Tuesday, 31 March 2009


Desktop Backgrounds are lovely. They let you put a nice, personal spin on your computer or laptop, and can bring back memories if you stick up a photo. But regretfully, once you stick up a wallpaper, you're stuck with it until you change it. Leopard does come with an option to change the background at certain time intervals, but you can't choose which wallpaper you want and when.

Desktopia is a great little programme that allows you to set different wallpapers for different times of the days. You can have a nice sunrise at dawn, and fix yourself up with a picture of the starlit sky at night.

Getting Desktopia started can be quite difficult. Mounting the disk image and copying the application to the "Applications" folder is simple enough, but once you start Desktopia, the window doesn't appear. Instead you have to click on the Desktopia icon in the menu bar, and then click on "Show Controller". But besides this, Desktopia is a very simple and enjoyable piece of software to use.

Monday, 30 March 2009


I love iPods. They're easy to use, have an abundance of accessories available, and they make me look very suave when wearing the sleek white earphones. But to me, their biggest fault is the fact that they don't come with support for transferring files on them directly onto a computer.

Luckily, there are many pieces of software that allow you to do this. One of them is iLinkPod. It's very easy to use. Simply connect your iPod to your computer, then launch iLinkPod and click "Select Your iPod". Then you just need to find your iPod in the Finder, and all of the available buttons will be activated, and you can access all of the available functions.

With iLinkPod, you can:
  • View the iPod system info.
  • Create a folder on your computer and iPod to access the hidden audio files.
  • Backup all the files from your iPod onto a destination folder on your computer.
  • Stop whichever action is in progress.

Sunday, 29 March 2009


Ever wondered how far your weekly jog takes you? Or how long you walk during your journey to work each morning? Well wonder no more!

TrailRunner is a route planning application. It doesn't matter what for. Walking, Running, Biking, Hiking, Roller-blading, skiing, or even driving. The maps are loaded from Google

Maps, so you'll get coverage pretty much wherever you are. You can even plot routes through areas without roads, like fields and parks.

You can use TrailRunner to automatically create routes from a destination of your choice. Simply plot any paths near where you want your route, enter a desired length of workout, and TrailRunner will optimise a route for you. It will also tell you how long the route will take at different speeds.

TrailRunner is also compatible with iPhone GPS, Nike + iPod Sports Kit and Garmin Forerunner and Garmin Edge devices to take your running to the next level.

TrailRunner Website

Saturday, 28 March 2009

The Unarchiver

There's nothing more irritating than downloading a compressed file off of the internet, and then discovering that your current decompressor doesn't recognise the file format.

With The Unarchiver, the chance of this happening is greatly reduced. This application can handle a ridiculous amount of formats, including common ones like RAR and ZIP, as well as thirty-four other, more obscure ones like ZOM and CPIO files. You need never experience that oh-so-horrible frustration again. Hooray!

The Unarchiver also comes with a few neat customisation options too, to make your unarchiving process as exhilarating as decompressing a file can possibly be. You can choose to extract the archives to any custom folder of your choice, and you can also have the archive moved to the trash once the files have been extracted. Now that's good decompressing!

Friday, 27 March 2009

Image Tool

Sometimes, all you want to do is resize a photo, but you don't want to open up a large, resource-hogging application like Photoshop or GIMP.

Image Tool is small (Very small. 372Kb) programme that lets you do that, with minimal fuss. You import an image, click the button with the resizing figure you want, save the new picture as either a JPG, GIF, TIFF, PNG or BMP, and voila! You have a resized image, in less than a minute.

And if you don't want your image resized by one of the default amounts, you can choose to alter either the height or weight to a desired value, and the entire picture is resized to scale.

Download it Now

Thursday, 26 March 2009


There are two main rules, pillars if you will, that I choose to live by.
  1. Don't eat yellow snow.
  2. You can never have too many to-do notes.
As important as the first rule is, and as much as I'd like to teach you all about it, the second pillar of my beliefs is a lot more apt for this blog.

Evernote is a file uploading service that is in many ways similar to Dropbox. It allows files to be synced to multiple computers, you can view and download the files direct from a browser, and they both have nice little menu icons that appear at the top of your screen. But despite these similarities, Evernote serves an entirely different purpose.

