A Fresh Cup is Mike Gunderloy's software development weblog, covering Ruby on Rails and whatever else I find interesting in the universe of software. I'm a full-time Rails developer and contributor, available for long- or short-term consulting, with solid experience in working as part of a distributed team. If you'd like to hire me, drop me a line. I'm also the author of Rails Rescue Handbook and Rails Freelancing Handbook.

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Wednesday
Feb142007

Filling up the Mac Toolbox

As I switch more of my computing life over to the Mac (it's now home to most of my e-mail accounts, my calendar, my task list, and some of my Web work, as well as the bulk of the Rails development I'm doing), I find myself accumulating bits and pieces of software. It's dangerous to draw any conclusion based on the small exposure to Macs that I have so far, but it seems to me that most of the Mac apps I've looked at are more visually polished and have more internal coherence (i.e, they do one thing and do it well) than most Windows apps that I'm familiar with, but they also tend to have less inherent functionality. On the whole I'm very satisfied with the Mac experience (especially on days like today, when my main Windows development box blue-screened five times).

Stereotypes and sweeping statements aside, it might interest some other Windows refugees to have a list of some of what I've found it reasonable to install so far:

  • Adium (free) is a reasonable enough multi-network IM client. It's still a bit lacking in functionality compared to "Trillian"http://www.ceruleanstudios.com/ on Windows though.

  • Chamonix (free) is a CHM file viewer. Not as pretty as Chmox but more functional.

  • CSSEdit ($29.95) is a real find; this CSS Editor is way more functional than anything I've worked with on the Windows side.

  • EasyTask Manager ($19.99) is my choice for task lists at the moment. They oversell the GTD-ness of the application, but they have one key feature I can't live without: recurring tasks.

  • Firefox (free) remains my browser of choice. I can't imagine doing without its wealth of extensions in favor of anyone's native browser.

  • Growl (free) is somehow far less annoying, perhaps because it's more consistently a standard, than any of the "toast" notification options on Windows.

  • Navicat ($99) is doing for a MySQL GUI client for now. It's got a ways to go, but it's better than doing everything with the command line tools.

  • NeoOffice (free) is so far handling my light word processing and spreadsheet requirements on the Mac. I'll probably have to revisit this as I move more office work over, but I have no intention of letting a Microsoft product on to this box.

  • OmniOutliner Pro ($29.95 upgrade price) is taking care of my unstructured text and list needs. This is a category I've always kept some application or other busy in, so it was good to see lots of choices here on the Mac. This one clicked for me better than Yojimbo or Tinderbox though they're both intriguing as well.

  • Pukka ($5) is a del.icio.us client. That's not a category of software I thought I needed, but it's very well done and useful.

  • QuickSilver (free) has actually gotten me using a keyboard-driven program launcher, something none of the Windows entrants in the field ever done. I'd like to see it pick up some of the Web-driving goodness of DQSB on Windows (I know, I could program a lot of that in myself but I'm lazy).

  • Shrook (free) will probably be my RSS reader when I move my feeds over. Everyone raves about the look of Newsfire but trying to read 400 feeds in that UI would drive me mad. NetNewsWire probably has the right functionality but I'm not going to subject myself to Newsgator's software registration system.

  • TextMate (€39) is just as fabulous a prrogrammer's text editor as everyone says it is. It's obvious why people are trying to clone this for the PC.

  • Twitterific (free) does absolutely nothing for my productivity but it's fun to watch all these random people wander by on my screen.

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