Saft is a Safari browser plug-in that adds some much needed functionality to Apple's browser. I have heard of Saft ever since I switched to the Mac over 1 year ago. Until now, I had shied away from installing it as Saft can have compatibility problems when OS X is updated; but from what I hear, the Saft developers are always very quick to update the application soon after a revision to Safari is made public.
I finally broke down today and installed a demo version of Saft on my MacBook Pro. The key features that I am interested in are full screen mode, and the ability to save and re-open multiple browser tabs when re-launching safari. The full screen mode is particularly important to me as I like to read books online via O'Reilly's Safari bookshelf.
Unfortunately, the demo version of Saft is more irritating than any value that it brings. Saft forcefully displays a pop-up dialog box when Safari is launched, preventing Safari from being used until the user manually dismisses the dialog box -- extremely irritating. Instead of reminding me that I should upgrade my demo version, this dialog box reminds me that I must quickly and promptly remove this virus from my computer.
There is nothing wrong with displaying a credits dialog box, but it should be displayed briefly and quickly dismissed without user interaction. As it stands, Saft makes my browsing experience slower not faster.
If you are offering a free trial of your software, do so freely and do your best to provide users with the best customer experience possible. Give the trial a fixed time period when the product will stop working, and be confident in the value of your application to know that users will purchase it after they have a chance to experience its functionality. As it is, with Saft, I used its full screen feature only once, and I was bugged by the software at least 10 times before I finally gave up and uninstalled it. Instead of Saft bringing me value, it slowed me down - not really the experience the ISV wanted out of a free trial. It is too bad, because I really could have benefitted from some of the features available in Saft, but I won't give in to such poor tactics and purchase the final product.
Luckily, uninstalling Saft is quick and simple: move Saft in /Library/InputManagers to the Trash.
ImageWell is a free utility that makes it very easy for you to do simple image editing:
Very handy utility for creating and adding images to a web page or a blog! And better yet, it is free!
Monkey Business Labs is running a 1 day promotion where they are giving away a pretty cool Dashboard Widget - Picture Framer. It can cycle through your iPhoto or Flickr photos and display them on a nice frame on your dashboard.
The widget is free only today, the regular price is $5.00.
Monkey Business Labs also has a nifty To Do widget that comes in handy for casual To Do tasks.
Searching the web for a solution to my "Invalid node structure" problem seems to point me to using TechTool Pro - a $99 3rd party utility. DiskWarrior seems to work as well, but only for non-Intel Macs. TechTool Pro is currently the only app available that supports Intel Macs.
I still intend to check Apple's support information to see if they have a solution for the problem that does not require a 3rd party application. Disk Utility does not work, even if I boot from an external device.
What does invalid node structure mean anyway? What causes it? Is it hardware related (i.e., is my HD failing)?
Apple no longer bundles GraphicConverter with the MacBook Pro (they did with the PowerBook G4).
What a shame, I actually use this software for quick and simple graphics editing when Photoshop would be an overkill.
If you buy music from the iTunes music store, the music file comes with a nice cover art, and it looks great on a iPod color screen. If you get your music by importing it directly from your audio CDs you do not get the cover art automatically - thank you Apple.
Corripio is utility designed too automate the process of adding cover art to your iTunes music collection. It searches iTunes itself for cover art and automatically adds it to your music files.
The process is very very slow, and unfortunately it is not hands free, not yet at least. If Corripio finds duplicate cover arts for the same song it prompts you to select the one you want. This works ok with a music collection of about 30 songs, anything greater and you are going to spend your afternoon waiting for Corripio to process your music collection. In my case, with 8,500 songs without cover art I abandoned the process after about 10 files with duplicate cover art.
However, v.0.3 of the software will address this limitation by allowing you to auto-select the first image, or batching all user selection to the end of the process - allowing you to set Corripio to search your entire library before requiring any futher user input.
My verdict - wait for v.0.3, expected by this Friday, before you download it. Once this limitation is fixed, this is definitely a useful app which will earn my donation.
Price: donation ware.
Everybody loves the drag and drop nature of OS X. Drag an app into your applications folder, and it's installed. You'd think it would be that easy to delete an app — just a matter of dragging it to the trash. But it's not. Applications install preferences, caches, and other support files throughout your computer that take up space and generate clutter. Deleting these by hand every time you delete an app is a pain.
My usual approach is to do a Spotlight search on the Application name and delete every file, folder, preferences that are found to belong to the application. In other words - a royal pain. AppZapper automates this process for you, giving you a drag and drop method to uninstall any application in your system.
Cost: $12.95 for a single license, $18 family license, with free upgrades for life.