Whereas Dropbox is designed for all types of files, Evernote is specialised to one area. Notes. (It's in the name.) Revision notes, to-do notes, message notes, business notes. They're all covered. You can upload a note by either:
  • Typing it in directly.
  • Taking a photo of it using any device you want.
  • Copying and Pasting.
  • Dragging and Dropping them into the desktop client.
  • Emailing them directly to your account.
  • Scanning the notes.
Once the note is in your account, it is then "synced" to every other device registered with your account. Evernote then scans your images for words and you are able to scan through your immense library of notes for a certain keyword you're interested in. Never again will you forget that sacred Lasagne recipe!

Note: (Forgive the horrible pun)
Registration is required for Evernote, although this is a short process only lasting about a minute. Email, Username and Password are the only required fields.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009


Any of you who are, or have ever been a student will know about the desperate last minute cram before an exam, when revision is packed into every minute possible.

Orator can help squeeze out a bit of revision time no matter where you are. Just write, paste, or drag text into the Orator window, choose one of the twenty-four available voices, and then save the text as an AIFF. These files take up a load of space (about 10Mb per minute), but can be converted to MP3s in iTunes. Then you simply need to upload your file onto your MP3 player, and you're off! Revision. 24/7. Does it really get any better than that?

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Vega Strike

I've covered a couple of games on here so far. They were both sit-down-for-a-few-minutes-and-play kinda games. Vega Strike is nothing of the sort.

Vega Strike is an Open Source 3D Action-Space-Simulator that lets you trade, fight and explore its vast universe. If I had to choose just one word to describe Vega Strike, it would be "Epic". Not in the "Epic FaiLZ!" kinda way, or the "EpIc WiNz!" way either. I mean epic as in The Lord of the Rings epic. The scope of this game is absolutely gigantic.

In Vega Strike, you play as the captain of a ship, and the main goal is to 'bring in the dough' in any way possible. You can trade commodities at the many planets and bases scattered about the galaxy, blow up enemy ships, or do missions.

Vega Strike has a pretty enormous learning curve. If you decide to just jump in there and give it a go (like me), you'll end up completely clueless and frustrated at your lack of space-faring abilities (Once again, like me). I strongly advise that you read the player's guide before starting.

The graphics aren't the best, but I suppose that's to be expected with an open source game which is still in development. Above all though, don't download this if you want a game you can dip in and out of every now and then, because this sure as hell isn't one of those, and you'll be a bit disappointed after downloading this 542Mb Disk Image. Although if you do download it, don't give up immediately if it seems too complicated. Like many other good things, this takes time.

Monday, 23 March 2009

Hunter Suite

It can be tough owning things. You forget exactly which things you own, you forget exactly where they're kept and, try as you may, you just can't seem to remember if a possession is yours, or if it belongs to one of your mates. But thankfully, a nice fella who goes by the name of JAres has come up with a simple, yet oh so effective solution for all these problems.

The Hunter Suite is a collection of three programmes. DVD Hunter, Game Hunter and Book Hunter. They help you keep track of your DVD, Game and Book libraries, and can each be downloaded individually.

The programmes themselves are very simple. On opening them, you are presented with a sidebar, and main section. The sidebar contains the titles of your lists. (The default lists given are Library, Borrowed and Wishlist, although these can all be changed, and you can create new ones too.) And in the main section, you are presented with the list of what you own, want or have borrowed.

When entering a new possession, you get given a little form to fill in. This includes all sorts of information. E.g. In Book Hunter, it asks you for the Author, Publisher, Language etc. You can choose to fill all this in yourself, but if like myself, you're of the lazy inclination, you'll be happy to hear that all you need to do is enter the title, click autocomplete, and all of the relevant details are fetched from the Amazon website.

Sunday, 22 March 2009


There are many, many music players out there. But besides a few minor differences between them, they're all the same. But not Songbird!

For those of you who've heard of Songbird before, you would've undoubtedly heard of the fact that it was extremely sluggish, had many bugs and was prone to crashing. But all this has changed in the new release. The new Songbird works extremely quick - my iTunes library of almost 6,000 songs was imported in a couple of minutes.

The main feature of Songbird that draws it away from all of the other generic media players out there is its customisations. Whereas iTunes is quite closed, without many third party applications, Songbird has a plethora of these. From within Songbird, you can launch its built in browser, and search through all the recommendations, and download and install them all from within Songbird itself.

