Software Review: Delicious Library

Written by: John Fiore

Categories: Reviews

Delicious Library US $40
starstarstarstar
Website: delicious-monster.com

Delicious Library

Chances are that if you’re an Apple fan, you’re also heavily into some form of media. Whether it be music, movies, games, or books you probably have a couple shelves of boxes and discs scattered throughout pouches. Then there are always those friends borrowing your stuff though you know neither of you will remember who has it and if they gave it back. Delicious Library manages what you have, keeps track of where it is, makes recommendations for new content, and looks cool in the process.

Depending on how much content you have, it can take quite some time to get your entire library scanned. This process can be more enjoyable than you might think, as Delicious Library offers you several ways of scanning in your media. The fastest, but probably the most boring way of going about it would be to type out the UPC or title of your product. A more interesting way would be to set up your iSight or webcam and hold the product’s barcode in front of it. The seemingly coolest, yet most expensive way scan your content would be to order their Flic® Wireless Laser Barcode Scanner (US $174.95 and only available while buying a license). It connects via Bluetooth, works up to 50 feet away from your Mac, and can store up to 500 unique barcodes if you’re out of range. Finally, you can also use a USB barcode scanner. In fact if you have an old USB CueCat laying around you can modify it to work with Delicious Library in under a minute.
Continue Reading »

Review: My Craps Game

Written by: Charlie George

Categories: Reviews

Screen ShotIf you have any interest in Craps then this is your a neat app at a price that won’t make you flinch. “My Craps Game” is great for the beginner and the advanced player. For those that don’t know their way around the table, the game helps you out by giving definition to different types of bets. For those who have played it endlessly, you will feel right at home.

Let me say that there is nothing fancy graphics wise about the game, but it makes up for it in the game play. The version that I reviewed was a drag and drop situation while I wished for a right click on the Mighty Mouse to speed up the betting process.

The game is great when it comes to stats, there is a history pane in the right side showing the history of the rolls that have been made. Also is a running count of how much cash you have, how much are you up, or are in the hole. One stat I wasn’t expecting but what is neat is the Points Made(In Craps the Point is the number you want to roll in order to win), and the Sevens Out(If you roll a seven after the Point is made you lose). This gives you an idea on the tide of the game.

You can pick this via download for $15 USD, $29 for a CD. And for those on Windows, because we can, they also offer a Windows version. If you buy the CD you get both versions, so that may be a route you may want to take.

For the money this is a lot of fun, and it’s not too heavy on the gaming budget. With a rating of one to ten it get’s a solid seven, no pun intended. Great game play, though nothing flashy. But still a great item to pick up.

Air Traffic Control: The Wireless Widget Wonder

Written by: Dale Mugford

Categories: Reviews

atc.jpgA few months back I started assiting the fine developers over at SpinTriplet in doing bug and beta testing of their revamped and sorely needed Air Traffic Control dashboard widget for Mac OS X 10.4.

I donated to the cause (the widget is donationware), and poked and prodded them to continue development despite facing a major setback: Apple had released their Extreme ‘N’ Enabler, and blown a hole through the development of a widget that was initially just trying to grapple with the new Intel Macs, let alone a new unratified wireless protocol.

As it turned out, I was of considerable help, having an Intel Core Duo iMac, a Core Duo MacBook, and a Core2Duo MacBook, coupled with both a b/g Airport Extreme and a new Airport Extreme N wireless router. Installing the then newborn beta widget on all three computers, I set to testing and reporting console logs and screenshots for the developers.

Of course, I had a vested interest in all of this: There was no other widget nor application that could accurately display the Core2Duo’s wireless signal strength and scan for networks at the same time.

There are several applications which have since been updated to better work with the new Core2Duo Macs, but I wasn’t interested in an application- I wanted a widget that I could pop open when I’m roaming and traveling to scan for open networks and find the strongest connection areas.