WhatSize is a simple OS X utility that enables you to quickly measure the size of any folder in your Mac. Ever wonder where your 100GB of free space went? With WhatSize you get an complete view of the size of every folder in your HD, as well as every hidden folder. Much easier than using Finder Command-I which is what I had been using until now.
WhatSize is free, and supports Intel macs with an Universal binary.
Hawk Wings has a review on a utility called BackityMac that has enabled me to migrate my Mac Mail data to my new MacBook Pro. BackityMac, a donation-ware, makes it easy to archive all of my Mac Mail data into a disk image. I can then just take this image to my new machine and have all of my old emails accessible via Spotlight, or I can restore the image to the new computer and have all the old emails available within Mac Mail.
Simple utility that seems to solve my problem - if this becomes my final mail migration tool, a donation will be forthcoming.
"With the GL Image Browser, you can open a folder on your computer and look for all the pictures that are inside, even in subdirectories if you want. It is no iPhoto or Picasa clone, GL Image Browser is a tool to quickly browse through thousands of pictures"
In some way, GL Image Browser enables me to do much of what I do with Photo Mechanic - not as complete, and not as fast, but still it is a better photo viewer than what you get from OS X Preview app.
Best of all - it is free! Get it from Geekologic.com.
I had been looking for an easy method to keep my files synchronized and locally accessible on all of my computers. File sharing works to some extend if all of your computers are on the same network. But keeping my home files accessible at work and vice-versa has always been difficult. I have emailed files to myself, I have copied files to an external HD, I have used my laptop as a file transport. None of these solutions were perfect. I would always run into file synchronization issues - how could I ensure that I was working on the latest version of the file?
Since switching to the Mac just over a month ago, I have been using iDisk to keep my Macs synchronized. The problem is that iDisk is not nearly big enough for my needs, and it is not cross platform. The most I can get with iDisk is 1GB of disk space, for $150 per year. I need somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 GB to really keep all of my data synchronized.
I wish I could create a "My Pictures" library, and then be able to create "Customer 1", "Customer 2" sub-liraries. This way, my machines could sync up to the "My Pictures" library, but my clients would only see their own sub-folders.
It is easy to get around these limitations, but FolderShare would have been even better if it allowed for this. All in wall, this is still a fantastic app!
They have a risk free trial offer that let's you try the professional version for 5 days - after which point you will be hooked and will gladly sign up for the whole year.
Warning: FolderShare is like a Porsche, don't test drive one unless you are prepared to purchase it. Once you test drive it, nothing else will do.
In short: FolderShare Just Works.
I have been using Photo Mechanic for the past couple of weeks as the first stage of my digital photography workflow. I love the app, it is fast, simple, and has a very clean UI. My trial period expired yesterday, but I didn’t notice it until I went to use Photo Mechanic at close to 1am. No problem, I thought “this is a great app and it will definitely be part of my workflow going forward; let me upgrade my trial to a full license and continue my work.”
To my surprise, I went to PhotoMechanic’s web site and discover that they have not yet enabled web sales. Are you kidding me? This is 2005 and you haven’t enabled web sales? You give out a free trial of your software and then you force people call you during normal work hours to get a license?
In all honesty, this policy is now making me reconsider the wisdom of using PhotoMechanic for my workflow. Such a great application, but backed by such a poor practice - unbelievable.
It is an application called Witch that clones Apple's Command-Tab with a much richer set of functions, including the ability to select open windows. After installing, you access Witch's functionality via Option-Tab.
For a review of the Witch take a look at Andrew's web site here.
As part of my transition to the Mac, I wanted to bring my email archives to OS X. I am currently using Apple Mail as my primary email program on OS X, but I also have Microsoft's Entourage available. I have about 5GB of old archived email that are store as a Outlook PST files. My first thought, of course, is that I could use Entourage to import my PST files, and then export them to a Mac Mail format. But alas, Microsoft's own Entourage program does not support Microsoft's own PST file format.
I turned to a little program called Outlook2Mac. It costs $10 but does a decent, albeit primitive, job of transcoding my PST into Apple Mail Mail Boxes. To my surprise, Outlook2Mac is a Windows program, I would have expected a Mac OS X program. The UI is very basic but does the job. Transcoding was fast, but it was often interrupted by a message box asking me if I wanted Outlook2Mac to fix the send date of certain message, or if I wanted Outlook2Mac to save a digitally signed message to an insecure file format. I wish they had a "Don't ask me again" option, as the message box popped up about 30 different times. Another limitation is that Outlook2Mac saves each email folder into a separate mbox file, instead of saving them all in a nested folder structure. As a result, my 3 archived PST email files have translated to 234 mbox files.