The amount of available add-ons for Songbird are unbelievable. You can get all of the standard ones that are found on many different players, like artwork finders, lyric finders and last.fm support, as well as an abundance of new and original ones. There's an add-on that displays upcoming concerts for an artist you're playing, an add-on that recommends a new artist that isn't in your library based on what you're listening to, and many other intuitive ones like these. Songbird is like the Firefox of music players. It allows for near limitless cusomisation.

However, seeing as how Songbird is still relatively new on the scene, it's missing a few key features. There's no iPod Touch, iPhone or Zune support, has quite limited video support and it is not yet able to rip CDs.


It's easy to get bored of having the same old menu bar and theme, day in day out. But with Magnifique it's easy to change this.

Magnifique is a free theme switcher/applier. It has a built in theme catalogue, so you don't need to open up your web browser and search for new themes. Just start Magnifique and there'll be a list of all the available themes, to download there and then. It also comes with a feature that allows you to create your own themes.


If I had to choose one application that every Mac user should have, it would be Quicksilver. At a first glance, Quicksilver's main use seems fairly redundant. It launches applications. So what? The Dock and the Finder can do that just fine thank you very much. And to be fair, they can. But nowhere as near as well as Quicksilver can.

One main advantage to Quicksilver is its simplicity. To open an app using the finder, you need to click the finder icon, go to the applications folder, and then find the application you want. In Quicksilver you simply need to press the shortcut combination, (Mine is F5, although you can change it to whatever you want), and then type in the name of the app you want. Or, if the whole name seems like it'd take a bit too much effort, you can type in only part of the name. E.g: When I press F5 and type in "sa", it comes up with Safari straight away. And Quicksilver's nice enough to remember what you use the most, and return those results at the top of your list. This function can be used with any file, not just applications. So if you want to open a text document, just start typing in the name of it, and it'll show up in the bunch of results.

Another killer feature of Quicksilver is the iTunes compatability. After downloading the plugin, you simply need to assign a shortcut key to the iTunes plugin, and then with a press of a button, your entire iTunes library is available. Without even exiting the current window. E.g: I'm browsing through digg.com, and feel like changing song, but don't want to stop reading my current article. All I do is press F6, then start typing in Bananarama, press enter, and let the fun commence!

Wake Up

For quite a while I've been searching for an application that lets me set a song as an alarm in the morning. Until now, I've had to settle with creating a workflow in Automator, but I've now found something much better.

Wake Up is a very simple, lightweight programme. To set your alarm, all you need to do is drag to clock hands to the time you want, and select the file you want to be played as your alarm. Then you just need to click 'Start', and the alarm is set! 3 very simple steps.


When it comes to watching videos online, there are many different sites to choose from. And sometimes, it can be a bit of a chore finding the site that has the video you want.

Miro is a neat little application that gathers videos from all across the interwebs from websites like Youtube and Hulu, and collects them all in one easy to use programme. It can play almost any type of video. Much more than Quicktime can without Perian. It includes a great number of current TV programmes. E.g. 24, Heroes, The Simpsons etc., but sadly, most of these videos are available on Hulu.com, which is unavailable in the UK, but if you live in the United States, feel free to check this all out. And what's more, all of these videos can be downloaded!

Miro also works as a torrent application. Whenever an episode of a programme you like becomes available, it will automatically download and be ready to view.


Photoshop is so damned expensive. But if you want to touch up a photo or logo to a decent standard, it seems to be the only option. Well here comes an alternative!

Gimp can be used to create graphics and logos, resize and crop photos, alter colours, combine multiple images, remove unwanted image components and convert between different image formats. It can also be used to create basic animations in GIF format.

If you're thinking that Gimp would be nice for a good ol' bit of doodling, think again! You'd be much better off using Paintbrush.


Whenever I want to do a piece of work on more than one computer, I usually just email the work in progress to myself, and open it when I get to another computer. Until Now.

Dropbox does the same as all of the many file storage website around, and then some! To upload files to Dropbox, all you need to do is copy what you want into the 'Dropbox' folder, and it's automatically uploaded. And here's the best part: Your files will all be synched onto any other computer logged onto your Dropbox profile, without any effort on your part. And of course, if you want to fetch your files without having to download the application, you can simply enter in a given link, and download it directly. The same goes for uploading. And did I mention that it runs on Windows, Mac and Linux?


