As we lead-up to Christmas (and other holidays that I don’t personally celebrate), I thought I’d put together a list of a few of my favorite things — Mac apps top be specific. These are some of my favorite music and video apps.
iTunes, iTunes Match, Last.fm, Spotify & Tracks I’ve been using iTunes to manage my music since iTunes 4.1 came out for Windows in 2003. Prior to that, I had a folder of music organized alphabetically and used Winamp for playback.
As we lead-up to Christmas (and other holidays that I don’t personally celebrate), I thought I’d put together a list of a few of my favorite things — Mac apps top be specific. These are some of my favorite day-to-day apps.
Safari My favorite web browser on the Mac platform. It’s fast, has minimal UI chrome, and has precisely the extensions I need.
I used to bounce around between Firefox, Chrome and Safari, but over the past year, I haven’t felt the pain of anything missing from my browser experience.
I’ve been heavily invested in Delicious as a bookmarking service for many years. However, after learning about Delicious’ sunsetting, I’ve decided to join the ranks of the Great Delicious Exodus and sign up for an account with Pinboard.
One tool that has been an important part of my workflow is a tool called delimport, which automatically indexes my Delicious bookmarks and makes them available via Spotlight and Spotlight-powered tools (e.g., Alfred on Mac OS X).
While delimport hasn’t been updated since 2007, it has continued to work remarkably well.
These days I’m looking to save money anywhere I can. How about you? Whereas VMWare Fusion (as awesome as it is) runs around $80 USD per copy, Sun’s VirtualBox is a free, open-source product for virtualization that runs on Mac OS X, Linux, and Windows.
Update: Microsoft’s images are broken, and don’t work on anything except VirtualPC now. Mac and Linux users are out of luck for the time being. More information on the subject can be found at MSDN.
By now, most front-end web developers have heard of the Standalone Internet Explorers (Wikipedia article). Although these are incredibly useful, they’ve always been hacky at best. Because of that, we need to go the long way. We’ll download the “officially sanctioned” VirtualPC images containing a time-limited version of Windows XP SP3 and Internet Explorer 6.0, and then we’ll convert these images to the kind that work with VMware Fusion (which works on Mac OS X). This should only need to be done every 3 or 4 months when the images expire.
I was trying to figure out how to hide my Boot Camp NTFS drive icon from my desktop, and after some searching I discovered a relatively simple 4-step process. If your Boot Camp drive is FAT32, you can skip the first 2 steps, and begin with step 3.
Install MacFUSE. This is a Google project that allows you to mount other file systems on your desktop, including even things like SSH and FTP.
Install the NTFS–3G plugin for MacFUSE, which will allow us to not only read, but also write to NTFS drives.
My wife works for a bank, and she forwarded me a phishing scam for Washington Mutual bank. Besides misspelling the word “customer” as “costomer”, it was pretty convincing for those who don’t know any better. When she sent it to me, I took a look at the page, and this is what Firefox+Google toolbar presented me with:
Everybody needs this! Even those of us who have spent lots and lots of time around the web, this is a good thing.
Normally, new bits of software don’t warrant a normal posting on this site, but I’ve just found a little Mac OS X utility that’s awesome! The utility is called BluePhoneElite. If you have a Bluetooth phone that is compatible with iSync (you’ll have to check the site for exact compatibility details), this little thing is a gem!
Depending on your phone’s level of compatibility with Bluetooth and such, you can:
Have an alert show up on your screen when someone calls you, listing their name, phone number, and picture — pulled straight from your Address Book!
Unfortunately, the iCal widget that Jeff Croft asked about never shipped with Tiger. On the other hand, Ben Kazez has developed one himself. This one is called iCal Events. It doesn’t yet support all-day calendars, but I’m sure that functionality is on it’s way.
If you (1) have Tiger, (2) are looking for an iCal Widget, or (3) haven’t already purchased Konfabulator 2 (which includes a state-of-the-art iCal Widget), you should definitely give this one a try.
Ever since I first bought my Mac, I’ve been using Thunderbird as my email client. I really like Thunderbird, and being a Mozilla advocate, I wanted to use the software that I promote to so many people. However, with the impending release of Tiger and the new Mail 2.0 (with Smart Folders), I decided it was time to give Apple Mail a try for the first time.
Now, there’s no easy way to import your Thunderbird email into Apple Mail. After about 30 minutes of Google searching, I came across the simplest way to convert my mailbox from one client to another.
Now, I feel like a bit of a bonehead for not figuring this out earlier considering how much networking I’ve done over the last few years, but I’m thrilled that I finally figured out how to print a document from my wireless Powerbook to the printer connected to my Windows XP desktop.
First off, here’s how everything was setup and configured, before I tweaked it all to do what I wanted it to:
The phone cord comes out of the wall, and into the DSL modem (well, duh).
I’ve been very fortunate to have never been hit with spy/ad-ware. I’ve always been careful, and I’ve tried to teach my wife what actions are smart and which ones are not. Last night, however, I was looking for some information and ended up downloading a file from a shady website.
