This post is just letting some steam out, so there is a lot of text and a lot of links, all because I recently made a very worthwhile purchase. I bought a brand new MacBook Pro laptop and I am more then happy. I didn’t really know what to expect, I was really looking forward to it… however it has exceeded all of my expectations.
The quick specs are that its a Silver MBP with a 15.4in glossy widescreen display with the newest LED back-lightning. It houses a 2GB of RAM and an Intel Core 2 Duo that knock the socks of my previous 512/1.6 laptop. The software takes a larger explanation.
I had originally planned on holding out on buying a Mac until Leopard was released. My plans were pushing forward when I won a bundle of applications valued at more then $500 from MacUpdate and MacHeist. However I had been looking at software to download for weeks before my purchase and the list of free, high quality software is nearly endless. Still, there are always programs you have to splurge on.
I splurged on TextMate, a programming editor that translates into about $55. Its the single tool that I have heard the most about from web developers all around the world. I have to agree with the masses, its a fantastic editor that is grows more and more useful as I get acquainted with the Mac.
On the free end of things I have to mention QuickSilver. I might argue that every Mac user has at least heard of QS as its popularity is nearly as high as that of TextMate. I really appreciate this little app as it really does just make my life easier. It took a few minutes to setup these global triggers for iTunes: ?P to pause/play and ??? to go to the next song. That means from nearly anywhere those key combinations will trigger iTunes. I’m learning more as I go but QS is useful in more ways than one.
For Instant Messaging I thought I would like iChat. I thought it was okay, it certainly was easy to setup and worked great, however it just wasn’t up to my standards. I had heard about a Adium and decided to give it a try. That is an amazing IM program. There are plenty of great themes and almost everything is customizable. Its and incredible chat client that easily synced with my Google Talk account (the only Windows chat client I am willing to use).
However my favorite application so far has been Linkinus. That program has completely revolutionized IRC for me. Chatting in Linkinus is just fun. Its a work in progress and I plan to help out with the development. I am working on scripts, which require me to learn AppleScript, but it is worth it.
A worthy app to mention is Growl. You don’t realize how useful a standard messaging system is until you have used one. Almost every application I have can interface into Growl and therefore I have awesome standard notifications. Just typing this I got a notification that someone logged on Adium!! brb.
Looking for a really nice free RSS reader? Check out NetNewsWire Lite! RSS is fundamental when you are as busy as I am (which I expect you are). Have your news come to you, and link yourself back if you deem the article worthy of a visit. Most of the time I read it all in the RSS reader to save even more time. I sift through about 100 RSS articles each day, some are duplicates and many are short but I’d say that there are at least 5 full articles that I will read. They come from blogs and news sources alike, I currently subscribe to over 70 different feeds.
Common apps like iTunes and Firefox are obvious must haves. Although I will admit that I am interested in safari and I will likely give it a try for just common browsing (as it lacks many of the web development plugins that I have in Firefox). Photo Booth makes excellent use of the built in web cam aptly named the iSight that comes equipped on every MacBook Pro laptop. My recently engaged sister and said counter-part were kind enough to sit in front of my Mac for some pictures in Photo Booth. Half an hour later I was able to find a few serious pictures and I sifted thru another 30 or so pictures with various effects to get a group of pictures to put on my family website.
Now the beta apps. I am excited to try out Flow and I was able to sign up for the private beta, however I have not gotten any response yet. I did meet a nice contact chatting on Linkinus and got ahold of a the Skitch beta. Now Skitch is a really cool tool. I can take a picture of a section on my screen, add some quick features like (text, arrows, etc.) in seconds. That is impressive coming from the mspaint.exe experience, however it is not nearly Skitch’s coolest point. There is a drag and drop portion on the bottom of the app to allow you to quickly make a file in the most common picture formats (png, jpg, gif…). To top things off when you sign up for a Skitch account you are given a profile online. A single button on Skitch uploads the image to your Skitch site storage. That same button can then take you directly to the online image, some more single click buttons will copy the image location or xhtml compatible code and allow you to share the image with anyone in the world. You will be able to do all of this just by watching the 3 minute video included with the download. Skitch is a fantastic app! I’ve got some invites if anyone is really interested I might give one away.
Being a web developer its useful to have a local web server to test your work on. Although I manually installed everything I need to do Ruby on Rails development (ruby, rubygems, mysql, mongrel, and svn) I also downloaded a nice app to make things easy for myself. MAMP stands for Macintosh, Apache, Mysql and PHP and it is just plain simple. MAMP (like Easy PHP for Windows) is a completely isolated webserver with php and mysql. You can be sure that nothing else on your computer will be affected, for instance if you have another mysql database running. A great dashboard that even has phpMyAdmin. I made a few modifications to the default pages to add a quicklink to quickly accesses my web directories, but MAMP’s ease of use is much appreciated. A simple click to turn on/off… what more would I want?
SRS iWoW is an iTunes plugin that adds Three-Dimensional sound. I got it with the plugin but it a very cool plugin. Its enhancements to iTunes’ sound are immediately noticeable and gratifying. Simple to setup and customize you can have some real high quality sound. To be honest you won’t notice the difference until you try it, but once you do you will gasp at the difference.
I have a bunch more that I can write but I am going to finish now and hopefully finish working on my other website so that I can launch it! Goodbye for now.