Mac Software Planning

Posted by Garth on Wednesday, September 30, 2009

As per this previous post, I've been pondering my upcoming life change a lot lately.  The other day I was talking to someone else who does web dev and recently made the switch from Windows to Mac.  We started talking about software, and I voiced some concerns that I would have trouble finding equivalents on the Mac to my tried and tested Windows apps.  He assured me that it wouldn't be a problem.  Then I cited an example - ffdshow.  I explained that it's similar to a codec pack except far more powerful.  He said I'd use QuickTime.  Then I started telling him the things that I do with ffdshow - fixing audio sync issues, subtitling, subtitle delays, equalizer, LFE crossover management, video post-processing (generally making dark videos slightly brighter/adding more gamma), volume boost (above and beyond what Windows believes to be my "max" volume) and a ton more.  At some point while I was explaining this he got a strange look in his eyes and when I finished he sort of squeaked out "quicktime?" again, but then admitted that I was scaring him a bit and that he was far less geeky than I'd originally made him out to be.

So, the question remains... what will replace ffdshow?  And a ton of other apps (which I'm going to list in a second).  I'm pretty worried about this, especially after watching that MS video below, as now I'm afraid of Windows 7 as well (or at least the people that use it).  But I digress.  I'm going to start building a list of apps I use on Windows and what I do with them, and am hoping that my loyal readers can provide me with their Mac counterparts so that I don't have to scour the web and use trial-and-error when I first get my new toy.  So, without further adieu, here they are, roughly in the order that they appear in my QuickLaunch and Start Menu (i.e. random).  Note that unless otherwise stated, these apps are free and I'm not looking to pay for alternatives.  I want to trade free for free (and that doesn't mean pirated).  Also if I'm sure a Mac version exists I'm not going to bother listing it.

ffdshow - already stated, I do a ton with it.  Audio and video post-processing.  Sure, it's a little CPU intensive, but I always get the desired result.
Media Player Classic - lightweight media player with heavyweight features.
GIMP - image manipulation program, a la Photoshop.  But free and open source.  Someone was telling me the other day that it's really slow on Mac and that I should use some sort of offshoot called Seashore.  I'm definitely not going to be using Photoshop, as I feel almost the same about Adobe that I do about MS.  Their software is just not cost effective for the hobbyist.
PixelRuler - quite a kickass little application.  Lets you measure pixel distances on your screen.  Great for doing any sort of web/UI dev.
ColorPic - along the lines of PixelRuler.  Lets you use an eye dropper to get the color code of any color visible on your screen.
Newsleecher - used for downloading binaries from Usenet.  And yes, I paid for this one.  Which means unless I can find a viable free alternative this one's running in a VM, as I don't want to pay for 2 pieces of software that do the same thing, even if they are on different platforms.
Nokia PC Suite - Hmm... I don't recall ever stumbling across a Nokia Mac Suite, but it would be nice to sync my phone still.  Though if I can't find an alternative to this app I'm sure I can make due with just using my phone in Mass Storage mode.
MED - my favorite text editor ever.  Been using it since back in my OS/2 days (there was and still is a native version for OS/2).  No native Mac version though :(
Mobipocket Reader - really I use it to read books on my phone, but it syncs them up with my native Windows installation, of which a Mac version does not exist.
DVD Decrypter - even though it's been discontinued and development has stopped on it for years, it's still the most reliable tool to burn PS/2 images.
MP3Gain - great little tool for normalizing your MP3 collection.
7-Zip - great all-in-one zipper/unzipper supporting every compression format imaginable.  Apparently there's a command line version available for 'nix, but since Mac is all about the GUI I definitely want that route if there is one.
AutoStitch - mentioned before, this tool stitches together a series of photos into a nice panorama shot. Seemingly by magic.

That's all that I have on this borrowed laptop, but then it's not much of a powerhouse so I'm sure I'm missing some apps that I've abandoned due to processing constraints.  However, the above list is core to my computing experience, and I desperately need adequate replacements.  So if anyone has any suggestions, please post in the comments.


Rob Drimmie said...

For playing video I use VLC. For audio I have limited requirements and just stick with iTunes.

Seashore is great, it is a nicely edited GIMP, I think you'll like it.

There's an eyedropper utility that comes with the mac called Digital ColorMeter.

I haven't found a great, simple text editor yet that I love. A lot of people swear by BBEdit. It feels a little heavy to me but is worth trying. Give Espresso and Coda a try, they are very good.

Mac is not all about the GUI. It is a lot, but I always have a terminal window open, so if there's a CLI tool you like that's available, you'll probably like it. That being said, Stuffit is the standard compression tool.

The others I have no recommendations for. The mac development community is outstanding though. Generally speaking mac developers care deeply about writing amazing software. There's still a lot of crap out there, but the cream is easier to find.

Rob Drimmie said...

Oh, and since this is your first mac, prepare yourself now for the most awesome product release ever - the thing that solves all your needs and julienne's fries - to be released exactly one day after any sort of "users who bought this within the past x days get a special discount/upgrade path" on your hardware expires.

Always remember that Steve Jobs hates you.

Thomas B said...

Welcome to the Mac world!

ffdshow replacement: First of all, try MPEG Streamclip; easy to use and very versatile. You can also try ffmpegX, which is a bit more complicated but some swear by it (I don't, I stick to Streamclip). Additional useful video apps are iShowU, VisualHub (no longer supported but still functioning) and Handbrake.

Media Player Classic replacement: Use QuickTime 7 (not the new simplistic QT10), VLC or possibly mplayer.

GIMP replacement: I think the built-in iPhoto will cover your needs. but there are a number of other picture manipulation apps available as well.

ColorPic replacement: The built-in DigitalColor Meter should cover what you need.

Nokia PC Suite replacement: Well, the Mac has had built-in Bluetooth syncing with most phones for years, so that will probably suffice.

As for the rest of your requirements, I suggest you google a bit. I'm sure you'll find similar software for everything you need. And, of course, check where most Mac software is listed and sorted by category, be it freeware, shareware or commercial apps.

And, in case you still can't find what you need, you can always get Parallels and run Windows on your Mac, side by side with the Mac OS. Best of both worlds!

Good luck!

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