strange happenings

Posted in Commentary, OOTT on May 19th, 2006 by juan

Waving Flag
Some of you already know this, but as of this morning, the odyssey is complete. I am now a Citizen!

on Essential Mac apps

Posted in Musings, OOTT on February 23rd, 2006 by juan

UPDATE: I’ve posted an updated list here for those of you referencing this old posting.

There’s a zillion of these lists out there, but this is mine. A list of the essential, cool, and nice-to-have Mac apps. This is all my most important free or shareware products. The list of commercial stuff will be the topics of another day.


  1. Adium – Premium, way cool, instant messenger. Supports Yahoo, AOL, MSN, Jabber, Google, + many others (free)
  2. Cyberduck – The FTP/SFTP client for Macs (free)
  3. Desktop Manager – Multiple virtual desktops with the coolest switch transitions. This alone has made people go “ooohhhh! I need a Mac” (free)
  4. FFView – The fastest, most feature rich image viewer I have been able to find for the Mac. (free)
  5. Firefox – if Safari won’t do it, this will (free)
  6. HandBrake – The easiest way to rip, transcode, and store DVD’s. Can be used for video iPods as well. (free)
  7. Thoth – The best USENET news reader out there (there’s also Unison – actively being developed). Thoth is not actively being developed, so you have to … ahem…. find it on USENET. (free – kinda)
  8. Vim – The VI clone with a GUI interface. Already comes in a CLI format built in. has the GUI version. (free)
  9. VLC – The opensource Video viewer. If this doesn’t play it, you can’t play it on a Mac. (free)
  10. Flip4Mac – Microsoft has stopped supporting their video player and is now giving this as a Quicktime plugin instead. This works better than the media player ever did, but doesn’t work with DRM content. (free)
  11. RDC Menu – Let’s you launch multiple windows remote desktop sessions at the same time. (free)
  12. Spark – A key macro tool that lets you control your apps via keyboard shortcuts. I use it to control iTunes while it’s hidden. (free)


  1. CHM Viewer – let’s you view/print Microsoft CHM format documents. A ton of technical ebooks are now in this format. (shareware)
  2. ecto – A blog editor. WYSIWYG and HTML formats. Let’s you edit with spell checking and live previews. (shareware)
  3. Gimp – The opensource image manipulation program. (free)
  4. LaunchBar – Spotlight on steroids and then some. (free)
  5. MacTheRipper – Another DVD ripper. This one doesn’t transcode, but it does a superb job of de-DRM’ing your collection. (free)
  6. TinkerTool – tinker with a zillion Mac options. (free)


  1. Azureus – the best torrent client. (free)
  2. BBEdit – the most feature rich native Mac editor. If it wasn’t for VIM, i’d use this all the time (shareware)
  3. Opera – a very nice, fast, feature rich web browser. (free)

Outside of Safari.App,, and Microsoft’s Office apps, I spend 90% of my time in the stuff here. There’s other command line stuff that I use, but that too is the subject of another post.

of DNS and mars

Posted in OOTT on February 13th, 2006 by juan

This could be another zonedit. A free DNS engine! Very nice since it’s hosted off site and has a reasonably simple web interface. It won’t let you do some of the more arcane things, but if you need that, set up bind for yourself.

But the main reason this entry is here is to test this little thing: marsedit. It let’s me edit blog entries the same way that I would edit email. Versions, spelling (thank God), etc. Mac only, but way cool. We’ll leave this guy on the maybe list for a little bit.

id3 mass tagger example

Posted in OOTT on February 11th, 2006 by juan

For years my mp3 collection sat in a meta-data desert. All that kept it organized was a meager and poorly structured directory/filename layout. It wasn’t consistent and in many places not even complete. This sad state of affairs came to be from my poor thinking, poor ripping habits, and poor sharing of data. At first, there was no need. In my winblowz days, the uber fabulous winamp handles the directory thing with as much aplomb as it handled the real dea, ID3 tags. Then, came the iPod. Once again, my stupendoud ability to put things off, and a lack of any good tool to fix this quickly led me to live in iPod hell. In the infinite wisdom of the Great Maker Steve, the only thing that the ipod kept of the file naming convention was the file name. None of the directory structure was exposable. ID3 was the only way to really, really do the right thing. My blank, inconsistent, fubared collection reposed itself somewhere between “Unknown Genere” and “Various Artists”.

