I am what many would consider a power mac user. Not one that uses a Powermac, but one who uses Macs religiously and tends to know a lot about them. I have been using Macs since the beginning, in fact, before they were even called Macs. I started on an Apple II and actually began my graphics and web career on an Apple Lisa.
In all that time I have used thousands of different types of software. I’ve used everything from 3-D software to Photoshop and the Terminal. One of my favorite catgories of software is called “Free” software. I like it because it is FREE! This differs a bit from other types of Free Software that is more like free speech than just free as in free beer.
Today, I will be listing some of the Free Software that I have found and use and that in most cases beats out non-free software for just being best in the field. Some of these applications I have used for a long time, while others I have just recently discovered but quickly grown to love.
The first application I am going to highlight is called “WhatSize” and it is one of my favorites. WhatSize is an application designed to one thing and it does it flawlessly. From the developer’s own description: WhatSize is a simple tool that allows the user to quickly measure the size in bytes of a given folder and all subfolders and files within it. You would be surprised at how many useless files might be laying around on your hard disks. The files and folders are automatically sorted by size, with the biggest sizes first.
This application is nearly identical to the non-free software called Omni DiskSweeper except that the price is much better; Free! I can’t say enough about this simple program – it just works. It is helpful to find hidden files on your system that are needlessly taking up valuable space.
This is one that I use on a daily basis and I love it for its simplicity as well. I have tried almost all the RSS feed reader programs available today and while some of them are wonderfully overstuffed with features and whiz-bangs, they lacked what I was looking for: a simple, menubar based RSS reader. RSS menu delivers just that. It has everything I need, all in one small compact menubar item or menuling. The developer seems to keep it very updated and the program is super lightweight and takes up very little resources. It’s also running all the time, so I don’t have to worry about checking for news, it just gets it for me.
This is a newer application in my list but one that I am quickly finding hard to live without. It is developed by a fellow web development team and is designed for web developers who need to keep track of lots of information regarding servers, customer login information, and other daily details that can often overwhelm. There are tons of PIM programs out there, but very few that are as well-done and thought out from a web developers point-of-view.
Gawker is one of those applications that bears out of necessity but then shines showing that software doesn’t have to cost a lot in order for it to be valuable. I started using Gawker to access my iSight camera and record movies. I have been having trouble with my puppy (or so I thought) and I wanted to record the times that I am away from home to see what is happening and by whom. Apple requires Quicktime Pro in order to be able to capture movies with the iSight camera. This is just dumb and another reason why I think Apple needs to do away with the whole “Pro” registration racket that it uses, but this is material for another post, another time.
Gawker also offers something that is absolutely vital to what I needed, which was time elapsed videography. Who wants to sit and scan through hours of video watching to see what dog does what and when. Gawker lets me record every 5, 10, 30 seconds or any time value I wish. It also displays a timeclock onscreen which really helps a lot. Overall, Gawker is almost so good, that it really should be distributed with iSight to begin with, although it works with other cameras too.
There you have it, four applications that are free, yet immensly valuable. Hope you enjoy them and if you do, reward the developer by sending them a free beer or by donating to them through Paypal.