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What’s on Your Hard Drive?

As the year draws to an end, we would like to thank all of our readers who have submitted to WOYHD. Over the past 12 months we’ve seen a wide variety of tools mentioned, and, come 2007, we would like to see a lot more of the same. So log on to our Web site at and send us your rants, raves, and more new tools that you absolutely can’t live without—or can’t stand to use. As further incentive, if we publish your submission, you’ll be starting off the New Year with a brand new Queue coffee mug!

Who: Charles Moore
What industry: Consulting and systems integrator
Job title: Software engineer
Flavor: Develops on Windows for Windows
Tool I love! Beyond Compare. I love the abilities of this program. I use it all the time to reconcile multiple versions of files. It’s particularly useful to determine what changed between different releases—better than most versioning systems’ compares.
Tool I hate! Microsoft Office. It never works the way you want it to. Any option that is available to make it do what you want (and how do you find out about it?) is usually several layers down under some unrelated menu—sometimes even in another system application! Many features were either incorrectly implemented, not thought out, incompatible with other features, or just plain don’t work. And you don’t have—or aren’t allowed—any other option.

Who: Shyam Santhanam
What industry: ISP/Telecommunications, energy, cable, utilities
Job title: Software engineer
Flavor: Develops on Linux for Linux
Tool I love! Eclipse. I love the extensibility! It’s a jack-of-all-trades and master of each. Also the intuitive UI and stability are great. Eclipse is doing things the way IDEs should instead of how they “have been” in the past.
Tool I hate! Make. The complex and clumsy syntax of Make files and their widespread acceptance in Linux (Unix) development is horrible. If you’ve ever tried tracing down a linker error originating in a 500-line Makefile with nth-level nested expansions, then you know what I mean.

Who: Leon Woestenberg
What industry: Broadcasting
Job title: Senior designer
Flavor: Develops on Linux for Linux
Tool I love! OpenEmbedded. The world of cross-compilation is cruel, especially if your system is a complex of different external open source tools together with your own tools. OpenEmbedded is the platform that solves the subtleties that would have cost me a lot of time to get right. I know—I have been there before.
Tool I hate! VisualWhatever. I do not think dragging components into a view, setting some attributes, and then hooking them up is anything like the way systems should be designed. If anyone thinks this is top-down design, think again.

Who: Mark Westwood
What industry: Oil and gas
Job title: Principal software engineer
Flavor: Develops on Linux for Linux
Tool I love! XEmacs. We have a longtime love affair; she is so much more than an editor to me. My wife doesn’t understand me this well! Compilers come and go, debuggers are transient, but an editor
is for life.
Tool I hate! Anything GUI. I can write a finite-difference time-domain Maxwell equation solver in Fortran in a quarter of the time it takes my users to make up their minds whether a dialog box should be shifted two pixels to the left or three pixels down. Computers are for number crunching!


Originally published in Queue vol. 4, no. 10
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