Lynne d Johnson



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12.12.05 06:43 PM

open source is my life

Lately, I've become the Queen of open source tools. Time I should be spending writing, or putting up my new site design, or hooking up with Donald so he can upgrade my MT, or on a host of other things, I end up playing with technology.

It started when I finally decided to drop some ducats on my own 12" powerbook instead of lugging the one from work home all the time. Other than tricking the hell out of the joint and using Candy Bar to replace icons - I've been testing out a bunch of other tools.

Versiontracker was always my best friend when looking for what to download to perform certain tasks, but it's becoming a better friend as of late. I'm very thankful for the ratings and commenting systems that the site employs, offering users an opportunity to get a fair take on products they don't know too much about.

That's how I found Missing Sync for HipTop so I could synchronize all of my contacts and calendar info across my Mac and my Sidekick. And also how I found lifebalance, a project management tool specifically for OS X that helps me to forget that since I don't actually use Windows at home I can't use either Project or Open Workbench.

Photo Manipulation

Now I'd used Gimp on a Linux box and on a Windows XP Machine. Having been a staunch Adobe Photoshop advocate, I just didn't see the need to have it on a Mac. But as Adobe moves to make Photoshop more and more part of a creative suite, it just made more sense to give Mac Gimp a try. I'm impressed. In just a few more revs, this tool may certainly replace Photoshop for Mac users. Well for all users who aren't graphics snobs.


So no one likes NAV or Virex for Tiger, or at least it seemed that way. I tried to figure out what really worked and what would be intuitive to the operating system. Something that made use of its UNIX shell. So I started using ClamXav. Who doesn't love freeware?

Beyond being free though, it really works. I know that Mac OS elitist, especially Tiger users are always like: "We don't have to worry about viruses, what virus?" But we all know we can pass viruses on to PC users - and that's still a large percentage of the computing world.

So I loved ClamXav, but it doesn't repair files. The only option you really have is to quarantine a file or to throw it away. This kind of bothered me when I cam across some old files that I had transfered to my jump drive, that I really couldn't afford to throw away. I ended up subscribing to NAV, but to be honest, I found ClamXav far more interesting to use.

Eventually I couldn't keep them both on the machine. It just didn't make sense to run two anti virus products. NAV won out, because of it's ability to repair files. But if ClamXav could do that, it would still be on my box today.

iPod Utilities

I've used many iPod to iTunes exporters since having my first generation iPod. But none of them work quite as well as the one I've downloaded most recently. Senuti is just faster and works much better than any of these iPod rippers that I've ever used. And if you're a synch freak it makes even more sense.

DVD and Video

In the past couple of weeks, I started testing out 3 tools to help me get some work done with DVD ripping and conversion for streaming and prepping for DVD burning. I don't have a final analysis on them as of yet, but the best one so far seems to be ffmpegX. Like ClamXav, it makes use of OS X's Unix Shell to do some major work. For folks who don't know how to use terminal appropriately, tools like ClamXav and ffmpegX offer some great front end tools to make use of operations that are already available to you.

ffmpegX is probably the most robust Video/audio encoder I've seen to date. On some forums, I've heard of people having some problems with conversion, but overall the tool has served my purposes.

I also checked out Handbrake, a DVD to MPEG 4 ripper/converter and MacTheRipper, a DVD extractor. As I've only recently begun using these products, I don't have much to say about them, but the ffmpegX appears to be the most useful.

Digital Audio Recording

I've been using BlackCatSystems audiocorder for a couple years now. I originally used it to transfer mixes made for MD to MP3s since MD and Mac weren't always such good bedfellows. It served my purposes well. Later, I started using it for interviews, when I felt like carrying a laptop and recording other conversations and sounds. (Yes I know wouldn't a digital audio recording device or attaching a belkin voice recorder to an iPod work just as fine?) Well, there are more things I can manipulate sound wise with audiocorder.

And yet, while I've been using audiocorder all this time, I hear that audio recorder is making some headway. Audio Recorder is free while a full version of Audiocorder costs about $19.99. It really depends on what your needs are though with these two. Audio Recorder gets one point higher rating at versiontracker though.

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