Terrence Dorsey

Writer. Editor. Nerd.

Apps of 2012

posted by Terrence Dorsey on Wednesday, 02 January 2013 @ 18:13

2012 was the second full year back using a Mac as my full-time work machine since the mid-90s. The transition from Lion to Mountain Lion hasn't been smooth as I would have liked, but it's still a nice place to get some work done.

In theory, I don't need many tools to get my daily work accomplished: a browser and a text editor handles 90 percent of my needs. Nonetheless, it was interesting to look back and think about the tools that did end up being used on a daily basis.

On Mac OS

My most-used machine is still the 2010-vintage Mac Mini I purchased used two year ago. I'm using it with a Filco Majestouch-2, Tenkeyless keyboard and Apple Magic Mouse. The displays are an old 23" Sony IPS monitor and an even older 20" Samsung.

Chrome is my current go-to browser. Fast and flexible makes up a great deal for horrible memory hog.

Template is a Chrome extension written by Alasdair Mercer that I use extensively for quickly grabbing information about a web page that I can then paste as formatted text into other documents.

Instapaper and Pinboard are my preferred bookmarking/read later services.

TableTools2 is a handy Firefox add-on for grabbing data from HTML tables and pasting it in CSV format. It does other tricks, too.

Sublime Text 2 is my text editor these days. It works enough like TextMate that moving over was a breeze, and now I have a consistent text editing experience across my Linux, Mac and Windows machines.

Reeder is my RSS client of choice, providing a much better window for keeping track of the feeds in my Google Reader account.

TextExpander holds boilerplate bits and pieces of text that I use frequently, and also has the ability to run scripts that grab and insert data on demand. Priceless! Pro tip: start your snippet abbreviations with a semicolon and you'll never have to worry about premature expansion.

Alfred App mostly gets used as an app launcher, but I've slowly been adding extensions (including a few of my own) to automate CLI-like file creation, tweeting, data conversion and other operations. Another can't live without app now.

Witch is Command-Tab task-switcher that's a huge improvement over the default Mac OS feature. I have it set up to work much more like the traditional Windows Alt-Tab functionality of switching between open windows.

Marked is a great app for creating previews and HTML markup of Markdown documents. Created by Brett Terpstra, who's also behind nvAlt, which I use for Crossplatform note syncing.

1Password keeps track of my passwords across iOS, Mac and Windows, and also provides great tools for creating new, strong passwords.

Twitterrific is my preferred Twitter client on both iOS and Mac OS thanks to the unified timeline and being just generally easier to read than other clients I've tried.

Dropbox is my primary tool for sharing important data across devices as well as providing a first line of backup, along with Time Machine. I also use SuperDuper! as a secondary on-site backup and CrashPlan for off-site backup. Yes, I'm paranoid about backups.

µTorrent is my (very) tiny BitTorrent client, for sharing large files and live show trading.

GeekTool is a flexible utility for displaying data on the desktop.

On iOS

I've already mentioned 1Password, Dropbox, Instapaper, Reeder and Twitterrific, all of which see active duty on my iOS devices as well as the Mac.

Camera+ serves as a feature-rich alternative to the native Camera app.

Check the Weather, by David Smith, is my current weather app, and a pretty good one — pretty, not overly information-dense and easy to read. I highly recommend listening to David's Developing Perspective podcast if you're a mobile app developer.

Dark Sky is a different kind of weather app, more focused on current and near future precipitation. Extremely useful if you don't want to get wet.

Downcast keeps track of my podcasts.

Due reminds me to take out the garbage. I'm not a huge fan of the interface of this app — I find setting the time for reminders unintuitive — but it's better than others I've tried for recurring reminders.

On Windows

I don't use the old Windows 7 box much anymore, but I do keep it around for browser testing, working on documents in Office and a bit of PC gaming (which, unfortunately, I haven't had much time for lately).

iRacing.com is still my racing sim of choice. I use a Logitech G27 Racing Wheel.

Baldur's Gate — the classic Windows version — has been kicking my ass for much of the year. I'm really not very good at it, but keep coming back for more punishment.

Black Mesa is my more recent obsession. I was introduced to this universe through Half-Life 2, so playing through a Source engine-powered re-boot of the original Half-Life feels like a long-overdue pilgrimage.

Valve's Steam service and GOG.com are great ways to get games for both Mac and Windows, and getting better all the time.

On Linux

Linux is my preferred server OS for personal projects. Nothing much exciting happens here. I run various flavors of Ubuntu for no other reason than it was at hand when I got started and the documentation is quite good.

Nginx is my web server. I prefer its concise, additive configuration to the Apache alternative.

staticDimension, with a few customizations, is my static blog engine.

AWStats handles my minimal web stats requirements.

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