After scanning the file and finding no viruses, I ran the executable. How stupid. It immediately began installing adware and my antivirus app began showing warnings of a trojan being installed.
On my work and home PC’s I use Firefox… period. There is no better browser. The only thing that really irks me, however, is how slowly it starts up on my 400 MHz Pentium II running Windows 2000 at work. Since the FFX team won’t implement Mozilla Suite’s “Turbo Mode”, then to get around it, I usually just leave the download manager open and minimized so that whenever I need to open a browser window, it opens super-fast.
The Mac platform just doesn’t work the same.
For those interested, I’ve added a few more mirrors for the Standalone IE downloads. I’m really beginning to feel the download stress here at Skyzyx.com, as I hit ~25GB transfer last month and my max is 30GB per month. So, I signed up for a Dreamhost account (I caught the 1 year for $7.77 deal!) which added another 40 or 60 GB of transfer a month… I forget which. Either way, I’m not too worried anymore about going over my transfer bandwidth for the month anymore.
You can get the Windows XP Service Pack 2 full installer (272 MB), or you can wait a few days for the update to become available (in a much smaller size) from Windows Update.
Also, for those using Panther, v10.3.5 is now available from Software Update. The only problem is that it doesn’t set the disk permissions properly. To fix this, go into Applications → Utilities → Disk Utility, and choose to repair permissions. Voila!
Apparently, RealNetworks has reverse-engineered Apple’s FairPlay software. FairPlay is the name of Apple’s DRM (digital rights management) software. RealNetworks has been trying to get Apple to license their FairPlay software so that Real can sell iPod-ready music files from their online music store. Apple has consistently denied their requests.
My biggest issue is just wanting to play the music that I’ve purchased anywhere I want. Hymn is a very good DRE (digital rights enabler) for iTunes Music Store files.
It’s almost 2am, so I really need to get to bed. Before that, however, I’d like to share some really good new software I’ve come across lately.
The first is Gaim. Gaim is an IM client for Windows/Linux that can log into AIM, ICQ, MSN, Yahoo, Jabber, and others. I know that a lot of people use Trillian, and it already does that. Two features that make me suggest Gaim over Trillian are:
You can give people real names (you can set aliases), rather than being stuck with screen names.
After realizing that the pre-installed copy of Microsoft Office was simply a 30-day trial, I had the wonderful experience of trying to get OpenOffice.org installed today.
Because there hasn’t been a native “Aquification” release of OpenOffice, I started reading directions about installing XDarwin — an open source version of the X-Windows X11 windowing system. Time to fire up the old command line. Woo-hoo!
I’ve spent a bit of time fooling around with both BeOS 5 and Red Hat Linux 8.0, so the Posix-compliant shell isn’t new to me.
I’ve just started using the brand-new Basecamp™ project management system (created by 37 Signals to begin handling a few web design projects that I have going right now.
So far, I’m impressed.
It really says a lot, actually. It takes a lot to impress me. Sure there are plenty of things out there that are cool, but they’re not necessarily impressive. Basecamp is impressive.
One of the niftiest features, is that it generates both an RSS feed (which is great for an RSS-junkie like me), and an iCal file (compatible with Apple’s iCal as well as Mozilla Calendar).
I’ve been using the Feed Demon RSS reader since 1.0 rc4, which was around November-ish. I liked it so much, that when 1.0 went final in January, I bought a license. This was the first time I’d ever actually bought shareware, and it kinda made me feel good. Wierd.
Anyways, the only real problem I had with Feed Demon was that it didn’t properly parse the feed for Dunstan’s blog. I went back and looked at his XML, and he wasn’t using a <link> tag for his permalinks.
I’ve been a Winamp fan for quite some time now. I’ve been using it since the days of 2.1-ish, and it’s been near impossible to get me to switch to another full-time media player. Winamp 5 pretty much seals the deal with me.
The naming convention for Winamp 5 has already been discussed, and I’ve made available my favorite Winamp skins.
Although I wasn’t much of a fan of Winamp 3 in terms of using it (it was very, very slow), the thing that I did think was fantastic was Wasabi.
Well, I changed my mind about downloading Winamp 5.
I downloaded Winamp 5.0rc8 today, and began toying around with it. In my previous Winamp 5 post, I talked about how Winamp 2 was so much faster, but Winamp 3 had so much more potential. I will now say that Winamp 5 is a beautiful cross between the two, keeping the best things from Winamp 3, and adding them to Winamp 2 to create a super-fast, magnificent audio player that supports the skins from both earlier versions!
People who are familiar are asking themselves, “What? Winamp 5?! What happened to version 4?” It was explained that Winamp 2 + Winamp 3 = Winamp 5. For those unfamiliar with the technical differences between Winamp 2.x (WA2) and Winamp3 (WA3):
Winamp 2.x: This was a continuation of the old 1.x codebase. It works, it’s really fast, it’s skinnable, and it’s just plain spiffy. There are many current plug-ins and skins for this application.
Winamp3: Winamp3 was completely rewritten from the ground-up, based around an all-new technology from Nullsoft called “Wasabi”.