The good, the bad, and the ugly

April 1, 2004

As a signpost for fellow travelers, here are the various Mac tools and applications I’ve found…

The Good (verging on excellent, in most cases)

  • Ecto—Blogging client for Movable Type and TypePad.  (you’re soaking in it)
  • VLC—Video Lan Client—Plays virtually every type of media I want to play.  Theoretically will play DRM’d AAC files with it’s own key, if you hold your mouth just right (haven’t tried it yet).
  • QuickSilver—I don’t know just what to call this, but it beats doing the Start – Programs shuffle for launching apps.  Doubtless I’ll find a lot more uses for it.
  • SpamSieve—Does a better job than SpamNet on Windows, which I’d been very impressed with.
  • PocketMac—Does a quite nice job of syncing a PocketPC on OS X.  Integrates well with iSync, and syncs USB or Bluetooth (and probably WiFi, but I haven’t tried that).  A bit slow accessing the SD card for some reason (desktop access to the SD card is just fine, however.  Go figure).  A definite joy compared to ActiveSync.
  • Exposé—The one tool that makes it possible for me to do work on a 15” widescreen display that used to take dual 19” monitors.  This should have been standard equipment in every windowing environment for years.
  • iTunes—I’m actually coming around to liking iTunes, with the proper scriptage.
  • Audio Hijack Pro—Does an excellent job at sucking down archiving internet radio.
  • Carbon Copy Cloner—After trying about a bazillion backup utilities, this one does what I want, and it’s donationware.
  • MPFreaker—MP3 Tag fixer upper and album art getter.  Works well.
  • IEatBrainz—A slightly unstable but usable MusicBrainz client for OS X.
  • PodWorks—iPod music sucker-downer.
  • VersionTracker—often my best friend in this little odyssey.  You can find any of the above stuff there.

The Bad (if this thing sucked any harder, I’d use it to clean the pool)

  • HP’s Installer for the PSC 1200 all-in-one printerthingie.  It took me hours to install a simple printer and get it to where it would actually print.  Of course the scanner, which I didn’t care about, worked from go.  Finally, after deleting all of the printers in Printer Setup several times, resetting the Powerbook and power cycling the printer, I got the freshly downloaded version of the installer to work. The silly printer-maintenance utility still doesn’t work—it insists on launching in Classic, and then coming up and saying it requires OS X.  If I had bought this printer recently to use on the Powerbook (I’ve had it awhile), it would have went right back to the store with my bootprint on its ass.
  • VPN Anything—I’ve yet to find anything that lets me set up a real IPSEC connection with FreeSwan.

The Ugly (beauty is skin deep, but ugly goes clear to the bone)

  • Office X—Kinda slow and clunky, but gets the job done.  The interface sticks out like a sore thumb.
  • DreamWeaver MX 2004—Slow and goofy.  I’ve got clients who use DW templates I maintain, however, so I’m stuck.  I haven’t tried Fireworks MX 2004 yet… I’m scared to…
  • SJPhone—it’s nice it works, but it’s still butt ugly; a little birdie tells me that a new version is due out soon, with semi-official Vonage support.
  • BBEdit—I could like this a lot if it became ColdFusion aware.

Undecided (I’m still trying to figure out if I need these enough to register them)

  • PathFinder—European Army Knife Finder Replacement / Supplement
  • NoteTaker—Outliner-cum-document manager and journalling tool.


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