Vegard Skjefstad

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Feed

A couple of days ago I stumbled upon NewsFire, an RSS and Atom reader for OS X. Syndication is nothing new, it’s a service that virtually all blogs on the interweb has – even online newspapers are using RSS and Atom syndication these days.

Still, I’m personally not a big fan of it. In general, RSS and Atom will only present you with text and pictures without the design that you’d usually see when accessing the content directly on the website it originated from. And the design is an important part of the whole feel of a site.

So I doubt that I’ll ever start using an RSS reader, I’d still do it the old fashioned way – by visiting the site. It might take a little longer, but that’s quite all right. If I ever do feel the need for an RSS reader, the bundled reader in Opera would probably be my choice. No bells nor whistles, but still more than enough features for me.

All this said, I realize that syndication is what the people want these days, so I’ve fixed my RSS and Atom feeds. They now feature the whole entry, not just the first paragraph and they I’m using FeedBurner for statistics.

RSS 2.0 feed through FeedBurner. RSS 2.0
Atom 1.0 feed through FeedBurner. Atom 1.0

Enjoy.

Software v2.0

To continue my software ramblings from the other day, here’s the rest of the list.

One of the problem areas on OS X is graphics tools. So far I’ve been unable to find a good piece of software for my needs: To create quick website mockups and minor adjustments to my digital pictures. PhotoShop is of course the package to use for everything, but it’s not an option on my budget. I’m currently using GIMP, but I really dislike the interface – I’d like to have only one window I have to interact with, please. Also, it’s using Windowsish shortcut keys, which is a bad thing since I’m finally getting used to the OS X layout. If you have any suggestions for a budget graphics package for OS X that works, I’m happy to hear you out.

Finding a good text editor was a real PITA. I need something that handles both text (for writing my entries before I post them) and code (for, you guessed it, coding). I first tried the free TexWrangler 2 and it seemed like a good alternative until I realized it was messing up the encoding of the code I wrote when I was implementing the CAPTCHA. I switched to TextMate and haven’t had a text-related worry ever since. It’s a bit expensive, but it works.

Another area where I’m struggling is audio. I’ve been searching high and for a good alternative to iTunes, but it’s nowhere to be found. I’m prepared to award you if you have a suggestion that I actually start using! iPod synchronization, global hotkeys, CD ripping, streaming and a better interface are features I’m looking for.

For Instant Messaging I’ve been a long time Miranda user. It’s to bad it’s not a cross-platform client, or I would’ve used it. As a respectable alternative, I’ve found Adium. The first version I tried was a mess, but now I’m up to pace and using the beta builds and they contain most of the features I missed from the latest stable release.

That was another entry that was of little to no interest to most of you, I guess. Still I wrote it and you, for some reason, read it. Now go out and play.

Software

Back in May I bought a 17″ MacBook Pro. The computer1 was rather expensive and – if you look at it with you rationality-goggles on – probably not the best value computer you can buy if you compare performance and price to other brands and models. That the MacBook can double as a heater is of course something that counts in its favor, but it’s just not enough.

Still, I’m a happy Mac owner and plan to stay a happy Mac owner for the foreseeable future. Even if the grey box has its cons, like the lack of a hard drive activity LED and that iTunes is a piece of shit software – don’t even get me started – it makes up for it with its pros, like the brilliant screen and unbeatable coolness-factor.

The number of Mac users reflects the availability (or rather the lack) of software and free software in particular. I used quite a few weeks to try to find good, free software that I could use for my everyday tasks: Web browsers, FTP clients, text editors, e-mail clients, IM clients and whatnot, but in a few cases I ended up with software that set my back a few bucks.

The choice of web browser was easy. Opera is my browser of choice, and it kicks just as much ass on OS X as it does on Windows. And it’s free. Can it be better? The Firefox posse will probably tell you otherwise, but don’t let them get to you. Even if it’s not OSS, it can be excellent software.

While I’m writing this, my MacBook Pro starts to make some very strange high-pitch clicking sounds when I’m typing on the keyboard. It’s like someone is quickly opening and closing a really old door that has not been greased for a long time. Bad sign? Probably.

Anyway. I’m using Thunderbird as my primary e-mail client, but I’m considering moving to another one. The SPAM filter is not that good and the OS X implementation is extremely slow. Delete an e-mail and it takes a second before it actually disappears from the screen. I’ve heard that the Apple e-mail client that comes with OS X is quite good, so I’ll probably give it a go.

I started with Cyberduck for my FTP needs. It’s free but it proved to be rather unstable and didn’t have an interface I liked. You have to use Finder to browser local files, and I don’t like having a million windows open at the same time. On Windows I used FileZilla, a marvelous piece of free software. On OS X I decided to go with Transmit 3, which set me back a couple of dollars but looks stable and works like a charm.

Now, this entry suddenly turned into one of those behemoth entries that no one actually reads, so I think I’ll just stop writing and go through the rest of the list later. Also, the strange squeaking noises are getting louder as I type. Weird.

Plugs

A couple of days ago I found the most excellent plugin for Winamp. At work I usually tend to lock my workstation when I leave the desk. Maybe I’m a bit paranoid, but you never know. I also listen to music at work, but it’s a PITA to have to stop Winamp every time I leave the desk. Not anymore: BitchSoft Auto Pause automatically pauses Winamp when you lock your computer and un-pauses it when you log in again. A real gem.

Talking about music and gems, it looks like the good guys over at Soma FM have yet another virtual radio channel on the air for us, Space Station Soma. Spaced-out ambient and mid-tempo electronica. So far it sounds like a nice blend between Bluemars and Groove Salad, just right for those first sixty minutes at work in the morning.

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