I recently wanted to do some quick vector image work, which I haven't really needed to do in quite a while. I am by no means a graphics person and certainly not a power-user. I just need to do some of the basics occasionally, preferably without getting totally overwhelmed. I limped along for a while when I first got a Mac using my beloved linux apps, Gimp and Inkscape, which I used for years previously, but I really can't stand using X11 on a Mac; really, it makes me a bit batty. A while ago I ended up buying Pixelmator to replace Gimp and I've been pretty happy with it. It satisfies most of my minimal graphics needs, but I never got around to finding a decent vector editor, and sometimes you just need vector. Today I ended up doing a quick search on The Google and asked for recommendations through Twitter. My criteria are pretty simple: under $100, native Mac app, and simple enough for me to get a basic project done without reading a whole damned manual. I ended up downloading four apps to try out:
I make a fair number of video tutorials. A few people told me about a new application for Macs called Screenflow ($100) by Vara Software and there seems to be quite a bit of buzz around it. I love playing with new toys so I immediately downloaded it. One thing to keep in mind during this post is that I am not a video "master." I can't even keep codecs straight.
A year and a half ago I was playing around with blogging clients on Windows. That happened to be shortly before I bought my MacBook Pro and so I never really kept playing with them. I wasn't blogging much and it dropped even more for much of the last year so I hadn't even installed a blogging client on the MBP. I'm finally getting back to more consistent posts and composing in the browser is really starting to bug me again.
I never, ever thought I would utter those words. I am kind of a cranky old lady when it comes to "Web 2.0 social boogyboo blah blah" talk. I don't have a Facebook account (and won't get one no matter how many times I get spammed with requests) and I don't use things like del.icio.us. I'm sure they are useful, but they just don't work in my "flow." I don't "get" them in my life.
Getting my new MacBook Pro has been a much longer story than it ever should have been and I'm not going to go into all of the gory details. It started by ordering one online and then two days later Apple announced the release of the new Core 2 Duo. Eh, hey that is a better machine for the same damned price I paid for the old one! Suffice it to say that I have been the owner of a new Core 2 Duo 15" MBP for two weeks now. And I am freakin' loving it. I still love Ubuntu and will keep using it on my desktop but I really am impressed with what Apple has going here.
UPDATE: I have written a more current, relevant post comparing Ecto and MarsEdit, March 30, 2008.
Always in the pursuit of more toys, um, I mean tools, I have been trying out two desktop blogging applications. What's that mean, you ask? This is software that you install on your computer that will let you write and publish posts to your online blog. That means that I am currently writing this post from my laptop and I don't have an internet connection. When I'm done and I get back to an internet connection all I have to do is publish it. The reason I am looking at this type of tool is because I am a train commuter and I do a lot of work on the train. Normally I am coding away but I'd like to have a convenient way to write posts for my websites as I think of them. Sure, I can write something up in a word processor but then I have to copy and paste all of it when I log in to my site and if I am using pictures I have to upload the pictures and add them in too. What a pain. I am also checking this out for potentially recommending it to clients who have similar needs (or just don't like composing on a web page).
I have been playing with the new Linux beta for the graphics program Xara Xtreme. It is vector program that really is spiffy and the price is right. The Linux version is free although there will eventually also be a paid version which will have non-open source resources, like Pantone colors. The Windows version costs money but, seriously, its only $79 and for the quality of the program that is a total steal.
I have finally gotten around to seriously testing out some different IDE (Integrated Development Environment) for my PHP coding. I currently use jEdit as an all-around editor and I love it. It has PHP parsing (but no fancy autocomplete stuff), FTP, project management, snippets and some really good XML plugins but the big hangup I have with it is that, for some reason I can not discern, it is totally jacked up on my Dell laptop when no AC power is plugged in.
RSS is very difficult to explain to someone who hasn't seen it in action. I end up describing it (very generally) like so:
So, I found a nice little tool to help me wade through the web called toread (via Lifehacker - one of my favorite "that's a useful tool" sites.) Basically all you do is sign up at toread with your email and then add your own special bookmark to your browser. Whenever I come across a site I don't have time to read I just click my toread bookmark and it gets emailed to me so I can check it out later.