Mac Software I’m Finding Useful

I thought I’d take some time to sit down and document the tools I’ve been using lately as I continue my acclamation into the MacIntosh world. These are tools that I’ve found really useful over the last six months or so.

  • The Camino Browser – hands down the best browser I’ve found for the Mac so far. It’s my default browser.
  • Ecto – Mac Native application for writing blog entries and posting them to your blog. Supports Blogger, Blojsom, Drupal, MovableType, Nucleus, TypePad, and WordPress among others. Doug referred to MarsEdit as another alternative, but Ecto fits the bill for me perfectly. It includes spell checker, Amazon Web Services integration, templates, preview – really everything you would want in an offline authoring tool.
  • Vienna Newsreader – Vienna is an open source RSS reader for the Macintosh. It is quite comparable to FeedDemon, which I used on Windows, but I like it a lot better. This tool has become one of the things I use daily in order to keep up with things
  • Snap N Drag – Screen capture utility I mentioned in previous posts. I use this all the time as well. Excellent tool.
  • BBEdit 8.5 – BBEdit is an HTML editor for the MacIntosh platform. Its the only thing I’ve found comparable to HomeSite for the Macintosh. I’m using a trial version of this application right now, but there is a good chance that when the 30 day trial ends, I’ll be buying a copy. It makes HTML authoring a hell of a lot easier than Emacs.
  • UberCaster – This is podcasting software. I have a license for it, but I haven’t had the time to muck about with it. By far the easiest podcasting software I’ve seen so far for the Macintosh. The software is currently in beta.

Some additional software I’m looking at that looks useful, but I don’t have need for it yet:

  • Xyle Scope – CSS exploration tool. I’ve messed around with this a bit and it looks really interesting. I haven’t found another tool like it so far. Allows you to explore CSS and how the styles are resolved on your page.

I’m still looking for good image editing software that doesn’t cost a bajillion dollars (like Photoshop) and doesn’t require X-Windows to be installed. If anyone has any suggestions, I’d be happy to hear them.

Building Subversion on The Mac and using Ecto for Blogging

I finally upgraded my Subversion installation on my MacIntosh to the 1.4 version. I was waiting for the “official” packages to come out so that I could just install it, but in looking at the different places recommended by the downloads page, these distributions haven’t been updated since early 1.3 releases.

I’ve had a goal to keep my Mac somewhat pristine. I decided thats not really practical. There are a lot of things that I use that I just like having built from scratch, so that I’m on the most current software and not dependent on someone else’s schedule. Subversion is one of those tools.

One thing I was shocked at was how quickly and seamlessly the build happened on the Mac. These MacBooks are pretty fast machines. I think it took a total of roughly 20 minutes (if that) to build, run tests, and install. The build on the Mac is definitely the fastest configure/check/install cycle I’ve gone through in the many installations of Subversion that I have performed over the years.

I tell you, the more I’m on the Mac, the more I like it. I haven’t run into anything that I’ve found irritating.

Its all good.

This is also the first post I am writing using a trial version of Ecto. I have to say, this application is pretty impressive too. They have both a Mac and a Windows version. I like it much better than blogging in WordPress directly – and at $17.95 a copy, its practically a no brainer to purchase.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m going to milk the 21 day trial, but it feels like this application is a pretty good fit for me.

Is Apples MacBook Pro Rotten To The Core?

Articles like this top Digg article of the morning from ZDNet make me extremely nervous about my new purchase. I tend to be somewhat of an “early adopter” once I actually make a decision and I’m starting to rethink that purchasing strategy. I have (so far) had no problems with the MacBook, but according to the article it could take a couple of months for the symptoms to occur.

Vienna – An Open Source NewsReader For The Macintosh

Screenshot of Vienna News Reader

I had mentioned in a post earlier this year that I have outsourced many of the tools that I use to third party vendors. Google Reader was one of the applications that I started using.

Unfortunately, I’m not a big fan of the “river of news” type of newsreaders, and would rather see a list of sites that I can categorize under folders that I can check conveniently. When I was on Windows, I used FeedDemon after hearing about it from Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central and I really liked the application a lot. It was perfect for me.

Since moving to the Mac though, I’ve been unable to find something as easy for me to use as FeedDemon, so I’ve just made due with Google Reader.

That is, until I found Vienna.

Vienna is an open source RSS news reader for the Apple Macintosh. It has a feature set comparable to Feed Demon. It also supports “Smart Folders”, which are a way of defining search criteria to automagically group posts based on filter criteria.

The reader also supports tabbed browsing, using WebKit – really nice if you are looking for “continuity of experience” – not having to jump from app to app in order to finish a unit of work.

I was able to pull my current subscriptions from Google Reader as an OPML file and import them straight into Vienna. No muss, no fuss. The application is very stable, I’ve found no bugs or issues that have gotten in my way since starting to use it a couple of weeks ago – and I find it much more to my liking than Google Reader was. I can look for specific site updates without scrolling all over the place or trying to figure out keyboard shortcuts. There are too many features to list here without being redundant, but their site has a list of the features included in the application, so check it out if your curious.

The best part about Vienna is that the source code is available. If you don’t like something, you can tweak it.

I’ve had a very positive experience with this news reader and recommend it highly to anyone looking for a news reader for Mac OS X.