software that doesn't suck, 2006.
It’s been a while since I switched from Linux to Mac OS X, and a week ago I got a new Windows laptop at work which needed to be rebuilt from the ground up. So: it’s time to review some software.
Mac OS X
I confess: I use a lot of the default Apple software. I started out fresh last November and gave the prepackaged software a try before switching back to my Open Source standbys.
- For Mac alchemy, only Quicksilver will do. Holy holy holy. Quicksilver changes everything.
- Biggest surprise, next to Quicksilver? Safari. I was surprised by how much I liked Safari’s RSS news reader, and how seamlessly it integrated into my workflow. It’s snappy (with some exceptions, of course) and the UI is slightly easier to use than Firefox. Firefox is my current third-string browser, edged out by Camino — both Gecko browsers, but Camino is noticiably faster than Firefox. I tried out a few other browsers along the way: Seamonkey (the old Mozilla suite), Shiira, SunriseBrowser. None of them stood out enough to dislodge Safari or Camino.
- Mail, aka Mail.app. It was good enough to get me to switch from Pine, but its IMAP problems caused me to switch to POP3, which made me become a religious reader of jwz’s Mail.app posts. I like the interface (especially how I can color-code messages) but would like some tighter integration with iCal for tasks. This AppleScript baloney is … baloney.
- I plunked down the cash and got Mac Office, so I use Entourage for my work mail. It works well enough, but the UI? Not so much. Still on the fence with this one. (Mail and calendaring will probably be another separate post.)
- Emacs is here, in both Cocoa and Carbon versions. I’m using the Carbon one more and more, but still waiting for XEmacs to make the leap.
- I am really impressed by Mac The Ripper and HandBrake, the ultimate Mac DVD backup combination. MtR copies your DVDs onto your hard drive (*excellent* for watching while travelling, save your batteries!) and HandBrake compresses them from 7GB to < 1GB.
- Adium X is an instant messaging client that blows iChat out of the water. To be fair, if iChat supported more than 3 protocols, I might be more willing to give it a chance. But it doesn’t. Adium does, and does it better than Trillian.
- For audio processing, I use Audacity. It’s as good as you get outside of an Amiga. (Don’t forget the LAME codec if you want MP3 support.)
- Browsejour, a handy app to spot other items using Bonjour in the area.
- Disk Inventory X gives you a visual representation of a directory. Eh. It was useful when I was searching my old drives.
- DynDNS Updater, to keep my dynamic hostname associated with my Mac.
- Flickr Uploadr, er, uploads files to Flickr.
- Flip4Mac, plays windows media files.
- GLTerminal, a full screen terminal.
- Growl notifies you of events. I haven’t decided if this is a good thing or not. It adds key functionality to applications that miss it, but sometimes it’s too intrusive. I’m on the fence here.
- NeoOffice, the OpenOffice.org port to OS X. With MS Office installed on this machine, I only use it to read OpenDoc format files. Hard to think of a 350+MB app as a utility…
- OggDrop X, for converting OGG music files.
- pearLyrics, a handy app that scans the web and adds lyrics to your iTunes songs. Unfortunately, Warner/Chappell Music sent a cease and desist, and you can read the rest.
- VLC for those media files that Quicktime can’t hack.
- Yahoo Widgets, for traffic and weather. I was using it for stocks too, but that just got too depressing. (There’s a reason I go with index funds.)
Encryption and Security:
- MacGPG and GPGMail, for encryption.
- OTR Proxy, for off-the-record encryption.
- XNmap, a front-end to nmap. Just because.
- IPScanner. No reason.
- Armagetron and Armagetron Advanced, Tron Cycle games.
- Battle of Wesnoth, which I have deleted off my machine so I can remain a productive member of society.
- Crack Attack, one of Merrystar’s favorites.
- Google Earth. Google Maps on steroids.
- Stellarium, planetarium software. Sweet.
Yah. I still use Windows at work. Here’s what I’m using these days.
- PuTTy for SSH and SSH tunnels.
- 7-Zip for file compression (removing WinZip along the way. WinZip is not free, people!)
- PDFCreator” for making PDFs.
- Irfanview for image manipulation.
- Firefox, though I don’t really use it at work anymore. (I visit reporting sites and control panels that require IE… that’s about it. How sad has my life become?)
- Trillian for instant messaging. I tried out Gaim again and still didn’t like it on Windows. Slow, clunky, UI is odd.… just couldn’t warm to it. So, back to Trillian I go, despite its lack of address book integration. (Adium X is definitely ahead of Trillian here.)
- Eraser, for secure file deletion.
- Yahoo Widgets, for weather and traffic.
- Skype hasn’t been put back on my machine, for obvious reasons
- AppRocket is close to Quicksilver, but can’t manage the tight integration with the filesystem. (This is the filesystem’s fault, not AppRocket’s.) Makes the Thinkpad almost bearable now.
Okay, lazyweb: let me know what else I’m missing!
This is: brett's logjam → software that doesn't suck, 2006..