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Mac Apps I Can’t Live Without Revisited

17 April 2011 Leave a comment

In the months since I posted about the apps that keep me tethered to the Mac platform, I have discovered some alternatives. Here’s a quick rundown of what I have tried and liked.

  • In place of Exposé, use Compiz – Compiz is incredible. There’s eyecandy, of course, but there’s also keyboard shortcuts and mouse gestures that do everything Exposé and Spaces can do and then some. Verdict? Upgrade.
  • In place of Quicksilver, use Gnome-Do – Gnome-Do isn’t quite as powerful as Quicksilver, but as an application launcher it’s on par with Launchy. Verdict? Slight downgrade.
  • In place of Visor, use Guake – Guake matches Visor feature for feature and even has a way of adding a shortcut to take the terminal window fullscreen. A bit superfluous in the presence of the Ctrl+Alt+F1-6 short cuts, but it can do that. Verdict? Slight upgrade.

I’m still missing equivalents for Better Touch Tool and Bowtie, but supposedly Maverick Meerkat has support for the Magic Trackpad. I’ll get around to testing those at some point in the near future. On the Bowtie front, Clementine and the presence of media keys on my ThinkPads make things a bit easier, so I’m not quite so actively searching for a replacement on this front.

A new thing to add to my list is AppleScript. I’ve discovered the powerful combination of Doug’s AppleScripts for iTunes and FastScripts. I realize though that most of this could be replicated with Python and Quod Libet, but this is just so much easier.

Will I be abandoning the Mac? Eventually. I don’t know that I like the way the wind is blowing with potential changes in Lion, but I do know that when the time comes, I could make the switch to commodity hardware and Linux and not suffer any serious performance hits. I’ve always been pragmatic in my choice of tools for working, but it’s a good feeling when you can afford to be high-minded sometimes.

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Categories: Linux, Mac, Tech, Windows

Mac Apps I Can’t Live Without

3 October 2010 Leave a comment

One of my co-workers and I were having a discussion this morning. He and I represent the only two people on our side of the house (end-user support) that are fluent in all three of the major OSes. We were talking about our personal love/hate relationships with Mac platform. It mostly came down to handful of things that are actually quite useful in addition to being cool toys. Here’s a quick rundown of the things that came up in no particular order.

  • Exposé – This is quite honestly the feature that hooked me with Panther (10.3). What it does is show you all the windows open or all the windows for a specific application all at once in a smaller format so that you can still make out what’s going on in the window. For me, it makes the App Switcher (via Cmd + Tab, equivalent to Ctrl + Tab) feel clunky and not terribly useful. Especially when you’ve got multiple Firefox windows open with specific tab groups, multiple terminal windows, and multiple VMs running and especially when combined with…
  • Better Touch Tool/Multi-Touch in general – A four finger downward swipe to engage Exposé makes it even better. The Magic Trackpad has made my desktop computing life that much better. Better Touch Tool made the Magic Trackpad even better than that. I had tried to set the squeeze on my Mighty Mouse as Exposé in a previous life, but that never worked like I wanted it to work, mostly because the squeeze button those mice is needlessly twitchy. When placed between the halves of my Kinesis Freestyle, the Trackpad is the perfect compliment to my Trackman Wheel.
  • Growl – Growl is a handy little notifier app that alerts you to incoming IMs, changed tracks in iTunes and a plethora of other things that you can configure. Very handy when you’re playing your whole iTunes library on shuffle.
  • Bowtie – This is an app that gives you a few global shortcuts to control iTunes and a built-in scribbler for Last.FM. Way better than the official Last.FM client, which, let’s face it, sucks.
  • Quicksilver – While Windows may have Launchy, it just pales in comparison, but that might just be a matter of slightly less maturity. Sure, Quicksilver is an app-launcher, but it’s capable of so much more. Before Bowtie, I used it to control iTunes. I still have it set up to trigger a few global shortcuts that I find fairly useful.
  • Visor – Ctrl + ` to get Terminal window that slides down like the console in Quake, but not quite. Can you tell that I like global shortcuts?

For all my talk of loving Linux and what it represents, I can’t get away from the Mac OS. When it comes time to get some work done, I just need to have OS X running on my machine. Does that make me a hypocrite? I don’t know. I do know that it makes me a creature of habit, and as they say “old habits die hard.”

How about you? What apps can’t you live without? What do you need to feel productive?

Categories: Linux, Mac, Tech, Windows

The Windows 7 Netbook Blues

16 August 2010 Leave a comment

I’ve had a Lenovo X100e since shortly after they were released to market.  It’s got the single core AMD proc, 2GB of RAM, the extended battery and a 250GB HD.  It’s not perfect since the battery life is nothing to brag about and the screen’s viewing angles are total dildos. However, since it’s lighter than my MacBook Pro and ThinkPad T42, got a full-sized keyboard and my favorite notebook feature – a TrackPoint – it’s workable.

My complaint with it is with Windows 7.

Let me preface this by saying that Windows 7 is approaching the Platonic ideal for Windows.  It is far and away my favorite incarnation of Microsoft’s OS since DOS 6.22, but there’s a problem.  Its requirements are too steep.  Even with all the eye candy turned off and most of the ThinkVantage crap disabled, this X100 is not as snappy as I think it could and should be.  As I noted above, this computer isn’t exactly a beast.

So I’m thinking about my Linux options.  Fedora 13 is kinda out of the running.  My initial tests when it first came out were lukewarm since it didn’t want to install properly to dual boot on a test laptop at work since GRUB wouldn’t install correctly for beans..  I may or may not dual boot this X100 but I want the option to be there.

My background is in Redhat/Fedora, so RPM based distros would be preferable, but Lucid Lynx is making Ubuntu look pretty appealing.  Maybe I’ll go in a completely different direction with something like ReactOS or Haiku.

Thoughts or suggestions from the masses?

Categories: Linux, Mac, Tech, Windows

Linux On The Desktop – When?

10 March 2010 2 comments

Why is Linux still on the fringe of desktop computing?

It has gained considerable ground in areas such as webhosting and enterprise infrastructure, but it remains in single digit percentage points on the desktop. Ubuntu and OpenSUSE have both made tremendous strides in hardware compatibility and user accessibility, but Linux continues to be an also ran for the end user. Why might this be the case?

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Categories: Linux, Philosophical, Tech, Windows