The 20 Most Important Tools

The Knife Duct Tape Rose

Spotted via this article on Forbes.

The 20 Most Important Tools Ever is a very interesting read. There are some associated articles talking about what isn’t included, but as a guide, the only post-industrial invention that makes the list is the lathe.

One of the intriguing things is how the simplest tools often turn into other tools, in incredibly different areas. There’s also an amusing aside about the other greatest tool ever, Duct tape.

View the slide show of numbers 20-4.

Summer Wheat Wetpak

Fermenting: 13/03/2006 Bottled: 02/04/2006


After a delay of a few weeks I’ve finally put another batch of beer on. This one is another of The Country Brewer’s wetpaks. A wetpak (for all you new readers) is a first principles kind of homebrew kit – they give you the malt, hops, grain and yeast all separately, you then simmer it for an hour (to bitter the beer), dilute it with water and leave it to ferment.

We had a slight moment during the simmer, so in the end I decided to only mix this one up to 20 litres in total volume, so as still to have a full flavour. Speaking of flavour, this wetpak includes a belgian wheat bier yeast and also some orange rind in the package. These ingredients indicate a Hoegaarden style beer should be the result. The beer in the barrel looks a lot darker than a hoegaarden, though I guess we’ll find out in a couple of weeks.

Notepad replacement

Notepad++ Logo

The inbuilt Windows notepad program is okay. It is small, and edits text files without too much complaint. But it is very limiting. There are a lot of things it won’t do and there are many better alternatives.

But sometimes you don’t need a full IDE to edit a text file, or make a minor alteration to a web page. Even many text editors, like emacs and it’s equivalents, are a bit heavy.

So an entire new genre of text editor has been created: the notepad replacement. Light, integrated with windows, but much more capable.

Until recently my standard text editor in XP has been metapad. It does the things I needed. But I’ve recently found notepad++.

Notepad++ Screenshot

Notepad++ is GPL, so it is free to use, and powerful. Simple things like being in colour make a text editor much easier to use, and figure out any typos you may have made. And tabs (like in firefox) that allow you to easily flick between documents — something that really annoyed me in metapad, and was hugely frustrating in regular notepad.

Notepad++ has syntax highlighting for many different programming languages: C, C++, Java, C#, XML, HTML, PHP, Javascript, ASCII art file, ini file, batch file, ASP, VB/VBS source files, SQL, CSS, Pascal, Perl, Python and Ruby, among others.

It doesn’t have as nice an icon scheme as Notepad SX, but overall is a much better package. Why don’t you give it a try? (mac and linux users exempt)

Let me know if you have found a better gui text editor than Notepad++ and I’ll give it a try.

Open Source Web Design


Discovered this cool site today. OSDN is a web repository for html and css templates you can freely use on your site.

To put it simply, Open Source Web Design is a collection of web designs submitted by the community that anyone can download free of charge! The goal is to provide the Open Source community with quality web designs to help get people’s projects on the web in a way that is both organized and good looking. Open Source Web Design – About Us

So I spent part of this evening redesigning the homepage of this server. Check it out. It still needs a bit of work, but it looks much more modern. As usual, it looks much better in a standards complient browser than in IE. The template I chose was Blue Leaves written by Jenna Smith.

On another note, I appear to have fixed the IE problem on this site – tweaked the widths of the right column in the stylesheet.