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.

Subversion 1.4 Released

The Subversion team has released version 1.4 of its popular version control software. You can check out the release notes over at the official site get the the details, but here’s a summary of the changes, pulled directly from the aforementioned release notes:

  • svnsync, a new repository mirroring tool
  • Huge working-copy performance improvements
  • Support for BerkeleyDB 4.4 and its “auto recovery” feature
  • Size improvements to the binary delta algorithm
  • A handful of new command switches
  • Many improved APIs
  • More than 40 new bugfixes

I was going to post about this yesterday, but I wanted to make sure I had the software built and installed here at the Labs before throwing the link out there. The upgrade went relatively well. Since I still use Berkeley DB for some of the repositories here, I build my own software to minimize the amount of dumping / loading I have to do. Currently I am still running Berkely DB 4.2. Referencing this during the build allowed me to avoid some problems people have reported using pre-packaged distributions that upgrade Berkeley DB for you, rendering your repository useless. Building my own also allows me to get the software without waiting for the binary distributions to become available.

One note on the upgrade. I’ve been a little lax in upgrading my Apache server (also custom built) and was running version 2.0.48 or so. The new release requires an up to date version of the apr libraries, so this also forced me to upgrade Apache to 2.0.59. Overall, the upgrade was painless.

As mentioned above, this release also includes the svnsync tool, which is a repository mirroring tool. From what I’ve read so far, the destination mirror must remain read only – there is no synchronization between two duplicate repositories (at least from the limited reading material I’ve found around so far), so this release by no means invalidates the SVK tool. Nevertheless, the working copy improvements and the mirroring capability shows that the team is still on the right track.

Also noted in the release notes:

… the new working copy format allows the client to more quickly search a working copy, detect file modifications, manage property metadata, and deal with large files. The overall disk footprint is smaller as well, with fewer inodes being used. Additionally, a number of long standing bugs related to merging and copying have been fixed.

I’m going to reserve judgement on these improvements until I get the Solaris boxes at work upgraded. The working copies are really an Achilles heel on Solaris environments, where 20 or so developers use one machine to do all development. We’ve had a number of inode-maxouts over the last year or so. When I get these machines upgraded, I’ll post a follow up on the performance on Solaris.

One other enhancement I’m glad to see, the diff and merge commands now support a -c option which you can use to merge one revision between branches. This allows you to avoid using a revision range for a simple one revision merge. This should simplify things a bit …

Subversion is still, overall, the best version control tool I’ve worked with thus far (and I’ve worked with quite a few of them). Kudos to the team on the new release. I like what I see so far …

Screencast Demo of Castblaster Podcasting Software

If you’ve been looking for a tool to make podcasting much easier than using Audacity, you might want to check out Castblaster. I’ve used it for quite some time and each release it just gets better and better.

While browsing the Castblaster forums, I came across this screencast put together by Troy of the Rutters Ramblings podcast that shows a pretty complete picture of what Castblaster does.

If you don’t feel like downloading the software, but are curious as to what you could get from it, check out the screencast. Yes, it can be that easy.