Project number two for the Xmas break was goofing around with various pieces of Mac OS X software which had been sent my way, but I’d had no time to play with. Here are first impressions after roughly a half-a-day of usage:
iPulse (Icon Factory): This what happens when a bunch of very talented visual designers learn Unix tools. The tool is basically a performance monitor for CPU, Memory, Disk, and Network utilization. All of this information is elegantly presented in a circular clock-like window that rests in some corner of your screen. With the default settings, there isn’t a single word of English on the default window to explain what the pulsing, colorful bars mean, so your first impression is going to be that it’s extravagant eye candy. After two or three hours and several visits to the help file, you’ll find yourself parsing iPulse quickly. It gives you a instant insight to what the hell is going on with your system. Rands Holy Shit Factor: 5
NetNewsWire Lite (Ranchero Software): As I mentioned previously, project number one for the break is RSS. I downloaded a Windows based application called Feedreader which, while simple, introduced the idea of a RSS-based reading to me. Fortunately, the folks (folk?) at Ranchero Software have put together a stunning Cocoa-based RSS reader, NetNewsWire Lite. RSS-based newsreaders/navigators are a new product category that are worthy of a longer discussion elsewhere, but what should be said is that NetNewsWire’s first hour experience is delightful. I’m a huge fan of a product where I go, “Golly, I wish it did INSERT RANDOM FEATURE” only to find, after continued exploration, that the product not only does the feature, but more. (Note: I’m still looking for something which comes close to NetNewWire on Windows) Rands Holy Shit Factor: 8
LaunchBar (Objective Development): An engineering co-worker threw this my way before the break claiming, “This is the COOLEST utility… I actually paid for it!” In the age when anything can be stolen, this is high praise. Coming from an engineer, it’s even higher. LaunchBar goes a step further than traditional key mapping utilities and provides a simple means of using the keyboard to launch anything. The key feature is a database that LaunchBar constructs from the applications on your system, your bookmarks, and various other folders it scans. This database is a listing of everything LaunchBar believes that you use and it makes it available via a pre-configured hot-key (the default is CMD-SPACE). Want Google? Type CMD-SPACE G-O-O and a menu extra listing will drop down from your menu extra area listing everything in the database which matches your query. Once you’re happy with your selection, hit ENTER and the item is fired up. This tool continues the trend of freeing we keyboard_types from using the mouse by making all applications and documents just a few reliable keystrokes away. Rands Holy Shit Factor: 6
Chimera (Mozilla.org): Another variant of Mozilla except for Mac OS X. I’ve had this on the system for some time, but as part of the exploration of NetNewsWire, I decided to switch my main browser to Chimera. While a browser is a browser is a browser these days, I’ve grown tired of Internet Explorer Mac OS X weirdness (poor, inconsistent, or no layout). I suspect that I’m going to lose some to be determined feature that is built into IE that I’m fond of. Oh well, I’m on Mac OS X, I’m growing used to being a second class citizen. The holy shit here is that I’m willing to change my base browser to something else other than IE. This vote of confidence in the Mozilla folks is a first for me on any platform and speaks to how far the source base has come in three years. Rands Holy Shit Factor: 5
LATE BREAKING NEWS: MacMerc.com published their best of 2002. Probably some nifty apps in there, as well.