5 Blogger tools for Mac

Whilst technically all you need is a blog and a browser to start blogging, there are some other bits of software you can use that make your life a little easier.

Here’s a list of options for Mac users:

1. Skitch

Easily my number one choice, this is a phenomenally useful tool, which I don’t think is available on any other platform.

Skitch is simply a tool that lets you take snapshots of what is on your screen. Sounds pretty unremarkable, but Skitch does some cool stuff:

  • It lets you copy just a small portion of the screen by selecting with a cross-hair
  • It lets you do some simple editing within the application, so you don’t have to load up a ‘proper’ graphics package
  • You can save your image by just dragging it onto the desktop
  • You can post it straight to your Flickr account, a skitch hosted page or your own web host via FTP with a click of a button

For getting image snapshots quickly onto the web, it’s brilliant. And free.

2. Transmit

Transmit is a solid, well performing Mac FTP client. Why use one? Well, if you have a self-hosted WordPress blog, say, you need to upload plugins, themes and that kind of thing to your web host. And when it comes to upgrade time, having a solid FTP client is good for the blood pressure!

Transmit costs a few pennies, but is jolly reliable and so worth the investment.

3. NetNewsWire

NetNewsWire is a desktop based RSS aggregator. I used this for a long while before being won over by the advantages of Google Reader. Others still swear by this though, especially now it has its own iPhone app.

4. MarsEdit

I rather bemoaned the state of the Mac desktop blogging client in a recent post, but since then I have been giving MarsEdit another go. The main issue for me is the lack of a rich text editor, which is good for speed but not awfully user friendly.

Again, it costs a couple of quid but is worth giving a go, especially if you use NetNewsWire with which it integrates rather well.

5. TextWrangler

Sometimes you just need to edit text, and don’t want to mess about. TextWrangler comes from the same people that make the legendary Mac text editor BBedit, which is rather pricey but feature rich. TextWrangler is BBedit’s freebie little brother, and let’s you load up text, html, php or css files and edit them to your heart’s content.

What are your favourite blogging tools? Would anyone like to see a Windows version of this list?

Macbook Wireless Problem

I love my MacBook, I really do (although I am rather tempted by one of these). However, of late I have been having a really annoying problem it and my home wireless broadband.

I generally turn off the router during the night, to let it cool down and whatnot, then switch it on again at about 8 in the morning. The mac gets turned on then to deal with with any email etc that has come in, then I get the lad ready and do the school run. When I get home, the mac is fired up again and I start work.

Then we get to around three in the afternoon, when the Mac suddenly gets disconnected from the wireless, and any attempts to reconnect are doomed to ‘time out’. There’s nothing wrong with the router, and when I start up my lumbering Acer Aspire, which runs Ubuntu, it connects fine. If I am lucky, the Mac will be talking to the router again by about eight in the evening.

This is profoudly annoying. Does anyone know what might be happening here?

My iPhone Apps

Since the iPhone has allowed the installation of third party apps, the utility of the device has increased massively. It just does so much! Here are the ones I find myself using most often:

  • Twitterific – The best twitter client I have used on the iPhone so far. I am still a Twhirl fan on the mac itself, but that isn’t mobile just yet. Still using the ad-supported one, think they made a mistake when they designed the ads to be so easy to ignore!
  • Facebook – the only way I really use Facebook these days. Speeds things up a treat compared to the web version, and the inbuilt messaging service works really well
  • WordPress – only posted once (last night’s test message) using this so far, but it’s great for writing little drafts or notes for potential posts and getting them started
  • EndEvernote – the iPhone app helped me ‘get’ what Evernote could be used for. It allows me to take photos, record snatches of audio or type notes all of which get synced to the EndEvernote desktop app where they can then be exported and used for stuff. I can see myself ditching my Moleskeine for this soon.
  • Google – makes search quicker and easier, and also allows access to other apps, even allowing me to use my Google Apps stuff.
  • Super Monkey Ball – brilliant for quick games here and there, even though I am HOPELESS at it

What other great apps are there I should be using?

Some MacBook Questions

Mac

I do love my Macbook, I have to say, and it gets an awful lot more use than my Vista laptop, which you can see just in shot, shut as usual. Mine is a 2.2 GHz model – the middle range one. I need to get some stuff sorted out for it, and could do with a bit of help.

  1. I want to upgrade my memory to the maximum 4gb. How come it costs £240 from Apple but only £63.44 from Crucial? I mean, I know Apple probably charge a premium but that’s a huge difference!
  2. Photo editing software. I currently have Pixelmator, but it does my head in a lot. Now I have a DSLR I reckon I need something a little better for photo editing. I was thinking Photoshop Elements?
  3. I have a little Sony Handycam that records straight to hard disk. It lacks an external mic capability, which is a pain, but it makes up for that in cuteness. Anyway, it being a Sony, I can’t currently edit the .mpgs that the Handycam exports on the Mac, they just don’t like each other. I found this solution on the web, suggesting using Quicktime Pro (which I don’t yet have) and something called ‘MPEG_Streamclip_1.8.dmg’ to sort this out. Assuming this means I can edit the video on the Mac, should I stick with iMovie or is it worth investing in something like Final Cut Express? Does Adobe Premiere exist on the Mac? I can’t see it anywhere.
  4. Storage. As well as the MacBook and the Vista laptop, I can possibly see myself investing in an iMac at some point in the future. I’d like to have one drive which they all share, or through which they all sync up with. Is this what a Time Capsule could do? For instance, I’d like all my photos to be in one place, rather than spread over 3 different machines, or at least have the same photos on every computer.
  5. 5. How do I hook my MacBook up to an external monitor? It doesn’t seem to have the right shaped hole anywhere on it.

