Merc's Useful Tools of the day

Handruin

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This might be a bit beyond the scope of this thread but Guacamole looks like an interesting tool to help manage systems.
 

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Fatwah on Western Digital
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PhotoPea is a nearly complete clone of Photoshop that runs in a browser. I'm not a Photoshop guy, but I know my way around the UI and core functions and as far as I can tell, it seems identical. You can even do things like import brushes you've saved. I'm sure it's missing out on high end masking tools and there's no doubt it's not doing GPU acceleration. Keyboard shortcuts are the same and the basic filters are all there, as are actions.

I found that it worked very well on an Android tablet with a stylus, but it's a progressive web app if you'd like to play with it in a browser or as a "desktop application."

For those who don't know: some web pages can be "installed" as if they were binary applications, from the system menu of Webkit-derived browsers like Chrome and Edge, and also from Firefox for Android but not desktop Firefox. Google Photos and Soundslice are other neat examples of PWAs.
 

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Fatwah on Western Digital
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Kiwi for Gmail is just a web scrape of various Google Workspace tools, but I'm finding that I really like it since I do spend a lot of time switching specifically between Gmail, Google Drive and the various Google productivity apps. If you have a Google-centric work flow, it makes a lot of sense to put all those things together and segregated from other browser tasks. Kiwi is free for a single user account.
 

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Fatwah on Western Digital
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Czkawka is a multiplatform tool for finding and removing duplicate files. I tried it and thought it was really handy and it's relatively fast.
 

sedrosken

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I think I have a Windows 7 install kicking around somewhere that I can hash-compare these to, if it'd make you feel better. I prefer these to the UWP downgrades anyday.
 

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Fatwah on Western Digital
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Snapchat is finally available directly on the web. This is a huge deal for me, and maybe no one else. Before now, I've been running a remote app view from my phone to see Snapchat. Even better, the web version of Snapchat can operate concurrently with the mobile version; prior to this, only special VIP accounts were allowed to sign in on multiple devices. I haven't fully tested if the privacy features work, but I do see that it blanks the Snapchat tab if it isn't active on the current display.

I also found that there's an App called Good Guardians that is available from the Samsung App Store for Android. This app provides some extra functionality to devices in the form of battery monitoring and use tracking, as well as precompiling small bits of Android software that are normally marked for JIT optimizations. It was possible to do this before using ADB commands, but it's a handy shortcut. I tried it out on a couple generic tablets and found a modest subjective improvement in Firefox and Tumblr start times; I suspect the performance improvement is probably not noticeable on the newest devices though. Here is an explanation of what it does and a link to the APK. I got my copy of it directly from the Samsung App Store using a web extension called APK downloader.
 

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Fatwah on Western Digital
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Diskprices.com is really nifty and sorts results to include whether or not the drives are new, used or refurbished.
 

LunarMist

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Used drives are just gross. Who knows what files have been on them?
 

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Fatwah on Western Digital
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Used drives are just gross. Who knows what files have been on them?

Sometimes the answer is nothing. I've been getting drives from my datacenter guys for a while to say satisfy my need for better than SMR high capacity drives and many of the ones I've received have had very low numbers of total bytes written and/or power on hours. I can usually buy 5 used drives for the cost of three new ones, so I think it's worth it.
 

LunarMist

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Us mere mortals have to buy online and find a sale once in a while.
Data center drives have probably been treated properly, heavily RAIDed, and probably wiped already.
 

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Fatwah on Western Digital
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There's a crypto mining process that fills drives and then doesn't do anything more with the data.
My datacenter doesn't charge for power, so it's popular with miners. I think that's why stuff is so frequently abandoned, too.
 

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Fatwah on Western Digital
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The Christopher Titus Tool has a bunch of nifty stuff built in to it for first run on a new PC. It installs my friend Chocolatey and also brings up a quick menu that can fix a whole bunch of things all in one go, like restoring the old style right click menu and turning off telemetry in Windows 11 and batch installing standard applications like 7zip and common browsers.

