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Rebuilding the Mighty Mighty Desktop

After one alpha too many, I’d left my primary desktop in what I can only describe as an “indeterminate state”, and earlier this week, Things Stopped Working.

This is pretty much the same installation I’ve been using since I started here about three years ago. My Desktop was a dumping ground for work-that-was-once-in-progress, My Documents was a dumping ground for items that didn’t quite make the bar for the Desktop, and for no reason at all, the Scripting.FileSystemObject had gone missing. Outlook Add-ins were failing to fire. Visual Studio was doing weird things on the occasions I visited it. Each thing was little, and probably easily fixable, but I’d been thinking in terms of starting again for a while.

So, being a tad on the paranoid side of the happy fence, I decided I’d rebuild clean, and do away with the NTFS atrocities of the past, and create a Bold New Future. I backed up most of my documents, then booted from CD and did the D – Enter – L dance during setup to wipe the partition clean. I feel less dirty already (perhaps down to only “grubby” on the Scale o’ Dirt).

VirtualPC fits neatly into my Cleaner, Happier future, as I plan to do all controversial (read: development) activities within a VPC (where possible), leaving a relatively clean Information Worker desktop for my day-to-day activities, dumping code out to sourcesafe if it’s worthwhile. I’d considered using a VPC for my “core work scenarios” before, but figure it’s probably more efficient/better all round to use it for my Dangerous Experiments.

While reinstalling my primary, I came up with the following “Can’t Live Without Em” list so far:

  • Office 2003
  • OneNote 2003
  • Lookout for Outlook 2003
    • Super-quick email searching (and the indexing is pretty quick too) – do away with rules!
  • Whatever RssGrabber debug build I’m up to
    • (before you ask – it’s homemade, no Atom support, terrible UI, doesn’t drive Outlook properly, the uninstall allegedly destroyed Gonza’s machine… but I use it like a bought one. I occasionally start developing a new reader from scratch, but then become rapidly disillusioned and go back to using a working one. When .Net 2.0’s done (or in later betas), I’ll try it again.)
    • I recommend RssBandit, partially because the name makes me laugh every time I see it.
  • MSN Messenger 6.2
    • for MSN Messenger contacts, because the group handling leaves WM for dead
  • Windows Messenger 5.0
    • for SIP
  • Quiet Messenger Sound Scheme
  • PureText
    • An app that directly pastes rich text as plain text (as if you pasted into Notepad, and then copied and pasted from Notepad to LOB Application X That Can’t Handle Rich Text Input Properly). Picked up as a hot tip from FrankArr, this has made my life 30% more productive since. I’m trying to work out if that means I owe Frank my head, or a leg, or something.
  • Visual Studio .Net 2003
  • Maxthon
    • Groovy tabbed browser.
  • Debugging Tools for Windows
  • Support Tools for Windows

I promise to control my files this time. I promise.