The Light Side

True T Tale of the day: We lost half the train at Arlington. The power went out, we sat there for a while, there was a big clunk, then the power came back and we were moving again. When the train went out of service at Park Street, only one of the two cars we’d started with were there. I wonder what happened to the people on the second car. (Cue Twilight Zone music.) It goes without saying that it was a Breda train.

Jerie forwarded me this tale of a mini-switcher. Mini-switchers think they’re only mini-switching…mwhahahahaha!

Ahem. So here are my personal software habits/recommendations, exposed for all the world to see and emulate:

  • Quicksilver ( for keyboard-based navigation. If you’ve used ActiveWords for Windows, it’s something like that. Technically it’s still in beta, but it’s wildly popular. Another popular program along those lines is LaunchBar.
  • NetNewsWire ( for news feeds.
  • OmniOutliner and OmniGraffle ( are hard to describe, but you’ll find something useful to do with them.
  • CandyBar ( for fun. The boxed version came with Pixadex for icon storage.
  • iTerm ( for a tabbed terminal.
  • CyberDuck ( is a free FTP client. There are good commercial ones, too, but I’m cheap.

I’ve heard good things about Keynote and the iLife/iPages/i-other-stuff, but I don’t need them enough to pay for them.

Everything else I use regularly either came with the OS (Mail, Safari, iChat, iTunes) and/or is standard Unix software (Emacs, LaTeX, the built-in Apache server). If you need additions to the standard unix stuff, the place to get them is from Marc Liyanage ( or with fink (, in that order.

2 Responses to “The Light Side”

  1. Buzz Bruggeman Says:

    I think that we, i.e. ActiveWords, do a lot more than QS, and do it better and more intuitively. Have you tried our stuff? Find a PC, try it, and I will unlock a copy for you. I would love to find someone who was a smart Mac programmer who would port out stuff to the Mac. We get requests daily for a Mac version!

  2. Jemima Says:

    Yes, I’ve tried ActiveWords and I still use it on my PC at work. AW may be more powerful in some areas, but I find that QS does more of what I want it to do: QS navigates the filesystem intuitively; AW either doesn’t do it at all, or does it so non-intuitively that I haven’t figured it out in over two months (even though Windows needs navigation aid much more than the Mac does). QS learns keyboard shortcuts on its own; AW expects me to create every shortcut. QS is seamlessly integrated into the OS; AW is as clunky as any other Windows program (not its fault). QS is a launcher that does what it does extremely well; AW is a whole layer of input monitoring on top of a swiss army knife of things to do with those stolen keystrokes. Whether it does them all well I can’t say, since the majority of them are things I don’t want to do.

    Nevertheless, I don’t think of them as competing products. AW lacks QS’s core functionality (file system navigation), and QS lacks AW’s core functionality (input monitoring). I still wish I could have QS on the PC as much as your users wish for AW on the Mac.