Reading about other’s people computer and software is always fun, so why shouldn’t I share my system information and software with you? Maybe nothing in this entry is new to you, but maybe you’ll find something you didn’t know before. Maybe you recently switched to Mac system and you want to know about cool software? Who knows! Let’s get started. This is my setup, as in the picture above: I got a Apple PowerBook G4 with 17″ from 2005 (yeah, I don’t have the money to witch to a new system every year…), additionally I got a 250 Gigabyte sized external hard-drive from Maxtor, a Mighty Mouse, a Logitech headset for Skype and Sharp stereo boxes – for music, what else! What I do? I create web-sites (for fun, mostly), edit images, create video pod-casts and lots more.
I am using german Mac OS X Version 10.4.8.
I really don’t like to blow up my system with graphical tools, but if you are looking for a program to easily change your icons and stuff, check out Candy Bar.
‘Serious’ system software I use:
A Better Finder Rename.
This tool will allow you to change huge amounts of files with a few clicks. Comes in really handy every once in a while, but costs some cash: http://publicspace.net/ABetterFinderRename/.
The myth that you can drag and drop programs in OS X around as you like is only half true, as a lot of programs put themselves in each account’s subfolders additionally. Just open your Finder, and browse to users, your username, then library – you’ll see what I am talking about. Like in Windows more and more programs add stuff there and use up your precious space. That’s fine, until your fed up with a program and want to uninstall it correctly – just dropping it into the trash won’t take care of it’s files that might be lying around in folders outside the programs folder. No need to worry anymore, as AppZapper will take care of that problem! It sees what files are connected to what program and help you uninstall software the right way. Here you can read more about it. Official website: http://www.appzapper.com/.
Growl is a notification system: applications provide you with new information, without you having to switch from the application you’re already in. Example: You are writing a email, in the background you have a download running that you are waiting for. As soon as the download finished, a transparent ‘bubble’ will show up in the upper right corner of your screen, informing you that the download now is complete. It notifies you about new emails, too, or when iTunes plays a new track – whatever you want, almost. An excellent way to keep in a workflow without many breaks. I will never live without it again! Grab it here: http://growl.info/.
Do you speak Japanese? Chinese? Korean? ‘DeLocalizer will remove all non-American English localization resource files that you request.’ Saved me almost two gigabytes of hard-drive space! Free download: http://www.bombich.com/software/local.html.
Here is software that should be found on any Mac!
Heh, this program can do so much, many people already wrote over the millions of options you have with it. Here is a good tutorial. It can do absolutely everything, from opening a program to putting a new appointment into iCal. It can do so much, it’s almost sick. I use it, for example, to skip songs in iTunes – without switching to iTunes, but with a two key shortcut. Awesome program, Apple should kick Spotlight out and implement Quicksilver instead. Don’t think, just install: http://quicksilver.blacktree.com/.
Sidenote is so useful, even Apple included it on it’s home-page. ‘Sidenote tries to catch the “Stickies” spirit but in the form of a multi-document drawer that will hide in the corner of your screen (left or right). You can use it to take all your daily notes, include images and easily modify text color and font. Sidenote will automatically expand so that you will be able to drag into it any picture, text clipping or pdf file from the finder or your favorite application. With notes auto-saving, you’ll never have to save your notes. Sidenote will handle that for you.’ Okay, most of the text here was copied, but I couldn’t describe it any better. I use it every day, heck, I would pay for it if necessary. It’s that good. Grab it here or on the Apple link above: http://www.chatelp.org/, it is available in version 1.7.1 currently.
Well, burns CD’s and DVD’s. And mounts image files, and, and, and. It’s simple, this is the burning software for OS X. Buy it here: http://www.roxio.com/enu/mac.html.
So small, so useful: Tells you of ATA hard-drive failures before they actually happen. You can read how it works exactly and download it for free here: http://homepage.mac.com/julianmayer/.
Yes, Mac OS X has a zip-program included, but as it likes to always add some B.S. to zip files, I always use Stuffit for zipping. If you never zip anything, you won’t need this program though, as it is kinda expensive, too: http://www.stuffit.com/mac/deluxe/index.html.
