Thursday, July 17, 2008

CoverSutra & iTunes goodies

So I got the CoverSutra app with that MacHeist deal last year, but it was Leopard-only, and I didn't take the plunge until this month, and yada yada, Just set it up this week

WOW -- If you use iTunes, and especially if you use Last.FM too, check this out. It does a bunch of little things, it does them very very well and it otherwise stays out of your way:
  • Puts a little picture of the current cover art on the desktop (whence the name, I suppose). This is fun but, for me, the least of the appeal.
  • Excellent Last.FM integration without being iScrobbler (too minimal) or desktop (fuck off).
  • A beautiful HUD window for quickly doing play/pause/next or just "what song is this" ... that pops up instantly (most other programs pop up almost instantly, which is almost not annoying).
  • A fast, well-designed search right from the menubar that beats iTunes' search.
  • Growl notification
  • Keyboard whammy-key setup that's easy and straightforward.
    I mapped most of the CoverSutra keys off of F6 (following their defaults), then took some of the special doohickey keys around the edge of my keyboard and used my keyboard's preference pane to map them to the same F6+whammy keystrokes. Now if I hit the "music" button I get the little mini-console; "find" gets me "search all" while ^-find gets me "search artists".
It does all this without being a kitchen sink and without a 747's control panel. Apart from the cover-art on the desktop, there's apps which individually do all these things -- but this does them really well and they get all the little shit right, which is high praise.

If I haven't pimped it before, I also enjoy the Harmonic dashboard widget -- it sits in your dashboard, and as iTunes plays each song hunts for lyrics. If it gets a strong match (and no lyrics are present) it stuffs them in. You may occasionally hear the song 'hitch' for a fraction of a second, but this is less annoying than you'd think. Mostly, you can just ignore its presence -- and just happily notice the extra metadata when the song comes across your iPod.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Basic App Recommendations, 2008 May

We just added another switcher to our friends (Hi beckto). A slightly summarized version of my thoughts on what is called for:

You probably need Office anyway, but I find that I like to use it in read-only mode. If you think you might be ready to divorce MSOffice, look carefully at iWork (Apple's Office: awesomer in many ways, incompatibler in others). In particular, I've heard really good things about Keynote, their version of Powerpoint. If you want to divorce Word in particular there are a /lot/ of worthy suitors (Bean, WriteRoom, Scrivener...) you can shack up with. Which word processor you date next depends on what you particularly hate about Word. I think we're stuck with Excel, though I could be wrong.

You'll probly want to install Fink, Fink commander and the Developer Tools (on your Leopard CD, or, following the instructions on the Fink page. Even if you rarely use it, an alpha geek like you needs to have the command line as an option.

I'm using
  • Carbon Emacs
  • If emacs doesn't run through your veins and you need to do any program editing, Textmate will make you really, really happy
  • Play windows media in quicktime
  • Flickr export from iPhoto
  • TVShows (hasn't been updated in a whiles but it's great for auto-torrenting your TV shows)
  • Mozy (free 2GB online backup): make sure you choose the free plan: click "Home Users on the right, then "MozyHome Free" on the left.
  • Firefox
  • Quicksilver, more info. (Is quicksilver still essential? or does the new Spotlight supersede it? Now is when I reveal my dirty secret: I'm still using Tiger. My brief experiences with Leopard say Quicksilver is still faster and more fluid.)
    Quicksilver and Exposé are the hardest things to explain to a new switcher yet are two of the more transformative. Leave Exposé switched on and make yourself love it: you will, and quickly. Same thing with Quicksilver. Even if you only use it for app launching it's ridiculously faster-ing.
Less/Not essential
  • Candybar -- "What if I told you you could make your hard drive and dock icons all look like Dr. Who characters. Is that something you'd be interested in?" If the answer to that is "yes", here you are. (I don't use this, I'm just guessing B in particular might)
  • Growl
  • Acorn is the best Super simple photo editor, when you need more than iPhoto, less than Photoshop that I've found
I bet you can find Skype, Google Sketchup/Earth/Mail Notifier/etc. on your own.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Files in the finder toolbar

Huh... stumbled on new finder trick all of you already knew, I'm sure: you can put files and directories on the toolbar. They won't show up on the 'save' dialog box, only in the finder windows.

Drag it to where a green-plus-making-a-copy-bubble shows up and drop there; if you click "Customize toolbar" you can rearrange them.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Grand Perspective helps you free diskspace + a few other apps

  • Grand Perspective - Overview of your disk usage using gorgeous mipmap infographics and a simple, effective interface. Each box in the pic to the right is a file; each top-level directory takes a continuous rectangular portion of the view. Scanning a 350GB disk with a /lot/ of tiny files (5+ million for just the far top left corner, the MLB gameday dataset) took < 5 minutes. You can click on any box in a segment and hit "down" to make that segment fill the screen. (Hit 'more', then 'focus' for the most helpful view).

    The giant orange box in the top left was a 15GB file that was pure junk -- I was doing some screenscraping, and the CGI-script generating the page went crazy and sent me 15GB of junk data. Gone! The giant cluster in the bottom right corner is a huge (~51GB) collection of videos I only kinda cared about; I was planning to figure out which I wanted someday, but not worth it at 51GB. Gone! By killing only junk files I really didn't need, and zipping up some stuff I wanted to keep but don't need direct access, I was able free up almost 100GB on this drive alone. Free, though I would pay for it.
  • BusySync 2.0 (not out yet) promises to sync your iCal and Google calendars. I may buy this if it works as promised.
  • I've moved fully over to Mailplane for my email -- it's just a front end to Gmail, but it makes switching among accounts seamless (among several nifty tricks), which is important as I'm trying to keep work-flip and personal-flip separate. I bought this.
  • NetNewsWire is free now. I haven't actually set it up to use besides downloading and going 'oh, cool', and I'm going to keep using Google Reader for my blogsurftimewasting. However, NNW looks perfect for music browsing -- subscribe to music blogs that post good songs as enclosure, then toss that directory into your iTunes when you need to hear something new and don't mind having to be quick with the 'next track'.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

10 Tips for Leopard

These are some really great tips with video demonstration. Leopard's got some really nice little features built in!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Someone else's list

I came across this list of apps that someone else had compiled recently.

Top 100 Mac Apps

A lot of them are ones that have been mentioned here already. Some look like they could be fun, like the ASCII Projector and the ones that take advantage of the hard disc motion sensors.