gods – but they’re no more important in this cycle than the average user. Let me put it to you this way: software is useless if there isn’t anybody using it. There are certainly users who are content to take whatever programmers hand to them, but I don’t believe that this Utopian level of interaction will exist for too much longer. The world of software is getting larger by the day, and more people are finding new and different ways to improve lives with digital code. I got sick and tired of meeting programmers and developers with attitude, so I decided to get an attitude myself – as a power user. I expect better, I expect faster, I expect smarter, I expect more.

Base functionality is crucial – but I would argue that software should look twice as good as it runs (which should be fast to begin with). I’ve been labeled a “nitpicker” for pointing out font inconsistencies and pixel discrepancies. But if you don’t complain about the things you’d like to see change, how do you ever expect them to change? Developers develop, users use – but it’s up to both parties to communicate with one another. When I see a new piece of software that holds promise, I call out its shortcomings in the hopes it will be closer to perfection with the next revision. Programmers believe that they’re in charge – but I believe the true power lies within the user. Years ago, when I started Lockergnome, there were few people writing publicly about good (or bad) digital tools on the desktop or the Web. The blogosphere has since exploded with a flood of positive and negative opinions – and if you’re not a part of that revolution, then you’re missing out on an important part of history. I’ve seen countless developers struggle to get their apps recognized – but most of those same programmers suffer from an overinflated ego and miscalculation of a uesr’s wants, needs, and desires. Users don’t talk – but I’m asking you to start flappin’ your electronic gums for the sake of making the software landscape better for all of us.

FWIW, I love developers – couldn’t live without ’em. Can’t live with ’em, either. 🙂