I’m still a geek. No really!

Here's an entry to prove that I still do things other than knit and post-structuralism/gender stuff. So there chris!

I must say, while I know most hard core geeks cringe at the thought of google taking over the world, and indeed, that's a concern, I have to say that gmail is really a great mail option, and the prospect of Writely.com (also a google service) and Google Spreadsheet are really quite exciting, and I'll have to see how they hold up under more extreme testing, but I can definitely see virtually replacing Microsoft Office: why run two bloated programs when you can run one and get the same thing done. I so rarely draft in a document editor that it's hardly worth the effort and resources of keeping Word open: most of my drafting occurs in on and offline weblog editors (posted then to private journals/categories) or I use some sort of Editing software like Voodoo Pad or Notational Velocity, or Omni Outliner Pro so for the past few months I've done everything I can to stay out of Word as much as possible. I always keep a browser open anyway, and adding even another glitzy java-ey page open isn't a strain of note, and frankly I like all of the nifty RSS and sharing features.

So as a result, I've been reorganizing my digital lifestyle these past few days, and I think I'm in a better place. I've forwarded a lot of email accounts into my gmail account, including my primary non-academic email account, and I've set up a number of filters in that account (and sorting rules in my Pop mail client) which will effectively allow me to use the web-mail part of gmail and the offline mail client effectively without needing to sort the same email more than once.

I've also set up my calendar/schedule for next semester, and it would be really nifty if I could get iCal to publish to my Google Calendar, but I've not yet perfected that. Seems like I'd need a .mac account or something I don't have on TealArt. If anyone has idea's about that, that would be super nifty. The only other kink I have to work out is that writely.com wants me to respond to a confirmation email that I've yet to receive, despite multiple attempts to get it sent. But it's still beta so hopefully they'll get that sorted out.

Other interesting computer news of note: I've switched away from Opera (again,) to Firefox, and I think this one's going to stick. The interesting thing, is that Firefox, an open source (right? it's GPL and all that jazz?) won the browser war, and on an aesthetic software design level, it has the best and most polished design. I liked a lot of Opera's features for a long time, but Firefox really just works better, and it's gotten considerably better in the past few months I think.

So every so often I think it's nice to go through all of the software programs you use, in part as it is archival interesting, and also because sometimes there are great programs out there that other people can recommend. Keep in mind that I'm running a G4 PowerBook and the Tiger flavor of Mac OS X.

For web browsing I use Firefox, and for Instant Messaging I use Adium. My mail client of choice is Apple's Mail.app (I generally use native Mac apps when I can, as they work pretty well, and the integration factor is nice.) I keep VoodoPad, a Notetaking program discussed above in my doc, though I use it somewhat infrequently. I find that the wiki style organization is unwieldy for most uses, and I feel you have to fight the program to get it to effectively do what you need it to.

I use iTunes, of course, it works and I think it works well as a general content management database (because you can have video's and PDF and other document files in the same database) Though most of my articles/pdf files are not in my iTunes library, I hope to get them added and catalogued at some point. My one complaint, is mostly that my iTunes library is about 50-60 gigs (45 or so goes on to the iPod), and that I fear that I will out grow poor Zoe's hard drive at some point, and iTunes' folder organization can be difficult to manage when it gets large.

My other main note taking program is Omni Outliner, which lets me successfully take notes in class, and organize my thoughts on a number of key research projects. It's an amazingly capable program, and I can almost use it to draft but the problem is that: the formatting is finicky and uncooperative, particularly with regards to margins. I also don't like that you can't produce good xml files (why, I ask, why?) or even a Microsoft word outline. It's a great program, unless you want to get data out of it in a useable format, at which point its only a pretty good program. Have yet to find one better.

NetNewsWire and Mars Edit from Ranchero Software, which are the best RSS and offline Weblog editors for Mac OS by a long shot (and I've tried a bunch of them). Mars Edit, has become the main way I post to this and a number of other blogs. I also do most of my drafting in private blog/categories using this program. The news reader, saves a lot of time, and allows access to a FANTASTIC amount of information, very very quickly. My only complaints are: I don't comment on blogs nearly as much when using a news reader (this is a problem with sam, not the software), and secondly, there's no way to keep my blog reads synchronized with some sort of web based RSS reader (that will keep my folder organization intact: there are 250 feeds, the folders are key).

I also sometimes use iCal, but it's a hard habit to keep, and if it synched with google calendar that would be even better. But so be it.

That's basically it. Word if I absolutely need it. The same of Excel (we'll see how much google replaces these programs though). And that's about it...)

I think that about does it. There'll be more knitting content soon I promise. ;)

Cheers, sam

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