If anyone can help me out on any of these things, I’d be most grateful!

Editing text on a Mac

MacJohn Naughton had a request from a friend for an alternative to MS Word on a Mac. John pointed him in the direction of TextEdit (Windows users, think WordPad), which comes built into OSX. One issue with this was the lack of a wordcount function, which was soon sorted by an extra little bit of software.

I’ve been doing some digging into Mac word processing, and here are some other options:

  • AbiWord – standalone wysiwyg word processor
  • NeoOffice – Mac friendly port of…
  • OpenOffice – the open source MS Office challenger
  • TextWrangler – for pure text editing, no frills or fancy fonts!

Incidentally, I also came across this page, which might prove useful.

Finding Mac Software

I am trying to find all the software I need to make my Macbook as useful to me as my Vista laptop is. Obviously some things are made much easier, like making Skype calls (no longer any requirement for a headset) or video (built in camera, no webcam needed!), but others are proving hard. I need replacements for my social media toolkit.

So far, I have been having most difficulty finding a decent offline blog editor. I guess you might question why this is necessary when WordPress has a perfectly adequate built-in online one, but for some reason I find blogging a much calmer activity when using a desktop editor. I never claimed to make sense 😉

So, I have downloaded MarsEdit, Qumana and Ecto and will be trying these out over the next week or so. I think it is going to be a compromise choice in the end, as it doesn’t look like any of them offer the functionality of a Windows Live Writer or a BlogJet. Ecto has already failed to publish this post once, and crashed, so I would say its days are numbered (not least because it also ballsed up the paragraphs on the post so I had to edit it online anyway. Grr).

Another hunt is for an FTP client, and on this score things are going much better, thanks to my Twitter buddies Laura, Ed and Jenny. I have downloaded Fetch, Transmit and Cyberduck and all seem perfectly adequate. Think it will come down to which I feel most comfortable using rather than functionality.

I have also installed Skype, something called Skitch which I think will let me take screenshots like SnagIt does, and something called TextWrangler for making notes with.

I’ve bought a Mac!

Yes, for the first time in my life, I have bought a Mac – to be precise, a MacBook with 2.2Ghz, 120gb hard disk and a paltry 1gb RAM. That will be the first thing to be resolved, I reckon, but I might wait til next pay day for that treat.

My initial thoughts are good, it seems quick and I got it up and running with no problems at all. It’s a lovely size, which makes it ideal for lugging about, which was my intention really when buying it. Installing software seems easy enough, and so far I have added:

  • Firefox – natch
  • NetNewsWire – RSS reader, a Newsgator product so it syncs nicely with FeedDemon on the PC. Doesn’t seem a patch on FD though – and how the hell do I hide feeds from view which don’t have new items? Grr.
  • Marsedit – hoped this would be a useful replacement for Windows Live Writer and BlogJet, and while it has a nice way of managing images – especially from Flickr – it doesn’t even seem to have wysiwyg editing, which strikes me as being rather backward.

So, am impressed with the Mac, less so with the software. Any hints and tips gratefully received!

Charlie Brooker on Macs

Charlie Brooker, TV reviewing god, has a pop at the ‘I’m a Mac’ ad campaign with his usual savagery:

The ads are adapted from a near-identical American campaign – the only difference is the use of Mitchell and Webb. They are a logical choice in one sense (everyone likes them), but a curious choice in another, since they are best known for the television series Peep Show – probably the best sitcom of the past five years – in which Mitchell plays a repressed, neurotic underdog, and Webb plays a selfish, self-regarding poseur. So when you see the ads, you think, “PCs are a bit rubbish yet ultimately lovable, whereas Macs are just smug, preening tossers.” In other words, it is a devastatingly accurate campaign.

Genius.

Mac and PC

I really couldn’t think of a better pair than Mitchell and Webb to do the Mac and PC thing for the Apple adverts.

Still, they’re a bit annoying. The ads, I mean, not Mitchell and Webb. All this stuff about how Macs can do video and podcasts and other fun stuff, while PCs are only capable of spreadsheets, and that kind of guff. Now, I’m no Windows fan – I spend 80% of my computing time in Ubuntu – but this just isn’t true.

The only difference is that Apple provides the software within the box as standard, the form of ILife. PCs come with all sorts of stuff, depending on the manufacturer, not all of it good. You have to hunt out the decent stuff yourself, which I suppose is the problem for many people.

It reminds me of the early 90s, when the Atari ST was promoted as this amazing music computer, simply becuase it had MIDI built in from the off. The Amiga was a far better system as far as everything, including music, was concerned, but because you had to spend ten quid on a MIDI adaptor, no one bothered. Pah.

[tags]apple, mac and pc, mitchell and webb[/tags]