end kvetch

Macs, productivity, &c.

Desktop Extras: Pry

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Some time ago, I made the decision to move past David Lanham’s Agua folder set (as lovely as it is).

I settled on Pry by Jonas Rask (who has a variety of excellent work). Pry was designed for Leopard and therefore includes all the necessary icons (downloads, etc.). However, the folders are not front-on (something I mentioned about Agua v.2), so they don’t really jive with CoverFlow. This problem is solved by the Pryspective set by Vibe Star AKA Sander van der Heijden. While making the Pry folders CoverFlow-compatible is certainly a good idea, I’m not a huge fan of the Pryspective icons. Unless you’re a big CoverFlow user, I’d go with the regular Pry set.

Jonas created a number of variants including both etched and overlaid versions (I prefer the more colorful overlaid Pry Aluminum set). He has also made matching hardware icons and CS3 and MS Office-specific folder sets. MacThemes members have also made a variety of versions including “Pry Ply” (wood), white, red and chocolate.

pry

For those who don’t know, the best way to apply new icons (such as the Pry and Agua sets) is to use Panic’s CandyBar. While you can do it manually (some icons more simply than others), CandyBar is much, much simpler and its integrated icon organization features make it worth the $29 price tag if you’re really into customizing your computer. Of course, there’s also a fifteen day, somewhat limited trial (you can only have 250 icons in your library) available.

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Desktop Extras: Agua Re-Reinvented

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aqua.pngFor quite a while, Agua by David Lanham has been my favorite icon set.  A while back it was updated for Leopard with 512×512 icons, slight restyling and additional Leopard-specific icons (downloads folder, Time Machine drive, etc.).  However, because these folders were angled (rather than front-on like Apple’s Leopard folders) they looked super messed-up in CoverFlow.  Now (well, a bit back) David Lanham has updated the folders so they are front on (he also added a couple drive icons and another alternate downloads folder) and look decent in CoverFlow.  If you use the Agua Leopard icons or are looking for an alternative to the regular icons in Leopard, check out the twice updated Agua icons.

If you were wondering, I do hope to make Desktop Extras a regular feature (I made a banner for it and everything).  I plan to cover things such as icons, wallpapers, dock styles and whatnot.  As always, if you have suggestions or questions for Desktop Extras (or any other feature) give me a shout in the comments or you can email me (see the contact page).

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On Leopard

So, as I’m sure you’ve realized, I haven’t posted in a while. I’m going to try and get back into this, we’ll se how that goes.

Anyway, since I last wrote I have gotten 10.5 Leopard (if you don’t know what Leopard is, go. Just go). It has some really nice new visual things and some new features. So…let’s take a look.

Finder

Leopard Finder

Finder was one of the changes I was really excited about. I’m a fan of the iTunes sidebar (it just looks so cool!) so I was happy to see it was now permeating the rest of the system. The path bar at the bottom is also a nice thing to have.

Sadly, I was disappointed by CoverFlow. Although documents look nice (however, I think CoverFlow was designed more for people who do lots of layout design or other things that would involve colourful documents rather than the black and white essays that are the staple of my computer), folders and applications look really weird (especially folders). For the record though, I believe the folder weirdness can be blamed on my non-standard iconset (Agua, which has been updated for Leopard, by David Lanham). Regardless, I don’t really think CoverFlow is a good way to navigate one’s files (I also don’t like it much in iTunes, but that’s beside the point).

As far as other features go, the built-in smart searches are nice but I wish we could edit them and add to the list. Like I said above, I really like the new real icon preview (e.g., a MS Word document doesn’t appear as the .doc icon but as an actual representation of the document) even if my French papers are a little dull.

Quick Look is very nice (it can even play music!) and I’m sure it will be a big timesaver once I get in the habit of using it.

iChat

iChat is another one I was pumped for. With the addition of tabbed chats I was hopping it would finally overtake Adium. I tried it out and I quickly remembered all those little iChat things that just bug me.

  1. Huge contact list (often more than one).
  2. No meta contacts.
  3. Tab bar cannot be shown when you only have one chat open.
  4. Limited range of message views.
  5. Bad notification system.
  6. Very little customization overall.
  7. You must look at the chat window (not the contact list) to see if a buddy is typing or has sent you a message.
  8. Only a couple networks are supported.
  9. It insists on using your address card names (or worse, screennames).

In the end it was #8 that truly drove me back to Adium. Why did I even leave in the first place?

Safari

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Safari 3 and I got off to a bad start back in my Tiger days. However, when I opened it up in Leopard I was pleasantly surprised. By far, the biggest improvement is the more Camino-esque behavior (in fact, it filled Camino’s shoes so well that I no longer saw any need to keep Firefox’s little brother around). I was surprised to see things like the chat bar in Gmail load (they didn’t in Safari 2) and I have noticed a lot of Web 2.0 type stuff works a lot better in this version.

Features like resizable text boxes and improved search are also nice.

My only complaint is the lesser degree of plug-inability. Google isn’t the same without Inquisitor.

Mail

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Mail was probably the feature I was most anticipating. Stationary, notes, to dos, what’s not to love. Also, my old version of mail had been having problems and I was hoping this would offer a fix. Not only does Mail work again, but it offers a very nice little “iCal on the go” type thing and contains misc. improvements.

I haven’t tried any plugins with it yet so I can’t speak to that.

However, my main issue is the lack of badge customizability. In the old version of Mail you could just replace the ugly red badge in the resources folder with a new one, but in this new version (and other Leopard apps) I cannot find a way to change the badges.

Time Machine

I must say, Time Machine is pretty effin’ sweet. I have it hooked up to a MyBook Home and it’s working without a hitch so far (let’s hope it performs as well as it has been to date when I really need it). Super simple backup, I don’t even know when it’s going on. (As a n00bish aside, I’ve always used USB drives and when I got my first FireWire one I was blown away by the speed. Well worth the extra money).

Spaces

Spaces can be pretty handy. In one you can piece together a desktop portrait of perfect academic devotion. Then, in another, you can open WOW or whatever your time-waster of choice is, and play away until the time comes to do a quick Ctrl+1 and appear to be the angelic student that you aren’t. Not that I do that…ever…

If you have the money around, Leopard is defiantly worth it, but as Walt Mossberg(/burg?) said, “It’s an evolution, not a revolution.” (Or something like that).

P.S. My English teacher would be appalled that I ended an “essay” with a quote. But, I mean, it’s kosher to do that in journalism, right?

Update: I have installed Inquisitor and Safari Block into Safari and they’re working great. Chalk one more up for Leopard.

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