Archive for the ‘Macs’ Category

My Mac Setup (Part 2)

December 8, 2008

In a previous post, I listed my top Mac applications.  What follows are the key web-based services I use to round out my computing experience.

My Top Web Applications:

  1. Gmail.  Quite simply the best email service available, IMHO.  Can’t imaging interacting with email without the threaded messages or Google search capability.
  2. GrandCentral.  As they describe it, “a new way to use your phones.”  Basically it’s a single phone number that rings your other phones when someone calls (with custom settings that allow you to set which phones ring depending on the caller), a  web-based visual voicemail box, and many other call-management features.  Google acquired the service, and unfortunately closed it to new signups.
  3. Google Reader.  Terrific web-based feed reader (so it is always up-to-date regardless of which computer I’m on), and like Gmail has Google search functionality (which is invaluable for researching companies, locating the article you remember reading but can’t find, etc).
  4. Remember the Milk.  A wonderfully intuitive yet powerful and sophisticated web-based task management application.  And with features like the Quicksilver plug-in and the iPhone app it seamlessly integrates into my life, letting me capture and manage tasks without getting in the way.  Free for virtually everything you need, but the Pro account is well worth the $25 annual fee.

My Top Firefox Extensions:

  1. Better Gmail 2.  Add useful extra features to Gmail, like hierarchical labels, macros, file attachment icons, and more.
  2. Foxmarks Bookmark Synchronizer.  Syncs and backs up your bookmarks and passwords across multiple computers.  And unlike Apple’s MobileMe service, it’s free!
  3. SearchStatus.  Toolbar extension that shows Google PageRank, Alexa, etc. data for every website you visit.
  4. DT WhoIs.  Adds a toolbar button for easy access to whois data using’s whois service.
  5. Tamper Data.  View HTTP/HTTPS headers and post parameters, trace and time http response/requests, and more.
  6. TwitterBar.  Allows you to post to Twitter from Firefox’s address bar.

My Mac Setup

December 4, 2008

I fully transitioned to Macs over the past couple of years.  As a long-time PC user, it took me some time to develop a system that enabled me to work as efficiently as I did on a PC.  Like anything new, there was a learning curve.  At this point, I can’t imagine working on anything but a Mac. What follows are the key applications and utilities that tailor my Mac experience for how I work.  In a follow up post, I will list my favorite web applications and browser extensions.

My Top Mac Applications:

  1. Firefox.  Best browser on the market, IMHO.  Safari is fast and stable, but the extensibility of Firefox makes it a winner in my book.
  2. Quicksilver.  Hands down the best productivity application on the market today.  I have tried many times — mostly unsuccessfully — to explain the goodness of Quicksilver, this time I’ll leave it to other experts.
  3. Google Notifier.  A nifty little application that shows you alerts in your menu bar, so you can see when you have new Gmail messages or upcoming Google Calendar events without opening a web browser.
  4. Vocito.  A desktop UI for GrandCentral . It allows you to easily dial anybody from the menu bar, rather than having to open  your browser.
  5. Adium.  Multi-client IM app.  Works with virtually every IM service, only drawback is that it doesn’t support voice chat.
  6. Skype.  To make up for the lack of support for voice in Adium 🙂  Unfortunately not everyone uses Macs, so iChat isn’t an option.
  7. Microsoft Office 2008.  In the business world, don’t really have a choice.  And as much as I love Google Spreadsheets, I just can’t imagine life without Excel!
  8. FolderShare (soon to be Windows Live Sync).  Syncs files across multiple computers (both Windows and Mac).  This simplifies your life immeasurably if you use multiple computers.  And it’s free!
  9. TextWrangler.  Great (free) text editor for programming and other text-based activities.
  10. Transmit.  Terrific and easy-to-use FTP client.  Supports FTP, SFTP, or TLS/SSL, etc.

Some Great Mac Utilities:

  1. Witch.  Freeware window switcher that gives you more control over how you access and switch between open windows with your keyboard.  Unlike Command-Tab, which switches between open applications, Witch enables you to switch between open windows via a user-defined keyboard command.
  2. Growl.  From the developer: “Growl lets Mac OS X applications unintrusively tell you when things happen.”  Kind of difficult to describe, check out the about page for more info.
  3. Precipitate.  Includes information you have stored in the cloud (e.g., Google Docs) in Spotlight searches.
  4. Calaboration.  Syncs Google Calendar with Apple’s iCal app.  UPDATE: Now that Google has enabled calendar and address book syncing with iPhones, I no longer need this.
  5. Screenshot Plus.  Great little screen capture widget.
  6. WeatherBug Alert.  Add weather alerts and live local temperature to the menu bar.

How to Change the Host File on a Mac

February 16, 2008

Changing the host file on a Mac is very easy, but it’s certainly not intuitive. This little tutorial will show you how.

Launch Terminal


sudo su
vim /etc/hosts

Scroll to your desired insertion point and enter the info in this format:

IP address [space] [space]

Then the following to save and close the file:



This comes in handy when doing development on a new site — point your host file to the dev server and test the site before pushing it live.

Remember to delete the entry when you want to go back to the live site. You can also comment out the entry (if you think you may want to use it in the future) by prepending the entry with a # — example:

# IPaddress

Thanks Casey!

Bonus:  Disabling the Firefox DNS cache

File Sharing and Macs

April 13, 2007