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Apps I’m Using: 2013 In Review Edition

14/12/2013

I’ve always enjoyed reading about other people’s setups, especially when I discover some small utility or tool that I didn’t know existed. After a fresh install of Mavericks a few months ago, I figured this is a good time to write up my own list.

Development

AppViz – App Store sales reports. I recently started using version 3, which syncs to a backend service for data collection. There are a few web-only competitors I’ve tried over the past few years, but AppViz is just nicer.

Dash – Xcode documentation viewer. I’ve only used this for a few weeks, but I’ve been impressed. I’ve used similar tools before and always ended up back in Xcode, but it looks like Dash is going to stick around.

Deploymate – Ensures your iOS or OSX project is compatible with older operating systems. I’ve used this to find a couple crashing bugs in Showyou. Like many development tools, this one pays for itself after the first use.

Gitbox – Still my favorite visual git client. I haven’t seen many updates for it this year, but it still works well.

Kaleidoscope 2 – The nicest file comparison app you’ll find, and it integrates perfectly with Gitbox. I use the two on a daily basis.

TextMate 2 – I’ve heard TextMate isn’t the cool kid’s editor anymore, but I’m still using it. I probably wouldn’t have even switched from 1.5 to 2.0 if it wasn’t for better compatibility with Mavericks.

Tokens – A very nice app that handles sending out App Store promo codes. I don’t use it often, but I’m glad I have it every time I do.

xScope – Still a must-have utility for doing UI work.

 General

Dropbox – Dropbox is still a must-have for me. A year or two ago I moved everything from ~/Documents into it. Makes doing a clean OS install much easier.

1Password – I started using 1Password during the version 4 betas, switching over from Wallet.app (which is no long being developed). Using separate, randomly generated passwords is critical considering how often I see website security breaches in the news. 1Password works much better than Wallet, and better still than Apple’s new iCloud Keychain.

Things – Still my favorite task management app. Though there are lots of iPhone competitors I’d like to try, having a desktop app is critical for me.

Aperture – I don’t dislike Aperture, but whenever I use it I feel like there should be something better. If so, I haven’t found it yet.

Cloud – Screenshot and file sharing. Unfortunately it’s a bit buggy on Mavericks, and I’ll probably end up switching to Dropbox for sharing at some point.

Ember – This is where I’ve been putting random images and screenshots. Everything that doesn’t go in Aperture, goes here. Though I gave up on its predecessor (Little Snapper) last year, Ember won me over again.

Melo – It’s a simple app that connects iTunes to Last.fm. Last.fm’s recommendation engine is still my go-to place to find new music.

Simplenote – The new Simplenote app is not quite as nice as Notational Velocity, but I’m giving it time to grow on me.

Tweetbot – The best Twitter client for OSX.

Soulver – A scratchpad for calculations. More useful than a simple calculator, easier to use than a spreadsheet.

VLC – Still the best general purpose, do-it-all video player.

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Blackbar for iOS

26/08/2013

Blackbar is one of those rare games that takes a simple idea and nails the execution. It’s a word game that’s delightfully simple, with an engrossing story behind it. And made in Portland. Get it here.

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Introducing the ZeroNinetyNine.com bundle!

23/02/2012

I’m happy to announce that WeatherMin is now available for $0.99 through the ZeroNinetyNine.com bundle, along with eleven other great Mac apps. This is a special one-day sale, including these awesome Mac apps:

  • SpriteRight
  • Yummy FTP
  • Protect Files
  • iSleep
  • Cockpit
  • Scrawl
  • iDatabase
  • Records
  • Compress Files
  • Deskscribble
  • All-in Yoga

Check it out here!

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MacHeist bundle now available

25/03/2009

If you haven’t been following MacHeist 3, be sure to take a look at the new software bundle, which just went on sale last night. The $39 deal includes some great apps, a few of which were just released last winter. Best of all, it looks like the earlier developer complaints about payment terms are resolved:

So why is Flying Meat participating in MacHeist time around, when I blasted it a couple of years ago? Well, it’s pretty simple. The folks at MacHeist fixed the payment terms after MacHeist 1, and developers are getting a much better deal now. Tada.

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Classics iPhone App

30/10/2008

Most eBook readers let you download books online, or transfer them from your computer. Classics takes an entirely different approach by bundling only a select few books, each with its own cover and illustration drawn from scratch by artists David Lanham and Sebastiaan de With. The result (packaged together with a great custom UI, sound and animation) really makes the app shine in a way that no other eBook reader I’ve seen has attempted. It’s the interface you’re paying for though; all the books are public domain and are available for free through other eBook readers.

