Monday, May 22, 2006

Welcome to Fontasy Island

When we joined the ranks of OSX users, we left many good friends behind in OS9. Adobe Type Manager and Type Reunion were two especially loved programs, the first for its font management capabilities (which thankfully, Suitcase Fusion, FontAgent Pro, Master Juggler and others have supplied), the second for its ability to group font families into hierarchal menus and show the actual fonts in the menus.

The folks over at Unsanity (love the name) have contributed many "haxies" for OSX users, maybe none so under-appreciated as FontCard . For a mere $17, you can have all the font info you could want in any application, at your fingertips. Font name, format, family, and WYSIWYG display. You can turn individual features on and off and disable for particular programs in the Preference pane. Wrangle that ever-scrolling font menu down into something more manageable and more organized. Try FontCard.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Default Lies Not Within the Stars...

Don't you hate wasting time navigating to your folders in Open and Save dialog boxes? Drives me crazy. It feels like I spend more time doing that than working in my programs. Or how about doing a Save or Open and realizing you need to Delete, Rename, or Trash a file or folder? You have to cancel, switch to the Finder, perform the operation and then switch back to the program. What a hassle. The people at St. Claire Software thought enough was enough and came up with Default Folder.

Default Folder is a natural extension of OSX which adds a special menu on the right side of every Open and Save dialog box. Here you can find many of the same commands available to you only when you're in the Finder like Rename, Get Info, Trash, plus navigation shortcuts like a Favorites list, Recent list and Window switching. Two great additional features are the "Bounce Back" command that automatically will return you to the last place you navigated to and the ability to click on a file in the dialog list, making it the default Save name.

I use it so much I don't know what to do when I'm on another system without it. Like going from a two-button mouse to a single-button mouse. A great program. Only $34.95. Try it out and see.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Spotlight: To Repair and Protect

Here are some of the tools and methods I employ on my and my client systems in order to protect them and to fix them when they are having problems:

  • Anti-Virus. Yes, it's true that Macs are less susceptible than PCs when it comes to viruses, but that doesn't mean impervious and that also doesn't mean your computer can't pass on a virus. So use some kind of anti-virus software that allows you to download periodic updates. The ones that come to mind are Intego Virus Barrier, Norton Anti-Virus, Sophos Anti-Virus, or ClamAV. I have only used the first two in any real capacity and strongly recommend Intego's product because it's fast, unobtrusive and automatic.

  • Disk Repair & Maintenance. MicroMat TechToolPro, ProSoft Engineering Drive Genius, AlSoft Disk Warrior and Norton Systemworks are most often mentioned in tekno geek circles. Systemworks is no longer supported by Symantec, although at one time, it was my first choice. I now avoid using it except for machines that are older or on older operating systems. TechTool has pretty much taken Systemworks' place for general repair and maintenance. But a smart enduser would have alternatives in case one application fails to work. Drive Genius would be an alternative to TechTool and Disk Warrior for repair and optimization of the hard drive's catalog file, the file that keeps track of all your files on the hard drive.

  • Methodology. The best overall strategy is to run your utilities from another location other than your problem drive. That way, the program can either repair the drive or pull the files off that you want to recover. Never, ever write to a drive that you are having problems getting to boot or reading files from. You could just finish off the drive and lose valuable data. If you have a big hard drive with a lot of space, breaking it into partitions is one way to allow your utilities to run from another location (even though it's on the same drive). An external hard drive is even better, since you can have a backup OS on there in the event of drive failure, and have enough room to copy files onto. A CD with an OS on it, like Apple's System Software CD or DVD and the Apple Hardware Test (AHT) would be great and many of the above mentioned programs come on a bootable CD. MicroMat just released a sweet new gizmo called the Protege that packs an OS and repair utility all on a firewire keychain drive. Sweet. But in the last two instances, you would still need some additional method of storage to recover files onto.
So what are your strategies? What software do you rely on? Comment here and let others know your successes and failures.