Mac Fiddling

A big thank you to everyone who provided me with some handy hints on becoming a new MacBook Pro user. Frank’s tip about fixing the Home and End keys using KeyFixer (and KeyFixer for Firefox) has really helped. I’ve also disabled the Dashboard, saving me some RAM and CPU since I never really used the widgets in the dashboard anyway. Instead, I’ve mapped my freed-up F12 key to Visor, which is a drop-down console-like terminal (remember how you’d bring up a console in Quake using the ` key?). It looks like this.

Visor Terminal

Geeky, eh?

By turning on Full Keyboard Access (Ctrl + F7) so that I can tab between everything and not just text fields, and in conjunction with QuickSilver, I’m able to do pretty much everything without taking my hands off the keyboard now.

I’m also enjoying Nocturne for late-night reading. Even better, using the light sensor that controls the screen brightness and keyboard backlight, it can be set up to turn on and off automatically based on light levels.


You might also have noticed that my Dock is way over on the right there, auto hiding. I opted to move it when I realised that it was getting in the way at the bottom of the screen and I wanted to be able to get to it without sacrificing window-height. It’s a wide-screen after all, so I thought I’d use the additional width.

Also recently installed are Twitterific (quite nice, especially when running Growl for subtle notifications). Ecto (sadly not nearly as good at Windows Live Writer), OmniGraffle (not dissimilar to Visio), iStat Menus (much nicer than the widget version), Calico (the Mac user’s answer to Autostitch and much easier than DoubleTake), Adium (for multi-platform chat) and Skitch (to supplement Snapz Pro X for annotated screenshots). TextExpander is the next thing on my list to install and buy, and Light Room (or Aperture. I need to try both really) which I don’t think I really need until I pick up the Canon 450D.

8 replies on “Mac Fiddling”

  1. On my old Acorn machine, I used to have all sorts of utilities along these lines, which would increase the boot up time, but would make no difference to the performance of the machine in use.

    I’d hesitate to install any of these kinds of utilities on a windows machine (well, I can’t get by without strokeit, giving me gestures in explorer), because for some reason it seems like background tasks in Windows always end up going wrong and chewing on your CPU cores. (ITunes and IPodService.exe are by no means exempt from this). Perhaps that’s just because there are so many of them, and manufacturers seem to think you need at least 100 of them that you’ll never use. And why does realplayer or Dell think I need a customized “MessageCenter” task running the whole time?

  2. Yay, kyb is an ex-RISC OS user too. I used to write RISC OS software, and my Acorn A4 got me happily through university.

    That’s some serious customisation. I have admit I rarely use Dashboad, so I’m quite tempted to disable it now too.

    ecto is not as good as WLW, agreed, but it’s OK. I am going to take another look at MarsEdit, too.

    Lightroom. Lightroom. I’ll have to give you a hands-on tutorial.

  3. Actually, in a fit of nostalgia triggered by your comment, I just installed Ovation Pro for Windows. It looks a bit clunky in windows, and perhaps a little unfinished, but wow, it’s fast, after MS Word and Open office, it’s like a breath of fresh air.

  4. I always wanted an A4 but ended up with a RISC PC. I find it amazing how many British programmers I meet who cut their teeth on ARM machines.

    I still miss programming in ARM assembler.

  5. I still have a RISC PC, but it hasn’t been booted in years. All my university essays were written in Ovation Pro on the A4. I suppose I might need the Windows version, if I want to get at them one day. I’m reasonably certain that there’s an A3000 in my mother’s loft, too.

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