Currently 12 books have been packaged and included in Classics. Free updates will include more books in the future. My only concern is the possibility that after two or three more books the developers will stop development and move on to something new. A lot of recent talk about the App Store indicates that sales fall dramatically once your app drops out of the new and featured lists. However, both Phil Ryu and Andrew Kaz have told me via Twitter that they are in fact dedicated to continual updates, and a have a lot of great stuff lined up for it.

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Fundware

28/10/2008

Fundware is just one announcement from United Lemur, a company founded recently by engineer Mike Lee. The idea is for new software companies to start out with a small (but high quality) offering, such as an iPhone App. Visitors to Fundware decide to purchase the application not just on its own merit, but also on the potential of the company itself. If successful, the revenue from Fundware will give the new company capital they need to get off the ground and start producing great full-sized applications.

Most “indie” Macintosh software companies (including mine!) are started with free time and a savings account, not investment venture capital or loans. This seems like a great way to help out developers who have great ideas, but lack the time or money to implement them.

The first featured application is Puzzllotto, United Lemur’s own initial iPhone offering. Apart from being the driving force behind some great applications, Mike Lee has some lofty goals for United Lemur and how it will impact the Mac software development community— I hope he’s successful.

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Thoughts on ExpanDrive

24/04/2008

I started using ExpanDrive today, a SFTP application that uses MacFUSE to access a remote server in Finder. There was a good review of it a few weeks ago at Daring Fireball, and I’ve been hearing good things from several other developers.

The appeal of ExpanDrive is that it “just works;” you don’t have to worry about disconnecting or reconnecting to the server if your network connection changes (working from a MacBook Pro, mine frequently does) or any of the other problems that Finder sometimes has with remote volumes. With the exception of one Finder crash, ExpanDrive has worked very well with me. In no particular order, here are some quick thoughts, both good and bad (I’m currently using version 1.1).

  • I wish ExpanDrive had the option to display “.” hidden files in Finder, like .htaccess. There’s probably a hack to enable this systemwide, but it would annoy me to see them everywhere; I want it enabled just on my webhost. It’s not hard to use Terminal.app to open hidden files, but it would be better if it was an option, like it is in Transmit.
  • ExpanDrive doesn’t let Finder dump lots of metadate files (.DS_Store and ._Filename.txt) on your remote volumes, from what I can tell. That’s good! I was afraid this wouldn’t be the case, and it actually kept me from trying ExpanDrive at first.
  • Finder reports my webhost remote server as an 8TB volume with 8TB free. I could be wrong, but I assume that’s just the maximum volume size, not the actual disk space. It would be great if I could configure this per server, so Finder would report the actual disk quota for my hosting company.
  • ExpanDrive is fast! I’m not just talking about moving bits across the Internet either; copying, moving and editing files is just quicker through Finder than a separate FTP application like Transmit.
  • Bug report. Adding a “,” in the volume name causes the MacFUSE connection to fail. ExpanDrive showed it as connected until I restarted the application.
  • Minor annoyance, but I don’t like the menu bar icon. It’s too three dimensional compared to other menu bar icons, and there’s really no reason for me to use it often. A preference pane would have been better suited, with the option of showing a menu bar icon for users who disconnect and reconnect to drives more frequently than I do.

I still love Transmit, and I’m going to keep using it for some tasks, but I’m probably going to end up buying an ExpanDrive license when the demo expires. The allure of using SFTP reliably through Finder is just too much to resist.

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OmniGraffle 5 released

7/03/2008

Congratulations to Omni Group for the latest release of OmniGraffle earlier this week. I haven’t had a chance to use it much yet, but it seems like an impressive release in terms of features and improvements, as well as taking advantage of new Leopard only technologies.

Omni applications have always had great attention to detail, which is one of the reasons both developers and users love their software. For example, OmniGraffle 5 has two sets of toolbar icons; a normal one for the standard OS X appearance, and a greyscale set that’s automatically used when you choose the ‘Graphite’ appearance in System Preferences. Neat.

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Things for OSX

17/01/2008

I’ve tried several task management tools in the past (including Leopard’s new systemwide tasks system and Anxiety) but I’ve never been able to find one that really matched the way I work. Lately I’ve been using Things, and it’s come closer than anything else I’ve tried in the past. I like the way tasks are categorized by area or project, and the UI is has a very elegant, usable feel to it.

Things is currently offered as a free beta, and I’m looking forward to the 1.0 release. In my experience it’s very stable, but I still ran into a lot of minor issues I’m hoping will be ironed out by the final release.

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NetNewsWire now free

9/01/2008

Get it here. NetNewsWire is a great RSS reader, and I probably would have bought a license back when it was shareware if I hadn’t been waiting for Mail.app’s RSS support in Leopard.

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