Nothing irritates me more than when I'm having a quick nose through my iTunes library, and am confronted by countless albums without any artwork. But thankfully, I discovered this little gem.

GimmeSomeTune is a programme that runs in the background. Whenever you play a song in iTunes without either artwork or lyrics, GimmeSomeTune kindly fetches them from the internet, and effortlessly incorporates them into your library, leading to a much nicer looking iTunes.

GimmeSomeTune Information page
Download it Now

Pac the Man

Pac Man is one of the most famous games ever, but sadly, you need a whopping great Arcade Machine to be able to play it.

If you can forgive the horrible name, Pac the Man will provide a good alternative to this. You can play with either one or two players, on any of the gigantic selection of 140 levels. You can even compare your scores to other people's over the internet.

Pac the Man Information Page
Download it Now

Google Earth

Ever had the urge to see what your house looks like from 5 miles up in the sky? Or have a map of the night sky with all of the stars and galaxies labeled out for you? Well now you can.

Google Earth is a handy little app that allows you to view satellite images from all around the world. The images in major populated areas are fantastic, you can even make out individual people. As far as I know, the images cover the whole earth, but some places have a lower resolution than others. (So don't bother trying to pick out Lions in the African Savannah.) The resolutions vary from 15 metres in less populated areas, right up to 10cm in Prague!

As well as looking down on the Earth, you can also look up at the sky. It uses data from the Hubble Telescope to provide information, and is updated every 5 minutes.

One of my favourite features has got to be the flight simulator. It may be very basic, only allowing you two planes and about 10 airports, but you've gotta love that feeling of flying an F-16 fighter Jet above your hometown!

Google Earth Page


If you own, or are thinking of buying a Creative Zen MP3 player, the main problem that you'll face is the lack of support on Mac. The software disc that comes with it is for Windows only, and the MP3 player does not support dragging and dropping. You could run boot camp, but XNJB is a far easier solution.

XNJB is a nifty wee programme that allows you to transfer files to and from a Creative Zen MP3 player with minimum fuss. It takes a while to transfer, but is extremely easy to use: all you need to do is select the song you want to be transfered, and then click the arrow. Simples!

XNJB Web Page
Download it Now


With the multitude of brilliant applications available for your Mac nowadays, it's often quite hard to focus on what really needs doing. That's what Think is for.

Think helps you concentrate on what needs to be done by blacking out all the windows that you don't need. You can choose to have them completely opaque, or at varying levels of transparency.

Think Information Page
Download it Now


Do you have the need for office software package, but can't afford to shell out on Microsoft Office? That's where OpenOffice comes in Handy.
OpenOffice is an open source package that includes a Word Processor, Spreadsheet, Database, Image Editor and Presentation Programme. And what makes this even better, all of these are compatible with Microsoft Office.

This is a rather large download, (Weighing in at about 163Mb), but if you're in need of an office package, it's most definitely worth the time.

OpenOffice Information Page


Youtube is, as people quite a bit cooler than me would say, "Da Bomb". I know it, you know it, everybody else knows it. My only gripe is that you can't go check out your favourite videos when out of range of an internet connection. And that's where TubeTV comes in.

TubeTV is a simple application that is used to download and convert any video off Youtube. All you need to do is enter the URL of the video you want, or just search it in the handy little search bar given, and then just click the 'grab' button. TubeTV will then download and convert the video for you.

For me, the downloading part has worked absolutely greatly, but the videos don't convert, and are left as flv files. These files can be viewed on many different applications. I recommend VLC Player, or alternatively, you can download Perian to view them using Quicktime.

TubeTV Website
Download it Now


There's nothing I find more annoying than when the screen dims when you're trying to watch a video or read a text/pdf document.

This nifty little tool from Lighthead makes all that unnecessary screen dimming a thing of the past. It puts an icon in the right hand side of your menu bar. Just click the icon, and it will prevent your screen from dimming, going to sleep or showing a sreensaver. Clicking it again makes it go back. If you're worried that you'll leave it on and waste energy, there's an option to only activate it for a certain amount of time.

