Saturday, April 17th, 2004

So I’ve owned a Mac


So I’ve owned a Mac in one form or another for the best part of two years now, and I’ve come across some software that makes life a hell of a lot easier. For the three other guys on here who also use Macs…

Audio Hijack is a great Internet radio Tivo program. It grabs the audio signal before it hits your speakers, so you can grab from any source you want, be it Realplayer, iTunes or any other program that spits out sound. It also lets you time-shift. I use it to grab stuff off of CBC Toronto and NPR when I’m out, as well as a handy remote to jump between my favorite stations. I also like it for grabbing “Clockwork Orange Juice” off of CJSR.

Quicksilver is a program that lets you circumvent the Dock when the mood strikes. You just hit apple-spacebar and then type in the file, program or whatever you want, and the menu pops it up for you. Hit ‘enter’ and hey presto, you’re done.

iSiloX grabs webpages and makes them viewable on a Palm Pilot. I scored it because Avantgo doesn’t support OS X anymore, or even Palm OS 5. iSiloX is actually better than Avantgo, so I don’t miss it one bit. Gave my Palm a new lease on life. The only drawback is a terrible Dock icon, so I replaced it with an icon of Homer Simpson as Mr. Sparkle.

Sidetrack, which I just installed, takes the Powerbook/iBook trackpad and lets you assign areas for scrolling and right clicks. The scroll function alone is great; it’s like I just got an invisible wheel mouse.

VLC used to be a clunky piece of junk, but it’s evolved into my video player of choice. There isn’t a codec (other than some flaky WMV files) it can’t handle, and I’ve thrown pretty much everything at it. It also plays DVDs and VCDs, though the Apple DVD player has a nicer interface.

World Clock Deluxe lets you set up a pile of clocks from around the world on a “clock strip”, which you can then call up or hide with hot keys. I use it for time shifting with the aforementioned Audio Hijack, and also to keep track of what time it is when I’m on MSN with friends in Ontario, or Japan. I also use it to see what time it is in Iraq and Kabul whenever there’s a live story from there on CNN or Newsworld.

Of course there’s the usual gang of Apple applications like Mail, Safari, and iTunes that make life easier too.

Oh, by the way, I just got a “thank you” on Boing Boing for recommending a NYT story about Mickey Mouse’s weakening brand. I’m surprised I beat Cory Doctorow to the punch, as I suspect he is actually connected to the net by neural interface and has a Googlebot searching for Disney ephemera 24/7. 🙂

Warren Frey is a journalist, freelance writer, podcaster, video producer, and all-around media consultant currently based in Vancouver, Canada. His written work has appeared in such publications as Metro Vancouver, the Westender, Mac | Life and the Japan Times.

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