Sunday, February 27, 2005

OS X Software Recommendations

Here is a list of some additional software solutions we have on one or more of our Macs. Several of the items are free shareware, the rest are relatively inexpensive (cost less than $50). All are useful:

Aquascribus - the front end for open source Scribus. Aquascribus sits in your Dock and basically works its way to Scribus without all the UNIX terminal fuss. Free.

Audio Hijack Pro - the more sophisticated product, Audio Hijack will do just fine for $10 less. Great for capturing audio from internet radio sites as well as old LPs and cassettes. If you want to listen to recent broadcasts on your iPod, this seems to be the best solution. $32.

Chicken of the VNC - see OSXvnc. Free.

Deepvacuum will suck an entire web site onto your hard drive. We haven't used it much! Free.

Fink and FinkCommander are essential if you plan to load a lot of UNIX software programs, such as Scribus. Free.

Firefox - the "in" browser. We still use Safari, but it's good to know there's a reliable alternative out there to compete with Microsoft Exploder! Free.

MacGPS Pro - the best GPS software for the Mac. Free upgrades are e-mailed regularly. $39.99

Mac the Ripper - Rip a DVD onto your hard drive and say goodbye to regional codes, etc. Works great with VLC (see below). Free.

NetNewsWire - a great RSS tool. Downloads news items and features every half an hour. A great way to stay up to date with the news and your favorite websites. $39.95

OSXvnc - A vertual network connection server. This is on our desktop G4. The client software is Chicken of the VNC. This allows us to control the G4 from our PowerBooks, giving true portability to all our computing power. Free.

Scribus - the open source version of QuarkXpress or InDesign. Has serious limitations in font selection and printing control, but a good effort to provide DTP for the casual user for $0. Use with Aquascribus, Fink and FinkCommander if you want to retain your sanity! Free.

VLC - an alternative to DVD Player by Apple. Works well with ripped DVDs (see Mac the Ripper). Not all DVDs work with this software, particularly those with lots of "extra features". Free.

Apple bundles a lot of excellent free software with OS X and in addition there are relatively inexpensive bundles like iLife 05 that add a lot of productivity for the dollar. In many ways it is what Apple "gives away" with their computers that provides the hidden advantage over Windoze machines. Spend a weekend with iLife 05 (free with a Mac Mini) and you'll understand.