Home > Uncategorized > My Mac Apps, 2014 Edition

My Mac Apps, 2014 Edition

So, two years ago, I thought I’d start an annual series on the apps that I use on Mac OS and on iOS. I didn’t update either of them at the end of 2013 because not much had changed. On the Mac side, that’s still surprisingly the case.

So, instead of re-iterating the whole list, which hasn’t changed much (go read that first), I want to highlight what’s new to the fold and what’s been dropped.

New Hardware
Only two changes, but they’re pretty big

• It was finally time to get a new home machine, so I’m now on a shiny still-feels-new late-2013 Mac Pro that I still call “the wastebasket.” It’s gotten more stable with each update of Mavericks (I finally just upgraded to Yosemite yesterday) and I’ve gone from being mostly unhappy with it (despite the blazing speed) to now tolerating it. Still flaky for a lot of USB things from time to time, but overall most of the kinks are out.

• I’m now using a CODE Keyboard, the model with the Cherry MX Clear switches (105 keys). The feel is very good. It’s still not as quiet as I’d like, but it’s tolerable. I actually still keep the old Logitech DiNovo Edge around for when USB dies on the wastebasket or when I’m on a telecon and really need a quiet keyboard. I wasn’t sure how I’d like this, but within a week or two of having one at home, I had to buy a second one for my campus office.

• The one downside to the CODE keyboard is the lack of, or rather somewhat klunky solution for, media keys. Thus, I un-mothballed my Griffin PowerMate for handling audio controls. Works fine under Yosemite, too.

New Software
Again, surprisingly little has been added to the fold here over the last two years. The Big 5 are still BBEdit (now at version 11, which is a highly-recommend upgrade), OmniOutliner Pro (now with the useful OmniPresence and hopefully with an iPhone version coming soon), LaunchBar, Keyboard Maestro, and Dropbox (though I rely on this slightly less now).

However, there are a few new things that have made appearances:

• DEVONthink Pro Office. Probably overkill for what I use it for, but it has its uses. In particular, I use it to archive old email, to manage my PDF library of academic journal articles, and as a storehouse for scanned documents.

Evernote. Last time around, I was using SpringPad for cross-platform storage of notes and snippets, because the Evernote TOS were horrible. They’ve changed their TOS and the software has improved a lot as well, so I’ve been using this a little in place of the defunct SpringPad. Again, this seems like a powerful tool that I’m only scratching the surface on.

• ReadKit. I’m one of those holdouts who still reads a lot of Web content via RSS. With the death of Google News, I needed a new client, and this was the one I went with. Nothing to rave about, but no complaints, either, and since I am indeed one to complain about crappy software, that’s saying something.

• Bartender. Laptop displays just aren’t big enough for all the crap in my menubar these days. Well, with this, it’s all good.

Software Gone or on the Way Out
In addition to the small number of new things, there are pieces of software on the 2012 list that I either don’t use anymore or am in the process of getting rid of. I’ll provide a brief explanation of the issue with each one.

• Yojimbo. Ahh, Yojimbo. This is actually one of my favorite pieces of software—so why drop it? Because, essentially, data stored here is trapped on the Mac. Technically, there’s a version of Yojimbo on the iPad, but it is, unfortunately, not very good and it never syncs properly with the Mac version—and the sync is manual rather than automatic. Bare Bones offers a sync service for Yojimbo but that’s only between Macs and has a monthly fee. This is just not a tractable situation, so I’m going to be migrating to a mix of other applications: 1Password for software serial numbers and passwords, DEVONthink for PDFs that I don’t need mobile access to, and probably Evernote for short notes and other miscellany. It’ll be a very, very sad day when I complete all this, but I think it’s necessary. When I travel not for work I don’t bring a Mac, and I’ve just had too many recent episodes where there’s data I need, but it’s stuck in Yojimbo and I can’t get to it. Sad but them’s the breaks.

• RStudio. I use R more than ever (but still not for big repeated measures analysis, alas), but I have given up on RStudio. Basically, while I like the IDE framework and some of the tools, the editor is just a piece of crap that has years-old known bugs in it that I just couldn’t stand anymore, so now I just use BBEdit and the raw R software. There are things I miss about RStudio, but not enough to justify going back to it.

• NetNewsWire. My favorite old RSS reader just would not keep up with the times. No Feedly or any other form of cross-machine/cross-device sync? Really? In 2014? Bye.

• OmniGraphSketcher. When the company that makes it stops, it’s time to give up. Not much of a loss, though, really.

• Interarchy. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with it—I haven’t replaced it or anything—I just find that I never use it anymore.

Under Consideration
While I still like MacJournal, it’s a little limited as a blogging tool when you want to mix images and things like code snippets, so I’m thinking about taking the plunge with something like MarsEdit or Desk.

The other thing that I’m still searching for is a good to-do list manager—just like I was at the end of 2012. I own OmniFocus but I basically never use it because it’s just so klunky. It’s tied to the GTD productivity cult, which I guess is OK, but I’m not really into that, so it’s just extra hassle. I’m told Things has similar issues. Basically, what I need in a to-do list manager is:

  • Hierarchical lists that can be re-organized by dragging (not by “priority values” or due dates whatever OmniFocus uses)
  • Dated, recurrent items (but dates don’t force order in the list)
  • Automatic sync between Mac, iPad, and iPhone
  • No GTD cruft, or at least the ability to ignore that stuff
  • It would be nice if it didn’t cost a small fortune like OmniFocus (and Things)

Right now I basically just use OmniOutliner to keep a list because it’s the best hierarchical list editor I have access to, but it doesn’t have recurrent items and doesn’t sync invisibly with my iPhone, so that’s why I’m still looking. I’m planning on checking out Todoist and Clear. What else should I look at? I tried Wunderlist but it doesn’t handle hierarchy in a way that works for me.

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