end kvetch

Macs, productivity, &c.

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Recently, I have taken even more heat for my comparison of Journler and an outdated (but free) version of MacJournal.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

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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!

Interface

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.

Features

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.

Overall

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, , , , , , , , , ,

The Only Reasons I Stay Productive

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Sadly, I am not a naturally productive person (organized: yes, productive: no) so I rely on numerous digital crutches to help me.

What Works

The main two applications I use to track my growing list of to-dos are iCal (can’t wait ’til v3) and Schoolhouse (a homework tracker, and so much more). I generally use iCal to schedule my MANY social engagements (note sarcasm) and misc. to do items while Schoolhouse is for my homework (what else?).

In order to maintain some degree of mental togetherness I also use Sidenote to keep all my floating brain snippets caged up in one place. (For those of you unfamiliar with Sidenote, it is like Stickies except everything is kept in a tidy drawer that can be hidden from view, ideal for people (like me) who are lacking in miserly when it comes to desktop real estate).

What Doesn’t

iGTD has been getting a fair amount of press (in the blogosphere) lately, so I tried it. I was delighted by its frequent updates (I live for updates) but it was just too data heavy and I didn’t really get anything from it that iCal couldn’t give me (plus iCal looks better). Sadly, after several weeks or trial I had to delete it.

Many Mac users swear by Quicksilver but when I tried it (after finally giving in to the raving reviews) it just didn’t work for me. I have been with Macs for a long time and I’m just too used to Finder for launchers to do me much good. (Yes, I know Quicksilver is more than a launcher but the only other feature I ever really found useful was the built-in iTunes controls). Bottom line is I’m just too used to my mouse/trackpad to start filtering my workflow through key sequences.

One tool that I have NEVER seen any use for is Event Maker (and other iCal event creators). Although I will be one of the first to admit that iCal’s event creation process can be a bit frustrating it just isn’t worth it to open up a whole new application to make it easier. By the time I have found and opened the app I will have already sorted out my problem with iCal.

Straying away from the digital realm for a moment, the hPDA is an interesting organizational/productivity tool that I used for some time before it fizzled out. I was mainly using it as a paper Sidenote for when I was away from the computer, but a combination of the inability to synch (honestly, paper manufactures need to get on that) and my increasing attachment to my computer rendered it more or less useless. (However, I do still use it when I AM away from the computer or when pulling out the laptop would be overkill).

Also, for some strange reason, spending hours in Excel charting my time use just didn’t make me more productive….

What Keeps Me Unproductive

I consider Adium to be the best chat client ever (and therefore the best at distracting me from my work). I am almost always online and I am usually being distracted/kept up too late by messages.

Vienna is another of my productivity-sapping loves. For those of you that have not aware, Vienna is a news reader (like News Net Wire Lite, except it takes less then ten seconds to say and is about 100x better in every other way too). I now call upon all you users of NNWL to switch to Vienna and see how you like it. It is basically Net News Wire (the non-free version) except with a better interface and (even) more features (plus a cooler name).

Safari and the internet are the biggest culprits when it comes to reducing my productivity (I’m sure I’m not alone there) but I figure the time I would otherwise be spending trundling back and forth to the library probably balances it out.

Finally, although I love you so, Growl, you are the one who pulls all these elements together into one big unproductive web. Without your little boxes I would never know when Vienna had new articles or when I had gotten email or when someone was IMing me. (On the other hand, knowing my personality, I would check every ten seconds for new badges on my (hidden) dock.)

Filed under: Apple, Oldies, Productivity, , , , , , , , , , ,