Caffeine Information & Download Page
Download it Now!


Do you sometimes get bored of having the same old icons on your mac. Well have no fear, CandyBar is here!

CandyBar allows you to alter the generic icons that come with a mac. (Such as folder, sidebar and dock icons.) It comes with one set of replacement icons, but you can download plenty of new ones from here. I think that the "Alumi" set of icons is especially nice. The best part about Candbar has got to be its simplicity. To replace icons, all you need to do is drag the one you want over the one you want to replace.

CandyBar Site
Download it Now


This has got to be one of the most original, intuitive pieces of software I have ever used. FluidTunes is basically an application that gives you a more fun and hands on (quite literally!) way to change songs in your iTunes library.

It lets you control your music using only a webcam and your hands, feet or head. To scroll through your library, you simply need to brush your hands across the cover flow interface on the screen, and a song can be played by just waving over the play button.

So right now, you're probably thinking: "This all sounds too good to be true!" And to be fair... you're absolutely correct. It takes ages to browse through your music as it's presented song by song, as opposed to by artist or album. Odd movements you make can sometimes spark unwanted actions, like playing the wrong song, or scrolling the wrong way. And the background has to contrast with whatever you use to control your music, or sometimes the camera doesn't recognise your actions.

FluidTunes Homepage
Download it Now


Audacity is a brilliant piece of audio recording and editing software. (Which also happens to have a lovely shiny 3D-ish looking icon.)

With it, you can easily record whatever is playing from your Mac’s speakers (Line-in), or an input from a connected microphone. You can then edit the recording and export it as an MP3 file.

Audacity also allows you to edit an existing sound file. There are many available editing options, from simple things like making a sound louder, faster or higher pitched, right up to more complex options like Equalizing, inverting and levelling.

Audacity Download Page


Eons ago I begun a search. A search for a simple paint programme. And this morning, I found one.

If you ever want to quickly and simply edit a picture, or just spend a little time doodling, Paintbrush is for you. It is a very lightweight application, and offers a good alternative to Adobe Photoshop when you just want to quickly edit something small.

Paintbrush Download Page


Sequoia is a very interesting (and addictive) new take on a tried and tested game. Tetris.

In Tetris, the aim is to make lines out of blocks falling from the top of the screen, whereas in Sequoia, the aim is to make 4x4 squares out of blocks coming in from all 4 edges of the screen. It’s a simple, but very involving game, which is fantastic for playing when you’ve got a few spare minutes to spend.

Sequoia Download & Information Page


If, like me, you love being recommended new music, last.fm is just what you need. It’s also brilliant if you’re a bit of a stats fanatic, and want to see a range of facts and figures about your listening habits.

The last.fm application that you download is a web radio with a difference. Instead of listening to a track list selected by an unknown DJ, you simply enter in an artist’s name, and last.fm plays a bunch of tracks by similar artists, as well as a few by the artist you searched for. If you don’t know which artist you want, you can instead choose to just type in a word or two to describe the type of music you want to listen to (e.g. happy, laid back, rock, rap), and last.fm will churn out tracks that match your description.

The statistics taking part of last.fm is equally interesting (If like me, you too are a stats nerd). When you listen to a track for 50% of its duration, it is “scrobbled” to your profile, and is available for all to see. (So be careful how often you play your much-loved Backstreet Boys track!) You can see your most played artists and tracks over a week, 3 month, 6 month, 12 month or lifetime period, as well as your entire listening history.

(Note: last.fm does require the creation of an account, although this is a simple process, and you can opt out of the occasional email they send your way.)

Last.fm home page. (The sign up link is in the top right)
Download Page


Wouldn’t it be just lovely to have your entire DVD library backed up onto a digital format, available for viewing at the click of a button?

Luckily, the good folks at Handbrake know this and have come up with this splendid piece of software. Handbrake can scan and convert any DVD into a digital format. At the current release, the supported formats are:
• .mp4
• .avi
• .mkv
• .ogm
There’s the option to fiddle with the properties of the file (bitrate, frame rate, encoder etc.) , but if all of this technical malarkey scares you, also included are a bunch of handy presets for different devices, e.g.: AppleTV, iPhone/iPod Touch, iPod, PS3, PSP, Xbox 360.