Friday, September 09, 2005

Freebie Friday

I am a free software junkie. There's just something magical about that four-letter word that draws me like chocolate. But I try to be careful about what I download. Most of the applications I mention here I found through Macworld or, and I haven't had any unpleasant experiences with them. But, as always, your mileage may vary. (By the way, this is all Mac stuff. When I refer to Cocoa-native applications, it means those that were made to integrate fully with OS X.)

MacJournal is a truly nifty and useful journaling program. It allows you to have multiple journals related to different topics. I have one devoted to work stuff; one for personal thoughts, articles, random cartoons; and one related to writing. It's very easy to use and it's a Cocoa-native application, which means that it works with OS X's services options. I can highlight text in Safari, for instance, and save it to a journal entry. It also allows you to preserve formatting. This comes in handy when I'm wanting to illustrate a tip for InDesign so I can remember how it works. Another excellent feature is that you can upload entries to Blogger or Live Journal. In fact, I'm writing this entry in MacJournal even as we speak. I'll be able to upload it, with links intact, to my blog and not have to tweak it. I use the free version, but Mariner software bought it and has put out a newer version with even more features, but it's still pretty inexpensive. But the free version does everything I need and it's still available.

Hallon is another little application I use all the time. It lives in my menu bar where I can access it whenever I need it. (by the way, hallon is Swedish for raspberry, and that's the icon it uses) Hallon allows you to bookmark items on your computer. It works best with Cocoa-native applications such as iTunes, Safari, Mail or the Finder (it also works with Firefox), and its functions are fully available when it's a start-up item. (You don't have to make it a start-up item, but it doesn't seem to work as well.) I've found it most useful for accessing the publication files I'm currently working on. I have hundreds of files on my computer related to extension pubs that fall under my "beat." They're organized, but it's still time consuming to scroll down to where the particular pub I want is. With Hallon, I can select a folder, choose Add Quickly in the Hallon menu, and then when I want to work with that pub, I just find it in the Hallon menu. I use this application every day and I like it a lot.

Meteorologist is the menu bar weather bug I use. It's another start-up item and I've found it quite functional. (We haven't upgraded to Tiger here, yet, so I don't have the nifty weather widget.) One neat thing about Meteorologist is that I can have weather info about multiple cities. So at a glance, I see the Manhattan, Kan., weather, but if I click on the weather icon, I can also see that it's 48 degrees right now in Soldotna, Alaska, where my daughter Megan lives. Another neat feature is the little icons displaying what the weather is actually doing. The application will also take you directly to pages. Very cool. One thing I've discovered about Meteorologist, it doesn't show up in the menu bar when some other applications are active, but that doesn't really bother me. I just click on the desktop and then check the weather.

So that's a little glimpse into my addiction. (When we upgrade to Tiger, I suspect I'll go Widget crazy!) I could tell you more, but I'll save that for another edition of Freebie Friday.

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