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SpaceSniffer: freeware disk usage utility

imageMerry Christmas everyone! I  had a fairly unconventional Christmas, spending it with my wife and kid in San Diego (Legoland!) Six hour drive from here, made tolerable by the fact that we have a pretty spacious, comfortable sedan. But I digress. Got back home and did a bit of catching up on the software review sites, and found a program called SpaceSniffer which, amazingly, has within a single hour ousted SpaceMonger as my favourite disk usage analysis tool. I say “amazingly” because I’ve been using SpaceMonger for maybe ten years or more! SpaceSniffer is very similar in functionality and I guess there’s not much separating the two, but the latter does have a bit more configurability in terms of look and feel without appearing to sacrifice speed. Also, while viewing a report of my C: drive, certain directories periodically “flickered” on the screen. I suspect that post-analysis, the program monitors the just-scanned drive and does real-time updates on its display as the contents of directories change. If so, super cool! Lastly, it has an MDI interface, which SpaceMonger does not; this allows you to open more than one window within the program showing the contents of different drives. I’m not sure how often I would use this, but if you need to you can.

SpaceSniffer uses something called “treemaps”, which is a method of visually displaying filesize using boxes of varying sizes. A readout looks a bit messy the first time you see it, but it’s really the perfect way to get an instant idea not only of the largest files on your drive, but also the directories which contain the largest (and most amount of) files. For techies, and simply those people who are anal about space usage and organization, it’s indispensible. I’ve used SpaceMonger many times at work to get a handle on drive usage on one of our big networked file servers so I can hammer people who have been storing backups and other useless crap on it “accidentally”. The program is freeware, which makes it that much more awesome.

SpaceSniffer

NotePad++: excellent opensource text editor

NotePad++

There are two general kinds of editor that people use when writing. The first is a word processor, the other is a text processor. While word processors are great for organizing books or other documentation with rich text formatting, text editors have an alternate featureset for text manipulation and are typically geared towards programmers. Most text editors are far smaller than commercial word processing tools but have a surprisingly large range of features.

NotePad++ receives a Hot Download Award as one of the best text editors I’ve used recently. Previously, my favourite was NotePad2. Notepad2 is extremely small (loads in a flash) and has some very nice options if you’re just interested in editing non-rich-text files – readmes and the like. NotePad++, on the other hand, adds a huge range of features including syntax highlighting, tabbed document interface, macros, and plugins which allow a vast amount of text transformations and other functions. This editor does almost everything you could possibly want for straightforward programming or related work.

Notepad++ Homepage

Honourable mentions: NotePad2, of course. PSPad is another free editor with a giant range of features, but takes a second or two longer to load. In my world that counts as second best. Finally, for the absolute ULTIMATE text editor (shareware but worth it if you have the $) is UltraEdit. This latter editor really does do everything under the sun.

Avoid: TextPad. So many people use this tool, it boggles my mind. It’s shareware and far below par when compared to NotePad++. The default hotkey mappings don’t make any sense either. Don’t even bother.