Listen to music, buy music. Rip CD’s to your hard-drive. I don’t use iTunes pod-cast service though, as I find ‘Xcast’ much better (see below in the internet software section). But to find pod-casts the iTunes Music Store is almost perfect. It’s pre-installed with OS X. If you like free music downloads, head over to iLike and install the plugin for iTunes, which will recommend you free songs while listening to bought ones: http://www.ilike.com/.
Bonus: Perfect equalizer setting for iTunes. Please don’t give me any credit for this, I found it on some other blog (but can’t find it anymore). Set your equalizer in iTunes exactly like this for perfect sound quality:
Just switch it on and off during a song, you will hear clearly the incredible difference!
Surfing, emails, chat – here’s what you need. What you really need!
The choice is: Safari or FireFox? Well, I like Safari more. Safari combined with Saft is FireFox, only faster and without any bugs. Safari comes with OS X.
Saft is a Safari plugin to add features like draggable tabs, full-screen browsing, searchable bookmarks and history, URL shortcuts, kiosk mode and more. You find a full feature list on the website. It’s 12$, worth every penny: http://haoli.dnsalias.com/Saft/index.html. Super plugin for Safari. If you’re a Safari user, also bookmark this page, and check it regulary: http://pimpmysafari.com/. They also offer a neat new Safari icon.
Do I need to explain much? FireFox is a browser on drugs, can do anything – and there are millions of plugins available that will let you do exactly what you want. If you know what you want, that is. Safari is enough for me though… Get it here: http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/.
Mail from Apple is a nice email program, but it misses some important things when you are using your computer for business. You can’t demand notification of successful delivered mails, for example. Too much to list, Microsofts Entourage is more comfortable and seems more grown up. It comes with Office for Mac.
Very comfortable download-manager that integrates harmoniously with Safari. Very usable if you download a lot. More info here: http://www.igetter.net/.
‘Vienna is a freeware, open source RSS/Atom newsreader. It provides features comparable to commercial newsreaders, but both it and the source code are freely available for download’: http://www.opencommunity.co.uk/vienna2.php.
‘WebGrabber is a utility that you can use to mirror, copy, synchronize, download, scrub or “steal” a web site.’ Because sometimes, at least for web-developers, that is quite useful. Free download: http://www.epicware.com/webgrabber.html.
Paparazzi! is a small utility for Mac OS X that takes screenshots of webpages. Again, extremely useful for web-developers. Free download here: http://www.derailer.org/paparazzi/.
Chat. Just chat. Adium X lets you chat in every available chat protocol – MSN, Yahoo!, AIM, you name it. The only thing not supported is Skype. And it’s free! Here you go: http://www.adiumx.com/.
Skype is mainly a voice over IP software, that means, phone for free over the internet with buddies or colleagues. Additionally, it has a build-in chat system, and you can buy Skype-Out credit to call ‘real’ phones outside the internet for a really, really low cost. A minute calling from Europe to asia is around 5 cents. Skype was recently bought by eBay, who seems to do nothing with it, and it’s still free: http://www.skype.com/. There is beta out for the Mac which allows sending SMS to mobile phones – if you have Skype credit. Ah, and you can do sweet video-phoning with Skype, too. If you got a web-cam… There is a really good new preferences setting since version 2.0 that allows you to configure which audio output to use for phoning – and which one for ringing. Incredible! So your stereo rings when someone is calling, and if you take the call, it will automatically use your headset. So good!
‘Fugu is a graphical frontend to the commandline Secure File Transfer application (SFTP). SFTP is similar to FTP, but unlike FTP, the entire session is encrypted, meaning no passwords are sent in cleartext form, and is thus much less vulnerable to third-party interception.’ Free download: http://rsug.itd.umich.edu/software/fugu/.
If you listen to pod-casts, you need Xcast. It can do sooo much for you. The (french?) author himself has made a very good video tutorial that takes you through the basics of the software. Get Xcast at http://getxcast.com/. The newest version is R23, according to ‘Zeno’s blog’.
The Mac is clearly not only for fun, but also for serious working. Here’s some programs you might need to do your job.
