Application Gems

Everyone has their favourite applications, and every now and then you find a gem that you wonder how you ever lived without.

Here are my “gems”, I hope you find some of them as useful as I have. Some of them I use so often that I forget I have them until I use someone else’s computer and think “Why doesn’t that work?” Like Better Touch Tool and KeyRemap4MacBook or PDF-XChange Viewer for Windows.

You’ll find a mixture of Macintosh, Windows, Linux and even iOS (iPad) applications.

PDF-XChange Viewer (Windows – Free).  This is about the only application that forces me to use Windows occasionally.  Not only does it read .pdf files, but allows you a rich variety of annotation tools, including sticky notes, typewriter and a comprehensive set of line & shape drawing tools.  And when you save your annotated document, these annotations are still visible to other readers who use other .pdf readers. (Wish they’d bring out a Macintosh version)

Better Touch Tool (Macintosh – Free). Especially in conjunction with the Apple Magic Mouse and/or touchpad. It gives me those extra features I expected the Apple mouse/touchpad to have but weren’t there, like the ability to snap windows to a quarter or half a screen, and extra actions for the mouse/touchpad for actions like three or four finger click. And most importantly, allows me to define an “ignore” area for the Magic Mouse, so my big thumb doesn’t interfere with the mouse action.

KeyRemap4MacBook (Macintosh – Free). This little app has allowed me to remap the useless DVD eject button to give me a proper “Delete forward” key on my MacBook Pro. Pity the narrow sighted Apple designers couldn’t have done this right from the start. I’ve remapped a couple of other keys as well to make up for the lack of essential keys on the MacBook Pro keyboard (RightCommand=Home; RightOption=End)

Alfred (Macintosh – Free). At the touch of a keystroke I have a search box on my screen. Google’s Quick Search Box is almost as good, but I can’t make it use as the default search site, whereas in Alfred I can. Windows and Linux users used to be able to get similar functionality by installing Google Desktop (now discontinued)

Wireshark (Macintosh, Windows and Linux – Free). I never really understand how a protocol works until I see a few packets. And since I spend many of my days explaining to people how protocols work, this is my most favourite application. Hope the iPad and andriod versions come soon.

iTerm2 (Macintosh – Free). If you need to use the unix shell on your Macintosh, then this replacement for the Macintosh Terminal application is the way to go. One of my favourite features is the ability to send your input to multiple sessions, but there’s heaps more – like split screens, search functions… And it is free.

Konsole (Linux – Free). Doesn’t have all the features of iTerm2, but has some features that iTerm2 lacks, like ability to choose which sessions to send your input to, rather than all-or-one. Also free.

SecureCRT (Windows – not free). I don’t actually use this, because I have iTerm2. But if I HAD to use a PC, this is the terminal program I’d use. If I ever do need to use a PC terminal emulator, I use PuTTY. There are Macintosh and Linux versions of SecureCRT too, and if iTerm2 wasn’t so damn good I’d pay the money for the Mac version. You get a trail period before you have to pay for registration.

VMware (VMware Fusion for the Macintosh (not free), VMware Player for Windows (free)). This program allows me to run Virtual Machines on my host machine. It is how I run Linux on a Mac or PC, and how I run Windows on my Macintosh.

Microsoft Office (Windows – not free). I know there is a Macintosh version (and I paid good money for it), but the Mac version of PowerPoint destroys the main laptop display when you go into presentation mode, and in displays notes in a fixed font size of “too small to be readable”. As much as I actually hate so many annoyances in MS Word and MS PowerPoint, I still have to say it is the best around – not for PowerPoint, but Excel is a top product and Word gets the job done (even if frustration abounds). I don’t use Outlook.

Directory Opus (Windows not free). If you need to copy files, compare files in one location with another, or do hundreds of other file management related tasks from rotating pictures to rewriting the time stamps, then this is the program for you. I particularly love the fact that I can have side by side displays of two different locations. If you run windows, do yourself a favour and download the 60 day trial.

Path Finder (Macintosh – not free). Although missing some of the features of Directory Opus, Path Finder has a swag of enhancements to make you want to banish Apple’s Finder to the Trash. Also has the ability to view directories side by side.

Dropbox (Macintosh or PC – free for 2GB of cloud storage). By using the same account on multiple computers, I can drop files (usually photos) Into my Dropbox, and they automatically appear in the dropbox of my wife’s PC and there is a 3rd copy in “the cloud” that I can access from my phone, iPad or any browser.

Notepad++ (Windows – Free) is a brilliant text editor. My favourite feature is via a plugin that allows you to compare two files. Ideal for comparing two router config files or two versions of a program script. I really wish there was a Macintosh version.

Text Wrangler (Macintosh – Free). A decent text editor for the Mac, but still wish I could find something to measure up to Notepad++. It also will compare files, but the interface is pathetic compared to the afore mentioned Notepad++.

