Archives For utilities

I StumbledUpon this page that lists 21 Lesser-Known Open-Source Applications for Windows. As a person that prefers to use open-source software and tries to avoid using Windows, I was intrigued by the listing. As the article points out, many people are already using open-source and cross platform software like the Firefox Web browser, Thunderbird email client, GIMP image manipulation software, OpenOffice Microsoft Office alternative, and the VLC video player. (Although, as an aside, while I do use Firefox as my primary browser, and often use VLC, I’ve never really thought that GIMP or OpenOffice were really comparable to the commercial alternatives.) The author does a good job of highlighting a mix of things, from utilities to multimedia to games. I expect I’ll try out ZScreen for my next book, as I always need to take screenshots on Windows (while testing code). If I used Windows regularly, I expect I’d love Launchy, as I love QuickSilver on my Mac. Being able to start applications without moving over to the mouse is such a timesaver. I also do use Filezilla on Windows, and recommend it in my books, as a good, free FTP application.

I don’t talk much about Windows, despite so many of you out there using it, so I thought I would pass this along.

JetProfiler for MySQL

March 22, 2009

I’ve just recently come across a piece of software called Jet Profiler for MySQL. This is a program that runs on Mac OS X, Linux, and Windows (it’s runs on Java), and comes in both a free and commercial version. Jet Profiler for MySQL is a diagnostic tool, used to analyze and report upon your database’s performance, specifically in terms of the queries run, the tables used, and the MySQL users. It also has more advanced capabilities, like reporting upon master/slave relationships, locking, threads, and so forth. One particularly interesting feature is that it doesn’t require any special server configuration; in fact, it doesn’t even need to be installed on the server. You can install the application on your desktop computer, create a new MySQL user on the server, and the software will connect through it. Software like this is another good way to better understand your database and your Web application.

Ubiquity Plug-in for Firefox

February 10, 2009

I came across the Ubiquity plug-in for Firefox the other day. If you use your browser a lot, and really like cool, cryptic ways of saving you steps, I could see this being revolutionary (on a personal level). I came across this after reading some stuff about my favorite utility, QuickSilver; the premise and usage of Ubiquity is comparable. Ubiquity allows you to tie other services into the current Web browser. For example, in this video, by one of Ubiquity’s creators at Mozilla, they show how to use Ubiquity to add a Google map to an email, then add a note to their calendar, without ever leaving the current browser window. Later in that same demonstration, part of a Web site is translated from Japanese to English, again, without leaving the current browser window. For more information, also see the other videos by Aza Raskin,, and

To be clear, Ubiquity is still in a beta format, and it’s pretty geeky stuff. But if you’re the kind of person that likes cutting edge (but still useful) ideas, and/or, if you have some time to kill, check it out.

Twenty Web Development Tips

January 27, 2009

Somewhat randomly I’ve recently come across two very useful articles, each of which contains ten Web development tips. The first is at hackification, and is called Ten Web Development Tips I Wish I’d Known Two Years Ago. This seems to be a generally good blog, with lots of stuff worth reading. In this particular article, I also heartedly agree with the author’s suggestions that you should…

  • Use a browser development plug-in, like Firebug and YSlow
  • Learn JavaScript

This author also mentions using a reset stylesheet, something I wasn’t familiar with but is also mentioned in…

…the 10 Dirty Little Web Development Tricks article at Yongfook. That author also recommends using a versioning system like SVN (to control the different versions of files as you work with them), which I feel makes more sense if you’re working on something with a team. Along with recommendations to learn the jQuery JavaScript framework and the Zend PHP framework, the author also suggests you take a break, perhaps the best piece of debugging advice that I’ve ever also given (I always include that in my books). There’s also some best-practices there related to using frameworks and MVC approaches to sites.

This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series Speeding Up Web Sites using Yahoo!'s YSlow

In two previous posts, I discussed analyzing my site using Yahoo!’s YSlow Firefox plug-in. I went through the initial test results and the steps I took to improve my score. At the end of part 2, I was left with a grade of 95 (whohoo!) but still two hurdles: ETags and sending compressed JavaScript and CSS. Continue Reading…