Then, my semi-regular checks into freshmeat led me to this gem: [zF!] id3 mass tagger. Blessed be! My UNIX fingers found what they had been searching for. Something to manipulate sound with my fingers. Alas, not the air-piano I mastered in my teens, but the tagging thing. A few hours and my entire (30GB +/-, ~10K songs) was in shape. Not only was the tag thing taken care of, but also the directory/filename thing!

It took a little bit to get the man page, so here’s a good example of this beaut’s power:

heyyou-2:~/Music/othermusic/Billy Joel/Greatest Hits Volume I and II juan$ ls
Billy Joel – 01 – My Life.mp3 Billy Joel – 02 – Big Shot.mp3
Billy Joel – 03 – You Might be Right.mp3
Billy Joel – 04 – It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me.mp3
Billy Joel – 05 – Don’t Ask Me Why.mp3
Billy Joel – 06 – She’s Got a Way.mp3
Billy Joel – 07 – Pressure.mp3
Billy Joel – 08 – Allentown.mp3
Billy Joel – 09 – Goodnight Saigon.mp3
Billy Joel – 10 – Tell Her About It.mp3
Billy Joel – 11 – Uptown Girl.mp3
Billy Joel – 12 – The Longest Time.mp3
Billy Joel – 13 – You’re Only Human (Second Wind).mp3
Billy Joel – 14 – The Night is Still Young.mp3
heyyou-2:~/Music/othermusic/Billy Joel/Greatest Hits Volume I and II juan$ id3 -q “%n:%a:%l:%t:%g” *
heyyou-2:~/Music/othermusic/Billy Joel/Greatest Hits Volume I and II juan$ id3 -antlg “%1” “%2” “%3” “Greatest Hits – Vol. II” “Classic Rock” “* – * – *.mp3”
heyyou-2:~/Music/othermusic/Billy Joel/Greatest Hits Volume I and II juan$ id3 -q “%n:%a:%l:%t:%g” *
1:Billy Joel:Greatest Hits – Vol. II:My Life:Classic Rock
2:Billy Joel:Greatest Hits – Vol. II:Big Shot:Classic Rock
3:Billy Joel:Greatest Hits – Vol. II:You Might be Right:Classic Rock
4:Billy Joel:Greatest Hits – Vol. II:It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me:Classic Rock
5:Billy Joel:Greatest Hits – Vol. II:Don’t Ask Me Why:Classic Rock
6:Billy Joel:Greatest Hits – Vol. II:She’s Got a Way:Classic Rock
7:Billy Joel:Greatest Hits – Vol. II:Pressure:Classic Rock
8:Billy Joel:Greatest Hits – Vol. II:Allentown:Classic Rock
9:Billy Joel:Greatest Hits – Vol. II:Goodnight Saigon:Classic Rock
10:Billy Joel:Greatest Hits – Vol. II:Tell Her About It:Classic Rock
11:Billy Joel:Greatest Hits – Vol. II:Uptown Girl:Classic Rock
12:Billy Joel:Greatest Hits – Vol. II:The Longest Time:Classic Rock
13:Billy Joel:Greatest Hits – Vol. II:You’re Only Human (Second Wind:Classic Rock
14:Billy Joel:Greatest Hits – Vol. II:The Night is Still Young:Classic Rock
heyyou-2:~/Music/othermusic/Billy Joel/Greatest Hits Volume I and II juan$

So, thank you Marc!