Skype (Macintosh and PC and iPad and Android – Free-ish). Of course.

Evernote (Macintosh, PC, iPad and any browser – Free for basic a/c). I use it to take notes on my iPad and have them instantly available on other platforms. Lacks any local storage on the iPad, so if you take notes and loose contact with 3G then you can easily loose your notes. Looking for better replacement.

KisMAC (Macintosh – Free). A free, open source wireless stumbling and security tool for Mac OS X. Great for seeing what channels are used and detecting hidden SSIDs (mind you there is no such thing as a “hidden” SSID really – hidden just means the connecting PCs broadcast the SSID rather than the Access Point).

Grand Perspective (Macintosh – Free). “A small utility application for Mac OS X that graphically shows the disk usage within a file system. It can help you to manage your disk, as you can easily spot which files and folders take up the most space. It uses a so called tree map for visualisation. Each file is shown as a rectangle with an area proportional to the file’s size. Files in the same folder appear together, but their placement is otherwise arbitrary.” Great for finding what is taking up all that disk space.

Paintbrush (Macintosh – Free). Very unsophisticated. Allows me to add some text to a screen dump before I paste it into my document or blog.

SMH (iPad – Free). The only way to read a newspaper. SMH is the Sydney Morning Herald for those not in the know.

Words with Friends (iPad or online via Facebook – Free or Paid). I had to have one time waster!

About RedNectar Chris Welsh

Professional IT Instructor. All things TCP/IP, Cisco or Data Centre
This entry was posted in Mac OS X, Macintosh, Microsoft, Microsoft Word, opinion, SSID, VMware, wifi, Wireshark. Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to Application Gems

  1. rosbif35 says:

    Hi Red,
    Nice list. For the text editor I use Jedit, I know it requires Java, but it does allow me to have the same interface/plug ins for both my personal MacBook Pro and work HP laptop. And it’s free. Has some nice plug ins for php/html coding (former life) also.
    cheers from sunny France

  2. rednectar says:

    Works for me 😉
    VPCS[1]> ping -p 80 -3
    Connect 80@ seq=1 ttl=62 time=14.482 ms
    SendData 80@ seq=1 ttl=62 time=15.095 ms
    Close 80@ seq=1 ttl=62 time=13.405 ms
    Connect 80@ seq=2 ttl=62 time=10.295 ms
    SendData 80@ seq=2 ttl=62 time=15.520 ms
    Close 80@ seq=2 ttl=62 time=17.181 ms
    Connect 80@ seq=3 ttl=62 time=9.644 ms
    SendData 80@ seq=3 ttl=62 time=7.970 ms
    Close 80@ seq=3 ttl=62 time=23.300 ms
    Connect 80@ seq=4 ttl=62 time=72.286 ms
    SendData 80@ seq=4 ttl=62 time=15.668 ms
    Close 80@ seq=4 ttl=62 time=15.592 ms
    Connect 80@ seq=5 ttl=62 time=11.374 ms
    SendData 80@ seq=5 ttl=62 time=15.385 ms
    Close 80@ seq=5 ttl=62 time=17.889 ms

    The VPC program is a bit rough around the edges. When you enter:
    ping -p 80
    – it assumes you want to send the default ICMP protocol, rather than TCP or UDP, so the -p 80 has no effect – so it is exactly the same as doing:

    The tracert output you have is exactly correct and as expected. When you do:
    the tracert finally reaches its destination and the destination sends back ICMP destination Port unreachables, but VPCs recognises these as coming form the desired target so all is good. But when you do:
    VPCS[1]> tracert
    VPCs receives an ICMP destination Port unreachable from THE ROUTER’S IP of so VPCs aborts the trace.


    • Paul says:

      But is my config OK? Maybe it’s the vmware; sometimes I can’t ping some addresses when using loopback and my wifi is connected. But please verify that it’s not my config.

    • Paul says:

      I am able to ping now. But still, if I ping PC3 and 4 from PC1, I can’t ping them from PC2 for about a minute. Is that normal behavior for VPC? I appreciate your help by the way.

      • rednectar says:


        1. Pinging is a little different than pinging or 3, because the pings only have to reach the router – , they don’t actually get to travel on the network.

        2. Your config is perfect. I used it to test my previous post.

        3. The -3 in the VPCs ping option is “TCP”. Type ping and hit enter to see a list of ping options. It is a shortcut for typing ping -p 80 -P 6 which means send packets to port (-p) 80 using protocol (-P) number 6 (TCP)

        Mostly it works pretty well, but this morning I too had the same problem that you described,

        VPCS[2]> ping -p 80 -3 Connect 80@ timeout

        however, as far as the exercise of doing the NAT is concerned, you can see that the NAT worked by doing a show ip nat translations in Acme1
        Acme1#show ip nat translations
        Pro Inside global Inside local Outside local Outside global

        And here you can see that the translations work anyway.


