I _Really_ Don't Know

A low-frequency blog by Rob Styles

Back on OS X

I've been head down for a while on work things, doing a whole load of data munging as well as the usual dev work. But my Mac went pop a couple of weeks ago and Apple decided the best thing was to replace it rather than fix it; fine by me. It seemed like a good opportunity to look at what I have installed and list what's on my machine and why:

iWork 08

Makes work life so much easier than with Office. Keynote and Pages are a joy to work with on the odd occasion where I have to write something other than code.


I know lots of mac users insist on using Safari and I agree with them that Safari's a great browser, but the extensions for Firefox are too useful, and we have one or two internally that help a lot. Firefox has to be the default. Extensions that go on straight away are: Web Developer; Firebug; Duplicate Tab; Download Statusbar; Greasemonkey; del.icio.us Bookmarks; and Resizeable Textarea.


Very simple torrent client that seems to behave itself nicely.

Sun Java 5

Got to have the real deal installed and running. The standard one shipping with OS X seems fine too.

Eclipse PDT

Much of what I do is a mix of Java and PHP right now. A departure from a few years ago. Eclipse PDT works really nicely. I'd rather be using Coda for the markup, but can't justify it right now.


The slickest source repository software I've ever worked with. Simple, fast and elegant.


We use IRC a lot to keep in-touch and ask quick questions, this is a great client, with customizable alerts and the ability to put in a sequence of auto-commands for when you connect to a server.


The best multi-network IM client I've ever used.


Of course. Phone home.


I said a while ago I wasn't going to twitter any more. I was too hasty. When I moved over to the mac someone mailed me twitterific and it makes Twitter useful.


Skitch is great - grab bits of screenshots, annotate and drop into emails, doc or post to their online service. Simple idea executed really, really well.

Password Gorilla

I've been using Password Safe for years, but moving to Linux and Mac I needed something else. Pasword Gorilla is compatible with Pasword Safe, so I can just move my password files from machine to machine easily and securely.

Mac The Ripper

Rips DVD images onto your disc, allowing them to be played by DVD Player while the disc stays at home. The other advantage is that the hard-drive uses loads less power, so you can watch at least a whole movie while on a flight - on one battery.


This great little tool takes a whole load of WMA files and converts them to MP3 and registers them with iTunes. A painless way to migrate from WMP.

VMWare Fusion

I run XP very occasionally and Ubuntu quite often for testing under different OSs. Very handy. I sometimes develop under Ubuntu too, as Fusion can take snapshots I can play easily without wrecking my machine.

Cisco VPN Client__ and Shimo__

Connect to work via a Cisco VPN, nice and easy, fast and reliable from pretty much anywhere. Shimo sits in the menu bar allowing quick connections without having to open the cisco client up.


Open-Source project to make linux open-source projects available to OS X. Equivalent to apt-get or yum package managers. The folks behind this do a great job of keeping the builds up-to-date and providing repositories. There's Fink as well, and I've tried both. I found MacPorts better, but if I'm wrong please tell me!


When I moved over to Mac I very nearly bought NetNewsWire for blog reading. Then I found Vienna; an open-source blog reader that is really good. On of the key things is the way it opens articles into tabs, keeping the feed handy when you've finished.


Not free, but worth the 11GBP it cost me. This is a great little offline blog editor. Hopefully might help me get a little more written here.


Some people may have policy issues with this tool - it's a wireless network discovery tool that also allows you to crack WEP and WPA keys. I've used it to secure my own network, but I also use it to find open hotspots when I'm out and about. It's been moving about a bit, so if the link's broken then let me know. It was hosted from a site run by it's creator Michael Rossberg, but since a change to German law outlaws this tool he has handed it on.

Desktop Manager

I don't understand why OS X doesn't have multiple desktops built-in, but as 10.4.10 it doesn't. This is the nicest of the desktop managers I found. Also works with Smackbook if you're so inclined.

Stuffit Expander

This used to be distributed as part of OS X apparently. But Smith Micro insist on you getting it from them now. Part of the process is giving them your email address; which they then spam until you tell them to stop. Useful piece of software, as stuff still comes in .sit form, but annoying model employed by Smith. They should read cluetrain.

Creatures__ and Creatures 2__

Finally - a little fun. The Creatures icons from Fast Icon are lovely and adorn my most useful folders.

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Tito Sierra

Very nice list, thanks.