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)

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Software Sumo: Corrections

Recently, I have taken even more heat for my comparison of Journler and an outdated (but free) version of MacJournal.  Because Mariner has recently released a new version of MacJournal and Journler is (to my great chagrin) becoming shareware, I have decided that a rematch is in order.  However, I may wait until the first non-freeware version of Journler becomes available.

In another review I declared Vienna the better RSS reader.  However, several months ago I picked up the NNWL alpha/beta/something and really liked it.  So, imagine my delight when it was announced that the full version of NetNewsWire was going free.  Because of the much-improved (and Leopard-like) GUI and the full range of features available in the full version, I am now a convert.  Although I am considering it, I probably will not write another review of the two apps.

Also, expect rundowns on IRC clients (this one may have to be a three-way match) and  alarm apps (there may be four contenders for this one).  Stay tuned, these should be up soon.

Filed under: Apple, Software Sumo, , , , , , ,

Software Sumo: NewsNetWireLite vs. Vienna


Just to start off with a clear air I will admit right now that I am a diehard Vienna fan and not big on NNWL. My personal preferences aside, let the match begin!


Many people don’t like Vienna’s interface but I personally find it acceptable. For those of you who don’t know NNW (but not Lite) recently received a interface lift. Let’s take a look at the two apps now.

My biggest issue with NNWL is its interface. I can’t pin down a single part of it that annoys me but I find the whole package to be rather off-putting. However, this is purely a visual thing, I think the interface is perfectly navigatable and consistent with other OS apps. I think for someone who is less of an aesthete the NNWL interface will do fine. (The interface is also much improved in the new version of NNW). One last little minor thing that I don’t like about the NNW(L) environment is the non-standard dock badge (which you can judge for yourself).

As I said earlier, many people take issue with the Vienna interface. Two issues that tend to repeat are the brushed metal and its inconsistencies with the standard OS X environment (namely, the controls at the bottom and the thick window border). Strangely, for all of my love of consistency these things don’t bug me. This may be because I like my news-reader to be more of a widgetesque app (a simple program that is is simple and streamlined). One option that people like about Vienna is the three-column view (shown) that is not available in NNWL. Yet another nice thing about Vienna is the option to use different styles.

NewNetWire Lite: 7/10 – An intuitive but less-than-gorgeous interface.
Vienna: 8/10 – A controversial interface that I feel is diverse and effective.


Now, even though I’m not big on bloated feature-full RSS readers I know some people are. I’m sorry to say it but Vienna wins out here too. Although free, Vienna has many of the features that are in the full version of NNW but absent from the Lite one (these include an integrated browser and a bunch of other stuff). Of course, you could shell out $30 for a couple more features and an interface you may find more appealing but unless you have a hedge fund to burn I’d suggest Vienna for features.

NewsNetWire Lite: 7/10 – Has the features I need but not enough for everyone.
Vienna: 9/10 – The developer(s) could make good money with features like these.


Vienna has one with a fairly slim lead. I feel that this is one that is really up to the user. It depends what you are looking for in an reader. Please share you opinions.

Vienna – Free
NewsNetWire (Lite) – Lite is free, $29.95 for the full version.

P.S Ignore any misspellings…it’s complicated.

Filed under: Apple, Oldies, Software Sumo, , , , , , , , , ,