end kvetch

Macs, productivity, &c.

The Apps I Use (and Why)

I love software, I really do. Applications are just as fun as tangible objects, but they don’t take up space and often, they’re free. Below is an overview of the applications I use in my daily life an and explanation of why I chose them:

AdiumAdium: Adium’s a big one. I really like instant messaging (easier than talking and quicker than texting) and I use a couple different networks. Not only do most single-network clients suck, but I really don’t want to have several different applications open to do my IMing. Adium’s lovely because it allows you to use just about every network conceivable from the same window. Sure, iChat does something similar, but it doesn’t have nearly as many networks. Adium is also almost infinitely customizable, another reason it’s better than iChat (and other third-party applications like it). (Free)

ColloquyColloquy: I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with IRC. On one hand, I think it’s pretty crude, but on the other, I need it to get in touch with certain people. As those of you who’ve read the Software Sumo on the subject, I’ve used several IRC clients, but Colloquy is still my favorite. It’s simple, attractive, reasonably customizable and, of course, the price can’t be beat. (Free)

firefox1Firefox: This one may come as a surprise. I’ve long been a major advocate of Safari, mostly because of its speed and interface, but I recently went over to the dark side. The customizability of Firefox has long been a draw, but what really pushed me over the edge was a text entry bug in Safari (it wouldn’t recognize when I was in a text box and pressing the delete key would act as a page back and the spacebar would act as a page down). So far, I’ve found Firefox to be faster than I remembered (pretty comparable to Safari), although it takes a while to start up. The plug-ins and bug-free text entry more than make up for minor cosmetic issues. (Free)

pagesiWork: I’m a bit of a geek when it comes to spreadsheets and layout design. I love the layout tools in Pages (which rivals InDesign for simpler tasks) and Numbers is great for creating attractive and informative spreadsheets (which I’ll do whenever I have an excuse). Keynote is fine, but I don’t use or like it as much as the other members of the suite. iWork may actually lag behind Microsoft Office (which I also have) in terms of features, but it’s the interface that really sells it to me. Obviously, the UI is much more Mac-like and generally more attractive. The issue of compatibility can be solved with the simple export menu (or you can be passive aggressive like me and pretend you can’t give your awful coworker the file they need). Overall, iWork is a great alternative to MS Office, especially for us hardcore fanboys. ($79)

nnwNetNewsWire: As some of you may know, I haven’t always been the biggest fan of NNW. However, a while back, they released the full version for free (and with a much improved interface). What really won me over, though, was the NewsGator synching between the desktop app and the version of NNW for my iTouch: This means that both my feed list and the items’ read/unread status are synched between my devices. Especially when considered along with the great price tag (for both the desktop and the iPhone/Touch app), this is a great “selling” point for anyone with multiple computers or devices. (Free)

pixelmatorPixelmator: Pixelmator’s tagline, “Image editing for the rest of us”, is as accurate as it is clichéd. Since most of the image editing that I do is pretty low-key, I usually prefer Pixelmator to Photoshop. Pixelmator is much quicker on its feet (I would rather not wait a couple minutes for Ps to launch just so I can delete the background on an image) and I find it to be generally more user friendly (although both GUIs make the Apple Human Interface Guidlines a little queasy) than the behemoth. Of course, Photoshop has more features, but 95% of the time, Pixelmator does just fine. ($59)

Filed under: Apple, , , , , , , , , ,

Things a White Person Likes

So, you’ve probably been lying awake at night thinking Where’s that Somatic Gnome? I miss him. Don’t worry, you can admit it, I won’t think you’re weird. Anyway, here I am! Clearly, I’ve taken a hiatus (sorry about that year of nights tossing and turning that I caused you), but now I’m back. To ease myself back into this whole thing, I think I’ll be doing a little bit called “Things a White Person Likes” where a list a couple of the things that have been keeping me away…

Propel Fit Powder™: First off, no, Gatorade isn’t paying me for this (I wish. I’d totally sell out.), but I really like this stuff. I don’t drink much water, but I love Lemon Propel. Basically, Fit Powder is a Bring-Your-Own-Bottle-of-Water version of Propel. A bottle of water and a pack of it tastes exactly like the real stuff (and at a tenth of price). If you wish your water tasted like lemonade, check it out (and tell ’em I sent you, maybe I’ll get this endorsement deal yet).

Lily Allen: Lily’s awesome. Her first album, Alright, Still was totally awesome, and a couple days ago, It’s Not Me, It’s You came out and it’s awesomer– it’s ironic electropop at its best. However, to be honest, I think the Brits might hate her the same way we hate all our somewhat trashy pop stars. I lump Lily into the “bitter British chicks that can really sing” category along with Kate Nash; check her out too.

Bones: I love this show so much. I’m generally a fan of procedural shows anyway (since I secretly fantasize of being a cop), but Bones is more than that: It’s funny, original, quirky, &c., &c., blah, blah, blah, two thumbs up. Basically, it’s amazing and you should watch it.

My Lumix DMC-LX3: Recently, I decided to get a digital camera and get back into photography (I did black and white film stuff for a couple years). I looked mostly at prosumer point and shoots and finally settled on the LX3 after a long struggle between that and the Canon G10. Not only do I love the LX3’s retro styling, but it takes great photos and even supports RAW (which, by the way, was probably created by Raptor Jesus himself). Photos pulled from my Flickr pool are in the sidebar now, so yeah, check ’em out.