One hidden feature of Outlook2Mac is the ability to strip out all email attachments into a separate folder - this is great, I found long lost documents, and lots of photos that people have sent me over the years!
Thanks to Outlook2Mac I now have all my archived email available in a Mac friendly format. I hope that Spotlight can search the mbox files without me having to open them in Apple Mail. I don't think Apple Mail can support 234 Mail boxes :-)
WindowFinder is a $9.95 shareware program that helps minimize the issue I described in the "Where are my windows" blog entry.
WindowFinder lets you instantly access any open window from your menubar. Select a window from the menu and it will become the frontmost window. WindowFinder is easier and faster than Exposé, which leaves you mousing over dozens of miniaturized windows that all look alike.
WindowFinder requires Mac OS 10.4 (Tiger).
Windows XP has a Power Toy called Image Resizer that I always found very handy to quickly resize my images before sending them to someone/somewhere. With the Power Toy I could just right click on the image and select a desired image size. I just found a similar utility for OS X, it is called iResize from smallApps by dani.
iResize let's you quickly resize your image to any desired size, it also quickly converts your image to any of 11 different formats (bmp, jpg, png, tif. ...). Run iResize, drag a pictures or a directory of pictures, select a desired file dimension, and you are done.
I wish that iResize supported drag-and-drog without having to first run the application, or that i added some commonly used sized to my images context menu, but all in all, it is a great utility that saves me from having to run Photoshop just to resize an image.
Batch resize and compress images, known types are:
.jpeg, .pict, .tiff,.gif, .psd and QuickTime images
• resize one image or all images in a list
• resize by fixed height or fixed width
• preferences window for some settings
• very fast and easy
• It's possible to add an extra text (ex: -r,small,...) to the resized images file names
• Alert for file names longer than 31 characters
• Function to fix JPEG files with incorrect information (MacType & MacCreator ID)
• Rewritten from scratch and compiled with the latest version
• Added italian localization
• Added capability to drag & drop files and folders to the batch list
I have been using Transmit 3.2.1 for accessing FTP sites on my Mac. Transmit uses a simple two-pane browser window and its interface nicely matches the look and feel of OS X.
Transmit supports FTP, SFTP, FTP over SSL, WebDAV and Versioning, with optional HTTPS, or secure HTTP
Two of the coolest feature are:
Transmit costs $30, and offer a 15 day evaluation period.
I have been using Ecto as my blog editor for a few days now, my conclusion so far is that Ecto is far from perfect - 3 out of 10.
The blog editor is very inadequate. The editor is not a true WYSIWYG editor, you have to use a Preview button.
I wish there we alternatives to Ecto, but I haven't found any yet.
My choice now is to use Typepad's online editor with Firefox (as it does not fully support Safari) and completely forgo off-line editing, or put up with Ecto's limitations and learn to work around them.
I am often finding myself having to go to Firefox to re-edit the poor formating generated by Ecto. Reading Ecto's web site, the developer mentions that a new rich text editor is in the works, I can't wait.
The consensus on the web is that Ecto is one of the best blog editors for the Mac platform. With Ecto I can interface with Typecast, manage my blog entries offline, use a real-time spell checkers, insert tags, attach images, etc.
While installing the application was the typical straight forward drag and drop routine, the configuration process took a little longer. Ecto was not able to automatically configure my Typepad account. I had to resort to Ecto support forum to find the correct settings - a process that took 24h altogether.
Note: the correct access point for Typepad is http://www.typepad.com/t/api
Ecto's license is $17.95, but you can download a trial version that will work for 21 days before you need to register it.
There is also a Windows version of Ecto for those interested, but I have yet to try it.
It would be handy to have this DOFC widget available for my PocketPC device.
Now, if only taking photographs were this easy.
One of the features that I miss the most from Microsoft Outlook is the email notifier that popups in the Windows task bar every time a new email arrives.
GrowlMail is a plug-in for Apple Mail that posts a Growl notification every time new mail arrives containing the text of the message - just like Outlook does on Windows.
Note: Installing Growl requires users to be able to follow directions carefully. It amuses me to no end to have a Mac user open a "Terminal" window and type Unix commands. Not what I would expect the typical Mac user to know how to do.
Google offers a handy GMail notifier for Windows. If you are a Mac user, you are left to fend for yourself.
David Kleinschmidt's GMail Notifier for Mac OS X works very well, and closely mimics the features found on Google’s own notifier for Windows. Not only does it alert you when you've received new GMail, but it also provides Dock Menu access to your new messages and Compose Mail.