 

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Fatwah on Western Digital
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Here's an extremely niche but useful tool: wineVDM. This is an executable wrapper that allows users to run 16-bit Windows software transparently on 64-bit Windows. I used it to get an ancient version of CorelDraw working.

A lot of Windows software from the late 90s was 32 bit, but packaged using a 16-bit installer, but if you want to use the Windows 3 version of sol.exe running, there you go.

I mentioned intelliadmin cron for Windows in another thread today, but I'll put it here as well. This is best used on desktop systems as a replacement for Task Scheduler. Task Scheduler can in theory do a lot more, but it is also vulnerable to breaking because for example a password change or corrupt profile might stop a script from working.
 

sedrosken

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I knew of this as OTVDM a couple years back. It was neat, but for me, it'll never replace actually having the target platform handy. But you know me well enough by now to know that. :p

Intelliadmin cron is interesting -- I barely make any use of cron myself even on a UNIX/Linux machine as I find it's easier or more appropriate to just setup an init script or systemd timer to handle it instead, but it's a good tool to have and I imagine it'll come in handy sometime. Worth keeping in the belt. Or software archive, as it were.
 

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Fatwah on Western Digital
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One of my students brought this to my attention: https://github.com/ChrisTitusTech/winutil
This is a powershell script you can run as easily as

irm https://christitus.com/win | iex

as administrator. The command brings up a long list of installable software, but also notably includes some systemwide tweaks like disabling Onedrive and restoring the normal right-click menu on Windows 11. I have my own software install script already but some of the other stuff seems really handy, especially for people who don't necessarily configure desktops all the damned time.
 

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Fatwah on Western Digital
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It's basically a front-end to chocolatey/WinGet plus a lot of powershell registry and group policy tricks. One interesting thing about it compared to Chocolatey, though, is that it runs some installers in contexts other than the computer administrator account when people have observed issues with doing that.

My favorite little trick from the Titus tool is restoring the F8 boot menu. I am running that on every PC I touch from now on.

On an unrelated note and this is a big deal, Rufus 4+ will now directly download and customize your Windows 11 install ISO for you. Of greatest importance, a Rufus Win11 ISO will skip all the hardware checks so you can in-place upgrade Windows 11 on non-compliant hardware. What I was having to do before was to grab specific files out of a Windows 10 install image and swap out the versions on the Windows 11 one to do the same thing.

I upgraded to Win 11 23H2 on a non-compliant i7-7700 from 21H2 this morning. It worked great.
 

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Fatwah on Western Digital
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Microsoft itself made a thing called PC Manager. I would think that something called PC Manager is something they would just put in Windows, but no, it's a stand-alone thing you can get through the Windows Store. It does a lot of things we might've had CCleaner do before it became terrible, but of particular interest, it has a dashboard for finding large files and duplicate files, but it also puts a lot of maintenance tools in one UI for those who might not be so tech-savvy to find.
 

sedrosken

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One of my students brought this to my attention: https://github.com/ChrisTitusTech/winutil
This is a powershell script you can run as easily as

irm https://christitus.com/win | iex

as administrator. The command brings up a long list of installable software, but also notably includes some systemwide tweaks like disabling Onedrive and restoring the normal right-click menu on Windows 11. I have my own software install script already but some of the other stuff seems really handy, especially for people who don't necessarily configure desktops all the damned time.
Checking this out in a VM where I'm testing IoT LTSC 2024 right now. It's pretty damn slick. It has everything I could think of in one convenient place. This likely will replace ninite as well as a couple hours worth of manually installing junk after initial setup. Thanks a lot for bringing it up here.
 

sedrosken

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Really I'd say we need more for those idiots responsible for the change that prompted this to be fired. Out of a cannon. Into the sun. Along with every single marketing exec that salivates at the thought of something like this. I am so sick and goddamned tired of the OS I paid real money for being a cesspool of advertising and datamining.
 
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