My iPod Touch: I got my iTouch last summer and it may actually be the best thing that ever happened to me. It’s great to be able to access email and the rest of the Web without lugging around my laptop. Text entry isn’t great and it’s utility is greatly diminished without wi-fi around (I’m very jealous of the iPhone’s data connection. And the whole phone thing.) but overall, it’s a totally awesome device: It’s a PDA, iPod, gaming device and tablet all rolled into one. Frankly, I can’t believe people still use regular iPods, they seem like total crap after this thing.

I probably like more stuff than that, but that’s all I can think of for now. Stay tuned for some Mac-related stuff.

Filed under: Everyday Ramblings, Odes, , , , , , ,

Getting Things Done (When You Really Have To)

Sorry I didn’t get around to it sooner, but here’s my article that appeared on Dumb Little Man.  By far my favorite part of this all was the picture of Judge Judy that was added because of my line “turn off Judge Judy and do it that instant, you’ll thank yourself later.”  In a bout of irony, I was planning to work on my novel but I didn’t end up doing it.  You know what I did instead?  Yeah, I watched Judge Judy.  And it was awesome.

Filed under: Productivity, ,

WordPress Takes a Little Nap

As I logged in for my routine, every-five-minute stat check, I was greeted with this rather curt little message.

uh-oh.png

It seemed I wouldn’t be able to get my stats are do anything for two whole years. Now, I wasn’t going to just take that. I showed my discontentment like only a blogger can– I took a screenshot (damn straight).

Now, unless you too have been sleeping for a rather long time, you’ll probably notice that it hasn’t been two years yet. I too figured this out and it lead me to a startling conclusion. WordPress is obviously paying the same people who make progress bars that one minute are “less than one minute” from completion and the next have “about an hour” to go to estimate how long their maintenance will take. The worst part is, they’re obviously not paying them enough. I would expect to be told that the the site will be “back in a jiffy” only to find that when I check back a jiffy later the estimate has changed to “730 days”. WordPress obviously skimped and bought the “break it to ’em quick” package. I demand false hope!

I think this whole situation would have been a lot easier to stomach if, in the guise of a FAQ, I was directed to a 404 error.

Filed under: Uncategorized,

Hey Linux Users!

With your 2.8% market share, I know you guys are everywhere.  You might as well put that [advantage of Linux] to use in a way that other people can’t because of [disadvantage of operating system that people actually use].  Why don’t you turn that dull work environment into something that you can stare at for hours on end in a slightly creepy fashion.  Introducing…Somatic GNOME the [Linux jargon that I don’t understand].  Using Ubuntu and the GNOME desktop environment thingy, you can turn your boring desktop into a disturbing shrine to yours truly.

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Filed under: Uncategorized, , , , , ,

Slightly Bitter, Mostly Sweet News

Just recently I submitted a post to Dumb Little Man, a productivity and life tips blog. Just now I’ve received the wonderful news that it will indeed by published early next week (I’ll link to it once it’s up). This is great news because it should drive a lot of traffic to End Kvetch but it also means I won’t be putting much productivity stuff up here because I would rather submit it to DLM in the hopes of getting another traffic boost. Don’t worry though, y’all will still get the rejects.

In related news, you may be wondering where the “Getting Things Done (When You Really Need To)” post went. The answer is: a better place. Yes, indeedy, an improved version of that post should be appearing on DLM next week.

R.I.P “Getting Things Done (When You Really Need To)”
January 24, 2008 – January 25, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized

Desktop Extras: Choosing a Wallpaper

desktop-extras.png

Show of hands, how many of you have one of the following sub-optimal desktop wallpapers?

  • One of the ones packaged with the OS.
  • A technically and compositionally godawful family photo.
  • A picture that is too small and must be centered, tiled and stretched.

Now, I’m sorry, but my cold, childless has something to tell you: little Bobby doesn’t belong on your desktop. And I mean, really, you don’t actually like “Bliss” or “Aurora”, do you? And finally, if the shoe don’t fit, don’t wear it. Find a wallpaper that fits your screen– seriously. Before we get into what your should do, let’s look at some examples of what you shouldn’t…

No bad baby photos! finderscreensnapz003.png

At this point you’re probably flustered. Where in the world could you find a picture of the proper size that isn’t of your child and wasn’t provided by the nice folks at Apple/Miscrosoft(/Linux)? Luckily there are plenty of places. David Lanham has wonderful stuff for both widescreen and fullscreen displays, however, I have found that they look a little funky with Leopard’s transparent menu bar. My favorite site for wallpapers is the oddly named Pixel Girl Presents. You can search by style, artist and, best of all, screen dimensions. Although the selection is somewhat limited, you should be able to find something you like (unless you’re some kind of super manly-man).

However, it’s not as simple as just finding one that you like and that fits. You have to think about whether you will be happy staring at it all day (it’s like choosing a paint color). I try to shy away from sad wallpapers because I don’t want depressing thoughts sneaking in to my head. I also look for colors I like and, finally, I don’t like it when desktops bear the logo or name of the artist. Sometimes you can crop it out, but other times it may be best just to keep on looking (or, you could decide to not be super obsessive like me and just deal with it). Finally, make sure it is a desktop you will be happy with people seeing. Avoid explicit images in general and just use common sense (don’t have a pink teddy bear as your wallpaper if you use your computer during football practice and don’t use the gay pride flag as your desktop if you’re working on Mike Huckabee’s campaign).

Although your desktop wallpaper may seem like a trivial thing, it really can be pretty important because you spend a lot of time looking at it. Overall, choose a wallpaper that you like, fits well and won’t depress you (and won’t get you fired…or lynched).

And in case you were wondering, here’s my desktop:

finderscreensnapz005.png

Filed under: Desktop Extras, , ,