Well, iWork is Apples own Office application – but without Excel. iWork offers ‘Pages’, a simple to use yet powerful ‘Word’ program, as well as ‘Keynote’, which is the superb answer to Microsofts ‘Powerpoint’. Buy it together with your Mac.
‘TextWrangler 2 is the powerful general purpose text editor, and Unix and server administrator’s tool.’ It’s free, powerful and takes care of basic coding and editing. If it’s not enough, because you code a lot, see the next program, BBEdit. TextWrangler can be downloaded for free here: http://www.barebones.com/products/textwrangler/.
‘BBEdit is the leading professional HTML and text editor for the Macintosh. Specifically crafted in response to the needs of Web authors and software developers, this award-winning product provides an abundance of features for editing, searching, and manipulation of text. BBEdit transforms text with high performance.’ Buy this if TextWrangler is not enough: http://www.barebones.com/products/bbedit/.
Since Apple’s ‘Numbers’ is still MIA, you’ll need to grab a copy of Microsoft Excel for editing tables and stuff: http://www.microsoft.com/mac/products/excel2004/excel2004.aspx?pid=excel2004.
Graphics, photo and video software.
If you are, like me, a web-designer, you can’t live without graphical software. If you want to produce a video pod-cast, the following video programs also may come in handy.
Adobe Photoshop CS2.
Let Adobe speak for itself, since they probably paid some pr-company thousands of dollars to come up with the following sentences: ‘Adobe Photoshop CS2 software, the professional image-editing standard and leader of the Photoshop digital imaging line, delivers more of what you crave. Groundbreaking creative tools help you achieve extraordinary results. Unprecedented adaptability lets you custom-fit Photoshop to the way you work. And with more efficient editing, processing, and file handling, there’s no slowing you down.’ Yeah, so you edit images with this software. You either know and use it or you don’t. Why do I even list it here? Well, maybe because there are people who just bought the first computer in their life, and want to edit their images in the most professional way possible. Who knows! More information: http://www.adobe.com/products/photoshop/.
This set of software comes with your Mac, especially iPhoto is very useful for collecting and tagging your own shot pictures. If you use flickr, like me, you might want to install the FlickExport plugin, which allows you to upload images straight out from iPhoto. The newest version is for 2.0.5. By the way, flickr gifted users last christmas unlimited bandwidth for uploading (no 2 gigabyte limit anymore)!
You have an video iPod? Not the biggest one? Always deleting and moving files because it ain’t big enough? Well, then compress your videos with iSquint and you might have no problem anymore. ‘It’s many times faster than QuickTime Pro, works with almost all popular video formats, and it’s infinitely free-er.’ Get it here: http://www.isquint.org/.
Final Cut Pro.
You want to edit videos – the professional way? ‘You know the benefits of keeping all your production under one roof. Why not keep all your production tools in one box? Final Cut Studio combines the industry-standard Final Cut Pro 5 � including powerful SD, DV and HD editing capability � with the real-time design engine of Motion 2 for stunning motion graphics, the flexible audio creation and control tools of Soundtrack Pro and the sophisticated SD and HD DVD authoring features of DVD Studio Pro 4.’ Buy it from Apple: http://www.apple.com/finalcutstudio/.
Yes, HDR images look really great. This software will help you to create them: http://www.hdrsoft.com/.
You love to shoot panorama pictures of beautiful landscapes? This software stitches your images together like no other: http://www.kekus.com/download/.
Because sometimes you simply have nothing to do, you’re waiting for an email, or you need a break. Here are some small little games that might amuse you.
Playing cards? Solitaire? Then download this sweet little game. Apple offers a free version of it.
StepMania is for the asian side inside you – for sure you have seen one of these videos where Japanese girls and boys dance around on a pad in rhythm with the music – do the same with your fingers! StepMania allows external files to be loaded and has a lot of functions: http://www.stepmania.com/.
How dare of me to list this under games! But let’s be honest, most people just fly around, look at the Eiffel Tower and are amazed by the resolution. Whatever the case, this is not yet to be filed under another category (let me have my own opinion!)… http://earth.google.com/. Google Earth 4 was just released, by the way.
I hope this entry was not completely boring. Let me know in the comments. Did I miss any great software? What are your experiences?
Oh, I almost forgot, if you are really insane, set up a webcam like me: