Alison’s Deja Vu

I came across David Alison’s excellent blog the other day, in particular his article about what software he’s grown fond of since his recent switch to the Mac. It was uncanny reading down the list because it was almost as though he was reading my mind (so when women say I’m transparent, is that what they mean?!). Anyway, here’s my list of The Good, without The Bad and The Ugly.

Safari – As far as rendering web pages goes, I really have no preference when it comes to Safari or Firefox. However, as I still use Firefox on a Windows PC, it’s easier to keep my bookmarks in sync using the FoxMarks add-on in Firefox, so that’s what I tend to end up using.

1Password – Absolutely agree. It’s a bit like RoboForm on the PC, only nicer looking and more controllable. I did try others like Wallet, and the OS X version of KeyPass but 1Password won on features and usability. I love the fact that I can store notes in it securely, it keeps my paranoia in check!

Adium – I’m with you again! It’s tiresome when you have friends that use different IM systems and have to fire up iChat, MSN Messenger, AIM an Skype just to stay in touch (ok so Adium doesn’t support Skype, but then no-one but Skype supports Skype!). I flirted briefly with MSN Messenger for Mac but gave up as it’s another of these cases of Microsoft producing a Mac version of a Windows program that only has a subset of it’s features. Now if they could only add audio/video support to Adium without that awful browser plug-in then I’d be even happier.

VMWare Fusion – 100% !! Mind you, as a long-standing VMWare Workstation user in my job, it was a natural choice. Parallels didn’t even get a look in. I use VMWare to run SQL Server Express and Helium Music Manager on the Mac, simply because there’s nothing available for Mac OS X that comes even close to what Helium can do. Can’t wait for version 2 of Fusion! Ok let’s tone that down – I don’t live and breathe computers. I’m sure I’ll find Fusion v2 a more pleasant and productive experience.

iPhoto – Yes, well while I would tend to agree I was seduced by the additional functionality and sexy interface of Aperture 2. My photos have never been so well looked after.

NetNewsWire – I’m with you there. I love the straightforward interface, and the fact that I can sync it with FeedDemon on my Windows PC via NewsGator.

TextMate – Well I actually went with MacJournal. I wasn’t so fussed about the ability to edit, more a way to control and organize the general rubbish and millions of scribbled notes that I seem to produce. Besides, I’ve always got Word if I want to do fancy editing.

iTunes – Ok, well here we part ways. iTunes follows the Apple philosophy of “you’ll do it our way because we know best”. While I have a large mp3 collection, iTunes is allowed to play odd tracks and a few internet radio stations and that’s it! I simply cannot fathom how Apple can release a product like this that doesn’t even have a “watch folder for changes” feature. Yes I know there are various automator actions and scripts that you can use to work around this but that’s not really the point. What’s more, I’ve never really got into the iTunes music purchasing model, not when the Uk seems to pay a premium per track over the rest of the world. No for music management it’s Helium Music Manager (running under Fusion) that’s the clear winner.

Microsoft Office 2008 – Oh yes, well I came from Office 2007 on Windows so it was to be expected. Mail.app is nice and simple, but maybe a bit too simple for my tastes, so it had to be Entourage even if it is inferior (by quite some way) to Outlook 2007. Word is my staple document production tool for home and work, and Excel was my best shot at compatibility with the numerous spreadsheets I’ve created.

iStat Menus – Love ’em! Why this was never built in to OS X Leopard, I don’t really know. From day one it always annoyed me that the clock could only show the time and day in the Finder bar… why not the date as well instead of having to click the time to see it? iStat Menus fixed all that and gives me a handy indicator of how much of my 6Gb of RAM has been gobbled up at any given time.

As for Cyberduck and Gmail Notifier, well I’ve never really been into FTP or GMail. I have a GMail account but it’s just a staging area for emails that I redirect from my spam-filtering domain to Outlook or Entourage.

I used to think that all IT people were pretty much alike. Maybe there’s commonality among switchers too and they gravitate towards the same applications? Perhaps we’re all pond-life reacting to the same light?