Software’s the key

In my previous post I was talking about the importance of finding Universal Binary versions of applications. Today I’m going to expand on that theme a little and talk about some of the software I’ve found useful since making the switch (whether UB or not).

1. XNJB - Richard Low - Freeware - Universal Binary

I’ve talked about XNJB here before, but it was such a wonder to find this bit of software that it belongs right here at the top of the list for me. XNJB permits me to use my Creative Labs Zen Touch MP3 player on Lola (my Intel Mac Mini Core Duo). It seems to work with a wide range of the Creative Labs players, so if you have one and think that now you’ve switched to Mac you’re going to have to buy an iPod - go check this one out.

Two main things to note about XNJB :-

a) If you buy music from iTunes then you won’t be able to play these tracks on your Zen due to digital rights management. The only work around for this is really to burn a CD from iTunes containing the tracks you want on your Zen and then re-rip this disk back into iTunes. You can then transfer and play these tracks on your Zen. Of course there is some quality loss in doing this as you’re adding an extra couple of generations - but it probably won’t be too noticeable.

b) XNJB does not yet support synchronisation. It is on the list of ‘things to do’ for the developer - so worth checking back from time to time.

2. SyncupX - Freeride Coding - Shareware - Universal Binary

One of the first things I was looking for after Lola arrived was a simple and efficient way of backing up all my data. Under Windows I used a shareware application to synchronise certain folders to an external firewire hard disk. I was looking for something similar for the Mac.

SyncupX is that application. I find it fast and easy to use and was the first piece of shareware I registered for my Mac.

The application comes with certain pre-programmed locations that it is aware of to select from, for example ‘~/library/Mail’ or ‘~/library/KeyChains’. Or of course you can add in any folder you like to the backup.

The initial backup will copy everything in the selected locations to the destination you select. Subsequent backups only copy the changes. Any files that have been deleted since your last backup are put into a ‘removed’ folder on the backup medium, so if you zap something, then do a backup before realising what you’ve done, you can still recover the file from there.

There is an inbuilt restore function, or you can simply drag and drop the files from the backup media if you do need to recover anything (probably the easiest if there’s just one file or folder you need to restore).

At the time I registered, a single user license was $20, money very well spent in my opinion.

3. DIM 4.0 - Alan Light - Freeware - Java

DIM, or Digital Image Mover, is something I had been using under Windows for the last several months. I know most Mac users might favour iPhoto for pulling photos from their camera or memory card. I like to maintain my own folder structure and DIM does just what I need.

It’s a Java application so you can run it just as well under Windows, Mac OS, Linux, or anything else you have a Java runtime engine for.

4. Sharepoints - HornWare - donationware - PowerPC

Having a small home network this one has come in quite handy, and it really doesn’t matter that it’s not Universal Binary as all it’s doing is editing various config files for you (note: the preference pane version wouldn’t work for me, and I’m assuming that is because it is not UB - the application version runs fine though)

Sharepoints lets you easily share any folder you like and sets up permissions from a nice easy to use GUI.

5. VueScan - Hamrick Sofware - Shareware - PowerPC

This is another one I used under Windows, but is also available for Mac, and it has been a life safer for me. My Canon scanner wasn’t supported natively under OS X on Intel. I remembered this, downloaded it, installed it, plugged in my scanner - and off it went.

VueScan offers a lot of advanced options for handling your scanning, typically a lot more than the driver software supplied with your scanning. Luckily it also gives you the option to use either a basic interface :-

Or an advanced interface :-

If your scanner isn’t supported under OS X yet, it’s worth giving VueScan a try. Come to that, it’s worth giving VueScan a try even if your scanner is supported under OS X as it gives so much control over the scanning process and will probably give you additional features that your original scanner drivers didn’t give you access to.

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