Air Traffic Control has been around for awhile, sporting a few different looks, but its latest incarnation is extremely slick, and still functions as well as it looks even for a beta. Currently at 2.0.1 beta400, Air Traffic Control runs flawlessly on the three Macs I have here at home.

Though updated to work on all new Intel macs, the beta is Universal and works fine for older Macs as well. It’s feature set includes the ability to:

  • Scan for closed networks
  • Scan in ‘active’ mode, scanning more frequently to find networks
  • Prevent unauthorized users from changing your network settings
  • Connect to any type of network (a,b,g,n – if your airport card supports them)
  • Check for AirTrafficControl updates automatically
  • Use the Keychain to store, retrieve and update WPA or WEP passwords
  • View current connection details including network speed
  • Sorts networks by signal strength

There simply isn’t a better Airport widget available which includes both the functionality and the style of Air Traffic Control. It’s one of the handful of widgets that I consider essential for a mobile Mac user, and one in which I had no issue paying for.

Google Docs – Free Web Applications

Written by: Chris Christensen

Categories: Reviews

spreadsheetTwo of the “killer” applications that led to wide adoption of personal computers were word processors and spreadsheets. There are many different projects from Christmas letters to personal budgets that can be created with these applications. The two most popular applications on the Macintosh in this area are Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel, but if you want to buy these applications they can be fairly expensive. The latest Mac version of Microsoft Office (which also includes Powerpoint) costs more than $300.

So what if you could get a word processor and a spreadsheet for free? Better yet, what if I could share those documents with my mother in Cleveland? What if I could help her with her monthly budget spreadsheet by both of us going to the same website with an internet browser? What if I want to work on a novel with a friend in Paris? What if my mother or my friend could see as I made changes in the shared document in real time? If that sounds too good to be true then you have not yet had a chance to use Google Docs.

Google bought a shared document product from a company called Writely and then also created internally a spreadsheet application to create Google Docs. These applications work surprisingly well. They even have revision control so that you can roll back changes that your friend makes to the novel. I could have used this when my best friend from high school and I “collaborated” on a story (He kept killing off characters I introduced).

You will need to use the Firefox browser (or other modern browser) on the Mac as these applications will not work with Internet Explorer or Safari.

Review: Scrivener

Written by: Adam Christianson

Categories: Reviews

ScrivIcon.jpgI’d like to share some brief thoughts about an application I discovered about a month ago (via the magazine MacUser here in Britain) called Scrivener. You can find it on the web at

I’d been using Word or Pages to write my essays for some time, but was always aware that I didn’t feel entirely comfortable writing in those environments. But then I happened to read a review in MacUser UK for Scrivener. It is a brand new app from Keith Blount, a writer who learned Cocoa and became a developer so that he would have an application he could enjoy writing in. Naturally I was intrigued, so I downloaded the trial copy.

From the start, it was obvious that Scrivener had a very different philosophy to the staple word processors. In some ways, it isn’t even a word processor; it’s a draft-builder. Instead of worrying about formatting, Scrivener lets you work on your draft—the actual text—and manage the whole book/essay/play as a large project rather than a continuous flow of paragraphs and pages.
Continue Reading »

Monolingual

Written by: Chris Christensen

Categories: Reviews

MonolingualHave you heard the old joke?

When a person speaks two languages we call them bilingual, when they only speak one language what do you call them? American.

Now that joke may not apply to you but odds are that you don’t speak as many languages as your Macintosh. And if you don’t happen to speak Azerbaijani, Breton, Croatian, Esperanto and/or Tongan then those languages are taking up space on your hard drive. Even if you remember Spanish, French, or German from high school you may not ever plan to look at an application with the user interface set to that language. If you could delete those language files then you would save disk space. How much disk space you will save will depend on how many applications you have installed and how many of those applications come with a multilingual interface. On my computer I saved 2Gb of storage space. A friend saved 4Gb by deleting those files.

