site that has the tools you need, perhaps even someone else's computer.
A tool that runs a virtual machine can be invaluable. If you can get past the hurdle of installing the virtual machine software, you can install another complete operating system that runs over the operating system already in use. With administrative permissions on this "guest" operating system, you have more freedom to configure it the way you want to.
Buck the System
Some companies never consider setting up a test lab because all of the PCs are carefully controlled by the IT group. The procedures designed to make PCs easy for IT to manage usually hinder using a machine for testing.
Danny recently encountered this situation during a project. He got approval to buy a new PC because the IT group didn't have any spare PCs at the time. This situation gave him the control of the administrator account for the machine, so he could install any tools necessary without IT's approval.
Another way around this issue is to use simple tools that don't require installation. These may be simple executable files you can run from a CD, floppy disk, or USB flash disk. If you want to use a Perl script, you may be able to compile the script into a self-contained executable file and run it on a machine that doesn't have Perl installed.
Two for the Road
Another way to utilize tools remotely is to load them on a web server and access them through a browser. You can write your own tools this way, or use a commercial ASP hosting the tool that also provides a web interface.
Alan likes using Web-based applets for drawing graphs.
If you like to use a third-party screen capture tool, keep in mind that all popular operating systems have built-in screen capture capabilities you can use when you don't have your tool handy.
What do you do to be productive when your hands are tied? We'd like to hear your tips.
- DOS Reference available at www.computerhope.com/msdos.htm.
- For a test utility implemented in VBA visit www.compendiumdev.co.uk/excel/.
- VNC available at www.realvnc.com/
- A public Unix Server is available at sdf.lonestar.org/.
- Two commercial tools that run virtual machines are VMware and Virtual PC.
- James Bach's PerlClip tool, available at http://www.satisfice.com/tools.shtml, is an example of a Perl script packaged as an executable Windows file.