What's a Toaster?

  • By "toaster", I'm assuming we mean a piece of very vertical software that performs a common function, is based on publicly available source code, can be easily duplicated, and leaves little room for innovation.

    For years, users shelled out $$ for a 3rd party CD/DVD burning or video playing solution, because that feature wasn't baked into Windows XP. Of course there were always free alternatives that provided the exact same basic functionality. As far as the user was concerned, the less interaction with the GUI the better, it either worked or it didn't, so there was little room for innovation. Today it is baked into the later versions of Windows and we just take it for granted.

    On the other hand, I would definately not consider MS Office (or a competing clone) as a toaster, because even they all work the same document formats (more or less), there is wide variation in the feature set of the GUI and plenty of room for innovation. The same goes for SQL database platforms; there is wide variation in the feature set and architecture.

    "Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the wise. Instead, seek what they sought." - Matsuo Basho

  • OCTom (10/24/2014)


    I disagree with the premise that a toaster is simply a generic applicance and any one will do. They are not all the same and their performance is key to toast/bagel satisfaction.

    There is nothing worse than partially toasted toast or bagels. That's what you get with many cheap ones. Cheap ones also only have two slots that are too narrow for bagels or Texas toast. Step up and spend more to get at least four slots that are wide and can handle most anything.

    Likewise, I think the "toasters" we use often come in a wide variety of models. Some cost money, some are free. I usually find that those where you have to spend a bit are better utilities and make my life easier. The exception I have found is Notepad++. It is free and is very handy. I use it daily. I have contributed money to the Notepad++ cause. There is no requirement to pay for it, but, I do to keep the project going.

    Tom

    Agree, some toasters are better than others.

    The more you are prepared, the less you need it.

  • Stefan Krzywicki (10/24/2014)


    Code repositories. I don't care what we're using, SVN, GIT, Team whatever. It is peripheral to my job, just tell me what to use.

    EMail clients too.

    I would have agreed about code repositories/version control until I had to use CA Software Change Manager (formerly Harvest) and forget it after using AccuRev.

    Gaz

    -- Stop your grinnin' and drop your linen...they're everywhere!!!

  • I guess my toaster would be Chrome or UltraEdit. I use Chrome because I'm familiar enough with it. UltraEdit has been particularly useful for using regular expressions in find & replace. And for years Perl has been my "quick-and-dirty" language, again due to familiarity.

    Tony
    ------------------------------------
    Are you suggesting coconuts migrate?

  • Gary Varga (10/24/2014)


    Stefan Krzywicki (10/24/2014)


    Code repositories. I don't care what we're using, SVN, GIT, Team whatever. It is peripheral to my job, just tell me what to use.

    EMail clients too.

    I would have agreed about code repositories/version control until I had to use CA Software Change Manager (formerly Harvest) and forget it after using AccuRev.

    There will always be bad toasters. A good toaster is one where you don't have to spend a lot of time learning it. I think a toaster is when you can read a few reviews, get the product and you're done. A non-toaster is when you really need to research to see if the tool works the way you need it to, has important features that others don't have, etc...

    --------------------------------------
    When you encounter a problem, if the solution isn't readily evident go back to the start and check your assumptions.
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    Itโ€™s unpleasantly like being drunk.
    Whatโ€™s so unpleasant about being drunk?
    You ask a glass of water. -- Douglas Adams

  • Have I missed the point?

    Toasters are generic e.g. browsers, text editors, word processors, file comparison tools, code editors, source control systems, etc.

    Surely if we say need to use Chrome, Notepad++, Word, WinCompare, Visual Studio, TFS, Git, etc. then we are saying these are NOT toasters but our chosen tools!!!

    Gaz

    -- Stop your grinnin' and drop your linen...they're everywhere!!!

  • Many people are pretty passionate about the text editors they use. I prefer UltraEdit hands down. It isn't free, but I think it's completely worth it, since I use it every day. The editor in SSMS isn't bad, but UltraEdit handles so many things so well.

    I think the Tally table has become a toaster for me as well. I use it so frequently for so many different things, that if it wasn't there, I'd be lost without it. The DelimitedSplit8K function has also become an always-there standby that's always there when I need it. I have them both in a utility database and everyone has permission to use them anywhere.

  • Web browsers. Web based email. Even search engines... If I don't find what I'm looking for with Bing, I'll try Google. But that rarely happens.

  • My toasters are PDF viewers, VSCs, FTP browsers, and SQL Server Central...I kid, I kid. ๐Ÿ˜€

    Aigle de Guerre!

  • My toasters:

    Agent Ransack (file searching)

    FileZilla (FTP)

    Red Gate's SQL Search and SQL Prompt

    Notepad++

    Any spreadsheet program (I normally use Excel)

    Outlook

    Remote Desktop

  • Meow Now (10/24/2014)


    My toasters are PDF viewers, VSCs, FTP browsers, and SQL Server Central...I kid, I kid. ๐Ÿ˜€

    That's actually a fair point. I've gotten so accustomed to SQL Server Central always being there that it's uncomfortable when it has troubles or is misbehaving.

  • So, who here thinks the move to 3rd party hosted database services will eventually make the position of SYSADMIN a toaster? :unsure:

    "Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the wise. Instead, seek what they sought." - Matsuo Basho

  • Eric M Russell (10/24/2014)


    So, who here thinks the move to 3rd party hosted database services will eventually make the position of SYSADMIN a toaster? :unsure:

    You know - there's a lot of truth in that. Getting a SQL Server up and running on a hosted VM (Azure, AWS, etc) is a lot easier and more cost effective than it used to be. You still want someone who knows how to design databases and write good code, but the admin part on those hosted services is definitely getting more cost effective. Of course, the sysadmins at the hosting companies need to be really good or have excellent skills to get things running and keep them running, but it makes for a more cost-effective startup now.

  • Notepad++ and MS Office at work. At home it's Miicrosoft's OneNote using OneDrive to sync seamlessly between desktop, laptop and windows phone. I can scan or find on the web a recipe on the desktop and instantly save it to OneNote then check the ingredients on my phone when shopping and have it displayed on the laptop in the kitchen as I cook. Or have my holiday packing checklist available and editable from all three in different parts of the house or camper to tick off as we pack.

  • VNC Server software. I might have a personal favorite, but so long as there's a server on a machine I'm trying to access, I don't care.

    I can't think of any other class of software that I won't have a preference in.

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