One tool that makes it easy to delete the unneeded bulk of both language files (as well as binaries compiled for a processor chip that you computer does not have) is the free application Monolingual. Select what you want to keep and what you want to delete and then press a button and what. Of course, before you do something like this a backup is always recommended.

Editors note: I will second Chris’ recommendation for having a good full backup prior to running Monolingual. You may remember a time when I recommended Monolingual on the Maccast prior to them adding Universal support. Needless to say some Intel Mac owners were not too happy. The application is Universal now, but still caution is always smart when modifying your system at this low a level. I personally avoid the need to use a tool like Monolingual by doing a custom install and only loading the desired dialect when I re-install OS X (which I will do when Leopard is released).

Review: The SIMS 2

Written by: Adam Christianson

Categories: Reviews

The Sims 2

The SIMS 2 USD $49.95
Website: aspyr.com

Ok, before you say, “A game on my Mac, you can’t be serious!” Well my friend I am serious. Yeah working with your digital music, pictures, and videos is great but under the hood of that Mac is gaming power that has been unleashed for your pleasure. I am a big supporter of gaming on the Mac. Ever since switching from my PC to the Mac I have found that games just look better on the Mac. The computing power whether it’s a Power PC or Intel based Mac, you will find Mac bliss.

If you are asking yourself, “Will it run on my Mac?”. You will be pleased to know that it runs very smooth on my iMac G5. If you are not sure, Aspyr has a game agent which will tell you if the game will play on your Mac. You can pick it up for free at www.aspyr.com.
Continue Reading »

AMIE Street

Written by: Alex Curtis

Categories: News, Reviews

We’ve reviewed iTunes Store alternatives on MacCast before, so I thought I’d take a look at a new and innovative music service that incentivizes indy music discovery while compensating artists—all without DRM.

Coming Out

Last Monday, all the world was aflutter about AMIE Street. It’s an online music service that does not wrap its music in DRM and employes a unique monetization model that encourages its users to find discover and recommend otherwise unknown music. The big deal on Monday was that AMIE Street signed a deal with “Canada’s leading privately owned record label and artist management company,” Nettwerk Music Group. One of the big name acts under Nettwerk’s label is (are?) the Barenaked Ladies. The big-name group instantly added credibility to the new site and traffic swarms ensued; AMIE Street quickly buckled under the server load, but recovered by the end of the day.
Continue Reading »

Apple PIM Software

Written by: Adam Christianson

Categories: Reviews

Let’s say you’re serious about kicking Microsoft Office off of your Mac. Getting rid of something like Microsoft Entourage can leave a void that is not easily filled. Whereas Microsoft offers an integrated, all-in-one solution with Entourage, Apple gives you a three-pronged approach. Replacing Entourage requires Address Book, iCal, and Mail. Now, these programs are simple to use, and with creative arranging the three applications can be placed on your desktop for simultaneous viewing.

Maybe you’re not a fan of having three applications open. Maybe you like having everything in one window. What are the available personal information managers (PIMs) software out there? This list is not exhaustive, it’s just the best I could get using Google.
Continue Reading »

Down Size your images with Downsize

Written by: Dave Cryer

Categories: Reviews

Downsize screen shotDownsize by Stunt Software, now… what can I tell you about this clever little application? Well, so that I could give you a really good insight into what it offers, I have been using it for the past month. You may well have noticed that all of the images on the Geekanoids site changed. They now all have borders, with rounded edges and a nice subtle shadow, a nice uniform look… all courtesy of Downsize.

The application window is just so easy to get to grips with. On the left hand side you select the source of your images, this can be from iPhoto, a particular folder for batch processing, or you can just drag a single image into Downsize. You can also set a destination folder for your finished images. The right hand panel consists of three tabs, resize, watermark and frame, each determining how your image will look.

In the ‘Resize’ tab you set the maximum width and/or height that you want your finished image to be. You can also choose a sharp or smooth quality and a compression quality. Just using these settings alone give you a useful way of resizing your images quickly and easily, but there’s more…
Continue Reading »