Essential Free Software For The Mac

A new Mac buyer recently asked me for the best starter set of software for a new Mac. I am very Apple — which means I have an iPhone, a Mac, an Apple TV and an iPad, so I like things that let me work across all my devices seamlessly. For all office work I highly recommend Apple’s Pages, Numbers and Keynote apps — they are very very good, are free, and work everywhere (except the Apple TV). You won’t find a note-taking app in my list because I’m using Apple’s inbuilt Notes. I also use Mail, Calendar and Address Book — all default apps. And I can’t even begin to talk about how good iMovie is for video editing (I have been editing video since 2005, and while my professional video editing days are behind me, I love how easy iMovie makes life for me).

Anyway, here’s my list (and I would recommend installing in this order):

Essential Software:

Onyx
System Cleaner
Run it once and then set it up to auto-execute on a weekly/monthly basis. It will clear your system of un-needed files.
http://www.titanium.free.fr/onyx.html

Dropbox (iOS + OSX)
Cloud Storage
I used only free storage for around a year, now I pay for a Terabyte of storage. I cannot imagine life without Dropbox.
https://www.dropbox.com/install

Cyberduck
FTP Client
And not just FTP, supports S3, Azure etc.
https://cyberduck.io/

Transmission
Torrent Client
My favorite way to download files — uTorrent is a very good alternative, but for some reason I’ve always preferred Transmission.
http://www.transmissionbt.com/download/

The Unarchiver
File Compression
Zip, Rar and almost every other file compression format is supported
https://itunes.apple.com/app/the-unarchiver/id425424353?mt=12&ls=1

VLC
Media Player
Plays every media file out there. I use it instead of Quicktime.
http://www.videolan.org/vlc/index.html

Handbrake
Video Format Transcoder
This is what I use to convert video files into formats supported by iTunes so I copy stuff over to my phone/ipad.
https://handbrake.fr/downloads.php

Brackets
Text Editor
If you code, you’re going to love this. If you like text-editors, you are going to love this.
http://brackets.io/

Gimp
Photoshop Replacement
As powerful as Photoshop and ridiculous overkill for most people.
https://www.gimp.org/macintosh/

Pixelmator (Especially, if Gimp feels like too much)
Image Editing
Powerful image editing — most of you will be happy with this.
http://www.pixelmator.com/mac/

Inkscape
Illustrator Replacement
Ridiculously good. Seriously.
https://inkscape.org/en/download/mac-os/

Pocket (iOS + OSX)
Article Reader / Saver
My favorite way to save articles I live/love — I have a pocket button in my browser, the app on all my devices and I love it. And I love the clean interface it gives me to read articles.
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/pocket/id568494494?mt=12

Reeder (iOS + OSX)
RSS Reader
Old school 🙂 Still use an RSS Reeder and send almost everything I like to Pocket to read later.
http://reederapp.com/

Monolingual
Removes unwanted language files (saved 3+ GB of space when I ran it recently)
https://ingmarstein.github.io/Monolingual/

Buying A New Phone: iOS vs Android vs WP7

 

I need a new phone. My Nokia E71 has served me faithfully for the last two+ years. I bought the E71 after Shyam Somnadh (@codelust) recommended it to me — mostly by waving his own E71 around. I’ve had no major complaints, and have loved the battery life going two-three days without having to charge it.

I decided to be a little more scientific this time: I have a checklist, and I’m not buying the first phone I see. And I’m documenting the process — now we all know that documentation makes everything scientific and process driven. I mean, how many software companies do you know that go on and on about how process driven they are? Of course, most of them are body shopping experts that learnt documentation from the US Embassy while applying for visas. But hey, I’m not knocking them, I’m paying the highest compliment by emulating them 🙂

Let’s start with that checklist:

Number One: The phone needs to cost me less than a decent laptop. That immediately rules out the iPhone 4 and the Samsung Galaxy S2. I’ve set myself an outer limit of INR 29,000 (approximately $650).

Number Two: Battery life is super important to me. I use the phone a lot, both for voice and data. So, I need a phone that nots going to conk out in the middle of the day.

Number Three: It needs to be pretty. I like design and typography. And while I’m not great at design or typography, I know good stuff when I see good stuff.

Number Four: It needs to be reasonably future proof. There’s no point in buying a phone and then it going completely obsolete in six months. The E71 is a bad example, but it still works fine and lets me check email, get on to twitter, make phone calls and send texts.

I’m plan to buy the phone online at http://www.flipkart.com — I don’t have the time to go to a mobile store and butt heads with uninformed salesmen. Along the way, if you know a place where I can get a great deal, I’m listening.

Let’s start with a list of phones (ordered by price):

Phone OS Price
Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Android 2.2 INR 21987
Dell Streak Android 2.2 INR 24399
Motorola Milestone Tablet Xt720 Android 2.2 INR 25299
Samsung Google Nexus S Android 2.3 INR 25499
HTC Incredible S Android 2.2 INR 26399
iPhone 3GS 8GB iOS INR 27799
Samsung Galaxy SI9000 Android 2.3 INR 27999
HTC HD7 Windows Phone 7 INR 28292

The phone that’s currently out of stock is the iPhone — but more on that later.

I’m using reviews at Phone Arena, Anand Tech, GSM Arena, and Phone Dog to figure out which phone is good for me — but I still don’t know.

Stay tuned for Part Two.