        OK. I can see what is happening now.

        When you do the first ping -p 80 -3 from VPC1, the VPC sends pings using source port 80 (Now I know this is not how the real world works, but it is the way VPCs works, so stick with me. Remember I said VPCs was a bit rough around the edges. This is one of those rough edges). Anyway, the router translates this:
        and the TCP pings to port 80 work just fine

        NOW, when you go to the the OTHER VPC (VPC2) and repeat the ping, the VPC[2] sends pings using source port 80 like before, but now the router says, “Oh I’ve already GOT a translation that uses a source port of 80 for packets going to, so I can’t use source port 80 so I’ll use source port 1 instead.” As shown here:

        Acme1#show ip nat translations
        Pro Inside global Inside local Outside local Outside global

        To get around this, you’ll have to clear the translations (or wait for them to time out) on the router. Use the command clear ip nat translations * on the router to clear the translations.

        SO the “bug” we’ve uncovered is that VPC’s idiosyncratic nature of expecting the source port to be equal to the destination port when using TCP pings is the cause of the problem. The good news is that Paul has made teh code to VPCs open source, ( so if you want to fix it, you can go ahead.


      • Paul says:

        “so if you want to fix it, you can go ahead”
        Surely you jest 🙂
        Thanks for helping me figure that out! I have a habit of getting frustrated when exercises don’t work as they should(packet tracer).

        It was one of those issues that google just didn’t help with so I really appreciate your help.

  3. Paul says:

    Thanks. I will try VB and I will see which I prefer.

    I have a question on the ‘Acme 2 Router NAPT Exercise’ lab.
    If you don’t mind me asking a particular question on the NAT config, do I ask here or on another more appropriate entry?

    I also would understand if you are too busy and can’t answer my question.

    • Paul says:

      Maybe I’m looking too much into this. In that lab I configured a NAPT using a list:

      interface FastEthernet0/0
      ip nat inside
      interface Serial0/0
      ip nat outside
      ip nat inside source list 2 interface Serial0/0 overload
      access-list 2 permit
      The problem I’m facing is when I ping PC3 and PC4. When I use ‘ping -p 80 -3′ from either of PC1 or 2 it doesn’t work and shows ’80@ timeout’. But if I change it ‘ping’ or even ‘ping -p 80’ it works.

      But still, the strange thing is when I use tracert instead of ping:

      traceroute to, 64 hops max, press Ctrl+C to stop
      1 2.996 ms 3.891 ms 4.588 ms
      2 6.223 ms 9.103 ms 6.101 ms
      3 13.002 ms 8.419 ms 8.453 ms

      VPCS[1]> tracert
      traceroute to, 64 hops max, press Ctrl+C to stop
      1 2.718 ms 2.919 ms 2.800 ms
      2 * 6.431 ms (ICMP type:3, code:3, Destination port unreachable)

      • Paul says:

        Sorry forgot to mention that pings from either PC1 or 2 just fine with all the parameters.
        What does the -3 at the end of ping mean by the way?

  4. Paul says:

    Hi rednectar.

    I really love the gns3 workbench you assembled. Do you know of a similar utility for studying for Windows Server 2008 exams? Please recommend lab setup ideas using vmware to simulate AD setup etc. I have no experience with Winserv.


    • rednectar says:

      You possibly can use GNS3 to study for Windows, by adding Virtual Box guests running Windows 2008. You’ll want to use GNS v0.8.x rather than the 0.7.3 that is the current version running in GNS3 WorkBench. (I’ll release a new version of GNS3 WB when GNS3 v0.8.2 gets past beta).

      Check out and

      • Paul says:

        Do I use the virtualbox on top of the vmware or standalone? I have the full vmware btw not just the player. And when you release the new WB will it be an update or a full install?

      • rednectar says:

        1. you could use virtualbox inside the VM or standalone – running it in the VM means you are running a VM inside another VM, and would chew up resources pretty quickly. I’d suggest it would be probably more successful if you run virtualbox with the standalone GNS3.
        2. The the next version of WB will firstly be a whole new VM, then I’ll look at doing an upgrade script.

      • Paul says:

        Why do you recommend VB over VM? I have used VM for a while and it runs almost every OS I throw at it. Is VB specifically better for Windows Server or is there another reason?

      • rednectar says:

        One of the GNS3 developers (Technologov) also works with the VirtualBox community, and has done considerable work to make VirtualBox integrate with GNS3. Personally, I haven’t had much of a problem running VWWare hosts and connecting them to GNS3, but they operate completely outside of the GNS3 interface. And I’ve only ever run Linux VMs in this way, never Windows VMs.

        Try both! See what you prefer.

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